Music to Your Ears – Foo Fighters, Rostam and The Lone Bellow

Wasn’t sure if I’d pick this up this week, but beyond the new Foo Fighters album, I didn’t expect anything new. I was able to scrape together a few new albums and a single, though. Take a look:

Ariel Pink – Dedicated to Bobby Jameson

Woof. I was deeply enamored with Ariel Pink’s 2010 album Before Today, which featured the fantastic track “Round and Round”. He followed that up with a stellar album Mature Themes, in which the great song Kinski Assassin kicked off the action. Unfortunately for us, this newest album is dead on arrival. Screeching out of the gates, “Time to Meet Your God” is a grating request to turn down your speakers. “Feels Like Heaven” attempts to remedy the misfire by toning down the instrumentals, but the singer-songwriter doesn’t seem to care if this fades from memory before we even finish. The prevailing mood settles somewhere between ethereal and downright dull, but there’s at least one bright spot in all of this: “Bubblegum Dreams”. My ears perked up as it started, as it was more traditional Ariel. Perhaps that was the point, to try to branch out, but I think he just reached out in the wrong direction.

Key Tracks: Bubblegum Dreams

Foo Fighters – Concrete and Gold

I’ve talked at length at the dearth of good rock music prevailing in radio these days. I was thinking today, however, that it’s just that pure rock has escaped to the fringes – the indie, the clubs, the nostalgic cover bands. There’s nothing wrong with it, there’s nothing wrong with the change – as we evolve to a new form of rock, people that are thirty and older will have to discover something new to enjoy or grasp on to the last straws of rock, like two weeks ago when Queens of the Stone Age released a great new album, Villains, or now – a fantastic new album from classic nineties and aughts band Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl has been a mainstay on the scene for over three decades now, and it’s great to hear him admitting that sensitivity can funnel its way into his songwriting, like in my favorite track from the album, “Happily Ever After (Zero Hour)”. About two-thirds of the way through Concrete and Gold it feels like Grohl and the rest of the group just want us to relax, not worry about the end of the world, but take in their version of “It was all well worth it, I have no regrets”. Never fear though, true believers, there’s plenty of loud music to be had here: the one-two punch of first single “Run” and intimate rager “Make It Right” allow us back into the fray of Grohl’s world. After, second single “The Sky Is a Neighborhood” reminds us that latter-day Foo Fighters is anthemic but still full of pulp. The rest of the 11-song album is much of the same, but it’s certainly a welcome addition to the collection.

Key Tracks: Make It Right / Happily Ever After (Zero Hour) / Sunday Rain

Rostam – Half-Light

I have to preface this by saying that I’m very happy Rostam Batmanglij has still found a way to get his voice out there, it’s definitely one of my favorites – and one half of the reason why I loved his old band Vampire Weekend in the first place. My fear, however, is that much like another favorite band – Panic at the Disco – he was the weakest link. Time will tell of course, like it has with Brendon Urie and his extensive discography, but my guess is that I will still love Ezra Koenig’s version of the group, and at least admire what Rostam does from here on out. It may be that the group’s fracture comes not like the one that did in the pop group Fun. but rather more that Rostam branches out all the time much like Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla eventually did a few years ago. As this record goes, it’s a fine solo debut, with much of the music intimately familiar with his previous work. As I listened through, I could call out which tracks sounded like old Vampire Weekend ones. That isn’t entirely a bad thing: “Wood” has an Indian instrumental base that immediately reminds of “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)” – a track from Vampire Weekend’s titular 2008 effort. “Bike Dream” is a dizzying revelation that has to be a play on massive hit “Diane Young”. “Never Going to Catch Me” has all the flair of “Everlasting Arms” sans the heart. All in all, it’s a fine thing that Rostam has done, and I hope he bucks the trend, ultimately working well alongside his reformed former band.

Key Tracks: Bike Dream / Don’t Let It Get to You / I Will See You Again / Gwan

The Lone Bellow – Walk Into a Storm

Speaking of the evolution of rock, a recent theme in popular music is the folk-rock movement. I hesitate to call it a bad thing, as many do – they cite weaker efforts from The Lumineers or Of Monsters and Men or Mumford and Sons. As I’ve been a long time fan of The Decemberists, I can see why this trend has picked up during the last decade. There was a need for more relatable tunes, and given the penchant for top-40 to feel edgy and alternative by picking up unknown bands, they latched onto the pseudo-country sound of these bands and ran with it. I don’t mind at all, as much of the music is full of emotions I want to hear about in music. The Lone Bellow, in particular, have a good grasp on what makes for a good album – as their newest starts out with a road-trip worthy song “Deeper in the Water” we ride along with them on a journey towards satisfaction. While the rest of the album doesn’t quite deliver on the promise of elation, I can imagine this being on Zach Braff’s short list for a new film, or playing in the back end of my next cross-country excursion. If nothing else, take a listen to “Come Break My Heart Again” an ode to those lovelorn lovers stuck in purgatory after a breakup.

Key Tracks: Deeper In The Water / Walk Into a Storm / Come Break My Heart Again


Next week is a big one – The Killers, Fergie, Chelsea Wolfe, Camila Cabello and Fergie! We’re going to do our best to get the facts to you as soon as they’re available!

Until next time…

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Music to Your Ears – LCD Soundsystem, The Mynabirds and Tori Amos

With all the noise about the NFL season starting and the fall television preview, I had to push back this past week’s latest in music. That’s fine, though, as there’s plenty to catch up on this week as well! Let’s dive in:

LCD Soundsystem – American Dream

James Murphy, like all good auteurs, went through a period of time where he claimed he was retiring. Just like Steven Soderbergh, Michael Jordan and Cher before him, Murphy couldn’t resist the pull of creating new music. Lucky for us, he’s come back to us with one of the slickest productions he’s crafted to date. Amidst homages to David Bowie (“Black Screen”) there are some of the most unnerving electronica tracks that Murphy has ever presented to us. An album that begs to be run to, or driven to, or danced to, it’s the album we all needed to close out the summer.

Key Tracks: Other Voices / tonite / How Do You Sleep?

The Mynabirds – Be Here Now

After The Mynabirds had one of my favorite albums of 2015, I expected the follow-up would be a bit of a decline. Surprise! The newest from singer-songwriter Laura Berhernn is a complete delight, albeit a bit political. Written in the aftermath of this past November’s presidential election, Berhenn wrote up a flurry as she participated in the Women’s March and lived in the shadow of the negativity as she lives in Washington D.C. In particular, the first single “Golden Age” directly calls out the current “president” – namedropping the inhumane Muslim Ban, saying she “could punch a Nazi in the face”. It gets pretty blatant her stance on things when she claims “we got some real villains to stop / before they kill us all”. Even though my favorite album of theirs will likely remain 2015’s Lovers Know, I’m ecstatic that she could come up with another album so beautiful yet also artistically integral to boot.

Key Tracks: Golden Age / Wild Hearts / Shouting at the Dark

Taylor Swift – “…Ready for It?”

After all the hot takes have fallen by the wayside, you can dive into the second straight single from the queen of controversy, the one whose own poptimism has been overshadowed by all the criticism thrown at her over the past decade, as well as even better musicians being perfectly genuine. Given her new narrative, this is a much more palatable song, something like darker version of last album’s “Wildest Dreams”. Lyrics such as “But if he’s a ghost, then I can be a phantom” imply that there’s at least some effort behind her bitterness, even if that’s been done in enough songs that we don’t necessarily need it again here. Eh, take or leave her, I’m satisfied so far with what she’s given us. I’m ready for the album though.

Tori Amos – Native Invader

I don’t know how I’ve missed out on Tori all these years – but I’m glad I discovered this. The odd thing is that it excites me more to dive deep into past works than listen to this again. Just getting past the sluggish opening track is a chore, but there’s some gems to delight in, including the one we reviewed just two weeks ago, “Up the Creek”. Folk rythyms are the order of the day, and in “Cloud Riders” Amos talks of the thunder gods as she regales us with a tale of lost love on the edge of a cliff. Much of the album sounds intensely personal, and clearly that’s worked well for Amos here – which is why I can’t wait to go back and drink in all that’s she served us before.

Key Tracks: Cloud Riders / Wildwood / Up the Creek

The National – Sleep Well Beast

I was ready to think that The National had peaked a few years ago, back when “Bloodbuzz Ohio” revealed that their pastiche was really just a stuttered version of their hit single “Fake Empire”. However, much like some of the best bands, they’ve returned with a handful of tracks that highlight the best of those tracks – Matt Berninger’s low rumble of a roar, the equalizing bass of Aaron Dessner and the striking drum work of Bryan Devendorf – the best of which is right off the bat in “Day I Die”. Fans will be soothed by the sameness of some of the songs, but there is also an experimental branching out with much of the music here.

Key Tracks: Day I Die / The System Dreams in Total Darkness / I’ll Still Destroy You

U2 – “You’re the Best Thing About Me”

For the past fifteen years, U2 has been synonymous with out-of-touch. Their duet with Green Day only fueled the latter band’s descent into oblivion with the younger crowd. Suffice it to say, it seemed like the group would never craft a song this good again. Instead, “You’re the Best Thing About Me” is a light-hearted throwback that I’m glad to say is the best song they’ve written since they figured out how to dismantle an atomic bomb. It’s nothing innovative, but the chorus will get to you, and certainly not overwhelm or underwhelm you like much of their last two albums did. The Edge is as sharp as ever with his guitar work, and Bono steps aside to let the rest of his bandmates shine. If the rest of their upcoming album works like this, perhaps a revival is in store.

