Mark's Media Spotlight

Mark's views on what's happening in the media.

Sons Of Tuscon – A First Look

The Sons Of Tuscon Cast

Sons Of Tuscon Premieres March 14th On Fox

SONS OF TUCSON is a family comedy done FOX style about three brothers who hire a charming, wayward schemer to stand in as their father when their real one goes to prison.  While it starts out to be strictly business, as time goes on, both seem to learn life lessons from each other and you can sense that the relationship will grow more and more like a real family.

Tyler Levine, fresh from last year’s 2 season delight from the CW  Reaper, stars as the wayward schemer.  The character that he played on Reaper, “Sock”, a lovable slacker who gets himself into weekly mischief is essentially the same character he plays on Sons of Tuscon.  In fact, they could have easily played this as a spin-off, which would have been nice because we all might have found out the fate of Sam, the devil’s son.  But I digress here.

For those of you who can’t relate to the Reaper references, you can easily see similarities to Jack Black in both style and actions.

The characters are all flawed, but not flawed enough in which you don’t care about any of them.  The kids all seem to have 3 dimensional personalities, at least the older ones.  The brothers fight and help each other like a real family.  In screening the first three episodes, the first one definitely shined in terms of writing and storyline.  Episode 2 starts to waver in the believability department and at times compromised storyline in search of some cheap laughs, but by Episode 3, I was back on board, even though the idea of watching the “family” create 15 years of photos really wasn’t any more believable, it was laugh out loud funny.   And it was nice to see Natalie Martinez again, who played the youngest brother Robby’s 2nd grade teacher.   I never thought she would have survived the stigma of starring in both critically maligned telenovas Saints & Sinners and Fashion House, but here she plays a wonderfully contrasting stable figure who I hope continues to make future appearances on the show.

What starts out as a one joke premise quickly shows a lot of promise on the future direction of all of the characters.  In addition to their flaws, they are definitely lovable and funny.   Scheduling this show on Sunday’s Animation lineup definitely makes this show a long shot in terms of survival (see ratings for other non animated sitcoms airing on Sundays, The War At Home, Unhitched and The Winner), but I’m hoping that there will be enough of a niche audience here the will buck the odds and give this show a shot.  Hey, at least they didn’t pair this one with ‘Til Death.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that you all sample this one.

As a bonus, check out this clip from the pilot episode which included the two original actors who played the oldest and youngest sons, both of which were replaced.


February 17, 2010 Posted by | Sons Of Tuscon | | Leave a comment

The Amazing Race 16 – A First Look

The Amazing Race Cast

Minutes into the start of this new season, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief as they did not have an instant elimination task to lead things off.  After all, it’s really a waste of time to see someone go who you don’t even have a chance to get emotionally invested in.

This season of the Amazing Race has 1 ½ recognizable teams.  First there is Miss Teen South Carolina, Caite, who gave America one of the most memorable speeches about why people cannot find US on a World map as you can see below.   She claims that she is now out to prove she’s not as dumb as America thinks.  (An excerpt of the speech is also televised on the episode.)

My hunch is that one of the other recognizable teams, Jordan, from last season’s Big Brother sweethearts, Jeff & Jordan, will prove to be a bit more daft.  (I’m writing this before I’ve seen the entire episode so don’t read any more into this than you have to.)  Oh and by the way, for those of you wondering, Jeff and Jordan claim to have seen each other every weekend since they left the Big Brother house.  You also have this team of strong, but not very street smart cowboys Jet and Cord too that might prove to be even less capable than the gals.  Although they are easy on the eyes so I hope they stick around as well.

So after watching, other teams showing interesting personality traits include a couple of Undercover Detectives – Louie and Michael (oops, well now your cover is blown, better hope you win the dough); Carol and Brandy, the lesbian team who had a few funny quips in episode 1, and Dan and Jordan, brothers, one gay and the other straight.  It’s not hard to spot the gay one here, but you’ll find him fairly amusing if you enjoyed watching Jack on Will & Grace.    The rest pretty much just blend into the wood work here, without anyone really having much of a chance to really see any personality in Episode 1, although the 71 year old Grandmother (Jody), who is in “triathlon shape” racing with her granddaughter (Shannon) was definitely one team to root for in the underdog category.

I won’t give away all of the tasks here, but finding the way to the airport in LA using only public transportation didn’t prove to be as daunting as I would have thought.  As for the rest, lots of fun twists and turns here with teams misinterpreting some of the tasks, resulted in other teams leading the way that you never would have guessed.  Not a bad start and I’m definitely in it for the season.

Here is a quick look at the 11 teams via the Amazing Race intro:

  and for a more intimate look at the teams, check this out…

February 10, 2010 Posted by | The Amazing Race 16 | | 1 Comment

ABC’s New Series – Happy Town Gets Its Premiere Date!


