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Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014
My 'Odd' goodbye to working on the McCook stage (10/24/14)
This week, instead of my usual fiddle-dee-dee, I've decided to cover some personal territory. If you indulge me by reading it, I'm thankful. Of course, you may feel free to ignore this one -- not that you need my permission to do that. Sunday afternoon, I stepped onto (and then, about three hours later, off of) a McCook stage for the final time. And it was all I had hoped it would be...
My 'Odd' goodbye to working on the McCook stage (10/23/14)
Sunday afternoon, I stepped onto (and then, about three hours later, off of) a McCook stage for the final time. And it was all I had hoped it would be.
Fall TV coverage: FOX aiming to keep their cool points (10/02/14)
The fall TV season is here, and that means it's time for a look into the future -- the near, near future, that is -- to identify the good, the bad and the rest on broadcast television. Over the next few weeks, I'll provide an overview of the fall offerings, and give my take on what will work, what won't, and where everyone will be standing at the midseason mark. This week, I'll give FOX the ol' once over...
Fall TV coverage: CBS pins fall hopes on procedurals, NFL (09/25/14)
The fall TV season is here, and that means it's time for a look into the future -- the near, near future, that is -- to identify the good, the bad and the rest on broadcast television. Over the next few weeks, I'll provide an overview of the fall offerings, and give my take on what will work, what won't, and where everyone will be standing at the midseason mark. This week, I'll stare at CBS until it gets kinda uncomfortable.
Fall TV coverage: ABC's vets will have to carry the load (09/18/14)
The fall TV season is here, and that means it's time for a look into the future -- the near, near future, that is -- to identify the good, the bad and the rest on broadcast television. Over the next few weeks, I'll provide an overview of the fall offerings, and give my take on what will work, what won't, and where everyone will be standing at the midseason mark. This week, it's ABC's turn under the microscope...
Read one, get one free: A double-feature of video reviews (08/21/14)
"Bad Words" is the feature directorial debut of actor Jason Bateman, and it plays like a first try from someone who knows his way around a movie set -- it's not without its charms. But it's the kind of movie that wants to be a bitter, biting comedy, and ultimately turns out to be rather toothless...
A tribute to Robin Williams: a virtuoso, gone too soon (08/14/14)
Robin Williams is gone. Legend. Master. Virtuoso. A touchstone. Lightning in a bottle. And now just ... gone. It's hard to wrap my head around the weight and finality of his passing. And it hurts my heart and soul when I ponder how deep and all-consuming the ocean of sadness underneath his kind exterior must have been for him to do what he (allegedly) did...
Characters the real marvels in Marvel's 'Guardians' (08/07/14)
"Guardians of the Galaxy," the latest movie out of the Marvel Studios pipeline, is that company's biggest risk since the first "Iron Man," and much like that movie, it's a giant, delightful surprise -- maybe the most purely entertaining blockbuster of the entire summer. ...
