Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Voice going out on a High Note


Last night was the season finale of NBC's hit new singing competition show, the Voice. Musical hopefuls - Dia, Beverly, Vicci, and Javier waited on pins and needles for host Carson Daly (still no Ryan Seacrest) to announce whose dreams would ultimately be coming true with America's final vote.

I was pulling for Dia Frampton, with her unique voice, restrained enthusiasm, quietly uncompromising image, and total creepy/sinister demeanor. Adorable! I also liked the Mentor/Mentee relationship she had with her coach, Country Musician and straight shooter, Blake Shelton.

Dia made it to the top 2, along with Javier Colon, with her awesome original song, Inventing Shadows, (check it out) ranking #1 on iTunes after Tuesday night's live performance. But after the tallies were in, with a difference of less than 2% between their number of votes ...

The winner was Javier Colon. Truth be told? The guy totally deserves it. Javier was pretty much the front-runner from the beginning, with an incredible voice and a determined, down-to-earth attitude. Confident, yet humble, he'd been working hard in the music biz for a long time, and it was nice to see that hard work pay off.


Coach Adam Levine couldn't have been more proud and happy for his protege, and despite some of the irritating aspects of The Voice, namely the coaches performances (uhg, please no more of that), it was a great premiere season for the show.

Where it succeeds out over Idol is that the competition dynamics are constantly changing throughout. Take note, FOX - 12 weeks straight of "Sing, Vote, Eliminate" just gets painfully redundant ... especially after what? 11 seasons?! So good job to The Voice and NBC for keeping viewers like me interested. Can't wait to see what in store for next season!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

At War with G4?

Daniel Tosh, host of Comedy Central's Tosh.0, is easily one of the funniest dudes on television. If you haven't see his show, you are missing out. (Tuesdays @ 10pm) However, comedians these days aren't worth ANYTHING unless they're pissing off SOMEONE, and that list continues to grow for Tosh.

First there was some beef brewing between Tosh and Conan, followed by murmurs of bad blood with Dane Cook. Most recently there's been negativity flowing out from the G4 camp, particularly (allegedly) by way of Chris Hardwick, Attack of the Show regular correspondent, and host of G4's Web Soup. Maybe it's all just friendly rivalry? As both shows have a similar format, they can't help but draw comparison, leaving it to fans to take sides as to who's better and start slinging stones in defense of their preference.

But then last night on Tosh.0, there were several pointed jabs thrown at G4. Target # 1: It's flagship program, Attack of the Show (Weeknights @ 7pm). Daniel performs a short clip, blatantly mocking a regular AOTS segment they call "What Happens Next?"

video
 
Later on, Tosh couldn't help but fire a few more barbs at former AOTS host Olivia Munn (whom I love), just for the sake of doing so.

video

I don't particularly agree with everything Tosh says about Munn, but it was still funny. And coming out of left field like that, it also lends proof that this feud may be more than just alleged ... Which I whole-heartedly support! I'm actually a fan of BOTH houses, but I wonder if the G4 crew really knows what they are up against if they choose to fire back. Either way - I'll be watching!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Another sip of HBO's True Blood

Sunday night featured the much anticipated Season 4 premiere of HBO's hit horror drama, True Blood. Many already know my feelings towards this vampire program, particularly how it pales desperately in comparison to a similar, yet SUPERIOR program of the like on the CW ... But all that aside, I wouldn't be fit to speak on True Blood if I didn't actually WATCH it ... (See how that works?)

Last season left off with lead vampire Bill burying rival, and vampire sheriff Eric in cement and battling the vampire queen of Louisiana. Tortured Tara left Bon Temps, Jason became defacto guardian over a clan of panther-blooded hillbillies, Lafayette was embracing his witch potential with his new boyfriend, and Sookie, sick of being a corner in a vampire love-triangle, disappeared into faerie world ... Yes. Literally.


Premiere? - Lackluster. Returned painful endurance of Anna Paquin's "acting", we find Sookie rejecting glowing fruit and engaged in a magical firefight with snaggle toothed elves. She comes back to the real world to discover 1 year gone by, although only a few minutes have passed for her. (cop-out) They attempt to show how "things have changed", but it's just extended aftershock of last season's dangling plot lines ... Bill & Eric still vie for Sookie. Lafayette remains a skittish disbeliever in witchcraft (even though he's had a year to adjust and lives in a world with vampires). Jason, who was "sorta a cop", is now "a cop"...

The "developments" are that Bill is now King of Louisiana. Sam, former mild manner bar owner who turned "dark" last year is running with a pack of anger embracing shape-shifters. And Tara, perpetual victim of her own hot bloodedness, is now calm and collected ... But also a cage-fighting drifter, in a lesbian relationship. The only worthwhile tale is of Hoyt and Jessica, playing house, and after only a year are ALREADY grown weary of the exercise.

My problem with True Blood, as one Peter Griffin would put it, is that "it insists upon itself." 85% of the show, to use a Richard Roeper descriptor - is "slick garbage". It's HBO, so they take every chance to remind you that with needless gore and violence, which they try to pass off as "style". Profanity, just for the sake of it, creates boring empty dialogue. Nudity, under the same pretense, is just as tiresome.

It's one of those shows that you WANT to like, and contains all the elements of something you SHOULD ... But most of the characters lack any real depth or complexity, with the storytelling being simply lazy and unimaginative. Rather than starting off with something fresh, this season will be about "teasing in the blanks" of what happened when we weren't watching ... Yawn. I'm not impressed.

Agree or disagree? True Blood viewers are made up of either "fans" that continue trying to CONVINCE themselves that it's "good", or people that are left unsatisfied week after week, continually scratching their heads as to why the show lacks any real bite.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Reviewing the Week with Andrew G

Don't you HATE not knowing what's going on when the grownups start talking? Well, now you've got the hilariously informative Mr. Andrew Gauthier in your corner, getting YOU up-to-speed with all things relevant that you should be mentally digesting. Check him out here, and weekly on YouTube with the 5 Things You Need To Know This Week!

McGonzo :(

Don't know how much you travel Lexington Ave, btwn 43rd & 44th st, but those that live, work, and/or lunch in the area will tell you that the block is a little sadder now with the SUBTRACTION of the McDonalds and Wendy's that had been home there for many years.


Who I weep for the most? - The club & bar hoppers that were reliant upon these fast food staples for sustenance, going in and coming out of Grand Central Terminal to fuel their late night adventures.

They were the picture of harmony. Coexisting side by side ...  McWendy's Combo? - You'll be missed ...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

MTV's Teen Wolf: Howl it fair?

Remember our talk about TV shows NOT taking themselves too seriously? You'd think MTV's new drama Teen Wolf, based on the 80's flick of the same name, WOULDN'T be so up its own ass, even WITH all its 'comedic' overtones, but it is.

It's horribly marked with every boring cliche. Dorky guy (who's a member of the high school athletic team, yet still an "outcast", for some reason) bitten by wolf discovers mysterious new abilities that turn him from class zero to class hero. He's got the prescribed quirky best friend to help him out, the Jock meat-head bully to keep him on his toes, the workaholic yet cool single mom who'll never be around enough to make a difference, the hot new-girl love-interest, and the mysterious town bad-boy who holds more secrets than he's willing to share.

The original movie with Michael J. Fox was at least intentionally light hearted and camp. This new series, despite 'attempts' at humor, works OVERTIME to try and be edgy. It fights to convey the threat of menace with its HEAVY tension-laden music score, empty dialogue, weak, belabored plot points, and the most crap-tacular makeup effects you've seen in a long long time.

"I just wanna be normal!" ... "I just wanna fit in!" Of ALL the vampire and supernatural programs of late, couldn't MTV at least TRY to be inventive? ... Nope. But they DO toss in the free and casual discussions of drug abuse to remind everyone that they're still in touch with relevant issues of today's youth.

No "wink". No "nod". Teen Wolf doesn't even REALIZE how bad of a show it is. I'd wager on it not lasting, but MTV renews a LOT of garbage these days ... Especially since this thing can't be costing them THAT much in production value. Don't even watch it. It's just an hour you'll never get back again.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Another shitty night in South Park


Comedy Central's landmark comedy, South Park, is coming to an end ... Well, at least that's the speculation after this past Wednesday's episode entitled "You're Getting Old". Albeit one of the funniest episodes this season, the show was full of metaphor and signals that the series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker were on the verge of hanging it all up after this, it's 15th season.

The episode featured Stan celebrating his 10th birthday, discovering he's grown into a depressing, cynical tween. From his music, to his food, to his favorite hobbies, he was only now able to perceive everything, literally, as "shit", and it was driving a wedge between him and his friends.

Below is a PRICELESS scene of Stan attempting to sit through some awful movie trailers, bearing light on much of the crap that Hollywood is churning out and cramming down people's throats.


On the other side was Randy Marsh, Stan's dad, desperately trying to reject the fact that he, as an adult, also sees the pop-culture phenomena targeted at young people as "shit". It ultimately culminates with his admission that he hasn't been happy for a long time, and both he AND Stan accept, "that after so many years, the things that defined them and that they liked to do - they just didn't care for anymore."

Was it South Park addressing the audience, commenting on itself, (i.e. - Chef's, voiced by Isaac Hayes, departure) giving a heads up that this was the end? ... Or was it just South Park messing with us, like they've ALSO done before. (i.e. - Kenny death)

I guess only time will tell. Till then, I encourage you to make every effort to catch the latest ep of South Park, either online, or on one of Comedy Centrals re-airs.

Friday, June 10, 2011

X-Misses the Spot ...

I decided to give X-Men: First Class a fair chance. Although, not only did it appear to be blatantly out of line with the continuity of the comic books and the cartoons, but, as a "prequel", it wasn't even maintaining the continuity of the previous X-Films before it. So, ok. Whatever. Let's just chalk it up to being a 'reboot', and take a look and see what this new film is all about. Cool?

It's the origin of Charles Xavier, portrayed by an outstanding James McAvoy, and his best friend/greatest foe, Magneto. It's a telling of their lives during the Cold War Era 1960's and the events that shape them into the 'champion of peaceful mutant/human coexistence' and the 'proponent of mutant over human superiority' that we will come to know. The 'big bad', and the man attempting to orchestrate WWIII in order to wipe out mankind, is Sebastian Shaw, also known as the Black King of the Hellfire Club, played by one Kevin Bacon

Shaw is actually a great choice for a movie villain, but X-Men: First Class never seemed to grasp what he's really about. Yes, "domination" and "control", but at the same time Shaw ALSO supported "coexistence", never "genocide". In that, you SHOULD have been able to see his 2 ideals, somewhat contradictory, bear fruit separately in each Xavier and Magneto. Bacon himself seemed a bit uncooked for most of the film, only finding his notes towards end or so, and his mutant followers (Azazel and Riptide) contributed nothing.

The REAL story was the 'Bromance' of Xavier and Magneto. The tale of their friendship and budding rivalry was told perfectly, with the only other strong characterization brought by Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique. Her relationship with her "adopted brother" Charles was terrific, as were the circumstances that eventually push her towards a path of "evil".

Here! Check out the full length trailer to get an inkling of what you are in for!

the rating system:

  • Loved it - one of the best movies I've seen in a long time and worth every cent of the ticket price. I can't state enough how much u need to go see this movie ...


  • Liked it - it was an enjoyable flick for the most part and I'm glad I watched it. Will I run out to buy it when released on video? ... Probably not.


  • Leave it - ranging from the truly forgettable to the "wait a minute ... that didn't make any sense" in the 1st 5 minutes after I leave the theater. Basically - a whole lotta nothin.


  • Loathed it - a movie that literally makes me ANGRY after I exit and for days and weeks after. Angry that I wasted my time and money, and angry that such a piece of shit was ever made and that people actually received payment to do so.

  • The Verdict?

    Leave it.


    There's stuff to LIKE about First Class - Xavier, Magneto, Mystique ... As well as some surprise cameos, which I won't SPOIL for you, but made for some of the BEST scenes of the entire film. However, the whole overlaying conflict of 'impending a war' was a total wash. It seemed forced, with the movie continually desperate to remind us that it was even HAPPENING. The 60's backdrop felt a lot more tacked on than it should have, and what COULD have made things better, some incredible fight scenes, (Remember Nightcrawler's intro in X2: X-Men United?) was just a disappointment. The 'showdown' at the end was a cross between snoozefest and a big cup of "who cares?"

    X-Men loyalists may appreciate it a little, and even the casual movie-goer won't HATE it, but of all the big blockbusters this summer, X-Men: First Class is one in that attendance is NOT mandatory.

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Ninten-D'oh!

    For those only partially aware of the video game world, but care enough to want to know what's next on the horizon, this week is the huge E3 Expo out in California, showcasing what all the big platforms (Playstation, X-box, etc.) and developers (Ubisoft, EA, etc.) have in store for the not so distant future. Consider it the 'Upfront Presentation' for Video Games with Tuesday's most anticipated showcase being centered around Nintendo.

    For months there's been industry buzz over Nintendo's next big system that would make its debut at E3. A system that would finally be in HD and comparable to the PS3 and 360, having titles built with "the serious gamer" in mind. The wait is over. Enter Nintendo Wii U. Yep. That's what it's called. And rather than an entirely revolutionized system, it looks just like a Kindle connected to your Wii.


    Ok. What Wii U DOES is that it provides an extended form of game play with a huge touch screen as part of the very controller itself. (the above image) Think "the 2nd screen on the Nintendo DS", but much more powerful and versatile. It's kinda cool in theory, but the presentation was all a bunch of "so what?". There was SOME tech demo but virtually NO footage of any game that will be available. They focussed almost entirely on the controller, not dishing on the specs of the system itself which left many people baffled as to whether it even IS a new system, or just an expensive add-on.

    President and COO of Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils-Aime, confirmed that although the Nintendo Wii U is backwards compatible with the Wii, it IS in fact a new system, it IS HD, and what was shown is only a sample of what Wii U is capable of. Another big takeaway was Nintendo's renwed partnerships with 3rd party developers that make the big hits for PS3 and 360, but in the past have struggled to produce great titles that took proper advantage of the Nintendo hardware. With a "renewed" commitment by these developers to "looking towards the future", I guess that's supposed to change?

    Overall, I wasn't impressed. When you hear "a new video game system", you expect something that would blow you away. Talk and promises are about the LEAST "mind-blowing" thing you can bring to a video game expo and that's all Nintendo had with the Wii U ... Even the name of the thing is stupid.


    Projected launch date? - 2nd Quarter 2012.

    Let me know your thoughts!

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    The 2011 MTV Movie Awards: The Highlight Reel ...

    MTV decided to not only go big for their 2011 Movie Awards, but to also go LIVE, which made for a few ... surprises ... More on that later. But it was hosted amply by SNL's Jason Sudeikis. MTV has had a mixed bag of Award show hosts the last few years and Sudeikis, although not the best, was far from the worst, making the obligatory cracks about MTV barely showing videos any longer, and of course, taking non-stop jabs at the former Governator and his recent ... issues. Fish in a barrel, Sudeikis. Fish in a barrel.

    Anyways, you know how I do things. Rather than give you a bland recap of the "traditional" awards given out, I prefer to give out a few of my own!

    The Best Presentation Duo Award goes to Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. You may remember that the 2 presented together at the Oscars as well, where Mila won my "Most Perfect Outfit" Award. Her dress wasn't anything special this time, but the chemistry that these 2 share is pretty undeniable.


    The Funniest Skit Award goes to Tyrese Gibson and Jason Sudeikis hilariously playing a an "actor" named Dick Fuel (bearing a striking resemblance to one Vin Diesel) who was cut out of Fast Five, but still joins a reluctant Tyrese in a PSA against the dangers of Texting while engaged in High Speed Illegal Street Races.


