Monday, September 30, 2013

Dancing With the Stars Week 3: Hollywood Glamour & Goofiness

Once again, it's Monday, which means, once again, it's time for "Dancing With the D-List," where everything's made up and the points don't matter! 

Oh, I'm just being sarcastic. I love our weekly foray into the world of sparkly insanity on the dance floor. And this week, it's Hollywood night, where movie stars are honored (since none of the titular stars are "movie stars," strictly speaking). Let's get down to business!

Movie Review: Spectacular 'Don Jon' takes hard look at relationships

This column was originally published in the KPC Media Group newspapers and online at Read the original column here. Republished on The Pop Tarts with permission. 

Last summer, I could see that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's star was rising. He was the star of three movies ("Looper," "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Premium Rush"), all of which I enjoyed immensely.

But Gordon-Levitt has taken his career to a new height as not only the star, but also the writer and director of the spectacular "Don Jon."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Movie review of "Don Jon" posted at KPC Media Group

The movie I reviewed this week was "Don Jon," an entertaining film with a very important message. It's also the feature film writing and directing debut of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also starred in it, and he deserves a lot of praise for making such a great movie out of the gate.

You can read my full review right now on KPC Media Group's website by clicking here. I'll post the full review on Monday!

New Who-nniversary: My Ten Favorite "Doctor Who" episodes

Yesterday was the ten-year anniversary of the announcement that "Doctor Who" would be coming back to television. Since I like to celebrate obscure anniversaries like that, I've been on a New Who blogging kick!

Yesterday, I posted about a few of my favorite "Doctor Who" things. Today, here are a few more of my favorite things ... my ten favorite episodes!

I'll probably look over this list tomorrow and think I picked the wrong ones, but here they are, in the order they aired ... my ten absolute favorite "Doctor Who" episodes/story arcs ever! (Warning: Many spoilers ahead!)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Midweek Mancandy: Chris Hemsworth ... and a bonus!

Ah, it's Wednesday, which means it's time for another edition of Midweek Mancandy.

Like last week, we are going to feature yet another gorgeous Australian hunk well-known for starring in movies based on comic books.

That's right, this week's Mancandy selection is ...

Chris Hemsworth!

TV Snap Judgment: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Tuesday night was the premiere of the show I was most excited about among all the great-looking new shows premiering this fall.

Yep, I, and millions of other nerdlings around America, finally got to see the first episode of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," and you know the best thing about it? It lived up to the hype!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How I Met Your Mother's final season starts strong

Overall I like "How I Met Your Mother," but the last season or so, I've run pretty hot and cold on the show. It felt like it was starting to overstay its welcome, and I was ready to finally meet the titular mother, wrap up everyone's storylines and get on with my life. In fact, I even considered dropping the show a few times last season, although when I'd almost get to that point, the show would reel me back in with an exceptionally good episode.

The titular Mother, played by Cristin Milioti, who we finally met briefly at the end of last season.

It was with some trepidation, but also some excitement, that I watched Monday night's hourlong premiere.

TV Snap Judgment: The Blacklist

Well, that was an exciting start to a show!

"The Blacklist," the new NBC drama starring James Spader and Megan Boone, is off and running with a downright thrilling pilot, full of twists and turns and drama and car crashes and explosions and bombs and mysteries upon mysteries. The biggest question is: Will "The Blacklist" be able to sustain its excitement for an entire season?

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Dancing With the Stars" Week 2: Jump, Jive and Rhumba

It's time for another week of "Dancing With the Stars," that wacky, sparkly celebration of D-list celebrities on the dance floor! This week, it had the added bonus that someone was eliminated! Let's get to it.

Movie Review: Intense "Prisoners" worth the cringing

This column was originally published in the KPC Media Group newspapers and online at Read the original column here. Republished on The Pop Tarts with permission. 

I'll be the first to admit that I was afraid to go see "Prisoners," and there were moments I wished I were in a different theater, watching something much lighter and more fun.

But I don't regret watching this incredibly intense movie. In fact, it was a truly interesting, edge-of-your-seat experience, from dreadful beginning to delightful open ending. It's chock-full of compelling performances, thought-provoking moral quandries and a dense mystery that, while a little schlocky at moments, is still fascinating as it unravels.

"Prisoners" opens with the abduction of two little girls, Anna (Erin Gerasmiovich) and Joy (Kyla Drew Simmons) on Thanksgiving Day. A man in an RV is quickly apprehended, but when the search turns up nothing and the police, led by Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), are forced to release Alex Jones (Paul Dano), Anna's father, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) takes the law into his own hands and abducts Alex to question him, involving Joy's parents, Franklin (Terrence Howard) and Nancy (Viola Davis) in his scheme. Meanwhile, Detective Loki is working within the law to unravel the mystery of the disappearance of Anna and Joy.

"Prisoners" is about people dealing with a horrible tragedy. Keller feels he must do something, while Franklin and Nancy are complicit in his crimes but reluctant to get their hands dirty. Anna's mother, Grace (Maria Bello), meanwhile, just sleeps most of the time. As time winds on and the hopes of finding their children alive wanes, their reactions get more intense.

But what really makes "Prisoners" interesting to watch is the dichotomy between Detective Loki, who works by the book, and Keller, who doesn't. It's uncomfortable to watch Keller grimly torture Alex - he takes no real pleasure in it - because torture is tough to see, but it's even worse to watch because it's so easy to sympathize with him, too. I think of the parents I know, all of whom intensely love their children, and I can't help but wonder if they'd go to the same lengths if they thought it was the only way to save their children's lives. 

The movie can hinge on the actions of these two men in part because the actors' performances are so incredible. Hugh Jackman brings a restless energy to the role of Keller. He seems to be pacing, even when he's sitting still, and the energy builds and builds until he clearly can't take it anymore and he lashes out, violently. Jake Gyllenhaal, meanwhile, gives a masterfully understated performance. Often, it's just a twitch of his lips or a few rapid blinks of his eyes, but there are a million tiny ways that he shows how intensely he cares. It's never clear, though, if his top motivation is to actually find the missing girls, or simply to solve the case.

And that's another one of the things that makes "Prisoners" such a wonderful movie. So much is unclear, even at the end of the movie, and by leaving the audience hanging a little bit, it forces us to really think about the characters. I love it when movies give me the chance to draw a few of my own conclusions, rather than spoonfeeding every detail. 

Don't get me wrong, "Prisoners" is a tough one to watch. I don't think I could watch it if I had a young daughter of my own, and even without being a parent, there were moments that were almost too much for me. The movie made me cringe and squirm and filled me with dread, but in the end, the excellent story and performances by the lead actors kept me interested all the way to the bittersweet end.

Jenny's Take: See it before it leaves theaters.