The best of 'Weird': Pop parodist has first No. 1 album (07/30/14)
'Tammy' tries too hard, burying a solid story (07/16/14)
'Jersey Boys' adaptation doesn't hit the right notes (07/09/14)
Oscars: No pizza or Twitter-crashing selfies here, only some good picks (03/06/14)
Skip one, see one; plus, a goodbye to a top filmmaker (02/27/14)
Actor Hoffman's death a profound loss (02/06/14)
Strong performances carry 'American Hustle' (01/30/14)
Oscar picks: Best Picture contest will be one race to watch (01/23/14)
'Saving Mr. Banks': The story behind 'Poppins' (01/16/14)
'Nebraska': A good film, but not a great one (01/09/14)
What else I said: My 2013 reviews (Part Three) (01/02/14)
And I said that, too: My 2013 reviews (Part Two) (12/26/13)
Yeah, I said it: My 2013 reviews (Part One) (12/19/13)
'Frozen' will melt your heart this winter (12/05/13)
Flip over all the cards: The quiz show quiz answers (11/21/13)
'Thor' sequel improves some on the original (11/14/13)
'Last Vegas' full of missed opportunities (11/07/13)
Movies to watch while hiding from the hordes (10/31/13)
New Marvel action series worth watching (10/03/13)
Emmy picks post-mortem: Same song, second verse in 2013 (09/27/13)
My Emmy picks, my Emmy picks, where did I put those? (09/20/13)
Another look: More late 2013 movies that have my attention (09/12/13)
Looking ahead: Late 2013 releases (09/05/13)
Happy birthday to me: Thinking about gifts, then and now (08/29/13)
This-and-that: The $50m Batman; Hollywood's August problem (08/22/13)
Rent this: 'Mud' an impressive piece of filmmaking (08/16/13)
Goodbye, sister: Gone from my sight, but not from my heart (08/09/13)
Looking for a Tuesday night movie? Try these (08/01/13)
Talented cast makes 'Red 2' worth a look (07/25/13)
It's been five years for this Gazetteer (07/18/13)
Quiz answers, new ratings boxes and a zombie in love (07/03/13)
Enroll the family in 'Monsters University' (06/27/13)
'Man of Steel' is solid, but not quite super (06/20/13)
Lets get quizzical, quizzical (the TV version) (06/13/13)
The lamentations of one TV theme song fan (06/06/13)
A (second) first look at the networks' fall plans (05/30/13)
A first look at the networks' fall plans (05/23/13)
Here we go again (and I don't mind) (05/16/13)
Iron Man vs. the dictionary (05/09/13)
Robinson story re-told well in '42' (05/02/13)
A review, some answers and a tribute (04/11/13)
A little trivial gamesmanship (04/04/13)
Video review: 'Les Miserables' suffers because of director's choice (03/28/13)
"Les Miserables" is one of the world's most popular musicals. Based on Victor Hugo's literary classic, it is a story of love and hate, of honesty and treachery, of redemption and damnation. The famed version produced by Cameron Mackintosh has traversed the globe, playing on stages large and larger, eventually leading to the 2012 film adaptation, now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Universal...
Dilemma over 'Burt Wonderstone' conjures magical 'aid' (03/21/13)
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Rated PG-13 "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" was a puzzle to me, one that I was grappling with for quite a while after seeing it. It's not a particularly terrible movie, but it's not a particularly good one either. As I sat at my desk here at the Gazette, I wished I had someone at hand to help me figure this picture out .....
Missed opportunities steal from 'Identity Thief' (03/07/13)
"Identity Thief," the new comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman, is a "woulda/coulda/shoulda" kind of movie, as in it woulda/coulda/shoulda been a whole lot funnier and sharper and better than it was. The movie's a big hit -- the first 2013 release to cross the $100 million mark at the U.S. box office -- but for me, it was a whole lot of missed opportunities...
A post-mortem on my Oscar picks (02/28/13)
The motion picture industry distributed its annual "attaboys" Sunday night in the form of the Academy Awards. There weren't a bunch of surprises this year, outside of the third tie in the history of the Academy Awards (in Sound Editing) and that I didn't have the urge to throw a brick through my TV at this year's host, Seth MacFarlane (no, he wasn't the best-ever, but he sure wasn't James Franco, either)...
A brush with greatness (for me, anyway) (02/21/13)
Living in McCook, Nebraska, has its share of benefits, to be sure. But being in the greater part of the Great Plains is certainly not conducive to meeting film and/or television stars, particularly those whose work you've admired for a significant period of time. And the opportunities to do so are -- at the maximum -- few and far-between...
Why they'll win -- and why they won't (02/14/13)
Nine movies are nominated for the Best Picture prize at this year's Academy Awards. Here's some compelling reasons why each of these films could take home that honor, and some reasons why they won't. Why "Amour" wins: This foreign drama about an elderly couple has been near the top of the list for a number of prizes, both from critics' groups and those inside the film industry. It's serious and sad and moving, not to mention that it comes from a respected writer-director...
