Kevin can Wait is King of Queens 2.0

Kevin James is back on television after taking time off to appear in several films after his former series King of Queens wrapped up in 2007. If you’re looking for a change of pace from his former character Doug Heffernan you will be disappointed. His new character Kevin Gable is pretty much indistinguishable from every other character you have ever seen him play.

Rather than a delivery truck driver he now plays a retired police officer. Again he has a hot looking wife who is clearly out of his league but that’s pretty typical for sitcoms. He has kids this time which he did not have in King of Queens. In place of his goofy father-in-law who lived in the basement which was played by Jerry Stiller the over-the-top comedy this time comes from his daughter’s boyfriend who rents a room in the garage. A recurring character of his brother is played by Gary Valentine who happen to be Kevin James’ brother in real life. Valentine also played his cousin on King of Queens.

There really isn’t much to say about the show. If you liked King of Queens you will probably like this show and if you didn’t like it you will not like the new one. For the time being it’s rated “I’m watching it”.

Designated Survivor is Designated Viewing

First a disclaimer… I will watch absolutely anything starring Kiefer Sutherland. I even liked him in Melancholia which was a terrible movie. So my review of his new dramatic thriller Designated Survivor is naturally going to be biased. The title comes from the fact that whenever the president, vice president, cabinet, and Congress gathered together for the State of the Union Address, they always designate a low-level cabinet member to go to an alternate location in case of some disaster that would wipe out everyone. That way there would be a continuity of government because the Constitution says that after vice president and Speaker of the House the line of succession falls to individual cabinet members in a particular order.

Kiefer Sutherland plays the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Tom Kirkman who is appointed just such a designated survivor. Earlier in the day the president tells him that he has been “promoted” to an ambassadorship which is basically saying that you’re fired from the cabinet. But before that promotion/demotion is official, there is a terrorist attack on the capital building leaving Kirkman as the sole survivor of the administration and by default becomes the president.

Although Kirkman is much more mild-mannered than Sutherland’s more famous character Jack Bauer from “24“, you cannot look at the man and not say to yourself “Wow… Jack is back. And he’s in the Oval Office as president!” It’s sort of reminiscent of the series of Jack Ryan novels by Tom Clancy in which CIA agent Jack Ryan eventually becomes president in a backdoor kind of manner.

Kirkman is a family man. His wife is played by Natascha McElhone whom you may recognize for playing the wife of David Duchovny on Californication. He has a teenage son and a younger daughter who are whisked away into the White House and struggled to adapt to the new surroundings.

Other characters include a speechwriter played by Kal Penn and an FBI agent played by Maggie Q. Most of the people of the government don’t believe Kirkman is qualified to be president and he himself is uncertain of his role but determined to prove himself.

The show is portrayed reasonably believably. There is one scene in the opening episode where Kirkman wanders out to the White House portico to collect his thoughts shortly after the attack. There is no way the Secret Service will allow him in the open like that even within the secure confines of the White House. Especially just a few hours after a terrorist attack. He would either be locked in the underground bunker or in the air in Air Force One escaping the capital for security purposes.

There really isn’t a lot more to say about the show except that it’s very engaging and well done. I highly recommend it especially if you are a Kiefer Sutherland fanatic. I’m going to rate it “must-see” but keep in mind my bias.

Speechless Hits Close to Home

There is a new sitcom on ABC that tells the story of a high school student in a wheelchair. His mother goes to extreme measures to get him out of a special education program and into the regular high school. She’s constantly arguing with school officials and anyone else who will listen as she complains about the inadequacies of the handicap accessibility features. For some bizarre reason this show is not titled “The Fran Young Story”. After watching 2 episodes of the show I commented to my dad “a lot of this strikes very close to home.” His reply was “I don’t need to watch the show… I lived it”

The name of the show is “Speechless” because the young man named JJ has cerebral palsy and is unable to speak. He rides around in a power wheelchair and he communicates by pointing at a message board using a laser pointer strapped to the side of his head. Someone then looks at the board and follows the pointer as he either points to common words or spells out words. As is the case with most TV shows and movies featuring someone using an alternative communication device, they do not burden the audience with the tediousness of such forms of communication. It shows the young man pointing at the screen moving his head back and forth for a few seconds and then someone who is supposedly interpreting for him spits out an entire sentence faster than anyone could have possibly typed it out. We’ve seen the same thing in numerous movies about physicist Stephen Hawking whose voice synthesizer is controlled by a single pushbutton and other TV shows where characters have used extremely slow methods of communication.

The crusading mother is played by Minnie Driver. For some reason I’ve never cared for her as an actress. She seems to have annoying mannerisms in every part I’ve ever seen her play. In this particular story she’s supposed to be an annoying person and she does a reasonably good job of it. I can watch the show without thinking about how much I personally dislike her. As a character herself she does not remind me of my mother at all. But her dogged insistence that everything be perfect regarding accessibility and the extremes to which she takes her arguments is what reminds me most about my mother. Of course this is very much a comedy and she plays a part that most people would describe as “over-the-top”. If you had ever seen my mother in her “mother tiger defending her cubs” mode you would realize her performance was not as over-the-top as you might think it was. My mother could crusade on my behalf as ridiculously as this character does.