(Rated R for disturbing violent content including torture, and language throughout. Runs 153 minutes.)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Geek-Out Time: New Photos from "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

Happy Saturday! Let's start out the weekend with some geeking out, shall we?

Effie seems to think we should!

IndieWire has lots of new pictures from "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," which you can see here. There are lots of the characters from the first movie, including Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Prim, Katniss' mom, Haymitch, Effie, Cinna, Caesar Flickerman, Plutarch Heavensbee and President Snow, but we also get to see some of the new tributes, including Cashmere, Gloss,  Johanna, Wiress, Beetee, Mags, Brutus, Enobaria and, of course, FINNICK! Eee!

I don't know about all y'all, but I am SO incredibly excited about the next "Hunger Games" movie. I am still incredibly wary about how the third book will translate on screen, because it's very introspective at times, but I think that "Catching Fire" will actually make a very exciting movie. 

A few stray thoughts:
  • Nobody else could play Katniss like Jennifer Lawrence can. She is fantastic in the role. Ditto with Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. Sheer perfection.
  • Peeta is so adorable. Josh Hutcherson is not what I pictured Peeta looking like when I read the books originally, but he is actually weirdly perfect. He is not as tall as I thought Peeta would be, but he looks strong and he has the most wonderful wounded puppy dog eyes, which is necessary because poor Peeta feels like a sad, wounded puppy a lot.
  • Effie Trinket is just plain fabulous.
  • Stanley Tucci is a national treasure. Can he be in every movie? 
  • They got Mags perfect, no?
  • And finally, LOOK AT FINNICK OMG THOSE DIMPLES! *melts*
What do you think of the new "Hunger Games: Catching Fire" photos?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Movie Review of "Prisoners" posted at KPC Media Group

This week, I reviewed the incredibly intense "Prisoners," starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. It was super uncomfortable at times, but it was also well worth watching due to a pretty good mystery and a couple of downright stunning performances.

You can read my review right now at KPC Media Group's website by clicking here, and I'll post the full review on Monday!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Celebrate International Talk Like A Pirate Day, ye scurvy dogs!

Mateys, it be one of this wench's favorite holidays: International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

The Founders, Cap'n Slappy and Ol' Chumbucket

Obviously, the main point of the holiday is to, of course, talk like a pirate, so be sure to pepper your speech with liberals uses of "Arr!" "Matey!" "Scurvy dog!" and "Wench!" There's actually an entire How-To section on the official International Talk Like A Pirate Day website.

You can also read Dave Barry's excellent column about the holiday, which brought International Talk Like a Pirate Day to the masses. For that, he ought to receive, at minimum, the Medal of Freedom. 

But here are a few more things you can do to get into the spirit of the holiday:
  • Watch a pirate movie. The obvious choice is "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," but don't forget that Disney also gave us "Peter Pan" and "Hook," both of which feature fearsome pirates. Or, watch one of my all-time favorite silly movies, "Muppet Treasure Island." Or, you could always go with that tried-and-true classic, "The Princess Bride." "The Pirates! Band of Misfits," an animated movie that came out a couple of years ago was also quite hilarious.
  • Watch a movie or TV show featuring people with a piratey attitude (pirattitude). The crew of Serenity on "Firefly" is a bunch of pirates in space. Or watch the original "Star Wars" series to see that wonderful space pirate Han Solo.
  • Read a pirate book. You could find a good nonfiction book that tells the real story of pirates, but that might bring you down, what with all the pillaging and killing and scurvy and all that. Nah, you should find a good pirate-themed romance novel or adventure book. I recommend "Good Groom Hunting" by Shana Galen. (You can read my review here.)
  • Travel to Walt Disney World or Disneyland and ride "Pirates of the Caribbean" over and over again. It's where I am in spirit today.
What are ye scurvy dogs planning to do to get into the pirate spirit today?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Midweek Man Candy: Hugh Jackman

There is something exceptionally wonderful about a man who can be simultaneously well-known for playing a huge comic-book action star and be a sexy musical theater nerd and do a smattering of "normal" movie roles exceptionally well, too. And that is why there is no other choice for this week's Midweek Mancandy other than the great ...

Hugh Jackman!

Jackman is currently the star of "Prisoners," a thriller that opens later this week (a review will be posted this weekend on the blog!), but his work in the past year or so shows Jackman's true range as an actor - not to mention his delicious mancandy side. 

Earlier this summer, Jackman starred in "The Wolverine." Wolverine is a recurring role for him - he'll be back on the big screen as Logan in "X-Men: Days of Futures Past" next year - and he is wonderful at it. Not only does he look fantastic as the muscly mutant, but he also puts a lot of soul into the character.

Last winter, Jackman played Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables," showing off his musical cred, too. In fact, Jackman is a Tony award-winning actor, having won for "The Boy From Oz," but he made his mark in the musical theater world as Curly in the Royal National Theatre's production of "Oklahoma" in 1998.

And, of course, Jackman has done a smattering of other films in a variety of genres, including action ("Real Steel"), romance ("Australia," "Kate and Leopold") and drama ("The Prestige").

Jackman is clearly extremely talented, and he's also, let's face it, downright gorgeous. What's not to love?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

TV Snap Judgment: "Sleepy Hollow"

I watched the premiere of Fox's new show "Sleepy Hollow" last night, and, although I'm going to give it a few more weeks to settle in to its sweet spot, I'm not so sure that this one is going to last too long.

I can't deny that there is some major fun to be had with this show, and I'm a big fan of the ridiculous. But, I don't know, something about this premiere just left me a little flat.

The show follows Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), who, after being killed in a Revolutionary War battle by a big scary Hessian on a horse, suddenly wakes up in the modern age. He quickly discovers that the Headless Horseman is rampaging around, sans head, and killing people in modern day times too. He must team up with police officer Abby Mills (Nicole Beharie), who is trying to figure out the mystery of the horseman, too, after he killed her partner. She pokes around in her partner's files and discovers that the horseman is one of the Horsemen ... like, of the apocalypse. Weird, right? So they must team up and stop the apocalypse, I guess.

I kind of love the concept, but I felt like the execution, at least in the first episode, was a little uneven. There were a lot of crazy-fun moments, including shootouts and fights and several people getting gloriously decapitated, as you would expect in a "Sleepy Hollow"-inspired TV show. But I'm just not sold on the story's concept. I feel like I've seen a lot of aspects of it before. I wasn't terribly charmed by Ichabod's fish-out-of-water routine after waking up 250 years in the future. I felt like the scriptwriters really only pulled that out when they needed a light moment, rather than have it be part of Ichabod's character all the time. That can be a very fun concept for a show, but only if it's deployed right. 

I did get a sense of good chemistry between Abby and Ichabod a few times, which could be one of the things that saves this show. I'm hoping that friendship and trust develops, because an odd-couple pairing like that can be very compelling.

"Sleepy Hollow" has potential, and I do hope that it gets its footing. The show intrigued me enough to watch next week, but it's going to have to up its game fast if it wants to stay on my crowded DVR. 

Did you watch "Sleepy Hollow?" What did you think of the show?

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Dancing With the Stars" - Fun on Week One!

Are you ready for a whole lot of glitter, sequins, mirror balls, terrible dancing and D-list celebrities? I am, and thank goodness, because we'll get all of that and more this season on "Dancing With the Stars!"

After a big group dance to start out the season, and a quick word from Tom Bergeron about voting - votes tonight will factor into who goes home next week, since there's no results show this year - it was time to kick off the two-hour tacky danstravaganza!
  • Brant Daugherty & Peta Murgatroyd kicked off season 17 with a cha-cha-cha to Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines." I think I'm right about Brant being cannon fodder, because although he wasn't as atrocious as the clips of his rehearsal made him look, it still wasn't a very exciting dance. I felt like Brant was relatively stiff and just a little boring.Brant and Peta are totally playing the "attraction" card, though - they were already hitting on each other! The judges, however, were impressed, and thought their dance was sizzling. Bruno and Carrie Ann did point out some problems with timing, though. Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 8; Bruno: 7. Total: 22.
  • Leah Remini & Tony Dovolani were up next with their version of a foxtrot to "Tears Dry on Their Own" by Amy Winehouse. Leah was very worried about whether she was going to do well, so all things considered, she really did a great job. I felt like her energy was a bit low, though, but I think that it was more of an attempt to be classy. However, Leah has a lot of potential, not to mention a lot of sass that I think will serve her well when she does more fun dances. The judges liked her dance, although Len did say that she was a bit "careful," which was a good word to use for her dance. Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 7. Total: 21.
  • Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff danced a contemporary dance to "If I Lose Myself" by OneRepublic. Corbin really knows how to move, which I guess we already knew because of his work on "High School Musical," but I was impressed with the artistry he showed. Contemporary dance is all about emotion, and he clearly knows how to show that through dance. I can already tell he's going to be one of the celebrities to watch every week. My only critique is that Corbin doesn't have his adorable floppy hair already. The judges were incredibly impressed - he has set the bar very high. Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 8. Total: 24.
  • Jack Osbourne & Cheryl Burke danced a foxtrot to "Pack Up" by Eliza Doolittle. He's incredibly light on his feet and incredibly charming and charismatic to watch. He's a little stiff and has a lot of problems with going back on his heels and not getting his full extensions on his arms, but I have to say that I really enjoyed the dance. Jack is going to be the guy who tries so hard and just charms absolutely everyone even if he's not the top dancer. (It doesn't hurt that his mom was so proud she was crying, which was a kind of touching.) Len said it was "well done," and Bruno thought it was very light and fun, although he told him to watch his turns. Scores: Carrie Ann 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 7. Total: 23.
  • Amber Riley & Derek Hough were next with a cha-cha-cha to "Wings," made popular by the cast of "Glee." Amber has a ton of sass and is a great dancer! I love her attitude and the way she moves! I also adored her sparkly, spangly dress and big hair! It all came together into a super fun, fast, funky cha-cha that made me smile. Bruno called her "the tigress of season 17," and that's pretty appropriate. The judges were falling all over themselves for her dance, which Len called "full-on, flat-out fabulous." Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9. Total: 27.
  • Elizabeth Berkley & Val Chmerkovskiy danced a contemporary dance to "Imagine" by John Lennon. Elizabeth is another one who is clearly a great dancer, and I was impressed by how much side-by-side dancing she and Val were doing very well in sync. There were a few little hiccups, but it was brave to go side-by-side like that. I didn't think they were quite as good as Corbin & Karina, but it was still a very nice, emotional dance. Also, Val had his shirt open, which is never, ever, ever bad. The judges were super excited, again, with their performance. Len said it was "just lovely to watch." Bruno did tell her to extend her lines, though. Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 8. Total: 24.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy & Tyne Stecklein danced a cha-cha-cha to "Weird Science" by Oingo Boingo. Bill Nye knows exactly what he's doing, because he totally played up the dorky dude thing with the dance. His dancing was kind of all over the place, although, he did have a few decent moves, but what he really had was a personality and a general joy for dancing that was a lot of fun to watch. I hope he doesn't get overshadowed by all the really good dancers this season, because he was just a lot of fun to watch - like your dorky but totally awesome uncle at your cousin's wedding. The judges were unimpressed but Carrie Ann was right that he is the kind of contestant that is the "heart of the show." Scores: Carrie Ann: 5; Len: 4; Bruno: 4. Total: 14. (And yes, the judges got booed for that.)
  • Keyshawn Johnson & Sharna Burgess were next, with a cha-cha-cha to "Treasure" by Bruno Mars. Keyshawn is super ploddy and not much of a good dancer. Mostly, he had Sharna dance around him, which, in her sparkly top and skintight gold pants, was, frankly, kind of mesmerising. I just kind of felt like Keyshawn's dance was a bit of a nothing. The judges said that he lost timing, even though he lost the moves, but they did like when he let loose later in the dance. Len liked his attitude but not the technique. Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 5; Bruno: 6. Total: 17.
  • Christina Milian & Mark Ballas danced a contemporary to "Clarity" by Zedd. I didn't feel like she really had the same intensity as the other contemporary dances. However, I really like her strength, and I felt very drawn to some of her moves. There is something very interesting about Christina, and I think that I might really enjoy seeing what she can do from week to week. She moves well. The judges dinged her for her lack of connection and confidence, even though she moves well. They wanted her to open up more, because she has a lot of potential. Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 8. Total: 22.
  • Bill Engvall & Emma Slater danced a foxtrot to "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer. The other Bill took the floor and was the other dorky uncle at the wedding - the one who can dance a little bit better than the dorky scientist uncle, but still looks like a stiff goofball on the floor. He definitely moves OK, and had a lot of fun out there. He'll be another one of the delightfully mediocre dancers that will be great to watch each week as they just plain enjoy themselves. He is definitely the Redneck Ballroom King! The judges were happy that he went out there and did it, even though he needed some more fluidity. Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 6; Bruno: 6. Total: 18.
  • Valerie Harper & Tristan MacManus were up next with a foxtrot to "Some Kind of Wonderful" by The Drifters. She moves incredibly well and is just so incredibly joyful. Yes, she's a little stiff, probably because she's in her 70s, but she has a lot of grace and beauty, and a wonderful presence in the ballroom. And, darn it, she's just having a blast out there. Who couldn't love watching her? She just lights up a room!!! The judges were very complimentary, and although she had a few little problems, the judges were just obviously touched by Valerie being on the show. (And, darn it, I was too! *sniff*) Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 7. Total: 21.
  • Snooki & Sasha Farber finished out the show with a cha-cha-cha to "Wild Ones" by Flo Rida. Was it super cha-cha? Maybe not. But it had a lot of sass, and a lot of fun. Snooki is going to be that "Dancing With the Stars" contestant that I should hate, but I will actually love. She looked really good, tried really hard and had a lot of fun. Also, her sparkly pink dress was just plain delightful. Go Snooki!!!! The judges were happy with Snooki, especially because she just went for it. Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 7. Total: 23.
Jenny's final thoughts: I think this will be a fun season for "Dancing With the Stars," especially if we keep Bill Nye the Science Guy, Bill Engvall and Snooki on there for a while. (And if they secretly record backstage conversations between Bill Nye and Snooki, because who doesn't want to know what the two of them talk about.) I also love Jack Osbourne and, of course, Valerie Harper, because who wouldn't? As far as who I'd like to see go home, I would probably say Brant or Keyshawn should go home, just for being kind of boring. Right now, it's not so much about being a good dancer - it's about being entertaining. Overall, though, it was a pretty great show!