Warm, humane movie deals smartly with tough issue (02/07/13)
Movies about mental illness are often tricky. The human mind and how it functions (and how it malfunctions) is a deep and continuously unfolding mystery, even in these more enlightened days. Films that portray those who are mentally ill -- even ones with the best of intentions -- often end up focusing on (and even exploiting to some degree) the fall-out from an outburst without dealing with the build-up to it, or noticing that there are people who must live with both parts...
Cooking competition needs some seasoning (01/24/13)
It's no secret that I'm a fan of cooking shows. From watching Julia Child's lively efforts on PBS as a kid to enjoying Alton Brown's deconstruction and demystification efforts on Food Network's "Good Eats" in more recent years, I've found genuine pleasure and even inspiration in watching talented people prepare meals...
Picking through the Oscar noms (01/17/13)
I've perused this year's list of nominees for the 85th edition of the Academy Awards. As usual, I cheered a little, shook my head a couple of times, and then settled on my non-valid ballot. I've been wrong before, I'll be wrong again. (Hopefully not as wrong as I was with my Emmy picks, though ... and the less said about that, the better ... ) So with that, my picks to take home the Oscars:...
Comedy's length nearly wrecks it (01/10/13)
"This Is 40," written and directed by Judd Apatow, is a window into the world of a married couple, played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, reprising roles they had in a previous Apatow film, "Knocked Up." The framing device of the film involves the ups-and-downs during the week leading up to his 40th birthday party, but it delves into pretty deep water, as the couple fights against each other and for each other through all sizes of personal and professional crises. ...
That's what I said: A year in movie reviews (12/20/12)
Boy, 2012 just zipped by, didn't it? I reviewed a baker's dozen movies in this space over the now-concluding year; here are my thoughts about them, encapsulated. My first review of 2012 was of the Dec. 2011 release of "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," starring Tom Cruise. ...
A few contenders: Movies I'm excited to see (12/13/12)
Unlike most recent years, I've been lucky so far this awards season to have actually been able to see a couple of the bigger Oscar-contending films. So far, they haven't disappointed -- I've awarded 4-star ratings to both Ben Affleck-directed "Argo" and Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln."...
Building a better Bond (12/05/12)
"Skyfall" is not the best James Bond movie ever, but it is the best one in a long, long time. It's a sharp, nifty piece of modern action filmmaking that definitely respects the history of the character (and the franchise), yet also feels like a gust of fresh air being let in to the universe created by Ian Fleming more than a half-century ago...
A lively portrait of an American legend (11/29/12)
From an early point in an American's education, you learn about Abraham Lincoln. You hear about his rural upbringing, how he was practically self-taught by firelight. You see images that burn in your memory: his gaunt, lanky figure, stove-pipe hat atop his unruly mop of hair. ...
These are a few of my favorite Bonds (11/21/12)
The newest James Bond film, "Skyfall," is rapidly becoming the most popular one in the franchise's 50-year history, having already grossed more than $660 million around the world ($160 million of that take coming from North America). What's likely driving these record-smashing ticket sales is the movie's positive buzz. ...
'Argo' is among the year's best (11/15/12)
I genuinely enjoy going to movies -- I know, not a newsflash -- but there are those "regular" moviegoing experiences which happen 99 percent of the time, and then there are the ones where I can feel, as soon as the lights go down and the opening credits roll, that there's a confidence in every part of the filmmaking. ...
Plunk down your quarters for 'Wreck-It Ralph' (11/08/12)
Disney's latest animated feature, "Wreck-It Ralph," is -- in a word -- delightful. Directed by Rich Moore, whose previous efforts include classic episodes of "The Simpsons" and "Futurama," and co-written by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee, this is one of the better entertainments of the fall, and should be an instant front-runner for the Best Animated Feature Oscar...
Making my move (11/01/12)
My wife and I are in the late stages of a move from the apartment we've lived in for the last 2-plus years to a very nice house here in McCook. Those of you who have moved in your lives (which means most of you) know the hiccups and headaches that come with each stage of the process, early on or most of the way through or anywhere in the middle...
Recent KFC ads not very appetizing (10/25/12)
As regular readers of this column know, I feel the urge to vent about commercials in this space from time to time. To be honest, 99 percent of ads are fine at what they set out to do -- offering a product to a potential consumer -- which means that it's as rare to find a great commercial as it is a truly lousy one...
