December 6, 2013
And you thought last week’s puppet-powered hallucinations were wacky to a fault? Try Glee Episode 8, Previously Unaired Christmas.
Not that we weren’t warned by the alphabet soup of ratings letters at the top of the hour, targeting D (drugs), L (language), S (sex) and even V (violence). But no — I never expected a Glee as tawdry, tacky and deliriously crazy. I mean, even great anti-sentiment holiday movies like Bad Santa and The Ref have nothing on this.
You want a Christmas show that stands the season on its ear, then pummels it with tawdry, trippy, off-the-wall weirdness? You’ve got Previously Unaired Christmas, an episode so gleefully given to warped comic outrageousness that it made me laugh more than any of Glee’s 96 TV hours to date. Read the rest of this entry »
November 29, 2013
Has Glee stopped mourning yet? Do puppets get fists shoved up their — well, you know?
Rhetorical questions aside, Glee’s Episode 7, Puppet Master, turned the shakiest of premises — depicting characters as Muppets-style puppets — into a wacky yet weirdly wonderful triumph of nutty entertainment.
No, it didn’t make sense, but yes, it had me going. For anyone who rants Glee should live up to its name and be fun and not a sermon-of-the-week sensitivity lesson, well, here ya go. Read the rest of this entry »
November 25, 2013
I don’t pretend to be the world’s greatest Jimi Hendrix fan. I know that thousands of devotees of the world’s greatest rock guitarist are more hip than I am to the extensive body of music he left behind and the rare and not-so-rare archival footage of him during his 1967-1970 heyday.
But I can claim this: I saw Jimi perform, at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in August of 1968. And I genuinely love his music and his talent. So that’s where I’m coming from in writing this review of Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin’. Read the rest of this entry »
November 22, 2013
Five episodes into Glee Season 5, I was worried.
Sure, the opening Beatles two-parter was a tuneful treat, but it had been planned for years and had zero to do with a post-Finn series. Then the tribute to Cory Monteith and Finn was a soulful, somber triumph, but also a one-time eulogy existing in a world of its own.
Then when Glee resumed its ongoing course, the first two shows beyond that turning point were — how do I say this? — not noteworthy. That’s a nice way of saying “not very good.”
But with Glee’s Episode 6, Movin’ Out, the show moved on — big time. It did so by delivering one of the most entertaining and fully realized episodes in many a moon, crammed with seven songs which happened to be by Billy Joel but essentially were fodder for a wide-ranging story about moving on, not just out — moving on with life post-high school, moving on from broken relationships, moving on from a key cast member’s departure — and Glee itself moving on to the kind of vibrant musical fantasy it still can be, full of fun, heart and song. Read the rest of this entry »
November 21, 2013
So often, “anniversary” observations deserve quote marks. I’ve seen movies get anny editions a year before or after their true release date. Similarly, my beloved (and now hapless) Houston Astros marked their 50th anny in their 51st season. (No wonder they’re struggling.)
But in this case, Shout! Factory has it right. Due Nov. 26 is a new five-DVD box set of Mystery Science Theater 3000: 25th Anniversary Edition. And is it truly the 25th anniversary? Well, the set’s due date is almost exactly 25 years after the show’s birth on Minneapolis’ KTMA on Nov. 24, 1988. That close enough for you? (Besides, Nov. 24 this year is a Sunday, and DVDs aren’t released on Sundays.)
Like a previous Gamera collection, this one comes in a “silver(ish)” (as Shout calls it) tin. (Well, it is on the inside.) The four new movies/episodes are Moon Zero Two, The Day the Earth Froze, The Leech Woman and Gorgo. But also enclosed is a fifth-disc double feature of two previously issued but OOP titles: Joel Hodgson’s last episode as host, Mitchell, and Mike Nelson’s first, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. Read the rest of this entry »
November 16, 2013
Being the sensitive, after-school-special show Glee often is, perhaps it was inevitable that Ryan Murphy would indulge in an episode on potty training — or where you go to potty.
But at the risk of insensitivity, I must say the world doesn’t revolve around young men who wish they were women and want to use the girls’ restroom. Sorry, Unique. I don’t want to go there. Poop somewhere that makes you feel good and work it out. (Ever hear of stalls in men’s rooms?) I just don’t want to hear about it.
Nope, I have better things to do, like focus on the budding careers of college students in the Big Apple, students who don’t cavort on playground equipment or wear silly Stone Age costumes on a bad Gilligan’s Island set. Students who have lives. Read the rest of this entry »
November 7, 2013
I’m a rocker — so why would I love James Taylor?
Ever heard of a song being “unplugged”? If it’s good enough for the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Melissa Etheridge, it’s good enough for me — and so is Taylor, who, after all, has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Without question, a voice and an acoustic guitar can get it done, as Taylor has for over 40 years as a recording artist, years from which 30 songs have been gathered for The Essential James Taylor, a new two-disc collection from Legacy/Sony.
Read the rest of this entry »
November 6, 2013
Scheduling prevents a full review/recap of this week’s Glee Episode 4, A Katy or a Gaga, the first new Season 5 show in four weeks. But it hasn’t stopped me from sampling some scenes online and glomming what’s most important: the four new songs in its face-off, those being Katy Perry’s Wide Awake and Roar, and Lady Gaga’s Marry the Night and Applause.
All four are great songs, and Glee does them justice — especially Wide Awake, performed by the New Directions newbies in a soulful, multi-part vocal done almost a capella, with only subdued piano accompaniment until the end for a fervent, melancholy reinterpretation. You know — sort of like Katy’s lovely acoustic spin for The One That Got Away. Read the rest of this entry »
November 3, 2013
So much “new” Jimi Hendrix material has been issued and reissued since his death in 1970 that it’s unusual to find a truly new product such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Miami Pop Festival, new on CD and vinyl Tuesday, Nov. 5 from Sony, Legacy and Experience Hendrix.
Sony notes this is the first-ever release of the May 18, 1968 concert, recorded by Eddie Kramer. As such, it features the first recorded concert performances of Tax Free and Hear My Train A Comin’, along with strong songs from Hendrix’s repertoire of that time such as Purple Haze, Fire, I Don’t Live Today and Hey Joe. Read the rest of this entry »
November 3, 2013
It’s been many years since I’ve seen 1980 TV movie The Gambler, new on Blu-ray and DVD Tuesday, Nov. 5 from Shout! Factory. But it’s hard to forget it, especially since I witnessed the filming of its final sequel.
That was 1994′s The Gambler V: Playing for Keeps, which was shot partly in Galveston. Covering the shoot for the Houston Chronicle, I interviewed star Kenny Rogers in his trailer, and we reminisced about his background as a good ol’ Houston boy and his music career’s start in the New Christy Minstrels and the vastly underrated the First Edition.
Now the original film makes its Blu-ray debut in a set which also features a DVD, neither of which has any extras. So if you already have this western, be advised the newness here is limited to the Blu-ray format. Read the rest of this entry »