Monday, March 1, 2021

NBC's Debris launches with an intriguing concept

© NBC

NBC's new sci-fi show gets off to a good start just scratching the surface of its central mystery

by Chuck Duncan

Cast:  Jonathan Tucker, Riann Steele, Norbert Leo Butz, Scroobius Pip
Airs: Mondays at 10:00 PM ET on NBC

NBC is launching another "police procedural" series this week with a science fiction twist, and a pair of investigators that give off a Benson and Stabler vibe. I smell a sweeps month crossover event with SVU!

Okay, we know that's not going to happen but it would be cool. So what is the new series Debris about? It takes place some time after an astronomical event sent the titular space debris to Earth leading to some very mysterious occurrences now under investigation by both the US and UK in a rather uneasy partnership -- neither country seems to trust the other and keeps important information to themselves, which is likely to cause issues for partners Finola Jones (Riann Steele) and Bryan Beneventi (Jonathan Tucker) down the road.

The pilot episode is almost a self-contained story that sets up the series premise, but also has a beginning, middle and end. A woman has gone missing, her car just stopped in the middle of the road. The woman is found a couple of miles from her car, floating just above the ground, her hand caught on a piece of barbed wire fence. Bryan releases her and she continues to float toward the location of a piece of debris ... and there are other bodies there as well, whirling around as if in a small tornado.

Security footage from a gas station shows a boy in the back seat of the car, her son. Contacting the daughter at a nearby boarding school, she reveals her brother died several months ago and her mother could never get over it. That's why she went to the boarding school, to get away from her mom's insanity. At a diner, a woman exits and sees the same boy, and she instantly believes he is her son. They go to the same gas station and the same fate befalls her.

At a facility set up to examine the bodies, it's discovered that they aren't actually dead even though their hearts aren't pumping. Their brains are working though, and Bryan and Finola have to piece together how the boy is tied to the debris and the victims. Knowing they are alive, Bryan brings in the daughter to try to talk to her mother, to get through whatever is holding her in this state of suspended animation.

© NBC

Meanwhile, Finola is still investigating the area where the last victim was discovered and comes across a large piece of the debris (which we learned earlier is apparently from an alien spacecraft that exploded in space). Her close proximity to the debris draws out memories of her mother and nearly brings her close enough to touch the object. We saw earlier that touching the metallic debris can transport a person or object through solid matter, as happened to a hotel housekeeper who plunged several stories to her death.

Just in the nick of time, the girl breaks through to her mother who awakens along with all of the other victims. Finola snaps out of her own stupor and this seems to put an end to the event. But is it the end, and why did this boy appear to so many people? Finola's father, whom she apparently thinks is dead or vanished, has turned up on security footage ... but this is information Bryan's boss Craig Maddox (Leo Norbert Butz) is instructing him to keep from Fiona.

There's also intrigue in the form of a black market cartel dealing in the sale of shards from the alien spaceship. One of the men comes to a particularly gruesome end while the other gets away, but this is certainly some dangerous tech for any civilian to deal with. And Maddox is even shadier when the final shot shows he and his team attempting to reconstruct the alien ship from the pieces of debris scattered across the planet. He can only be up to no good, right?

The pilot of Debris is adequate for setting up the series. It gives us some interesting characters with Bryan and Fiona, revealing just a bit of their own backstories, and setting up Maddox as the potential series "Big Bad". It also has some nifty, if disturbing, special effects of floating bodies and people bleeding from their eyes, so there is certainly enough here to justify a second viewing. Can they keep it up and give us something reminiscent of Fringe? NBC doesn't have the best track record with sci-fi, although I suppose Manifest could fall into that category as well and has been a success. So we'll see where Debris takes us moving forward.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Disney+ Announces New Series Premiere Dates

 

At the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, Disney+ paneled some of its upcoming series, including the Disney+ Original Series Big Shot, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, and presented a Q&A with Kevin Feige, Producer, President of Marvel Studios and Chief Creative Officer, Marvel, in support of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

The streaming service also unveiled Spring and Summer premiere dates for additional new scripted series including Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Marvel Studios' Loki, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Monsters At Work, Chip ‘N’ Dale: Park Life and Turner & Hooch. The fan favorite Disney+ Original series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, returns for its second season and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Zenimation, an animated soundscape experience, premieres its second season on the service this summer. The titles join the previously announced, highly anticipated scripted series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier premiering on Friday, March 19, and The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, coming to the service on Friday, March 26.

Disney+ shared first look images from some of the upcoming Disney+ shows, including High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Chip ‘N’ Dale: Park Life and Turner & Hooch as well as key art from Big Shot.

Disney+ launched in late 2019 and quickly propelled to a leading global entertainment streaming service, touting over 94.9 million subscribers around the world as of January 2, 2021. Featuring critically acclaimed Originals, including fan favorite and Golden Globe Nominee for Best Television Series - Drama, The Mandalorian, and the global phenomenon Hamilton, nominated for two Golden Globes including Best Picture - Musical or Comedy, Disney+ provides an unmatched content experience as the dedicated streaming home for Disney’s beloved brands.

Disney+’s upcoming premiere dates are as follows:

MARCH

  • March 19 – The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
  • March 26 – The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers


APRIL

  • April 16 – Big Shot


MAY

  • May 4 – Star Wars: The Bad Batch

**Special Premiere Date.** The series will premiere on May 4th with the second episode premiering on Friday, May 7th. Subsequent episodes will premiere on Fridays.

  • May 14 – High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 2


JUNE

  • June 11 – Loki
  • June 11 – Zenimation Season 2
  • June 25 – The Mysterious Benedict Society


JULY

  • July 2 – Monsters at Work
  • July 16 – Turner & Hooch
  • July 23 – Chip ‘N’ Dale: Park Life
 
 

©Disney+

THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER (SERIES PREMIERE) – FRIDAY, MARCH 19

Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and The Winter Soldier stars Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson aka The Falcon, and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier. The pair, who came together in the final moments of Avengers: Endgame, team up on a global adventure that tests their abilities—and their patience. Directed by Kari Skogland with Malcolm Spellman serving as head writer, the series also stars Daniel Brühl as Zemo, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, and Wyatt Russell as John Walker.