Send yourself to 'Send Me No Flowers' (10/18/12)
There's a bright comedy opening in McCook this upcoming weekend called "Send Me No Flowers." Produced by the ever-active Southwest Nebraska Community Theatre Association (or SWNCTA, for those acronym-philes among you in the readership), the show starts its three-day run at the McCook Senior High Auditorium on Friday, Oct. ...
Scoring my Emmy picks: How'd I do? (09/26/12)
The Emmy Awards were handed out this past Sunday night, and while there were a fair share of surprises this year, there were many absolute non-shockers. ("The Daily Show" won its 853rd straight Variety Series trophy, for example.) Even though I've been trying to see as many of the new shows as I can for my Fall Preview review series, I do have a little breathing room (but not much, as the new CBS dramas "Vegas" and "Elementary" are up next week; mark your calendars appropriately), so I figured it would be a good chance for me to take stock of how well I did in my picks.. ...
Fall TV preview: New comedies are a decidedly mixed bag (09/20/12)
Copy-and-pasted from last week's column, but it's relevant and bears repeating: The new season is upon us, so it's time to start looking at the pilots that made it to series at the broadcast networks. I'm always excited to see the new line-ups at the start of the fall, even though I know that pilots can be a mixed bag. ...
Fall TV preview: Two new dramas offer dark look into future (09/13/12)
The new season is upon us, so it's time to start looking at the pilots that made it to series at the broadcast networks. I'm always excited to see the new line-ups at the start of the fall, even though I know that pilots can be a mixed bag. Good starts can end up feeling like wasted time when the show goes to series, while mediocre introductions sometimes yield tremendous programs in the long run. ...
Clearing the decks for fall (09/06/12)
Next week, I plan to start presenting my looks at as many of the new fall network series as I can fit into this space. (Those will run throughout September and into October, interrupted only by an Emmy awards review.) So this week, as a way to get myself trained up for that (and to clear out the idea inventory), I've got a few random -- and short -- bits of TV news to share. (Keepin' it brief; what a concept!)...
Screams and yippee-ki-yays: an elegy for the late weekend movie (08/30/12)
By the time you've had a chance to read this week's column (or, in most cases, accidentally given it a glance while hurrying past, as good and sensible folks such as yourselves oughta), my birthday will have come and gone. Songs will have been sung, cards and gifts will have been opened, candles on the cake lit and snuffed -- and hopefully removed before the cake was eaten...
New 'Bourne' a slow starter (08/23/12)
"The Bourne Legacy" isn't a bad movie. Not at all. But after seeing it I was reminded of the World War II-era slogan, "Is this trip necessary?" You are probably already aware that the fourth film in the franchise doesn't feature its title character. ...
'The Campaign' disappoints, despite some big laughs (08/16/12)
To be honest, I laughed quite a bit during "The Campaign," the new Will Ferrell-Zach Galifianakis comedy, and rightfully so: some of it is tremendously funny. (A few of the best bits have been shown in television ads for the movie, and a few of them -- well -- simply can't be.) Unfortunately, this is one of those movies that feels like two or three scripts were tossed into the Story Blend-O-Matic, fingers crossed that they'd all come together. ...
Critics, viewers unhappy with NBC's Olympic tape-delay strategy (08/09/12)
Since the opening ceremonies, NBC's coverage of the 2012 Olympics from London has taken something of a beating in the press and in social media circles. While there have been complaints about editing choices and the presence of one Ryan Seacrest, the loudest and harshest criticisms revolve around the fact that many of the biggest events are being held for NBC's primetime line-up, then broadcast on a tape-delay basis. ...
Primetime Emmy nominees: my best guesses (08/03/12)
The nominees for this year's Primetime Emmy Awards were announced a couple of weeks ago, and while there is room to criticize what didn't make the lists (no Best Drama shot for the terrific FX crime drama "Justified," for example) and what did (Emmy voters, "Nurse Jackie" isn't even close to being a comedy). Here's a look at some of the major categories, with my best guesses as to who will take home the prizes on Sunday, Sept. 23...
