Seth MacFarlane can do no wrong in the eyes of Fox. His juggernaut, Family Guy, leads the Sunday night lineup (sorry, The Simpsons has been watered down for quite some time) and American Dad is a strong supporting show. MacFarlane's Family Guy spinoff The Cleveland Show finished with 88 episodes and now Dads recently got the green light to return.
Dads hasn't been well received by some, citing racist and low-brow jokes. Had this been anybody else's show, it would be dead. Another casualty, maybe even a mid-season cancellation. But because MacFarlane is the mastermind behind Dads, Fox gives it life.
Perhaps Fox thinks it will catch on the same way Family Guy did. Look, the power of MacFarlane is undeniable. He turned water into wine with Ted, a movie about a lovable, foul-mouthed teddy bear. A talking bear was a unique idea and all of MacFarlane’s animated shows had that niche working in their favor.
Dads has no such element. Seth Green is the face of the show, but honestly, as a physical actor, Green hasn't had real success since playing Oz in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He has had guest appearances, but only for a few episodes (dude was a punk on Entourage). Green is a tremendous voice actor and has a ton of work to his credit. The microphone is his bread and butter; otherwise audiences end up with Greg the Bunny. Remember that show? Right, nobody does.
Fox must be hoping against hope that Dads emulates the Family Guy formula. Remember, Family Guy got axed then resurrected; not too many shows can make that claim. But it also had a strong following, something that Dads clearly does not.
Now that Fox has announced its official schedule for the 2013-2014 season, we can get to the fun part: Judging each new show by a three-minute trailer that hopefully distills the tone, look, and story of a lovingly crafted piece of art. It's the Internet equivalent of judging a book by its cover. Wanna join? Here are the full trailers for most of the network's promising new series, and a brief reaction to each.
DadsFox is really trying to cash in on CBS' success, but Peter Riegert and Martin Mull are wasted on bland jokes about old men being cheap and racist and how said traits ruin their sons' lives. The biggest issue? Bland, bearded Seth Green is far less entertaining than Robot Chicken frat boy Seth Green.
Sleepy HollowKate and Leopold plus Once Upon a Time, with a dash of The Following's penchant for violence. If this disjointed and forgettable series makes it, here's hoping it ditches the Starbucks jokes.
Almost HumanHot guys, slick robots, and J.J. Abrams? This has to be amazing. The trailer is bogged down with explaining this futuristic world's "synthetic" population (Abrams speak for "robot"), but it still feels like a fun, action-heavy show with a loveable lead duo and the prerequisite Abrams mystery.
EnlistedIt's clear this show is written with a quick wit. But can the cast can carry it? The extreme patriotism could play well in middle America, though.
Brooklyn Nine-NineThis Parks and Recreation-meets-Law & Order cop comedy got the biggest reaction from Fox's potential advertisers. It's a perfect, hilarious vehicle for Andy Samberg, and Andre Braugher is a great foil.
And at midseason:
RakeOh, great. More lawyers on TV. Rake feels like a Showtime show without the sex, gore, and cursing. The only ace in its deck is the incomperable Greg Kinnear. With him, it just might work.
Us & ThemThis cutesy comedy certainly has potential, with the impossibly adorable Alexis Bledel and Josh Ritter romance at the center and a supporting cast led by Michael Ian Black filling out the edges. The only question: What happens now that they've already kissed?
What do you think of the new shows? Which one are you most excited to see? Stay tuned for the first look trailers for Gang Related and Surviving Jack.
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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
The uber-anticipated sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen picks up shortly after the events of the blockbuster first film. With evil Megatron’s carcass buried at the bottom of the ocean Optimus Prime and his Autobot comrades working together with an elite group of human soldiers are now focused on hunting the remaining Decepticons scattered across the globe. Sam Witwicky hero of the 2007 movie is busy preparing for his first year at college while his unlikely girlfriend Mikaela Barnes stays behind to tend to her father’s auto-repair shop. Little do they know however that back on Cybertron a Decepticon elder known as “The Fallen” is hatching a scheme to invade Earth where hidden somewhere on the planet is the last known source of energon the life-blood of all Transformers. If he succeeds the devastation left in his wake will no doubt spell the end of the human race. With the fate of Earth hanging in the balance Sam and Mikaela must once again have to team up with Optimus and the Autobots to defeat this powerful new foe.
WHO’S IN IT?
All the major human players from the first Transformers film are back for the sequel including Shia LaBeouf Megan Fox Tyrese Gibson Josh Duhamel and John Turturro. Newcomers include Ramon Rodriguez who plays Sam’s conspiracy-obsessed college roommate Leo and The Office’s Rainn Wilson who enjoys a notable cameo as a pompous physics professor.
Of course the actors merely serve as background filler for the real stars of the show: those titular talking-alien robots. And director Michael Bay fills up the screen with enough mechanical eye candy to dazzle even the most skeptical gearhead. Returning characters include Optimus Prime Bumblebee Ratchet Ironhide Barricade Jazz (don’t act surprised) Starscream Frenzy and Megatron (again don’t act surprised).
Several new Autobots are introduced to the mix: Mudflap and Skids a pair of jive-talking ceaselessly annoying hatchbacks; Jolt a Chevy Volt; Sideswipe a silver Corvette; and Jetfire an elderly Decepticon turncoat who walks with a cane speaks with an English accent and transforms into an SR-71 Blackbird. Additions to Decepticon side include: The Fallen who we learn is the Decepticons’ real head honcho (consider him the Emperor Palpatine to Megatron’s Darth Vader); Soundwave a communications specialist who sinks his tentacles into a satellite and spies on us from above; Ravage a panther-like creature; Wheelie a radio-controlled truck who talks like Joe Pesci; “the Doctor ” a sort of mad scientist who speaks with a German accent (naturally); and the Constructicons a group of construction vehicles that fuse together to form a massive four-legged beast.
No director does over-the-top explosion-laded action better than Michael Bay and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen features several staggering set pieces. The CGI work on this film makes the last one look like it was designed on a Commodore 64.
Any scene in which people talk — and several of the ones in which robots talk too. Just as the action and visual effects are beefed up for the sequel the bad jokes and cringe-worthy dialogue are as well. Highlights include two dogs humping John Turturro in a thong a robot humping Megan Fox’s leg a sequence involving Sam’s stoned mom and a glimpse of a very large pair of testicles on one very large Decepticon. The latter will likely go down as the “nipples-on-the-Batsuit” moment for the Transformers franchise.
The show-stopping climax set in the Egyptian desert is one extended riotous battle royale packed with so much robot-on-robot action you’ll feel overwhelmed at times.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
This big-budget spectacle begs to be seen at the multiplex — IMAX if possible. Just bring a pair of earplugs for the dialogue sequences. You might want to bring some Dramamine as well as Mr. Bay went a little overboard with his trademark circling-camera sequences this time around.