The reaction of JJ and the other members of the family where they sort of roll their eyes as if to say “oh no… there she goes again” is extremely familiar to me and dad and although I’ve not discussed the show at my sisters I’m sure they would see the same things we are.

The stereotypical condescending ways in which other people treat JJ are a bit exaggerated caricatures of the people I have encountered. I admit that some people I’ve met were very nearly as ridiculous as what is depicted in the show. As I said it’s all played for laughs in an exaggerated way. But it would only need to be toned down a tiny bit to make it really realistic.

One of the plots of the first two episodes is the struggle to find an attendant to help JJ with his daily living activities as well as speaking for him by reading the communications board to which he points. Those of you who know me know that I’ve been in a several month long struggle to get a home health aide so the portrayal of the difficulty of finding the right person is spot on. And when he finally does find an aide, his relationship with that man is very well portrayed.

The opening episode shows that the family has moved to a new house in order to get into a different neighborhood so that JJ can attend a regular high school instead of special education. That part of the story will strike home more closely to my uncle, aunt, and cousin. When my cousin Nancy was young there was no special education program in Lawrence Township so they had to sell their house and move into the Indianapolis city limits so that she could attend a special education school where I attended. Then both my cousin and I later made special arrangements to get out of the special education school and to get mainstreamed into regular education. Fortunately my family never had to move and she did not have to move again in order to get out of special ed and into a mainstream regular education program like they did in the show.

There haven’t been very many shows that dealt with disabled characters as main characters. In 2014 there was a short-lived sitcom called Growing Up Fisher starring J.K. Simmons as a blind father of three kids . I never watched it and don’t know much about being blind. My favorite show that dealt with the issues most realistically with a dramatic series Joan of Arcadia in which the main character Joan would get messages from God. She had a paraplegic brother so in that case he wasn’t the strangest character in the family. There were dramatic moments of that show that I thought built very realistic with the family issues surrounding someone with a disability. Walter White and Breaking Bad had a son with cerebral palsy but he was a relatively minor character.

JJ is played by actor Micah Fowler who himself does have cerebral palsy although my speculation that he is not so severe that he is unable to speak. I’ve known people with cerebral palsy who were for the most part speechless and they were much more severely spastic that JJ.

The father in this family comedy is played by John Ross Bowie who you will recognize from his recurring character Barry Kripke on The Big Bang Theory. I think it’s ironic that his character on Big Bang Theory speaks with a lisp but he’s on a show now named “Speechless” about a kid who can’t talk at all. There’s no sign of a speech impediment in the character on the new show. In fact it’s a little bit strange to hear him speaking plainly when we’ve gotten so used to him playing Barry.

There are two other kids in the family a son and a daughter. Part of the show is their reaction to their mother’s antics and it does touch a bit on the fact that JJ gets much of the attention of the parents. However there is some balance between the characters. Some of the plots deal with the everyday issues that the other children in the family deal with that are not related to having a brother with a disability. So overall it’s a general family comedy that doesn’t constantly deal with the disabled kid.

My criteria for any sitcom is always “Did it make me laugh?” and this one definitely did. I’m giving this one a rating of “I like it”. And if you’re looking for a new sitcom that is admittedly a little bit goofy, check this one out. I’m pleased to hear that ABC has ordered a full season of 22 episodes.

“Pitch” is Thursday’s Other Hit Drama

In my most recent review I had high praises for the new primetime soap opera Notorious. I recently saw an ad for the show claiming that was the highest rated new drama on Thursday night. That seemed like a very specific category so I took a close look at the schedule and saw that there was only one new drama on Thursday. It’s a new series on Fox network called “Pitch“. It’s about the first woman pitcher for a major league baseball team.

It is created by producer Dan Fogelman who also created my other favorite new show of the season “This Is Us“. It is also directed by Paris Barclay who directed many episodes of Sons of Anarchy which was a favorite of mine.

There isn’t really much to say about the show beyond the basic premise that is the first woman in the major leagues. Our main character Ginny Baker is played by relatively unknown actress Kylie Bunbury. She was in the miniseries Tut as well as the Stephen King TV series Under the Dome. In the opening episode it covers her arrival in camp and the media hype surrounding the pitching of her first game. Under the pressure of all the spotlight of attention on her, she totally chokes and walks several players before they pull her from the game. There are flashbacks to when she was a child first learning baseball from a very proud father played by Michael Beach.

After she has her embarrassing debut she gets in a shouting match with her father saying that it was always his dream and not hers that she play in the major league. It seemed to me that if they were going to have that kind of confrontation that would’ve happened way before this particular incident. However that particular scene was the only part of the opening episode that seemed a little unrealistic.

