Tuned In Journal http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com Fri, 27 Nov 2015 03:10:07 -0500 en-gb TV Q&A: 'Once Upon a Time,' 'Hardcore Pawn' and 'The Returned' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39702-tv-q-a-once-upon-a-time-hardcore-pawn-and-the-returned http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39702-tv-q-a-once-upon-a-time-hardcore-pawn-and-the-returned

Click here for a link to headlines of recent TV news and views posts.

TV Q&A with Rob Owen

Submit a question to TV Q&A by sending an email to rowen@post-gazette.com (include your first name and location) or submitting online at http://old.post-gazette.com/tv/questions/qaform.asp.

This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “Once Upon a Time,” “Hardcore Pawn” and “The Returned.”  As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: What happened to “Hardcore Pawn”? I haven’t seen new episodes lately.


Rob: When we last reported on this show a year ago, new episodes were due in January despite a truTV rebranding. But it turns out that was the last batch of new episodes. truTV decided not to order more episodes because of the network’s new direction, which moved more toward comedy.


Q: Why doesn’t “Once Upon a Time” ever get any award nomination for best effects? I think they are awesome.


Rob: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And the reality of awards shows is that award nominations in technical categories tend to follow the shows in the top categories (best drama, best comedy) and “Once Upon a Time” is never in those categories.


Q: Last Season “The Returned” aired on A&E at 10 p.m. after “Bates Motel.” Recently I noticed it was on SundanceTV, however, this is the French version with different actors and English subtitles. Will the English version from last season on A&E be back?


Rob: Sorry, no. The Americanized version of “The Returned,” which was based on the original French series that airs on SundanceTV, was canceled after one season.


Q: I went to the Appraisals Day at the Heinz History Center for this season’s “Pittsburgh’s Hidden Treasures” and ended up being interviewed (not one of the big, in the studio appraisals, just one of the “on the street” ones).  About a month later (late September) I got a call saying that interview was going to be aired and they wanted to know what the appraisal value of what I brought had been.  I’ve been searching the TV listings but haven’t seen any mention of what the air date would be (the person I talked to didn’t actually say).  Any word about when KDKA is going to start running episodes?  I know they come on sporadically.


Rob: According to KDKA-TV general manager Chris Pike, the air schedule has not been finalized but the first episode will air sometime in January.


Q: My original set-top box went bad a couple days ago. Returned it to Verizon East Liberty Fios store for a new one. Installed it and while the channels worked OK there was a problem with the software menu. Called Verizon and a supervisor determined that the replacement set-top box was also defective. A replacement will be sent to me.
Then called the Fios store. Spoke with manager Donovan. Told him he gave me a defective box. He said that sometimes happens. Said that was beyond his control.  Explained that Verizon does not replace boxes with new boxes because that would cost too much.  Instead a third party refurbishes returned boxes and they are then Verizon gives them out to users.
He said that to the best of his knowledge defective refurbished boxes is rare.The fact that it happens at all tells me that the third party does not have adequate quality controls. More than likely Verizon deals with the company who refurbishes for the least cost. And you know what you get for cheap.
Also, eventually a set-top box will fail for every user unless they die first. That means that there are probably thousands of refurbished boxes in peoples’ homes and they don't know they are refurbished. You may feel they don't need to know, but I do. They also should be advised that the box may be defective since it is refurbished by a cheap company. Now we both know that ain’t gonna happen. 

Rob:Refurbished replacement electronics is pretty much the standard across industries. It's not just limited to cable. When my GPS died in warranty, the company sent me a refurbished GPS unit. That's just how the world works these days.



Post-Gazette media writer Maria Sciullo joins me to discuss “The Man in the High Castle,” “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” and our Thanksgiving TV traditions.

Find the podcast link after the jump. ...

Access the Tuned In podcaston the PG Soundcloud site  or below:


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Fri, 27 Nov 2015 00:00:01 -0500
Holiday programming starts earlier and earlier http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39665-holiday-programming-starts-earlier-and-earlier http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39665-holiday-programming-starts-earlier-and-earlier

Wild Kratts Christmas

The Post-Gazette's annual holiday programming guide will publish in the Magazine section Friday, as it does every year the day after Thanksgiving, but that's not quite soon enough to capture all the holiday shows.