 

©Disney+
 

THE MIGHTY DUCKS: GAME CHANGERS (SERIES PREMIERE) – FRIDAY, MARCH 26

In present day Minnesota, the Mighty Ducks have evolved from scrappy underdogs to an ultra-competitive, powerhouse youth hockey team. After 12-year-old Evan Morrow (Brady Noon) is unceremoniously cut from the Ducks, he and his mom, Alex (Lauren Graham), set out to build their own team of misfits to challenge the cutthroat, win-at-all-costs culture of youth sports today. With the help of Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez), they rediscover the joys of playing just for love of the game.

The series features a talented new team of up-and-coming young actors including Brady Noon, Maxwell Simkins, Swayam Bhatia, Luke Islam, Kiefer O’Reilly, Taegen Burns, Bella Higginbotham, and DJ Watts. The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers is produced by ABC Signature, a part of Disney Television Studios. Steve Brill serves as executive producer with Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa as executive producers and showrunners. Michael Spiller is also an executive producer/director on the series, with James Griffiths serving as director/EP on the Pilot. Emilio Estevez is an executive producer and Lauren Graham is co-executive producer. George Heller and Brad Petrigala of Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Jon Avnet and Jordan Kerner also serve as non-writing executive producers.



BIG SHOT (SERIES PREMIERE) – FRIDAY, APRIL 16

After getting ousted from the NCAA, a hothead men’s basketball coach must take a job at an all-girls high school. He soon learns that teenage girls are more than just X’s and O’s; they require empathy and vulnerability — foreign concepts for the stoic Coach Korn (John Stamos). By learning how to connect with his players, Marvyn starts to grow into the person he’s always hoped to be. The girls learn to take themselves more seriously, finding their footing both on and off the court.

Series regulars include John Stamos, Jessalyn Gilsig, Richard Robichaux, Sophia Mitri Schloss, Nell Verlaque, Tiana Le, Monique Green, Tisha Eve Custodio, Cricket Wampler and Yvette Nicole Brown. Created and Executive Produced by David E. Kelley, Dean Lorey and Brad Garrett; Bill D’Elia also serves as Executive Producer. The series is a Disney+ Original produced by ABC Signature.

STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH (SERIES PREMIERE) – TUESDAY, MAY 4

Star Wars: The Bad Batch follows the elite and experimental clones of the Bad Batch (first introduced in The Clone Wars) as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War. Members of Bad Batch—a unique squad of clones who vary genetically from their brothers in the Clone Army - each possess a singular exceptional skill that makes them extraordinarily effective soldiers and a formidable crew.



©Disney+

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL: THE SERIES (SEASON 2) – FRIDAY, MAY 14


In season two, the East High Wildcats, who are preparing to perform Beauty and the Beast as their spring musical, face off against rival school North High to win a prestigious and cutthroat student theater competition. Wigs are snatched, loyalties are tested, and ballads are belted. The season also features brand-new solos written by Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett.

The series stars Olivia Rodrigo, Joshua Bassett, Sofia Wylie, Matt Cornett, Larry Saperstein, Julia Lester, Dara Reneé, Frankie Rodriguez, Joe Serafini, Mark St. Cyr and Kate Reinders. Guest-starring this season are Derek Hough, Olivia Rose Keegan, Roman Banks, Andrew Barth Feldman and Asher Angel. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is executive-produced by its creator Tim Federle (Golden Globe and Academy Award-nominated Ferdinand) and is "Certified Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes, and recently was awarded a GLAAD Media Award.

LOKI (SERIES PREMIERE) – FRIDAY, JUNE 11

Loki features the God of Mischief as he steps out of his brother’s shadow in a new series that takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Tom Hiddleston returns as the title character, joined by Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku and Richard E. Grant. Kate Herron directs Loki, and Michael Waldron is head writer.



©Disney+

ZENIMATION (SEASON 2) – FRIDAY, JUNE 11


Zenimation, the series that creates a mindfulness soundscape experience with scenes from the timeless films of Walt Disney Animation Studios returns for a second season June 11 with all-new episodes. Season 2 features moments from over eight decades of acclaimed films – including scenes from Disney’s first feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs all the way through to the Studios’ latest, anticipated animated film, Raya and the Last Dragon. Unplug, relax, and refresh your senses with an aural experience like no other as Zenimation pays tribute to both the visual and sound artists who have created Disney Animation’s legacy of films. Created and edited by David Bess. Executive produced by Amy Astley. From Walt Disney Animation Studios.

THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY (SERIES PREMIERE) – FRIDAY, JUNE 25

Placed undercover at a boarding school known as The Institute, a group of orphans must foil a nefarious plot with global ramifications while creating a new sort of family along the way. Based on the bestseller by Trenton Lee Stewart which Time Magazine called one of the best young adult books of all time, The Mysterious Benedict Society stars Emmy® Award winner Tony Hale in the titular role and features a standout ensemble of young actors.

The Mysterious Benedict Society stars Tony Hale, Kristen Schaal, Ryan Hurst, MaameYaa Boafo, Gia Sandhu, Seth Carr, Emmy DeOliveira, Mystic Inscho and Marta Kessler. The series is executive produced by Sonar Entertainment, 20th Television, Jamie Tarses, Karen Kehela Sherwood, Deepak Nayar, James Bobin, Matt Manfredi (writer/creator) and Phil Hay (writer/creator). Showrunners for the series are Darren Swimmer and Todd Slavkin.

MONSTERS AT WORK (SERIES PREMIERE) – FRIDAY, JULY 2

Monsters At Work takes place the day after the Monsters, Incorporated power plant started harvesting the laughter of children to fuel the city of Monstropolis, thanks to Mike and Sulley's discovery that laughter generates ten times more energy than screams. It follows the story of Tylor Tuskmon, an eager young monster who graduated top of his class at Monsters University and always dreamed of becoming a Scarer, until he lands a job at Monsters, Incorporated and discovers that scaring is out and laughter is in.