Overall it was well-written and well acted. It has a lot of heart but doesn’t get sappy. It also doesn’t get very preachy. Overall I can highly recommend the show however I have to admit I probably will not end up watching it. I’m not at all a baseball fan and I have a hard time identifying with a 20 something-year-old African-American female baseball player. But if the subject matter appeals to you at all I can easily recommend it.

You want to be sure to see the pilot episode on a rerun or on demand because there is a bit of a plot twist in the last two minutes of the opening episode.

So even though I won’t be watching more than a couple of episodes, I’m giving it a rating of “I Like It”.

Notorious is Guaranteed a Hit

ABC network had a dilemma. The problem is Shonda Rhimes can’t produce enough primetime soap operas to fill their entire schedule. She already produces Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, and The Catch. Scandal had to be pushed to midseason because Kerry Washington is pregnant and they did not want to write the pregnancy into the show. Fortunately they found another producer who has created what should be a big hit for them. Josh Berman has created “Notorious” that fits right in with its Thursday night neighbors Grey’s and How To.

It’s another show full of beautiful people in powerful positions manipulating one another and the general public in a variety of very clever ways. The star is Piper Perabo who plays Julia George. She’s the producer of a cable TV news program. I apologize… She does not produce the program. When one character says “she produces the show” they get corrected. Another character explains “She produces the news. The number-one cable news program. She decides what the country cares about. She creates heroes and monsters, victims and villains. Julia George tells the world when to pay attention and what really matters.”

She is friends with a powerful attorney who represents powerful people. In the opening episode one of his clients, an Internet billionaire, is accused of killing a 15-year-old boy in a and run accident. Together the attorney of the producer manipulate the media to the advantage of his client and of course to boost ratings for the program.

Of course in a show like this, everyone is sleeping with everyone else and cheating on them with another person. Julia finds out her boyfriend who was recently appointed as an appellate court judge is actually cheating on her with prostitutes. She breaks up with him but tends to hold that over his head forever.

I’ve always been a big fan of Piper Perabo from her various film roles such as Coyote Ugly and her previous TV series where she played a kick ass CIA agent Covert Affairs. She’s got the looks and the swagger to fit in this new role perfectly. The remainder of the cast is not as recognizable but they are all pretty people.

Given its time slot is guaranteed to be a big hit because it will appeal to the same audience as the other Thursday night ABC shows. If you like Scandal you will definitely like Notorious. I’m rating it this “I like it”.

MacGyver Missing More than the Mullet

The late comedian George Carlin once did a routine in which he pointed out that when an advertisement says “new and improved” that logically cannot be both. If it is truly new then it cannot be an improved version of something else. Similarly if it is improved that it is not entirely new but just a revised version of something else. Scripture also reminds us in Ecclesiastes 1:9 “there is nothing new under the sun”. Unfortunately in the case of MacGyver, the CBS reboot of the original MacGyver that ran from 1985-1982, it is neither new nor improved.

Although our hero played by Lucas Till has a shaggy hairdo, it isn’t a mullet. For some strange reason I miss the mullet. If that was my only complaint about the show it might be worth watching. I can understand why with modern technology to exploit as a storyline and with more modern special effects they might want to bring back in action show like this one. Both the old and the new MacGyver a guy who can jury rig any kind of device out of ordinary objects. At one point he says to a computer hacker “You can hack computers… I hack everything else.” Which is a pretty good description of this classic character.

While MacGyver’s gadgets always stretched the bounds of believability, you always had the feeling that is maybe the gadgets he put together by the have actually worked. Countless episodes of MythBusters were devoted to his gadgets and devices and some of them did actually work. However in this new incarnation the second thing that he did about five minutes into the show was that he created interference in the communication earpiece of a security guard by making an electromagnet out of a piece of metal, a coil of wire, and a AA battery. Any fifth grade science student will tell you that such a device might make a strong enough magnet to pick up a paperclip or two but not much else. The idea that you can use DC current to create any kind of significant radio waves to jam a radio also is completely of everyday science. I don’t know how much C4 explosive it takes to blow something up. I don’t know what combination of everyday chemicals you can put together to get some unusual reaction. There are a million other things that MacGyver could pull off that I might say “Well maybe that could work”. But when right out of the gates he did something that stupid that so obviously would not work, it tells me that the writers think we’re stupid.

A friend of mine also pointed out to me that the voiceover narration is especially condescending towards the audience as well. At one point he picks a lock with a straightened paperclip and while showing it to us took the time to explain in voiceover that it was a straightened paperclip like we had no idea what it was.

I’m not going to apologize for the following spoiler because the whole show is fairly rotten to begin with. In this incarnation MacGyver has a female assistant who also happens to be his girlfriend. The bad guys capture her and kill her and he spends three months trying to get over it. When he finally does get back to work he discovers his girlfriend was actually still alive and working with the bad guys. This show really doesn’t need that kind of a continuing subplot that the villain is an ex girlfriend.

I have to admit I don’t remember a lot about the original series but it seemed to me that MacGyver usually worked alone. In this incarnation he has a sidekick played by George Eads formerly of CSI. And after his girlfriend died/came back to life he replaced her with a hacker girl that he helped get out of prison to join his organization. I seem to recall Richard Dean Anderson’s original MacGyver have a sort of dry wit about him that is lacking. And the comic relief provided by his new sidekicks don’t make up for that lack of humor in the new version.

I have to give a bit of disclaimer for badmouthing this show for lack of credibility because I’m also a big fan Scorpion in which our heroes routinely come up with a MacGyver-like solutions to problems that stretch credibility and the laws of science to their very limits and often beyond. But they are more interesting people to begin with and the personalities play off one another really well. I just don’t think I’m in the mood for that much mindless action trying to be scientifically grounded and failing. If I wasn’t already watching Scorpion you might talk me into watching a few more episodes of MacGyver in hopes that it would get better. But as far as I’m concerned my sense of nostalgia for this character isn’t strong enough for it to make the cut. I’m getting this one a very definite “skip it”.

Michael Weatherly’s New Series Is A Lot of Bull

After spending 14 seasons on NCIS I understand why Michael Weatherly would want to do something different. When he left the show at the end of last season I presumed he would take a year or two off. Perhaps he would do a couple of movie roles or even try going to New York and doing a stageplay. I did not expect that he would jump right back into another TV series. He was already on the highest rated drama on television. I would’ve thought if he wanted to continue to do TV he wasn’t going to do much better than where he was. I’ve not seen any interviews about why he left or what was so attractive about this new TV series for CBS but he made the move anyway.

In his new series “Bull” he plays Dr. Jason Bull who is a psychologist that is an expert jury consultant. He works with lawyers to analyze juries and help them fine-tune their presentations to have the most impact. Supposedly this story is inspired by the early career of Dr. Phil who before he had his own TV show worked for a very successful similar consulting firm. They do not claim nor is there any evidence that the character himself is based on Dr. Phil.

Bull is self-assured to the point of arrogance. He’s one of those people who is always the smartest person in the room. If you have any doubts, just ask him. He basically takes over the case and dictates to the lawyers how to manage it. This in the face of lawyers who are normally self-assured and arrogant themselves. The lawyer in the opening episode is a former US Attorney General but Bull treats him like a community college dropout. Tony DiZozzo on NCIS was self-assured but rarely arrogant and was substantially more likable then the new guy. So if he was looking for a new character to play he’s definitely found someone different.

Once a jury is seated, his firm recruits their own panel of jurors who are a psychological match for the actual jury. Then they hold multiple mock trials to see which strategies will or will not work. During the actual case, Bull sits in the courtroom and we look inside his head where he envisions the jurors talking to him and telling him what they’re thinking. Supposedly he is so adept at reading their body language that he knows what they’re thinking and whether or not they are buying what the lawyer is selling them.

This ability to magically read people’s thoughts by analyzing facial micro-expressions and body language is not an original idea for a TV series. The 2009 series “Lie to Me” starring Tim Roth had a similar premise. While I’m a poker player and believe that it is occasionally possible to detect a person’s “tells” by reading their expressions, the extremes to which these TV experts take this phenomena is literally incredible (meaning without credibility) in my opinion. Such shows almost cross the boundary into science fiction. I think I would find them more interesting if they just said he had real psychic ability. At least the TV show “Psych” played it for laughs. It was about an ultra-observant private detective who claimed he had psychic ability because people would rather believe that he was psychic than believe that he could look at a situation and figure it out faster than Sherlock Holmes. I feel the same way about Bull.

The idea of duplicating a courtroom and holding mock trials is also not new to television. In 2006 we had “Shark” starring James Woods. He was a defense attorney who built an exact duplicate of the courtroom in his basement and would hold mock trials and rehearsals of his arguments.

Of course there is also nothing original about his old series NCIS. It’s pretty much an ordinary procedural crime drama in a military setting with an occasional touch of international intrigue. At times the military connections are pretty weak. For example their season premiere investigated the murder of a naval officer but it turns out he was not the target of the attack. He was just a guy who got caught in the crossfire however NCIS continue to investigate the entire crime whether it was their jurisdiction to do so or not. It remains the number one drama on television despite its lack of originality. Its success comes not from the plot lines but from the characters themselves. I watch it because I like the characters and the same is true for NCIS: New Orleans. For whatever reason I don’t like the characters in NCIS: Los Angeles so I skip it. I also Lie to Me, Shark, and Psych not because of their premise or plots but because I liked the characters.

Pardon the cliché but the jury is still out when it comes to Weatherly’s new show. I will miss Tony DiNozzo but I’m not yet fallen in love with his new character. Near the end of the first episode there was a hint that beneath this outer bravado is a troubled soul that he’s hiding. Depending on how that plot line goes it might make the character more interesting. If I believed more in his abilities it might be easier to like him. But for now I think the whole thing is a lot of Bull—-. I’m giving this on a high end of “could be watchable”.

