At long last, I think we’re getting back on track with this blog – I have big plans for us in 2019, as Cory can attest to – and I’d like to start by being more consistent. One of my favorite parts of this site is Music to Your Ears, and I hope to branch out eventually and give to the listener a list or two of some of my favorite music – dive back into past years and have some retrospectives. For now, we’ll just keep chugging along and take a peek at new stuff, like this week’s big release from one of my favorite bands, Muse:
Muse – Simulation Theory
After eight studio albums, it’s pretty clear that Muse is not slowing down. Their blend of pseudo-psychological anarchic fear lyrics with synthesized instrumentals makes for one unique sound that has clear influences in several other groups. If their high pitched harmonies remind us of a certain band, they’ve always recalled something of a cyberpunk Queen. Here there are attempts to branch out, like the appropriately titled ‘Propaganda’ – where a dysphonic chord underlies the obvious attempt at recapturing 2015’s wonderfully paranoid Drones. Violins do battle with spasmic percussion machines on their opener ‘Algorithm’. An undercurrent of trembling rides between the lines on ‘Pressure’. There’s of course their signature sound, rising up on hits that have been sparsely placed on the airwaves over the past two years, in ‘Thought Contagion’, ‘Something Human’ and my personal favorite ‘Dig Down’ – a song that took a year and a half preview to make it onto an actual album. Delays aside, the wait was worth it, even if their sound is just beginning to coagulate into something fluid.
Key Tracks: Dig Down / Something Human / Algorithm
Editor’s Note: Given that the whole television preview was botched this year, I had sort of wanted this mid-season article to come up at the end, or perhaps some time around now. C’est la vie. Let’s do better next year.
At some point, the network channels are going to give up on some duds. This should start to become obvious around mid-October, when the full slates have been rolled out and consumers have made clear what’s worth watching. Here’s what shows should hopefully come to save the day (they’re usually better to begin with, so you’d think executives would learn to send their best products out instead of keeping them on the bench in case of a miracle):
Blood & Treasure
A treasure hunting action-adventure show? I’m in – as long as it isn’t as dull as that short lived tropical doctor show Off the Map. In this, antiquities expert Lexi Vaziri (Sofia Pernas, The Brave) and international art thief Danny (Matt Barr, One Tree Hill) come together to stop a terrorist who uses stolen treasure to attack innocent civilians. In the process, they uncover a 2,000 year old plot and I’m all in on this. Katia Winter (Sleepy Hollow) and Michael James Shaw (Limitless) co-star. The showrunner is Taylor Elmore, a former writer on my beloved Limitless, and he brought along writers Matt Federman and Stephen Scaia – so I don’t know any reason I won’t be watching this whenever it finally emerges.
Christmas came early this year, as it almost always does – this time in the version of a third iteration of the classic Dr. Seuss story How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Simply titled The Grinch, it’s a computer-animated expansion with Benedict Cumberbatch growling his way through pratfalls and hijinks.
Also holiday adjacent, Disney released a fantasy film helmed by not one, but two directors (Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston) – The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. The traditionally Christmas-related Nutcracker story has ballooned into something far removed from its original telling.
Cory also brings up the first of three parental-child relations films – Beautiful Boy – this one about heroin addict Timothee Chalamet and his caring father, played by Steve Carell. (The other two are Ben Is Back and Boy Erased). This one will surely be in Oscar conversations.
Tristan pops in with the latest television show release, Amazon’s mysterious Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts and directed by Sam Esmail.
Horror films came late this year, like usual, as the Nazi zombie horror Overlord drops today, and in only a handful of theatres, you might still be able to catch the arthouse thriller Suspiria, by Luca Guadagnigno.
All this and more, from your boys at Interjections:
Editor’s Note: This should have been published back on September 21st, but with all the hullabaloo you’re all well familiar with by now, it wasn’t. So please, bear with us yet again.
Now that we’ve gotten through that old set box we used to call a television, let’s take a gander over at the stuff that airs wherever you are – Netflix, Amazon, etc:
The Good Cop – September 21
Tony Danza stars in this lighthearted but meaningful dramedy that positions his son, played by Josh Groban in his first leading role, as the murderer cop in a pseudo-revenge mystery. Danza plays his alcoholic father and former lieutenant in the same precinct. Groban is by-the-book, even for his own father, and won’t even turn on red despite the fact that he’s in a police cruiser and no one else is around. When he’s accused of murdering his father’s former rival, who was involved in a case from twenty years ago, his friends must help navigate the bureaucracy that hates how much better he is than them. Sounds like an intriguing debut for Groban, and Danza is always a hoot to have around.
The Haunting of Hill House – October 12
The first of two frightening fables is this newest adaptation of the famous Shirley Jackson novel. Mike Flanagan (Ouija, Before I Wake) helms this crafty creeper that focuses on a family beset by paranormal mischief, some of which turns deadly. Pretty standard stuff, but the parents are Carla Gugino (Sin City) and Henry Thomas (ET the Extra-terrestrial), who also featured in Flanagan’s Stephen King adaptation Gerald’s Game last year. This seems like a perfect follow-up to that surprise sleeper hit, and early reports have this as the Halloween streamer to catch.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – October 26
The other side of Netflix’s spooky season is this spin-off of the Riverdale franchise, with Archie’s neighboring town Greendale hosting all sorts of demonic excursions. Kiernan Shipka, who grew up on Mad Men, takes over the titular role from Melissa Joan Hart – and by the way, this isn’t your parents’ Sabrina. Puns and talking cats aside, there’s a real-life otherworldiness about the proceedings, with the occult attempting to foray its way into Sabrina’s daily life in a much more foreboding way. The teenage angst is still there, as she’ll deal with handling boyfriend Harvey (Ross Lynch) alongside her witchy duties, and homework. Aunts Zelda (Miranda Otto) and Hilda (Lucy Davis) are still their typical archetypes, with the latter being a bit ditzy while the former is all business. The dynamic hasn’t changed, but with Salem’s voice box cut (for now, I’m guessing…) the wisecracks appear to be coming from a newish – to the screen, at least – character in Sabrina’s cosuin, Ambrose (Chance Perdomo). I was into the Riverdale revival, but this speaks even more to me. Very high on my list.
Narcos: Mexico – November 16
Didn’t watch any of Narcos, although I’ve heard incredibly good reviews. Apparently, this is a soft reset of the series, rather than a continuation as originally intended. Diego Luna and Michael Pena star as cartel boss Felix Gallardo and undercover DEA agent Kiki Camarena, respectively. I’ve always enjoyed both actors – they’re often the best thing in every film they appear, and they’ll be bringing their star quality to this show. I might actually just pop in on this “season” – I don’t think we necessarily need to see the other three Narcos seasons anyway, they’ll just all have the same feel for newcomers and old fans alike.
Tidelands – December 14
Following in the stead of the popular mini-series Top of the Lake, this Australian 10-episode mini-series bows on Netflix right in time for Christmas. With its touch of the fantastic, with mer-men called Tidelanders, it might remind one of last year’s Best Picture winner that dropped around the same time, The Shape of Water. Charlotte Best (Home and Away) plays Cal McTeer, a former criminal who returns home to her small fishing village. Once there, a mysterious death involves the humans and the Tidelanders. A little murder mystery, a little fantasy encounter. Sounds like a nice quick holiday binge.
The Umbrella Academy – February 15, 2019
Now this is a project I’ve wanted to keep a close eye on ever since I first heard it was being adapted. After his success with band My Chemical Romance, frontman Gerard Way embarked on a comic series, delighting fans with its whimsical superhero mystery. I never actually read the book, and although I’ve wanted to – word is that this is an incredibly faithful re-creation. Ellen Page leads the team as The White Violin, while turns from Mary J. Blige, Colm Feore and John Magaro dot the cast. It doesn’t hit until Valentine’s Day, but that’s the sweetest romance we can look forward to.
Maniac – September 21
Cary Fukunaga has crafted something deliciously abstract here. Yet another subdued dystopian society gives way to a fantastical fever dream when a sinister company enlists loners to product test an mind-bending pharmaceutical trial. Sounds brilliant, no? Jonah Hill is the lead loner, a black sheep brother who is being cajoled into vouching for a family member on trial while he keeps seeing an imaginary version of that person leading him towards some unknown fate. He finds that the company, Neberdine, is providing an outlet for him to escape his obligations. Upon the advent of the trial, he meets an enigmatic figure who he believes his fictional brother has been leading him towards. Emma Stone plays the woman he fixates upon, while Gabriel Byrne and Billy Magnussen are his father and brother. Justin Theroux and Sonoya Mizuno lead the Neberdine facility, while Sally Field plays a mysterious figure in the background. The cast is top-notch, Fukunaga killed it with the first season of True Detective, so I’m all in.
