What to Watch prides itself on often offering a wide variety of material from TV seasons to On Demand exclusives to remasters of classic flicks. Not this week. All six of the New Releases that you may be drawn to in your favorite store or on your favorite service are movies, and all released in the last 18 months. But the variety within those movies is remarkable. A Best Picture winner, action flicks, a superhero, and two indie drams that waste talented casts. Pick your favorites. Here’s how we would rank ‘em.
CHICAGO – They have already made a statement in 2013 by broadcasting Jane Campion’s brilliant “Top of the Lake” and the riveting “Rectify” but Sundance Channel goes for the hat trick, starting tonight, as they debut the French supernatural hit “The Returned,” a brilliant twist on the undead genre that places the emphasis on mood, dread, and emotion instead of the unexpected.
LOS ANGELES – Marcia Wallace, who created two classic TV roles on “The Bob Newhart Show” and “The Simpsons,” passed away in Los Angeles, according to her agent on Saturday. She was 70 years old. In the 1970s, she was known as Carol Kester, Bob Hartley’s assistant on that Newhart show. In 1990 – one season after “The Simpsons” began – she took on the voice role of Edna Krabappel, the frazzled and man-hungry fourth grade teacher of Bart Simpson.
CHICAGO – Was “Toy Story 3” the last great Pixar production? With the modest critical reaction to “Cars 2,” “Brave,” and “Monsters University,” it seems an entirely defensible position to take. In fact, one could easily argue that “Small Fry,” the “Toy Story” short that premiered with “The Muppets,” and “Partysaurus Rex,” which played with “Finding Nemo 3D,” should be considered higher on the Pixar hierarchy than “Cars 2” and maybe even “Brave.”
CHICAGO – Take this with a giant grain of salt but FX’s “American Horror Story: Coven” shows incredible promise in its premiere episode tonight, setting a number of creative plates spinning in directions that could be fascinating. Why the salt? Well, “American Horror Story: Asylum” started with similar promise and quickly became cluttered and unfocused.
CHICAGO – People often ask me why low-rated NBC shows like “Community” keep getting renewed (or how “Whitney” and “Up All Night” got a second season) and I often turn to a sports analogy — they have no one in the minor leagues to replace them.
CHICAGO – It seems logical that Rebel Wilson, the scene-stealer from “Pitch Perfect” and “Bridesmaids,” would get her own sitcom. Logical, yes. A good idea, maybe not. Wilson’s “Super Fun Night,” premiering this evening on ABC at 8:30pm CST after “Modern Family,” is not yet super and not too much fun to start.
CHICAGO – As the TV world was bombarded by new shows last week, I heard a number of complaints about the new dramas and comedies. “Hostages” was too cliched. “The Blacklist” wasn’t believable. “SHIELD” wasn’t fun enough. “Lucky 7” was, well, just awful. People, those shows will look even better if you happen to stumble upon “Ironside,” premiering tomorrow night on NBC.
CHICAGO – Has there ever been a network TV show more cinematic than “Hannibal”? Especially when one watches it commercial-free in “binge” format on the newly-released Blu-ray, one can even more distinctly appreciate the fact that the first season of Bryan Fuller’s incredible show, the best on network TV, plays like long film. Scratch that.
CHICAGO – There are very few recurring weak points in the CBS lineup. They’ve been dominating total viewers for years with mega-hits like “NCIS” and “The Big Bang Theory.” But there is one thing they haven’t been able to figure out — something to partner with “TBBT.”
CHICAGO – Seriously, if “The Michael J. Fox Show” doesn’t connect with NBC’s target audience, they might as well give up. Yes, the show could use a stronger lead-in but it pairs well with “Parenthood,” also returning tomorrow night, September 26, 2013, and it’s the most straight-up likable new sitcom of the season. The first episode is a bit rocky and overly self-referential but it settles in nicely over the next two and already looks like it could be on for years.