Category Archives: News

Fall ’16 TV schedule inside!

Welcome to the fall 2016 TV season, everybody! In this very post, I’ve brought together the new fall schedules for all four major broadcast networks–namely, CBS, NBC, FOX, and ABC–as well as The CW. Without further ado, jump after the fold for the full breakdown, and note that all new programs are highlighted in red. READ MORE Fall ’16 TV schedule inside!

FX ends ‘Tyrant’, an important show of our times

After three and two seasons, respectively, FX axed Middle Eastern drama Tyrant and musical dramedy Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll. My thoughts on the former below; spoilers ahead.

I stuck with Tyrant from its humble beginnings, when it was a show about a pediatrician from Pasadena who was quickly thrusted into a heated political landscape in the fictional Middle Eastern country Abuddin. During the show’s initial run, Barry had to acclimate to his estranged family consisting of his despot father and hot-headed brother. In its second going, Barry–now called by his birth name Bassam–worked alongside his brother when their father passed away. Bassam’s brother Jamal had a trigger-finger and was quick to violence, and the show hit its stride when Bassam was able to unlock Jamal’s compassion and dig up long-buried truths between the brothers. In the most recent run, Bassam takes over Abuddin and the show transitions from its familial roots to a hardcore look at the political climate there. It’s about power, and the fallout of gaining too much of it too fast–Barry becomes Bassam the Tyrant, a role he rallied against until he was sitting on the throne. It’s about revenge and sacrifice and forgiveness. That’s what you get when you look at it season by season. As a whole, Tyrant told ripped-from-the-headlines stories about the turbulence in the Middle East, and it gave a voice to those who maybe aren’t so vocal in the news today, supporters of Peace in Islam. It did so with unrelenting realism–death and sacrifice were no strangers to Bassam Al-Fayeed and his family. Far from perfect, Tyrant was a uniquely ambitious TV series in that it told important stories with emotional heft and ramifications that mirror our modern society, and it’s one that I will certainly miss.

Will Tyrant live on? Jump after the break. READ MORE FX ends ‘Tyrant’, an important show of our times

PlayStation 4 gets a mid-cycle boost with PS4 Pro: all the details inside

Sony announced not one but two new video game consoles this week at its PlayStation Meeting at the newly dubbed PlayStation Theatre in Times Square, New York. The first console unveiled, which was widely expected to launch here,  was the PS4 Slim. Of course, Sony doesn’t call it that officially, but it’s something gamers have become accustomed to during a console’s lifecycle. The updated PS4 is slimmer, lighter, and more energy efficient than the original model–it’s about 30 percent smaller and cuts power consumption by 28 percent to be more precise. Other minor differences: it boasts faster Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), a third USB 3.1 port around the back, and the optical port’s been removed. Other than that, it’s got the same guts and glory that the OG PS4 always had. The heftier PS4 will phase out of market when PS4 Slim drops September 15. For $299, you get the console fitted with a 500GB HDD, a copy of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and an slightly updated version of the DualShock 4 wireless controller. The new DS4 features a secondary light bar above the touch pad, as well as USB communication. Preorder today.

Now let’s move onto the most exciting news of the event. “We realized that for the very highly discriminatory gamer, there’s always a desire for advancement and they want it in this generation…We are adjusting and accelerating our innovation cadence,” said Sony’s Andrew House to a crowd full of anticipation. In essence, what House is saying that Sony doesn’t want to make gamers wait any longer for a new, more powerful console. Instead of announcing the PlayStation 5, Sony’s taking a page out of Microsoft’s playbook and making a new console to “complement” the standard PS4 and sit right alongside it. Enter PlayStation 4 Pro. Jump after the break for more. READ MORE PlayStation 4 gets a mid-cycle boost with PS4 Pro: all the details inside

Netflix renews ‘Stranger Things’ for season 2 (“Deleted scene” inside!)

Took ’em long enough! Today Netflix finally made the inevitable official: Stranger Things will return in 2017 with a second season. The 80s nostalgia-infused sci-fi adventure was the streaming service’s breakout hit of the summer, and it was widely expected that The Duffer Brothers would be given the opportunity to explore Hawkins, Indiana, The Upside Down dimension, and beyond with more episodes. In fact, the new season ups season 1’s episode count by one. And get this–all nine episodes have already been titled and the Duffers included the “chapter” names in the Season 2 announcement video embedded above. Can’t help but wonder about “The Lost Brother!”

Now, as excited as we all are about more Stranger Things in the pipeline, the series will be returning without its short-lived and most beloved character. That’s right, I’m talking about Barb. Poor Barb. Barb, who was kidnapped by The Demogorgon and ultimately swallowed up by the creepy-crawlers of the Upside Down. Or was she…

Pop after the break to watch a “deleted scene” from Stranger Things, provided by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. It is a riot. #BarbLives. READ MORE Netflix renews ‘Stranger Things’ for season 2 (“Deleted scene” inside!)