Kelly Clarkson – “Love So Soft”

This earwormed into my head so quickly I didn’t even notice it came on directly after the U2 song. I went to play this only to notice it was the song I’d just listened to. I want to say that’s a bad thing, that I didn’t even register the song, but it’s perhaps perfect background music. It’s the right thing for Kelly Clarkson to re-emerge with, an understated ballad that you can drive along to, or have on at a party with a few close friends. Clarkson slowly grew on me over the years, but I hold her to one of the highest standards of musicians working these days, and I would have to say was one of the better singles of the past month (I’m looking at you Taylor).

 


 

Next week sees only one big new release – Foo Fighters’ Concrete and Gold. Beyond that there’ll be new stuff from The Killers, Fergie, Demi Lovato and much more. I’m sure there may be a handful of singles to peruse, but don’t be surprised if I slip forward with the Foo Fighters and wait until the last week in September to discuss more music, including perhaps my picks for the best of the summer!

This Will Be Televised – Fall Preview Part 3 – Mid-terms and Beyond

Did anyone see the Jim Carrey video, the one where he spouts existential fervor at a bewildered reporter in the New York Fashion Week press line? It’s just got me thinking a lot about what it means to do pretty much anything. Am I screaming into the void here? Does anyone really expect True Detective to be as good as it was when the McConnaissance was in full swing? Time is a flat circle, after all, and the circadian rhythms of all entertainment distract us from what we should all truly appreciate. Or is it a reflection of ourselves, our inner demons and deepest hopes?

Anyway, since executives at all studios end up pushing some stuff to the side in case they accidentally greenlight an absolute turkey for the fall – here’s what shows have been left for mid-season, if ever:

Alex, Inc. (ABC)

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Zach Braff has finally given in and is returning to television with this story of a young entrepreneurial radio journalist who quits his job and attempts to build his own startup company. His wife will be played by the rapidly rising Tiya Sircar, who shined in a guest role as the good Eleanor on recent surprise hit The Good Place. It’s great to see Braff back in our homes again, though what this will be beyond that logline is yet to be seen, so there is some trepidation. Hopefully Braff will make this work, or find something new immediately after. Either way, I’m tuning in as soon as it’s slated.

Splitting Up Together (ABC)

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Emily Kapnek has become one of my favorite showrunners, after developing lighthearted ABC comedies like Suburgatory and Selfie. Yes, before you think that latter show was a waste of time, it most certainly was not, and had such a deft touch to the modern adaptation of My Fair Lady that the distillation and takedown of the distraction that modern technology provides humans was absolutely brilliant. I, of course, digress, since this is more of a preview of her new show – that finds Jenna Fischer (The Office) and Oliver Hudson (Rules of Engagement) preparing to divorce only to find that the proceeding ignite a deep-seated passion within them that had long been lost. It’s a simple premise, that has been done before somewhere, but with Kapnek’s genius writing, I expect at least something left in her that can bring viewers to their screens. Plus ABC keeps giving her chances, for good reason.

 By the Book (CBS)

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This, of all things, has to be my most anticipated show of the upcoming year. This also, of all things, has the potential to divide like the biggest lightning rod on the air. As with Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, this has a semi-religious bent and a markedly different original title. Before, this was entitled Living Bibically, and given that it isn’t quite about a person who runs a mega-church in Houston or anything, it makes sense why the switched it to an on-the-nose name. Jay R. Ferugson (Mad Men) plays Chip, a distraught film critic who decides to literally follow the word of the Bible after the death of his best friend. I imagine some executives, critics, and even general viewers to balk at that premise, thinking it would be more Last Man Standing than anything else, but my guess from the cast (David Krumholtz, Camryn Manheim) that it’s going to be more of a sardonic look at how ridiculous some of the BIble’s tenets have become over the evolution of society. If nothing else, this will be something everyone will be talking about, good or bad.

Black Lightning (CW)

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No new shows seem to be premiering on the CW this fall, which isn’t really a bad thing. It just means that the programs already in place are clearly working, so why not let a good thing sustain? Luckily for some fledgling shows, there’s room after a 13-episode run to pop in and run for their own. Black Lightning is one of these shows – and much in the vein of other superhero shows on the network, it’s about a man called upon to once again fight for justice in his neighborhood. This time it’s Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams), who retired nine years earlier after seeing the effects his crime-fighting was having on his family. Now that the family is grown, it just so happens that a gang called The One Hundred is out to terrorize his home, and that means getting back into the business. I’m still in season one of The Flash, and I know all of these Greg Berlanti-developed shows are top notch, but I’m probably going to end up catching this later, like the other ones. If you’re a fan of his stuff, and the CW in general, you’re probably in for a real treat.

Life Sentence (CW)

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Now this is a darker premise than I would expect coming out of the CW. While they’ve attempted stuff this dark before, it’s always fallen flat (see: No Tomorrow, a show that begged to be on cable but was marginalized into fluff). My hope is that it doesn’t happen here. Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) stars as Stella, a young woman who milked her cancer diagnosis to its utmost, but when the cancer miraculously dissipates, she must face the life she thought she was going to leave behind, in other words all the bad decisions she made when she “lived like she was dying”. This includes a husband who thought he was in it for the short run, parents who had mourned for eight years and thought they were doing the right thing, and many other issues that will likely be worked out. Come to think of it, this sounds like one of the possible endings for a season two of No Tomorrow, but maybe this will go better.

The X-Files (FOX)

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That’s right, Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully will once again grace our television boxes in the search for the truth. What’s expected is that there will be a little more levity in the writing, while accounting for the likely short amount of episodes once again. The likelihood is also that this will at long last be the final run of cases for the extended FBI pair, as all involved (Chris Carter, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson) have stated that this and the last short season were in place of a trilogy capper that never came. It would actually be great to see Kumail Nanjani involved again, or someone else like the inimitable Rhys Darby, but perhaps it would be better if they don’t go full nostalgia – something like the recent third season of Twin Peaks would work fine. We don’t need to get existential, and it would be nice to get some actual closure – perhaps for Fox’s sister – but I think it will still be nice to see the greatest working federal agents one last time.

LA to Vegas (FOX)

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Another great premise left by the wayside for January or beyond, this tells the short woeful tale of those red-eye pilots and stewardesses that are stuck on the flight between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Debauchery all around them, the hard-working employees must leverage themselves against their better judgment, although that will likely not go as planned. Dylan McDermott stars as the beleaguered perpetual captain, stuck from rising up to a better flight plan alongside a wacky in-flight crew and weekly passengers that are drunk or hungover. One of them is Peter Stormare, so expect some strangeness.

The Resident (FOX)

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Matt Czuchry was consistently the best parts of scenes he was in on The Good Wife, holding his own against heavy hitters like Julianna Marguiles, Christine Baranski and the show’s MVP, Archie Panjabi. Now that it’s over (and he made it the whole way surprisingly), Czuchry has the chance to be the main star himself in this hospital drama where veterans like Bruce Greenwood continually tell him that he’ll have to compromise his morals to do the right thing for the hospital to stay in business. Given that he’s a maverick, it’s pretty obvious that Czuchry’s doctor, Conrad Hawkins, will bow to the whim of executives. Instead, he’s definitely going to be in it for his patients. Emily VanCamp will follow his lead as another new resident, and this kind of writes itself…so this may not be the best show. However, with a cast like this, it deserves at least a second opinion.

AP Bio (NBC)

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As news broke that this show had been optioned for a slot in NBC’s schedule, the most important thing to note was that star of the series Glenn Howerton still had a job over at FX, namely being the star of their flagship show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. As the season over there ended, Howerton claimed that he wasn’t sure what would happen, but given that all five cast members are signed for at least two more seasons, there’s no doubt that the show will continue. The thinking here goes that they’ll push the next season back since co-star Kaitlin Olsen has her own show over at FOX, The Mick and they’ll see how AP Bio goes. The plot itself is enticing, as Howerton plays a high school teacher (obviously of AP Bio) who was cheated out of his dream position at a prestigious university. He then begins to use his brilliant honor students to enact revenge on his rival who claimed the job, much to the chagrin of the high school’s principal, played by Patton Oswalt. For me, this is a dream comedy, so I’m on pins and needles hoping this comes sooner than later. On top of that, the producing team of Seth Myers and Lorne Michaels seems to be already approved for air.

The Handmade Project (NBC)

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Normally I’m not one to be too excited about a reality show – I’ve never had one in a preview before. This one’s different, however, and one I may give a chance for a handful of episodes. Nick Offerman, star of Parks & Recreation, has always had a knack for woodworking, a love he shared with his alter ego Ron Swanson. He’s built a brand in his comedy on defining oneself by developing and harnessing a skill, such as woodworking. Only naturally, the progression towards NBC giving him a show where he can showcase that skill in front of millions of Americans has finally come to fruition. He’ll be joined by his Parks co-star Amy Poehler as they weave their way through contestants who shall compete to make the best furniture or other wooden products. I look forward to Offerman’s sardonic yet straightforward mentorship, as it has always fit well with Poehler’s bubbly optimism. For once, NBC may have done something right.