What did you think of the "Dancing With the Stars" premiere? Who would you send home?

Movie Review: Chaotic "The Family" manages to amuse

This column was originally published in the KPC Media Group newspapers and online at Read the original column here. Republished on The Pop Tarts with permission. 

Sometimes in comedy, it’s tough to stay on the right side of the line between wildly amusing and just a little weird. 

“The Family” rides that line, occasionally stepping over into the “strange” category, and that makes for an uneven experience at the theater. Still, on the strength of its leads and a delightful, if not entirely new, concept, it ends up being a pretty entertaining way to pass a couple of hours.

“The Family” follows Giovanni Manzoni (Robert DeNiro), a former Mafia member who ratted out his associates and had to flee into the witness protection program with his family. As the film opens, he and his wife, Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer), and children, Belle (Diana Agron) and Warren (John D’Leo), are relocating yet another time, and it soon becomes clear why - when provoked, they all act like you’d expect Mob members to act, and take matters into their own, violent hands. This causes a lot of problems for their handler, CIA Agent Robert Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones), of course, as he tries to keep hitmen off their trail.

There is a lot of good material to work with in “The Family,” and there are several very funny moments, but taken as a whole, the movie is too scattershot to truly be successful. Scattered amid the funny bits are a lot of scenes that feel like they were stuck in without too much rhyme or reason. They end up paying off, kind of, during the final shootout, but the scene is not epic enough to really warrant how random it feels. I know that writer/director Luc Besson and his cowriter, Michael Caleo, were trying to establish the violence the entire family employs - and make the audience laugh, since the wife and kids don't look capable of the things they do - but it doesn't always work as well as they clearly want it to work.

I really wanted it to work, too, which is part of the reason that the movie is a little bit of a letdown. I like gangster movies, and I love a good black comedy, so "The Family" seemed like a good fit. The concept is really great, especially the idea that the wife and kids have been absorbed into the lifestyle, despite the fact that Giovanni hasn't been in the Mob in years. It's fun and quite a shock at first to see the innocent-looking Belle beat up a guy who tries to get too handsy, or the dorky Warren expertly setting up black-market deals at school, but there are far too many scenes like that end up being major interruptions in the flow of the movie.

The thing that saves "The Family" is Robert DeNiro as Giovanni and Tommy Lee Jones as Agent Stansfield. They are really a pair. OK, they're not really playing against type - DeNiro has made a name for himself as a tough-guy mobster, and Jones is not exactly new to playing a grim-faced, quietly annoyed guy. Still, there is a reason that they play these roles time and again - they're really great at it. As exciting as it is to see actors stretch themselves, there's a certain joy to see a couple of guys on the big screen doing what they're great at doing. 

One of the biggest delights in the movie, though, is Michelle Pfeiffer as Giovanni’s wife. She’s volatile when provoked, but she’s also the woman taking treats over to the CIA guys watching her house from across the street. Pfeiffer plays Maggie perfectly, with a lot of love for her family, a lot of hate for those who cross her and a dash of annoyance at her current lifestyle. Pfeiffer steals several of the scenes she’s in, and I would have loved to see her do more.

The other thing that helps edge “The Family” out of the truly mediocre category is the way that it comes together at the end. There’s something nice and almost touching about the way the members of this dysfunctional family come together when they’re threatened. There are still plenty of issues, of course, and I never felt like that part of the movie came together the way it really should have, but it was a nice concept that gave the movie another little boost.

"The Family" is yet another one of those movies that is much better in concept than in execution, and that means it ultimately left me a little flat. But there were just enough laughs - not belly laughs, but chuckles and giggles - to keep me fairly happy, and enough of an interesting plot to keep me entertained. 

Jenny's Take: See it on DVD.
(Rated R for violence, language and brief sexuality. Runs 110 minutes.)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Julianne Moore in "Hunger Games" - No Better Casting Exists

Warning: "The Hunger Games" spoilers ahead. Do not read this blog entry until you've read the books. Don't worry, I'll wait.

It's been rumored for a while, but now it's official. Here is your President Coin:

I gotta say, I didn't have anybody specifically in mind for President Coin as the movies were being made, but now I'm pretty sure that Julianne Moore is the only logical choice. It's one of those castings that is so unbelievably perfect, I can't imagine anybody else being considered.

The thing I think that Moore brings to the role is a mix of charisma and grit, which is exactly what President Coin needs. Coin is the leader of District 13 and the revolution against the Capitol. She seems OK at first, and she's obviously quite charismatic because everybody follows her, but it becomes clear throughout "Mockingjay" that Coin is actually yet another villain for Katniss to defeat. She's willing to go to great lengths - scary, immoral lengths - to gain power and defeat the Capitol. In the end, she's scarier than President Snow, mainly because she's so convincing and charismatic. 

I think Moore will be a fantastic President Coin, but what do you think? Does anybody have any reservations about this casting news?

Friday, September 13, 2013

J.K. Rowling to pen movie in "Harry Potter" universe

Hold onto your Sorting Hats, all you fangirls and fanboys - we're going to get a chance to go back to the universe of Harry Potter!

"Harry Potter" series author J.K. Rowling will be writing a screenplay for a movie about Newt Scamander, author of the book "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." 

It's isn't a sequel or prequel to the massively successful "Harry Potter" franchise, but it does take place in the same magical world. The movie is set to take place 70 years B.P. (Before Potter) in New York. 

Warner Brothers had told Rowling they were considering a movie based on "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," but Rowling said she couldn't quite handle the idea of handing over her creation to another author. Therefore, she pitched her own movie to the studio.

