Blu Tuesday: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Army of Darkness and The Ultimate Force of Four

It’s been several weeks since we’ve seen any high-def titles really worth talking about. The average moviegoer could even say the same for today’s releases, but despite there being only one major title hitting stores, there’s a small niche of cinephiles (myself included) that will likely pick up more than a few great films making their Blu-ray debut.

“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (20th Century Fox)

Fox’s highly anticipated spin-off doesn’t exactly qualify as one of those films, but it’s a movie that a lot of fanboys are going to want in their collections anyway. That’s not to say that “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is necessarily bad, but it certainly isn’t as good as a lot of people were expecting. Part of the problem is that the movie is supposed to be about the origin of Wolverine, and yet that’s the least interesting part of the film. For all intents and purposes, this is just another X-Men movie, because it features a slew of mutant characters we’ve been dying to see onscreen for while. In fact, the number of mutant cameos in this film alone is almost as large as the entire cast of the X-Men franchise, which only begs to ask the question: why not just make another X-Men movie instead? That was clearly the idea behind “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” because although the filmmakers severely botched it up (characters are haphazardly killed off, while others stray from their comic book roots), your X-Men collection wouldn’t feel complete without it.

“Army of Darkness” (Universal)

By far one of my favorite movies of all time, Sam Raimi’s semi-sequel to “The Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead 2” trades in scares for laughs as Ash is transported back to the Middle Ages to lead its people against an army of dead. Though the movie was a certifiable box office dud when it was released in theaters, it’s earned a huge cult following over the years and features B-movie actor extraordinaire, Bruce Campbell, at his absolute best. Though the HD transfer isn’t quite as good as we’ve come to expect from Universal’s past releases, it’s still better than the shoddy video quality that fans of the movie are used to. Sadly, the new Screwhead Edition only comes with one new bonus feature (a visual effects featurette called “Creating the Deadites”), and it’s one that I could have easily gone without had they included all of the extras from the numerous DVD editions. As it stands, only the alternate ending and some production photos have survived the jump to Blu-ray, so you might want to wait until a more ultimate version is released before you pick this up. Those that consider themselves diehard fans, however, probably own more than a few versions of this already, and so buying this one will only come naturally.

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New Rule: Pedophilia is not funny.

Sorry to bring everyone down, but I think it’s a point worth making. In a recent episode of “My Name Is Earl” (entitled “Joy in a Bubble”) the writers made a joke about pedophilia. Earl was talking to his brother, Randy, and he told him about Joy’s kids who didn’t have any friends because none of the other parents could stand Joy. Randy said (and I’m paraphrasing) that the guy downstairs has lots of friends who were young boys and maybe it would be a good idea to introduce the kids to him.

It’s not often, but every once in a while one sitcom or another will make a joke about pedophilia, usually within the context of the Catholic church’s recent scandals. I have as dark of a sense of humor as anyone, and in general I think the American viewing public is waaaaay too uptight, but since when is child rape funny? How many jokes do we hear about adult rape? I can’t think of a single one. Isn’t pedophilia just as bad or worse?

I don’t get it.

I’m not going to call out any specific writers (oddly enough the two credited for this episode are both female) because there’s no telling how that particular line ended up in the episode, but please stop making jokes about adults who rape kids.

  

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TV’s Back! – The Post-Strike Return

Michael Franti once described television as “the drug of the nation, breeding ignorance and feeding radiation.” As such, we’re guessing he isn’t nearly as excited as we are that we’re finally beginning to see the fruits of Hollywood’s writers at last being able to put pen back to paper. CBS clearly got the jump on everyone else with the premiere of their new episodes, but as you can see, the other networks will soon be joining in the fun as well, offering up all the fresh new comedy and drama we’ve been craving for so very long. Okay, maybe it hasn’t been that long – as soon as the strike wrapped up, you probably noticed how some series magically “found” a few episodes they’d unabashedly been sitting on – but it’s damned sure been long enough.

Check out our coverage here, then head back over to tell us what shows you’re most psyched to see return!

  

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TCA Press Tour: Thursday = Comedy

One of the greatest mysteries amongst the critics here at the TCA Press Tour is why NBC’s completely kick-ass Thursday night comedy line-up – “My Name Is Earl,” “The Office,” “Scrubs,” and “30 Rock” – isn’t one of the highest-rated line-ups on any network. I mean, seriously, that’s about as solid a two-hour block as has come around in years; every single one of those four shows is must-see TV for me, so it’s nice to know that Bill Lawrence, producer of “Scrubs,” agrees with me.

