Below is a link to my story about attending a recent concert featuring The Steve Miller Band and Peter Frampton. Even though it does include my account of the concert itself, I posted it in my personal blog rather than my entertainment blog because it’s really more about me and my experiences of it than the entertainment nature of the concert. It was a big experiment for me because I’ve not been to any late evening activities in well over 18 months ever since I got out of the hospital. I wasn’t sure I would have the stamina to be able to handle it but the experiment was a great success. As always I’m very, very long-winded. It’s well over 10,000 words but I hope some of you find the time to read it.
“Deception” is a new crime procedural from ABC that is a bit unoriginal but might be worth watching anyway. For me it seems like a cross between “Castle” and “The Mentalist”. The main character is Cameron Black who is a world-famous magician whose career is ruined when it is revealed that many of his tricks involve the use of his twin brother Jonathan. Both parts are played by Jack Cutmore-Scott who has been seen recently in Kingsman:The Secret Service and Dunkirk but not much else. The secret is revealed when his brother is in an automobile accident in which a woman is killed. The brother is arrested and jailed but the whole thing may have been a setup.
When Cameron hears the story that the FBI lost a key witness to a case when a private plane explodes in a hanger, he recognizes that in fact the plane did not explode. It was actually a re-creation of one of his illusions where he had caused a plane to disappear. He ends up becoming a consultant for the FBI
The mysterious illusionist who faked the plane exploding is also connected to his brother being framed. He uses his skills as an illusionist to help the FBI catch criminals at the same time working to prove his brother’s innocence.
Black is partnered with FBI agent Kay Daniels played by Ilfenesh Hadera who has been recently seen in Baywatch and Billions. Like “The Mentalist”, our hero uses his skills of deception to con suspects into revealing themselves. But the overall tone of the show is much more lighthearted. Where Patrick Jane was a somewhat mysterious and introverted brooding character, Black is much more gregarious and charismatic. The overall tone seems more like “Castle” in which the hijinks of the outside consultant are often played for laughs. It remains to be seen if Black and Daniels will develop the same sort of chemistry that we saw between Richard Castle and Detective Kate Beckett.
Unlike Castle and Patrick Jane, Black has a team of assistants who help him create the illusions. His main designer is Gunter Gustafsen played by British character actor Vinnie Jones. He is more often cast in the role of a tough guy criminal because of his appearance so it is interesting bit of casting to see him in a part where his big burly stature and rough appearance seem a bit out of place.
As I said in the beginning, there is nothing really new or original here but if you are a fan of “The Mentalist” and or “Castle” then you will probably enjoy this show as well. I’m giving it a very strong rating of “I’m watching it”.
Good Girls is a new dark comedy from NBC. Three ordinary housewives try to solve their problems by holding up a grocery store.
It features Annie who is a single mom who works as a checkout girl in a grocery store. She drives a junk car and her ex-husband is suing her for custody of her kid. She has played by Mea Whitman who you will remember as Amber from Parenthood. Her older sister Beth is played by Christina Hendricks who you may remember from Mad Men. Her husband is a used-car salesman who is cheating on her with a bimbo. Their friend Ruby is played by Retta who you may remember from Parks and Recreation. She has a daughter in need of expensive medical care.
The whole thing is played for laughs until they suddenly find out they came away with much more money than should have been there. They were expecting to find $30,000 but instead came away with over a half-million. They soon discover that the grocery is a front for a drug dealing gang who tracks them down and wants their money back. Also the store manager recognized Annie’s tattoo and threatens to turn her in unless she sleeps with him.
Despite the dark situation, this show has a good balance of heart, comedy, and drama. You really feel for the plight of the mother who can’t get the medical care return needs. The peril they face from the drug dealers who threaten to kill them if they don’t return money is very real as is the attempted sexual assault of the grocery manager. So it is very dark at times. As the show proceeds, they get deeper and deeper into trouble and every time they try to get out, things only get worse.
From this description I’ve just given, it doesn’t sound like a very enjoyable experience but for some reason I kind of like it. You find yourself empathizing with the characters and riding along on the journey with them. The comic moments help keep it from being a total downer so in some ways that keeps it from being hopelessly dark.
I didn’t really intend to add it to my list of shows I watch regularly but after one episode I kind of got hooked on it and am anxious to see where it goes from here. I’ve seen two of the three episodes that have aired and I’m going to try a couple more before I decide if it holds up or just becomes a sort of one joke story.