I'm super excited about another magical adventure by Rowling. I am a big fan of Harry Potter, and I love her wonderful imagination and the cleverness she inserts throughout her books. I'm interested to see how her style translates to the big screen, though. I know that screenwriting is quite a bit different, stylistically, than writing a novel, and I hope that she's up to the task - or, at the very least, has a good writing partner on the project! 

Still, having another adventure in that universe - even one that doesn't directly involve The Boy Who Lived - is a thrilling prospect, and something I never thought I'd get to experience! Let's hope that it goes well and that this is only the beginning of a long, entertaining series of Wizarding World movies to come!

What do you think of Rowling's plans to write a Newt Scamander movie?

Movie Review of "The Family" posted at KPC Media Group

This week, I reviewed "The Family," starring Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones.

It was amusing, but too scattered to be truly successful. Plus, it should have been much better, considering the plot and the actors.

You can find my full review at KPC Media Group's website by clicking here. I'll post the full review on Monday!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Midweek Mancandy: John Barrowman

This weekend, "Torchwood: Miracle Day," which aired on Starz two years ago, airs on BBC America, so that seems like a totally appropriate time to feature a Pop Tarts favorite on Midweek Mancandy: "Torchwood" star John Barrowman!

Barrowman is best known to fangirls and fanboys around the globe as Captain Jack Harkness, a rogue time-traveling agent on "Doctor Who" and its spinoff series, "Torchwood." He also appeared as Malcolm Merlyn on The CW's "Arrow," and he's done a variety of screen and stage roles, written books (with the help of his sister, Carole), delighted fans at conventions, campaigned for gay rights and just generally been completely and utterly awesome in pretty much every way.

It doesn't hurt that's he's also incredibly good-looking. *swoon*

Here at the Pop Tarts, we've been big fans of Barrowman since his first appearance on "Doctor Who," and we've followed his career with delight (and a lot of fangirl squealing). He's a great actor and has given a lot of depth to Captain Jack Harkness, who is a very complicated character, and was a delight as the evil Malcolm Merlyn, but we also love his offscreen persona. He's very accessible to fans and clearly delighted by his fame and his fans. 

If you want to get a feel for Barrowman's acting skills right now, check out BBC America's site - in anticipation of the "Miracle Day" premiere, they're streaming full episodes of the epic "Torchwood" miniseries "Children of Earth." Not only is is a fantastic story, but it also features a great performance by Peter Capaldi, who is taking over as the Twelfth Doctor on "Doctor Who."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

American Horror Story: Coven premieres FABULOUS teaser trailer

I was already getting super stoked about "American Horror Story: Coven," and then they went and released a teaser trailer that is the height of fabulousness.

Seriously, watch it now and tell me you don't want to watch this freakin' show:

This season, "American Horror Story" follows Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) as she attends a school for witches in New Orleans. But, if "American Horror Story: Coven" is anything like the first two seasons of the show, it will be about way more than a simple little coven of fabulous witches.

I never finished the first season of "American Horror Story," mainly because of a hiccup with FX during its run (it is on my Netflix Instant Queue!), but I devoured "American Horror Story: Asylum" last year because, thankfully, each season is a completely standalone story. If you're at all interested in "Coven," don't be afraid to watch it because you think you'll be lost because you missed the first two seasons of the show. Oh, you'll probably be lost, because "American Horror Story" likes to be twisted in more ways than one. It will likely make its way through dozens of apparently disparate plot points before arriving at the beautifully baffling conclusion.

"American Horror Story" is a total adventure. Its biggest weakness is that it probably tries to stuff too much into the show (last season included Nazis, aliens, evil experiments, mental patients, a woman who thought she was Anne Frank, a serial killer and more), but that also means that you have an hour of TV each week that is guaranteed not to be boring. Creepy, weird, disturbing, confusing and strange, yes, but never boring.

Besides, the cast of "American Horror Story" only continues to get more fantastic. In addition to great returning actors playing new characters, including Evan Peters, Taissa Farmiga and Sarah Paulson, this season of the show will also include the fabulousness of Gabourey Sidibe, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett, among others. Oh, and of course, there is the great and fabulous Jessica Lange, who was the true star of both previous seasons of the show and, I'm sure, will continue to delight audiences as the Supreme witch Fiona this season.

Friends, this season is going to be epic.

"American Horror Story" premieres Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 10 p.m. on FX.

'Dancing With the Stars' - Breaking Down the Cast

It's been nearly a week since we found out who would be gracing our TV screens with their presence on that most delightful and sparkly celebrity dance-off, "Dancing With the Stars."

The show, which airs on Mondays on ABC, will have a few format changes, too, the most notable of which is the elimination of the results show. I am perfectly fine with that - in fact, I'm glad, because the results show was an exercise in tedium, and the results show is fleeing the scheduled to make room for "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," which will be much, much, much more entertaining than waiting to find out which D-list celebrity gets booted from a silly dance show. I am interested to see how they handle the once-a-week format, though - when will we find out who gets eliminated? Will we have to wait a whole week?

Anyway, those are just housekeeping changes, though, because the main thing that people are interested in when discussing "Dancing With the Stars" is the celebrities who will take the stage to ballroom dance for our entertainment and/or mockery.

The most buzzed-about celeb-testant this season has to be Valerie Harper, the 74-year-old comedic actress who made a name for herself as Rhoda Morgenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and its spinoff, "Rhoda." Harper is battling a rare, terminal form of brain cancer, but she has recently gotten good news from her doctors - her cancer is "nearly in remission," they say - and she is reportedly very excited to strap on her dancing shoes and get going. I'm thrilled that she's doing the show, because it's nice to see her positive attitude on display. She will be inspiring to many people, and I'm sure she'll go far in the competition. Harper is paired with Tristan McManus.

I'm probably most excited, though, about Bill Nye the Science Guy, who will partner up with new pro Tyne Stecklein this season. I grew up watching Bill Nye's show, and I still admire him today. He made a whole generation of kids really excited about science, and he's also charismatic and funny in addition to being incredibly smart. I will definitely be rooting for him!

