Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Treading water at the very surface of RoboCop, there is an idea. A dense concept, ready and willing to provide no dearth of dissection for any eager student of philosophy, psychology, political science, physics — hell, any of the Ps. To simplify the idea on hand: What separates man from machine? It's a question that is not just teased by the basic premise of José Padilha's remake of the 1987 sci-fi staple, but asked outright by many of its main characters. And then never really worried about again.
We have principal parties on both sides of the ethical quandary that would place the security of our crime-ridden cities in the hands of automatons. Samuel L. Jackson plays a spitfire Bill O'Reilly who wonders why America hasn't lined its streets with high-efficiency officer droids. Zach Grenier, as a moralistic senator, gobbles his way through an opposition to the Pro-boCop movement. We hear lecture after lecture from pundits, politicians, business moguls (a money-hungry Michael Keaton heads the nefarious OmniCorp...) and scientists (...while his top doc Gary Oldman questions the nature of his assignments while poking at patients' brains and spouting diatribes about "free will"), all working their hardest to lay thematic groundwork. Each character insists that we're watching a movie about the distinction between human and artificial intelligence. That even with an active brain, no robot can understand what it means to have a heart. But when Prof. Oldman tempers his hysterical squawking and Samuel L. Hannity rolls his closing credits, we don't see these ideas taking life.
In earnest, the struggle of rehabilitated police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) — nearly killed in the line of duty and turned thereafter into OmniCorp's prototype RoboCop — doesn't seem to enlist any of the questions that his aggravated peers have been asking. Murphy is transformed not just physically, but mentally — robbed of his decision-making ability and depleted of emotional brain chemicals — effectively losing himself in the process. But the journey we see take hold of Murphy is not one to reclaim his soul, although the movie touts it as such. It's really just one to become a better robot.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Meanwhile, RoboCop lays down its motives, and hard: Murphy's wife and son (Abbie Cornish and a puckish young John Paul Ruttan) lament the loss of Alex, condemning his dehumanization at the hands of Raymond Sellars' (Keaton) capitalistic experiments, and sobbing out some torrential pathos so you know just how deep this company is digging. Weaselly stooges (Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle, and Jackie Earl Haley) line the OmniCorp roster with comical wickedness. Overseas, killer combat bots take down peaceful villages, unable to work empathetic judgment into their decision to destroy all deemed as "threats." And at the top, figures of power and money like Sellars and Pat Novak (Jackson) speak the loudest and harshest, literally justifying their agenda with a call for all naysayers to "stop whining." Clearly, RoboCop has something to say.
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And when it's devoted to its outrage, RoboCop is terrifically charming. The buzzing political world is just a tiny step closer to ridiculous than our own; the pitch meetings at OmniCorp are fun enough to provoke a ditching of all the material outside of the company walls. And one particular reference to The Wizard of Oz shows that the movie isn't above having fun with its admittedly silly premise. But it loses its magic when it steps away from goofy gimmicks and satirical monologues and heads back into the story. We don't see enough of Murphy grappling with the complicated balance between his conflicting organic and synthetic selves. In fact, we don't see enough "story" in Murphy at all. First, he's a dad and a cop. Then, he's a RoboCop. But can he also be a RoboDad? With all of its ranting and raving about the question, the film doesn't seem to concerned with actually figuring out the answer.
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Neil Young and his backing band Crazy Horse have scrapped the remainder of their European dates to allow guitarist Frank 'poncho' Sampedro to recover from a broken hand. A source tells Rolling Stone magazine the rocker has suffered a "mild fracture", prompting his bandmates to head back to the U.S. early, pulling the plug on seven dates overseas.
The insider says, "He's expected to make a complete recovery in time for the North American tour."
A statement from the band reads: "Due to an accident involving Crazy Horse, the remaining dates on the Neil Young and Crazy Horse tour of Europe and the British isles have been cancelled. We are sorry for any inconvenience this causes to our fans or the Festivals where we were scheduled to appear. As you must be, we too are disappointed at this unfortunate turn of events."
The band is scheduled to begin a short North American tour on 31 August (13) in Ontario, Canada.
At its upfront presentation in New York City on Wednesday, TNT laid out ambitious new plans to expand the creation of their original content and the way in which viewers can receive that content, including a new 24/7 streaming service. That makes TNT the first network to offer its entire lineup for live-streaming on computers, smartphones, and tablets. This means that, instead of watching their shows online the next day, you can watch it streaming on your computer right as it's airing on TNT.