Rise (NBC)

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So many people getting new shows! Here’s Ted Mosby, high school drama teacher! Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother) is set to lead a new Glee-esque telecast set within a school that is on the verge of losing its drama program to budget cuts. Radnor rallies the troops with fellow teacher Rosie Perez (Do the Right Thing). Auli’i Cravalho (Moana) leads the cast of students, and we’re sure to see her singing skills showcased, among other talented youngsters. This seems like a great idea, and enough time has passed since Glee that it won’t be stepping on any toes.

Law & Order: True Crime (NBC)

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Are they even trying anymore? I mean, when Law & Order as a franchise first appeared before us all the way back in 1990, everyone joked about how the stories were ‘ripped from the headlines’. They even brazenly started referencing that themselves, and soon no one cared that Chevy Chase was guest starring as a thinly veiled version of Mel Gibson or they were finding three girls who’d been trapped in a basement for decades finally getting free. Obviously, everyone is okay with that by now, and given the current trend of high-profile criminal cases getting their own anthology series, it was somewhat unsurprising the Dick Wolf-produced series would head in this direction. The good news: Edie Falco is coming back to television as real-life lawyer Leslie Abramson, who has defended Phil Spector as well as this 8-episode mini-series subjects, the Menendez brothers. Anthony Edwards (ER) will be coming back not only to television, but his moneymaking home NBC, as the judge who oversaw the case, which sought to discover whether the young siblings murdered their parents in 1996. Julianne Nicholson and Josh Charles will pop in as well, and the whole thing sounds like a nice binge-watch eventually.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Somehow, I must have missed that this was actually premiering September 27 – I believe it was erroneously labeled in the Wikipedia list for the upcoming fall season and I never spot checked before the first part of this preview went out.

Good Girls (NBC)

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Kathleen Rose Perkins (Episodes) was set to star in this riff on the Bad Moms situation…except this time the girls decide to plan a heist on their local supermarket. I don’t know what Perkins opted out, but her replacement is a delighful surprise – Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks. She joins original co-stars Mae Whitman (Parenthood) and Retta (Parks and Rec) as the heist goes bad and they’re recognized by the manager, played by Matthew Lillard (Twin Peaks). The premise seems solid enough, and maybe the move to mid-season pulled Perkins, but the messiness still worries me for the show’s prospects.

Later, there will be several shows, that are yet to be scheduled:

True Detective (season 3, later 2017 or early 2018, stars Mahershala Ali!)
Barry (HBO, early 2018, hitman Bill Hader joins a Los Angeles improv troupe!)
American Lion (originally set for 2017, stars Sean Penn as Andrew Jackson!)
Here, Now (undated, probably 2018, Alan Ball returns with a family drama)
The Terror (AMC, set for 2017, historical horror in the Arctic)
Atlanta (FX, 2018, probably setting season 2 at some point in the summer?)
American Crime Story: Versace (FX, 2018, skipping Katrina may have been good?)
Archer: Danger Island (FX, 2018, the seminal animated program does it again)
Jean-Claude Van Johnson (Amazon, unknown, just put it on my television already)

I was going to have a top five worst shows of this upcoming season, but I could only bring myself to discuss one – Widsom of the Crowd, a Jeremy Piven-starrer that has the former Entourage Emmy winner using his technological prowess and endless stream of funds to improve the outdated San Francisco police force’s assets. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s basically last year’s FOX drama APB, which saw former Weeds Golden Globe nominee Justin Kirk playing a rich technology buff that supplied the Chicago PD. Unfortunately for CBS, that did not work, and this version looks even more smug – somehow. The good news is that supporting actors include Natalia Tena (Harry Potter) and Monica Potter (Parenthood) so it may be a bigger hit, but it really shouldn’t be if Kirk didn’t get his chance. At least the car chases will be better in San Fran, right?

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Well, that’s it. Remember to take heed to my warnings and excitement and then go ahead and spend the rest of the year in front of the tube. I hope this at least provides you with some sort of relief from the outside world, maybe?

Podcast September 12 – The Orville and The Deuce

With the absence of our dearly beloved Cory Taylor indefinitely, the Interjections podcast was thrown for quite the loop. I wasn’t sure how to proceed, what to proceed with, or whether we would ever proceed again. After much deliberation with several of the frequent guests, they conceded that I could continue for the time being with them, and hope that one day Cory would return triumphant over his trials and tribulations with and against the Cars franchise.

In lieu of the traditional podcast, this week’s edition will feature Jimmy, and he and Tristan first discuss new television shows The Orville and The Deuce before diving into the meat of their new direction – current events and politics.

When and if Jeff joins in again, he and Tristan will probably cover an older selection, a classic film they’ve missed out on in the past, but for now the first edition of this new version will feature Jimmy discussing hot topics.

Follow us through the rabbit hole, and remember, as always, comment responsibly.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the above podcast, and all of us here at the Interjections podcast hope that Cory continues down his long road to recovery.

This Will Be Televised – Fall Preview Part 2, The Cable Channels

 

And now, we notice we’re two days closer to our inevitable…..anyway:

With Game of Thrones out indefinitely before its final season airs, and Westworld congruently waiting until 2018 to return, what will the discerning cable viewer demand? Apparently comedies galore, as a slew of returning shows are hilarious – even Larry David is back with new Curb Your Enthusiasm as he attempts to save the American people from themselves, at least in his own little way.

Here’s a whole slew of shows, returning and nouveau, for you to chew on:

Star Trek: Discovery (9/24, CBS, 8:30)

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Yes, I know, I’m cheating a bit because this is premiering at the end of the month on CBS, the parent channel of….CBS All Access, a paid access on demand app that will house the newest iteration of Gene Roddenberry’s space epic, Star Trek: Discovery. There’s an insanely great deal riding on this – the future of the franchise, the new CBS app, the idea that we’ll just be paying individually for shows or at least channels in the near future. The funny thing is that this will do bananas business at first, given there are still plenty of Trekkies out there, and enough curious people that will tune in and shell out hard-earned cash for something that will likely be streaming on…alternative channels by week’s end. I, for one, refuse to pay extra for a channel I get in my basic cable, but this is a preview of the show so I’d rather digress. The content shown so far looks brilliant, at least visually, and the casting of Sonequa Martin-Green (You’re the WorstThe Walking Dead) as the lead, a lieutenant working alongside not one, but two captains, is equally brilliant. She’s deserved a leading role for a good while now, and hopefully this can showcase her talents. Her co-leads, in the separate captain’s chairs, are Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never DiesSunshine) and Jason Isaacs (Harry PotterThe Patriot), adding definitive pedigree as Shakespearean actors William Shatner and Patrick Stewart did before them. Doug Jones pops in and does his makeup-alien thing, but has the most lines I’ve seen him employ before. High hopes here, but a long fall if all goes wrong.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (10/1, HBO)

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It doesn’t seem like it, but Curb has been off the air for an incredibly long six years. Six years without the sardonic stylings of Larry David? How did we manage? Anyway, it all comes crashing down October 1st, as the best show about nothing after Seinfeld left the airwaves rolls its way back into our hearts.

The Deuce (9/10, HBO)

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I’m not sure what HBO thought here, given how flat Vinyl fell on its face, but here’s another period drama set around New York City, but instead of drug and booze fueled record companies, we have something that applies itself more to a seedy underworld: the rise of the porn industry in America. Plus you have James Franco pulling his best Tom Hardy, in a double-duty role as twin brothers Vincent and Frankie Martino, a pair that gets involved as fronts for the Mob. I personally know the guy who’s playing Matthew Ianniello, the Genovese crime boss who influenced the porn industry in New York. His name’s Garry Pastore, and I want him to be better than he was in the film we worked on together, and the potential is there. Beyond them, I’m excited to see what Maggie Gyllenhaal is up to, it’s been too long since we had a sizable role for her to exhibit her skills.

Mr. Robot (10/11, USA)

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If you’ve been a long-time reader of Interjections, then you may have read my extensive look at Why Mr. Robot is a better Gotham than Gotham. I’m going to be following that up in early October with a look back at season two, which went wildly in varying directions none of us fans expected. While it mired a bit in its own conceit, stars Rami Malek and Christian Slater still put in career performances as son and father mentor ghost. While we don’t know exactly what new direction the show will go in season three, hopefully it will pick up speed a bit, as most of the major players are back together, hoping to form an elite squad in order to take down the government. Also, Bobby Cannavale is joining the cast, and we all know how he does in third seasons (Boardwalk Empire…) If you haven’t gotten into this slick hacker thriller, do yourself a favor and catch season one now, before it’s too late.

Shameless (11/5, Showtime)

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Even though it’s reaching it’s eighth season this November, strangely enough Shameless is still an underrated gem. William H. Macy continually gets Emmy nominations, while Emmy Rossum never gets the due she so justly deserves. The Gallagher clan will likely never get better, but it sure is beautiful to watch them try and escape their inevitable doom and gloom. If this is the last hurrah for the family, I’m sure it will go out spectacularly.