Was 'The Artist' worthy of the hype? (07/19/12)
We've all gone through it at one time or another: there's a sensory experience we haven't had, but one we're anticipating -- a piece of music, a work of art, an elaborate meal -- and the praise for it has been so effusive, we can't avoid getting caught up in the clamor. And the longer we wait for it, the more its legend grows in our minds -- not just good, but truly great; not merely great, but extraordinary...
Memories of Saturday mornings (07/12/12)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Although I hail from a large family, I have exactly one big brother, two years older than me. I think the two of us stack up pretty evenly; except for him being taller, stronger, funnier, better-looking, better-educated, more charismatic, more personable, more accomplished and more presentable in public, we're pretty much the same...
Pixar's latest is an entertaining fairy tale (07/04/12)
The heroine of the new Disney/Pixar animated film "Brave" has a remarkably unruly head of hair -- fiery red, with lengthy curls that threaten to spring away from their roots. This hairstyle is a telling characteristic, one that neatly describes the personality of the teenage girl underneath it...
New HBO drama starts strong, but doesn't stay focused (06/27/12)
The opening scene of the new HBO Sunday night drama "The Newsroom" sets up a situation that could make for a great series. In it, a cable TV news anchor named Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels) is sitting in the middle of a contentious 3-person panel in front of a large audience of college students. ...
Maybe I should just read a book (06/21/12)
Now and then, I'm reminded of my mother's words when I would complain to her about not being able to find anything to watch on TV: "Why don't you read a book?" It's not bad advice, really, even today. I still like the printed word. And the full flower of my imagination remains intact and ready to be tapped. ...
More thoughts, musings, loose threads... (06/14/12)
You know how sometimes you have a bunch of good ideas all jostling against each other, jockeying for position in your mind, trying desperately to work their way through the barest sliver of an opening to explode into the clear? And then, without warning or explanation, something unexpected comes busting through the clutter, silencing some and shaming all the rest?...
Dawson more than just a game show host (06/07/12)
Another legend in pop culture history has left us with the June 2 passing of Richard Dawson. The comedian, actor and -- perhaps most famously -- game show host and panelist was 79. Born Colin Lionel Emm, Dawson had his breakthrough on American television in the 1960s, playing Corporal Peter Newkirk on CBS' popular sitcom "Hogan's Heroes." When that show ended in 1971, he transitioned to a spot in the regular ensemble on the NBC sketch comedy series "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" for two seasons...
New series doesn't quite make beautiful music (05/31/12)
"Duets," which airs Thursday nights at 7 on ABC, is another try by that network to mine some success from the overflow of shows like FOX's perennial smash "American Idol," via NBC's recent hit "The Voice." The hook for the show is that the celebrity panel -- made up of Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles, Robin Thicke and John Legend -- aren't merely listening to people sing and judging the performances, or even mentoring the performers in addition to their judging duties. ...
'The Avengers' is big -- and enjoyably nimble (05/24/12)
"The Avengers" has been the number one film in North America for the last three weekends in a row. It's a record-shattering success for Marvel Studios, the now-wholly-owned subsidiary of Disney -- it passed the $450 million domestic gross benchmark 10 days faster than the previous bar-setter ("The Dark Knight"), is well on its way to the half-a-billion-dollar mark, and internationally, continues to climb its way up the ladder inside the illustrious International Billion Dollar Movie Club (as of now, it sits in fourth place out of twelve titles, $150 million behind the last "Harry Potter" movie).. ...
Overstuffed 'Dark Shadows' doesn't hold together (05/17/12)
The creators of American soap operas, for the most part, do what they do (and did what they did) with a regularity that Swiss clock makers would have to respect. They would take a locale (usually a fictional city in a real state), populate it with a number of storybook character types with jobs that seemed a little exciting to the viewers (the Handsome Doctor, the Beautiful Fashion Model, the Evil Queen of the City, et cetera), then run them through all types of melodramatic paces (He's an amnesiac! She's pregnant! They're actually spies!) until stories ran their course or actors' contracts expired or the show was finally canceled.. ...