Ben Feldman stars as the voice of Tylor Tuskmon in the series, which introduces new monster characters alongside returning favorites, including Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman). Starring alongside Feldman as part of the MIFT crew are: Henry Winkler as Fritz, the scatterbrained boss; Lucas Neff as Duncan, an opportunistic plumber; and Alanna Ubach as Cutter, the officious rule follower.

In addition to Crystal and Goodman, returning cast members from the original movies include John Ratzenberger as Yeti and Tylor's dad, Bernard; Jennifer Tilly as Celia Mae; and Bob Peterson as Roze, twin sister to his original Monsters, Inc. character, Roz. Voicing additional characters are Stephen Stanton as Smitty and Needleman, the bumbling custodial team at Monsters, Inc., and Aisha Tyler as Tylor's mom, Millie Tuskmon. Produced by Disney Television Animation, the series was developed and is executive produced by Disney animation veteran Bobs Gannaway.

TURNER & HOOCH (SERIES PREMIERE) – FRIDAY, JULY 16

When an ambitious, buttoned-up US Marshal inherits a big unruly dog, he soon realizes the dog he didn’t want may be the partner he needs. Turner & Hooch stars Josh Peck as Scott Turner, son of Detective Scott Turner portrayed by Tom Hanks in the 1989 film of the same name.

The series also stars Carra Patterson as Jessica Baxter, Scott’s brave, street-smart partner; Brandon Jay McLaren as Xavier Wilson, a cool, enigmatic marine-turned-US Marshal; Anthony Ruivivar as Chief James Mendez, Scott’s boss with a secret soft spot for Scott’s new dog, Hooch; Lyndsy Fonseca as Laura Turner, Scott’s sweet, animal-loving sister; Jeremy Maguire as Matthew Garland, Laura’s dog-loving son; and Vanessa Lengies as Erica Mouniere, the quirky head of the US Marshals dog training program. Five French Mastiffs also star as Hooch, Scott’s slobbery, loveable French Mastiff.

Turner & Hooch is a Disney+ original series produced by 20th Television. Matt Nix is creator, executive producer and writer on the series. McG is an executive producer and directed the series premiere. Michael Horowitz, Robert Duncan McNeill and Mary Viola also serve as executive producers, and Josh Levy serves as co-executive producer.

CHIP ‘N’ DALE: PARK LIFE (SERIES PREMIERE) – FRIDAY, JULY 23

Chip ‘N’ Dale: Park Life follows two tiny troublemakers trying to live the good life in a big city park while having giant-sized, sky-high adventures. Disney’s beloved chipmunks, nervous worrier Chip and laid-back dreamer Dale, make the perfect odd couple. They’re best buddies and they drive each other nuts! In their perpetual pursuit of acorns, these ultimate underdogs are joined by Pluto, Butch and other iconic Disney characters as they face down bullies great and small. Combining classic-style cartoon comedy with contemporary storytelling, the 36 seven-minute episodes are directed by Jean Cayrol and produced by Marc du Pontavice at Xilam Animation.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Trailer Roundup: South ParQ, Sky Rojo, Final Space, Invincible, Creepshow, Mare of Easttown, Godfather of Harlem, The Mosquito Coast, Mythic Quest, Kevin Can F**k Himself

March 2

 


Join animal babies Franny, Bailey, Kip, Lulu, and Tilly for even more Word Party fun! Season 5 of Word Party is available on Netflix March 2.
 

March 10

 


The all-new South ParQ Vaccination Special premieres Wednesday, March 10th at 8/7c on Comedy Central.
 

March 19

 


Formula 1: Drive to Survive is back for Season 3. As the world has been turned upside down, during one of the most challenging years for the sport, 10 teams continue to battle it out for the checkered flag.
 

The bullet has begun its journey. One month to go for Sky Rojo.
 

When her career and personal life get derailed, an aspiring young country singer named Bailey (Katharine McPhee) takes a job as a nanny for a rugged cowboy named Beau (Eddie Cibrian) and his five children. With a never-give up attitude and loads of Southern charm, this newbie-nanny is able to navigate the family dynamics and be the mother figure they’ve been missing. To her surprise, Bailey also gets the band she’s been missing in this musically talented family who help get her back on the road to stardom. Country Comfort, only on Netflix March 19.
 

March 20

 


Keep an eye out for asteroids and black holes. Final Space returns on Saturday, March 20 at 10:30p ET/PT on Adult Swim.
 

March 25

 


The sweeping fantasy series based off of the DOTA2 universe tells the story of Davion, a renowned Dragon Knight devoted to wiping the scourge from the face of the world. Following encounters with a powerful, ancient eldwurm as well as the noble Princess Mirana on a secret mission of her own, Davion becomes embroiled in events much larger than he could have ever imagined. Premieres March 25, only on Netflix.
 

March 26

 


INVINCIBLE is an Amazon Original series based on the groundbreaking comic book from Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead. The story revolves around 17-year-old Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), who’s just like every other guy his age — except his father is the most powerful superhero on the planet, Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons). The hour-per-episode series also stars Sandra Oh, Zazie Beetz, Gillian Jacobs, Zachary Quinto, Jason Mantzoukas, Melise, Mark Hamill, Mahershala Ali, Seth Rogen and more. The first three episodes are coming to Prime Video on March 26, with weekly releases through April 30 after that.
 

April 1

 


CREEPSHOW, the new anthology series based on the 1982 horror comedy classic, is still the most fun you’ll ever have being scared! A comic book comes to life in a series of vignettes, exploring terrors ranging from murder, creatures, monsters, and delusions to the supernatural and unexplainable. You never know what will be on the next page... Season 2 premieres April 1 on Shudder.
 

Don't miss the premiere of THE MOODYS, THU APR 1st only on FOX!
 

April 18

 


This limited series stars Winslet as Mare Sheehan, a small-town Pennsylvania detective who investigates a local murder as life crumbles around her. MARE OF EASTTOWN is an exploration into the dark side of a close community and an authentic examination of how family and past tragedies can define our present. Mare of Easttown, a new limited series starring Kate Winslet, premieres April 18 on HBO Max.
 