In addition to that major news, they also announced their summer and fall lineups: nine original series are on-tap for the summer including Season 3 of the Steven Spielberg-produced alien-invasion drama Falling Skies, and new seasons of Rizzoli & Isles, Major Crimes, Perception, and Franklin & Bash.
The one new drama entering the mix is a crime drama starring Rebecca Romijn called King & Maxwell, because all TNT procedurals from now on must include an ampersand in the title. New unscripted series include The Hero, a competition show headlined by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, 72 Hours, a race-against-the-clock competition, and Cold Justice, a docuseries procedural from Law & Order maestro Dick Wolf.
This fall, the network will debut Frank Darabont's much-anticipated 1930s-set gangster series Lost Angels — formerly called L.A. Noir — starring Jon Bernthal. And in January, TNT will premiere Legends, a drama starring Sean Bean. Beyond that, with unspecified premiere dates, are shows based on Nicholas Sparks' novel A Bend in the Road, O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark's book Guilty by Association, and an unscripted series by Denis Leary about Detroit firefighters. Oh, and a game show based on Monopoly!
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More: Guess How Sean Bean Will Die in His New TNT Series ‘Legends’! 5 Reasons We’re Excited About Frank Darabont’s Period Gangster Series NBC Cancels Most of Their Lineup
From Our Partners:Zoe Saldana Strips Down For Magazine (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
It must be something in the wind... the Santa Anas have officially arrived, bringing with them a gust of guest spots and network deals galore. See for yourself, and take cover!
Gary Cole Shakes up the Veep: Next season on Veep, Selina Meyer might need to come in on a Saturday. Gary Cole has joined the cast for as many as 8 out of 10 episodes as a Karl Rove-like figure named Kent. Real life Karl Rove? Not so funny. Gary Cole's interpretation of Karl Rove? We're betting on hilarious. [Deadline]
Chicago's Fire is Still Burning: Any fire that features a shirtless Taylor Kinney should not be put out. At least that's what NBC decided when it ordered five more scripts for its freshman drama Chicago Fire, after a hefty ratings jump last night. The show was up 20 percent from last Wednesday, giving the Chicago hotties plenty of news to feel good about. Good enough to start removing random articles of clothing, we'd say. Pics, or it never happened. [Deadline]
Chazz Palminteri Goes Blue: He's on a roll! After some prime guest spots on Rizzoli & Isles and Modern Family, Chazz Palmintieri will guest again on CBS' Friday night hit Blue Bloods, as the city's top mob lawyer. Apparently, Palmintieri's character has a long history with Tom Selleck's Frank Reagan. That's all she wrote for now, but you'll find out more when the episode airs next January. [EW]
Nurse Jackie Gets a Lover: No, it's not prescription pills. Edie Falco's recovering addict Jackie will have a new love interest next season, in the form of Rescue Me vet Adam Ferrera. Ferrera will play an NYPD officer, and he'll recur throughout the fifth season of Showtime's dramedy hit. Hmm, wonder how a cop would feel about some of Jackie's former extracurricular activities? [TVLine]
Revenge Makes Another Investment: Season 2 of Revenge has already featured a plethora of special guests, and it looks like this trend will definitely continue. 24 and Parenthood alum Joaquim de Almeida will guest star during the hit drama's ninth episode, where he'll play a wealthy Grayson Global investor named Salvador Grobet. Let's start placing our bets — will Salvador piss off, or help out Emily Thorne? [THR]
Eva Longoria Gets More Love From Universal: Looks like one former housewife isn't desperate to work in front of the camera. Eva Longoria, who is currently teamed up with Universal Television for the upcoming dating show Ready for Love, has signed a first-look development deal with the studio that includes a non-writing, executive producer agreement with her production company, UnbeliEVAble Entertainment. Can't wait to see what she cooks up next! [EW]
SpikeTV Offers $10 Million for Bigfoot: I just can't with this. SpikeTV is offering up $10 million to anyone who can prove that the legendary Sasquatch Bigfoot exists. The network's latest reality show — 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty — will feature teams on a quest to find Bigfoot, and the winner *might* walk away with 10 million dollars... if Bigfoot doesn't kill them first! Just kidding, no one is going to win that money. But a group of scientists, zoologists, seasoned trackers, and “actual Bigfoot hunters” will try their best. Your move, TLC. [EW]
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TV Tidbits: Zach Braff Returns to TV, 'Big Bang Theory' Casts an 'Alpha'
TV Tidbits: Zack Morris Gets a Happy Ending, 'Grey's Anatomy' Vet Meets 'The Good Wife'
TV Tidbits: 'The Mindy Project' Gets More, 'The Office' Boss Starts a New Show
S6E12: After last week’s mishap of an episode, I began to wonder if 30 Rock would ever fall back into the form of its glory days. While it might never really reach the same caliber of its first three years on air, 30 Rock does prove that it still has potential. This week’s episode “St. Patrick’s Day” is an example of the quality the show still has at its disposal.