    The Joke Over the Audiences Head Award goes to Selena Gomez, but way of Jason Sudeikis and his triple entendre filled jabs at her relationship with Justin Bieber. With all the public pictures of the young couple lip-locked, Sudeikis warns her against "swallowing Bieber's baby teeth" ... Saying she "might choke on them". Hilarity and humiliation ensued, but I don't think even SHE quite got why. Awesome.



    Best Dressed Award (again, different than the "Most Perfect Outfit Award") goes to Jim Carey. Wearing, perhaps, the most advanced and hilarious suit anyone has ever seen, his tux featured vibrant, visual, digital displays of everything under the sun, up to and including dogs humping each other. Where was Joan Rivers for THIS outfit? Good job, sir.

    This year's winner (as well as last year's and the year before that) of the Count Your Lucky Stars You Still Have a Job Here Award goes to none other than Sway. Yeah. I really don't get what his function is anymore ... Whatever happened to Suchin Pak and Gideon Yago ... Anybody know?

    Next is the Jesus Christ, Nicki Minaj! Award which goes to ... yep! Nicki Minaj. I mean, someone ELSE wearing that outfit would probably go un-noticed. However, Nicki's unique ... dimensions ... just made it a complete show stopper. I think Ashton Kutcher would agree with me.


    Always one of my FAVORITE awards - The Most Insincere Thank You Award goes to Kristen Stewart. After like the hundredth win for Twilight, she looked like she didn't even want to be bothered with taking the stage. She then lets out a clearly audible "Oh man, this is silly ... Okay." before summoning the strength to incoherently stammer through some semblance of an acceptance speech. You get the sense that even SHE couldn't swallow the crap she was spewing, talking in circles, before eventually reaching the point of mocking the cliche'd "Thank you to all the Fans!" bit.


    Even cute little Emma Watson was shaking her pretty little head in disgust/disbelief at what was occurring on stage. Maybe Stewart had been drinking, was a bit high, or just didn't care anymore, but that was definitely one of the biggest WTF moments of the night.

    SPEAKING of Emma Watson, SHE wins the occasionally controversial Dayum! When did THAT Happen?! Award for her sexy little stride to the stage to present a clip of the upcoming Harry Potter movie, and offering the oh so subtle reminder that the girl IS in fact now a 21 year old woman. Yikes! ... but also Yay!

    The Are YOU Still Here?! Award goes to Chelsea Handler. After an embarrassingly unfunny hosting performance at last years VMAs, you'd think she'd want to bury her face in the sand for a little while longer before showing it again at the next big MTV Award show. Unfortunately for us? - No such luck.

    The You Got Screwed Tonight Award went to .... EVERYONE that "competed" against Twilight: Eclipse in any of the major film categories this year. I mean, it's the people that would actually VOTE for an MTV Award show. Which movie do you THINK they would chose!? Although snaps go out to Tom Felton (Harry Potter's Draco Malfoy) for squeezing out a win for MTV's Best Villain. Everyone else? Why'd you even bother showing up?


    The extra special Even Creepier in a Bubble Award goes to none other than Gary Busey. For some reason he was presenting in what he referred to as a 'hamster ball', but you can't help but think it was just the MTV execs way of providing some buffer (and a hint of 'protection') for the audience ... God, Busey is even menacing through the tv screen. *shudder*




    And last, but certainly not LEAST, the You Won't Catch this S*** on Repeat Award, sometimes called the "Someone's Going to have a VERY Long Day Tomorrow Award", goes to Twilight's Robert Pattinson for dropping the F' Bomb. There's usually a several second delay to "protect" viewers from celebs going off script or any insanity that might occur. Last night, someone was asleep at the switch when Rob-Pat was on stage helping to present Reese Witherspoon with the Generation Award.


    In the midst of talking about he and Reese's "relationship" in their current movie, Water for Elephants,  Pattinson makes a joke that should have been bleeped, but wasn't.