Season Two will see Bumpy continue his struggle to reclaim command over Harlem from the Italian mobsters by attempting to seed internal discord and sever their vital heroin pipeline. Meanwhile, Malcolm X will be forced to choose between violent and nonviolent response to the near constant threats to his life and his relationship with Bumpy will be severely tested. Godfather of Harlem Season 2 - only on EPIX.
 

April 30

 


High stakes, shocking twists, and a new adventure. Get a first look at the newest Apple Original series The Mosquito Coast, starring Justin Theroux and Melissa George and coming April 30th to Apple TV+.
 

May 7

 


With the quarantine finally over, the new season of Mythic Quest finds everyone back in the office (well, almost everyone), attempting to build upon the success of Raven's Banquet by launching an epic new expansion, but Ian (Rob McElhenney) and the newly promoted co-creative director, Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao), struggle with the game’s direction. Meanwhile, C.W. (F. Murray Abraham) reconciles some unresolved issues from his past, the testers (Ashly Burch and Imani Hakim) test the bounds of an office romance, and David (David Hornsby) loses yet another woman in his life as Jo (Jessie Ennis) leaves him to assist Brad (Danny Pudi). A new season of Mythic Quest returns May 7 to Apple TV+.
 

Coming Soon

 


When a one-hit-wonder girl group from the 90’s gets sampled by a young rapper, its members reunite to give their pop star dreams one more shot. They may be grown women balancing spouses, kids, jobs, debt, aging parents, and shoulder pain, but can‘t they also be Girls5eva? Girls5eva Streaming Soon on Peacock.
 

Set in Northern Ireland and written by Chris Brandon, the gripping, four-part Irish crime thriller stars James Nesbitt as a veteran detective going into his own dark past to solve a cold case.
 

The lives of four 20-something roommates - a business student, a YouTuber, a college dropout, and a personal trainer - as they navigate the chaos of being young, finding success, and finding themselves in the city of angels.
 

This is a story about a woman who keeps playing a perfect housewife. Then, one day she realizes what she wants: to kill her husband. Emmy winner Annie Murphy (Schitt's Creek) stars in KEVIN CAN F**K HIMSELF, coming to AMC Summer 2021.
 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Movie Review: Nomadland

© Searchlight Pictures

Nomadland is a movie that’s perhaps too beautiful to judge fairly.
by Jeremy Fogelman
Rating: ★★★

I first saw the work of Chloé Zhao in 2018 with her surprisingly effective movie The Rider, which explored the dangerous world of bronco riders while utilizing real people playing fictionalized versions of themselves instead of just actors. There was a rawness and realness there, and while not all of the performances worked, most did and pulled you into their world. Chloé Zhao had a fascinating way of exploring a part of America that is rarely shown, and her follow-up has a similar idea in mind.

Nomadland is both written and directed by Chloé Zhao, based on the book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder, and shot by Zhao’s partner Joshua James Richards. The first note is that the movie is gorgeous, with epic shots of the American countryside, but that’s almost gilding the lily a bit.

We follow an actual actor this time (around the year 2011), Frances McDormand playing Fern, a recent widow who’s also lost her job and struggles to find a new one. So after trying locally for a while but having immense difficulty, she comes up with a potentially crazy idea to simply live on the road while looking for a new job.

For a while she scrapes by, although living in a car has many problems, aside from the legal ones. As the days creep into winter, the danger of living in a car increases and Fern takes an opportunity to check out a fascinating sort of shared community of “nomads” run by real life person Bob Wells (no offense to the guy, who seems friendly and open, but I could tell he was not an actor). The community is mixed, with some people like Fern just trying to get by, but others are more interested in eschewing the modern world and preferring to live life on the move.

We continue to follow Fern as she travels, often without dialogue, as we are simply given the opportunity to let the landscape sink in. Here and there more real life nomads playing versions of themselves drop by, adding Zhao’s now expected hyper-authenticity to a world that’s not quite fictional. I was also pleased to see one of my favorite character actors, David Strathairn, show up, amusingly named David to parallel the real life people with their own names. He’s a great actor, and he provided instant warmth and feeling to his scene with Frances McDormand.

As for her, the character of Fern provides a very complicated role for Frances McDormand, because Fern has a great deal of internality and much of the movie is slowly letting us experience the road just like she is doing. Underlying the performance, which is perhaps obviously great, is a story about the Americans that we don’t think about.

The ones that struggle and try to survive even as their systems fail them -- is it any wonder that some of them don’t want to rely on a single place anymore? For me, a home is a place of potential stability and peace, and I don’t really relate to the idea of never wanting to stand still -- but I can still understand it. The idea of wanderlust is a complicated one, but Fern never makes it any easier on us. She’s 100% on the outside, and if she’s so comfortable there, what does that say about the rest of us?

Nomadland is a very affecting movie in many ways, even if I personally think The Rider is better, it’s still one heck of a track record so far for Chloé Zhao, who is in a position to win even more awards and maybe make a legitimately good Marvel movie (she’s credited as a co-writer for The Eternals which certainly intrigues me). Whether it’s that or something else like the announced Sci-Fi Western Dracula movie, I’m certainly on board to see what she does next.

 
 
Nomadland is currently in theaters and streaming exclusively on Hulu.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Movie Review: The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

©Amazon Studios
 

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is a surprisingly great, heartfelt time loop movie.
by Jeremy Fogelman

The time loop concept is hardly a new one, although it was popularized by the perfect movie Groundhog Day which oddly came out the same year (1993) as TV movie 12:01 which was also about a time looped day (itself based on a short story from 1973). There are many different takes on the loop idea, and many that simply poorly copy Groundhog Day, but only a few truly stand out.

I think of Edge of Tomorrow that incorporated a kickass Emily Blunt with a sci-fi twist, or last year’s Palm Springs that hit just right in pandemic times. Neither of those movies mentioned any other time loop movies, and Palm Springs only discussed it as “one of those time loop situations you hear about”. But to pretend they don’t exist is tricky, and those two are a high bar to clear.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things comes from director Ian Samuels and written by Lev Grossman, based on his short story of the same name. We start in medias res with Mark (Kyle Allen) already in the midst of his umpteenth loop, amusingly predicting his kid sister’s insults and doing little tricks and helping people in small, unnoticeable ways along his path throughout the day.