I give it a raising of “Could be watchable” but the jury is still out.
Champions is a new sitcom on NBC that is so unremarkable I almost didn’t two bother to write a review. The main character Vince of the New York gymnasium he inherited from his father. He has a rather dimwitted handsome looking brother Matthew who is unaware that Vince is about to sell the gym and move to Florida. His plans are derailed when his old high school sweetheart Priya shows up and reveals to him he has a teenage son he didn’t know about. The son who is gay wants to go to a performing arts school in New York. She lives in Cleveland and can’t afford to move so she needs some wire for the son to live while he attends the special school in New York.
Absolutely nothing is interesting about these characters. The boy Michael is kind of cute in his overacted gayness with lots of showbiz clichés. But other than that there’s nothing to be seen here.
Vince is played by Anders Holm was most recently seen in The Mindy Project. Mindy Kaling plays Priya his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child. The boy Michael is played by J.J. Totah. IMDb lists several TV shows he has appeared in one of which I’ve heard of. He’s probably been on Nickelodeon or Disney Channel or something like that.
Obviously this is a strongly rated “Skip It”
When I first heard about CBS’s new sitcom “Living Biblically” was fairly certain that I would not like it. I almost didn’t bother watching but I decided I wanted to see just how bad it could be. The premise is that a man goes through a bit of a spiritual crisis and decides that he wants to live his life precisely according to the Bible. My first comment in my entertainment blog when the show was announced was that I wondered if it would mean he would stone to death his children for disobeying him. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21, Exodus 21:17). When I saw a preview for the show in which the main character tells his parish priest he wants to live according to the Bible 100%, the priest laughs in his face hysterically. That was encouraging for me. Maybe it was worth checking out.
Jay R. Ferguson plays the main character Chip Curry is a film critic for a local newspaper. He decides to go on a spiritual journey and live a better life 100% according to the Bible. This is instigated by losing his best friend to an untimely death and after finding out that his wife is pregnant with their first child. While in the bookstore, he accidentally picks up a Bible and includes it with the books he’s about to purchase. He sees this as a sign from God and decides he’s going to live 100% according to the Bible.
He then goes to his parish priest to speak with him in the confessional (not necessarily to go to confession but just to seek advice). It is probably the first time in any movie or television show that I’ve seen the confessional portrayed in the modern form where you sit down with a face-to-face conversation with the priest and not behind the old time partition or screen that is so familiar to most TV shows and movies. After the laughing out loud scene that we got in the previews, the priest illustrates the ridiculousness of this plan by advising him to change his clothes because the Bible prohibits wearing clothes of mixed types of threads.
The first challenge to face our hero is that he knows that one of his friends is having an affair. Their wives are friends. Should he tell his wife that her friend is being cheated on? It comes to a head when he and his wife bump into the cheating friend at a restaurant with his mistress. The friend tried to get Chip to cover for him by agreeing that the woman he’s with is just a coworker. Chip doesn’t know what to do so he reaches over into a nearby planter in the restaurant, picks up a rock, and throws it at his friend hitting him in the forehead. Thereby fulfilling the biblical command that adulterers be stoned.
It’s all done in a very funny slapstick sort of way and for some reason it works. I couldn’t help but laugh at parts of it and for me that’s the ultimate test of any sitcom is “Did it make me laugh?”
Part of the story is about is friends at work. He has a best friend Vince played by Tony Rock who in real life is the brother of comedian Chris Rock. His boss at the newspaper is Camryn Manheim whom I’ve not seen on TV since 2004 in the legal drama “The Practice”. When she finds out about his plan to live biblically she gives him a new column to write three days a week and a raise in salary. And in the end, his adulterous friend thanked him for hitting him in the head and making him countries senses. He confessed everything to his wife and they are going to counseling. Sara Gilbert also has a bit part as an annoying coworker. It’s yet to be seen how these coworkers characters will flesh out or not.
So the end result is that after just a couple of days of living biblically, he’s gotten a raise at work and he saved the marriage of his adulterous friend. Maybe it’s working?
His pastor Father Gene is played by Ian Gomez and does a pretty good job of walking a fine line between offering genuine spiritual advice and continuing to make fun of his choices. We also get some input from a rabbi who is a friend of the priest. Rabbi Gil is played by David Krumholz who you will remember from the FBI drama Numb3rs and many other roles. By the way they’ve already done the “a priest and a rabbi and a guy living biblically walk into a bar” joke.