SMILF (11/5, Showtime)

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Frankie Shaw was perhaps my favorite part of the USA show Mr. Robot. Her drug-addled Shayla grounded the who in a bit of romantic reality, but her tragic collateral damage loss was gutting moreso than anything else on the show. Shaw’s performance was the big reason that show worked, and given she wrote and directed the short film this show is based on, I’m more than ready to see what she has in store for us in the series version. I’m glad she’s also performing in it, because it just gives viewers a chance to take in her caustic humor again. If you need an idea of what this is about, imagine a common citizen version of Better Things.

White Famous (10/15, Showtime)

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Jamie Foxx is producing (and will often guest) in this semi-autobiographical look at actor (Jay Pharoah) who is rising the ranks of Hollywood, but is starting to be seen as more of a sellout in his hometown community. It reminds of a television version of the great Chris Rock film Top Five, and with the comedic prowess of both Pharoah and Foxx behind it, this should be an instant classic.

The Walking Dead (10/22, AMC)

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This show has long oversold its premise, and by giving us slower burns than a magma flow, it’s alienated a lot of fans. Somehow there’s still enough people watching though, and stunt events like the ridiculous episode arc surrounding Negan destroying Glenn’s face will likely keep it going a few more years. For now, we’re watching uber-survivors Rick, Daryl, Michonne, Carol and Maggie attempt to wage war against Negan and his crew. I haven’t been interested in about five years, but if you are still, there’s probably something worthwhilel to watch. Just let me know if Carol makes it. That psychopath is the best.

Halt and Catch Fire (airing now, AMC)

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Last week the final season of this underrated show, tracing the development of the birth of the internet, and I’m sure a lot of us will catch up in years to come. It’s just a shame that we weren’t there as it happened, much like those that regret getting in on the ground floor of the internet.

Legion (February 2018, FX)

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If you didn’t catch this trippy, visionary mutant story starring Dan Stevens and Aubrey Plaza, then you have a few months to catch up. Stevens stars as the titular mutant Legion, who is apparently even more powerful than Professor X and his perfect student Jean Grey. I haven’t finished the season myself, so I don’t know how much other X-Men characters play into his story, but in the comics, it appears that he’s even related somehow to the professor. We’ll see if that plays into any part of the second season, but I’m just glad it was a success. I give that claim to it due to the unnerving performance of Aubrey Plaza, who is having quite a year with Ingrid Goes West and The Little Hours as well in theatres.

Better Things (9/14, FX)

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Pamela Adlon has been having a ball playing up her semi-autobiographical alter-ego, and it’s clearly not as exhausting as she lets it seem in the show. Since we’re not going to get any Louie for the foreseeable future, we’ll have to settle for this female counterpart of his, but what’s wrong with that? We needed a darker family comedy on the airwaves, and this perfectly compliments FX’s slate of gaudy dramas.

American Horror Story: Cult (9/5, FX)

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Speaking of those over-budgeted dramas, Ryan Murphy returned this past week with the latest iteration of American Horror Story. Murphy promised this segment to elaborate on the strange events of this past November, when uber-billionaire hack Donald Trump somehow bested villainous politician Hillary Clinton in the American presidential election. While that will merely color the season, we’ll likely see the effects of the strange cult-like surrounding that politicians end up surrounding themselves with. I’ve heard tell that clowns figure largely in the plot, and Twisty may return, but if I don’t get any Juggalos, I’m not voting this term.

Trust (January 2018, FX)

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There’s a Ridley Scott film coming out this December, All the Money in the World, that showcases the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, the heir to the Getty oil fortune, off the streets of Rome by the Italian crime family “Ndrangheta”. This upcoming limited series will tell the same story, but probably expand upon the details. Luckily, this will come out after the film, and if the Academy starts to honor the film, that could boost the Getty awareness, or limit people’s expectations. Either way, Getty fever hits screens this winter!

You’re the Worst (9/6, FXX)

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I’ve been slacking on my television viewing. My favorite show on air came back this Wednesday for its fourth season, and I’m stuck halfway through the third. Spoilers ensued from commercials, and it appears that Jimmy (Chris Geere) dumped Gretchen (Aya Cash) at the eve of last season. Since the show was beginning to spin its wheels, it appears that each season in fact does have a theme. Season 1 was getting together, 2 was admitting that you do love each other and dealing with depression, 3 was living together and domestic life, and 4 is what breakups are like. Suffice it to say, this remains my favorite show on television, and I can’t wait to catch up and see what the world has in store for our favorite British author and music producer. Plus Jimmy has a beard!

BoJack Horseman (9/8, Netflix)

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If caustic relationships in real life aren’t enough for you, tune back into everyone’s favorite irreverent cartoon, BoJack Horseman! Last we saw our hero, he was driving off into the sunset, abandoning his friends in the aftermath of the overdose death of his TV daughter Sarah Lynn. Left behind and not handling it well is Diane (Alison Brie), who must suffer under husband Mr. Peanut Butter’s newest scheme, becoming governor of California. Antics ensue with him, Princess Caroline and Todd, but the true heart of the show must be returning soon, or Diane will wilter into nothingness, just like he has. Will anyone ever find happiness? Only in Hollywoo, maybe.

Big Mouth (9/29, Netflix)

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Nick Kroll is developing this animated comedic look at his high school years alongside friend and sometime colleague Andrew Goldberg (Family Guy). Kroll will voice himself and Oh Hello! partner John Mulaney will voice Goldberg’s alter ego. Given how ostentatious that play was, I expect hilarious things from this.

Alias Grace (11/3, Netflix)

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Margaret Atwood is suddenly big business, as the recent Hulu adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale was not only remarkably well done, but insanely well-timed in light of the Trump administration. Frenzied fear is the name of the game recently, and this period adaptation looks to continue the trend. The miniseries will tell a ficitionalized version of a historical character, Grace Marks, who nortiously was imprisoned for 28 years as an accomplice in the murder of her wealthy employer Thomas Kinnear and his mistress Nancy Montgomery in the 1840s. If it isn’t metaphorical for our age, it should at least play along our celebrity criminal love.

The Punisher (November, Netflix)

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After the success of the five other Marvel series on Netflix, and the intense premiere of The Punisher on the second season of Daredevil, it was a no-brainer to greenlight a series based around Jon Bernthal, who looks to be the best iteration of the dour Frank Castle. I haven’t seen it personally, but I guarantee one of the darkest showcases provided to us by Marvel yet, just as it should be.

Stranger Things (10/27, Netflix)

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Perhaps the biggest hit of the past television season, simultaneously reviving Winona Ryder’s career alongside raising up David Harbour’s as well as the cast full of children – particularly Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Finn Wolfhard and Caleb McLaughlin. That whole group will have to figure out what’s wrong with Noah Schnapp’s Will, who spent season 1 in the Upside Down but may have come back with something even more sinister. They’ll also have to solve what ended up happening to Brown’s Seven towards the end, but there’s no doubt she’ll return.

The Crown (12/8, Netflix)

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Meanwhile, grounded in reality, Netflix has been taking prestigious British drama to new levels by playing out a biographical look at the rise of Queen Elizabeth II. Claire Foy won numerous awards for her portrayal as the once and current monarch, alongside former Doctor Who Matt Smith as Prince Philip. This year we’ll take a look at their visit from US President John F Kennedy (Michael C. Hall) and his wife Jackie (Jodi Balfour). I’m sure the show will continue the gorgeous look inside royal life, and we’ll all be lauding Foy’s performance once again.

She’s Gotta Have It (11/23, Netflix)

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Spike Lee is cashing in after all these years! Well, more dipping his pen back into the same well, and adapting one of his most popular films for the small screen. Not much has been said about it, though I believe it’s a straight adaptation rather than a continuation. I have to say, I’d rather see an update of Do The Right Thing and find out what Mookie is up to. Oh well, Netflix had the money.

Godless (11/22, Netflix)

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The Western we didn’t know we needed – Godless – will star Jeff Daniels as the bandit Frank Griffin, who brings his gang around the desolate landscape in search of his former partner Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell, ’71). Their search brings them to the strange town of LaBelle, which is comprised completely of women. Michelle Dockery, Merritt Weaver, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Scoot McNairy also star in this six-episode limited series, so there’s pedigree oozing out the wazoo. I can’t wait, and this will whet our teeth for the Coen Bros’ upcoming Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

The Man in the High Castle (late 2017, Amazon)

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Riveting beyond my wildest dreams, I didn’t expect to get sucked in to the first two seasons of High Castle this past winter. As soon as it was done, we asked when the next season would air, and of course I’d stretched out my viewing so the least amount of down time would occur. That was March. Now we near December, and there’s surely going to be some conclusion to Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos) and her search for her dead missing sister, and perhaps this season will see her reunite with one of her brooding beaus, struggling artist Frank Frink (Rupert Evans) or German wunderkind Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank). The best part, of course, is seeing what happens next to Nazi superstar John Smith (Rufus Sewell). Strange saying that, but…so is the show, and that’s what makes it captivating.

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (9/17, Amazon)

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After the success at Amazon of the Philip K. Dick adaptation The Man in the High Castle it was a clear no-brainer to look elsewhere in Dick’s oeuvre to find another gem with which to place in front of everyone’s eyeballs. Electric Dreams is one of his classic compliations, so naturally with the fad of anthologies hitting small screens, it lends itself to being the next choice for Amazon subscribers. Not much is known about this show, premeiring a mere week away, but I sense something in the same vein as the uber-successful Black Mirror.

