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2016 - 2017 TV SEASON

VAPOR VS. TOBACCO: THE DEBATE RAGES ON


My thoughts on the 2016 - 2017 TV Season. All times are Eastern Standard Time (EST): Since most of the new genre shows of the beginning of the season are based on movies or previous popular TV series, let's get started. First up: FOX's LETHAL WEAPON (Wednesdays 8:00pm) is almost an exact replica of all four LETHAL WEAPON movies, with just a few small changes. Clayne Crawford (THE DONNER PARTY - 2009) portrays Martin Riggs, who in the beginning of the first episode, is chasing a truck full of bad guys through the Texas desert, when his pregnant wife calls and tells him to meet her at the hospital because she is having the baby. Riggs stops his vehicle, pulls out a sniper rifle from the back of his truck and with one shot overturns the bad guys' truck over 200 yards away. He races to the hospital, not knowing that his wife and baby were just killed by a 18-wheeler slamming into her car at an intersection. Riggs loses his will to live after losing his wife and baby. Six months later, 22-year police veteran Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans; BULLETPROOF - 1996), who is about to rejoin the Los Angeles police force after recuperating from a heart attack, learns that he has been assigned a new partner. I'll give you one guess who it is. Their first case together is a bank robbery with three masked robbers, one with a bomb strapped to his chest and carrying a kill switch. Riggs walks into the bank carrying boxes of pizza (Murtaugh has yet to meet Riggs and none of the other police know what he is doing) and Riggs eventually kills the three robbers, but sets off the timer on the bomb and all of the hostages run out of the bank. Riggs non-chalantly walks out of the bank eating a slice of pizza and introduces himself to Murtaugh, the bank exploding and one of the flying pieces turns into the show's title (a pretty good effect). The rest of the first episode is Riggs and Murtaugh trying to prove a guy didn't commit suicide, while Murtaugh tries to talk Riggs from acting suicidal in some touching scenes featuring Murtaugh's family, including a newborn baby (Murtaugh had the heart attack in the hospital while the baby was being born!). It all has to do with a pile of heroin, while Riggs takes chances no sane man would take and there is action aplenty. Those who are fans of the four movies will probably like this series because it keeps the humor along with the death and the action (Although Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans are no Mel Gibson and Danny Glover), but those who have never seen the films will never buy that Damon Wayans is getting "too old for this shit" (since this series is shown at 8:00pm, you will not hear this iconic piece of dialogue, even though the series is Rated TV-14). Action specialist McG (CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE - 2003) directed the pilot and Shane Black (The screenwriter of the first LETHAL WEAPON - 1987) wrote two of the episodes, so it is not a bad way to introduce the premise to those unfamiliar with the films. I have seen a lot worse action series make it past one season and I am dying to find out if Leo Getz (played by Joe Pesci in the films) will make it into this series and who will play him. One bit of trivia: In the series, Riggs talks with Murtaugh's teenage daughter about the legalization of pot, a scene which was cut from the first film in the series for its U.S. release (in the film it was a "should marijuana be legalized" argument between Murtaugh and his daughter.), but remained in all the foreign releases. My verdict: Worth your time if you have nothing better to watch. NOTE: Since the series delivered Fox's highest fall premiere in two years, FOX has ordered a full season of episodes, if 18 episodes is considered a full season.  *  Fox's THE EXORCIST (Fridays 9:00pm) is based on the classic 1973 film, and on the 1971 novel and screenplay both written by the late William Peter Blatty, but it really has nothing to do with it besides a few Easter Eggs. This version takes place in Chicago 40 years after the film and finds Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera; DEMON INSIDE; a.k.a. ESPECTRO - 2013) having a crisis of faith because he has romantic feelings for the married Angela Rance (Geena Davis; THE FLY - 1986), whose oldest daughter Kat (Brianne Howey) killed her best friend while she was driving in college, so she took a leave of absence, came home and is beginning to show signs of demonic possession. Angela tells Father Tomas that she believes Kat is possessed, because the furniture rearranges itself in an instant and other strange things are happening in her house. None of this began to happen until Kat returned home. Just as Father Tomas tells her that demonic possession is usually a psychological disorder, a black crow flies into the window and gets stuck, bleeding all over Father Tomas' Bible. Meanwhile, 18 months ago in Mexico City, Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels; DOOM - 2005) is performing an exorcism on a young boy, much to a visiting priest from the Vatican's displeasure (Father Marcus pulls a gun on the visiting priest when he says he is taking the boy to a hospital). Father Tomas has dinner at the Rance's house, where he finds Angela's husband Henry (Alan Ruck; THE HAPPENING - 2008) in a catatonic state and Kat slapping her father in the face to prove it. As Father Tomas is leaving, Henry mentions that he can find Father Marcus a few miles away at a religious retreat, because the exorcism he was performing on the boy in Mexico City failed and the young boy died. How did Henry know this, since Father Tomas has been having nightmares about Father Marcus' failed exorcism for the past 18 months? Father Tomas drives to the religious retreat to find out if exorcisms are real and if demons can possess the human