In the end this show is doing a reasonably good job of walking a fine line between finding the comedy and religious beliefs versus all-out ridicule and making fun of religion. The whole thing has really surprised me at how well it is written. Don’t get me wrong, this is at times very silly stuff but it tackles some very tough topics with an excellent sense of humor.
According to IMDb.com this show is based on a nonfiction book “A Year of Living Biblically” by A.J. Jacobs. I might have to check that out.
For now I’m giving it a very strong rating of “could be watchable” but the jury is still out as to whether or not the whole thing is going to work.
“The Alienist” is a new period crime drama set in the late 19th century New York City. In that era, people who were mentally ill were thought to be alienated from their true selves so the word “alienist” was given to one who studies such conditions. In other words a psychologist or psychiatrist. Our main character is Dr. Laszlo Kriezier who is investigating a serial killer beginning with the murder of a boy prostitute.
Kriezier is played by Daniel Brühl who was recently seen in “The Zookeeper’s Wife” and “Captain America: Civil War”. He is assisted by his friend John Moore who is a newspaper illustrator and Sara Howard who is the secretary to police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt. Although fictionalized, her character is inspired by a real-life person who was the first female to be employed by the NYPD. She’s played by now grown child star Dakota Fanning. Moore is played by Luke Evans who is probably most famous playing Owen Shaw in the “Fast and Furious” film series.
Although this series is filmed in Budapest, they have gone to great lengths to re-create 19th-century New York in beautiful detail. The costumes, props, and sets are also top-notch. The performances are nuanced and intricate in the mystery of who is responsible for not only the killing of this boy prostitute from the opening episode but apparently this is just one of several children who’ve gone missing.
Like other period crime dramas such as “Copper” and “Ripper Street” we get a look at the early days of forensic science. Think of this as CSI New York set in the late 1800s. Like those other period crime dramas which I liked, I’m not sure how accurate they are vis-à-vis the level of forensic science available at the time. But it does add an interesting twist to an otherwise ordinary crime procedural.
We also get some insight into the state of psychology and psychiatry at the time with a little bit of preachy plot lines as our hero battles against prejudice over things like homosexuality, masturbation and other taboo subjects. If there’s anything unbelievable about the show is that the doctor has a very enlightened 21th century attitude towards the subjects. Of course we also get to see how female employees in a male dominated institution are treated in those days .
Overall it is well-written and well acted and it really transports yo might have u to this particular time and place while telling an interesting ongoing story. It runs for 10 episodes on TNT network. As of this writing 2 episodes have aired but are available on-demand. I’m giving it a solid “I’m watching” rating.
A new crime drama titled “Bellevue” is now showing on WGN American channel. The show was originally produced by Canadian Broadcasting Company. It stars Anna Paquin as a police detective in a small town named Bellevue where everyone knows everyone else’s business. The season-long case we follow with her is the disappearance of a high school student who is a star hockey player. We quickly learn that the student also is dealing with gender identity issues.
This is Paquin’s first major role since the end of HBO’s hit series True Blood where she played Sookie Stackhouse.
Her character Detective Annie Ryder is haunted by the death of her father who was also a police detective. Throughout the opening episodes it becomes apparent that her current case is somehow related to a case of father had years ago investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl. Some of the story is told through flashbacks showing Ryder as a young girl. Pivotal to the story are games that she used to play with her father in which he would give her riddles to solve. Presumably this was to train her in analytical thinking hoping she would become a detective in his footsteps. Paquin’s performance in this show although very different from True Blood is very intense and compelling. I like this new character a lot.
Although there are no supernatural elements in the story it has a very eerie and haunting tone to it. In present day, someone is giving her riddles that are keys to solving this case. These riddles are in the same style as the ones she solved as a child.
The series is very dark in tone and is very reminiscent of one of my other favorite dark detective shows “The Killing”. Although not quite up to that high standard, I think fans of The Killing will enjoy this series as well. Paquin is believable and compelling in the role. It’s too early to tell after 2 episodes if all of the mystery and conspiracy buildup will payoff in the end but I hope it does. With a total of eight episodes it won’t take long to find out.
I’m giving it a rating of “I’m watching”. If this genre appeals to you, you should check it out.
NBC recently had a sneak peek of a new sitcom titled “A.P.Bio” that is scheduled to premiere officially late this month. If you missed the preview, you didn’t miss much. Basically the entire show is one joke and it’s not a very funny joke to begin with.