Read more after the jump. ... 

Viewers are probably accustomed by now to Christmas-themed movies airing on Hallmark Channel beginning on Halloween, but this year that's not the only early Christmas programming.

PBS's "Wild Kratts" (pictured above) debuted a Christmas episode on Wednesday that repeats today and Friday at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. on WQED-TV.

Other early programming includes "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" at 8 p.m. Friday on ABC and "Frosty the Snowman" (8 p.m. Saturday, CBS), "Frosty Returns" (8:30 p.m. Saturday, CBS) and "The Story of Santa Claus" (9 p.m. Saturday, CBS).

Upcoming PBS Kids holiday-themed episodes include:

DINOSAUR TRAIN - “Trains, Submarines and Zeppelins"

Premieres December 7; encore presentations on 12/17, 12/25, 12/27

When Mr. Pteranodon and Larry go out to the Big Pond to find some red platanoids for the Winter Solstice Celebration, they accidentally miss the last train home. Will Larry and Mr. Pteranodon stop bickering long enough to figure out a way home, or will they be stranded in the middle of nowhere and miss the family Winter Solstice Celebration?

SUPER WHY! - "Judith's Happy Chanukah"

Premieres December 7; encore presentation on December 9
Whyatt is excited to have been invited to Red's Gramma's house to celebrate Chanukah, but doesn't know much about the holiday. To learn more, the Super Readers jump into the book Judith’s Happy Chanukah, where they meet Judith, who loves Chanukah so much that she can't wait to share it with her new friends.


Airs December 7, 12 and 25

Everyone’s favorite aardvark gives kids a new spin on seasonal traditions in this one-hour special, showing children the many ways to celebrate. Plans are underway in Elwood City for the best holiday season ever as Arthur, D.W., their family and friends make preparations for perfect gifts, perfect parties and perfect family traditions for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and even “Baxter Day” (Buster and his mom’s special celebration). However, just as in real life, perfection is hard to attain and Arthur learns that the real joy of the holidays is spending it with his family.


Airs December 7 and 24

“The Hanukkah Problem” - When Albert Einstein invites Peg and Cat over for Hanukkah, he shows them how to make a 2D piece of paper into a 3D dreidel. Later, they need to use this process to bring peace to Al’s home and save his Hanukkah.

“The Christmas Problem” - When Santa Claus is in trouble, Peg and Cat have to solve their biggest problem ever: how to make and wrap presents for all the children of the world and then deliver them using 100 sleighs.

“The Penguin Problem” - Peg and Cat coach a team of skiing penguins, who would have a shot at the Olympic gold medal if only they knew “over,” “under,” and “in between.”


Airs December 7, 12, 20, 24 and 25

Join George and The Man with the Yellow Hat as they count down the days until Christmas. There’s only one puzzle: neither of them can figure out what to give the other for a present. The Man is having trouble reading George’s wish list and George doesn’t have a clue about what to get for the Man who has everything. Will they be able to find the answers before Christmas morning?


Airs December 8, 16 and 24

This adventure finds the Cat in the Hat, Nick and Sally on a journey around the world to help a lost reindeer find his way home to Freezeyourknees Snowland in time for Christmas. On the way, the Thinga-ma-jigger breaks down and they depend on a variety of animals – from African bush elephants to bottlenose dolphins to red crabs – and their remarkable abilities to help them make an amazing journey home.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Thu, 26 Nov 2015 09:14:01 -0500
Is 'South of Hell' the 'Showgirls' of TV exorcist dramas? http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39671-is-south-of-hell-the-showgirls-of-exorcist-tv-dramas http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39671-is-south-of-hell-the-showgirls-of-exorcist-tv-dramas


It's been more than a year since WEtv started production on the Eli Roth ("Hemlock Grove") executive produced exorcism drama series "South of Hell" and the show is finally seeing the light of day with its entire first season being burned off made available for binge viewing with in an all-day marathon beginning at 6 p.m. Friday. That means the final episode will wrap up just before 2 a.m. Saturday. I don't care how hip binge viewing is these days -- TBS will roll out its comedy "Angie Tribeca" with a marathon of its first season Jan. 17 followed by weekly episodes of season two starting Jan. 25 -- I just can't believe the "South of Hell" scheduling is anything but a burn off.