Nintendo celebrates its history with retro NES console release

Nintendo is on a roll. In the midst of surging in popularity thanks to the overnight success of the augmented reality smartphone app Pokémon GO, the house that built Mario has announced a new console. No, it’s not the highly anticipated next-gen NX. Ninty’s playing its most reliable card, nostalgia, by releasing a miniaturized version of its very first video game console, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which originally debuted in the States in 1985. The company describes it as a “near-identical, mini replica” of the NES and it’s compatible with all modern TV sets as it utilizes an included HDMI cable to display audio and video. In addition to the cable, the package comes complete with an AC adapter for power and one NES Classic Controller for gameplay input. The wired controller is patterned after the iconic rectangular design of the original NES gamepad. You can even connect it to a Wii Remote to play Virtual Console NES games with it on the Wii and Wii U.

Speaking of games, the mini NES, which easily fits in the palm of a hand, comes preloaded with 30 classic and cult NES titles including Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, PAC-MAN, and Kirby’s Adventure. Though Nintendo doesn’t divulge into details, it seems like your dreams of blowing into cartridges and jamming them into the console’s slot-tray have been dashed here. What is cool, however, is that each game has multiple suspend points, so you won’t have to worry about manually saving your progress and locking it with a password. Additionally, some of the onboard games will support two players, and NES Classic Controllers will be sold separately for $9.99. Update: A Nintendo spokesperson confirmed to Kotaku that the “Chamber Lid” will not accept cartridges or any other kind of physical media for that matter. In addition, the console does not connect to the Internet, so the games library here is capped to the 30 that come preinstalled. Engadget adds that original NES controllers will not work with the new NES due to differing connectors. So there you go.

The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition hits the market on November 11 at the reasonable price of $59.99. Be sure to jump after the break to view a full list of all the preloaded games, as well as an image of the retro product’s packaging.

Update (7/21): Ninty’s dropped an especially retro commercial to promote the mini console; it evokes its marketing campaign from the 80s with the classic tag, “Now you’re playing with power!”

[Via BusinessWire] READ MORE Nintendo celebrates its history with retro NES console release

‘Game of Thrones’ & ‘O.J.” lead Emmy nominations, ‘The Americans’ joins the race

Today the latest crop of Emmy nominations were announced, and they include the typical fare you’re used to seeing get recognized this time of year, as well as some welcome surprises and sour snubs.

HBO’s widely popular fantasy drama Game of Thrones earned a whopping 23 nominations, leading the pack by a narrow margin; FX’s The People Vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story (22 nods) and Fargo (18), as well as HBO comedy Veep (17) aren’t trailing far behind.

The following series vie for Best Drama: The Americans (!), Better Call SaulDownton AbbeyGame of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards, and Mr. Robot. That’s right–FX Cold War period drama The Americans, after four seasons on the air, is finally being recognized, and in more ways than one. In addition to landing in the Best Drama field, its stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell are in the race for Best Lead Actor/Actress. Both are facing some serious competition. Rhys joins Kyle Chandler (Bloodline), Rami Malek (Mr. Robot), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan), and Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) in the Best Lead Actor category; Russell makes good company with Claire Danes (Homeland), Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder), Taraji P Henson (Empire), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black, for the second consecutive year!), and Robin Wright (House of Cards).

The following series are in contention for Best Comedy: black-ish, Master of None, Modern Family, Silicon Valley, Transparent, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Veep. Best Lead Actors include Anthony Anderson (black-ish), Aziz Ansari (Masters of None), Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth), William H Macy (Shameless), Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley), and Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent). Best Lead Actresses include Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Laurie Metcalfe (Getting On), Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish), Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer), and Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie).

Over in the Limited Series field, American Crime, Fargo, The Night Manager, The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, and Roots were all nominated for a top prize. Yes, many of the OJ actors you loved watching in that series were nominated for their captivating portrayals including Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance, Cuba Gooding Jr, Sterling K. Brown, David Schwimmer, and John Travolta. Equally happy to report that AMC’s The Night Manager high praise also extends to its leads Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie.

The snubs that leave a sour taste in my mouth including the complete shunning of HBO’s The Leftovers, which came off an incredibly artistic and gripping second season featuring master-class acting and direction; the lack of love for A&E’s Bates Motel is appalling as leads Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore gave painstakingly breathtaking performances this year; also nada for Netflix/Marvel’s Jessica Jones and its stars Krysten Ritter and David Tennant, AMC’s Billions and its stars Paul Giamatti and Damien Lewis, and Netflix’s Orange is the New Black which is fresh off another solid season. And then, of course, there’s the yearly tradition of scratching one’s head over the lack of overall recognition for AMC’s The Walking Dead which year after year produces not only ratings gold but also creative powerhouse television. What makes all of these snubs somewhat more palatable is knowing that Louie Anderson squeezed into the race with a wholly deserved nod for his hysterical and nuanced turn as Zach Galifianakis’ mother in FX’s Baskets.

