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Peanuts and Popcorn

Peanuts and Popcorn

500 Question Premieres

posted by jtotey
(ABC)

(ABC)

Though the show is called 500 Questions, viewers may ask only one: Why was this show made? Since the initial debut of Who Wants to be a Millionaire aired in 1999, It seems that every spring or summer, a “new” limited gameshow appears to makes it mark, but none of them have come close to the popularity or staying power of the Regis Philbin original. However, ABC is trying again with 500 Questions from Mark Burnett (who knows a few things about reality shows) but its first mistake may be having it go against the season finale of Burnett’s other huge hit, Survivor.

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500 Questions is an all-new game show where the “smartest people in the country to achieve the seemingly impossible task of answering 500 of the most difficult general knowledge questions ever devised,” states the press release. The only rule is never get three answers wrong in a row or your time is up. There are no “saves” or multiple choice answers or even a “phone a friend.”

The show is hosted by CNN’s Richard Quest from Quest Means Business. I’ve never watched his show, but from what I gather from watching the commercials for this show, he seems to have the personality of a high school history teacher, which is great if you like history teachers. The show will air for nine nights in a row at 8:00 p.m. beginning May 20 and ending on May 28.

So – did you watch the premiere? Will you watch again?

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‘Wayward Pines’ is a Nice Place to Visit but…

posted by jtotey
Ethan (Matt Dillon, R) and Beverly (Juliette Lewis, L) finalize their plans in the "Don't Discuss Your Life Before" episode of WAYWARD PINES.

Ethan (Matt Dillon, R) and Beverly (Juliette Lewis, L) finalize their plans in the “Don’t Discuss Your Life Before” episode of WAYWARD PINES. (Photo: FOX)

I’m a sucker for anything that M. Night Shyamalan is involved in. Not that I have liked everything that he produced, but he fascinates me. The Sixth Sense was brilliant and even though many did not appreciate his film, The Village, I liked it. I love his Twilight Zone-ish storytelling. So when I heard that FOX was going to present the limited series, Wayward Pines with him at the helm, I was all in and after last night’s premiere, count me in for all ten episodes.

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As others are, I’m really liking the newer “limited series” concept where a show has a beginning, middle and end. Unlike series like Resurrection where I spent two years following a mystery only to see the show canceled. Now I’ll never know what happens!

For Wayward Pines, comparisons will be made to both The Village and the older TV show Twin Peaks and for good reason. However, unlike The Village, where the twist was that a small community was living in a time warp was revealed in the end, here, we know almost immediately that the Pines community is its own universe. As for Twin Peaks, the residents of Pines are almost as quirky, but probably more sinister.

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Matt Dillon stars as secret service agent, Ethan Burke, who accidentally winds up in the town while searching for his partner Kate Hewson (Carla Gugino) and another agent who have been missing for a few weeks. He also is still getting over the devastation of the “Easter Bombing Attack” awhile back where he was racked with guilt for not saving people and turned to Hewson for comfort which led to a short-term affair. He also has a history of mental illness. Oh goody.

The pilot opens with Burke waking up all scratched up and lying in a stream in the middle of the woods. He wanders into town and collapses. He wakes up again, this time in the hospital being attended by what appears to be the sweet Nurse Pam (Melissa Leo) but first impressions can be deceiving. He is informed that he was in a car accident and that his traveling partner didn’t make it.

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Meanwhile at home in Seattle, (that was obviously NOT filmed in Seattle), his wife Theresa and son Ben (Shannyn Sossamon and Charlie Tahan) are anxious after hearing that Ethan was in an accident, but investigators haven’t found him yet. They try to call Ethan. Ethan tries to call them. Neither party can get through to the other.

It is not really a spoiler, (if you’ve seen the commercials for this show), to know that Mr. Burke is trapped in this town located in Idaho supposedly. There aren’t many people living or working in town and the ones who are, are not very forthcoming in details. People seem to get confused about dates. Doctors think that Burke has internal bleeding by his brain and needs to be operated on. The town sheriff, (Terrence Howard), doesn’t get alarmed very easily and is in no hurry to help Burke. However, the local bartender, Beverly (Juliette Lewis), seems friendly enough and wants to help Burke giving him cryptic messages about the town. Then, there is the issue of his partner, Kate. He finds her on his second day in the town, but instead of short hair as she is seen in flashbacks, she has long hair and is apparently married. He follows her home and when she comes to her door, she pretends that she doesn’t know who he is. However, when they talk outside of her home, she breaks character briefly to let him know that they are being watched, that he needs to go away as it will jeopardize her life and that he is not dreaming. So, let the mystery begin.

