TV disappointments

ImageAfternoon all. You mightn’t hear from me much in the coming days because I’m sick. Stomach problem to be precise. In fact, I wouldn’t have even made this post today had the subject not been something that particularly riled me.

So last night I watched the season premieres of The Michael J. Fox Show and The Big Bang Theory. The latter was excellent, but the former…. what happened? I’m in the UK, and I consider Spin City one of the most underrated comedies of all time here. It was hilarious. If The Michael J. Fox Show was even half as good as Spin City’s best episodes I’d love it.

As it stands, it’s not even close.

The writing for the show is abysmal. It stars Michael J. Fox (obviously) and Betsy Brandt (Marie in Breaking Bad) plays his wife. There’s nothing wrong with the acting – they’re both excellent at comedy. The problem is the show is just not funny. I chuckled twice in two episodes. A lot of the time, I struggled to even see just what I was meant to be laughing at. It also felt sloppy, like a bunch of sketches tied together with a paper-thin plot.

The support characters were simply not funny either. Their children were just so bland. It ruins the mockumentary style of the show were characters break the fourth wall from time to time. It’s a far cry from Spin City were every character offered humor. It wasn’t relying on Michael J. Fox. Sadly I’m left with the feeling that the writers were so excited (understandably) for Michael J. Fox’s TV return they forgot to make the show funny. Perhaps tellingly, the only two times I laughed watching it were jokes delivered by Annie (Betsy Brandt) Image

Perhaps it will just take some time to get used to it. The Parkinson’s disease jokes did feel uncomfortable. It’s great that Michael J. Fox can see the funny side of his condition, but it’s hard to laugh at the jokes knowing that he suffers from the condition.

Despite all this though I’m sticking with it. The biggest problem with The Michael J. Fox show is there’s so much potential with it. Michael J. Fox is as charming as ever, and I did think Annie was the best character in the show. There’s certainly interesting ideas with The Michael J. Fox show: the mockumentary, the real life elements. They’re just not being utilized effectively. With better writing and more interesting support characters this could be a gem of a show. However I was bitterly disappointed with the first two episodes. Michael J. Fox and Betsy Brandt are excellent and deserve much better.

Link to download Madonna’s Secret Project

madonna-secret-projectLink to download Madonna’s Secret Project

Well here it is folks, the premiere of the Secret Project is finally here! I know I’m not one for posting illegal download links on blogs, but I’m making an exception here. This material was intended to be shared this way. You can download a bundle containing the trailers and a still for the movie, or a larger bundle close to 6GB which contains the trailers, plus the movie itself and an interview with Madonna, amongst other material. It’s all free though (obviously), entering an email only ensures you’re signing up to a mailing list. I’m still downloading the larger bundle which may take a few hours. I’ll be back later with my first impressions once I watch it.

First impressions: Katy B – 5am (new single)

I’ve always thought Katy B was underrated. I own her first album, and I still think it’s a great album. I’m still looking forward to her upcoming sophomore effort, but I’m not impressed by her second single, 5am. I thought What Love Is Made Of was pretty good (but not quite as much as the best songs on her first album). As for 5am though I’m not taking to it. It just sounds very ordinary, I can barely remember the melody to it already. There’s just nothing that pulls me towards it.  It’s like the song could have been recorded by any number of female artists around at the moment. It’s generic. A real shame really, because I remember when On A Mission and Lights On were released. They sounded very fresh, and different from chart music at the time. 5AM goes with the grain more so than against it. Although maybe things weren’t so bad – first time I heard On A Mission I wasn’t so keen on it. It was actually Lights On that spurred me to listen to the album. Even now On A Mission would be still one of my least favorite tracks on the album (although I’ve grown to like it). I’m hoping the new album is as good as I know she can be!

Reviewed: Madonna – Why’s It So Hard?