All too often this season, 30 Rock has exhibited an abandonment of a cast of characters we once called “human.” This week, however, our old friends Liz and Jack do seem to fall back in step with their relatable, believable incarnations. For the first time in quite a while, Liz experiences some real emotional growth. And Jack takes a legitimately interesting professional step.
"If it wasn't for the Germans, we wouldn't have any of the Indiana Jones movies." - Liz
It’s St. Patrick’s Day in New York City, and Liz has big plans: stay home with Criss, completely avoiding the madness outside, and lambasting everything related to Irish culture. Liz’s plans are interrupted when her least favorite piece of Irish culture shows up on her doorstep: Dennis Duffy, one of the greatest sitcom characters in TV history. After suffering a minor head injury, Dennis takes up on Liz’s couch to recuperate. But Liz wants him out immediately, knowing that Dennis is a toxic force who will only serve to damage her relationship with Criss. Dennis’ presence does bring up a touchy issue that Liz and Criss are dealing with: her emotional unavailability. Whereas Criss is secure and sweet and capable of expressing his feelings for Liz, she is closed-off, anxious, and phobic over saying “I love you,” much to Criss’ dismay. Side note: the last two times or so when Dennis has been on 30 Rock, his material has not really lived up to that of earlier episodes featuring the character. Tonight’s Dennis dialogue is perfect—misguided, oblivious, generous with misinformation. After Liz learns that Dennis has managed to pick up his own life—finally getting married to a girl far better suited for him than Liz ever was—she also realizes that maybe it’s time for her to change and grow up. As such, she finds Criss and apologizes, vowing to open up more, just before telling him that she loves him. We haven’t seen Liz really grow in quite some time. Although I’d never have pegged Criss for her “perfect man”—Floyd, Carol, pre-“The Bubble” Dr. Drew Baird, even good ol’ Cousin The Hair—any vehicle for Liz to experience any sort of fleshing out or examination is a worthy one. "We all have faces that people just want to punch." - FrankEver since Kabletown took over, Jack has been a shell of his old self. The show has alluded to that lately, hinting that his new, soft persona is not just due to his daughter or kidnapped wife. It’s because his job is no longer a challenge—no longer something he can live for or define himself by. But maybe he can change that. Jack discovers a Dungeons and Dragons-style game being played by the TGS writers. Due to the nature of the game—there’s a lot of trading, business planning, conquering, the works—Jack takes immediate interest, drawing parallels between the isles in the game and his real life companies and such. Jack quickly becomes champion of the game, even managing to solve one of the hardest puzzles (thanks to some advice from a light-hearted priest), and realizes that he can do the same for Kabletown. He doesn’t want to sit idly by, working for a company like this. So, he won’t. The writers shower Jack with fake gold coins while he deliberates his next move for his real company. Kabletown will be Jack Donaghy’s. "I'll treat them like my own children. Which is a bad example, because I left my kids at a Sears in 2004." - HazelMeanwhile, Hazel is not doing so hot at keeping Tracy and Jenna from fighting with each other. When Jenna is billed first on NBC’s St. Patrick’s Day special, Tracy throws a fit, and cue an eruption of excessive pettiness and name-calling. Pete has a conniption, NBC suffers, and Hazel just can’t seem to figure out what to do. Only one person can solve a problem like this: Kenneth. And after countless denials (from himself) of his right to do so, Kenneth gives in and vows always to be there for Tracy, Jenna and Hazel. It may no longer be his job, but it’s his passion. So, Liz has made personal steps and Jack professional. Both of these characters are exhibiting growth, and are suggesting some interesting stuff in the near future. What do you think will happen with Liz? Will she and Criss stay together? Get married? Have kids? And as for Jack, how far will his reign take him? Let us know in the comments section, or on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter.