Best New Summer TV Shows


Summer used to be filled with reruns, then that morphed into a bunch of mindless reality shows. Those are still out there, but more and more shows that were typically saved for the fall are debuting in the summer. I meant to post this in May before Penny Dreadful and Halt and Catch Fire started, but it didn’t happen. Below are the what looks like the best of the television shows debuting this summer. This is my opinion after watching the trailers for the shows. My view could change after I actually start watching them. Do they look good to you? What will you watch?

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The Husband’s Secret


The Husband’s Secret
Liane Moriarty

I mostly wanted to read this story to learn about the secret. I had to know. As I went along in the book, it became less important about the actual secret. I wanted to know how the three main women and how all the people in their lives would deal with the news of the secret. I was surprised I hadn’t been spoiled about the secret before I had a chance to read the book, but I think the reason was that isn’t the main point of the book. It is really about how this secret has shaped the lives of these people and how learning about it affects other people. It really shatters reality for some people and reading about how they deal with it is what kept me reading.

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From the Archive:
Movies Opening Nov 10

Nationwide Releases

Stranger Than Fiction
Directed: Marc Forster

Will Ferrell plays a man who realizes his life is being narrated (literally in his head) by Emma Thompson since he’s a character in her book and she’s planning on killing him off.

RT Score: 76%
RT Consensus: A fun, whimsical tale about about an office drone trying to save his life from his narrator. The cast obviously is having a blast with the script, but Stranger Than Fiction’s tidy lessons make this metaphysical movie feel like Charlie Kaufman-lite.

For much of the film, Ferrell must suppress his showman instincts to pull off the schlub act. That’s good for the film, but it’s bad for fans who expect him to scream obscenities and run down the street naked.
– Phil Villarreal
Arizona Daily Star

This is a Ferrell you’ve never seen before, nailing a role that calls for breakneck humor in the final race against the clock and touching gravity in the love scenes with Gyllenhaal.
– Peter Travers
Rolling Stone

There’s no denying the movie has a surface allure.
– Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly

[Stranger Than Fiction] springs to life whenever it drops the cute Pirandello-like premise and focuses on the simple business of Ferrell finding love.
– Scott Tobias
Onion AV Club

Until this unsatisfying ending, however, the movie flows exactly right.
– Jeffrey M. Anderson
Combustible Celluloid


Harsh Times
Directed: David Ayer

Christian Bale is an ex-Army Ranger who is haunted by the war while trying to get a job with the LAPD.

RT Score: 44%
RT Consensus: Despite a dedicated performance by Christian Bale, Harsh Times suffers from a heavy-handed and overly bleak plot.

Bale is mesmerizing and Rodriguez keeps up with him as the whole unsafe contraption zooms.
– Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly

… never manages to find a story in the unfocused, rambling piece, merely cautionary lessons and a scared-straight message.
– Sean Axmaker
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Few individuals who go off to war and experience its devastation and chaos return as the same person. This factor lies at the heart of what Harsh Times illustrates.
– James Berardinelli

Christian Bale, who also executive produced, has gone to the psycho well one too many times…
– Laura Clifford
Reeling Reviews

Swims through a fog of testosterone punctuated with infinite variations on the pronunciation of the words “dude” and “dawg” such that those words along with a hail of the F-word, make up the bulk of the dialogue.
– Andrea Chase
Killer Movie Reviews


A Good Year
Directed: Ridley Scott

Russell Crowe is a workaholic who moves to Provence, Italy to sell a vineyard his late uncle, and he remembers how much he loved it there and the way of life when he was little.

RT Score: 29%
RT Consensus: A Good Year is a fine example of a top-notch director and actor out of their elements, in a sappy romantic comedy lacking in charm and humor.

I’ll write A Good Year off as nothing more than a bad harvest.
– Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly

It s ultimately a so-so movie that does little more than answer what should ve been an ironic question: What would happen if Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe made a romantic comedy?
– Cole Haddon
Orlando Weekly

For those who don’t mind pictures that fall into predictable rhythms, A Good Year represents a pleasant diversion.
– James Berardinelli

don’t expect to be beguiled by A Good Year. That would be like trying to warm your hands at an artificial fireplace.
– Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine

the best way to sum up [Crowe] is shockingly lacking in anything resembling charm. There is not even a charismatic sort of anti-charm at work here.
– Andrea Chase
Killer Movie Reviews


The Return
Directed: Asif Kapadia

Sarah Michelle Geller is haunted by a young woman’s murder, and then finds herself in the town where the murder took place and she is possible the next target.