Other contestants are:

  • Brant Daugherty, of "Pretty Little Liars" fame (?), paired with Peta Murgatroyd. I know next to nothing about him, so I will reserve judgment until I see if he can dance or be interesting on camera. He smells faintly of cannon fodder, though.
  • Jack Osbourne, son of rocker Ozzy Osbourne and former reality TV star, paired with Cheryl Burke. I have a soft spot in my heart for the whole crazy Osbourne clan. I think they're incredibly smart and savvy with the way that they portray themselves on TV and keep themselves in the spotlight, and I'm excited to see how it continues on the show. I also have to give Jack props for getting sober after a tough childhood, and I'm impressed that he will be putting himself out there after being diagnosed recently with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, which may make his work on the show more difficult.
  • Bill Engvall, stand-up comic and actor, paired with former troupe member Emma Slater. Engvall is a pretty funny comedian - his "Here's your sign" routine is still well-quoted in our family - and I'm glad to see a guy with a "normal" persona on the show. I think he'll do incredibly well with the audience, because he's expertly cultivated that "Aww, shucks, I'm just a country boy" demeanor. I am wondering if he can actually, ya know, dance, though.
  • Keyshawn Johnson, former NFL player, paired with Sharna Burgess. I don't know much about Johnson, being not much of a football fan, but athletes often do very, very well on "Dancing With the Stars." I'll be watching with interest to see if he's one of them.
  • Corbin Bleu, former star of the "High School Musical" franchise and other Disney Channel shows and movies, paired with Karina Smirnoff. The other class of celebrities, besides professional athletes, who have done very well on "Dancing With the Stars" is Disney Channel kids. Bleu has the added bonus that people who haven't watched the Disney Channel in a while might actually know who he is, because he was in "High School Musical." I liked him in those movies, and I'm sure he'll do great. 
  • Snooki, from "Jersey Shore," paired with former troupe member Sasha Farber. I hate to admit that I'm really excited to see Snooki on here. For some reason, I just love her fame-seeking ways, and there's just something about her that keeps her interesting. Also, for the entire time that they're both on the show, I will be imagining the backstage conversations between her and Bill Nye the Science Guy. 
  • Christina Milian, singer/actress, paired with Mark Ballas. I don't have a strong opinion about her one way or the other, to be honest. I'm guessing she'll be one of those people in the middle - not horrible, but ultimately overshadowed by her more charismatic co-stars. But you never know ... people have surprised me in the past!
  • Elizabeth Berkley, "Saved by the Bell" and "Showgirls" actress, paired with Val Chmerkovskiy. Who isn't excited to see a former "Saved by the Bell" actress on "Dancing With the Stars." I never watched that show much, but it will be fun ... plus, there's another "Saved by the Bell" actress on the show. Also, Berkley has trained as a dancer, so she might end up being really, really good.
  • Amber Riley, from "Glee," paired with Derek Hough. I like Riley, even though I haven't watched "Glee," in a while, and I'm excited to see what she can do. It will also be nice to, once again, have a woman with a fuller figure on the show. I'm always glad when they show that women like her can dance just as well as their skinnier sisters.
  • Leah Remini, former "Saved by the Bell" and "The King of Queens" star, paired with Tony Dovlani. Again with the "Saved By the Bell" connection! That should excited fans of the show. It will be fun to see if any other "Saved By the Bell" actors show up to watch their former costars ... we could have a reunion! 
Who will you be rooting for on "Dancing With the Stars" this season?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fall TV Preview: Fox

It's almost that time of year - time to decide which new shows you'll put into your TV-watching rotation! I'll be previewing the new shows of Fall 2013 and letting you know what I'll be watching - and what I'll be avoiding like the plague.

To finish off our Fall TV preview, let's take a look at what new shows Fox has in store for this fall!

Almost Human (Mondays at 8 p.m. Premieres Nov. 4): This may actually be the show I'm looking forward to seeing the most this fall - yes, even more than "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (I wish I didn't have to wait until November for it!) This sci-fi/crime drama takes place in the near future, when L.A. police officers, including the injured and psychologically damaged Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban), are paired up with android partners. Kennex is partnered with a "defective" android (Michael Ealy) with much more emotional responses than most. This show, on paper, has pretty much everything I want in a TV series - a cool sci-fi world, a fantastic leading man (Karl Urban has become one of my favorite actors) and lots of drama from a variety of places. It's executive-produced by J.J. Abrams, who has rarely disappointed me, so that gives me a lot of hope too. It makes me nervous to see something this cool on network TV - I've been incredibly disappointed by sci-fi shows in the past, and networks don't always like to give shows like this a chance. Still, I'm positively giddy about this show! Jen's Take: I'll definitely watch!

Sleepy Hollow (Mondays at 9 p.m. Premieres Sept. 16): The old Washington Irving tale gets a modern update when Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), who apparently died in 1790, awakens in 2013 in the town of Sleepy Hollow and must help the new sheriff, Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), defeat the Headless Horseman. This is one of those high-concept shows that could either be incredibly cool or incredibly corny. If it works, though, it might be a total riot. I think there's a lot of chance for funny moments, with Ichabod being a total fish out of water, as well as drama, as he comes to terms with his sudden time jump and his coworkers come to terms with the fact that he's from more than 200 years ago, and scary moments, because the Headless Horseman is pretty creepy. There is a lot of potential for disaster, but my fingers are crossed for a great supernatural adventure/mystery show. Jen's Take: I'll definitely watch!

Dads (Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Premieres Sept. 17): It kills me to think of not watching a show that features Seth Green, a favorite actor of mine, in a lead role, but I am super wary of this show for many reasons. The sitcom, which follows two video game developers (played by Green and Giovanni Ribisi) whose lives are changed when their fathers move in with them, already has some serious strikes against it. First of all, it is executive-produced by Seth MacFarlane, whose throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks brand of comedy does not fill me with great confidence in any projects he throws his support behind. Sure, sometimes I laugh so hard I fall off the couch when I'm watching one of his shows, but it's far from a forgone conclusion. Sometimes his humor is just so dumb. Secondly, the other co-executive producers, who also wrote the pilot - Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild - are also involved in the making of "Family Guy," which does not fill me with great confidence either (see reasons stated above). And, finally, the show is already getting blasted for being racist against Asian-Americans. Now, Fox executives are claiming that the show is trying to poke fun at stereotypes by being over-the-top, and that might be true, but I've heard that many times and had it not be true. (*cough*2BrokeGirls*cough*) Besides, I think it's really important that it be acknowledged in the first episode in some way. Racial humor can be a great way to point out racism, but just being racist doesn't cut it. Then, it's just uncomfortable and wrong. Jen's Take: Maybe I'll watch.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. Premieres Sept. 17): Another day, another sitcom. This one follows a skilled but laid-back detective (played by Andy Samberg) trying to navigate a department filled with much more uptight police officers. I just don't think this show has anything really going for it. Andy Samberg is amusing, but this show looks like standard cop-comedy fare ... so much so, I can't even work up enough words to say much about it. Jen's Take: Heck no, I won't watch!

Junior MasterChef (Fridays at 8 p.m. Premieres Sept. 27): It's cooking competition show MasterChef, but with children. What more can I say? I enjoy cooking competitions, but I can't imagine that they're more interesting when it's kids cooking. Gordon Ramsey will be among the judges, but since he claims he's not going to scream curses at children (which, let's face it, is probably a good thing), what's the point? It's like watching Simon Cowell not nastily criticize singers. I'll stick to my other cooking competitions, thanks, and leave these kids to their own devices. Jen's Take: Heck no, I won't watch!