ABC has announced the premiere date of its new drama, “Happy Town,” WEDNESDAY,
(10:00-11:00 p.m., ET). The residents of the sun-splashed town of Haplin, Minnesota — also known as “Happy Town” — have enjoyed an uneasy peace for the past five years — but that is about to change. Still haunted by a number of unsolved kidnappings, Haplin now faces a disturbing new crime that brings all of its unresolved fears to the surface. Has the elusive “Magic Man” – who many believe is responsible for the bizarre abductions — returned to claim yet another innocent victim? As Haplin’s mysteries are revealed, many of its prominent citizens’ motives come under scrutiny as their own secrets and personalities are peeled back one layer at a time.

The Haplin founding family, represented by the mysterious matriarch Peggy Haplin and her quick-tempered son, John, run the local bread factory, which is the town’s largest employer. The powerful family tries to wield control even while dealing with the fact that John’s daughter was one of the Magic Man’s many victims. The ever-dapper Merritt Grieves, who runs a charming but perhaps irrelevant film memorabilia shop, seems strangely sinister. The lively widows residing at the Meadows Boarding House with Merritt become all aflutter whenever he is in their presence. Haplin’s other colorful characters include Tommy Conroy’s boyhood friend, Big Dave Duncan, as well as the nefarious Stiviletto brothers.

Many in this small Midwestern town have skeletons in their closets, and some dark truths are being revealed about some familiar faces. There are signs both obvious and hidden that something strange is going on, as exemplified by a recurring bit of curious graffiti: a halo with a question mark under it. They say every town has its secrets, but that doesn’t even begin to describe Happy Town.

“Happy Town” stars Geoff Stults as Tommy Conroy, Sam Neill as Merritt Grieves, Lauren German as Henley Boone, Steven Weber as John Haplin, Amy Acker as Rachel Conroy, Sarah Gadon as Georgia Bravin, Robert Wisdom as Roger Hobbs, Jay Paulson as Eli “Root Beer” Rogers and Ben Schnetzer as Andrew Haplin.

Recurring stars include Frances Conroy (“Six Feet Under”) as Peggy Haplin, Abraham Benrubi as Big Dave Duncan, M.C. Gainey as Sheriff Griffin Conroy, Peter Outerbridge as Handsome Dan, Warren Christie as Greggy Stiviletto and Sophia Ewaniuk as Emma Conroy.

Josh Appelbaum (“Life on Mars,” “Alias,” “October Road”), Andre Nemec (“Life on Mars,” “Alias,” “October Road”) and Scott Rosenberg (“Life on Mars,” “October Road”) are executive producers. “Happy Town” is produced by ABC Studios.

Here was the exclusive review of Happy Town previously posted.

February 5, 2010 Posted by | Happy Town | , | Leave a comment

Past Life – A First Look


The premise of Past Life is around the idea that the memories of a previous life are interfering with the present.  This new drama series investigates the world of the unexplained through the eyes of a doctor and a former detective who must work together to solve decades-old mysteries.  Sound familiar?  I’m hard pressed to find a lot of differences between CBS’s most likely to conclude series Cold Case and this one.  Even the lead blonde looks semi-familiar.

Cold Case or Past Life?

I’m enjoying the show, but it really seems like another CBS clone as was Lie To Me.  The first episode revolves around a teenage boy who suddenly remembers flashes of his past life where he was murdered.  Of course only flashes are there or this all would be too easy to resolve.  Now the idea is to bring the boy and find the scene of the crime so that he can properly remember things and have all of the images stop.

Case #2 revolves around a young woman who is having images of a dead woman and it’s causing her to overdose on drugs of choice.  While the cast is decent and the stories well done, you still have the feeling that you’ve seen this done again and again on CBS.   The second story even more than the first one was so reminiscent of Cold Case with the ending song and flashes to all of the people involved.  (All that was missing was the flashes of images of the characters from then to now.)

This might be a show worth checking out on occasion, especially when Cold Case concludes (although the coveted advertising demo for that show skewed older than anyone at FOX would be interested in), so one has to think that Past Life will not have much of a future, especially considering it’s up against CSI, The Office and Grey’s Anatomy.

SERIES PREVIEW: Tuesday, Feb. 9 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT)
SERIES PREMIERE: Thursday, Feb. 11 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT)
STARRING: Kelli Giddish (Dr. Kate McGinn)

Nicholas Bishop (Price Whatley)

Richard Schiff (Dr. Malachi Talmadge)

Ravi Patel (Dr. Rishi Karna)

February 2, 2010 Posted by | Past Life | , , , , , , | Leave a comment