The pilots I'd like to see (part two) (05/10/12)
Last week, I wrote about a number of CBS and ABC pilots that -- based only on the show's "logline" and cast and crew information -- still managed to interest me. This week, I'll look at the offerings from NBC, FOX and The CW that do the same. There's no guarantee that these shows will be great or good or even worth watching beyond the first few minutes (never mind if they get a full series order or not), but for right now, I have to admit, these are the ones that grabbed my eye...
The pilots I'd like to see (part one) (05/03/12)
A couple of weeks ago, I used this space to talk about the shows that may or may not be returning to the various broadcast networks next fall. This time, I'll deal with some of the pilots that could be finding their way to your TV in a few short months...
In admiration of Dick Clark (04/26/12)
I was saddened at hearing about the passing of Dick Clark at the age of 82 last week -- and even a little surprised at how saddened I was. Perhaps the depth of feeling came from the fact that Clark's "American Bandstand" was a regular fixture on Saturdays in my formative years, or that in recent months I've found myself devouring multi-hour blocks of "$25,000 / $100,000 Pyramid" episodes on GSN, or even that I have long admired his show business acumen and consummate professionalism. ...
The TV bubble: What's back, what might not be (04/19/12)
As the 2011-12 television season winds down, a lot of people are wondering which network shows will be returning in Fall 2012 -- and some of those people are the ones making the schedules. Network executives are watching pilot development closely and weighing those programs (and all the factors entailed) against other pilots as well as their current line-up of shows. ...
Racy new sitcom also rather funny (04/12/12)
Two weeks ago, I included a brief and fairly positive review of ABC's new grown-ups only sitcom "Don't Trust the B-- in Apartment 23" inside one of those "random thoughts" columns, which I occasionally put together when my brain is addled (or more addled than usual, anyway), which it certainly was that week. ...
Rating relaunches long-standing argument (04/05/12)
The public fracas around the now-surrendered R rating for a documentary called "Bully" has resurrected the argument about what some people deem the deepest flaw in the U.S. motion picture rating system. It's a fact that many movies are (and have been and will be) rated R because of the repeated use of a few choice words, ones that are unprintable here. ...
Oh, the thoughts that I think that I thought (03/29/12)
I've been under the weather since last Wednesday -- and it's been a particularly nasty storm -- so instead of my regularly-scheduled rambling about one thing, my column this week is a veritable stew of bullet points and random thoughts. Here's hoping that it's cooked all the way through.....
'21 Jump Street' is a fun surprise (03/22/12)
The new action-comedy "21 Jump Street" blindsided me in the best, most refreshing way possible. It was at least ten times better than the movie that I had imagined I was about to see; most movies live up (or down) to a viewer's preconceived expectations, this one quite nearly shattered mine...
Another early goodbye to a favorite (03/08/12)
Every spring, it seems, I'm writing one of these columns. A pre-post-mortem, if you will, for a television show that I enjoy which is in trouble ratings-wise and has the odds stacked against it for renewal. A couple years ago, I wrote an early obit for the wonderfully silly satiric sitcom "Better Off Ted." Last year, I wished a fond goodbye to the solid cop drama "Detroit 1-8-7." And in 2012, my heavy-hearted attention goes to the sweet-and-salty ensemble comedy "Cougar Town."...
Oscar-winning 'Descendants' is a genuinely moving drama (03/01/12)
On Sunday night, the three screenwriters behind the George Clooney-led family drama "The Descendants" - Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash - heard their names called from the stage at the 84th Annual Academy Awards after the night's oft-repeated anticipation-building clause, "And the Oscar goes to... ...
'The River' effectively scary TV (02/16/12)
I'm not a fan of the recent wave of "found footage" movies, but I can appreciate why they're popular -- the best ones have a raw, intimate quality that feels more like reality than a typically-shot fiction film does. The new 8-episode series "The River," airing Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ...
Jeremy Blomstedt
The Entertainment Center