Search Party (11/19, TBS)

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I think after the past year, this is my pick for the best new show of the 2016 season. I’m definitely surprised, given it came from TBS, but hey – good for them for snagging a smart, engaging mystery that got everyone talking. Alia Shawkat put in some of her best work as Dory Sief, a millenial floating through life that latched on the myserious disappearance of a classmate acquaintance. Her journey towards discovering what happened brought her path across cults, psychopathic stalkers and general New York nutcases. Along the way she dragged her confused boyfriend (John Reynolds) and two best friends (John Early and Meredith Hagner) through various  escalating dangerous situations. Their steps culminated with the death of Keith Powell (Ron Livingston), a stalker posing as a private invesigator that nearly ruins Dory’s life. Given we left them moments after his accidental death, I can’t wait to see how the gang gets out of this mess.

The Last O.G. (10/24, TBS)

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This comedic take on a thug getting out of prison after doing a stint of 15 years plays like a fish out of water scenario. Since he’s been in prison, all sorts of advancements have been made in medicine, technology, and most importantly social cues. Since he’s the last O.G., he’ll have a rude awakening to a world that passed him by over a decade ago. Even better is that it stars Tracy Morgan, recovering finally from his injuries sustained on route 95 over three years ago…a spot oddly enough I’m writing this as I wait in traffic. Interestingly, back when he was recovering from his injuries, Morgan was developing a pilot with FX that would see him as a pot dealer turned war hero. FX, at the time, said the show would remain with the network and they’d wait happily for his return to development. Instead, Morgan and producer partner Jordan Peele replaced that story with this one, FX eventually passed and it was shopped to TBS and Comedy Central. Their loss is our gain, as either way we’re getting Morgan’s sitcom return at long last.

Marvel’s Runaways (11/21, Hulu)

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Sure, there’s a glut of Marvel shows. I’ve mentioned that before. But here’s a project that’s been a long time coming – Brian K. Vaughan famously had a run on this comic, and for about a decade afterwards was rumored to be adapting it for film screens. Instead, eventually it mired in development and of course they turned instead to television after the success of shows like The Walking Dead and Legion. The story tells of a group of misfits that don’t quite realize they’re superpowered, but eventually the tale turns dark and existential. I’m sort of avoiding spoilers on what actually happens, but suffice it to say the comic was on the top of many lists, so hopefully the show does similar business.

Future Man (11/14, Hulu)

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Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games) plays a janitor who, in his spare time, is one of the highest rated gamers out there. When someone from the future comes and tells him he’s the key to saving the world, he’s obviously game to try and figure out how. The premise alone seems to capture most people’s attention, and I like that Happy Endings’ Eliza Coupe is finding work. I could see this as being the next Wilfred or the next Battlestar Galactica. Why not both?


Tuesday: Mid-season and beyond, and one awful show await.

 

This Will Be Televised – 2017 Fall Preview

As time roils us forth into the ether, there are at least several new entertaining vessels to get us by as we await our shuffle past the mortal coil.

Obviously, several of the comedies will lighten the mood, but those dramas will surely bring us back down to earth. Here are eight of my most anticipated new shows of the 2017-2018 television season:

9JKL (10/02, CBS, Mondays at 8:30)

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Everybody Loves Raymond, but in an apartment. That’s my first impression, although I have to temper that by mentioning the former version lost its luster rather quickly with repetitive plots. I think, in hindsight, and defter hands this will be better. Mark Feuerstein plays a divorced actor who moves in to an apartment sandwiched between his parents and brother’s family. The highlight here is likely to be Elliott Gould, who shined in the shortlived Mulaney, as well as pilot-hopper Liza Lapira. The cast is solid and the plot is pretty standard, so it could go either way. I think Feuerstein (Royal Pains) puts it over the edge, especially given the fact the show is based on his real life situation. Personality can spill through our screens.

Me, Myself and I (10/30, CBS, Mondays at 9:30)

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Long time SNL actor Bobby Moynihan is branching out, in this comedy that showcases one man’s life over 50 years by highlighting three distinct periods: the youth (Jack Grazer), the middle years (Moynihan) and the older years (John Laroquette!) I’m very, very excited to see Laroquette return to television, and hopeful this will last not just for his sake, but Moynihan’s. He deserves it after so long with SNL, and it’s a high concept with romantic potential that the How I Met You Mother fan in me will love. Also, what’s this? Jaleel White is back too? Urkel? This has pretty interesting potential…

Ghosted (10/01, FOX, Sundays at 8:30)

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Adam Scott? I’ll follow him anywhere. Craig Robinson? One of the funniest actors with a great range. Put them together as a ghost-hunting team in Los Angelese and you have my most anticipated comedy of the upcoming television season! Robinson is a skeptical disgraced cop who is forced to team up with a fallen college professor (Scott) to investigate paranormal activity floating through the city for a strange group calling themselves the Bureau Underground. I figure parodies of stuff like Ghostsbusters abound, and I was already there when they started out “Adam Sco-“.

Orville (9/21, FOX, Thursdays at 9)

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Seth MacFarlane is a god at FOX, one of the stalwarts of animation in the 21st century. His landmark show Family Guy will go down as one of the best non sequitur pieces of pop art, while spinoff The Cleveland Show and patriotic parody American Dad are apt follow-ups. His live-action efforts? Not so much. He whiffed on reinventing the western with A Million Ways to Die in the West. He barely registers in Hellboy 2 and The Tooth Fairy. He hit it out of the park with Ted and squandered all his good fortune by cashing in on a terrible, unnecessary sequel. So how will his live-action, big-budget, sci-fi soap opera fair? FOX is banking on this being the cornerstone of their freshman fare, and lucky for us previews have left good feelings. I’m wary because I was anticipating West to be the film of summer 2014, but with MacFarlane being one of the biggest Trekkies alive, I think the space parody is safe in his captain’s chair. If nothing else, this should have a great first season.

The Mayor (10/03, ABC, Tuesdays at 9:30)

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Given the current political spectrum, which is a phrase I’m not even thrilled to type, it’s inevitable that this premise might come up. Remarkable then that this was being developed before the events this past November. The premise is good to begin with, as a young entrepeneurial rapper (Brandon Michael Hall, Search Party) concocts a perfect scheme to boost his visibility: run for mayor of his small California town. When he actually wins, he must put together a viable plan or face the stark reality he stumbled into. Absolutely brilliant premise, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened before (it may have, correct me if it has). On top of that, Yvette Nicole Brown (underutilized on Community) and Lea Michele (Glee) join Hall in the comedy. I’m wary, but have high hopes that this will a breakout hit, the next Parks & Rec or The West Wing.

The Gifted (10/02, FOX, Mondays at 10)

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Superheroes have been big business for the past two decades, and as we settle into this latest X-Men franchise piece, we have to ask ourselves, when does the madness end? No, really this family drama disguised as mutant metaphor looks like it has the chance to be pretty good, if for no other reason than the talented actors behind the parents – Stephen Moyer (True Blood) and Amy Acker (Angel). With a heavy television pedigree behind the showrunner Matt Nix (The Good Guys, Burn Notice) you can expect there to be fairly solid action, although given it’s on a basic cable channel it may be a bit demure. Crazy exploding Dan Stevens this may not have.

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (10/03, ABC, Tuesdays at 10)

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I have to point out that this used to have a much better title, The Gospel of Kevin, but apparently that’s too preachy to belong on television. I don’t even think the show was going to be too heavily Christian, but still, the title flowed much better. If they were so hard-up to change it, they could have tried a heaven-related pun like Kevin Can Wait, or Seventh Kevin, but of course no one listens to me when pilot season comes ’round. Anyway, just to remind you of when he was on Joan of Arcadia 16 years ago, Jason Ritter stars as a self-centered man who is visited by a guardian angel who leads him down a better path. Not much different from Joan, but perhaps Ritter’s charm will save this potential debacle.

The Good Doctor (9/25, ABC, Mondays at 10)

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So here’s the thing: last year’s preview included two shows that were clearly going to be a huge waste of time: FOX’s APB that featured my personal hero Justin Kirk as a genius who helped influence Chicago police with his fortune-infused tech, and CBS’s Pure Genius that featured no one in particular but had an abysmal plot where the rich pretty boy genius who infused the hospital tech with his fortune…was also dying. I hated them, but wanted at least Justin Kirk to have a chance. With that in mind, here’s another one that’s sort of the two combined. Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel) is an autistic(!) savant who comes from his quiet country isolation to a prestigious hospital in order to, I don’t know, save lives or something. One of my favorite actors, Richard Schiff, is the advisor at the hospital that goes to bat for him in the first place, and later when he pisses everyone off. Remember anyone else who couldn’t relate to people but was the local genius that needed to be cultivated by a mentor who believed in him? I may give this a chance for Schiff, but this may not be enough to watch in my House.


