Archive for September, 2012

We are currently living in the golden age of television. Just like in the 40s with comics, television is giving audiences unprecedented access to content that no audience in history has been able to have. From shows about cops to shows about the beginning of man, television seemingly has it all, and that is an overwhelming positive. We are also living in an era where lots of television shows are lost in the mix as shows get straddled with airing on upcoming networks or just getting lost in the shuffle of new management of a network. This is going to be the first article in a new column that is called Shows You Aren’t Watching But Should. This is the inaugural article, so brace yourselves, and don’t tread lightly because chances are, you’re most likely not watching the shows that I’ll be spotlighting weekly. I’m hoping that changes. All of these shows I take a look at are currently airing right now or have just wrapped their current seasons and have either been renewed or awaiting renewal.

Magic City
Starz. The new kid on the block. Its claim to fame is that it was the home to the cult classic comedy Party Down before scrapping it in favor of going to an only drama primetime lineup. Sure, Starz has a long way to go before it can catch up to Showtime and HBO as a true player in the pay cable world but it has been doing well in getting a footing in an increasingly crowded market. It also has to fight off direct ompetition from Cinemax. The network has started getting some notice thanks to airing Torchwood: Miracle Day, Spartacus, and snagging Kelsey Grammer for the lead in its award winning series Boss, wherein Grammer won a Golden Globe for his work beating out the likes of Jon Hamm and Bryan Cranston. Their show that is the most underrated, but is truly a feast for the eyes, is its Miami set gangster drama Magic City.

Written by Mitch Glazer and starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Olga Kurylenko, Steven Stait, and Danny Huston amongst others, Magic City is a sprawling tale of corruption and power set in late 1950s Miami. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is our hero, playing hotelier Ike Evans, a man trying to balance his dealings with the mob underworld (as seen through his interactions with Huston’s gangster Ben Diamond) and making sure that his business is, well, legitimate in the eyes of the law. It is a balancing act that propels this series as it gets into darker and darker territory. Ike is a man that is being hunted by both sides of the law, meaning he has nowhere to hide or turn too. The law wants him because of his shady business dealings and the wanted seek the cut that Ike has hastily talked his way out of giving. It is a dynamic that has rarely been seen before. A man pushed into a corner and only has one option. Fight his way out or die trying.

The writing here is sharp. Mitch Glazer has a passion for the era and it shows in the first season. Detail that only a local with passion (yes, Glazer grew up in Miami) could really hit the marks the way this show does. Glazer, in fact, wrote every single episode in the show’s short (eight episode) first season. The storylines do not drag out for too long, and events move at a good pace. Also, thanks to it airing on Starz, this show does not shy away from nudity and while some paycable shows overdo it in the nudity department, this show shows off the buff at an appropriate level. And though it may seem unnecessary to mention the nudity, I only bring it up because there are certain people who are privy to nudity, and well, the statement was both a warning and a heads up, depending on where you fall when it comes to the category that is nudity on TV.

For people yearning for a good old fashioned gangster drama set in a place and time that has not been seen on television in a long, long time, then Magic City is the show for you. It is both sexy and tantalizing while it features a great cast in a compelling ensemble setting. This is definitely worth a shot. It is good, so check it out already! Especially since the show is in production of its second season and will feature the likes of Esai Morales and James Caan in the new season, which is set to premiere in the Spring of 2013.

Release Date: October 5th, 2012
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Olivier Megaton
Cast: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, and Rade Serbedzija
Plot: Liam Neeson returns as Bryan Mills, the retired CIA agent who stopped at nothing to save his abducted daughter in TAKEN. When he is targeted by a vengeance-seeking crimelord, Bryan must employ his “particular set of skills” to protect his family against an army out to kill them.

Thoughts: When the first Taken came out, I’ll be honest, the trailers hooked me. Liam Neeson uttering “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want…. I have a very particular set of skills…. I will look for you. I will find you. And I will kill you.”  It was that monologue that made the first film an action classic and brought Liam Neeson into a whole new realm of fame. Before Taken, he was best known for Schnidler’s List, but after it he has had a career people kill for.

Only there is something off with the latest trailers for Taken 2, though they are a flashy and beautiful, that same raw feeling, unexpected violence is gone. I suspect this film is going to go the way of The Hangover Part II, wherein the same story is told again but with a slight twist. From what I’ve gathered this film will see a family member of one of the guys killed in film one coming after Bryan Mills (Neeson) and his family for revenge and clearly people are going to be kidnapped and of course people will be killed in Mills’ pursuit to “get his family back.”