The Kominsky Method – November 16
Similar to recent HBO hit Barry, this upcoming Netflix show features a character deluded that his miniscule success once in his past has translated into the ability to teach acting well. Similar to last year’s clever Noah Baumbach film The Meyerowitz Stories, this features a character deluded that he still has something to provide while younger family members step in to assist with their daily lives. Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin are the stars here, which is a nice surprise, given those actors’ stature. I’m looking forward to seeing where this ends up.
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan – August 31
If you had told me in 2006 that Jim Halpert would bulk up and become the fifth Jack Ryan in franchise history, I would have chuckled and called it a nice pipe dream. Here I am with egg on my face, I guess. Sand and dust ruins John Krasinski’s chiseled face, although worn may fit him better. This iteration of the classic Tom Clancy character is respectful of the original material, while updating it a bit from its early Cold War days to a world in which…Russians still may be the masterminds behind the scenes, even though the front line is in the Middle East. Testosterone fuels this 24 lite, and I anticipate it itching that action bug we all have.
The Romanoffs – October 12
Matthew Weiner’s next project after Mad Men has been much anticipated, so much so to the point of near empyrean stature. He deserves the credit for making such a phenomenal show that captured a passion of history in America – he has received a blank check most showrunners may never afford to cash in. So it makes sense that this would have a strange passion for historical relevance and a pseudo-intellectualism that pervaded his attempt to make Don Draper human. Here he attempts to rationalize the separation between the 19th-century elite and modern day socialites. Don’t we all wish we were secretly part of royalty? The premise here is that many of the characters in each episode of this anthology are somehow related to the rapidly murdered line of Russia’s monarchs. With an all-star cast from his own works (John Slattery, Christina Hendricks, Jay R. Ferguson) as well as otherwise (Diane Lane, Aaron Eckhart, Corey Stoll) this looks to be an intriguing experiment for Weiner and his team. As long as it’s not too stilted, the future for the Romanoffs is promising.
Homecoming – November 2
Another auteur I adore, Sam Esmail, has crafted another series that should confuse just about everyone. Playing with time, memory, emotions and psychology, the show focuses on Heidi Bergman, a case worker at a “Homecoming” facility – a place for shell-shocked soldiers to attempt reacclimatization with society. Heidi is played by Julia Roberts, in her first ever television starring role, while she’s joined by Mr. Robot alum Bobby Cannavale, Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire), Stephan James (Race), Alex Karpovsky (Girls) and Sissy Spacek (The Old Man and the Gun). Quite a cast Mr. Esmail has assembled, and it’s sure to be quite a homecoming for Ms. Roberts as well.
Forever – September 14
Fred Armisen made a nice little niche for himself on IFC’s sketch comedy Portlandia. Establishing himself as a strange yet relatable comedic visionary outside of SNL, it warrants a next step for him, as well as former co-star Maya Rudolph, who has established herself well in film (Bridesmaids) and shows (Up All Night) alike. This pairing involves the two in a mundane marriage who try to shake things up by heading out on a skiing trip. Thing is, Armisen’s character Oscar hits a tree and dies. Then June (Rudolph) chokes on a macadamia nut and follows him into the afterlife. There they must navigate a new and treacherous landscape that should be a beautiful indie counterpoint to The Good Place.
Light as a Feather – October 12
This supernatural drama should sate those fans missing Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries alike. If you’ve never heard of the creepy-ass children’s game that the show derives its title from, then let me educate you a little bit. A few of your friends gather around, while you lie as still as possible on the ground, their fingertips gently brushing below you. Everyone (but you) chants “light as a feather, stiff as a board” until you all sync up, lift, and suddenly you’re levitating. So – the teenagers in this show attempt this mysterious game, and the results are a bit reminiscent of Final Destination. Sounds like a fun premise for a show, and the results could be horrifying.