soul. He is not happy with Father Marcus' answer and leaves the retreat. Father Tomas goes to the Rance household and tells Angela that God spoke to him today and told him that he wants Father Tomas to stay at the Rance House and help them in any way he can (Is this a lie or is this true? You will find out in future episodes.). Almost immediately, Father Tomas has a supernatural experience with Kat (who begins to look like Linda Blair in the original) in the attic of the house, but when Angela comes up and turns on the lights, Kat looks normal and tells her mother that she and Father Tomas were killing a rat (which Kat had partially eaten!) and ends it with, "Don't they say when there is one there is probably a whole bunch?" As Father Tomas is throwing away the partially eaten rat, Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" plays on the soundtrack (the only overt reference to the 1973 film) as Kat (or is it Angela?) watches him through the window as he walks away while Father Marcus puts together his exorcism kit and is on his way to Chicago. While the pilot tries to cram a little too much information into 43 minutes (like the homeless man that seems to be following Father Tomas and why Henry is in a semi-comatose state), this is an effective little shocker that does improve as the series progresses (I was sent the first 5 episodes by FOX as screeners and there are some legitimate jolts and a huge surprise and once you find out who Geena Davis really is, it throws a welcome monkey wrench into the proceedings) and if you like supernatural horror you could do much, much worse than this. I am not going to tell you anything, but the film is full of little Easter Eggs, dedicated to the original film. Just keep your eyes on the background, like photos hanging on the wall and some of the location work. My verdict: A must-see. NOTE: Even though the 10-episode first season has been getting abysmal ratings (about 2 million viewers per episode), the Executive Producer of the series, Jeremy Slater (who is leaving the series), is asking for viewers' help in giving the series a Second Season by using Twitter and other social media sites. With numbers as low as that, it doesn't look like FOX will renew it. The 10th (and maybe final) episode airs December 16, 2016. Too bad. NOTE #2: FOX has yet to cancel the series, so don't give up hope yet. FOX is one of the few stations to give their new series a chance to catch on. A decision on the fate of the series will come sometime in May 2017. Keep your fingers crossed!  *  The CW's FREQUENCY (Wednesdays 9:00pm) is based on the 2000 film directed by Gregory Hoblit, where young man John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel) was able to talk to his 30 year-dead firefighter father Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid) using a ham radio. He tries to use the ham radio to save his father from the fire he died in (it was arson) and change time so his father was still alive. The film had its moments (especially when a cigarette burns the father's table and the same table the son uses 30 years later suddenly has a burn mark on it and the highly emotional ending), but this new show is one of three new series based on time travel (one of my favorite subjects) and is probably the weakest. In the new show, female NYPD detective Raimy Sullivan (Peyton List) is able to contact her 20 year-dead detective father Frank Sullivan (Riley Smith) through a ham radio. Raimy was estranged from her father when he died in 1996, but she tries to put that all aside (sometimes unsuccessfully) to help her solve crimes today and his murder in 1996; sometimes using her father to stop the crime from happening at all. But when you screw with time, there are bound to be some changes, some good, but mostly bad (known as "The Butterfly Effect"). Although the new series has a promising premise, the pilot episode frankly smelled worse than fish left in the noonday sun and I am surprised The CW picked it up for series, so I hope future episodes get better. If future episodes are as bad as the pilot, expect this series to be cancelled quickly, even if this is The CW. What surprises me most is that the pilot episode was directed by the usually dependable Brad Anderson, who was responsible for such spine-chilling films as SESSION 9 (2001); TRANSSIBERIAN (2008), the excellent VANISHING ON 7TH STREET (2010) and plenty of TV, including 12 episodes of FRINGE from 2008 to 2011. Here, he seems to be directing on auto-pilot because he is really never given anything exciting to do (thanks to a teleplay written by Jeremy Carver, bastardized from the 2000 screenplay by Toby Emmerich). Believe me, when Brad Anderson is on his game, you won't sleep for a week. My verdict: Skip it, unless you have hopes of it getting better. Her father comes back to the present when Raimy successfully stops her father from being murdered, but Raimy now has two sets of memories: Those where her father has been alive all the time and her mother is murdered by a serial killer named The Nightingale, and a second set of "remnant memories" from when her father was dead. How will Raimy handle these two sets of memories (or is all this nothing but a strange time-traveling nightmare?) Anyway you look at it, this is just a series populated by young people, something The CW is famous for. I had high hopes for this, but The CW's insistence on casting young people dashes any hope of making this show different then their dozen other series (mostly superhero related). NOTE: The pilot episode of FREQUENCY opened with a measly 1.4 million viewers. It may survive on The CW with those numbers for a few weeks (CBS, NBC, FOX & ABC would have cancelled it immediately), but look for it to be cancelled soon unless it gets at least 2 million viewers the next episode. NOTE #2: November 16, 2016: The CW announced its MidSeason schedule and it looks as if this series is not getting any additional episodes and will end after the original 13 episodes air, leaving the fate of the show up in the air. The CW hasn't announced a cancellation, but it doesn't look good.   *  HBO's WESTWORLD (Sundays 9:00pm) is vastly different, yet vaguely similar to the famous 1973 movie. I know that may sound confusing, but I think you will get what I mean after watching the first two episodes. The first episode shows the inner workings of the world's most vast and violent amusement park, where people (called "newcomers"; the robots are called "hosts") pay dearly to live out their fantasies. The park is run by Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), who we first encounter talking to one of his oldest robots (probably from as far back as the 1973 film, since director/screenwriter of the original film, the late Michael Crichton, wrote this and all the episodes, as interpreted by Executive Producers Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy Nolan [J.J. Abrams is also an Executive Producer]). Dr. Ford and his crew (which includes Jeffrey Wright, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Simon Quarterman and others) can control the robots by using certain phrases, but Dr. Ford still has feelings for one of his first creations, an old, grizzled Wild West gunfighter (who zips himself into a body bag after his conversation with Ford, which is a terrific analogy between the old and the new robots, who bleed and "feel emotions" just like humans). The problem is, the robots (or androids, if you like) are becoming self-aware (In the telling beginning of the episode, none of the robots would even swat an insect away if it landed on their face, adhering to the law of not killing any living thing, but at the end of the episode, robot Dolores Abernathy [Evan Rachel Wood] kills an insect when it lands on her neck). All while all this is happening, robot "The Man in Black" (an excellent Ed Harris and, yes, the first episode ends with a Johnny Cash song) travels the vast Western countryside searching  for malfunctioning robots to kill (He scalps one of them and attaches the scalp to the saddle of his horse), while talking in smooth Shakespearian dialogue (he really is something). But maybe he is doing something more sinister. There is a lot to recommend here, including a rambunctious Wild West shootout/safe theft set to an orchestral version of The Rolling Stones' "Fade To Black" (other modern songs are heard on a player piano) with a zinger of a conclusion. Also, other "people" to look out for are Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton), a "host" barmaid/prostitute, who is beginning to remember her past "lives" (all robots are recycled from other "worlds", including one that deals with a mad doctor in a horror film setup) and malfunctioning robot Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum), who warns Dr. Ford he will not be able to contain what is about to come (Dr. Ford doesn't take him seriously and has him operated on and "fixed"). A lot happens in the first episode, including several ways that robot Teddy Flood (James Marsden) is killed in Westworld and how Dolores may really be falling in love with him. Like I said, the first episode deals with the way human scientists deal with their robots, but the second episode will deal with the exploits of newcomers named William (Jimmi Simpson) and Logan (Ben Barnes), who are there for different reasons. The mysterious Lawrence (the always interesting Clifton Collins Jr.) appearance and purpose in Westworld slowly unfolds. This is a series everyone should be watching, because it is dark (it is obvious Dr. Ford doesn't like windows or real people, but it is also dark in other ways), intelligent and suspenseful (Just where exactly is Westworld located? Is it a real place or a VR illusion?). It is also filled with little tributes to the original film. My verdict: Highly recommended. NOTE: It turns out that The Man In Black is not a robot at all, but human. He is traveling throughout Westworld looking for "The Maze". What it is and why he needs to find it has not been explained...yet. Also, the story is not told in linear fashion, as the parts with William and Logan takes place decades before the present (For those of you watching the series, think about this. Why don't William and Logan interact with any of the robots in the present? And the final expanded episode of the series debut season showed us who William really is.). A near-perfect series for those video detectives looking for clues. NOTE #2: On November 14, 2016, HBO renewed it for a Second Season, but it may not air until sometime in 2018. NOTE #3: December 12, 2016: The show was nominated for Golden Globe Awards® for Best Television Series - Drama and Evan Rachel Wood for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama.  *  CBS's MACGYVER (Fridays 8:00pm) is a reboot of the long-running Richard Dean Anderson series, which ran from 1985 to 1992 and then had two made-for-TV movies in 1994. I was never a fan of the first series, but when I did watch it, Anderson was a caring, unassuming man (who very rarely used a gun) who could always make something out of nothing (and showing us how he did it, unless it was making something like a bomb which children in real-life could copy and get hurt), women he saved loved him, saving innocent people in trouble and turning his name into part of our verbal venacular ("I can MacGyver this fanbelt until we get to a gas station." and was one of the most frequent series to be mentioned in movies and TV Series, especially THE SIMPSONS, since it is Selma & Patty's favorite TV show. It was also mentioned in BAD ASS 2: BAD ASSES [2013] where Danny Glover calls Danny Trejo a "Mexican MacGyver"). In this reboot, Lucas Till portrays Angus MacGyver, a brash, braggart of a man (who also narrates part of every episode) who still can make something out of nothing, but we don't see how he does it (Mainly because some of