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If you like a good mystery, enjoy odd storylines and plan to watch the show, my advice is to pay attention to everything. Anything can be a clue on what is actually happening. The story and scenes are fast-paced, so if you blink, you could miss something important. One of the fun things about this show is that you never know what is and isn’t important to know.

The show is beautifully shot and the characters are enjoyable to watch if not exactly likable. Dillion’s manic character is unsettling and you wonder how long it will take him before he cracks. Is the show creepy? Not exactly, at least not yet. There is one grotesque scene in the pilot, but that ‘s about it, but things could get worse. There doesn’t seem to be any supernatural beings or demonic presence, so that’s a plus. However, the show is not for everyone. It is too soon to tell as anything can happen at this point. We’re in for a wide ride and I’m buckling in. How about you?

Wayward Pines airs on Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. on FOX.

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6 Best Movies to Watch with Mom

posted by jtotey
Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan in "Freaky Friday" (Disney)

Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan in “Freaky Friday” (Disney)

So, you decided to avoid the crowds and chaos at the restaurants for Mother’s Day this year and have invited your mom over to your house instead. Good for you. Now, what are you planning on doing? Why not make a nice brunch and enjoy a movie together? If so, avoid Mommie Dearest and Throw Momma From the Train and go with one of these instead:

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MMMNOMom’s Night Out (2014)
Staring: Sarah Drew, Sean Astin and Patricia Heaton
Rated: PG

This underrated faith-based comedy arrived in theaters last Mother’s Day and was a hit with many moms if not the critics. In it, Allyson is overworked and “up to here” with her kids, but then, that makes her feel guilty for feeling that way. Her husband encourages her to go on a “mom’s night out” with some friends from church. They can even invite the pastor’s wife. What could go wrong? Any mother feeling guilty for not being the “best” mom will appreciate this. The film is full of laughs, is non-preachy and encouraging and is something the whole family will enjoy.

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MMBBrave (2012)
Voice Talent: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson
Rated: PG

This is the ultimate mother/daughter movie that even the boys in the family will like. Merida is the strong-willed daughter and princess of Fergus and Elinor who is about to be paraded among some available bachelors, but unlike other Disney princesses, she wants none of it. So, with the help of a strange old lady, Merida chooses to change her own fate with humorous and almost tragic results. The film is full of strong messages with the main one being that sometimes being brave means to say that you are sorry.

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MMSOMThe Sound of Music (1965)
Starring: Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer
Rated: G

Though the film is now 50 years old, it still has a timeless quality to it. Julie Andrews starts out as a nun, and then a nanny, and then back to a nun and then back to a nanny only to become a wife and mother of seven almost-perfect children. Okay, that last part might depress your mother, but overall, it is a film that is family-focused, has cheery music and can even be played in the background while you’re eating brunch.

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MMSMSteel Magnolias (1989)
Starring: Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah and Julia Roberts
Rated: PG

Perhaps it’s the ultimate “chick flick,” (the male characters screen time is very limited), but it is a well-cast one based on a very popular play. It may be better suited for moms and older daughters. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll appreciate your family that much more. For those unfamiliar, Steel Magnolias is about a group of women who hang out a beauty shop over a period of years and different seasons helping each other to get through weddings, births and deaths.

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MMBSThe Blind Side (2009)
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron and Tim McGraw
Rated: PG-13

The inspiring true story about how Leigh Anne Tuohy and her family, took in a street kid, (mind you, a BIG street kid), eventually adopt him and helped him become the All American football player, Michael Oher. Even moms who are not football fans will enjoy this award-winning movie, as the story has a lot more to do with relationships and caring for others than football.

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MMFF1Freaky Friday (1976 and 2003)
Starring: Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster or Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan
Rated: G or PG

Silly fun about a mother and daughter who don’t see eye to eye who magically change bodies and literally walk in each other’s shoes. Both movies are produced by Disney and are fairly squeaky clean. Though the premise of the two movies is the same, they feature completely different storylines. These are the best options for group with smaller children.