Now that we’ve covered the new shows, here’s a quick update on some returning shows I think will continue to bring joy to millions, if not thousands:

Lethal Weapon (9/26, FOX – Tuesdays at 8)

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After much debate with my family and friends, I’ve decided that it’s simply okay to have another iteration of the classic cop buddy comedy that follows Murtaugh and Riggs. This version of Murtaugh (Damon Wayans Sr.) is less cohesive, but still charmingly aloof, and the more said about Clayne Crawford’s performance as Martin Riggs, the better. He brings a fresh air that doesn’t overshadow Mel Gibson’s brilliant original, and he makes something completely fresh out of a lived-in role. If you can stomach the fact that this is happening, and separate it from the majestic quadrilogy, you’ll be in for a surprising treat, a deft mix of drama, action and comedy.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (9/26, FOX – Tuesdays at 9:30)

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Falling into its fifth season, this cop comedy procedural has discovered a strange rhythym. As we return to the 99, Jake Peralta (star Andy Samberg) and Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) have been framed for bank robbery, and are stuck in jail – but are likely to be freed by the other misfits in their precinct, including characters played by Terry Crews, Andre Braugher, Melissa Fumero, Chelsea Peretti and Joe Le Truglio. Speaking of Lo Truglio, he’s the character that’s devolved the most – his antics are a bit too ripe for consumption, so here’s hoping they figure out what to do with him. He used to be a well-rounded person, but he’s become a caricature of inanity. Everyone else has luckily maintained their personable charm, so there’s no doubt the fifth season will continue the trend.

The Good Place (9/28, NBC – Thursdays at 8:30)

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What a surprise this little show turned out to be – the faithful were rewarded with an angelic revelation late in season one that Ted Danson’s architect was not a goodly one, but rather a devil playing tricks on his hellish subjects by pretending that their paradise was intrisically flawed. His game was caught by Eleanor (Kristen Bell), a terribly ruinous human being who thought she was a mistake in the machine, but really she was just one of many terrible people played against each other by the demon Danson. Given the Lost-style reveal towards the end, there’s no telling if they’ll acquire new viewers, but a second season was all we could ask for now that we want to revel in Eleanor’s mission to unseat the nefarous architect. If nothing else, this should flip the script for at least one more year before the idea gets stale. If not, I’m behind whatever these writers throw our way.

Riverdale (10/11, CW – Wednesdays at 8)

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I’ve unfortunately not caught up on this OC-meets-Twin Peaks adaptation of the fluffy good-hearted Archie series, but I know that it’s been a game-changer for the CW. I anticipate the crew to ramp up the drama, the camp and the suspense for a second season as we watch the friendship between Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Veronica (Camila Mendes) blossom while Archie (KJ Apa) squirms. Now that the mystery behind Jason Blossom has been solved, there will surely be another Veronica Mars style story brewed to continue the trend of mysterious teen adventure on the sharpest channel on basic cable.

Designated Survivor (9/27, ABC – Wednesdays at 10)

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I’ve got to admit, I’ve sort of lost track of this show about halfway through the first season, and as of early August have yet to pick it back up. There’s no telling if this show will truly be the tense action drama we all hoped it would be as it started last fall, but suffice it to say Kiefer Sutherland is startlingly dapper as President Kirkman. If only the show had a tighter episode order, maybe they would get to the point earlier. As much as I loved Maggie Q in Nikita, she’s even better here, but she’s stuffed into unnecessary cliffhanger plots that force her to waste time getting to the answer she’s looking for. It’s also as if ABC believes they have another 24 on their hands, when it should look to its own past in the much overlooked Geena Davis vehicle Commander in Chief. If it’s anything like that – and it is – ABC should capitalize on the attention they’re getting and promote the show whilel balancing a tighter script count. This show is a great show stretched into a basic procedural, but it could be so much more.

Gotham (9/21, FOX – Thursdays at 8)

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You’ll see my review of Mr. Robot season two later next month, but you’ll undoubtely know that I’ve tied both series together mentally. I haven’t watched an episode since early in season two, but the show has rolled on with its own ideas. I know I wanted it to go a certain way, that Mr. Robot obviously went, but there’s a certain charm to the camp behind what Gotham has done. Standouts Cory Michael Smith and Robin Taylor have grown to be fan favorites, and they finally figured out what to do with their young Bruce and Selina characters. Gratefully, they seem to have decide on what shall become of this version of Batman, and I may have to check in again to see if they’ve lived up to what we all wanted.

Great News (9/28, NBC – Thursday at 9:30)

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I caught the pilot episode of this so far, and I was expecting a vapid reeactment of Network played to laughs through star Briga Heelan’s vamping. Luckily there was a quiet dignity behind the 30 Rock-ripoff plots, so I expect there was a good reason to renew on NBC’s part besides the desperation Bob Greenblatt has been exuding by groveling to Tina Fey and Aaron Sorkin. Great News is genuinely a good show, and I expect it to be great despite the expectations to fall by history’s wayside. Standouts Andrea Martin, John Michael Higgins and surprise Nicole Richie are what keeps this middle-tier show afloat.

Bob’s Burgers (10/1, FOX – Sundays at 7:30)

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Of the many surprises in the past decade, none got me as much as Bob’s Burgers lasting this long. I was a huge fan of Loren Bouchard’s second show Home Movies, and particularly the gruff voice actor who played the anti-Mr. Feeney, Coach McGuirk. Transferring to a basic cable channel looked to be an unexpected and likely short stay, but Bouchard took the family sensibility that Home Movies had and infused it with some Simpsons-esque snark. The charm that resulted is especially exemplified in the adorable relationship with daughter Louise (Kristen Schaal) and her father (H. Jon Benjamin, who voiced McGuirk). It added the remarkably relatable character Tina, who has gone through a slow blossoming puberty over the course of the show. There’s nothing more delightful on basic cable, and it’s a calm animated opposite of darker stuff like Rick & Morty or Archer (also Benjamin!)


Well that’s all for now….tomorrow we’ll take a look at the cable shows, especially that juggernaut Netflix, which seems to debut something new every week. Don’t burn out before you shine, internet!

On Sunday we’ll discuss the mid-season shows we’re most anticipating, and I’ll give you five shows across the board to avoid!

Golden age forever!

Good Sports: Football Preview 2017!

Well, I let it run down to the wire, as usual, but you wouldn’t love me if that wasn’t my style, now would you? Let’s take a quick glance at what my expectations for each team in the National Football League is for the upcoming 2017 season:

AFC East

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New England Patriots – Whenever I begin this annual list, I fear that my predictions are simply takeoffs from the end of the previous year. Most divisions will end up drastically different than most pundits imagine, as injuries will derail the most purposeful of predictions, weather will switch up small outcomes, and everyone’s favorite – a tie game or two – will just fling everything into disarray. The one absolute, however, is that the damn Patriots will be the best team in the league. Tom Brady is god among men, and even when losing the 2015 Super Bowl “MVP” Julian Edelman to an ACL tear, they’ll still walk away with something like a 14-2 record.

Miami Dolphins – The one thing about that typical absolute is that there’s also someone to be underestimated. There’s also something to be said about redemption, specifically when something like the case of the Miami Dolphins is involved. Since Ryan Tannehill suffered a season-ending knee injury, hopes were low on the Fish. That is, until Smokin’ Joe Cutler came calling, rewarding the fans in South Florida a chance to see that once-and-future commentator give it one last go as a quarterback. I, for one, don’t think this is a bad thing – while Cutler’s stats over the last two years have been anything but special, he’s still an able body that will undoubtedly be better than those in upstate New York or the swamps of northern New Jersey. Besides, with the run game boldly helped by Jay Ajayi, there should be plenty of matches won by Miami. Maybe not enough to make the playoffs, but they’ll still be fun.

Buffalo Bills – Meanwhile, what the hell is going on in Buffalo? After a complete overhaul of the front office, it seemed like the ship would be righted and built around Tyrod Taylor, in order to find the way into a second place and possible wild-card finish, ending the longest playoff drought in professional sports (1999). but suddenly the team sent Sammy Watkins to the Rams, inexplicably dropped a second back-up in Jonathan Williams (they’d already let Mike Gillislee land with rival New England) and finally it looked like even Taylor wouldn’t start week one. For now, he’s the most solid force on the team, with RB LeSean McCoy still able to perform. That isn’t much respite for fans, as this will be a markedly long season.

New York Jets – It also should come as a surprise that Buffalo seems to be in full-tank mode, as they may not even be able to fall into the basement of their own division. Before Buffalo caught on to the cool way to tank, New York was doing it all summer. First they sent Eric Decker packing to Tennessee, after letting both quarterbacks move on to backup roles with the Giants (Geno Smith) and Tampa (Ryan Fitzpatrick). Just this week, the team traded star DL Sheldon Richardson to the Seahawks for Jermaine Kearse (one rare optimistic moment), while losing star center Nick Mangold and solid kicker Nick Folk to free agency. At first it seemed strange, but the Jets have never been so transparent in their tanking. The best part each week will be guessing which quarterback will be starting – brittle veteran Josh McCown, abysmal rookie Christian Hackenberg or oft-injured backup Bryce Petty. Maybe they should have stuck with Mark Sanchez after all?

AFC North

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Pittsburgh Steelers – In what looks to be the twilight season of the Ben Roethlisberger era, he’ll have the chance to have what could be the most fun in Pittsburgh in all his time. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are two of the best players in the league, giving him passing and running options. Martavis Bryant returns in style, perhaps to eclipse even Brown with h is catching skill. There’s no reason to suspect a downfall, unless one of the rival teams puts together a better string of consecutive wins and rides past what should be one of the highest-scoring seasons in Pittsburgh history, which is saying something.