(I kept tabs on "South of Hell" awaiting an interview with Pittsburgh native Lamman Rucker, one of the show's stars. A publicist pitched the interview more than a year ago when Rucker was cast in the project but when it came time to do an interview this month, Rucker was unavailable for about two weeks before my deadline. Or maybe he just doesn't want attention for this turkey and prefers to wait until his next series, OWN's "Greenleaf," launches in 2016)

When the project was announced in 2014, "South of Hell" was supposed to have an eight-episode first season. But when WEtv announced the show's premiere, only seven episodes are part of the marathon. My guess, WEtv decided to cut its losses before episode eight could be produced.

Also, the show is awful.

Read more after the jump. ...


Mena Suvari ("American Beauty") stars in the series as Maria Abascal, a demon hunter for hire, although it's her brother, David (Zachary Booth, "Damages"), who provides voiceover narration in the pilot, the only episode made available for review.

Maria has a demon, Abigail (also played by Suvari), who lives inside of her. Except when Abigail isn't inside of her and appears to converse with Maria or tempt David sexually, which she does by showing up in lingerie while David, a junkie, robs a house.

Seriously, it's not just bad, "South of Hell" is almost "Showgirls"-bad, minus the nudity, of course. (Although Abigail does appear to masturbate Maria at one point in the pilot, although, again, I'm not sure about the physics of a demon taking corporeal form.)

There's a lot of mumbo jumbo about the siblings coming to Charleston in search of something having to do with their dead cult leader father (Bill Irwin, "CSI"), who may be back in some form.

In the pilot Maria/Abiagil intervene in the case of a demon-posessed boy who begs her not to release the demon inside him because it protects the boy from his abusive father. Maria also gets a visit from Rev. Elijah Bledsoe (Rucker), who turns out to have a family connection to Maria's father's cult.

With a script by first-time scripted series creator Matt Lambert and with Roth directing the pilot episode, there are occasional hints that "South of Hell," filmed on location in Charleston, S.C., is intended to be campy. But they come all too frequently.

"Don't ever sneak up on a posessed girl like that," Maria grouses to Rev. Bledsoe when he suddenly appears in her apartment.

Most of the time the show seems like it wants to be scary but it's mostly just ridiculous and unintentionally funny, even when it comes to the cliche fight scene between demons that takes its participants to the room's ceiling. Add to that some terrible Southern accents and unconvincing performances and the only truly scary thing about "South of Hell" is the possibility that someone might waste seven hours watching it Friday night into Saturday morning.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Wed, 25 Nov 2015 09:29:01 -0500
Tuned In podcast: 'The Man in the High Castle,' 'Marvel's Jessica Jones' and Thanksgiving TV traditions http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39703-tuned-in-podcast-the-man-in-the-high-castle-marvel-s-jessica-jones-and-thanksgiving-tv-traditions http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39703-tuned-in-podcast-the-man-in-the-high-castle-marvel-s-jessica-jones-and-thanksgiving-tv-traditions

tuned in podcast logo

Post-Gazette media writer Maria Sciullo joins me to discuss “The Man in the High Castle,” “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” and Thanksgiving TV traditions.

Find the podcast link after the jump. ...

Access the Tuned In podcast on the PG Soundcloud site  or below: 


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Tue, 24 Nov 2015 14:42:17 -0500
'Railroad Alaska' chugs back for its third season http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39672-railroad-alaska-chugs-back-for-its-third-season http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39672-railroad-alaska-chugs-back-for-its-third-season

Alaska Railroad

The timing didn't work out to revisit Destination America's "Railroad Alaska" (10 p.m. Saturdays) when it returned for its third season earlier this month but since I was going to have to watch it anyway -- it's the live-action favorite of my 5 year old who calls it "Real Trains in the Snow" -- I wanted to check back in on the series that changed its cast from season one to season two, much to my son's chagrin.

And guess what? The cast of engineers has gotten a slight makeover for the show's third season, too.

Read more and watch a video after the jump. ...