At first it seems that what’s driving Mark’s efforts is a desire to hook up with local girl Phoebe (Anna Mikami), as we see him retry multiple times that consistently fail, often around saving her from falling into a pool. In something that will be called back to multiple times, Mark hangs around his friend Henry (Jermaine Harris), who is playing a sort of first person shooter game without a name (they later call it “Warfight” which is pretty silly).

Henry offers his advice about Mark’s girl troubles, although we know that this scene must’ve been happening many times before in different ways. And unlike those other movies I mentioned, here both Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow are referenced explicitly, which is good because you have to use these nerds have seen them.

But Mark’s life gets shaken up when a girl interferes with something at the pool, which has never happened before. He eventually tracks her down -- her name is Margaret (Kathryn Newton) and she tells him almost nothing about herself. But that doesn’t really matter, as they do begin hanging out and wondering about the nature of their loop.

The title of the movie comes from an idea that Mark comes up with, a way to map the little perfect moments that happen over the course of the day in their small town. There’s a kind of almost-romance going on here, and their rapport is quite charming -- even if Margaret is always holding something back. There is clearly a mystery there, but the payoff actually works -- it’s a movie that succeeds in its emotional and humorous beats, which I was certainly surprised by.

The mechanics aren’t really the point exactly, and sure, it’s not as funny as Palm Springs, but there’s a sincerity and honesty to these two teenagers, both 17 and literally and metaphorically stuck in a moment in time. There are a few things that don’t work quite as well -- the video game callbacks aren’t really working and there’s a bit of an extended sequence about astronauts that goes on a bit too long, but there’s so much more that really works. The movie has a great way to show its scenes, some out in nature, but it’s got a kind of surreal vibe that totally fits.

The two leads are quite good, with Kyle Allen starting as a kind of nerdy athletic dude and moving on to more complicated situations. And Kathryn Newton really does a lot of great work to avoid some of those dreamgirls tropes and show off a more fully considered character. Honestly, I was surprised because Palm Springs was already so good last year and had a great romance -- although that one was more about people in their 30s stuck in time instead of the pre-college situation.

But just because it’s a surprise is no reason to be annoyed -- this movie is a very good entry in that shortlist of time loop films, a strong recommendation for either those that like that genre or simply want an elevated YA movie.

Movie Review: Bliss

© Amazon Studios
 

Bliss is an unstable sci-fi film that has a lot on its mind.
by Jeremy Fogelman

Science fiction is something that’s easier than ever to visualize due to the higher capabilities, if you have an idea and the right budget, anything you can imagine can be shown, for good or ill. But inherently science fiction is about using the genre to examine ideas about the modern world, using the advanced science in such movies as a way to help us understand them. You can handle this in a way that’s subtle or a way that’s entirely without it.

Bliss comes from writer/director Mike Cahill, and he’s an interesting artist - I recall his movie Another Earth from ten years ago that was also a sci-fi movie that didn’t really utilize its own conceit to its fullest potential. But one of the things about Bliss is that it really wants to be “interesting” and “complicated” with an ambiguous ending. But I don’t think the movie quite realizes what it’s trying to say.

We start with Greg (Owen Wilson) as he gets fired from his job at some sort of caller response company and it’s kind of a light, interesting story so far. But then quickly his life falls apart and he winds up homeless and here’s where the movie gets muddled. In a diner, an odd woman Isabel (Salma Hayek) tries to do something to him, but it has no effect. She is surprised that her “powers” didn’t work.

She then tells him that they are in a world that’s a physical simulation (the term or the movie The Matrix is never mentioned) and nearly everyone is fake. Because they aren’t, they have the capability to use telekinesis on people and objects, and she promises to show Greg how to do it. There’s a lot she isn’t saying, but there seem to be a lot of hints that she’s right, especially when Greg is also able to perform the supernatural feats.

But at the same time, Greg’s daughter Emily (Nesta Cooper) is looking for him, and from her perspective her dad is homeless and maybe out of his mind. So suddenly everyone is possibly a figment of Greg’s imagination, and every criminal act he performed with Isabel he justified because the other people are “fake” may be real after all.

© Amazon Studios

Isabel insists that the “real” world is a utopia and Greg’s concern about his fake daughter threatens to sink him into the simulation permanently. Which is a convenient story angle. Although who knows? If Greg truly is imagining everything, perhaps it’s just himself talking to himself and it’s a movie about the blurry lines between reality and technological future.

There’s a lot of interesting visuals, and the chemistry between the two leads is decent enough, but the problem is what the movie shows us. The movie is uncareful about which points of view are shown, which inherently bias its own reality in certain directions that belie the theoretical ambiguous ending that it clearly desires.

Another Earth had a similar sort of “non-ending” although I found that one more infuriating. Bliss is mostly coherent and I did care about the characters until the final act, when the craziness of the world isn’t really explained in a logical enough way to buy into it anymore. I really enjoyed a lot of the movie but I thought the ending was kind of a cop out, but on the other hand, I respect the audacious attempt at a mind bending concept.

Perhaps it’s less clever than it thinks it is, but I think the director does have a good sense of his characters, even if his worlds may need to be improved in the future.


Sunday, February 14, 2021

Trailer Roundup: The Widower, Beartown, Boss Level, Own the Room, Waffles + Mochi, Genius: Aretha, Wipeout

February 18

 


The murder of a Las Vegas woman launches investigators on a 13-year odyssey revealing twisted secrets of the most outrageous suspect they’ve ever met: a man who’s been widowed 4 times. The three-night event premieres Thursday 2/18 at 10/9c, and continues Friday 2/19 and Sunday 2/21 at 9/8c on NBC.
 

February 22

 


The @HBONordic original series #Beartown​, based on the best-selling novel, is streaming on @HBOMax February 22.
 