his on-the-spot inventions would take days to complete, yet he does it in 5 minutes or less. The only similarity with the two series is both MacGyvers carry Swiss Army knives. but it ends there). He lacks any humility, which does the audience no favors. At least Anderson had the ability to show genuine human emotions. Also terribly missing from this reboot are the talents of the late Dana Elcar as MacGyver's boss of the secret agency they both worked for (They actually liked each other). Here, ex-CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION co-star George Eads (Who refused to participate in the series closing two-hour episode because of money and lack of screen time. He was one of three original cast members left [the others being Robert David Hall & Eric Szmanda], who did 335 episodes [more than any other series regular] from 2000 to 2015, yet the bastard refused to participate in the finale!) is MacGyver's boss Jack Dalton, who works for a U.S. Government secret clandestine organization and blackmails MacGyver into joining it to save innocent lives. There is something sinister about the organization and future episodes may get the chance to expose why, but ratings have gone down as the episodes progress (the first episode got an amazing 10.9 million total viewers, but it is rapidly declining). The pilot episode is a total mess (James Wan, who was a huge fan of the original series, directed the new pilot, as the old pilot, directed by David Von Ancken, was scrapped. And it shows. In the original pilot, Till sported much longer hair.) and, although it has some good action scenes (CGI enhanced, of course), the story is vanilla and from MacGyver's opening narration, he comes off as an egotistical jerk, not a hero or someone you would want your kids to emulate. Here's my verdict: Change the channel when this show comes on, because it defaces Richard Dean Anderson's legacy as the character. I have suffered through three episodes and that is my limit with bad TV. And believe me, this is bad TV. Do yourself a favor and buy the box sets of the original show's seasons. I can't see this reboot lasting more than one season, if that long, if ratings keep declining. But it is a Friday Night series, one of the least-watched days of TV besides Saturdays, so who knows? NOTE: On October 18, 2016, MACGYVER was given a full season order, along with Michael Weatherly's new series BULL (based in the life of the abysmal person Dr. Phil McGraw when he was a Jury Trial Consultant for a company he and a partner created in 1989 called CSI [Courtroom Sciences, Inc.], which is still going strong, but Dr. Phil has not been associated with CSI since 2002.), which I will not be reviewing for this season. I just can't stand Dr. Phil because of all the bad things he has done in the past (Google him) and the wrong advice he gives to his guests on his TV Show (Those who live in glass houses...), so I will not promote him in the present.  *  The reason why there are no new reviews of premiering TV Series is due to the fact that most networks are giving the new shows a chance and there has been a lack of cancellations, leaving behind a logjam of new TV Shows waiting in the wings. Some new shows that were due to premiere in the Winter have been pushed back to the Spring or Summer and some are going to premiere during the 2017 - 2018 TV Season. The fact is that the networks ordered too many new series and don't know where to put them. The only new shows I reviewed that are probably going to be cancelled are FREQUENCY (but all 13 episodes will air) and THE EXORCIST (which may be toast already since at the time I am writing this it is Winter Hiatus and it doesn't look like FOX is going to air the last 5 of the series' 10 episodes [FOX changed its mind and will let it run for the entire 10 episodes]). Neither one has officially been cancelled at the time of this writing (November 23, 2016), but there are dozens of new show waiting to air, yet there are no time slots available. This is the first time I ever saw this happen. We are in the new Golden Age of Television, but programmers have to take into consideration that some series are going to be hits (about 80% of new show are just that)., It is just like one executive of a network proclaimed last year: "There is too much on TV to watch." Most other people made fun of him, only for his prediction to turn out correct. While there are lots of new series premiering this year (not to mention quite a few series lasting five years or more still going strong), only a handful will appeal to readers of this site. That is also something new. All the decent horror/sci-fi/action series are not on the top networks, but on cable, where an audience of 2 million is considered a hit. That is why cable is able to take chances networks can't. Two million viewers on a network, which is about what THE EXORCIST is receiving, usually means instant cancellation, but FOX decided to let it run for the entire 10-episode First Season, leaving other new series waiting to premiere sitting on a shelf collecting dust (Even the Second Season of SCREAM QUEENS is only averaging a measly 1.5 million viewers weekly, but FOX has no plans to pull it off their schedule.) and the fate of the show, which still could be renewed according to FOX executives, won't be decided until May, 2017. Hopefully, the New Year of 2017 will give me something to write about. I still have TIMELESS to review, but I am going to wait so my readers have something new to read after Christmas. I predict that the top 4 networks will start following what streaming services and cable have been doing for years: Every new show will only run 10 to 13 episodes a season, leaving room for other series to air all year long. Doing this will also cut down on the "fluff" episodes, that are filmed using previous footage because the budget allotted for the series was running low. This way you get all of the cream and none of the crap.