Cincinnati Bengals – Last year I made the mistake of voting for the Red Rocket and his striped band of merry men to finally make it over the hump and past the first round in the playoffs. Not only did the fail to do that, they went 6-9 and missed the playoffs by a mile. Given that AJ Green is fully healthy, as well as Dalton, they’ve also added the underrated Brandon LaFell. Jeremy Hill and Joe Mixon will ride tandem along the run routes, and while I don’t see them overcoming the impossible Steelers, they will make it into a wild-card spot. Now to get to that second round…

Baltimore Ravens – Weapon X, anyone? If the rumors are correct, we’re going to be looking at a bionically charged superhuman in Joe Flacco, who’s been hidden from media all summer with back problems. There’s no doubting he’ll continue to lead the team to solid wins – especially if his health is full. With that being said, if Breshad Perriman is equally healthy, we could be in for an upset of the division. Flacco has tools we haven’t seen him use (Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace) and the running game has been solid with Terrance West (and Danny Woodhead hops his way into the bay). I’m all for them taking that step forward, but on paper they seem like a lot of talk with no bite.

Cleveland Browns – DeShone Kizer, household name? My guess is that it’s unlikely, and Cleveland will continue its search for that quarterback that will finally push the Browns back into relevance. It seems like the world will never see a successful Cleveland football team, and with the only interesting player on the team being Isaiah Crowell, expectations are as low as they can get. The only disappointing thing will be watching the Jets and Bills tank their way past into the top two spots of next year’s draft, letting another great QB slip into New York state instead.

AFC South

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Tennessee Titans – It’s time to get excited about sports again in Nashville. After their hockey team made it to their first Stanley Cup this past June, it finally looks like the Titans have gotten back on track to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. There’s a lot to look forward to in 5th overall pick (2017) Corey Davis, and the Eric Decker signing is only the Jets’ loss. Delanie Walker and DeMarco Murray stabilize their spots, and Marcus Mariota is the quarterback we all deserve. He’s fun to watch, he can keep cool under pressure, and he’s slowly built up a winning pedigree. It’s time for the Titans in 2017.

Houston Texans – Defense is still the name of the game in Houston, as J.J. Watt is the star here. Tom Savage takes over the quarterback role from the fallen Brock Osweiler. Savage will be the fifth straight different leader for the team since Matt Schaub was cast aside in 2013, but he should hopefully still connect with the highest paid WR, DeAndre Hopkins, in order to win just enough games to stay in the race with Tennessee. Lamar Miller doesn’t look as good as he did in Miami, but if Savage isn’t the quarterback they need him to be, Miller can run like the best of them.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Allen Robinson is going to waste away his best years in Jacksonville. Apparently Blake Bortles is suddenly terrible, leaving the Jaguars with their entire game plan lying with rookie runner Leonard Fournette. He’ll have veteran help from former Jet Chris Ivory, so I do expect some wins out of the team, but they’ll have to figure out their quarterback mess first. Will Bortles shape up quick, or will Chad Henne save the day? Since no one ever expected to write that sentence, likelihood is low.

Indianapolis Colts – Hoo boy, there should be some worried in Naptown, that Andrew Luck is not faring well recovering from his shoulder surgery. With Scott Tolzien leading the team, the expectations are well below .500, and the ones who will fare the worst are Donte Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton, who were expecting their stellar star to return and throw them over 1,000 yards each. Now the team must rest their hope on ancient running back Frank Gore, amidst the revival of both the Jags and Titans, as well as the difficulty of playing the AFC overall. Not looking too awake there, in Naptown.

AFC West

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Oakland Raiders – Derek Carr is the real deal, clearly. He’s shaped the Raiders back into the unit they’ve meant to be since their last heyday in the early ‘aughts. He’s got weapons on either side with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, while replacing Latavius Murray with an un-retired Marshawn Lynch is a brilliant yet predictable move. (There were plenty of rumors that Lynch would go to Oakland instead of retirement anyway. Perhaps he should have given his age?) The message inside the parentheses is the only thing to worry about, because this team will run roughshodden over their opponents. One last grand hurrah in the Bay Area is in store for the Raiders before they jump ship for Vegas.

Kansas City Chiefs – Defense is the name of game, and just as in Houston, the team will hope that it will lead them to a Super Bowl. As I watch them crumble to a difficult New England team, they’ll likely end up relying on the running prowess of Kareem Hunt, spelling the team’s worries after Spencer Ware went down with an MCL tear. Charcandrick West is a capable back-up, so expect a lot of output from the pair. Alex Smith will throw like he’s on fire with Austin Mahomes breathing down his neck, but it’s strange to worry about his job. The Chiefs have won the fourth most games in the NFL over the past four seasons, after the Patriots, Broncos and Seahawks. The only thing they’re missing now is that Super Bowl ring.

Los Angeles Chargers – Philip Rivers will never get the due he deserved earlier in his career. He’s one of the steadiest front men for a team the league has ever seen, and his consistency reminds one of Joe Flacco, sans the two Super Bowl rings. The shame of it is that nothing could get done in San Diego, so the team moves to Los Angeles…satisfying who, exactly? Executives who like the idea of having two teams in LA despite the downfall of the two in the nineties. The foolish thing to do was have two terrible teams arrive in Hollywood before they reach their upswing. Rivers is on his way out of the league in a few years, while he has nothing to highlight for the new fans. The only thing keeping them out of the basement is the sharp decline of the Denver Broncos.

Denver Broncos – It feels like forever since Peyton. While much of the squad remained with the club, namely star Demaryius Thomas, the defense and Peyton’s heroics were what pushed them over the top in 2015. Brock Osweiler, somehow returning as a backup, is a mere shadow of the complimentary firecracker that helped launch the team into the second seed that year, allowing Peyton the easy ride to Super Bowl XLIX. The heir apparent, Paxton Lynch, seems to have sputtered, leaving Trevor Siemian as the choice to lead the team. I have no faith in this team, and neither should fans in Colorado. It’s a year to twiddle our thumbs until the rebuild finally rears its ugly head.

NFC East

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New York Giants – Eli Manning is looking at his most complete team in about five years. With his twilight years approaching, he has to be happy that the team nabbed players like Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram to throw for. He’ll also retain one of the most dynamic wideouts in the league, Odell Beckham, Jr. – once he returns from a mysterious ankle injury. Paul Perkins is an able running back, and the schedule lends itself to ease. The only team in the way is Dallas, who is missing their dynamic player for six games as well….save week 1 against the boys in blue.

Dallas Cowboys – Sure, the Cowboys have the Giants’ number, and likely will in week one. Of course, they’ll lose breakout star Ezekiel Elliott to an unnecessary suspension for the following six weeks. Given the team has enough weapons for Dak Prescott to handle, including stalwart Dallas players Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, there isn’t too much to fear in his absence. We’ll see Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden (over from Oakland) step up and take care of the run game. Even though it looks that Dallas has the more complete team, I think the Elliott disappearance will allow the Giants to slip ahead in a tight two-team race in the East. Plus there’s seemingly a rule that the same team can’t win consecutively out here.

Philadelphia Eagles – You see I mentioned there will only be two teams in this race, did you? Yes, that means I don’t expect much from the Eagles, who only four years ago were on top of the world….well, that was the Nick Foles/Mark Sanchez era, so there you go. Too much faith in Carson Wentz? Last year he had Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham to throw too, but ended up usually just passing to Zach Ertz. Agholor remains and is joined by castoffs Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffrey, who are merely comeback candidates, likely underachieving. The run game is improved with LaGarrette Blount, although rumors out of camp have the position a complete mess.

Washington Redskins – Kirk Cousins has his franchise tag still, and the carousel of years past seems to have ended, although the ground is unsteady under his feet. One bad sack could lead the Redskins down an unfathomable path, left steady with an underrated Colt McCoy. The barrel of a tunnel the Redskins are facing down won’t be overcome with the likes of rookie RB Samaje Perine or finally ready Josh Doctson. Terrelle Pryor moving to wide receiver is a great move, though. It just won’t be enough for contention.

NFC North

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Green Bay Packers – Just like the Steelers, Green Bay has a ridiculous quarterback with an incredible team in front of him. Aaron Rodger is one win away from 100 for his career, and I don’t believe he’ll stop there. Healthy performances from Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery look to have the team trouncing everyone else in the league, especially given the soft schedule ahead of them. I’m particularly interested to see how Martellus Bennett does on his third team in two years – I loved him as a Giant, he struggled as a Bear, then rekindled his career on the Super Bowl winning Patriots last season. He shines when given the opportunity, but he could easily fade in such a potent lineup. My guess is he shines, and gives Rodgers even more weapons than Brady.

Minnesota Vikings – Sam Bradford was a clear win for GM Rick Spielman, who scrambled after losing Teddy Bridgewater to a dislocated knee and torn ACL in the preseason last year. The result (8-8) was enough of a surprise that we can expect potentially great things from his 2017 effort. Even with Bridgewater breathing down his neck during rehab, I bet the team sticks with Bradford for another year, leaving Teddy on the PUP list. It’s a shame more for Bridgewater’s potential than anything, as many expected him to be the explosive star Minnesota needed. Instead we have a steady hand at the helm, one that had his best season (of six total) in purple, throwing for 20 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. If anything, I think they’ll sneak into a wildcard with his hand and on the back of newly drafted running back Dalvin Cook.