RT Score: 21%

Sarah Michelle Gellar battled countless monsters as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her biggest challenge in The Return is to keep from yawning.
– John Monaghan
Detroit Free Press

Although it’s being advertised as a horror movie, The Return actually invents a new genre: the bore-or movie.
– Chris Hewitt (St. Paul)
St. Paul Pioneer Press

it’s just a slow slog to a payoff that isn’t worth the effort.
– Maitland McDonagh
TV Guide’s Movie Guide

The Return doesn’t have enough scares to be a good thriller, and it doesn’t have the depth to work on an arty level. This isn’t a bad movie; it’s just painfully thin.
– Mike McGranaghan
Aisle Seat

Director Asif Kapadia and screenwriter Adam Sussman reach into the grab bag of horror movie clichés and pull out fistfuls for The Return.
– Mark Pfeiffer
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

Sarah Michelle Gellar may have ditched the Grudge franchise, but her predilection for illogical horror continues with The Return.
– Nick Schager
Slant Magazine



Limited Releases

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus
Directed: Seven Shainberg

Diane Arbus was a photographer when women were housewives only. It isn’t a biography, but imagined events that could have happened in her life.

RT Score: 29%
RT Consensus: This portrait of a groundbreaking photographer lacks the daring of its subject.

it’s been a while since we saw a truly boggling sophomore slump, one of those infamous second-act follies, like Steven Soderbergh’s Kafka, made by adirector blinded with ego and overreach.
– Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly

The movie feels like it’s still in the darkroom.
– Peter Travers
Rolling Stone

A whiff of the ridiculous taints every scene.
– Maitland McDonagh
TV Guide’s Movie Guide

Fur is that rare movie that’s too understated, so quiet and deliberate that it effectively buries consuming passions.
– Scott Tobias
Onion AV Club

This Alice in Wonderland-esque fable, tracking her theoretical evolution from repressed wallflower to visionary artist, doesn’t go deep enough down the rabbit hole.
– Matt Stevens
E! Online

Both in art and in death, Arbus escaped the demeaning constraints of society. By envisioning her as a flawlessly gorgeous mouse with no will of her own, [director] Shainberg and [screenwriter] Wilson have dragged her back.
– Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News


Directed: Steve Anderson

Documentary about the f-word.

Directed: Steve Anderson

Documentary about the f-word.

RT Score: 58%
RT Consensus: A documentary that sets out to explore a lingual taboo but can’t escape its own naughty posturing.

Everyone uses the four-letter word, not many publications (including EW) print it: that’s one marketing hook for this goofily overproduced, frivolous documentary.
– Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly

F**k ultimately has little that’s substantive to say about the most polarizing expletive in the English language.
– Timothy Knight

Giddy at finding a way to curse in school, it’s chock-full of linguists, musicians and porn stars pontificating on the origins and social value of the infamous four-letter word.
– Scott Warren
Premiere Magazine

At last, a movie that’s unafraid to offend Renaissance aficionados and Sammy Hagar!
– Steve Schneider
Orlando Weekly

…it’s certainly never a good sign when the clips within a documentary are more entertaining than the documentary itself.
– David Nusair
Reel Film Reviews


Directed: Caston Biraben

In Argentina a teenage girl finds out that her parents aren’t her biological ones because her real parents “disappeared” for disagreeing with the government. She is placed with her biological grandparents and sets about finding out what really happened with her family.