In the first season, the primary engineers were Danny and Animal. In season two, it became George, Bill and Wanda. Wanda sat in the backseat and didn't have much to do other than offer occasional commentary. This season Wanda has been replaced by Davey, who also has nothing to do (and often, nothing to say). It was an odd configuration last season that remains odd this season.

Elsewhere on the show, one-armed, hook-handed off-gridder Jim continues to build a new home for his wife, Nancy. ("He's not Capt. Hook," my son helpfully reminded me as we watched the season premiere.)

A new episode featured another situation where the track was blocked by construction equipment and "Railroad Alaska" tried to build tension that it wouldn't be moved in time. But it was. Like always.

For viewers like my son who can't get enough of this train show, on Thanksgiving Destination America will air "Railroad Alaska: Real Time Ride" (9 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday, preview above), which the network bills as a sleep-inducing, five-hour, point-of-view snoozefest as cameras are mounted on a train making the full 500-mile journey along the Alaska Railroad.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:41:01 -0500
'Nature Cat' premieres on PBS Kids http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39660-nature-cat-premieres-on-pbs-kids http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39660-nature-cat-premieres-on-pbs-kids

nature cat blog

After seeing a trailer for PBS's new kids show "Nature Cat" (7:47 a.m. and 3:47 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, WQED-TV) in July, I was worried it might be too frantic. It's certainly less sedate than "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" and "Peg + Cat" but probably in the same ballpark as "Odd Squad."

Still, I wondered how my 5-year-old son would react. Would it make him too hyper and wanting to act out what he sees on the screen, which is often the result when he watches Disney Junior's "Miles from Tomorrowland" or "The Lion Guard."

Turns out, he enjoyed "Nature Cat" but he didn't try to emulate the characters, many of whom are voice by "Saturday Night Live" stars.

Read more after the jump. ...

The show's concept is a bit odd -- let's get kids outside by making a TV show about a house cat, Nature Cat, who goes outside even though children will have to watch the show inside -- but if "Nature Cat" can stimulate kids' imaginations and interest in the great outdoors, then it has done a service.

An episode made available for review features two stories: one about a runaway hamster ("Baby, I was born to run," the hamster sings, Springsteen-like). The educational component seems to be about the traits of the hamster. As second episode, "Astronuts," features a lot of facts about the moon as Nature Cat (Taran Killam) and his companions -- Squeeks the mouse (Kate McKinnon), Hal the dog (Bobby Moynihan), Ronald the cat (Kenan Thompson) and Daisy the bunny (Kate Micucci) -- fly into space.

Co-created by brothers David Rudman (who performs Cookie Monster on "Sesame Street") and Adam Rudman ("Tom & Jerry," "Cyberchase"), "Nature Cat" is designed for children ages 3-8. Each episode will follow the typical PBS kdis show pattern of two 11-minute stories with two interstitials. One will be animated, the other live-action.

"It's kind of like a commercial for nature," David Rudman said of the live-action segment. "Like, hands‑on things. So it's like 'Nature Cat,' brought to you today by rocks' or 'by mud.' And, then, we see, like, kids out there exploring, you know, hands‑on shells."

Adam Rudman said the goal is for the show to inspire children to get outside and play.

"I think what sets this show apart from other nature shows is we wanted 'Nature Cat' to show kids what's accessible to them outside their backdoor in their backyards or in their local park where they can start the love affair with nature and start connecting to the environment with what's accessible to them," he said at a July PBS press conference. "Other shows might ‑‑ which they do a great job -- be in exotic locations with exotic animals. But this is where a child can go and start tracking a squirrel and that's where the love affair begins."

Beginning Nov. 30, "Nature Cat" will air on WQED-TV at 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. Starting Jan. 18, the show will air at 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Mon, 23 Nov 2015 00:00:01 -0500
TV Q&A + Tuned In podcast: 'Home Fires,' closed captioning and an MIA cable channel http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39692-tv-q-a-home-fires-closed-captioning-and-an-mia-cable-channel http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39692-tv-q-a-home-fires-closed-captioning-and-an-mia-cable-channel

Click here for a link to headlines of recent TV news and views posts.