February 23

 


BTS will bring its own iteration of the iconic format to life straight from Seoul, South Korea - offering their fans a front-row seat to never-before-seen versions of the group's most career-defining hits and songs from their latest album BE, in intimate settings. MTV Unplugged Presents: BTS global music special premiering Tuesday, February 23 at 9PM ET exclusively on MTV.
 

February 25

 


From Emmy® winning creator JG Quintel (Regular Show) comes season two of Close Enough, the animated comedy about a married couple, their five-year-old daughter, and their divorced best friends all living together on the east-side of Los Angeles. Season two has Josh, Emily, and the gang continuing to navigate adulthood while contending with haunted couches, bulbous horses, time-traveling whiskeys, and a literal houseguest from hell -- all in their very own apartment.
 

March 5

 


LET’S. GO. 💥 #BossLevel​, premieres March 5, only on Hulu. Stuck in a time loop, doomed to repeat the same day over and over again while being hunted by dozens of deadly assassins, a man struggles to find a way out of his strange predicament.
 

March 10

 


Married or single, we've all heard it. "You could buy a house for the price of that wedding!" But have you ever stopped to think, what if you actually did?
 

March 12

 


National Geographic Documentary Films’ OWN THE ROOM follows five young star students on their journey to win one of the world’s most prestigious competitions for student entrepreneurs. The feature documentary will premiere exclusively on Disney+ on March 12.
 

Paradise PD returns March 12. And things are getting weird.
 

March 15

 


Don't miss the return of AMERICA'S MOST WANTED, MON MAR 15th only on FOX!
 

March 16

 


Waffles and Mochi embark on a global food expedition in order to become chefs. With the help of Mrs. Obama, Waffles and Mochi travel the world, learning all they can about different foods and cultures! Waffles + Mochi is available on Netflix March 16.
 

March 19

 


Are you ready? Watch the brand-new trailer for Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and start streaming the Original Series March 19 on Disney+.
 

March 21

 


Don’t miss Academy-Award Nominee Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin in the third season of the critically acclaimed global anthology series, GENIUS: ARETHA, premiering Sunday, March 21 at 9/8c on National Geographic.
 

March 25

 


Go on a deep dive of the most iconic moments in reality TV history with host Andy Cohen. Watch the For Real series premiere on March 25 only on E!
 

April 1

 


Wipeout will premiere on Thursday, April 1st at 9pm/8c. Hosted by multifaceted megastar John Cena and Nicole Byer, with Camille Kostek (Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Model 2019) serving as field host, the all-new 20-hour series takes viewers on a white-knuckle ride, featuring new course elements that will push contestants’ athleticism, endurance and determination to even greater extremes as they fight to win the grand cash prize.
 

Coming Soon

 


Do we have good news for you! Production on Outlander Season 6 is officially underway. Catch up on all seasons on the STARZ App.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Trailer Roundup: Saint Maud, Behind Her Eyes, Pelé, Punky Brewster, Moxie, Mr. Mercedes, Pacific Rim: The Black, The Nevers and more

February 9

 


VH1 says 'I Do' for Valentine's Day with all-new wish-fulfillment special My Celebrity Dream Wedding debuting on Tuesday, February 9th at 9PM ET/PT following the season premiere of Basketball Wives. The special follows three top wedding planners as they compete to give one deserving bride on a budget the celebrity inspired wedding of her dreams.
 

February 12

 


Spanish singer-songwriter Beatriz Luengo takes the stage for an intimate concert special. The second installment of the hit HBO concert series Havana Street Party Presents features exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews, hits from her latest album “Cuerpo y Alma” and much more. Joining Beatriz on stage is a gospel choir, string quintet, live DJ, and fan-favorite guests Manuel Medrano, Farina, Blas Cantó, and Orishas.
 

Discover the inspiration behind Marvel's greatest heroes. Marvel's Behind the Mask, a new documentary special, is streaming February 12 on Disney+.
 

The debut film from writer-director Rose Glass, Saint Maud is a chilling and boldly original vision of faith, madness, and salvation in a fallen world. Maud, a newly devout hospice nurse, becomes obsessed with saving her dying patient's soul - but sinister forces, and her own sinful past, threaten to put an end to her holy calling. Starring Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle, Lilly Frazer, Lily Knight, Marcus Hutton, Turlough Convery, and Rosie Sansom. A24's critically acclaimed horror film Saint Maud will be available exclusively on EPIX linear channels and streaming through the EPIX NOW app.
 

February 17

 


When the United States of America was founded, the ideals of freedom and equality did not apply to all people. These are the stories of the brave Americans who fought to right the nation’s wrongs and enshrine the values we hold most dear into the Constitution — with liberty and justice for all. Executive produced and hosted by Will Smith.
 

Based on the No1 best selling novel with *that* shock ending. Behind Her Eyes follows the entangled lives of single mother Louise and married couple Adele and David. Their story is romantic, thrilling and twisted at the same time, with an ending that is nothing short of shocking.
 

February 23

 


Pelé, the new Netflix documentary, chronicles the life of the Brazilian football player, Edson Arantes do Nascimento - better known as Pelé. The documentary looks back at the extraordinary period when Pelé, the only player to win three World Cup titles, went from a young superstar in 1958 to a national hero, amidst a radical and turbulent era in Brazilian history.
 

February 25

 


In this continuation of the iconic 80s sitcom, Punky is now a single mother of three trying to get her life back on track when she meets Izzy, a young girl in the foster system who reminds Punky a lot of her younger self. Punky Brewster. Streaming February 25.
 

March 3

 


Fed up with the sexist and toxic status quo at her high school, a shy 16-year-old finds inspiration from her mother’s rebellious past and anonymously publishes a zine that sparks a school-wide, coming-of-rage revolution. Based on the novel by Jennifer Mathieu. Directed by Amy Poehler.
 

March 4

 


Scared is an understatement: Mr. Mercedes is back for Season 3! Catch up before the new season launches March 4th on Peacock.
 