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‘Age of Ultron’ is Over-the-Top Fun

posted by jtotey
The Avengers in action (Marvel)

The Avengers in action (Marvel)

What do Avengers do for fun on their time off? They attend parties and play party games like who can pick up Thor’s hammer:
Tony Stark: “If I lift it, do I get to rule Asgard?”
Thor: “Yes, of course.”
Tony Stark: “I will be fair, but firmly cruel.”
Thor: “No, I’m sure.”

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This is one of the best scenes in Avengers: Age of Ultron as it shows the heroes in their down time and reminds the audience to not take the film too seriously – it’s a comic book movie after all. (Maybe DC should take a hint.)

Writing a review of this movie is almost pointless. Any fan of the first Avengers movie will be going to see Age of Ultron regardless of what I say and those who didn’t, won’t be reading this review anyway. Be that as it may, here are my two cents worth.

While the sequel is bigger and badder, it isn’t necessarily better. The 141 minute film is full of adventure right from the beginning and it has a spectacular ending, which is a good thing. The film does have a few flaws, but for the most part, Marvel is able to hold it together. However, that remains to be seen for the future. The movie is overrun with characters and if they add any more, (and you know that they will), it will become that much more difficult to comprehend. Surprisingly though, Director Joss Whedon was able to share the love between the characters giving characters that we know well (like Tony Stark/Iron-Man) less screen time and giving others that we don’t (Like Natasha Romanoff) more. We also get to see more of their personal struggles.

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Though every Marvel film ties in with the ones that came before it, there are some questions left unanswered with the new Avengers film. Like, is this story happening after the movie Iron-Man 3 or before? I ask because in that movie, Tony Stark blows up his army of Iron-Men and basically quits running off with girlfriend Pepper Potts. In the new movie, there is no mention of the previous movie’s storyline and Potts is no where to be found. Her character (and Thor’s main squeeze, Jane Foster for that matter) is mentioned but not seen. However, this film does introduce us to one of the other Avenger’s loved ones and hints are shown about a possible romance between Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and another Avenger. All of this makes the heroes a bit more relatable.

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Though convoluted, the storyline for Age of Ultron is fairly simple. With the help of Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) tries to revive a older peacekeeping program to essentially keep the world safe. Sort of like having a giant ADT Security System sign hanging from Earth. But with this being a superhero movie and all, something goes wrong and before you know it, Earth has found a new enemy, Ultron (voiced by James “Blacklist” Spader), who wants to save the world by destroying the Avengers. Ultron finds a way of duplicating a thousand or so metal copies of himself to attack.

Meanwhile, two Russian twins, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (AKA Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, AKA Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson) mess with the Avenger’s minds hoping to cause the group to turn on each other. (This is an interesting concept that Christians can relate to. What better way for Satan to attack the church than by creating havoc that causes the congregation to turn on each other?) However, this isn’t played out very long and the tension that should have been there between the heroes never materialized.

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Overall, the story is crazy and fun. The moviemakers know it and want you to buy in too. At one point, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) says, “The city is flying, we’re fighting an army of robots, and I have an bow and arrow! None of this makes sense!” Even when a swear word or two come flying out, Captain America is there to correct the others with “Language!” Finally, it’s an old fashioned good buys vs. bad guys and the good guys always win.

The film is rated PG-13, but if your kids can handle other superhero movies, they will be able to sit trough this one just fine without having nightmares later.

Previous Posts

500 Question Premieres
Though the show is called 500 Questions, viewers may ask only one: Why was this show made? Since the initial debut of Who Wants to be a Millionaire aired in 1999, It ...

posted 2:12:27am May. 21, 2015 | read full post »

'Wayward Pines' is a Nice Place to Visit but...
I'm a sucker ...

posted 5:18:27pm May. 15, 2015 | read full post »

6 Best Movies to Watch with Mom
So, you decided to avoid the crowds and chaos at the restaurants for Mother's Day this year and have invited ...

posted 11:59:14pm May. 07, 2015 | read full post »

'Age of Ultron' is Over-the-Top Fun
What do Avengers do for fun on their time off? They attend parties and play party games like who can pick up Thor's hammer: Tony Stark: ...

posted 6:52:12am May. 01, 2015 | read full post »

2015 Tony Award Nominees Announced
The Broadway musical, Something Rotten!, ...

posted 7:38:29pm Apr. 28, 2015 | read full post »

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