TV Q&A with Rob Owen

Submit a question to TV Q&A by sending an email to rowen@post-gazette.com (include your first name and location) or submitting online at http://old.post-gazette.com/tv/questions/qaform.asp.

This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “Home Fires,” closed captioning and an MIA channel on Verizon FiOS.  As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: When will “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” air?


Rob:  At 8 p.m. Tuesday on ABC.


Q: Do you know if the Sundayevening program "Home Fires” will return to WQED?  I was surprised and disappointed it wasn't on Sunday night. Thanks for any information.


Rob: PBS’s “Masterpiece” presentation of “Home Fires” wrapped its first season on Nov. 8, which is why it wasn’t on this week. The show has been renewed for a second season that’s likely to air on “Masterpiece” in 2016.


Q: Do you know if “Say Yes to the Dress” is over? Are new episodes coming up some time?


Rob: The show will return with new episodes in spring 2016.


Q: How come some of the actors' lines are missing from the closed captions, sometimes whole paragraphs?  Which leads to: how come there's such a time lag between the spoken word and the cc becoming visible on screen?

Rob: I’m told by a closed captioning expert that if large portions of dialogue are missing from the closed captioning, it may be a transmission/receiving issue on Diane’s end. Diane should reach out to her cable or satellite provider, or to the specific network or station on which she’s experiencing the issues. It’s best for her to explore/exhaust these options first, as often times it’s an issue with the set-top box / receiver, or general signal distribution.

Regarding the question about lag time, that shouldn’t be an issue on prerecorded shows, as the closed captioning is precisely timed in advance. If she’s seeing long delays on sitcoms, dramas and movies, then that would be another follow-up item for her cable, satellite or over-the-air service. On live CC’d shows, the standard delay is anywhere from 3 – 10 seconds.


Q: Newscaster Kimberly Gill left KDKA a year ago.  Is KDKA looking to replace her on the noon and 4 p.m.news?


Rob: Sounds like KDKA is planning to stick with the status quo for now.

While we are always on the lookout for potential additions to our experienced and talented staff, we do not have a specific timeline or plan I can share,” said KDKA-TV general manager Chris Pike.


Q: Why did Verizon FiOS drop Universal Sports from its channel lineup?  That channel consistently showed UCI pro cycling races. Is there any other way to get Universal Sports?

Rob: Verizon didn’t drop Universal Sports; the network shut down.

Some of its programming contracts, including some cycling, will go to NBC Sports

NBC Sports Group will utilize NBCUniversal’s family of networks, including NBCSN and Universal HD, to televise events. ‘NBC Sports Live Extra’ --NBC Sports’ live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs --will live stream events, including some digital-only programming. Universal Sports Network will cease operations today,” NBC Sports said in a statement released Monday. “Upcoming major events that NBC Sports will televise and stream include: the FIS Alpine World Cup season; the USA Swimming Arena Pro Swim Series; the IAAF World Indoor Championships; and the 2016 Boston Marathon.”

Scheduling information can be found online: http://www.nbcsports.com/olympic-sports-schedule


tuned in podcast logoTUNED IN PODCAST 

Post-Gazette media writer Maria Sciullo joins me to discuss AMC’s “Into the Badlands,” FX's "Fargo" and fall cancellations.

Access the Tuned In podcaston the PG Soundcloud site  or below:


Just when I thought Channel 11 News couldn't stoop to its lowest point, they reached an all-time low on last week’s news. I am not sure which newscast it was, (I was watching late on PCNC), Channel 11 had a story about a string of break-ins in the South Hills. WPXI had an interview with a victim in Scott Township. After the interview the reporter said, in so many words, "For a description of the suspect, go to WPXI.com"!!

How sad is that to force the public to go to a station’s website.

In my opinion I didn't think it could get worse than: "We were the only ones here," "You saw it first on Channel 11," "You saw it as breaking news on Channel 11," "We are the greatest news channel in the world" (I made that one up) and so on. Well, last week Channel 11 did it.

Luckily there are other news channels here in Pittsburgh, and Channel 11 may be surprised to hear, better news channels, for people to watch.