Honestly, I’m of the opinion that they should have let this one go and kept Taken as an action gem with no sequel. Unlike the Hangover, where they could have taken it into a new direction but didn’t, it’s hard to see where Taken 2 would go beyond this premise. Revenge. Simple. Sounds appealing but I get the feeling this is going to be the same old, been there before/seen him do that thing. There were early rumors that Maggie Grace, the actress who played the daughter in the first film, would take the hero role but judging from those trailers, that’s likely not going to be the case and that is disappointing. I would have loved to have seen her save her daddy this time and maybe, as a twist, have them team up halfway through the movie to save the mom and other possibly family members (brother? sister? cousin?) as a father and daughter duo. Again, though, that is likely not going to be the case here and again — that’s disappointing.

Will I be seeing this film in theaters? Maybe, if my friends drag me to it. I’ll likely see this on TV or maybe I’ll Netflix or Redbox it down the line. At this point, Taken 2 just does not have the same “must see” factor that the first film had and I’m worried that it is just not as fresh as it could be. My verdict? Wait until the reviews trickle out…

Oh man is tonight a busy TV night. My DVR will be working overtime to record the season premieres of the Emmy winning Outstanding Drama Homeland’s second season, along with the return of Once Upon a Time, now with 100% more magic in present day, and the show that I anticipate most week to week, Dexter. Spoilers will follow on Dexter‘s shocking season 6 finale. You sir, have been warned.

When we last left our favorite vigilante serial killer Dexter, he was literally caught red handed by his sister (and police lieutenant) Debra. For six seasons we have seen him do everything in his power to avoid this moment, lying, pitting the blame on others, and even killing to protect his secret. What will he do now that he has been exposed? And what will she do? I’m sure the wounds that Dexter’s serial killer brother left on Debra in season 1 will resurface as she battles with herself about turning him in or not. This is just the sorta twist that the show needed to stay fresh and after season six split the audience with love and hate (I personally loved it), the show might have a lot it needs to prove to old fans.

The series costars Michael C Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Lauren Velez, Desmond Harrington, James Remar, and David Zayas. Joining them this season will be special guest stars including Yvonne Strahovski from Chuck, and Ray Stevenson from Punisher: War Zone. Tune in tonight on Showtime at 9pm if you subscribe. If not, there are a lot of other shows for you to check out tonight.

8PM

ABC: Once Upon a Time (magical drama)
CBS: Amazing Race 21 (reality)
FOX: The Simpsons/Bob’s Burgers (animation)
NBC: Sunday Night Football (sports)
PBS: Call the Midwife (drama)
FOOD: Cupcake Wars (gameshow)
TRAVEL: Making Monsters (docu)

9PM

FOX: Family Guy/American Dad! (animation)
ABC: Revenge (drama)
CBS: The Good Wife (law drama)
AMC: Hell on Wheels (drama)
BRAVO: The Real Housewives of New Jersey (reality)
FOOD: The Great Food Truck Race (reality competition)
OWN: Oprah’s Next Chapter (docu)

10PM

ABC: 666 Park Avenue (horror drama)
CBS: The Mentalist (crime drama)
SHOW: Homeland (drama)
BBC: Copper (drama)
E!: Married to Jonas (reality)
ID: Unusual Suspects (docu)
TLC: Breaking Amish (reality)

Release Date: September 28th, 2012
Studio: Sony Pictures
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Voice Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Selena Gomez, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spad, CeeLo Green, Jon Lovitz, Chris Parnell, and Andy Samberg
Plot: Welcome to the Hotel Transylvania, Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up, free to be the monsters they are without humans to bother them. On one special weekend, Dracula has invited some of the world’s most famous monsters – Frankenstein and his wife, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, a family of werewolves, and more – to celebrate his daughter Mavis’ 118th birthday. For Drac, catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem – but his world could come crashing down when a human stumbles on the hotel for the first time and takes a shine to Mavis.

Thoughts: I absolutely love love love the classic monsters. Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Wolfman, etc, the list goes on. Growing up one of my favorite movies was The Monster Squad, which brought so many of these characters together in one movie. Sure, at the time I thought it was a horror movie and it took many years to realize that it was more of a family comedy than an actual horror movie. Nevertheless, even as an adult, the movie still works on all levels for me. I have high hopes for Hotel Transylvania and I hope that the animated flick can capture even just a little bit of the magic of The Monster Squad. The voice cast is a who’s who of modern comedy with Adam Sandler as Dracula and Kevin James as Frankenstien and enough ex-SNLers to fill a truck. The director, Genndy Tartakovsky, has a ton of TV animation work on shows such as Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpull Girls, Samurai Jack, and Star Wars: Clone Wars. I am familar with the shows, but have not watched enough of any of them to get an actual opinion on the guy. He works, and works a lot, so I’m sure that is a good sign.