What Fox shows are you looking forward to this fall?

KPC Column: Promising movies still slated for 2013

This column was originally published in the KPC Media Group newspapers and online at Read the original column here. Republished on The Pop Tarts with permission. 

About this time every year, I get a little sad.
When September rolls around, summer movie season is officially over.
But despite the fact that the theaters aren’t showing blockbuster after blockbuster anymore, there is still a lot to look forward to before the curtain falls on the year 2013.
And so, I’ve chosen 10 of the best bets for your movie needs during the next four months. Although I can’t vouch for whether these movies will be good or not, these are the ones I’ll be lining up to see, and their scheduled release date.
“Rush” (Sept. 27): Ron Howard directed this movie, based on a true story, about the rivalry between Formula One driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), who was involved in a bad crash during the 1976 German Grand Prix, and driver James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth, of “Thor” fame) as the men pursue the 1976 World Championship. Despite my apathy toward sports in general, I do love a good sports movie, and I hope that “Rush” delivers. I am comforted by the fact that I’ve enjoyed the majority of Howard’s movies. And, I figure that if the movie isn’t as good as I’m hoping it will be, I’ll still be able to watch the gorgeous Chris Hemsworth on the big screen for a couple of hours. (That’s how I made it through the dull and lifeless “Snow White and the Huntsman,” after all.)
“Gravity” (Oct. 4): I can barely breathe when I watch the previews for this movie, which follows two astronauts, played by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, who are involved in an accident in space. I adore the actors, but even better, it’s directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who was responsible for one of my all-time favorite movies, 2006’s haunting “Children of Men.” Yes, I’ll probably need a paper bag to breathe into and some anti-anxiety drugs to make it through this movie, which almost assuredly will be tense and terrifying, but it should be worth the pain — it’s already getting rave reviews at film festivals, and James Cameron, director of one of the best space films ever, “Aliens,” has called it “the best space film ever done.”
“Carrie” (Oct. 18): I don’t usually go for remakes, especially remakes of movies that are pretty close to perfect to begin with, but I’m going to make an exception for this big-budget remake of the 1976 classic “Carrie,” based on Stephen King’s excellently creepy novel. Yes, Sissy Spacek is an icon in the role of Carrie White, the tortured 17-year-old who unleashes her latent telepathic powers on her peers, but if anybody can make the character her own, it’s the incredibly talented 16-year-old actress Chloe Grace Moretz. I’m also excited that the movie will be more faithful to King’s original novel, which is a classic.
“Ender’s Game” (Nov. 1): Another movie based on a book slated for 2013 release is “Ender’s Game,” based on the award-winning sci-fi novel by Orson Scott Card. The movie follows Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a gifted child enrolled in a military school in space. I’m cautious in my excitement for this movie, though. I’m in the midst of reading the novel, so I can’t comment on whether it will make a good movie adaptation. However, while my husband and mom both liked the book when they read it, they’re both unsure whether it can be adapted well. Still, I’m excited about the prospect of some good science fiction on the big screen.
“Thor: The Dark World” (Nov. 8): If you miss “Rush” on Sept. 27, never fear — Chris Hemsworth will be back on big screens again in November, this time as superhero/demigod Thor in the next big Marvel-Avengers movie. Once again, Thor reunites with his human love, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) to face off against even bigger and badder villains that threaten both his home of Asgard and the Earth. While the “Thor” movies are probably the weakest of the Avengers movies, I still appreciate the undercurrent of humor that surrounds the character, and I’ve been loving what Marvel has been doing with all of the Avengers-related movies and TV shows. And, once again, it has the Chris Hemsworth factor going for it — if nothing else, he’s easy on the eyes.
“The Book Thief” (Nov. 15): Another movie draws inspiration from a book; this time, it’s “The Book Thief,” an acclaimed and popular novel about a girl in Germany (played by Sophie Nelisse) who, in the midst of World War II, steals books and shares them with others. Not only does this movie take place during a time in history that interests me, but it also centers around something else I love — books. I haven’t read the novel it’s based on yet — don’t worry, I will! — but the previews make it look thrilling, sweet and touching. Although I’d be surprised if the movie was as good as the book it’s based on — movies never are — I do think it looks like an excellent film.
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (Nov. 22): I am a huge fan of the “Hunger Games” series of books, and the second novel in the trilogy just may be my favorite. The books follow Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the winners of the Hunger Games, a fight to the death between pre-teens and teens forced by their oppressive government. In this movie, Katniss and Peeta must deal with the fact that they’ve become the unwilling sparks to ignite a revolution, and the effect that has not only on them, but on their family and friends as well. The book features several new characters who quickly became my favorites in the whole series, so I’m excited to see them, and their stories, on the big screen.
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (Dec. 13): I almost didn’t include this movie on my list of movies I’m excited to see yet this year, but despite the fact that last winter’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was a bit uneven, I’m still pretty excited about another foray into J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth. “The Desolation of Smaug” follows the continuing adventures of hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and a party of dwarfs as they try to get the dwarfs’ gold from the famed and feared dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). Considering how much I’ve enjoyed the bulk of director Peter Jackson’s movies as well as “The Hobbit” novel, I’m going to give this one the benefit of the doubt.
“Saving Mr. Banks” (Dec. 20): One of my favorite movies from my childhood is “Mary Poppins,” so I’m intrigued by “Saving Mr. Banks,” a movie chronicling what the great Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) did to get the rights from author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to make the movie. As a movie lover, a Disney fan and a writer, I’m excited to see how so many different factors came together to make such a beloved, classic movie. In the hands of any other actor, I would be worried about somebody portraying Walt Disney well, but if anybody can do it, it’s Tom Hanks. This movie ought to be a nostalgic treat.
“American Hustle” (Dec. 25): A crop of great actors — Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Renner — star in this movie about a con man who works with the FBI, loosely based on the ABSCAM operation of the 1970s and 80s. Director David O. Russell has found a lot of success with great movies including “The Fighter” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” and I expect that this movie will be good as well. I know what I’ll be doing this Christmas!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Movie review now posted at KPC Media Group's Website!

Head on over to KPC Media Group's website for my latest movie review column - a preview of movies still slated for 2013.

The end of summer blockbuster time is always tough, but these movies - including "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," "Gravity," "Saving Mr. Banks," "Thor: The Dark World" and "Ender's Game" should help movie lovers like myself get through to the end of the year.

CLICK HERE to read my full fall movie preview!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fall TV Preview: The CW

It's almost that time of year - time to decide which new shows you'll put into your TV-watching rotation! I'll be previewing the new shows of Fall 2013 and letting you know what I'll be watching - and what I'll be avoiding like the plague.