Into the Dark – October 5
A horror anthology series that will see a new episode premiere each month, Into the Dark takes a page from Batman: The Long Halloween by having each story focus on a holiday from that particular month. The first episode “The Body” will be set in Los Angeles and follow Halloween partygoers. The second one “Flesh and Blood” will have a more introverted segment centered around Thanksgiving dinner in a house where a woman doesn’t feel safe any longer. Sounds promising, at least on paper. Let’s see how the execution goes. Aurora Perrineau (Truth or Dare) stars in the first, while Dermot Mulroney (The Grey) features in the second.
The First – September 14
Saving The First for last! There have been plenty of space expedition dramas told, and this won’t be the last. Starring Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking) and Natascha McElhone (Solaris), this focuses on the lead-up to a planned mission to Mars, one that will hopefully colonize the planet for the first time. Given that the trip takes quite a long time, it’s essentially a complete depature from their family and friends. I’ve thought a lot about this, and if given the chance, I think I might leave it all behind and head out into the stars. Hopefully this won’t be too overly dour, as this premise wonts to be. It’s created by Beau Willimon (House of Cards), so chances are it will be dark, but in a sincerely bewildering way.
At long last, we’re pretty much wrapped up on the television preview. I did have a mid-season article planned, and I have some other priorites to take care of, but I may get to it if I feel I have time. If not….maybe I’ll just push it to, what else, mid-season? Thanks for bearing with me, and I’ll hope I can guarantee a better timeliness next time.
Editor’s Note: This would have been posted on September 20th, so bear with us. It came to our attention that we royally fucked up timing of this, unexpectedly getting several jobs right at the heart of the fall TV season beginning, on top of baseball season ending, football and hockey season starting, and some of our contributors heading out to Kentucky for a 200-mile run. So pretend this is Sept 20th for the sanity of our editor, thanks.
Now it’s been well stated that cable is killing it much better than the network channels are, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from what we detailed yesterday. For those that like a more robust palette, here’s what should be hitting your cable box this fall and beyond:
For the first time since 2010, there will be no thrones gamed for! Jon Snow knows nothing will stop the juggernaut that is Game of Thrones, except for scheduling conflicts. As for the actual new stuff, there’s a handful of returning dramas as well as two new comedies and at least one mini-series over the next few months:
The Deuce – September 9
I sort of fell off of this after a handful of episodes, but I know it had potential. With the same flair as Vinyl with a ton more acting chops, this shows off the seedy underbelly of New York that HBO wanted to continue after the success of Boardwalk Empire. It’s fascinating that James Franco has quietly been kept on in his dual role, but Maggie Gyllenhaal and Margarita Levieva were always the bright points on the show anyway, so as long as this new season focuses more on the women, I think it will go well. The biggest aspect of this new season will be that they jump in time to 1977. How has the industry gone for these past five years? I think it’s very intriguing for creators David Simon and George Pelecanos to anticipate setting up time jumps like this, and without brushing through actual history, presenting an underbelly we didn’t realize was happening right under people’s noses in the heart of New York City. It’s a solid underrated drama with which I think more of the audience should take a chance.
Camping – October 14
The first new show on our cable preview, this comedy marks the television return of Jennifer Garner! That’s right, Sydney Bristow is kicking ass in….the woods? Garner here plays an unhappily married woman dragged along on a camping trip by her husband (David Tennant) for his birthday. Her annoying sister (Juliette Lewis) and ex-best friend (Ione Skye) are cajoled into joining as a semi-intervention – into what, we have yet to figure out. I’m not totally digging the premise, as I don’t know where they can go with future seasons, let alone after an episode or two – at least in comparison to other shows that ramp up their pace between sessions (look at The Deuce above). Look at that cast, though. I have to give it a chance, at least, like Garner is for her family.
True Detective – January 13, 2019
This may be the most intriguing of HBO’s upcoming productions. After a rocket of a start with season one – the Matthew McConaughey/Woody Harrelson crime mystery – they followed up with a lukewarm Los Angeles potboiler with Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell. While the anthology’s second season has some defenders, it’s mostly remembered as nearly sinking the whole venture. Lucky for us that Oscar winner Mahershala Ali climbed aboard to right the ship. He’ll be playing Wayne Hays, an Arkansas state detective that will be involved with cases over three separate time periods. The time jumps may allow for more intriguing mystery plots, as we’ll struggle to wrap our minds around how everything connects. The return to the southern mid-west is a good idea, as that always leads to connotations of gothic thrills. Ali will be joined by Ray Fisher (Cyborg), Carmen Ejogo (Miss Sloane) and Scoot McNairy (Monsters) so the cast will be well-rounded. One of the bright points of the first season was the direction of Cary Fukunaga, which launched him on a nice career path alongside his two lead actors. After he departed, Justin Lin handled two episodes, but many think the lack of a strong captain left the second season lacking. Lucky for us that Jeremy Saulnier has signed up to direct a handful of episodes, so let’s hope his sentiments – he just cleared the upcoming Netflix thriller Hold the Dark, follow-up to 2016’s best film Green Room – will influence the entire season and revive a boon for HBO. Time is a flat circle, after all.