The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards airs live Sunday, September 18 at 7pm (EST) on ABC. Click here for the full list of nominees.

Summertime renewals: ‘Preacher’ & ‘Bloodline’ will return

AMC’s Preacher premiered in late May, just as the traditional TV season winded down, and it quickly proved to be wildly entertaining summer fare. Producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, along with Breaking Bad producer Sam Catlin, took the popular comic book series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon and adapted it for the small screen without missing a beat. The darkly comedic drama twists the supernatural genre on its head, weaving a wild tale about good vs. evil featuring a talented cast of misfits including Dominic Cooper’s entitiy-empowered Jesse Custer, Ruth Negga’s bad-ass Tulip, Joseph Gilgun’s hysterical portrayal of an Irish vampire named Cassidy. The already mythos-heavy story will continue when an expanded 13-episode second season arrives next year. Preacher currently airs Sunday nights at 9pm on AMC.

“‘Preacher’ is a special television program and we’re eager to share with fans the rest of this wild first season and, now, an expanded second season,” said AMC head Charlie Collier. “What Sam, Seth, Evan and the entire creative team have achieved in bringing Garth Ennis’ graphic novel to the screen is extraordinary. We look forward to more time with these unforgettable characters be it in Heaven, Hell, Texas or beyond.”

Netflix’s Bloodline is an interesting beast. In its debut season, the dark family drama told an incredibly compelling story about what happens when lies and deception bubble to the surface amidst a tight-knit family. It utilized tantalizing voice-overs and layered flashbacks to uncover the mysteries hiding behind all-too-believable characters embodied by an all-star cast including Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Norbert Leo Butz, and Sissy Spacek. By the end of the season–spoiler alert–Mendelsohn’s scene-stealing Danny Rayburn perished and I wasn’t so sure the show could go on without his menacing presence. Season 2 picks up right where things left off, and Danny does return in flashbacks (as expected), and perhaps more surprisingly he haunts the Rayburns in the present when his son, Nolan, crashes on the scene. The second run worked, sure, but I did not find it to be as compellingly stirring and engaging as before. Without Danny as a living, breathing antagonist to the rest of the Rayburn family, I felt the plot to be meandering and lost at times. Even still, the Rayburns without Danny are still an interesting bunch to follow, and with that said, there’s apparently more story to tell now that Netflix has officially greenlit a third season.

“Todd [Kessler], Daniel [Zelman], and Glenn [Kessler] have created a riveting family saga featuring one of the most talented ensembles in the history of television,” said Cindy Holland, VP Original Content at Netflix. “We can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds for the all-too-human Rayburns.”

Stick it here for more summer renewal news. READ MORE Summertime renewals: ‘Preacher’ & ‘Bloodline’ will return

What to watch this summer: ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Mr. Robot,’ ‘You’re the Worst’ & more

School’s out and to celebrate this fine occasion, I’ll be recommending a handful of quality TV shows to keep you busy in front of the boob tube over the long, dog days of summer. The months of June, July, and August play host to many of your favorite returning series including Orange is the New BlackMr. Robot, and You’re the Worst. Haven’t heard of them? Stop playing neighbors with Patrick Star and get with the programs! Release dates, times, and trailers are posted after the break. READ MORE What to watch this summer: ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Mr. Robot,’ ‘You’re the Worst’ & more

TV items: ‘Nashville’ picked up by CMT, ‘Orphan Black’ renewed for final season & ‘Curb’ returns

When ABC decided to cancel Nashville after four seasons, I was a bit distraught. The season four finale did wrap up most of the dangling threads and everyone pretty much had their happy ending, except for Juliette Barnes, of course, whose cliffhanger involved her jet going missing. A part of me thinks I could have gone on just fine if that was the end of Nashville. Over the years, the country music drama weaved in and out of being a soapy mess. The series, at its best, focused on the music and the trails and tribulations of making it in the music industry. At its worst, it focused on completely unrelated dramatic twists including Juliette going haywire with postpartum depression and, most recently, Rayna James’ eldest daughter emancipating herself from the family. Soap operas can have fun with drama like this, but when it starts to completely deviate from the soul of the series, that’s when viewers (like me, at least) begin to lose interest.