My thoughts on the 2016 - 2017 TV Season Part 2: Renewals & Cancellations: FX has already given AMERICAN HORROR STORY a Season 7 renewal. Season 6, titled AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ROANOKE (partially based on a true story; the difference this time being that half the season is shot like a documentary, complete with re-enactments, but the series has not cut down on the bloody set-pieces), is averaging 13 million viewers per episode. NOTE: January 12, 2017: FX has renewed Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk anthology series AMERICAN HORROR STORY for Seasons 8 and 9. That’s in addition to the previously announced seventh installment.; Freeform has picked up STITCHERS for a Third Season which, it turns out, is Freeform's third most watched program. Proof that tastes has no bounds.; Freeform has also cancelled DEAD OF SUMMER after one season.; Starz has renewed ASH VS. EVIL DEAD for a third season before the secondCancelled episode of the Second Season even aired. Wise decision. When you have Bruce Campbell starring in a funny/gory series that doesn't overstay its welcome every week (and for only 30 minutes for each 10-episode season, the equivalent of three 100-minute movies), you keep him as long as possible.; AMC has renewed HALT AND CATCH FIRE for a Fourth and Final Season to air sometime in 2017.; FOX has given Season 2 of LUCIFER a full 22 episode order.; The CW has extended the second season of LEGENDS OF TOMORROW for an additional 4 episodes, bringing its total to 17 episodes, still short of the 22 episodes of the other superhero shows (SUPERGIRL, ARROW, THE FLASH) shown on that station.; The CW has also cancelled REIGN after four seasons. The news came to the cast and crew as they were filming the final episode of the Fourth Season.; TNT has cancelled MURDER IN THE FIRST after 3 seasons. It was different from most series in that each season told a separate new season-long story set in San Francisco, not the usual "murder of the week".; MTV has renewed SCREAM for a Third Season. It will run for 6 episodes. Can that even be considered a series? Once you take out all the commercials, it is more like a two-hour movie. MTV is also set to air a two-hour installment of SCREAM on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. The Halloween special will pick up eight months after Season 2, which concluded in August 2016.; Little-known cable channel EPIX has renewed both BERLIN STATION and the Nick Nolte political comedy GRAVES for 10-episode Second Seasons (Nick Nolte has been nominated for a Golden Globe® for Best Actor in a Comedy TV Series, even though 80% of the United States doesn't have access to EPIX.).; The new USA series FALLING WATER is going to have its first season streamed on Amazon Prime, which makes it almost a certainty that it will be renewed for a Second Season.; Netflix has renewed LUKE CAGE for a Second Season.; TNT’s MAJOR CRIMES has been renewed for a 13-episode Season Six.;  NBC has pulled its Donald Trump-inspired episode of LAW & ORDER: SVU, titled "Unstoppable", from its October 26, 2016 air date until sometime after the November 8, 2016 Presidential Election because of the plethora of women coming out accusing Trump of sexual assault (The new date is November 16, 2016). At first NBC wanted to pull the episode permanently, but level heads prevailed. Aren't some of the show's episodes ripped from the headlines? You don't shelve an episode because it hits its mark, but I can understand how they would prefer to air it after the election. You don't want to influence idiots. Expect Trump to sue NBC once the episode airs (Gary Cole plays an excellent fake Trump), even though his name is never mentioned (He fails to understand that once you become important, such as President of the United States, it opens you up for all types of lampooning). That is what he is famous for. And just like most of his other lawsuits, he will lose. He is so paranoid, he is blaming SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE for influencing the election (Alec Baldwin does a top-notch job of portraying Trump as a buffoon) and demands that the series be cancelled! He wants a 40+ Season series to be taken off the air because he can't stand to see himself lampooned on TV (Even though he was a guest host on the show two times, in 2004 & 2015!). NOTE: Now that Donald Trump has been elected President (that was extremely hard for me to type), the episode has been moved again until sometime in 2017, after his swearing-in. Now SVU is kissing Trump's ass and should be ashamed of themselves. Something tells me that the episode will be permanently shelved.; FOX has renewed THE SIMPSONS for an unprecedented 29th & 30th Seasons, which will pass GUNSMOKE's 635 episodes (It will have 669 episodes at the end of 30 Seasons, but the Western classic TV series reached its milestone in just 20 seasons [1955 - 1975], back when there were more episodes produced every season).; Showtime has renewed SHAMELESS for an Eighth Season.; NBC has renewed THE NIGHT SHIFT for a Fourth Season.; Finally, A&E