RT Score: 71%

A finely wrought coming-of-age drama that crackles with political tension…
– Josh Ralske
All Movie Guide

This powerful film in the New Directors/New Films Series about a girl’s alienation is also an attempt to grapple with the horrors of Argentina’s recent history.
– A.O. Scott
New York Times

This intriguing debut by Argentinean writer-director Gaston Biraben sets up a lot of tough choices before finally taking the easy way out.
– Jordan Harper
Village Voice

The Argentine thriller Cautiva features a solid performance by 23-year-old Barbara Lombardo that goes a long way in making up for the telenovela script.
– V.A. Musetto
New York Post

The debut feature of Gastón Biraben, Cautiva is most potent in its first hour, as it bears witness to the disorientation and distrust experienced by a young girl whose life is suddenly turned upside down.
– Jan Stuart


Copying Beethoven
Directed: Agnieszka Holland

Rewriting history with a female copyist sent to help Beethoven to write his famous ninth symphony.

RT Score: 29%
RT Consensus: A pretentious historical drama that’s ultimately a drag, despite Ed Harris’ powerful performance.

As LvB, Harris is intense, and intensely bewigged.
– Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly

Harris officially bites off more scenery than he can chew.
– Dezhda Mountz
E! Online

…Too many dull subplots, notably one concerning Anna s disapproving boyfriend, and director Agnieszka Holland s typically heavy hand, dampen any musical fireworks that the film might have generated.
– Shlomo Schwartzberg
Boxoffice Magazine

You may walk out of Copying Beethoven humming the movie. But that’s not the same as singing its praises.
– Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle

Knows as much about the creative process as Beethoven does about snowboarding.
– Matt Pais

A feminist fantasy that you can either embrace — as director Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa) seems to have done with an unbecoming schoolgirl gushiness — or repeatedly be pulled out of the story by its falseness.
– Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News


Come Early Morning
Directed: Joey Lauren Adams

Ashley Judd lives in a small, rural town where she doesn’t trust anyone and has difficulties in relationships until one guy is willing to put up with it.

RT Score: 79%
RT Consensus: A quiet but moving film anchored by the unexpected depth of Ashley Judd’s performance.

Come Early Morning is anchored by a deep affection for its very anti-urban locale and an authentic attempt to capture the people populating the milieu.
– Francesca Dinglasan
Boxoffice Magazine

‘Come Early Morning’ is a terrific accomplishment by [Joey Lauren] Adams — a commendable first effort, making me hope that it’s merely the beginning of a promising new aspect of her career as both a director and a writer.
– Bill Zwecker
Chicago Sun-Times

We ve met characters like Lucy before and we ve seen movies like Come Early Morning before, but doesn t automatically make Joey Lauren Adams directorial debut less than a good movie.
– Collin Souter

This snoozer is so thin that it could gain 10 pounds and still have Nicole Richie beat.
– Matt Pais

A modest but not insignificant achievement: a movie that depicts smalltown Southerners without condescension, melodrama or caricature.
– John Beifuss
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)


Iraq in Fragments
Directed: James Longley

Shares Iraqi experiences by following three different stories, including an 11-year-old auto mechanic, inside a Shiite political/religious movement, and Iraqi Kurds.

RT Score: 88%

Working with vérité patience and no scripted narration, Longley looks and listens, with nonjudgmental sensitivity, as Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish Iraqis explain their colliding, intractable, invaded worlds, and their rising frustrations.
– Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly

Much of what is captured will be familiar for viewers of Frontline or other recent documentaries.
– Kent Turner

The first third is so intense — a masterpiece in miniature, really — that audiences may not have much emotion left for the rest.
– Noel Murray
Onion AV Club

[Director] Longely’s real strength lies in his ability to draw from the observances of children.
– Ken Fox
TV Guide’s Movie Guide

In the end, the movie is more than the sum of its fragments. The montages are intense, the images ravishing. The movie is tactile. When you finally feel this place, you understand just how little you understand.
– David Edelstein
New York Magazine


Night of the Living Dead 3D
Directed: Jeff Broadstreet

Remake of the horror classic, now in 3D, and apparently zombies now know how to text message.

RT Score: 50%

As a 3-D zombie flick on the big screen, it offers something new and fun: Zombies, breasts and ­copious joint-passing coming right out of the screen.
– Luke Y. Thompson

Dead 3D is a great idea executed poorly.
– Cam Lindsay


Coffee Date
Directed: Jonathan Silverman

A straight man acts too gay for his friends and family to not believe that he’s really a homosexual that won’t admit it to himself.

RT Score: 60%

COFFEE DATE is an amusing twist on the somewhat tired genre of romantic comedy, although it really is more of a buddy movie.
– Ted Murphy
Murphy’s Movie Reviews

Amid a recent flurry of low-budget independent productions, Coffee Date is a standout with its strongly developed central characters, complex themes and polished look.
– Kevin Thomas
Los Angeles Times

Story would be easy to take more seriously if the technique weren’t so unpolished.
– Peter Debruge

How disappointing that a film that hints at the fluid, nonbinary natures of love and attraction should labor so hard to knot its own loose ends.
– Adam Nayman
L.A. Weekly


Maple Palm
Directed: Ralph Torjan

After living together for fifteen years, a lesbian couple is torn apart since one of them is an illegal alien and they can’t even be married to stay together in the U.S.

RT Score: 0%

Takes a hot-button issue (here, it’s homophobic U.S. immigration policies) and reduces it to dry sloganeering and shameless emotional manipulation of the audience.
– Ernest Hardy

Torjan opts for shrillness, hysteria, heavy-duty acting from Stewart instead of trying for a lower pitch that would have allowed for much greater credibility — and menace as well.
– Kevin Thomas


Love & Suicide
Directed: Lisa France

A man can’t be with the one he loves so he decides suicide is the only answer.

RT Score: 0%

Neither the film’s visual richness nor its mediocre attempts at social commentary can offset a mundane love story between two under-drawn characters.
– Tim Grierson


The Enigma with a Stigma
Directed: Rhett Smith

A mockumentary about a guy who discovers he is growing a new body part on his torso.

RT Score: 0%

Slogging through The Enigma With a Stigma is to be reminded that those movies’ illusion of off-the-cuff naturalness actually requires a rigorous amount of skill on the part of the filmmakers and actors.
– Tim Grierson

The film ultimately suffers from typical low-budget indie curses: it’s way, way overwritten and therefore devoid of energy.
– Kevin Thomas



New Summer TV Shows: June 2014


Even though there are quite a few shows debuting in June, not many of them stand out. The only ones with any interest to me are “Halt and Catch Fire” and “The Leftover.” Both of those have intriguing premises and the channels they are on also make me want to give them a chance.

The rest of the shows are typical summer fluff with”Jennifer Falls”, “Young & Hungry”, “Mystery Girls” and “Reckless.” A few of them (“Tyrant” and “The Last Ship”) seem to be trying too hard and end up substandard.

Continue on to read more about the shows and watch trailers for each one.

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Amazing Race: Pantless Wonder


On the third leg of the race, the teams headed to Malaysia where some slid pantless down a waterfall, teams built bamboo rafts that promptly fell apart once in water, one team makes a major mistake by not reading their clue (like usual) while another one gets stranded without a taxi. Come read what Amy, Steve and I had to say about the March 8, 2014 episode “Welcome to the Jungle.”

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New Summer TV Shows: May 2014



Out of all the shows debuting in May, the only one I want to give a try would be Penny Dreadful. I do love supernatural series and this one tying into literary characters makes it even better. It looks like what The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen could have been.

I had been excited about Chris D’Elia getting another show, but this one does not look funny. NBC also airing back-to-back episodes in a short time period during the summer does not make it seem like it is putting any effort into wanting to continue the show. It is similar for Crossbones, which involves pirates and John Malkovich, but looks incredibly boring. That makes me sad because it could have had potential.

Continue on to read more about the shows and watch trailers for each one.

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by Diana Gabaldon

I’ve had a good friend talk about this book for years. Romance isn’t really a genre that I read. She had mentioned it had to do with time travel (briefly) and there was a lot of action and adventure in the Scottish Highlands. I still stayed away since romance isn’t a genre that I’m all that interested in. I don’t mind if romance is part of a bigger story, but I have never been into those bodice-ripping books that I used to see my mom read growing up. I used to go for the Edgar Allan Poe books that were on the bookshelf instead. What got me to finally read a romance? It was a genre that my Twitter book club (#1book140) decided to read. It was the pick for February, but I was still reading the January book so I didn’t get to this one late and missed most of the conversation. I’m still glad I read it though since it changed my mind. Not so much about romances, but at least about this series.

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My little corner of interests

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