“Quarry” Sends Mixed Messages about Vietnam Vets

You would think that a drama about a Vietnam veteran returning home and having difficulty reintegrating into society would be a big hit with Vietnam era veterans. However I’m concerned that “Quarry“, a new series from Cinemax, might be sending mixed messages that will upset some vets.

Set in the 1970s, this dark brooding drama follows the story of Mac Conway returns from his second tour of duty with his friend Arthur. They are met at the airport by protesters shouting things like “monsters” and “baby killers” because his unit was accused of massacring instant women and children in the Vietnamese village. He discovers that the protesters are not the only ones were not happy to see him back. He can’t get a job as a swim coach in the local high school because it would be controversial to hire someone possibly involved in such violence. Even members of his own family seem leery of him.

He is approached by a strange man calling himself “The Broker” who offers him thousands of dollars for his services as a gun for hire. Basically a hitman. As he’s trying to regain his identity as a “normal person” he summarily rejects the offer. Unfortunately his friend Arthur decided to take the money and do the job. Mac tries to talk him out of it saying to him “If we do this then we really are the monsters they claim we are.” Arthur is not persuaded so Mac file is him as backup on his first assignment. When that assignment goes horribly wrong Mac is drawn into the business reluctantly.

So for the first 40 minutes or so of the opening episode we see an insightful look into the life of the Vietnam veteran who struggles with being connected to an unpopular war. But it’s pretty obvious that most of the series is going to be about him becoming a hitman and working for this mysterious character. And as he told his own friend, this proves we really are the monsters they claim that we are. So what is the message? Are we supposed to feel sorry for him lady has no choice but to kill people for money? It looks to me like the entire show is going to reinforce the negative stereotypes of Vietnam-era soldiers.

The stars are know when you’ve ever heard of. The acting is adequate. The title of the show comes from the fact that Mac meets up with the Broker in a quarry and the broker decides that “Quarry” should be his nickname. Because this is Cinemax you’re going to see graphic violence and R-rated nudity and sexual situations. It doesn’t appear that this is typical Cinemax softcore. It’s just that they don’t hold back in showing you everything where there is sex or violence.

I’m probably going to give it one or two more episodes to see where it goes in to see if it ever makes up its mind as to whether we should be sympathetic towards Mac or fear him or both. For now I’m rating it on the low end of “could be watchable”.

“This Is Us” is Parenthood 2.0 and Well Worth It

In a recent Facebook message I said that the new NBC family drama “This Is Us” might be the successor to its previous hit family drama Parenthood. After having just watched the pilot episode I can say that it most definitively meets the high standard of that show. It is extremely well written and well acted on every level.

The story follows 4 people who all happen to be celebrating their 36th birthdays. The first is Jack played by Milo Ventimiglia whose wife played by Mandy Moore goes into labor with a risky pregnancy six weeks early. You may remember Ventimiglia as playing Peter Partrelli on Heroes. Moore is known for romantic comedies like A Walk to Remember.

Next is Randall played by Sterling K Brown is a successful businessman and family man who has recently tracked down his biological father. He was abandoned as an infant by that father who was a drug addict. His mother died shortly after his birth was also an addict. Although he was planning on confronting his father and giving him a piece of his mind and storming out, he ends up inviting him home to meet his grandkids. Brown recently won an Emmy for playing DA Christopher Darden in American Crime Story: The People Vs. O.J. Simpson

Next we have Kate played by Chrissy Metz. She is a seriously obese woman who is struggling to deal with single life in a world where an obese person is a social outcast. She ends up going on a date with a man she met at an obesity support group. Although comparisons to the recently canceled Mike & Molly are inevitable, they play this one much more seriously although there is some humor as well. Metz was most recently seen in American Horror Story as the fat lady in the carnival.

Finally we have her twin brother Kevin who is played by Justin Hartley also celebrating his 36th birthday. He is an actor starring in a bad sitcom called Man-ny where he plays a male nanny. During the taping of an episode he has an emotional meltdown and storms off the set because it is such a ridiculous show. Hartley is a veteran of soap opera The Young and the Restless and Revenge but I remember him mostly as Oliver Queen in Smallville.

Other than the fact they are all celebrating their 36th birthdays it is not immediately apparent what the connection is between these four people except that Kate and Kevin are brother and sister. There is a big reveal about two minutes from the end of the show that explains the connection all of these people and it will leave you very much surprised yet very much pleased. It is a very clever bit of storytelling.

All four of these major characters give memorable performances in this opening episode and I already see a guest star Emmy nomination for Gerald McRaney as Mandy Moore’s OB/GYN.

Be sure to watch this episode before watching any others so that you get a clean viewing of the plot twist. Check it out on demand or watch for reruns if available. The critics are raving about this show and you can count me among their numbers. This is quality television from beginning to end. On my TV rating scale this one is a definitive “Must-See“.