“Zach flew here from New York, and I came here all the way from my house, because I could not be more proud than to be up here with these four shows,” said Lawrence. “Everybody’s saying comedy sucks right now. These are three other comedies that I actually watch regularly. So screw the ratings, man, and I’ll have it out with you outside afterwards.”

Here are a few more revelations from NBC’s Thursday night comedy line-up:

* What lessons did Tina Fey walk away with after surviving her freshman season at “30 Rock”? “I think we learned a lot about the tone of the show throughout the year and whether — you know, we want the characters to be believable enough that you still care about them but still be able to do crazy jokes with them. So I think we learned that as the year went. And think we, this year, are going to try to maybe — try to maybe do a little less, because the shows were so dense that sometimes we worried that it was almost going by too quickly for the audience. So we’re hoping to let things breathe a little bit.”

* The ever-sarcastic Lawrence got a big laugh when he said of his show’s upcoming final season, “I think this is the year that ‘Scrubs’ really becomes a big hit. We had always kind of geared our plan towards peaking in the seventh year. And now’s when we really roll out the promotional stops. You’re not going to believe some of the things we’ll be doing!”

* Braff, however, was decidedly less sarcastic when speaking of his last year as J.D.: “I think there’s something really cool about knowing it’s your last season. I mean, so many times, you know, by the time you get to the seventh season or the last, what could be the last season, you don’t know, and there’s something really invigorating about going, ‘All right. We’ve got 18 more.’ I think it’s really going to excite the crew and the cast. We’ve had almost the exact same entire crew for the entire run of the show, and you know, it’s cheesy to say, but it is a total family because we have grown up with these people essentially. I think to go in for the final 18 with knowing it’s we’re going out with a bang, we’re going out with the way Bill wants to end the show, I think, I’m really, really excited to do it.”

* Greg Garcia on the change in Earl on “My Name Is Earl”: “We were always worried about him changing too fast, the character, and so we tried to spoon it out a little at a time. But knowing where we were going to end last season with him going to prison, we weren’t afraid to go ahead and start giving him a lot of things that he wanted in life, and we did a little, you know, arc of three or four at the end where he actually started getting his life together. And the whole time, we knew we were going to take it all away from him and send him to prison, so that was kind of by design.”

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New TCA panel info

As the countdown continues to my departure for Los Angeles and the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, the most recent schedule for the event has emerged, and there’ve been a few changes and several adjustments. I won’t waste your time running through the entire list again, but here are some of the new additions that caught my eye:

The Hallmark Channel: There will be a panel which focuses on the four new films set to premiere in the next few months. There’s “Claire,” starring Valerie Bertinelli, who stars as a suburban soccer mom who reluctantly uses her clairvoyant powers to solve a cold case in which a serial murdered threatens to strike again. (Awesome.) Then there’s “Murder 101: If Wishes Were Horses,” a mystery movie which stars three generations of the Van Dyke family: Shane, Barry, and Dick. “Final Approach” is a three-hour mega-movie about a terror plot at the World Bank which somehow ties into an airplane that’s flying at 40,000 feet…but all you need to know is that Dean Cain, Anthony Michael Hall, Lea Thompson, and Ernie Hudson are in it. And, lastly, there’s “A Grandpa for Christmas,” starring Ernest Borgnine. C’mon, who doesn’t love Ernest Borgnine…?!?

HBO: A panel has been added for the network’s new documentary, “Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq,” which, in addition to including several of the US soldiers featured in the hour-long look at those wounded in the war thus far, will also feature the documentary’s narrator, James Gandolfini.

CMT: The panel for “Ty Murray’s Celebrity Bull-Riding Challenge” has been updated, and it now includes a couple of the contestants. Now appearing will be Rocket Ismail, Jonny Fairplay, and Francisco Quinn, but, inevitably, I’m most interested in seeing Vanilla Ice.

TV Land: The “Elvis Presley Month” panel has been announced. Having gotten past my depression that it doesn’t include Ann Margaret, I’m pleased to see that it does include Joe Esposito, one of the members of the Memphis Mafia, as well as another one of the King’s pals, Jerry Shilling. Also on the bill are Pamela Keogh, an…or perhaps the…authorized biographer of the Elvis Presley estate, as well as actress Sue Anne Langdon, who co-starred with Elvis in “Frankie and Johnny.”

VH-1 Classic: There’s a panel for the network’s new documentary series, “Seven Ages of Rock,” which will include original MTV VJ Mark Goodman, as well as Steven Van Zandt. I know, I really should’ve led with Little Steven, but, c’mon, Mark Goodman? He’s almost as good as Alan Hunter!

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