And yet, that feeling of being distraught wouldn’t budge and the reason is simple, really. A Nashville fan from the beginning, I wadded through the creative ups and downs, knowing I’d eventually reach the series’ natural conclusion. Though most characters did get their happy ending, it was clear that the season finale was not constructed to serve as a series finale. Its various relationships are important to the plot, including Rayna and Deacon and Scarlet and Gunnar finally embracing their inevitable soul mate statuses with each other. But here’s the thing: Nashville can’t end without celebrating the music that makes it so special. I went into this show with a public disregard of country music; simply wasn’t a fan. Nashville managed to convert me, so much so that I went to see the actors perform music from the show live at one of Nashville‘s popular tour stops. The show couldn’t just end without a proper goodbye, and that includes unforgettable music performances that hopefully harken back to season 1’s gems including but not limited to those touching duets by Scarlet and Gunnar.

This brings us to the exciting news at hand: CMT has picked up Nashville for a fifth season, and studio Lionsgate TV intends to produce additional seasons of the show “for years to come.” The renewal also includes a deal with Hulu; the streaming service will air new episodes of Nashville the day after they air on cable. Season 5 will be led by new showrunners, Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, and the plan is to pump out a full 22-episode season (as opposed to the 10-13 most cable networks do these days). Nashville lives on, and for someone who has invested four seasons of time with these characters and their stories, this is music to my ears.

Jump after the break to get the scoop on Orphan Black and Curb Your Enthusiasm. READ MORE TV items: ‘Nashville’ picked up by CMT, ‘Orphan Black’ renewed for final season & ‘Curb’ returns

E3 roundup: The latest and greatest from Microsoft, Sony & Nintendo inside

Summer’s just around the corner, and gamers know exactly what that means. E3 is in town, and The Big Three console makers are ready to show off the best they have to offer. For 2016, Microsoft took a big swing by introducing loads of new hardware, including a new Xbox console debuting in August, as well as its next-gen beast due out in 2017. Sony and Nintendo, on the other hand, laser-focused on their respective games library. The PS4 is on the verge of transforming into a virtual reality conduit, and Sony packed quite the punch with its PS VR launch lineup. Nintendo, meanwhile, lifted the veil off the next game in the coveted Legend of Zelda franchise and it looks spectacular. If there’s a theme to be had here, it’s that all three companies are churning out visually splendid and heart-pounding experiences coming to systems this year and beyond. It’s a great time to be a gamer.

For the full scoop from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo at E3, jump after the break. READ MORE E3 roundup: The latest and greatest from Microsoft, Sony & Nintendo inside

WWDC: Apple brings big updates to its four major platforms, including Siri for Mac

Apple kicked off its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) this year by introducing big updates to its four major platforms: watchOS, which powers Apple Watch; tvOS, the driver behind Apple TV; OS X, the desktop operating system running all Macs; and iOS, the mobile operating system that gives life to iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. These platforms see updates on a regular basis every year, but with WWDC in town, they aim to change the game in ways in could only imagine. You may be disappointed to hear there were no hardware unveils this time around, but fret not because these software updates demoed today are worthy of their own stage. The breakdown is after the break. READ MORE WWDC: Apple brings big updates to its four major platforms, including Siri for Mac

Upfronts: Preview The CW’s fall schedule including ‘Supergirl’ & one-hour romantic comedy

The CW, CBS’ sister network, is the little network that could, sustaining itself mostly with superheroes and vampires over the years and more recently with critically acclaimed comedies. For the upcoming 2016-17 TV season, the green-hued net has 3 new dramas and 1 new comedy entering the fray, so let’s take a look.

This fall, Supergirl is moving from CBS to The CW where it will join producer Greg Berlanti’s crop of DC-based superhero shows including ArrowThe Flash, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. CW head Mark Pedowitz promises the “biggest [crossover event]” is in the works. Supergirl will continue on in its Monday-at-8 timeslot followed by Jane the Virgin. On Tuesday, The Flash will open for new hour-long romantic comedy No Tomorrow and on Wednesday, Arrow will aim to attract viewers to new drama Frequency, an adaptation of the 2000 science fiction thriller. Thursday pairs the hot Legends of Tomorrow with veteran Supernatural (which is entering its 12th season!), and Friday sees The Vampire Diaries joined with the low rated but critically touted Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is relocating from Monday.

The single new series being held for midseason on The CW is Riverdale, a live action drama based on the characters from Archie Comics, also produced by Greg Berlanti. For fans of The OriginalsReigniZombie, and The 100, fear not; though they are all being benched in the fall, they will return sometime later in the season.

Jump after the break to view the full fall schedule and preview The CW’s new fall and midseason series with video clips and descriptions. READ MORE Upfronts: Preview The CW’s fall schedule including ‘Supergirl’ & one-hour romantic comedy