Tonight, let's take a look at that wonderful red-headed stepchild of network TV: The CW. There are only three new shows slated for this fall, and yet ... I am pumped, because who doesn't love The CW?

The Originals (Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Premieres Oct. 8.) This is a spinoff of "The Vampire Diaries," which I've never watched. It follows the world's original vampires, the Mikaelson siblings, hanging out in New Orleans and wreaking vampirey havoc. As much as I like a good vampire story, especially in New Orleans, I'll probably skip this one, because I doubt it can live up to the craziness or hotness of my favorite Louisiana-set vampire drama, "True Blood." Jen's Take: Heck no, I won't watch!

The Tomorrow People (Wednesdays at 9 p.m. Premieres Oct. 9.) Based on the British series of the same name, this show follows teens/young adults who are part of the "next stage of human evolution." It seems like it will be a bit like the X-Men, but now with even more teen angst and a bad soundtrack. You know, because it's the CW. Seriously, though, it looks entertaining. I love stories about superheroes and other special people, and that's what this is basically about. Also, it stars Robbie Amell, the cousin of "Arrow" hottie Stephen Amell. (What a gene pool!) Jen's Take: I'll definitely watch.

Reign (Thursdays at 8 p.m. Premieres Oct. 17.) This series is about the early life of Mary, Queen of Scots. No, really. On the CW. My prediction is that it will be entertainingly terrible, but make me cringe because of all the historical inaccuracies. And yet, I'm intrigued. Nostradamus is a character (in fact, he's played by Donald Sutherland's son/Kiefer Sutherland's half-brother Rossif Sutherland), so there will probably be some paranormal goofiness stuck in with all the historical inaccuracies. I probably shouldn't watch, as I really don't need another CW guilty pleasure show (I already watch "Arrow," and I foolishly started watching "Supernatural" on Netflix a few weeks ago), and yet ... Jen's Take: Maybe I'll watch.

What new CW shows will you be watching this fall?

Midweek Mancandy: Idris Elba

"Luther" started its season three miniseries run on BBC America last night, so who else could we possibly feature as our Midweek Mancandy than the incredibly gorgeous and massively talented ...

(Photo credit: Tom & Lorenzo)

Idris Elba!

Elba plays DCI John Luther, a volatile, dedicated and obsessive police detective on the BBC show "Luther." He is just downright intense in the role, and nobody else could play him like Elba can.

Elba was also in this summer's "Pacific Rim," playing Stacker Pentecost, the man in charge of the Jaeger program as the human race made its last attempt to defeat the kaiju invasion. He was your basic tough military man on the surface, but underneath there was a huge range of emotions, including a tender side. He was nothing short of fantastic in that movie.

Elba is also well-known for his roles on "The Wire" and in "Prometheus" and "Thor." Oh, and he's also known for being incredibly good-looking in addition to being an excellent actor. He's the perfect mix: He's incredibly talented, bringing depth to a variety of different interesting roles, and he's hot, too.

Idris Elba, we salute you!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fall TV Preview: NBC

It's almost that time of year - time to decide which new shows you'll put into your TV-watching rotation! I'll be previewing the new shows of Fall 2013 and letting you know what I'll be watching - and what I'll be avoiding like the plague.

Tonight, let's take a look at what ol' NBC has coming this fall ...

The Blacklist (Mondays at 10 p.m. Premieres Sept. 23.) A fugitive from the FBI turns himself in, but will only talk to one specific profiler about the criminals who he's trying to help them take down. I like the concept, and I love the star, James Spader, so I'm definitely interested. (If nothing else, it could give a good little glimpse into the potential of Spader when he plays Ultron in the new Avengers movie!) I think the show can sustain itself - there will always be more criminals and terrorists to catch - as long as the writing is strong. Jen's Take: Maybe I'll watch!

Ironside (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. Premieres Oct. 2.) This remake of a 1960s TV show follows a wheelchair-bound police detective who solves difficult cases. I know that we probably don't need another crime procedural, but this one just might have the right twist. Also, it should get some word-of-mouth going because of its connection to the old series. The remake thing doesn't always work, but when it does, it can be pretty great. Jen's Take: Maybe I'll watch!

Welcome to the Family (Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. Premieres Oct. 3.) This sitcom follows a white family and a Latino family that are linked by a relationship and unplanned pregnancy. This has the potential to be a heartfelt comedy, as long as it doesn't fall into terrible, terrible stereotypes. The creator doesn't have a great track record - he's in charge of "Rules of Engagement," which I find to be pretty obnoxious - but nothing about it screams offensive at first blush. Jen's Take: Maybe I'll watch!

Sean Saves the World (Thursdays at 9 p.m. Premieres Oct. 3.) Sean Hayes, of "Will and Grace" fame, stars in this sitcom about a divorced gay dad named Sean who tries to be a great dad despite other demands on his time. I kind of like the twist on the "Super-Mom" trope, although there is always a danger of falling into offensive stereotypes when you have a sitcom where a main character is gay. (See "The New Normal.") I hope that Sean is a more multidimensional character. I am also worried that Sean is going to be "Jack McFarland 2.0," even though it's been 7 years since "Will & Grace" went off the air. As much as I loved Jack, I hope there's a bit more depth - especially since Jack was comic relief, not a main character. Still, there's definitely some potential here! Jen's Take: Maybe I'll watch!

The Michael J. Fox Show (Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. Premieres Sept. 26.) First of all, I'm pumped about Michael J. Fox making his triumphant return to TV, because he is a great actor. Secondly, the concept has some potential: Former news anchor Mike works to get back to work after giving up his career when being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Generally I'd roll my eyes, because I'd be afraid that the show would get too saccharine about the disease diagnosis, but I have a feeling that Michael J. Fox could really bring some sincerity and humor to the show and not allow it to stray into "Hallmark Movie of the Week" territory. I'll be keeping an eye on this one! Jen's Take: Maybe I'll watch!

Dracula (Fridays at 10 p.m. Premieres Oct. 25.) Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as vampire Dracula,  masquerading as an American entepreneur bringing modern technology to Victorian London but, in reality, seeking revenge. This show has enormous potential to be terrible. In fact, I'm sad to say that it probably will be bad. However, if they do it right ... it will be glorious! Jonathan Rhys Meyers has a lovely evil streak. The showrunner worked on HBO's Emmy-winning show "Carnivale," which I've never seen but I've heard was pretty good. Episodes are being directed by people who worked on some of my favorite British shows, including "Downton Abbey," "Torchwood" and "Law & Order: UK." And there is the potential for delightful Victorian shenanigans, hopefully resulting in a cool steampunk feel. Hope springs eternal that this show can really deliver, because if it's good, it's going to be good. Jen's Take: I'll definitely watch!

What new NBC shows will you be watching this fall?