Room 104 – November 9
This anthology I never got a chance to check out, but it seems like a brilliant premise for an anthology, doesn’t it? The mumblecore king Duplass brothers brought this to us, and I’ve heard good enough things that it clearly warranted a second go-around. I’m not surprised, with only twelve episodes they could certainly churn out stories for a couple of years. They don’t necessarily need to connect, but it could eventually in an American Horror Story sort of way. No word on guest stars visiting the motel, but I’m sure we’ll see some talent.
Sally4Ever – November 11
This British import is a comedy from Julia Davis, who of all people – wrote the original Camping. That’s right, turns out Camping on HBO is a remake of a British sitcom. Who knew? Anyway, this will tell the story of Sally (Catherine Shepherd), a bored girlfriend who embarks on a love affair with Emma (also Julia Davis), a charismatic bohemian poet/actor on the eve of her engagement to David (Alex MacQueen). This sounds like a great answer to those who were actually missing Showtime’s Episodes, with its wry British humor. If it has that sentiment, I’m all in.
My Brilliant Friend (mini) – November 18
Those jonesing for more mini-series now that Sharp Objects has finished will be glad to hear that this work by famed Italian novelist Elena Ferrante is being adapted for HBO. It will tell the first Neapolitan story, whose overarching plot told the tale of two friends, Elena and Raffaella against the backdrop of the ever changing 20th century Italy. I didn’t want to read too much into what actually happens so as to enjoy it myself, but the cast includes an entirely Italian cast. So for those hoping to broaden their horizons, look no further than this special premiere.
As for the rest, we’re still waiting on premiere dates for comedies like Crashing, High Maintenance, Silicon Valley, Divorce and the Emmy-winning Barry. and dramas like Succession, Big Little Lies and the recently finished Westworld.
There are several exciting shows on the horizon, including new versions of so many things, such as Watchmen, The Time Traveler’s Wife and His Dark Materials; a Cthulu-sized horror drama, Lovecraft County; a supernatural comedy set in Mexico City called Los Espookys; and the most promising – Danny McBride’s televangelist comedy called The Righteous Gemstones, which also features John Goodman and Adam DeVine. Honestly, I’d love to just skip straight to all of these, right?
The focal point of this early November podcast here at Interjections will naturally be the long-awaited Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. The film stars Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) as the infamous frontman Freddie Mercury, while supporting characters fill his world.
On the other side of the pond, Netflix finds a sinisterly sweet spin-off for Riverdale in their original series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, starring Mad Men‘s Kiernan Shipka as the titular witch. This isn’t your parents’ TGIF Sabrina either, kids. Buckle in for Satan worship and teenage angst. There’s only room for one in her life, too.
Cory brings us up to date on two older horror films in time for Halloween, including 1992’s Sleepwalkers and 1972’s Raw Meat, an apparent favorite of director Edgar Wright.
Listen below for some classic rock tunes and some topical discussion. Remember to comment responsibly!
No sooner had we wrapped up last week’s review, when new music arrived this Friday! It’s amazing how that works, isn’t it? Anyway, let’s just go for it:
Robyn – Honey
Like an ’80s fever dream, the first album from Robyn in eight years gets under your skin with a cold sweat. Pulsating with come-ons and love remarks, this is 2018’s sultry surprise – a la St. Vincent – blistering pop that urges you to leave the comfort zone of your bedroom and dance out a window into the clouds. Robyn builds on last week’s goodwill led in by the mø album Forever Neverland, pushing the vibration even further down your legs until you find yourself caught up in a dance. Madonna comparisons probably fueled her earlier works, but I was late to the party. I’m just glad I showed up at all, this is likely one of the most powerful pop records of the year.
Key Tracks: Ever Again / Missing U / Send to Robin Immediately