The CW Network
After watching their fellow networks unveil dozens of new series, The CW did things a little differently this year: the network only picked up four new shows. Since the network had its best viewership in a long time this past year, with ratings for Supernatural through the roof and new shows like Reign and The 100 becoming big hits, there weren't very many gaps in the schedule that needed filling. Still, the Winchester brothers can only hunt demons for so long, and so The CW has a new show about people with mysterious powers attempting to stop the apocalypse waiting in the wings. Or, if you're looking for more costumed crime fighters, sassy detectives, or a replacement for the cheesy fun of The Carrie Diaries, they've got that covered too.
We've run down all of the CW's new shows for the 2014-2015 shows, along with everything you need to know about them before they start airing in the fall. And yes, like all CW shows, they promise to be slightly terrible, but ultimately very addicting.
Jane the Virgin What It Is: Sitcom.What It's About: A young, career-focused woman is accidentally artificially inseminated, resulting in her getting pregnant even though she’s a virgin. Who's In It: Gina Rodriguez, Justin Baldoni, Brett Dier, Andrea Navedo, and Ivonne Coll.What It Sounds Like: Secret Life of the American Teenager meets Ugly Betty, plus a sex-ed talk from the Coach in Mean Girls. How Good Will It Be: With a premise like that, it’s got to be terrible. We’re hoping it’s so terrible that it actually kind of good. How Long It Will Last: This seems like the obvious replacement for The Carrie Diaries, so it will most likely get around two seasons. Airs: Mondays at 9 pm.
The Flash What It Is: Drama.What It's About: After a freak accident involving a particle accelerator, Barry Allen wakes up with the power of super speed, and uses it to fight crime. Who's In It: Grant Gustin, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, and Jesse L. Martin.What It Sounds Like: Arrow, only he wears red and runs really fast. How Good Will It Be: The CW scored a surprise hit with Arrow, so we have high hopes for this one, even though it too will probably take a while to find its voice. How Long It Will Last: If it gets anything less than five seasons, we’ll be shocked. Airs: Tuesdays at 8 pm.
iZombie What It Is: Drama What It's About: A medical examiner – who is also secretly a zombie – eats the brains of corpses to help solve their murders. Who's In It: Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, Alexandra Krosney, David Anders, and Nora Dunn. What It Sounds Like: Pushing Daisies meets The Walking Dead, sprinkled with Veronica Mars.How Good Will It Be: Rob Thomas is on board as executive producer, so iZombie will probably be just as funny and charming as his other shows. Although, if we're honest, the premise is kind of stupid. How Long It Will Last: Three seasons... and then maybe a Kickstarter movie.Airs: Midseason.
The Messengers What It Is: Drama.What It's About: After a mysterious object collides with the earth, five strangers discover they have new powers that they must use to prevent the Rapture. Who's In It: Shantel VanSanten, Sofia Black-D’Elia, JD Pardo, Joel Courtney, Anna Diop, and Diogo Morgado.What It Sounds Like: Supernatural, with a dash of MisfitsHow Good Will It Be: The plot is a bit convoluted and heavy on the mythology and Biblical references, which will probably weigh down what would otherwise be an entertaining show about people with superpowers, which doesn't bode too well for The Messengers. How Long It Will Last: It will either be canceled after one season or it will run for nine years. Airs: Midseason.
The three-time Tony Award winner is one of eight new names to be given the honour at a ceremony at New York's Gershwin Theatre in January (13).
Nunn made his debut in the Big Apple theatre district in 1981 with The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, which won him his first Tony Award. He went on to enjoy success with Cats and Les Miserables.
Playwrights Christopher Durang and Paula Vogel, and performers Betty Buckley and Sam Waterston will be among the next batch of inductees.
Nunn joins fellow Brits Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Ian McKellen in the Theater Hall of Fame.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
Improving on his last two duds The Village and the dreadful aquatic nymph tale Lady In The Water writer/producer/director M. Night Shyamalan gets back to the kind of eerie paranoid thriller he so successfully mined in early efforts like The Sixth Sense and Signs. The results this time are mixed in this story of a mysterious environmental “happening” on the East Coast that is causing large groups of people to commit suicide. As he does in his most effective films Shyamalan focuses on a core group of people who must find a way to survive these strange events. Elliot (Mark Wahlberg) is a Philadelphia science teacher already dealing with marital problems with his attractive but rather unstable wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) now thrust into full crisis mode as he his wife a fellow math teacher Julian (John Leguizamo) and Julian’s daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez) hit the road by train then car to escape the unusual plague first thought to be a terrorist attack. The group soon realizes it is more than that perhaps a forceful message from Mother Nature cued by the growing winds and rustling of tree leaves. Joined eventually by two older boys Jared (Robert Bailey Jr.) and Josh (Spencer Breslin) Elliot tries to be the voice of reason as each person begins to meet their own fates on a journey into a heartland of unexplainable terror. Unlike most contemporary horror films in which actors must battle butt-ugly creatures most of the genuine frights in this flick are left to our imagination. Here Shyamalan wants us to experience what the characters are going through the abject fear on their faces. Wahlberg is particularly good at expressing a growing feeling that events are slipping out of his control. He’s amusing in a direct encounter with a house plant he fears may now have the upper hand and in the film’s best sequence where he must convince a batty paranoid old woman (an intense Betty Buckley) to let the group stay in her remote farmhouse. Forced to utter lines like “just when you thought there couldn’t be any more evil invented ” the quirky Deschanel has her work cut out for her but is likeable enough in the end. As a math teacher Leguizamo spends much of his screen time calculating everyone’s odds for survival until his own becomes questionable. As his daughter Sanchez is appealing and handles herself well. Shyamalan is the heir apparent to Alfred Hitchcock--in his own mind at least. Hitch’s The Birds seems to be the template but that 1963 classic is light years ahead in every way. Unfortunately Shyamalan is becoming something of a one-trick pony as The Happening is basically a retread of things we’ve seen him do before. There is no question he has superior skills. He clearly gets the horror genre; he just doesn’t seem to know how to make it fresh anymore and the answer isn’t by ratcheting up the body count. Reportedly 20th Century Fox asked him deliberately to make an R rated film (his first) and its those gore-filled elements which seem superfluous here. Do we really need to see a guy commit suicide by willingly letting some zoo lions rip off his arms? It’s glaring and out of place with the subtler aspects of the director’s style. Plus the use of overbearing and obvious music cues (score is by James Newton Howard) shamelessly telegraphs whatever scares the movie and only serves to emphasize the shortcomings of M. Night’s sketchy screenplay. Still as a summertime time-waster The Happening fills the bill but as an eco-thriller with dire warnings for humankind it drowns in its own promising potential.