Friday, April 30, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Almost 50 years ago JFK vowed to put an American on the moon, and his dream came true. Now hundreds of NASA workers face layoffs as the Shuttle program shuts down and the fate of the space program, my personal greatest source of American pride, seems murky. The land of the brave and home of the free will have to hitch a ride to the International Space Station with the Russians, we won't even have our own space ships anymore.
Into the midst of this national mid-life crises, comes "America: The Story of Us", premiering Sunday April 25th at 9pm on the History channel. It's a 12 part series covering the story of how America invented itself, and will offer a lovely break from the Sturm and Drang of the past few years. Sunday night's premier episode (The Rebels) may offer inspiration from America's revolutionary days, when the first Americans fought for their freedom under dire circumstances that would make us all look like a bunch of over grown crybabies today.
Check out the promo below, and you'll see something to look forward to. Even though we've hit hard times as a nation, we still have the best cable TV programming in the whole wide world. Thank you History Channel!
Friday, April 23, 2010
The very amusing, amazingly dry, and frequently profane half-hour comedy Party Down returns for its Season 2 opening episode tonight at 10pm on Starz. If you haven't caught up with this one -- and that's certainly possible, I'm a relative latecomer to its delights, too -- you ought to give it a try. A cadre of talented performers really brings this one to life, so much so that some of the players are getting poached by other series, namely Jane Lynch, who's very much a part of the super-success of Glee these days and so isn't back with Party Down this time around. (Read this recent article from The Hollywood Reporter on the show's success for more info about this situation.)
Party Down's premise is simple -- it's all about the folks who work for a Hollywood-based catering service, and their dissatisfaction with their day jobs versus their dream gigs in the entertainment industry. You've got underemployed actors and frustrated writers with plenty of attitude, but you'll end up (mostly) sympathizing with them. Not that it's important that you do, but I'm not sure I want to watch a show with nothing but snarky assholes -- or maybe you're okay with that -- and a few positive vibes are not an unwelcome note in the show. I like that Adam Scott (the depressed sexually unresponsive architect from HBO's Tell Me You Love Me) and the wonderful Lizzy Caplan (above left, TrueBlood, Cloverfield) are sort of an item; they're cute and sexy together.
Not-so-successful talkshow host and Will & Grace veteran Megan Mullaly steps in to fill the departing Lynch's shoes as the one grown-up on the staff this time around, and she should be good. The rest of the excellent cast -- Ken Marino as Ron, the ex-manager who wants his old job back, Ryan Hansen as Kyle the handsome model/actor, and Martin Starr as Roman the scifi writer who's as bitter as they come -- is something to relish, and their chemistry together is what makes this show so appealing.
You might have to watch a few shows before you get caught by the charm of Party Down, and you can seek out episodes online or on the Starz website. A lot of people are saying that Party Down is the best comedy you're probably not watching, and it's true. It's not slick like Entourage with its ribald tales of Hollywood angst -- Party Down's posse is struggling and on the wannabe side of the street -- but they've got it all down where the laughs are concerned.
Visit the Starz Party Down website for more information and other goodies that will add to your appreciation of the show.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Maybe even the TFN suits know it, because they're launching the new Cooking Channel at the end of May. Fashioned to be more low-key, more hip (god save us from hip, please!), Cooking Channel at least is doing something right -- bringing old episodes of Julia Child's The French Chef and the hilarious Graham "The Galloping Gourmet" Kerr onboard also. I realize us old geezer don't buy nearly enough of whatever their advertisers are trying to sell (or so they think), but so many of us got our first love of cooking from the previous generation of cooking shows and personalities. PBS was of course a great source of these, with Julia Child and so many others, and Graham Kerr was a wonder because he was on network daytime TV, five days a week. That's where I got hooked on him, and boy, cooking hasn't been the same since. I've always loved it, and I'm sure some of his antics showed the inherent fun of it to my young self.
Now, how about bringing back the delightful Justin Wilson (left) and his so-delicious-you-could-taste-them-through-your-TV Cajun recipes. (I can't remember the reason but I once spoke to him on the phone back when I worked at KTLA, and it was a thrill. He was wonderful! Go to the link to hear his welcome greeting and buy some products from his daughter's company). Or another favorite of mine, the crazy little show called Frying Pans West with historical chef Sam Arnold, then-proprietor of The Fort restaurant in Denver, Colorado, where he prepared pioneer and Native American-influenced dishes, along with dispensing lots of wonderful western lore. (The Fort is now run by Sam's daughter Holly -- Sam passed away in 2006 -- and you should go there to eat!).