The main character Jack teaches an advanced placement biology class in a Toledo high school. But he has no intention of teaching the class. He is a former Harvard philosophy professor who for reasons of which we are not quite sure yet is down on his luck and living with his parents in Toledo. His sole purpose in life is to get revenge on his academic rival another professor currently in Stanford and to sleep with his many women as possible. He recruits his students to pull pranks on his rival like catfishing him on Facebook.
Patton Oswalt plays the high school principal who tries to get this rogue teacher to actually teach the class but fails miserably. Even someone who has pretty good comedy skills like Oswalt cannot save this ridiculous and unfunny piece of tripe. None of the students or other teachers characters are of sufficient interest to even attempt to describe.
IMDb.com lists six episodes but I would be surprised if all six of them actually make it to air.
This one gets a very hardy and emphatic “Skip It” on my rating system.
Academy Award-winning actor J.K. Simmons is starring in a new sci-fi thriller called “Counterpart” on the premium Starz network. After just one episode I’m completely hooked and can’t wait to see where it goes. Even if you’re not a sci-fi fan, Simmons performance is already reason enough to check out the show.
He plays Howard Silk who is a rather timid bureaucrat who works for some UN agency in Germany. We aren’t really sure exactly what it is that he does. Part of his job involves going into a highly secured room where he faces another man behind a glass plate. They read some sort of coded messages back and forth between one another. At one point he notices the other man has a spot of food on his tie and points it out to him. Silk is later reprimanded by his bosses for having unapproved communication with the other man. The entire thing is very mysterious and enigmatic.
Silk is hoping that he has been approved for promotion but is highly disappointed when he finds out he has yet again been passed over despite his nearly 30 years of service to the agency.
We see that when he is not at work he spends all of his time at the hospital visiting his wife who has been in a coma for six weeks after a traffic accident. Each day he brings her fresh flowers and also drops off one flower at the nurse’s station in gratitude for their care. He spends time reading to her in hopes that she will awaken. He is visited by his brother-in-law with whom he obviously has an adversarial relationship. Her family wants her moved to London and to bar him from having anything to do with her continued care. The brother-in-law leaves him a power of attorney to sign but Silk refuses to sign it.
His world gets turned upside down when he is called into a meeting the topic of which he has no clue. In this meeting he is shocked to meet Howard Silk… a man who seems to be an exact duplicate of himself although with a completely different personality. While Silk 1 is a very timid, mild-mannered, dowdy kind of person, Silk 2 is confident, self-assured, in charge of everything that is going on around him. Silk 2 is from “the other side” although Silk 1 has no idea what that means. Apparently Silk 2 has important information that he is willing to trade. But he will need the help of Silk 1 to carry out his mission.
Silk 1 is totally clueless about the entire situation. Eventually it is explained to him and to us that approximately 30 years ago, East German scientists were performing some sort of secret experiment in the basement of this building. They ended up creating a passageway between our world and a parallel universe in which everything was 100% identical. However in the 30 years since that event, the history of the two worlds has diverged in significant ways. Silk 2 has been very ambitious and has worked his way up through the ranks of the agency to become a kind of diplomatic courier who has permission to travel between the two worlds carrying diplomatic pouches.
Silk 2 has uncovered a plot that there is an assassin from world 2 who has traveled to world 1 with a hit list of people that she plans to kill. One of them is Silk’s wife. Silk 2 tells Silk 1 that in his world, his wife 2 died of cancer two years ago. The rest of the first episode involves setting up a trap at the hospital to try to catch this assassin. Silk 2 takes the place of Silk 1 after hospital visit and although he is coached by Silk 1, important details were left out of the daily routine and the plan goes awry.
The significant differences between both Silk characters and the way that Simmons so distinctly portrays their personalities is compelling viewing. He is completely believable as both the mild-mannered bureaucrat and the hardened, action oriented superspy. The mystery surrounding these parallel worlds, the history behind this bizarre situation, and the conspiracy theories about what’s really going on are all very compelling as well. I can’t wait to see what happens next. There are 10 episodes scheduled this season and was green lit for 2 seasons from the very beginning. One of the frustrating things you find about such series when they appear on broadcast networks is that if they don’t find an immediate audience, the series can get canceled after just a few episodes. You are left hanging with lots of unresolved plot issues. It’s encouraging that the network made a commitment to 2 complete seasons from the very start.