There was a time when Kaiju rose from the Pacific Rim only to encounter gigantic robots, Jaegers, built to fight them back. That time has passed. Now, Australia has been overrun by Kaiju, forcing the evacuation of an entire continent. Left behind, teenage siblings Taylor and Hayley embark on a desperate search for their missing parents, teaching themselves to pilot a battered, long-abandoned Jaeger to help in their quest and give them even the slightest hope of surviving. Premieres March 4 only on Netflix.
 

March 5

 


Transferred home after a traumatizing combat mission, a highly trained French soldier uses her lethal skills to hunt down the man who hurt her sister.
 

March 10

 


Franck, a music video director, infiltrates a rough neighbourhood in the South of France to film Tony, a charismatic but unpredictable drug gang leader wanting to break into the rap music scene. Using his camera to reveal the hidden, true face of drug dealing, Franck will get caught in a bloody gang war. A fast paced found footage thriller.
 

April

 


Society fears what it cannot understand. Experience the power of The Nevers, a new @HBO original series, this April on @HBOmax.
 

Thursday, February 4, 2021

NBC reveals its Spring schedule

NBC is reuniting two of the most popular members of the NYPD in TV history with a must-watch April 1 crossover that will serve as the launch of the highly anticipated new Dick Wolf drama, Law & Order: Organized Crime.

A two-hour television event set for Thursday, April 1, this crossover between Law & Order: SVU (9 p.m.) and Law & Order: Organized Crime (10 p.m.) will finally bring back together Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler, played by Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni.

In other scheduling news on the scripted side, Good Girls will make its season four premiere on Sunday, March 7 at 10 p.m. as Beth, Ruby and Annie get together once again as the stakes for everyone gets higher and higher.

Manifest is back for season three on Thursday, April 1 at 8 p.m. to discover what happened to the passengers on Flight 828. This marks the first time in decades that NBC has gone comedy-free on Thursdays with a continuing drama in the 8:00 PM time slot.

Newly crowned Golden Globe Award nominee Jane Levy and Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist will go on a brief hiatus after Tuesday night's episode and then return with a new date and time - Sundays at 9 p.m. beginning March 28.

And on the unscripted side, Ellen's Game of Games will shift from Mondays to Sundays beginning March 7 at 9 p.m. before moving to 8 p.m. on March 28.

The scheduling updates are as follows:

SUNDAY, MARCH 7

  • 7:00 PM - The Voice (repeat)
  • 9:00 PM - Ellen's Game of Games (Time period premiere)
  • 10:00 PM - Good Girls (Season 4 premiere)

GOOD GIRLS (SEASON 4 PREMIERE)

Good Girls follows suburban moms Beth (Christina Hendricks), Ruby (Retta) and Annie (Mae Whitman) who, at a loss over how to solve their various crippling financial troubles, decide to rob a supermarket in a heist that attracts the attention of a local gang leader, Rio.

The stakes get higher in season four as the Secret Service closes in on our women's counterfeit ring. When we last saw Beth, she was struggling to carve out her own criminal path separate from Rio, using her husband's spa company, Boland Bubbles, as a front. Ruby seemed to have salvaged her marriage after a rocky road, but only time will tell if her hidden secrets implode. Annie is focusing on inner love and healing as she takes the journey to rebuild independence.

SUNDAY, MARCH 28

  • 7:00 PM - Ellen's Game of Games (repeat)
  • 8:00 PM - Ellen's Game of Games (Time period premiere)
  • 9:00 PM - Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist (Time period premiere)
  • 10:00 PM - Good Girls


THURSDAY, APRIL 1

  • 8:00 PM - Manifest (Season 3 premiere)
  • 9:00 PM - Law & Order: SVU
  • 10:00 PM - Law & Order: Organized Crime (Series premiere)

MANIFEST (SEASON 3 PREMIERE)

Manifest returns for a third season of action-packed drama, shocking revelations and the answer to the show's biggest mystery - what happened to the passengers of Flight 828?

Over a year has passed since the miraculous homecoming of Flight 828 and the discovery of others who have mysteriously returned. While the Stone family endeavors to keep their friends safe and make their enemies believe the unbelievable, new challenges will test their trust of the callings and each other. But sticking together is more important than ever, because no matter what happens, it's all connected.

Manifest stars Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas, Athena Karkanis, J.R. Ramirez, Luna Blaise, Jack Messina, Parveen Kaur, Matt Long and Holly Taylor.

LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME (SERIES PREMIERE)

Christopher Meloni, reprising his role as Elliot Stabler, returns to the NYPD to battle organized crime after a devastating personal loss. Stabler will aim to rebuild his life as part of a new elite task force that is taking apart the city's most powerful criminal syndicates one by one.

The cast features Christopher Meloni, Dylan McDermott and Tamara Taylor.

 

 

 

A premiere date for Brooklyn Nine-Nine is to be announced.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The CW renews 12 series for 2021-2022


The CW Network has renewed 12 of its current scripted series for the 2021-2022 season, including its new breakout hit Walker, it was announced by Mark Pedowitz, Chairman and CEO, The CW Network. Additionally, The CW is ordering 5 additional episodes for this season of Walker, bringing its total episode count for 2020-2021 to 18, and 2 additional episodes of Superman & Lois, bringing its total episode count for 2020-2021 to 15.

"Though we're just a few weeks into the new season, we wanted to get a strategic head start on next season with these early renewals, which allows our production teams to start laying out story arcs and hiring staff, and at the same time, continues to provide us with a strong, stable schedule to build on for next season," said Pedowitz. "As The CW's 2020-2021 season kicks into high gear, we are thrilled creatively with the direction of our first new shows out of the gate, Walker and Superman & Lois, that we wanted to order the additional episodes to complete their first seasons, and we are particularly pleased with the huge success of the launch of Walker, which debuted as our most watched series premiere in 5 years."