has set the 11th Season of DUCK DYNASTY to be its last. The show will end April 12, 2017, followed by an occasional holiday special. Nice to finally have those religious bigots off the air. And I bet most of these fake-assed millionaire hillbillies are just itching to cut off their beards. NOTE: December 5, 2016: Scott and Deirdre Gurney, the founders of the reality TV production company Gurney Productions that produces DUCK DYNASTY and in 2012 was purchased by ITV for $40 million, have been temporarily suspended amid an internal fraud investigation. They have since been fired and sued for fraud by ITV (The Gurneys are filing a countersuit against ITV). It follows the DD creed: "Do as we say, not as we do."; Netflix has cancelled MARCO POLO after two seasons.; It looks as if FOX will cancel SCREAM QUEENS after two seasons. The Second Season finale ended with an anemic 1.38 million viewers. No major network would continue a series with those numbers.; NatGeo has renewed their docudrama MARS for a Second Season.; TNT has given its freshman series GOOD BEHAVIOR and ANIMAL KINGDOM Second Seasons.; Amazon has renewed BOSCH for a Fourth Season, well before the Third Season even aired [Season 3 airs in early 2017]. I have always admired Titus Welliver's acting chops and am glad he has a series that is not only a winner, but is also a wonderful personal and detective drama. I binge-watched the first two seasons (look for my review in the 2014 - 2015 TV Season section on this site) and was immediately hooked.; Netflix has renewed LONGMIRE for a 10-episode Sixth and final season in 2017 and promised delivering a dynamic and satisfying conclusion. God, I will miss that show!; Netflix also renewed FULLER HOUSE for a Third Season. Really?; Amazon Prime has renewed their excellent series THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE for a Third Season. Unlike that revived sitcom on Netflix, this one actually entertains.; It looks like The El Rey Network's FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE SERIES will not continue after Season 3. The network has released the cast of the TV Series ahead of the November 3, 2016 Season 3 finale. Word is that Robert Rodriguez (he directed the original 1995 movie), who created the El Rey Network will not make an official announcement until the beginning of 2017 whether the series is cancelled or not. He wants to change-up the series and make it a limited series or mini-series, using the same actors they are using now, which would explain why he released the actors from their contracts so they can find other work until a decision is made between El Rey and Miramax (who own the rights to the movies and series).; January 7, 2017: The CW has renewed ARROW, THE FLASH, LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, SUPERGIRL and SUPERNATURAL for another season. This is unusual because renewals are usually announced in May.; Cinemax has ordered a reboot of the military action series STRIKE BACK with an entirely new cast and characters. They originally cancelled the series in 2015.; David Lynch's TWIN PEAKS revival series will premiere on Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 9 p.m. on Showtime. Lynch directed all 18 episodes and Lynch and Mark Frost wrote all the episodes as a team. There are over 200 actors who have speaking parts, one of the few series to claim that. And look for David Duchovny to put in an appearance as transvestite DEA Agent Dennis/Denise Bryson, the same as he did in the original series. This is going to be good. And Showtime announced that the series will not be shown like any of their other series, which is strange (and unknown at the time of this writing), but just like David Lynch.; AMC's THE WALKING DEAD was renewed for an Eighth Season, just a week before Season 7 premiered. Like this is a surprise. I find the series nothing but cliched junk (NOTE: In January of 2017, it was revealed that some of the more gruesome scenes in the first half of Season 7 [especially the premiere S7 episode] have been edited due to a few customer complaints. Hey, idiots, you are watching a zombie show. Zombies eat people! What do you want the walking dead to do, sit at a dinner table with napkins tucked-in at their necks and dine on the recently dead with knives and forks? Spoons for the eyeballs? Future episodes will not be as violent as they were before and repeats of episodes will have the violence "toned down".).; Speaking of zombies, SyFy has renewed Z NATION for a Fourth Season on November 29, 2016. Now here is a zombie show worth watching! I have also been meaning to thank SyFy for showing the entire series up to the middle of the Third Season during Thanksgiving Day 2016 and the day after, leading to the latest new episode. A perfect way for those who have never seen the show to binge-watch it and make it part of their weekly routine.; HBO announced that a Second Season of THE NIGHT OF and a Third Season of TRUE DETECTIVE are not out of the question, as long as the creators of both series (Richard Price and Steven Zallian for NIGHT; Nic Pizzolatto