Wilder and Radnor Reunited; Gibson Loses His Mind; Winter Delayed till Summer by Winter; Wilmore No More; Maks Is Back, Cheryl Too; Divergent Diverges to the Small Screen.

The new fall TV season is upon us it’s time for some last minute entertainment news. But first a word or two about a couple of movies…

I saw Star Trek: Beyond in IMAX 3-D. Depending on how you number them this was either the third or 13th Star Trek film. In either case it was an odd number which are notoriously bad movies. This one was pretty good so I think it may have broken the odd numbered curse however it wasn’t nearly as good as the most recent previous Star Trek which I thought was possibly the second best Star Trek film ever.

I also had a chance to see Suicide Squad in IMAX 3-D. Highly recommended for comic book fans only. It was kind of bizarre. I describe it as a combination of The Dirty Dozen, Ghostbusters, and Escape from New York. While the prerelease hype suggested that either Jared Leto or Will Smith were the stars of the show, it turns out that Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn steals the show. Very funny stuff.

I also want to recommend a film currently showing on Showtime called “Chappie” is sort of a different version of Short Circuit in that is a story of a cute robot that comes to life. This particular robot was a damaged police robot that was destined for the junk heap however was recovered and upgraded to make it self-aware. Unfortunately it gets stolen by a ragtag band of criminals who convince the robot that he’s doing good by helping them with their criminal activities. The film was made by the same people who made District 9 and Elysium both of which are pretty good sci-fi films I recommend as well.

Also have to give a shout out to Mr. Robot on USA Network which is approximately halfway through its second season. It’s about a schizophrenic guy named Elliott who is a leader of a group of hackers that take down a mega corporation called Evil Corp. and disrupt the world economy. If you have not been watching it you almost need to go back and watch all of season 1 before catching up on season 2. Beware of episode 207 because it will hit you with a plot twist that will make your head spin.

Meanwhile I’m still getting caught up on some shows from last season and summer shows. I got even further behind schedule while watching 17 days of Olympics. Looks like I’m going to be binge watching a lot of stuff to get ready for the new season. And if you are already caught up in looking for something to tide you over until the new shows start you might want to check out “Stranger Things” on Netflix. Although I’m not seen it yet, it’s getting rave reviews. Some describe it as if Steven Spielberg made a Stephen King TV series in the 1980s. I still haven’t started on Daredevil season 2 so I’m way behind on Netflix.

Here are links to articles that may be of interest followed by bunches of other items of interest.

Printable PDF of the fall TV schedule courtesy (Unfortunately missing many premiere dates. See below)

Premiere Dates of new and returning TV shows (not exactly in a format I like but the best I could find)

Here is a better version of a fall premiere calendar from

Postmortem Interview with producer of Outlander on season 2 finale and upcoming season 3

Spoilers from Michael Ausiello dated July 15

HBO Boss on Game of Thrones End Date and Possible Spinoff, Deadwood Revival, Curb Season 9 Timetable

Postmortem interview with producer of Preacher about season 1 ending and season 2

Interview with producers of The Strain about upcoming season 3

Spoilers from Inside Line dated August 12

Spoilers from Michael Ausiello dated August 16

In Memoriam

We begin with the sad news that Gene Wilder has passed away of complications of Alzheimer’s at age 83. I would have to say that Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and Silver Streak are three of the five best comedy movies ever made. (I would have to throw in Christmas Vacation and Home Alone to round out my top five list but I can’t really put them in order). At least he is reunited with his late wife Gilda Radnor whom we still mourn years later.

RIP producer director Gary Marshall creator of Happy Days and original The Odd Couple TV series. Age 81.

RIP comic actor Jack Riley who appeared in Bob Newhart Show as psychiatric patient Elliot Carlson and appeared in several Mel Brooks films. Age 80

RIP actor Jerry Doyle who played Babylon 5’s security chief Garibaldi. One of my favorite characters from that series. He was age 60. In recent years he has been a libertarian talk radio host.

RIP character actor Barry Jenner who played Adm. Ross in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine age 75

RIP actor Kenny Baker who was the little person inside R2-D2 in the original films. He was 81

RIP Sagan Lewis who played Dr. Jacqueline Wade on NBC medical drama St. Elsewhere has died at age 63 of cancer

side to RIP political commentator John McLaughlin who has hosted syndicated political talks show The McLaughlin Group since 1982. He was 89. The show will not continue without him.

RIP director Arthur Hiller who directed Love Story among others. Dead at 92

RIP actor Stephen Hill who played a district attorney on Law and Order in the 90s. He was 94

RIP Oscar nominated author Eric Bergman wrote the screenplay for The Elephant Man he was 62

RIP character actor David Huddleston who portrayed The Big Lebowski in that film.  He was 85

RIP Jonathan Krane produced “Look Who’s Talking” films. Husband to Sally Kellerman. Was 65

RIP Darrell Ward was a featured driver on History Channel reality show Ice Road Truckers who died in a single injured plane crash. He was 52

Finally from the “I wonder if she saw it coming” department Ms. Cleo self-described psychic of TV infomercials has died at age 53.

