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Peanuts and Popcorn

Peanuts and Popcorn

‘One Big Happy’ is a Mess

posted by jtotey
Elisha Cuthbert as Lizzy, Nick Zano as Luke and Kelly Brook as Prudence in "One Big Happy" (Photo by: Eric McCandless/NBC)

Elisha Cuthbert (Lizzy) just announced that she is pregnant while Luke (Nick Zano) and Prudence (Kelly Brook) announce that they got married. in “One Big Happy.” (Photo by: Eric McCandless/NBC)

I am not one to just to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to conspiracy theories about Hollywood, but NBC’s latest sitcom has given me pause. However, those like me who are concerned about the messages shared in One Big Happy shouldn’t be too concerned. It won’t be around for long. The show has too many flaws to be a hit. Instead, it should be titled, “What’s a Nice Cast Like You Doing with a Script Like This?”

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Beside the fact that this show is not funny, (more on that later), it has an offensive premise. Lizzy (Elisha Cuthbert) and Luke (Nick Zano) are lifelong and best friends. They’ve been through a lot together and they would make for a great couple except for the fact that Lizzy is a lesbian. Still, the two play house together and after some heavy thinking, the two have the brilliant idea to have a baby together. Because…why not? However, the two don’t have sex together (they have their standards after all), they plan to have a baby the new-fashioned way.

Somewhere down the line we as a society have accepted the fact that having babies is a fun hobby and raising them in a stable environment is unnecessary. Are these two so naive to think that they will be together forever? Of course not. Both want to fall in love with someone else and when they do, they can take turns raising the baby or something. But hold on – it gets worse. On a night out, Luke meets free-spirited Prudence (Kelly Brook) from England. Of course Luke brings her to his home to have sex because the act of sex between strangers is completely normal. Then it turns out that she is an illegal alien who will be deported if she doesn’t get married. No problem! Luke is pretty sure that he loves her and within days, they get married in Vegas.

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So, what’s this father-to-be and new husband to do now? Suggest that they all live together to become, (everyone say it together), “one big happy” family or a resemble facsimile. This isn’t a marriage anymore than it is a family but it should make for a funny situation comedy – right? Wrong. The pilot episode’s jokes are either tacky, tasteless or just lame. For an example, Prudence is very comfortable with her body and walks around the house naked. Lizzy is understandably uncomfortable with this and makes a few comments about finding “vagina coasters” since the new housemate tends to sit anywhere she pleases. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t appreciate vagina jokes.

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The cast also includes Brandon Mychal Smith, Rebecca Corry and Chris Williams, which are all fine, but none of them really add much to the show. In fact, the best thing about this show is the casting. Together they could make a really funny comedy. Just not this one.

Much of the blame for this show should go to Ellen DeGeneres who served as Executive Producer and Director of the pilot episode. I actually like DeGeneres even though I don’t agree with everything she says or does. For the most part, she is a great comedian, a terrific host for the Oscars and does a fine job with her day time talk show. She is who she is, but she isn’t offensive, at least not usually. I really don’t understand why she thought this show was worth investing in. After watching it, you’ll wonder too.

One Big Happy airs on Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. on NBC.

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‘Cinderella’ is an Improved Masterpiece

posted by jtotey
Cinderella (Lily James) and the prince (Richard Madden) meet for the first time. (Walt Disney Pictures)

Cinderella (Lily James) and the prince (Richard Madden) meet for the first time. (Walt Disney Pictures)

Sometimes Disney outdoes Disney. When news broke that Walt Disney Pictures was going to  make a live action version of one of their most popular animated movies, many were skeptical. The original is such a classic, how could it be improved? Or worse – what if it they failed miserably? Disney’s last attempt of re-inventing Sleeping Beauty with Maleficent was met with mixed reviews. They won’t be having that same problem with this one.

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The 2015 Cinderella will exceed just about everyone expectations for the film. Yes, it’s that good.  Even those who are not fans of the original will find this one hard to like. All those questions you’ve had like “Why did Cinderella allow herself to be bullied like that? Why didn’t she leave? Did she really expect a prince to come a save her?” are answered.