for DETECTIVE) come up with good story lines.; FOX renewed EMPIRE for a Fourth Season, even though the ratings have dropped sharply since the First & Second Seasons.; CBS cancelled both of their new Summer series BRAINDEAD and AMERICAN GOTHIC. No surprise there, as both series were particularly rank. CBS did, however, renew ZOO for a Third Season. Don't ask Cancelledme why, but it was CBS's highest-rated scripted show of Summer 2016.; ABC has cut the season order on their new series NOTORIOUS from 13 episodes to 10. ABC has not said that this series has been cancelled, but it doesn't look good, even though it is sandwiched between two of ABC's most popular drama series, GREY'S ANATOMY and HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER.; ABC has also announced that they have opted not to pick up additional episodes of new legal drama CONVICTION beyond its original 13-episode order. ABC is moving QUANTICO from its Sunday 10:00pm timeslot to CONVICTION's Monday 10:00pm timeslot come late January 2017. CONVICTION will move to QUANTICO's time slot on January 1, 2017 to burn off the rest of the episodes, while ABC fills the Monday 10:00pm slot with specials until QUANTICO's January 23, 2017 takeover.; FOX has announced the 12th and final season of BONES (which will be 12 episodes long) will begin airing on Tuesday January 3, 2017 at 9:00pm. I believe this series has had the most day and time changes of any show on TV that I can remember, yet its faithful fans always followed it (all the day and time changes usually means the kiss of death, but this series bucked the trend, along with CW's SUPERNATURAL), giving up other series it played opposite against. I haven't watched the series in quite a while, but you have to admire a show where fans have kept it on the air for at least the last five years.; WGN has cancelled their supernational witchcraft series SALEM after three seasons.; Showtime has opted not to renew MASTERS OF SEX for Season 5. Looks like we will have to find another way to perform sex correctly.; Starz has cancelled their outrageous comedy series BLUNT TALK, starring Patrick Stewart [Data himself, Brent Spiner, appeared on four episodes], after two seasons.; CBS has announced that their new series PURE GENIUS would only last its initial 13-episode order. It doesn't take a pure genius to figure out that the series is being cancelled.; In some of the best news I have heard at the end of 2016, Bryan Fuller has said that there most probably will be a fourth season of HANNIBAL and maybe even more. Talks will start in 2017. The rights to SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991), which the fourth season was supposed to be based on, revert back to the De Laurentiis production company in August, 2017 (Martha De Laurentiis is Executive Producer of the series). Fuller has said that he invisions the series as an irregular-based mini-series, with 6 to 8 episodes each. Mads Mikkelsen, who plays Hannibal, says the series will likely return to television in the next "Two to three years". That is great new to fans of the formerly deceased series (of which I am one). Let's hope it comes to fruition. It was the most mature series on Network Television.  *  Happy Happy Dept: Talks are going strong for another "Event Series" of THE X-FILES, but it will not happen next season because getting everyone together (Gillian  Anderson, David Duchovny, Chris Carter, etc.) is proving quite a chore, but they are all excited to do it. Look for it to be filmed in the Spring/Summer of 2018, with an airdate of late 2018/early 2019 (Just not after the Super Bowl...please!!!). I can wait. Just finish the arc that ended the first event series and then go back to the "monster of the week". Those were the strongest episodes. One on-line site named the 2016 revival of the series one of the "Bottom 5" series of 2016. Really? I will never go to that site again. Now let's work on supporting the makers of HANNIBAL to give the series a Fourth Season and beyond. The last image of the third season was Gillian Anderson sitting at a dinner table, looking at her own severed leg! Talks are continuing on getting the show renewed, but let's do our part, too.  Cameo Of The Year Dept: Am I losing my mind or was that Randy Quaid putting in a two second cameo in the first episode  of the second season of ASH VS. EVIL DEAD? It comes during the beginning of the episode, when Ash is partying in Florida. According to Vanity Fair, Quaid and his wife Evi were on the run from “the Hollywood Star Whackers” the couple had been talking about in television interviews ever since they arrived in Canada in October 2014, seeking asylum. The “Whackers,” they said, were the same people who may have “killed” David Carradine and Heath Ledger, possibly set up Robert Blake, and could now be targeting Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. “Are either of you mentally unstable, schizophrenic, or on drugs?,” Andrea Canning asked on Good Morning America. “Do you think we are?” demanded Evi. “No!” said Randy. Wow, and here he turns up for a 2 second appearance on the Starz hit show. Could Randy be trying to make a comeback in the same business he accuses of killing actors (many people believe his wife is putting those crazy ideas in his head)? Believe me, I have heard more unstable comments from actors still working (Remember "the Hollywood Gay Mafia"?). Welcome back Randy!  *  Bad News Dept: Masi Oka (who also appeared in four episodes of the failed series HEROES REBORN [2015 - 2016] and was a regular on the original series HEROES [2006 - 2010), appearing in 66 episodes), who has been with CBS procedural HAWAII FIVE - O since the first season in 2010 as a recurring, then as a series regular from Season 2 on, is exiting the show. The upcoming 13th episode of the 7th Season (airing early in 2017) will be his last, as his character Dr. Max Bergman, moves to Africa with his new bride Sabrina (Rumer Willis). Good luck in the future Masi!  *  Troubling Trend Dept: In the early morning of November 20, 2016, supposedly "supernatural educational" cable channel Destination America aired The Asylum's A HAUNTING IN SALEM (2011), starring Bill Oberst (who publicly apologized for appearing in this film on IMDb) in a 90-minute spot and what they did to this film, even though it was from The Asylum, is not only troubling, it also harkens back to the old 4:30 Movie, where they edited movies to fit into 90-minute time slots. Destination America not only cut out the entire opening credits sequence (except for the film's title), they showed commercials every ten minutes, actually beeped out the foul language (rather than overdub them like most other stations do) and video created the end credits while the final scene played, destroying the surprise ending when Oberst flicks his Zippo (Then immediately went on to the next show). This was the first time I watched Destination America and it will be the last. It seems the channel deals mainly with ghost hunting "reality" shows, like one called GHOST BROTHERS (renewed for a second season), about a team of Black brothers and their relatives that search supposedly haunted places and sets back the Black race progress 30 years (one of them actually said, "Feets don't fail me now!"). The entire channel plays older shows based on "false trueness" (like Donald Trump), airing series about UFOs and abductions, monsters (especially Bigfoot), ancient mysteries and, of course, haunted structures (many of the shows taken from other channels who cancelled them). In other words, this channel is about as interesting as what comes out of my ass every morning. And what they are doing to the films they show is very close to criminal. If you see a film on that station that you want to see and DVR it (They only show films late at night), remember that you are only getting the Cliff Notes version of the film. The next film to get their Cliff Notes version is The Asylum's THE AMITYVILLE HAUNTING (2011; a "found footage" film with no beginning or end credits). Not to be outdone, WE TV has a new urban ghost-chasing series called GHOSTS IN THE HOOD, debuting in January 2017. The tag line for the series is: "Get Ready To Boo Your Pants." Simply shameful.


There is a debate raging right now in the U.S. Government about the safety of vapor cigarettes vs. regular cigarettes. The U.S. Government wants to ban the sale of vapor cigarettes and yet not do the same thing to regular cigarettes. Here's the way I see it: The government makes so much money from cigarette taxes that they never want Big Tobacco to go out of business, but since vapor cigarettes are slowly but surely catching on, the Government is losing a valuable (to them) taxation item, so they are trying everything in their power to declare vapor cigarettes dangerous and illegal. So they had Big Tobacco hire some "scientists" to declare that vapor cigarettes are more dangerous than tobacco (because they are losing billions of dollars a year to vapor products). That right there should throw up a red flag to anyone with even half a brain. Mainly unscented vapor is more dangerous than smelly tobacco that leaves its smell on your clothes? Vapor that leaves no black spots on your lungs, vs. the millions of people who died of lung cancer or disease because of tobacco smoking? It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the Government doesn't want to lose their billions in taxes due to cigarette sales (where a pack of cigarettes run over $10.00, over half of that going to taxes), due to regular taxes (just like any other item, vapor items are taxed like shampoo and peanut butter) that vapor products produce. Tell the government that even though we all know smoking is bad for everyone's health, you would rather have an alternate means for people to smoke and not die from cancer. So far, there has been no proof that vapor cigarettes cause the body any harm, no matter what Big Tobacco's paid scientists say. This is just another reason why more and more people do not trust the United States Government. And rightfully so. Show me the unedited data. But we will never see it.


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