This series gets a very strong “I like it” on my rating system. Highly recommended for sci-fi fans. Suggested viewing for anyone who enjoys good acting and mysterious storytelling.
The medical drama genre is already a very crowded space on television these days. The field consists of the well-established and popular Grey’s Anatomy combined with Chicago Med and popular newcomer The Good Doctor. We also have the failure of other medical shows in recent years such as Pure Genius. So I was a little surprised to see that Fox was introducing a new series called The Resident.
This isn’t your conventional medical drama. If you’re looking for feel-good stories about talented medical professionals saving lives in dramatic fashion then this is not your show. The characters are arrogant, overconfident, grossly unprofessional, and in many cases lethally incompetence. The show starts off with chief of surgery Dr. Randolph Bell played by veteran character actor Bruce Greenwood performing a routine appendectomy. He is so renowned that the operating room staff interrupts the surgery so that they can take a selfie with him. Just then the patient prematurely comes out of anesthesia, flinches, and causes the doctor to accidentally slice an artery. His hands were already shaking indicating his incompetence. The patient bleeds out and dies on the table. He then proceeds to conspire with everyone in the room to come up with a fake reason why the patient died. At first he tries to blame the anesthesiologist but eventually they discover the patient’s family had a history of heart disease so they decided he died of a heart attack. It’s obvious that everyone is terrified of this guy and willing to do whatever he says to cover-up this huge mistake.
In this and subsequent encounters with people who cross him, he uses every bit of blackmail he can muster to manipulate and coerce people to do what he wants. He either cites stories of previous doctors, nurses, or residents whom he has already gotten rid of or he threatens them with something they did in their past. Apparently everyone is aware of this guy’s incompetence because he’s been given the nickname HODAD which stands for “Hands Of Death And Distraction”.
The main character that we follow in the opening episode is first year resident Dr. Devon Pravesh on his first day on the job. It starts out with the most cliché scene you’ve ever seen. He’s in bed with his wife or girlfriend we aren’t sure which and she wants to stay in bed with him and he says “I can’t be late on my first day”. How many times have we seen that scene in a TV show or movie. Not much originality here. They must be filthy rich because she gives him a fancy gold watch with his name engraved on it as a present for his first day on the job. We later learn that he did his undergrad at Yale and his med school at Harvard.
He has paired up with senior resident Dr. Conrad Hawkins played by Matt Czuchry whom you will recognize from his role and Cary Agos on the legal drama The Good Wife. He is abusive arrogant unlikable person but can get away with it because apparently he is the most competent doctor in the entire hospital even though he’s just a senior resident.
He is in charge of the new resident Dr. Devon and tells him that rule number one is doing exactly what I say. When a girl comes in with a drug overdose, Dr. Devon tries to heroically resuscitate her and after over 20 minutes of CPR Dr. Conrad tells him to stop but he refuses. He eventually gets the girl’s heart going again but she is effectively brain-dead. Now the family has to sit vigil over her for several days waiting for her to really die again. He’s done nothing but cause extra pain-and-suffering to the family.
Later in the show we see a talented second year resident from Nigeria Dr. Mina Okafor who has been training to use a robotic surgery device. When a VIP patient insists that incompetent chief surgeon Dr. Bell operate the device, they end up faking it having the resident actually performed the operation while the live stream video of the surgery makes it look like Bell was doing it. Again Bell uses blackmail threats to have her deported if she doesn’t cooperate in this scam.
The only decent person in this entire zoo other than the innocent novice Dr. Devon is another resident Dr. Nicolette Nevin played by Emily VanCamp in the first major role we’ve seen her in since the end of her series Revenge.
I’ve watched enough medical shows to know that for the most part they are medically inaccurate but I’m pretty sure this one takes it to an entire new level. I invite you to read the first User Review on IMDb.com. It’s a long paragraph that explains at least five different things that are ridiculously inaccurate as portrayed in the show.
I was a huge fan of Matt Czuchry when he was on The Good Wife. And I have had a bit of a crash on Emily VanCamp ever since I first saw her on Revenge which I never missed. But other than these two performers, the show doesn’t have much going for it.
I may watch another episode or two just to see if it gets any better or if the shock factor somehow makes it interesting in the same way as watching a train wreck. But for the most part I think I would have to give it a rating of “Skip It” or at best a very weak “Could be watchable”.