There really isn’t anything new to the story. In fact, this version features a few items found in the original folklore stories that are not featured in the 1951 cartoon. However, the prince (Richard Madden) gets a lot more screen time this time around and we get to know his character a lot more. There is also a surprisingly sweet scene between him and his father (Derek Jacobi) giving him a lot more to his personality.

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Madame (Cate Blanchett) looks on as the royal attendant tries on the glass slippers of her daughters (Sophia McShera and Holliday Grainger)

Madame (Cate Blanchett) looks on as the royal attendant tries on the glass slippers of her daughters (Sophia McShera and Holliday Grainger)

All of the characters are excellent in this movie, though a few scenes do come close to having a bit more than a spoonful of sugar. Even the mice, which are obviously CGI, still act like mice and since real mice don’t talk, neither do they.The movie could have gone overboard with the critters, but they smartly showed restraint.

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Lily James portrays the perfect Cinderella. Parents will be thrilled to have her be a role model for their children. She tries hard to see the best in people, she is always kind, she has courage to speak her mind and grace to not be cruel or offensive when doing so. She is a hard-worker. If more Christians could be like her, this would be a much better world.

The polar opposite is the deliciously mean stepmother (Cate Blanchett) who is both elegant and tacky at the same time. Her cackle of a laugh is something else. She is always wearing green which suits her because her cruel motivations make more sense to be driven by envy instead of hatred. Likewise, The ugly stepsisters Drisella (Sophia McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) are not ugly on the outside but hideous on the inside. They are completely unaware how awful they sound when they talk. Their mother loves them, but doesn’t exactly like them.

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The Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter)

The Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter)

Finally, the icing on the cake belongs to the wonderful Helena Bonham Carter who plays the Fairy Godmother in a way that only she can. She’s eccentric,loving and imperfect. She uses the magic words, “Bibbidi, bobbidi boo” with great aplomb, and although she doesn’t sing in the movie, she does sing the magical song during the credits. It should also be noted that the weight of her magic pales in comparison to the strength of Cinderella’s character. It’s really the way it should be.

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Cinderella is directed by Kenneth Branagh. It is his first fairy tale, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t his last. Every aspect of the this movie has the perfect feel and look – everything from the soundtrack music to the costumes. (Expect to see the movie listed as one of next year’s nominees for best costume design for the Oscars.)The movie is rated PG, but I don’t know why. There is nothing scary or inappropriate for little ones to see. Though it might be tough to pull your boys to see this film, but if they go, they are sure to like it as much as their sisters.

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Last DWTS Contestant Announced

posted by jtotey
Chris Soules and Whitney Carson (ABC)

Chris Soules and Whitney Carson (ABC)

The 10th anniversary of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars (and its 20th season!) debuts next Monday, March 16 from 8:00-10:00 p.m. and after much teasing, the final celebrity contestant has been announced. It is none other than this year’s Bachelor Chris Soules. (Was that worth waiting for? I think not.) He will be paired with last season’s pro champ, the adorable Whitney Carson who helped lead Alfonso Ribeiro to victory.

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As always, this season will be hosted by Tom Bergeron and is joined again by Erin Andrews as well as ballroom judges Len Goodman, two-time Mirrorball champ and actress Julianne Hough, and dancer/choreographers Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba. Fans of show will have more access to the that is necessary with six live stream videos of the ballroom at different angles as well as live streaming videos at the DWTS rehearsal studio at ABC.com.