This very well could be a hit or miss. It has talent behind it, but will it have enough heart? We’ll see on October 5th. Are you going to be checking into Hotel Transylvania?

This post brought to you by Kmart. All opinions are 100% mine.

Kmart Free Layaway Grid 09_12.jpg

Every year towards the Holidays we start gathering our Ultimate Geek Wishlist. Sadly, most of the time when we go to fulfill the list and get all of our holiday gifts, a lot of the stuf we wanted to get people is already gone. And in this day and age when we have free layaway as an option, it is silly not to use the feature. To make things even more boss, there is Kmart's Big Layaway Giveaway!

What is the Kmart Big Layaway Giveaway you ask? Well, starting last week and lasting until November 17th, 2012 all of the Kmart stores will be giving a lucky person something off their layaway list for free. Each store will be having one such giveaway a week. That is ten free giveaways per store… and there are a lot of Kmart stores!

BLG_Logo_Horizontal.jpg (3 documents, 3 total pages)

There are a lot of awesome things coming out this Holiday season that layaway could be useful with. I remember years ago, when I wanted to buy the Nintendo Wii, my wife and I went to more than a dozen stores before we finally were about to get one. And this was weeks after it had already come out. If we only had a layaway option, we wouldn't have had to wait so long to get it. And now the next generation of the Wii is set to come out in November. That is right, the Nintendo Wii U. I love the Wii, but this takes it to the next level and it will be hard to get your hands on this console come the Holidays. Other stuff I'm going to throw on my layaway are a bunch of Blu-Rays, including 25th Anniversary Editions of Master of the Universe and The Princess Bride, box sets of Universal Classic Monsters, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Downton Abbey, and Cinderella.

Kmart makes their layaway program very straightforward and easy to use. I have personally never used Walmart, Best Buy and Toys R Us' layaway programs, but I can not imagine them being as easy as Kmart's layaway program… and I'm pretty sure that none of them will be giving away stuff off people's list through November. What will you be adding to your Kmart layaway? Personally I would love to win something from the contest. I love free stuff.

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Posted on September 25th, 2012 by Spark | Leave a Comment
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In Part 2 we took a look at possible Casting Choices for the Big Three, so now we are going to take a moment and make some suggestions for possible Casting Choices for the Supporting Heroes. Lets jump right in!

Green Lantern/Hal Jordan/John Stewart
The “Not Nathan Fillion” Choice: Warner Brothers are really in an interesting situation over this choice. Do they stick with Ryan Reynolds or do they write off the Green Lantern film and start afresh with a new Hal Jordan or even make the switch to John Stewart. Personally, I think they should stick with Reynolds. He was a decent Hal Jordan and Green Lantern. The film itself suffered from poor direction and a lack of a credible villain as well as other story problems. Give the character a better look in the film with an actual costume rather than the stupid CGI suit and I think it will be fine. If the WB does recast, you’ll see a lot of fanboys out there are screaming for the role to be given to Nathan Fillion. I think the time has come and gone for Fillion, and he said it himself that he is very busy now and I think Fillion has aged out of the role.

Another idea would be to move away from Hal Jordan and go to the John Stewart character, making him like he was in the animated series which worked so well. As far as casting I would love to see Idris Elba take the role. I know he’s part of the Marvel verse in Thor and Ghost Rider, but Reynolds was in the third Blade, Wolverine: Origins and still may play Deadpool in his own film. So it’s not a stretch to see someone portray characters in both Marvel and DC movies. Elba is just a phenomenal actor and I think he would be brilliant as John Stewart. One thing they could do is make the origin of Green Lantern an integral part of the film. He could even possibly help take charge of the league when they need it with his military background. If they decide to scrap Reynolds then I hope they consider this as an alternative.

The Flash/Barry Allen
The Breakout Choice: I think The Flash/Barry Allen character has the potential to be the breakout character of the film, just like HULK was in The Avengers. He could be the character where you could cast someone like Bradley Cooper in the role and by the time it comes to theatres, The audience would be so looking forward to seeing the big three that it’s actually The Flash that stands out the most. I would love that to happen because The Flash is a very undervalued character in the DC universe, but to me I love the character. I was always more of a Barry Allen fan than I was Wally West, but that never really mattered because they were always great stories to read. Warner Brothers seem to love Bradley Cooper so it would seem logical that they would want to get him into what will be one of their biggest productions to date. I think Cooper would be a great choice, as a lot of the new writing on The Flash has been really good. If they keep the Ryan Reynolds Hal Jordan, I could imagine seeing the pair of them stealing scenes and bringing a well needed light hearted tone to the action.