The current series being ordered for the 2021-2022 season include a second season of Walker, which recently scored The CW's most watched series premiere in 5 years, as well as All American (Season 4), Batwoman (Season 3), Charmed (Season 4), DC's Legends of Tomorrow (Season 7), Dynasty (Season 5), The Flash (Season 8), In The Dark (Season 4), Legacies (Season 4), Nancy Drew (Season 3), Riverdale (Season 6) and Roswell, New Mexico (Season 4). Specific premiere dates for each series will be announced at a later time.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Trailer Roundup: Haute Dog, The Head, The Snoopy Show, Buried By the Bernards, Tell Me Your Secrets, Assembly Required, Tom & Jerry, Debris, The Mighty Ducks

February 4

 


The most adorable competition series ever created. Inspired by the social platforms and coffee table book from celebrity dog grooming expert Jess Rona, the eight-episode, half-hour series features three dog groomers facing off in a full head-to-tail creative competition showcasing canine breeds of all kinds. Rona will lead the judging panel and the show will also feature comedic commentary from celebrity guests and co-hosts. The winning groomer walks away with $10,000 and bragging rights as well as the coveted “Hot Dog” trophy to display in their salon. New episodes of Haute Dog streaming February 4 on HBO Max.
 

The longest night. The coldest truth. The Head is streaming February 4, only on HBO Max.
 

February 5

 


The Peanuts gang is back with a brand new show! Catch all six episodes of The Snoopy Show coming on February 5.
 

February 6

 


What can happen on a single day on Earth? Experience the once-in-a-decade landmark documentary film capturing the stories of people across the globe on 25th July 2020. Life in a Day is a stirring film about love, death, heartbreak, and hope that looks beyond geography and circumstance to explore what connects us as humans. Directed by Academy Award® winner Kevin Macdonald. Produced by legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott. And filmed by YOU.
 

February 8

 


Get ready for a slime-drenched showdown when our crazy computer host, Nicky, challenges kid contestants with cartoon-based questions. It’s gonna be a mess – in the best way! Coming Soon to Nickelodeon!
 

February 10

 


From housing serial killers to untimely deaths, the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles is known to many as LA's deadliest hotel. The latest chapter in the Cecil's dark history involves the mysterious disappearance of college student Elisa Lam. Check in to the Cecil Hotel on February 10, only on Netflix.
 

February 11

 


There is No “I” In Threesome follows Ollie and Zoe, a newly engaged couple who agree to try out an open relationship. The documentary from Monsoon pictures is streaming February 11, only on HBO Max.
 

February 12

 


The Map of Tiny Perfect Things tells the story of quick-witted teen Mark, contentedly living the same day in an endless loop whose world is turned upside-down when he meets mysterious Margaret also stuck in the time loop. Mark and Margaret form a magnetic partnership, setting out to find all the tiny things that make that one day perfect. What follows is a love story with a fantastical twist, as the two struggle to figure out how – and whether – to escape their never-ending day.
 

In this reality series, follow the Bernards as they manage their unconventional Memphis funeral home with lots of family dram-edy and laughter on the side.
 

February 16

 


Get a sneak peek of the drama, excitement and scorching hot moments coming your way in Season 3 of Temptation Island. New season premieres February 16 on USA Network.
 

February 18

 


This little chicken has got some BIG adventures in store! Get cracking with Archibald as he “yes-ands” his way through life in the new DreamWorks Animation show, Archibald’s Next Big Thing is Here! Coming to Peacock February 18th.
 

February 19

 


Emma is ready to start her new life in witness protection. When Mary, a mother searching for her missing daughter, discovers that Emma might be responsible for her daughter’s disappearance she hires an ex-serial predator to track Emma down. And no one is safe. Tell Me Your Secrets #Season1 #PrimeVideo
 

February 21

 


This three-part documentary series profiles hip-hop artist Tekashi 6ix9ine’s epic rise to notoriety. Through an exclusive interview with the incendiary rapper after his release from prison earlier this spring, director Karam Gill (Ice Cold, G-Funk) examines the culture of manufactured celebrity through 6ix9ine’s mastery of social media. Watch the premiere on Sunday, February 21 at 10/9c on SHOWTIME.
 

February 23

 


The HISTORY® Channel’s new nonfiction series Assembly Required stars and is executive produced by Golden Globe® winner Tim Allen as he reunites with Richard Karn who will serve as series host and executive producer, marking the 30th anniversary of the pair’s original television debut. Additionally, the duo will be joined by woodworking do-it-yourself YouTube star April Wilkerson who will act as the series’ own resident expert. In this new hourly, 10-episode competition series premiering Tuesday, February 23 at 10PM ET/PT Allen and Karn spotlight the best and brightest makers from across the country, as they compete head-to-head, to create mind-blowing builds which not only pushes each builder beyond their limits but challenges their inner fixer and inventor to build it bigger, better and more powerful.
 

February 24

 


Hoping for a fresh start, teenager Ginny and her mother, Georgia, settle in a new town. But the secrets in Georgia's past may jeopardize their future. Finding themselves before the truth finds them. Ginny and Georgia arrives on Netflix February 24.
 

Canine Intervention follows renowned Oakland dog trainer, Jas Leverette, as he runs one of the top dog training facilities in California. Cali K9 works with all breeds and are confident in being able to correct any type of behavior issue. There is no dog they can’t help and they’ve never turned a dog away. Using his unique training methods and techniques, each episode will feature Jas as he works with a variety of dogs and their owners to fix their obedience and behavior issues.
 

February 25

 


Home is where the party is! 🍻 The fam-bam is bringing it from the beach to the peak when MTV’s Floribama Shore returns on Thursday, February 25th at 8/7c!
 

February 26

 


Tom and Jerry are taking their cat-and-mouse game to the big city. Watch the trailer for the new #TomAndJerryMovie now – coming to theaters and streaming exclusively on HBO Max February 26.
 

March 1

 


Six months ago, the debris started falling... and there's more coming. Debris premieres Monday, March 1 on NBC, streaming the next day.
 

March 4

 


The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run, a Paramount+ Original, sees best friends SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star venture out of Bikini Bottom and head to the Lost City of Atlantic City on a rescue mission to save SpongeBob’s trusted snail, Gary. Stream The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run on March 4 on Paramount+.
 

March 5

 


On March 5, join Raya on her quest to find the last dragon. See Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon in theaters or order it on Disney+ with Premier Access on March 5.
 

March 26

 


This season, a new team will fly together. The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, an Original Series, starts streaming March 26 on #DisneyPlus.