The cast the 20th season of Dancing with the Stars. (ABC)

The cast the 20th season of Dancing with the Stars. (ABC)

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As always, this season’s star line-up is a mix of movie stars, sport figures, pop culture icons and over-hyped bachelors. Here are this season’s dancing pairs:

  • Verteran and motivational speaker Noah Galloway and Sharna Burgess
  • TV’s Shark Tank shark Robert Herjavec and Kym Johnson
  • Singer Patti LaBelle and Artem Chigvintsev
  • Gymnastics champ Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough
  • Singer and actor Riker Lynch and Allison Holker
  • Model and actress Charlotte McKinney and Keo Motsepe
  • Performer Redfoo and Emma Slater
  • NLF player Michael Sam and Peta Murgatroyd
  • Actress Willow Shields and Mark Ballas
  • Actress and entrepreneur Suzanne Somers and Tony Dovolani
  • Bachelor contestant Chris Soules and Whitney Carson
  • Actress Rumer Willis and Valentin Chmerkovskiy

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TV: Rating the New Shows

posted by jtotey

Time for the mid season replacement series. Here is a look at five that made their debut last week.

ABC

ABC

American Crime
Starring: Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, W. Earl Brown, Richard Cabral, Caitlin Gerard, Benito Martinez, Penelope Ann Miller, Elvis Nolasco, Johnny Ortiz and Aliyah Shaddeed
Airs: Thursdays at 10:00 p.m./ABC
Rating: B

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This show features multiple storylines and focuses on race. There really isn’t any likeable characters to root for – at least not in the first episode. Russ Skokie (Hutton) and his ex-wife Barb (Huffman) learn that their son is dead. Russ is already a mess as he is a gambling addict and Barb is a no-nonsense bitter woman. They clearly can’t stand each other. Barb is convinced that an “illegal” killed her son. A second storyline features a drug-loving couple who will do anything for their next hit. A night out consists of finding spare change to split a beer at a local bar in hopes of finding a “John” to “entertain” so that they can buy more drugs. The story is terribly sad. And then there is hard-working auto shop owner Alonzo and his son Tony who is arrested for a murder. What a mess.

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Many drama series are mixed with bits of comedy. American Crime is neither one of those shows nor is it a “feel-good” one either. That isn’t to say that the show is not good. It is. It just isn’t enjoyable to watch. The acting is very good and the storyline is probably more realistic than many would like to admit. Christians will find themselves wanting a good Samaritan to join the cast and share the love of Christ because these people need it. If you watch TV to escape reality, this isn’t your show.

CBS

CBS

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Battle Creek
Starring: Josh Duhamel, Dean Winters, Janet McTeer, Edward Fordham, Jr., Kal Penn and Aubry Dollar
Airs: Sundays at 10:00 p.m./CBS
Rating: B+

Though appearing to be a crime-drama, Battle Creek is more of a comedy with a much better paid of mixed personalities than CBS’ new version of The Odd Couple which is suppossed to b a comedy! Better known as the “Mayhem” character in those insurance commercials, Winters plays Russ Agnew, a hard-working detective in Battle Creek, Michigan with a police department that has virtually no budget to fight crime. The ingenious ways that he and his crew go to fight crime is funny enough for its’ own show, but he gets help in form of  clean-cut Special Agent Milton Chamberlain (Duhamel). The two don’t hit it off too well as Milton appears to be perfect in looks and actions, but he has a few secrets that will be revealed as the series goes on. Russ is clearly jealous and yet has respect for the agent. Russ is all about threats and acting tough whereas Milton’s tactic is to act above reproach and with…dare I say…morality?

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Though the show does features other characters, it really is all about these two and how they learn to navigate working with the other. If CBS can keep up the show’s momentum, it should be around for awhile.

CBS

CBS

CSI: Cyber
Starring: Patricia Arquette, James Van Der Beek, Charely Koontz, Shad Moss, Peter MacNicol  and Hayley Kiyoko
When: Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m./CBS
Rating: C

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CSI: Cyber is the third spin-off of the CSI franchise after CSI: Miami and CSI: New York. Cyber takes place in Quantico, Virginia (perhaps “SCI: Quantico” was too difficult to pronounce?) and unlike the previous shows, it deals with only cyber crimes, not dead bodies – at least not  in the pilot episode. The unit is lead by Allison Dubois (Arquette) who is passionate about her work due to a previous incident where her work laptop was stolen and all of her client’s information was compromised. Her character is inspired by the real-life work of Cyber Psychologist, Mary Aiken.