Erotica, an underrated album. Although thank goodness that’s changing. It contains some of the best songs in Madonna’s career: Words, Thief of Hearts, and Why’s It So Hard. The latter in particular is so quintessentially Madonna I’m amazed more attention isn’t directed towards it. Some of the key themes that underline a lot of Madonna’s work are those of self expression, the right to love who we choose and acceptance of our own individuality. All three of those themes permeate every line of Why’s It So Hard. It compliments the other tracks on Erotica. After defiant, even vengeful songs such as Thief of Hearts and Bye Bye Baby, comes a plea in Why’s It So Hard. You could even interpret the lyrics that it’s Madonna’s plea to her fans, following the backlash of the infamous SEX book.  There’s a definite melancholic tone to Why’s It So Hard. It doesn’t brim with confidence like Express Yourself or Human Nature. I always think there’s a slight element of anger to it too. The lyrics sound like they were written by someone who had experienced some form of discrimination in the past. It’s got that downtrodden, disillusioned feel. In many ways, it’s the song that most bluntly addresses what the Erotica era is about. It remains a hidden gem in Madonna’s body of work. I think it would have done well as a single actually. Sadly, it was consigned firmly to album track status. It’s only been performed (very racily) in The Girlie Show Tour. Having said that, with the Secret Project on the literal cusp of reveal and Madonna’s aim to start a Revolution of Love, Why’s It So Hard might just feature on her next tour. It seems to be a very appropriate song for the projects Madonna is partaking in at the minute. I’d happily see it replace Human Nature to be honest. A very overlooked song.

New discovery (or new perception of): Grimes

Well, this is an unexpected gem I found today. It’s called Genesis, from the album Visions by Grimes. I’ve been aware of her for about six months now. I had tried to get into her by listening to Visions (her third album). At the time I couldn’t get into it at all. I wanted to, but it just wasn’t happening. I only could manage a handful of songs before (foolishly) deciding she wasn’t for me. The weird thing is I would have heard Genesis before as its on the album, but I honestly couldn’t remember it. When I heard it today, I felt like I was hearing a new song. Well I guess I was in ways, because of the shift in my perception of said song. It’s amazing what that can do. This is just postively engrossing to listen to. Atmospheric, and it sounds like it’s from another realm. Utterly beautiful. It’s really made me think that I gave up on Grimes too soon. In the coming days I’m definitely going to properly give her albums a fair chance. I also really love her visuals. I always have to be honest. As a little cherry on top of the cake, we both share the same first name. Her full name is Claire Boucher. I’m a Claire too, although I spell my name as Clare.  Anyway – I’ll be sure to let you know how this re-listening process goes!

Longer length Breaking Bad episodes on the way!

^^ That tweet says it all really. The final two episodes of Breaking Bad are going to have an extra thirty minutes each. I’m trying to articulate my excitement right now, but believe me it’s hard. Oh god… I just can’t wait. Monday is going to be epic!

The IT Crowd Final Episode Airdate

ImageAt long last, the IT Crowd final episode is finally going to happen! It airs next Friday at 9pm on Channel 4. I’m looking forward to it. I do like The IT Crowd an awful lot. I was a latecomer to it, I only started watching it at the very end of 2011. Mainly because I’m a huge Mighty Boosh fan and I wanted to watch Richard Ayoade in another role. I ordered the full box-set in the January sales of 2012. I hope this final episode is better than the fourth series though. I loved the first two seasons, third was pretty good, but the fourth didn’t do it for me. I’ve never re-watched any of it actually. I re-watch the other seasons though. Hm, maybe I should revisit that in the run up to next week. I hope Noel Fielding reprises his role as Richmond too. It’s a very good comedy, although I hope the next time I see Richard Ayoade will be as part of Mighty Boosh Season 4!

The Killers – Direct Hits Announced.

Deluxe Edition cover.

In another exciting release scheduled for November, The Killers have announced their first greatest hits titled Direct Hits. It comes in standard and deluxe editions.

Direct Hits is fairly complete. It contains almost all their singles, with some omissions. These being Bones, Tranquilize, The World We Live In and Here With Me. I do wish The World We Live In was included. It’s their most overlooked single in my opinion. Curiously, the Battle Born album track The Way It Was is included. The collection concludes with two new songs: Shot At The Night and Just A Girl. They’re produced by M83 and Stuart Price respectively.  Shot At The Night is the lead single from Direct Hits, and is already available for purchase from Amazon and iTunes.

Then there’s the bonus content. Fans who purchase the deluxe edition get an additional three tracks. Two of them are previously unreleased. These two tracks being a demo version of Mr Brightside and a Calvin Harris remix of When You Were Young. The third track is Be Still, an album track from Battle Born.