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Most of my personal gleefulness is still driven by the amazing Jane Lynch, for her "take no prisoners" performance as Sue Sylvester, terrifying and tyrannical coach of the Cheerios cheer-leading club. Ms. Sylvester does not have a politically correct bone in her towering stork-like body. She is Machiavellian, she is Patton in a track suit. I have a Facebook friend who is a retired United States Marine corp Major, and Sue S. is one of his favorite TV characters.
Playing beautifully against character, this week's season opener of Glee featured Sue in an amazing satirical impression of Madonna's iconic "Vogue" video. It's a must see, and you can watch it on the Fox website or Hulu.
All the other wonderful "Glee" characters are back this season too, plus they have cut screen time way back on Glee club coach Will Schuester's off the charts annoying (and now mercifully ex) wife. Broadway star Lea Michele continues to shine as the ultra-driven Rachel. She's unlucky in love, but boy can she belt a song into the balcony.
Going to try to post some promo videos here to give a taste of the new season. We'll see if they last more than 15 minutes before Fox takes them down.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Even if you're not already a fan of the long-running and much loved British science fiction series Doctor Who, we highly recommend taking a look at the newest season, premiering tomorrow night on BBC America and on Space in Canada. In a nutshell, Doctor Who has been more-or-less on the air since 1963, with the neat plot twist of having a succession of different actors playing the title character, a galaxy-traversing Time Lord from the Planet Gallifrey. Last year the very popular 10th Doctor, played magnificently by David Tennant, regenerated into the 11th Doctor, played by 26-year-old Matt Smith, the youngest actor to ever inhabit the role.
Expectations have been very high for the new Doctor, as well as there being some trepidation that anyone could successfully step into the sneakers of Tennant's stunning and moving Doctor. Since the new season started two weeks ago in Britain, I've been able to watch the first episode already, and am thrilled to report that all feedback is positive and the new Doctor Who is bloody brilliant! I can't think of another recent entertainment experience -- save the new Star Trek movie -- that contained so much concentrated excitement, heart and sense of wonder as this new Doctor Who incarnation.
(Though you don't really need an iota of previous knowledge to enjoy Doctor Who, it might be of interest to realize that the Doctor always picks up a companion from Earth to be his traveling buddy, and you'll love how Smith's Doctor Who finds his. Charming!)
One thing that's so terrific about Doctor Who is that it's always presented very strong, intelligent and vibrant female roles for a succession of actresses, and this newest Doctor Who is no exception. Even -- especially! -- the little girl who figures prominently in the early part of the episode is amazing, exquisitely played, and unlike anything you'll see on U.S. TV.
The Doctor Who craze in the U.S. really began several Doctors -- and decades -- ago with Tom Baker's delightful interpretation from 1974 - 1981, he of the long knitted scarf and slouch hat. (Younger folks might know him as the narrator on Little Britain.) For a quick look at all 11 Doctors over the years, take a look at the short video below. You'll see that the good Doctor has become generally younger as the years go by, and a good deal wackier than the first one out, as he reflects the different seasons of the production. What has never changed is the Doctor's intelligence, humanity, courage and willingness to help Earth out of a number of mindbending catastrophes.
Don't miss Matt Smith as the new Doctor Who! I can't think of anything that you won't enjoy, except if you happen to object to outrageous monsters, frightening, spectacular and potentially Earth-shattering plot predicaments, beautiful leggy girls in British Bobby costumes, clever dialogue, beautiful English settings, or the like.
The new season -- and face -- of Doctor Who debuts tomorrow night at 8pm on BBC America. We also highly recommend tuning in an hour before for Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide, which will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about DW. (The BBC America DW website is here, but you may also want to check out the official UK version of the Doctor Who site, which is located here.)
I think you're going to love him.
Because he's the Doctor.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
There is nothing specific in the announcement, but we'll assume that this will be new movie Star Trek and not old-school Trek, but that's okay with us -- we love them both!
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Treme's recent publicity blast took a sad turn with the sudden death on March 30th of writer/creator David Mills, who collapsed while on location with the show in New Orleans. It was a sad loss for the entertainment industry as a whole, but particularly so for Treme, which was a pet project into which Mills had poured his heart and soul.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Monday, April 5, 2010
Check if your system has it, and if you haven't yet tuned in, give it a try. If your system hasn't picked it up yet, write a letter or make a phone call and ask for it. This is a must-have channel.
In their own words: "The Documentary Channel: A new digital cable channel dedicated to airing, exclusively, the works of the independent documentary filmmaker."
Thursday, April 1, 2010
We're presuming these need no explanation, but possibly the second one might not be instantly understandable to everybody, though its inspirational acronym seems to have wormed its way into casual colloquial speech, even on broadcast TV; I'm thinking 30Rock where at least it was actually funny. (It's a play on the expression "MILF" -- if you aren't hep to it, find out what it means here.)