- Scott, Manor


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Fri, 20 Nov 2015 23:59:01 -0500
Post-Muppets, The Jim Henson Company celebrates 60 years http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39667-the-jim-henson-company-celebrates-its-first-60-years http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39667-the-jim-henson-company-celebrates-its-first-60-years

turkey hollow original puppets

The new family-friendly cable movie "Jim Henson's Turkey Hollow" (8 p.m. Saturday, Lifetime) is based on a story treatment from the late 1960s by Jim Henson and frequent collaborator Jerry Juhl (see a feature about and a review of "Turkey Hollow" on the TV page). But plans for a special in the 1960s advanced beyond just a story to Henson building some of the puppets (see photo from 1968 above), even though the project stalled and didn't get made until now.

"My father built some of the characters and photographed them in the woods and created pitch photos for the project," said Jim Henson Company CEO Lisa Henson, the daughter of Jim Henson who's pictured above, at left, as a child with those prototype puppets. "We did update the puppets. His puppets were very small and reminiscent of the 'Sesame Street' monster look. We took inspiration from their shapes and spirit and made them larger and more detailed for shooting in the real world."

Read more after the jump. ...

Of course, The Jim Henson Company exists in a different form now than when Henson was alive. The company sold The Muppets and its most famous Muppet characters to The Walt Disney Company in 2004. Since then, The Jim Henson Company has been involved in PBS's "Dinosaur Train" and "Sid the Science Kid," a computer-animated series made using motion-capture puppetry.

"When we first made the deal with Disney, we anticipated our company would become very small," Lisa Henson said. "We didn't expect being as robust a company as we are today. We've gotten in the groove of doing new productions. The first season of 'Sid the Science Kid' with PBS kicked off who we are today."

Henson said she watches ABC's new "The Muppets" and finds the format "very appropriate" for the characters.

"If I were managing the Muppets right now, I would probably have chosen to do the same format of a workplace, single-camera comedy a la 'The Office' and '30 Rock.' I think it's the perfect format," she said. "I do watch it every week and I've enjoyed some episodes more than others. I think they had the right idea."

Henson said she has been in touch with "Muppets" co-creator Bill Prady.

"I have talked to the folks at Muppet Studios at Disney. Everybody is friends," she said. "We're not a produicer on it, we're not in frequent contact."

I asked if it was odd to see her dad's creations in someone else's hands, literally and figuratively.

"It's a lot less odd for us than it will be for George Lucas to watch the [new] 'Stars Wars' movies because he's the actual cerator. We're the children of the creator," she said. "If you want something to live for a long time, to outlive the creators, you have to be willing to let new people bring their creativity to it and be excited about it."

That story treatment for "Turkey Hollow" was discovered in The Jim Henson Company archives. Henson said there's one other unproduced Henson property that might get made someday. "The Tale of Sand" was a proposal for a live-action movie without puppets that has been adapated as a graphic novel.

"We found six drafts of it spanning close to 10 years. It was a real passion project," Henson said. "It's been optioned for a feature film so it may come around and be a feature film after all. Currently we don't have plans to adapt any of the other things in the archives. For the most part we're familiar with what's there and we know why those projects didn't happen. There are several treatments in the archives for projects that are extremely similar to Pixar's 'Inside Out,' so similar you would wonder, do great minds thing alike? Do these things just spring from something in the air? We will probably not do anything with those ideas but it was an interesting discovery as well." 

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Thu, 19 Nov 2015 09:52:01 -0500
New 'Lion King' TV series reviewed http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39662-new-lion-king-tv-series http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39662-new-lion-king-tv-series

lion king  blog

I have no idea if others break down their kids' viewing the way we do, but we're staunchly a PBS Kids/Disney Junior household. Our five-year old-son tends to play/re-enact whatever he sees on TV these days, so there's no way we're going near Nickelodeon and risk seeing anything about the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." We don't need that kind of added headache.

But even sticking with the softer, less raucous programming on Disney Junior and PBS Kids is no guarantee of calmer shows, which we learned watching an advance screener of Sunday's "The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar" (7 p.m. Sunday, Disney Channel), a 45-minute "movie" introduction to a new "Lion King" series coming in early 2016.

Read more after the jump. ...

It's not that this new movie won't appeal to kids -- our son was soon romping around the living room roaring like a lion as soon as the movie ended -- it's just that it may feel a little too opportunistic to the parents who watch with their children.