Standard Edition Cover,

The deluxe edition also comes with a bonus documentary DVD too. There’s no official confirmation about the contents of the documentary. It may be about their monumental Wembley Stadium gig from earlier in the year though. Especially considering that Direct Hits was announced on the 10th anniversary of their first London show. The Wembley stadium gig was filmed for a future DVD release too. I’d be surprised if the footage doesn’t surface on the DVD to be honest.

As a massive Killers fan myself, I’m looking forward to this. I’ve already pre-ordered the deluxe edition. I’ll be interested to see if the documentary will be a career overview or one focused on the Wembley concert. If it’s the former, I sure hope they can get someone like Bernard Sumner or Neil Tennant to participate in an interview for it.  After all, they’re big influences on The Killers as well as fans. In any case, I’m looking forward to November 11th!

IOS7: Good for music lovers?

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My iPad Mini

It’s been a busy week for those with Apple devices. The new IOS7 is now rolling out on Apple devices across the globe. I’ve got an iPhone, iPad Mini and iPad Touch, so I had some upgrading to do myself. My specific iPod Touch model wasn’t compatible with it though.

So far, I’m adjusting to the new interface quite nicely. I’m surprised at that really considering how familiar I was with the old look. So far, I have to say I like it. There’s just one drawback though.

I’m really not taking to the new music player design. At all.

Specifically on the iPad Mini. On the iPhone it’s pretty nice. I like how when turn your iPhone from portrait orientation to landscape whilst in the music library the albums appear as a grid. Much nicer than how it used to look. On the iPad Mini though, I don’t like the design as much. It’s very white and plain. I don’t mind that on the iPhone, but on a bigger screen it feels like the increased visual potential isn’t being utilized. Any album art in the music library on the iPad Mini appears as a small thumbnail. Much smaller than it did previously. I also think the grid style layout they had previously works better on a bigger screen. It feels a bit uninspired.

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My iPhone

Of course, I still need to adjust to it. I’m sure I’ll warm to it over time. However – there’s one feature notably absent that really shouldn’t be.

You can no longer delete whole albums or artists. Singular tracks yes, but not whole albums. That’s a major downside. Especially if (like me) you put whole albums on your device. I put full albums on my iPad and iPhone, and lots of them. Having to go through each album and delete it manually will be an utter pain. I’ve done it about four times already and it’s already monotonous.

So far, I’m enjoying IOS7 bar that admittedly large downside. I can’t talk in detail about the technological specifications of the firmware. It’s really not my area of expertise. All I know is that, as a casual user, it suits my needs fine. I just wish when they release an improved version of the IOS7 firmware they’ll reintroduce the ability to delete whole albums and artists.

Things I Don’t Get: People That Document Their Entire Lives Online.

That’s applicable to everything: continual Facebook status updates, overuse of Instagram etc. Social media is a blessing and a curse all in one. It’s great to keep in touch, and to reconnect with faces of the past. It’s even great to meet people on – I’ve met one of my best friends via social media. Like everything though, it has its downsides.

One downside being that people just use it to give continual updates on every aspect of their life. And by that I mean everything. Scrolling through my Facebook news feed sometimes is an utter chore.

On instagram it’s even worse. Since when did it become an outlet for chronicling screen-caps of every song you were listening to that day? Last FM fits that bill nicely, if that’s your kind of thing. But continual pictures of it… it’s just so damn mundane. Do these people think they’re special or something? I listen to plenty music every day, no big deal. Credit where it’s due though – the people that upload that many pictures in one day have some patience. Imagine how damn time consuming uploading that amount of stuff is.

But seriously though. I just don’t get it. I mean… what is posting whatever regular drink you so happen to be drinking going to achieve? If it’s something unusual, then fair enough. But if it’s just bog standard everyday Coke, why bother?

I guess it’s the downside to social media and profiles. We’ve all become more concerned with trying to make ourselves come across certain ways. I mean profiles can only represent so much of us. There’s many facets to each and every one of us that come out via good old face to face human interaction.  Society is becoming too image obsessed in general though. It needs to change. Soon.