Detroit Lions – Now the highest paid player in all of football, John Matthew Stafford has a lot riding on this season. Without Calvin Johnson to throw pigskins at, he managed to edge the unenviable Lions into the playoffs with sturdy performances out of Marvin Jones and Golden Tate. Ameer Abudllah returns to the team from injury, joining a tandem with Theo Riddick. So I’m listing these pieces to prove that even with a decent team that slid into the playoffs last year, there’s really only hope that they’ll capture a wildcard given they live in the same division as the Packers, and I believe Bradford to be a more consistent play-caller. Stafford is undoubtedly overpaid, as he swings talent-wise up and down way too much from week to week. There’s a reason Calvin Johnson called them out, preferring retirement to the mire that is Detroit.

Chicago Bears – Then we reach the Bears. With a disaster on all fronts, the Bears seemingly overpaid for the third spot in the draft only to take an unremarkable Mitchell Trubisky, who came out of North Carolina college ball. He’s got to move his way past Mike Glennon, who is unremarkable himself, but once he’s the figurehead in Chicago, he’ll have nothing to throw to. The only player of any worth on this team, this year, is Jordan Howard, the massive running back. If the Bills and Jets hadn’t gone full tank mode, the Bears would have the pleasure of taking first overall in the 2018 draft.

NFC South

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Atlanta Falcons – Losing the Super Bowl will do a lot to you, none of it terribly good. After their downfall in the 1999 big game, the Birds spent three seasons in nihility before finally retuning to the playoffs. While Matt Ryan and company don’t want to do that, they have the luck of retaining much of the same crew that got them to that final showdown. Julio Jones should somehow have an upswing, only because points-wise he was down. Contributions will be seen by everyone, from third-spot wideout Taylor Gabriel to backup runner Tevin Coleman. I expect fireworks each week, and Matt Ryan could even have a career year after his MVP work last season. Despite the Patriots constant topping of predictions, I don’t expect regression from this loser, and I want to see them back in Super Bowl LII.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I wanted to put the Bucs in the number one slot, but Matt Ryan’s squad is just too complete to ignore. This could be the easy heir apparent in the NFC, though. With Jameis Winston ready to step into the limelight just like fellow 2015 no. 2 pick Marcus Mariota up in Tennessee, he finally has the tools to throw and pass to – DeSean Jackson came down from Washington, OJ Howard was drafted to ease into the tight end role beyond Cameron Brate, and Mike Evans will continue topping the charts. Meanwhile the running game will be a solid switch-up when the passing defense gets too tough. If Atlanta weren’t too damn perfect, this would be Tampa’s year.

Carolina Panthers – While I personally am high on Cam Newton (he’s my back-up quarterback) I know that the team assembled around him isn’t up to snuff, at least not as much as his 2015 squad that reached the 50th Super Bowl.  Jonathan Stewart, Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen and Devin Funchess are still there…but that doesn’t give much to hope for. Beyond the excitement surrounding 8th overall pick (in 2017) Christian McCaffrey, who will undoubtedly steal the lead run job from Stewart by week 4, there isn’t much to look for this season. And yet….Newton will push to advance past the Saints, desperate to not proceed for another year in the division basement. I’m expecting both teams to be bad, but the Panthers to have a slight advantage due to ineptitude at the wheel in New Orleans.

New Orleans Saints – The only thing to look forward to here is the records Drew Brees will continue to break. I just took a glance at the wide receiver corps because I realized I couldn’t name one of them, and their top guy is Ted Ginn, Jr. He abandoned the Carolina sinking ship for an even worse development. Beyond that, there’s three guys I’ve never heard of – Michael Thomas, Brandon Coleman, and the ridiculously named Tommylee Lewis – despite the trio being around since 2014 or so. In my exploration, I realized they still have Willie Snead, though he’s suspended for the rough first three weeks (@Minnesota, vNew England, @Carolina). The biggest question for this team is what to do with fallen star Adrian Peterson, who currently sits at number two on the depth chart behind clearly better Mark Ingram. Everyone has said that Ingram is fine with the situation, and they’ll share when necessary, but I just see a powder keg. Ingram’s always had a cool head, but you can always push a man too far.

NFC West

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Seattle Seahawks – There’s been plenty of turnover in the rainy northwestern haven, but the consistency of Russell Wilson will be enough to overcome the difficult Cardinals. I’m typically down on my favorite teams, but I have a feeling because everyone is so high on Arizona this year, they’ll be a little overestimated. Sure, Marshawn Lynch has re-emerged for the Raiders final season in Oakland, leaving fans wondering whether they should be nostalgic and jealous, or buy in to Eddie Lacy as being still viable. Luckily behind Lacy (or ahead if he’s healthy) is Thomas Rawls, the completely able RB that backed Lynch up for a few years. CJ Prosise is also capable, so there isn’t too much to worry about in the end. As for receiving, we’re looking forward to a fully healthy year out of Jimmy Graham, and despite letting Jermaine Kearse go to New York, they’ll have a career year from Doug Baldwin, and of course, Wilson will continue to run the ball himself. I just think this is the most optimistic I’ve been for the team since their Super Bowl year, and that will result in one last huge threat for champions.

Arizona Cardinals – Like I was just saying, Arizona will be a tad overrated. While reports of Carson Palmer’s premature death are exaggerated, he will not be the late-age phenom he was two years ago. The defense will challenge Seattle and Kansas City for best in the league, sure. David Johnson is the highest rated fantasy player for good reason. Despite all these clear qualities, I think Seattle will slip to the top of the division. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re tied, but it’s broken by direct games together. I imagine defense will slip Arizona ahead in tight games, and John Brown is actually one of the underrated gems in the wide receiver corps, a hidden player ready for a big comeback. Honestly, I’m surprised right now that I put them in second, but I just think we’ll all be wrong that they win the division, and it’ll come down to week 17, where the pair of rivals actually play each other on New Year’s Eve.

San Francisco 49ers – That’s right, I have the 49ers in third! This is more about how inept the Rams still are than the 49ers, but there’s also optimism in the Bay area for the first time since Colin Kaepernick was popular. The new coach Kyle Shanahan is coming off the Falcons loss to the Patriots, so he has a chip on his shoulder. He’s in his first year as head coach ever, but despite the inexperience, I think he’ll shine and take a motley crew of invaluables and turn them into gold. Marquise Goodwin has breakout potential for catching bombs from underrated quarterback Brian Hoyer, who’s getting his last best chance to prove himself. I think Pierre Garcon and Carlos Hyde still have memories of being on a talented team, so they’ll love to get back to that standard, pushing the younger members into their best form. Simply put, expect a few surprise victories against teams that aren’t from Seattle and Arizona, and the 49ers might pop into being a .500 team.

Los Angeles Rams – What’s left to say about the Rams? Jared Goff has promise, but promise in the same way Geno Smith once had. With a good team in front of him, he might be able to do something grand. Interesting, then, that they’ve put a few men in front of him that might actually be able to catch. Robert Woods came over from Buffalo in free agency, and then somehow Buffalo decided they’d rather help the Rams than themselves and passed along his teammate Sammy Watkins. The Rams already had Tavon Austin, who is always waiting to break out, and the run game has Todd Gurley, who struggles more than he should. On paper this team looks great, but we have to remember they only managed to string together 4 wins last year. Perhaps the passing game will had a match or two, but as they rise up alongside the 49ers, I think those boys in red and gold will skip ahead on their way back up the pendulum.


And there you have it – 32 predictions for teams that will likely be abysmally wrong, save the Patriots trouncing the entire league. As for the playoffs, I’ll go with:

Vikings upset the Seahawks (there’s my negativity), only to fall flat on their face in Atlanta. Tampa Bay rises up against the Giants, but must deal with the juggernaut Packers. In the NFC Championship, in a rematch from last year, the Falcons are unable to deal with the different weapons at Aaron Rodgers’ disposal, and Green Bay returns to the Super Bowl.

The Titans return to the postseason by immediately facing off against the defense-minded Chiefs. Lucky for them, Mariota knows a thing or two about escaping difficult situations. Oakland will enjoy its final postseason in California by knocking out the equally defensive Texans, who sputter under Tom Savage. The Steelers will discover that Roethlisberger can’t go on forever as his body breaks down in the final game, against those dominant Raiders. Meanwhile, the inimitable Patriots handily oust the Titans. With the only remaining challenge in the Oakland Raiders, Tom Brady underestimates his opponent and whiffs on several important plays.

This sets up a showdown in Minneapolis of Oakland Raiders vs. Green Bay Packers. Interestingly enough, I chose the Packers to make it last year against the Bengals, losing in a tight race. I think Aaron Rodgers wants to prove he can make it to the double ring club, and with a slick run through the postseason, he’ll be able to manage it. My guess is Green Bay for champions this season.

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Of course, the last two years I chose Arizona over Pittsburgh and Cincinnati over Green Bay, so hold these with a grain of salt. I’m not the best at being right.

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