First there's the sense that the series is trodding on hallowed ground -- the original "Lion King" film -- although that was already done in 1995 with the "Timon & Pumbaa's Wild Adventures" series not to mention multiple direct-home-video sequel movies. Second there's the addition of an "Avengers"/"Superfriends" component. And while it's a cute story how that came about -- series creator Ford Riley was inspired by his son -- it sure feels out of place and retconning in the context of "The Lion King."

Here's how Disney describes the new show:


Set in the African savanna, "The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar" introduces Kion, the
second-born cub of Simba and Nala, who is destined to become leader of the Lion 
Guard, a team of animals comprised of the Pride Lands' fiercest, bravest, fastest, 
strongest and keenest of sight. As Kion looks to assemble the members of the new Lion 
Guard, he does not call upon a group of lions to serve with him as tradition dictates, 
but instead chooses some of his friends whom he believes best exemplify these heroic 
qualities – Bunga, a fearless honey badger; Fuli, a confident cheetah; Beshte, a friendly 
and good-spirited hippo; and Ono, an intellectual egret. 
Throughout the movie and subsequent series, the diverse team of young animals will 
learn how to utilize each of their unique abilities to solve problems and accomplish 
tasks to protect the Pride Lands and maintain balance within the Circle of Life.

 "The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar" benefits from returning voices provided by the movie's James Earl Jones (as Mufasa) and Ernie Sabella (as Pumbaa) but adding Rob Lowe's recognizable voice as the adult Simba is somewhat distracting. I kept waiting for him to say "literally" like his "Parks and Recreation" character.

But my biggest quibbles with this new "Lion King" are reserved for the new character Bunga, a honey badger who clearly don't care. The actor playing Bunga yells all his lines as if they are followed by four exclamation points. It's a super-annoying character made moreso by the movie's comedic climax.

In stark counterpoint to "The Lion King" movie where Pumbaa's farts were implied but not shown ("Not in front of the kids," Timon said), in "Return of the Roar," Bunga stops a gazelle stampede with a big old passing of gas heard and shown in all its green-hued glory. Kids will love it, of course, and it's certainlly better than fighting turtles but between tarnishing memories of the original film and that shouting honey badger, "Return of the Road" won't encourage co-viewing among children and their parents.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Wed, 18 Nov 2015 00:00:01 -0500
TV review 'The Art of More' on Crackle http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39657-tv-review-the-art-of-more-on-crackle http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39657-tv-review-the-art-of-more-on-crackle

The Art of More

On Thursday Sony's ad-supported, free streaming service Crackle debuts all 10 episodes of its first one-hour scripted drama series, "The Art of More," a lackluster entry that's unessential viewing in this age of #PeakTV.

Read more after the jump. ...

Available via streaming only, the series stars Christian Cooke (stubbly star of "Magic City," above) as Graham Connor, a dese-dem-dose-accented blue collar Brooklynite who's remade himself as a respectable-adjacent art auction house account executive following a U.S. Army stint spent smuggling artifacts.

After he returned to the U.S., Graham mentored with antiquities collector Arthur Davenport (Cary Elwes) and now he's trying to land crude, seemigly homophobic slimeball billionaire Sam Brukner (Dennis Quaid) as his client. But he's in a fight for Brukner with Roxana Whitman (Kate Bosworth), an account executive at a rival auction house.

In the pilot, anti-heroish Graham gets caught up in criminal activity of the kind he thought he left behind in Iraq, giving the series another layer of fraught drama.

Created by Chuck Rose, who wrote the pilot, "The Art of More" features a surprising amount of misogyny, which maybe is the norm for nouveau riche collectors like Brukner. In episode two Brukner grabs Roxana's butt ("I guess Brukner is feeling his way toward a decision," Graham quips). In the premiere Brukner demands to be serviced by "the girls with sparkly [breasts]."

But it's not just Brukner who treats the women poorly. Blame the show's writers, too. Aside from Roxana, who comes into slightly better focus in episode two, all the women in the show exist merely to service the men. That's a pretty dated concept even for a male-skewing service such as Crackle.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Tue, 17 Nov 2015 09:16:01 -0500