Cancellations and/or final season announcements

Winter is coming later than expected. Game of thrones season 7 will have only seven episodes and will not come until summer 2017 because of a winter imposed production delay. So winter made winter come in the summer. Also season 8 will definitely be the last.

Starz announced that it pirate series Black Sails season 4 consisting of 10 episodes in 2017 will be its last.. I really enjoyed season 1 but season 2 was so boring I decided to skip season 3.

Producers of Bones say that 2 recurring characters will die in its final short 12 episodes season.

NBC announced season 6 of Grimm will be its last. It will premiere January 6 for a short 13 episodes

AMC network has renewed Turn: Washington Spies about Revolutionary war era espionage for a fourth and final season. I watched season 1 but it wasn’t enough to make me check out season 2.

Comedy Central has canceled the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore which was the replacement for their old Stephen Colbert show.

Caitlin Jenner’s reality show “I am Cait” has been canceled by E! Network after 2 seasons. She will return to the Kardashians

Fox will not renew Houdini & Doyle after one season

Amy Schumer’s “Inside Amy Schumer” has not been canceled but will go on a long hiatus while she does other things.

MTV’s Teen Wolf will be ending after season 6.

Pretty Little Liars will end after season 7. I was surprised to learn this show is not about politics 🙂

TV renewals and newly announced shows

Netflix has ordered 20 half-hour episodes of a new marijuana comedy called Disjointed starring Kathy Bates.

Documentary series Making a Murderer has been renewed for season 2 on Netflix

After the success of AMC’s The Night Manager another John le Carre novel is being adapted for TV. Paramount is planning on a TV version of 1963’s “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”

Mystery Science Theater is being reboot for Netflix. Will include Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt along with veteran cast members Bill Corbett, Mary Jo Pehl and Kevin Murphy.

Hulu streaming service is adapting dystopian future thriller The Handmaid’s Tale. Will star Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahavski.

The new Star Trek TV series which will be available only on CBS online streaming will be titled “Star Trek Discovery”.

TNT announced “The Last Ship” has been renewed for a 13 episode season 4 in summer 2017

HBO’s sports comedy/drama Ballers with Dwayne Johnson has been renewed for season 3. I could not make it through one episode.

Stephen Colbert got a nasty phone call from Comedy Central lawyers after reviving his conservative talk show persona that he used on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report. This is reminiscent of the way NBC tried to stop Letterman from using his Top 10 List after moving to CBS. Like Letterman, Colbert completely ignored the threats I went ahead and did another sketch a few days later. He scoffed at the idea that Stephen Colbert could not play a character named Stephen Colbert. We agree.

Jennifer Lopez is developing a dance competition series for NBC

Olympic gold medalist figure skater Tara Lapinski is teeming with producer Michael Schaumburg friend to drop a series about figure skating for Hulu streaming service.

Starz network has renewed its series Power for season 3 and 4. I’ve never watched it.

SyFy Channel has renewed Wynonna Earp for season 2 of 10 episodes. I’ve only seen a couple of episodes of season 1 but it was kind of fun.

CW network will not renew Vampire Diaries beyond eighth season. I never watched it.

NBC is planning a special to celebrate Tony Bennett’s 90th birthday

USA network has renewed Suits for season 7.

Showtime announced that Homeland with returns for season 6 on January 15 has been picked up for seasons 7 and 8. Also Ray Donovan renewed for season 5.

Talks are underway for another season of X-Files to be 8-10 episodes rather brief 6 we got last year

Stephen Colbert will anchor an election night special on Showtime (which happens to be owned by CBS) by doing it on Showtime the content will be according to producers “unfettered”.

CBS, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime and A&E are preparing documentaries about the JonBenet Ramsey case this being the twenty-year anniversary.

Creator of NBC’s family drama Parenthood says the question about a revival of the series is more about when rather than if.

Marvel comics The Runaways has been ordered to series by Hulu

Morgan Freeman’s Documentary series “The Story of God” has been renewed for season 2. I really liked it but lost the last three episodes in a DVR crash.

HBO has renewed Real Time with Bill Maher through the 2018 season

Film News

The Divergent film series adapted from the young adult novels will conclude with a TV movie followed by a TV series. After two theatrical films everyone expected another one or two theatrical films to finish out the series.

The price of average movie ticket is now $8.73 which is an all-time high.

The 1984 children’s classic film Never-Ending Story will have special engagements in theaters the first week of September.

Universal studios has ordered Secret Life of Pets 2.

Will Ferrell and John C Reilly are making a film titled Holmes & Watson for Sony pictures

The big-screen remake of Ben Hur open to horrible ratings. I never really thought it needed to be remade. Apparently I was right.

