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Peanuts and Popcorn

Peanuts and Popcorn

Is ‘Heroes Reborn’ a Christian Commentary?

posted by jtotey
Zachary Levi in a very "Un-Chuck-like" role. (Photo by: Christos Kalohoridis/NBC)

Zachary Levi in a very “Un-Chuck-like” role. (Photo by: Christos Kalohoridis/NBC)

The NBC show, Heroes, ran on the network for four years from September 2006 to February 2010. Like Marvel’s X-Men comic series, the show focused on everyday people who discovered that they had extraordinary abilities. When the show premiered, it grabbed about 14.3 million viewers making the series the highest rating for an NBC drama debut in five years and kept high ratings for the first year. Unfortunately, the show’s viewer base got smaller each year that the show was on. Most fans and critics agree that the show’s first season was the best and was the most coherent, but somewhere the writers and producers lost their way killing off older characters and bringing in new ones.

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Sendhil Ramamurthy as Mohinder Suresh -- (Photo by: Sophie Giraud/NBC)

Sendhil Ramamurthy as Mohinder Suresh — (Photo by: Sophie Giraud/NBC)

Now, six years later, NBC is giving the show another try re-branded as Heroes Reborn. Whether or not the series will be graced with more seasons to come remains to be seen. The good news is that this fall’s series is led by Tim Kring, the creator of the original series and contains a few characters from the first series, however, I wouldn’t get too attached to them. The bad news is that the show tries to bridge the gap from the old series to the new. Long time fans will be thrilled with the end result, but there isn’t enough information given from the old show for new watchers to jump in comfortably without getting completely lost. They may abandon the show altogether leaving it with low ratings once again. But that is just speculation.

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The premise of the new show follows the event of a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas. The country had just seemed to get comfortable with “evos,” (those who have evolved with new powers and abilities), and there was a celebration of sorts happening at an expo-type of event when the attack came and many were killed. The ones who survived began to go into hiding. What a difference a year makes. Now the world has become extremely suspicious of anyone who is different.

Zachary Levi (forever known as “Chuck” by many) plays a much different role in Heroes Reborn. He plays Luke, a vigilante seeking justice for the death of his child from a year ago. He is joined by Joanee (Judith Shekoni) with similar goals.

Kiki Sukezane as Miko Otomo -- (Photo by: Christos Kalohoridis/NBC)

Kiki Sukezane as Miko Otomo — (Photo by: Christos Kalohoridis/NBC)

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The series has brought back Noah Bennet, a.k.a. H.R.G., (Jack Coleman), who is trying to piece together the events from Odesa to the latest ambushes of “heroes” in hiding. New characters include Tommy (Robbie Kay), a teen who can make things disappear without knowing where they go, Miko (Kiki Sukezane), a young women looking for her missing father in Tokyo who discovers that she can travel to different worlds with the use of a samurai sword, Carlos (Ryan Guzman) also finds himself in new abilities that he can’t explain. Former “heroes” back for a second time include Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka), Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg), Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and the Haitian (Jimmy Jean-Louis), among others. Together, they are here to save the world.

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Jack Coleman as HRG/Noah Bennett -- (Photo by: Christos Kalohoridis/NBC)

Jack Coleman as HRG/Noah Bennett — (Photo by: Christos Kalohoridis/NBC)

The theme of the show continues with people being scared of what they don’t know. Picketers protesting the evos are shown in the beginning with signs eerily similar to the ones that the Westboro Baptist Church members use that say “God Hates Evos.” Suddenly the show becomes a little more real.

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This may be a bit of a stretch, but I see the show as a commentary about how the world sees Christians. Unfortunately, our world is filled with too many religious zealots who cannot be trusted to have the best interest of others in mind. But there are many more “good” Christians out there who would rather hide in the shadows rather than make a stand for their faith in fear the others will see them as crazy as the zealots. Or could it be the other way around with Christians afraid of the “heroes” and think of them as devils? Maybe it’s a bit of both.

Is the show worth watching? Well, if you are fan of the original, then yes, this is required viewing for you. If you are newbie, you may not get anything out of it. I was initially intrigued with the season’s two hour premiere, but it lost me about halfway in when one character finds herself transformed and placed into a video game. That is a storyline I didn’t expect and one that was too far “out there” for me to buy. And let’s face it – there is a lot “to buy” with this series to begin with.

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Exciting ‘Limitless’ is a Fun Ride

posted by jtotey
Bradley Cooper and Jake McDorman star in "Limiteless." (CBS)

Bradley Cooper and Jake McDorman star in “Limiteless.” (CBS)

What if you could take a “nutritional supplement” that would allow you to remember everything you’ve ever learned? A small, see-through pill that would allow you to remember events, like existing in your mother’s womb that would be impossible to do otherwise. Would you take it? These are the question that Brian Finch (Jake McDorman) has to answer for himself in the new CBS action series, Limitless.

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Based on 2011 feature film with the same name and premise, Finch is given a sample of the drug NZT from a friend of his and his life will never be the same. While riding on the high of the pill, Finch is able to do more than any human can, but when it wears off, it’s the worst hangover ever. Soon, Finch learns that by taking the drug, he becomes part of a unique club of sorts – a club where the other members taking the same drug are being killed off. Add this situation to the stress of learning that his father Dennis (Ron Rifkin) will die if he isn’t given a new kidney stat and that fact that the FBI is looking for him and you will find one troubled man. Fortunately for him, he has found a friend in FBI agent Rebecca Harris (Jennifer Carpenter) and Senator Edward Morra (Bradley Cooper, reprising his role from the film).