    The good news is that it made for one of the funniest bits of entire evening, and was a healthy reminder to always catch things 1st run. The BAD news is, that you aren't going to be able to see the unedited version anywhere again ... But then the GOOD news is that you know ME, and EJ WON'T let you down!

    Here ya go!

    video

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Vh1's Single Ladies: Put a Ring on it?

    So I took a look today at the much talked about new drama series Single Ladies. As the story goes, this was originally to be a 1-shot movie, but it tested well and people fell so in love with the characters that they wanted to see what happened next in their lives ... Far be it from Vh1 to ever deny the people what they want, so here we are. The question is then - "does it live up to expectations?" Yes. No. and Yes.

    Starring Stacey Dash ("Queen Perfection") as Val, Single Ladies is about a mature group of girlfriends and their adventures in love, set in the upscale and affluent black community of Atlanta. It's got all the "men did me wrong" cliches that you can see coming a mile away, but instead of flat out "victimizing" the women and "villainizing" the men in their lives, it shows the dirt that Dash and her girl-crew do, played by the also gorgeous LisaRaye and Charity Shea, with the ladies then trying to clean up the messes they helped to create. Although this doesn't "set it apart" from other shows, it definitely makes the trio much more endearing, and thus the show more watchable.


    Executive produced by Queen Latifah, Single Ladies is absolutely "Sex & the City meets The Real Housewives of Atlanta". You can see EXACTLY where the show later chopped and edited the end to "resolve" a storyline that wouldn't have worked in series, and re-shot to leave other parts open-ended, enticing viewers to come back for more.

    Is it all cheesy? You bet. There are scenes where the dialogue is forced and borderline painful. But Single Ladies doesn't take itself WAY too seriously, which works in its favor and makes it more fun overall. The women's careers are closely interwoven with fashion, music, and Hollywood, which gives them a TON to play with. The guest stars and cameos like EveChilli, Common, Cam'ron, and Lauren London, were rolling out like there was no tomorrow ... Which, I guess, there wasn't originally PLANNED to be!

    In an Oprah-less world, and the classic soaps now a thing of the past, this is the perfect time for this show to emerge. Women will love it, and if they can continue to do the "Entourage-thing" and have guest stars regularly dipping in and out, especially playing themselves, the show could really be something for Vh1.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    FOUND: 1 former Teen Drama star. Still in Working Condition!

    You recall James Van Der Beek? Star of such memorable screen consumables as the WB's Dawson's Creek (when the WB (CW) actually HAD an audience), and Varsity Blues? Well, I bet what you DIDN'T know was that he's actually still alive and working! Yeah, I know, right? And get this! - Dude is actually Funny!

    There were glimpses of his humor back when he played himself for a quick cameo appearance in Scary Movie. I like when celebrities don't take themselves too seriously. But he's essentially been off the grid, for the most part, since then ... Until RECENTLY!

    Not long ago he was spotted in the surprisingly decent Ke$ha video - Blow, with HIS role really carrying the whole thing:


    Ke$ha: "Well, well, well. If it isn't James Van Der Douche."

    James Van Der Beek: "I don't appreciate you Slander-Beeking my name, Ke "dollar sign" ha." 

    Awesome!

    And then last night, he unexpectedly appears on Tosh.0 during a hysterical Web Redemption for the Naked Wizard. In a bit involving a "trip" to an Oz-like world, JVB is revealed to be "the man behind the curtain", making for the best bit of the night!

    Watch the full thing here!

    Tosh.0Tuesdays 10pm / 9c
    Web Redemption - Naked Wizard
    tosh.comedycentral.com
    Tosh.0 VideosDaniel ToshWeb Redemption

    He says it best, himself - "The Beek is an enigma, man! You never know WHERE I'll pop up." And with his former Creek cast-mates all doing their thing: Katie Holmes as a Kennedy and raising Suri Cruise, Joshua Jackson over there on FOX's Fringe, and my favorite, the beautiful Michelle Williams, getting Oscar nominations round the clock for her cinematic roles, it's good to see all of them still relevant, this long after graduation.