Another choice I could see Warner Brothers going for would be Armie Hammer. His stock is pretty high at the moment thanks to his breakout role in The Social Network and getting cast as the title character in The Lone Ranger opposite Johnny Depp. The same logic applies with Cooper that Warners would want to get him in the film. He has the look of Barry Allen and could do the job easily. Either way I would be happy if one of these guys were given the role.

Aquaman/Arthur Curry
The Surprising Bad Ass Choice: I think Aquaman here has the potential to change everyone’s perception of him. A lot of people underestimate his value and see him as just the guy who can talk to his fish. The potential for an Aquaman film series could be something similar to an underwater Star Wars. Along with the Flash, Aquaman could be another one of the breakout stars of the Justice League movie. As far as casting I could see them going with a semi unknown in the role which would be great. Someone like Twilight‘s Kellan Lutz would do well in the role. He could be similar to Cavill in the fact that he would essentially be stepping up to leading man status with this role. I don’t think that would happen here, but if it leads to his own franchise then certainly there.

If the powers that be at Warner Brothers go with someone more well known then I could picture Alexander Skarsgard getting the role. He has the right look and can easily play the bad ass role of the team. He is the breakout star from True Blood and has been getting some big screen exposure with his roles in Battleship, Disconnect, and the upcoming flick The East.

Well there you have it folks, my top picks for the heroes in the Justice League movie. Let’s hope we get some good news soon as to who will direct and who will be playing the various heroes. Let’s also hope that this is good news for DC Comics fans. Maybe they will finally be able to catch up to the huge head start that Marvel got on them. In two or three years time we’ll find out.

It is that time of the year again, this Sunday, September 23rd, on ABC is the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards. The Best Drama category is damn impressive and for the first time in a long time I think that ll of the shows are very deserving, and while only one can get the award, I don’t think anyone could have hard feelings for which show is ultimately chosen. Lets take a look at the nominees.

Game of Thrones – Not Going to Win.
I can not tell you how excited I am that Game of Thornes got the honor of a nomination and the second season of supernatural medieval drama would be well deserving of a win… but sadly there isn’t a chance of it happening. The series has already taken home six Creative Arts Emmys; Outstanding (non-prosthetic) Make Up, Costumes, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, and Sound Editing. The show also has the real possibility of  Peter Dinklage taking home his second Best Actor Emmy for his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister, afterall this past season rested firmly on his shoulders and he knocked it out of the part.

Broadwalk Empire – Not Going to Win.
The second HBO series to get the Best Drama nomination and the show did already take home the Creative Arts Emmys for behind the scenes work, but like Thrones is not going to win. The second season of the period gangster drama was well received by fans and critics and ended with a (literal) bang, but it just didn’t have the raw power to overcome the beyond strong seasons delivered by Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and newcomer Homeland.

Downton AbbeyThe Wild Card.
I have to admit here, I have not seen the wildly popular PBS series. It has a very strong cast and an even stronger following and could actually surprise people like me with a win here. In its third season the show is a drama, but does it have the intensity to win? Does every episode leave the viewer wanting and needing to know what happens next?

Mad Men – A Strong Possibility.
Normally this would be a sure bet. Mad Men returned with a top notch season; featuring great writing, acting, direction, etc. But in a sense it was just more of the same. It gave us exactly what we wanted, but was it surprising or shocking? Sure, Christina Hendricks’ Joan Harris took an unexpected turn well as the fate of Jared Harris’ Lane Pryce, but they were two turns I would have preferred not to see.

Homeland50/50.
I avoided watching the first season of Homeland for as long as possible, but I could only last so long with everyone telling me that I needed to give it a shot. And I am very happy I did. The storytelling was tight and suspenseful. They kept me on the edge of my seat like only Breaking Bad and Dexter usually can. Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, and Mandy Patinkin all had award caliber performances.  My only gripe was the disappointing and drawn out season final. It was a half an hour too long. Had it been as tight and well paced as the other episodes than Homeland might have a sharper edge for the win.

Breaking Bad50/50.
What can I say about a show that gets better and better with every episode? It has drama, action, thrills, and laughs, along with one of the best casts of television. Between Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Giancarlo Esposito, Anna Gunn, Jonathan Banks, Bob Odenkirk, Dean Norris, and Betsy Brandt there is not a weak link in the bunch. The story always feels like it is moving forward going into surprising and entertaining directions. The rise of Walter White, in the nominated season in particular, to the dark side puts Darth Vader to shame. And that is saying something.

Who do you think will take home the Outstanding Drama Emmy?

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