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Limitless is a fast-paced action show that is as intelligent as it is artistic. It has a playful way of story-telling with Finch literally talking to himself, clever narration and some fun editing choices. Finch’s character is a good guy who has never really made anything out of himself before discovering NZT and is soon faced with new possibilities to make up for lost time. The cast is great. McDorman starred in last year’s failed sitcom for ABC, Manhattan Love Story. While the show was bad, he proved that he could be likeable and almost looks like he could play Cooper’s younger brother. Carpenter, bound to become McDorman’s love interest in the series, played the role of Debra Morgan in the Showtime series, Dexter. The cast also includes the great Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as SAC Nasreen “Naz” Pouran and Blair Brown as Finch’s mother, Marie.

As with any similar show, you have to wonder how long the network will be able to run with this concept, but it they can it should have a long shelf life.

Limitless airs on Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. on CBS.

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Are ‘The Muppets’ Too ‘Adult’ Now?

posted by jtotey
Tom Bergeron guest stars on The Muppets on September, 22, 2015. (ABC)

Tom Bergeron guest stars on The Muppets on September, 22, 2015. (ABC)

Finally, the show that many child and adult have been looking forward to seeing this fall airs tonight for the first time. After the success of the movies The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted, ABC had no problem green-lighting the new TV show based on the iconic characters. However, if you are expecting an update of the old Muppet Show, you will be disappointed. Yes, the gang is all here, (looking great by the way), but this show is a bit edgier than traditional Muppet fare and could hurt the brand if they are not careful.

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Instead of the variety show format that you grew up with, Kermit and company now work for the late night talk show, “Up Late with Miss Piggy.” Dr. Teeth and his band are the show’s signature band, the old critics Statler and Waldorf are in the audience, the Swedish Chef prepares the food for the cast, Scooter is the stage manager, Fozzie Bear warms up the crowd with bad jokes and Kermit runs the whole operation. This works out fine, but it also leaves many favorite Muppets characters nothing to do except to deliver the occasional one-liner.

The show is also very different in that it is sort of a Muppetized version of The Office. It is unique in that we get to see the lives of the characters when they are not at work. Kermit and Piggy are no longer an item, which makes working together difficult. Kermit is also seeing another pig. Fozzie Bear is dating for the first time in a long time, but it is with a human girl whose parents are not too crazy for the mixed relationship.

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For the pilot episode, Elizabeth Banks is scheduled to be Miss Piggy’s guest but Piggy “hates her stupid face” for a reason that is shared later in the episode. Dancing with the Stars’ Tom Bergeron is also a guest and the band Imagine Dragons comes on the scene for about a minute.

The end result, at least for the pilot episode, is that the show is enjoyable but it pales in comparison to what it could be. Knowing that children will watch the show no matter what, the crew behind the show have been concentrating more on the adult viewers making the show a bit edgier than some of us fans are comfortable with. They would have done better if the writing was focused on the kid audience knowing that their parents will watch anyway. There are innuendo jokes that will definitely fly over the heads of the kids, but they will make some adults squirm. The pilot episode alone references AA meetings and the homosexual term “bear” (in which Fozzie shares about an unfortunate misunderstanding on a dating website). The lines are funny, but seem out of place.

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The biggest problem though is the show’s storytelling. While the storyline about Fozzie meeting his girlfriend’s parents is actually pretty funny and clever, the reveal on why Miss Piggy has such a dislike for Elizabeth Banks has an explanation that is sort of a head-scratcher, even for this show. Having a pig and frog talk about their romantic troubles and miscommunications will mean nothing to children and is too silly for adults. Sure, the jokes are fun, but when the pair talk “serious” it just feels weird to watch.

The Muppets airs on Tuesday nights at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.

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One Night Only: ‘Just Let Go’ and Night of Forgiveness

posted by jtotey
Henry Ian Cusick stars in "Just Let Go." (Fathom Events)

Henry Ian Cusick stars in “Just Let Go.” (Fathom Events)

Christian faith-based movies are becoming more and more common, which is a good thing. However, some movies are not reaching those who really need to see them. If you live in the “Bible Belt,” you likely have access to each and every newly released faith-based film that comes out. This is one of the reasons that I am excited to share about a “one night only” event sharing the new faith-based movie, Just Let Go during the Night of Forgiveness event held next Monday, September 28 at movie theaters ALL across the country.

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Based on the book, Let It Go: A True Story of Tragedy and Forgiveness by Chris Williams, this movie shares how he had to overcome his own grief and the anger of others to forgive the drunk driver who killed his wife and three of his children. The movie stars Emmy nominee Henry Ian Cusick (Lost, Scandal, The 100), Oscar-nominee Brenda Vaccaro (Once Is Not Enough) and Sam Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys). The press release describes the story like this: “On a cold February night in 2007, a devoted father of four and a seventeen-year-old drunk driver both received life sentences. In one violent, devastating instant, each faced a drastically different and uncertain future. But as Chris Williams sat in his demolished vehicle, staring at the car that had just caused the death of his wife, his unborn baby, his nine-year-old daughter, and his eleven-year-old son, he committed to do something extraordinary: he would forgive.”

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Fathom Events and Excel Entertainment will present the film as part of the Night of Forgiveness September 28, 2015 at various theaters live at 8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT and tape-delayed to 7:00 p.m. MT / 8:00 p.m. PT. In addition to the full-length feature, audiences will experience commentary, discussion, and a performance by renowned worship pastor and Christian recording artist Lincoln Brewster.

“In some way, we can all relate to Chris’ story,” said Fathom Events CEO John Rubey. “Fathom is honored to share such a powerful message of forgiveness with our audiences via a great story, moving discussion and first-rate performance by Lincoln Brewster.” To see which theater near you is offering the presentation and to purchase tickets for the event, visit Fathom Events.

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A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the Human Journey, web platform for the “Tutu Global Forgiveness Challenge” which empowers people to forgive. Watch the trailer below:YouTube Preview Image

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