Although the show is similar to it’s predecessors in its presentation, the storylines try to be different. This unit is different with its own unique “nerds” but they all utter the series’ trademark bad jokes and winks to the camera. The only real difference is that there are no gory images of slain bodies.  Allison’s right hand man is gameboy and FBI Agent Elijah Mundo (Van Der Beek.) All I know of Van Der Beek’s acting career is that he played the title character in TV’s Dawson’s Creek and later made fun of himself in the terrible ABC comedy, The B in Apartment 23, so it is hard to take him seriously, but he does okay.

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The pilot episode dealt with a storyline of bad guys selling babies via online auction which started off okay, but got quickly muddled. It seems terrible to say but by the end of the episode you didn’t care that the baby was brought back to his parents alive or not. In the end, it is a fair show, but would do better as a stand alone rather than a spinoff.

USA

USA

Dig
Starring: Jason Isaccs, Anne Heche, Alison Sudol, Ori Pfeffer, David Costabile, Lauren Ambrose, Angela Bettis, Richard E. Grant, Regina Taylor, Omar Metwally, Tim Kring, Gideon Raff
Airs: Thursdays at 10:00 p.m. on USA
Rating: D

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Dig is a short-term television event lasting for ten weeks. For a title that is a verb, meaning “action,” the show is rather dull. It’s a mystery through and through. Even at the end of the first episode, you don’t really know much more than you did at the beginning. The worst part is that you don’t care. Though beautiful to look at (it was partially filmed in Jerusalem, Croatia and New Mexico), there really isn’t much reason to watch the production.

The main storyline features a FBI agent stationed in Jerusalem. Peter Connelly, (Issacs), is fascinated with with a young red-haired beauty (Alison Sudol), which is understandable since she resembles his daughter who has recently passed away. What is not unstandable is that when she strips, jumps in a sacred pool of water and invites him to join her, he doesn’t hesitate to get naked. Creepy. To make matters worse, he is and his boss (Heche) are sex buddies. Why either of these details are necessary to the story is beyond me.

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As you’ve probably already figured out, the red-haired beauty is found dead and Peter goes on a mission to find out who killed her. Meanwhile, in New Mexico, a young boy is held captive in a castle-like fortress and is being groomed for a super-secret, but probably religious, mission. He is supposedly the chosen one. Then, in another part of the world, a young Jewish man is caring for a spotless calf – a literal sacred cow. How all these stories fit together could change the world for good. This should be exciting stuff, but it isn’t.

ABC

ABC

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Secrets and Lies
Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Juliette Lewis, KaDee Strickland, Natalie Martinez, Dan Fogler, Indiana Evans, Abby Crawford and Melissa Gilbert.
Airs: Sundays at 9:00 p.m. on ABC
Grade: A-

At first glance, ABC’s new series looks like a clone to FOX’s Gracepoint where a young boy is murdered and authorities are on the lookout for the killer. However, unlike the former where everyone is a suspect, Secret and Lies is shown from one person’s point of view – the main suspect. Ryan Phillippe is Ben Crawford who discovers his neighbor’s son, Tom Murphy, dead in the nearby woods during a morning run. While anyone in the nearby cul-de-sac could be guilty of the crime, Detective Andrea Cornell (Lewis) is focused solely on Ben. Soon, Ben is living in a nightmare as various “secrets” and “lies” about himself and others are revealed.

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Unlike Dig, this mystery is much more intriguing. Phillippe is extremely good as portraying the confused Ben but some of the acting of the supporting cast is a bit to be desired. Lewis features a permanent scowl and seems a bit too sharp. You would think that she would have some lines where she could actually smile. Belle Shouse’s acting, (she plays Ben’s younger daughter), is stilted but pales in comparison to Dan Fogler who plays a family friend living in the Crawford’s guest house. It is hard to say which is worse – Fogler’s lines or the way he delivers them. Judging by the show’s first three episodes, these are the show’s only weak spots, but there could be more in the coming weeks.

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