Jennifer Lawrence repeats as Forbes highest paid actress. $46 million this year down from $52 million last year.

Sony pictures is remaking Jumanji starting Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Nick Jonas and former Dr. who companion Karen Gillan.

Casting News

Big surprise Thomas Gibson has been fired from Criminal Minds where he has played agent Aaron Hotchner for all 12 season. There was some sort of physical fight onset with a writer/producer. He will be written out of the show. In the aftermath of that Paget Brewster was scheduled to return to the series for a few episodes has now been promoted back to series regular.

Maks is back! Maksim Chmerkovskiy is returning for the next season of Dancing With The Stars. Also Julianne Hough returns to the judging table with the other three regulars. And her brother Derek will be one of the dancers. Also Olympic swimmer and graduate of the Brian Williams school of public storytelling Ryan Lochte is among the “celebrities” on the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars. However he’s already proven he can’t dance his way out of a tough situation 🙂 Although we just learned that he has been partnered with returning pro Cheryl Burke who we are happy to see returned after a year off. Other notable contestants was former presidential candidate Rick Perry and former Marcia Brady herself Maureen McCormick

Jennifer Esposito formally of Blue Bloods is joining NCIS filling the void left by Tony DeNozzo. Also Sarah Clarke who had a recurring role in NCIS will not be back this season.

Benedict Samuels who played one of the “Wolf” bad guys in The Walking Dead is joining the cast of Gotham as The Mad Hatter.

Former Grey’s Anatomy doctor T.R. Knight will have a recurring role in season 2 of The Catch

Thomas Jefferson joins black-ish. Actually Daveed Diggs who played Jefferson on Broadway in Hamilton is joining the cast of black-ish in a recurring role as Bow’s brother.

Katie Sehgal will appear on Big Bang Theory as Penny’s mom this season. The two previously played mother/daughter in “8 Simple Rules” previously.

Whoopi Goldberg has signed for another year on daytime talk show The View

Rick Springfield has joined the cast of CW’s Supernatural as a minion of Lucifer

Virginia Madsen will be a returning character in Kiefer Sutherland’s new series on Fox “Designated Survivor”

Nichelle Nichols will guest star on upcoming episodes of daytime soap The Young and the Restless to celebrate if 11,000th episode.

Elizabeth Marvel who played presidential candidate Kathryn Dunbar on House of Cards has been cast as President-elect Elizabeth Kean of the upcoming season of Showtime’s Homeland which will debut January 2017 and will be based in New York.

VP Joe Biden will guest star as himself on an upcoming episode of Law and Order:SVU

Calista Flockhart will return to Supergirl but not as a series regular. Production has been moved from Los Angeles to Vancouver where the other CW superhero shows are filmed. She does not want to move to Canada or a brutal family so they have agreed to fly her North for brief periods to film multiple scenes for multiple episodes at a time. A new character will take over the day-to-day operations of the CatCo magazine where Supergirl works.

Jimmy Fallon will host the 2017 Golden Globe Awards

Jason O’Mara has been cast as the new director of SHIELD in the upcoming season of Agents of SHIELD

Nathan Filion will guest star in several episodes of Modern Family

Mariah Carey will guest star in season 3 of Empire and will not play herself

Comedians Taran Killam, Jay Pharoah and Jon Rudnitsky will not return to Saturday Night Live next season. Killam and Pharaoh both immediately got their own comedy pilots on Showtime.

Dolph Lundgren will guest upcoming episodes of Arrow as a Russian bad guy.

Scheduling News

If you missed out on FX network American Crime Story: The People Versus O.J. Simpson you will soon be able to get it and any subsequent seasons of the anthology series on Netflix.

TNT announced that The Librarians season 3 will return November 20

Look for a four-way crossover among Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow in the upcoming season. Also look for a musical crossover between Supergirl and The Flash.

CW has ordered 22 episodes of Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and kept supernatural. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Legends of Tomorrow will get 13 episodes with Legends having an option for more episodes later.

ESPN and ABC will air a record 100 NBA games this season

ESPN coverage of the World Series of Poker. September 11

Fox TV’s new production of Rocky Horror Picture Show will air on October 20 at 8 PM


Although I don’t generally report on entertainment gossip news such as marriages, divorces, who is cheating on who I did it was interesting that Amber Heard is donating her $7 million divorce settlement from Johnny Depp to charity in its entirety.

USA network postpone the premiere of Shooter a sniper themed drama after the Dallas police ambush. And then delayed it again after the Baton Rouge police shootings.

The free streaming portion of Hulu is being discontinued. Only paid from now on. $7.99 includes commercials and $11.99 commercial free.

The U.S. Postal Service has issued 4 stamps featuring Wonder Woman. A number of punchlines come to mind but none of them are fit to print 🙂

National Geographic channel adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Reagan” is omitting the book’s controversial claim that Reagan suffered a mental decline after the assassination attempt.