Pop Cultured Summer 2014

Suits (03)

Summer is officially upon us. Sure, by the time May rolled around, Hollywood had already deemed it as summertime, based on the number of blockbusters we already got treated with. (For what it’s worth, how AWESOME was X-Men: Days of Future Past?!) For this avid TV fan, May marked the end of the regular TV season, so summer tends to slow down just the slightest bit, but there’s still so much to watch/see/do. So here is what I’m looking forward to this summer in movies, music, and yes, TV.

JUNE

  • 22 Jump Street: LOVED the first movie and seriously could not wait to watch this one.22 Jump Street
  • Suits S4: The student becomes the master and now it’s Harvey versus Mike. It’s undoubtedly weird to not see the two working alongside each other, but man have they set up some interesting dynamics to work with now that Mike is no longer with Pearson Specter.
  • Graceland S2: From Mike Ross to Mike Warren. I loved watching this show last summer and so happy to see it back this summer. This time, Mike’s got the whole house working to help him on a case.
  • Covert Affairs S5: What happens now that Annie Walker is no longer a “dead” rogue agent? I can’t wait to find out.
  • Michael Buble concert: I last saw Michael Buble in concert about 4 years ago. It was actually the first time I had seen him and was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had at it. Come for the music, stay for the added comedy show.

JULY

  • San Diego Comic Con!: SO FREAKIN’ EXCITED! I had so much fun last year with it being my first time, I am determined to have even more fun this year.
  • Matt Nathanson & Gavin DeGraw concert: After having complained before about not having seen Gavin DeGraw in concert, this will be the 2nd time this year that I get to see him. The fact that he’s touring with one of my personal concert faves Matt Nathanson is just icing on the cake. Guaranteed to be a great show.Matt&Gavin
  • Jason Mraz “Yes!” album: Why wouldn’t I be excited about a new Jason Mraz album? This one just happens to be a little extra special in that he worked on the album with a group of supremely talented female musicians, Raining Jane.
  • Lucy: The one movie this month that I’m quite excited about is this one, starring Scarlett Johansson as a woman who is accidentally caught in a dark deal that has turned her into a superhuman. Every once in a while it’s nice to see a movie that isn’t a remake, adaptation or sequel.
  • Extant: Halle Berry makes her foray into TV this series, starring as an astronaut who is trying to readjust to life on Earth after a year in space. Her experiences in the past year however, might now change the course of history.
  • Witches of East End S2: What happens to the Beauchamp ladies now that Dash and Killian’s powers have reappeared after the death of their mother and Joanna’s son has crossed realms? Frankly, I can’t wait to find out.
  • The Strain: Guillermo del Toro’s take on vampires is going to be interesting and probably scary horrifying.
  • Begin Again: I saw this movie, when it was called Can A Song Save Your Life? at the Toronto International Film Festival last September. Since then, I have been waiting anxiously to not only see the movie again but finally own the soundtrack. I LOVE the music in this movie and it’s been killing me not having the songs. Soon enough…

AUGUST

  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon, Vin Diesel as Groot – what’s not to get excited about? Previews for the movie make it seem a lot more light and fun than all the other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and here’s hoping it’s as good as it seems.Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Movie-Production-Art
  • The F-Word (aka What If? in the U.S.): Daniel Radcliffe stars in this Canadian-made romantic comedy about a guy who seemingly meets the love of his life. The catch? She’s already got a boyfriend so they strike up a friendship instead. See, the F-word in question is friend, as in “the friend zone.” Silly Americans changing the name of the movie for nothing.
  • Step Up All In: Yes, this is the 5th movie in the Step Up series. This one includes actors/dancers from all the previous ones, though don’t be expecting to see Channing and Jenna (unless of course they do a super secret cameo). And let’s be real, I’m just a sucker for amazing dancing.

That’s what I’m looking forward to this summer, in a nutshell. What is everybody looking forward to?

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Pop Cultured Summer 2013 – August

Summer is usually a time reserved for sunshine, beaches, and vacations. For pop culture fans like me, it may mean the end of my regularly scheduled TV programming but the start of a batch of other summertime shows. It also means the air-conditioned movie theaters are filled with the latest blockbusters, and live music abounds at stadiums/arenas/amphitheaters everywhere. So as we continue on with what summer brings us, here’s what I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

AUGUST

After all the excitement of July, the month of August winds down the summer. This year for me, it will be a music-based month. John Mayer announced not-so-long-ago that his new album Paradise Valley will be released on August 13th. Lucky for me, the very next day John makes his way to Toronto on his Born & Raised tour – his first in three years. I haven’t seen him in concert since his promotional album release show for Battle Studies (and boy, was that an experience I’ll never forget. We may have feared for our lives, either by being trampled over or lack of air). Another concert that I’m VERY excited about is the Honda Civic Tour featuring a double headliner in Maroon 5 & Kelly Clarkson (Technically, they call it Maroon 5 with special guest Kelly Clarkson, but come on.) I mean, TWO of my favourite music artists/acts on the same bill?! I’m not imagining it right?! SO OF COURSE I’M EXCITED!

On the movie front, there’s really only one movie coming out this month that I’m interested in, and that is The Spectacular Now. The film, based on a 2010 novel, stars Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller as Aimee and Sutter, two teenagers who could not be any more different, yet find themselves falling for each other. On the outset, it doesn’t seem like the movie is breaking new ground, but the trailer gives off a sense that there is more to the movie than your typical teen drama. The movie was also incredibly well-received after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival.

 

And that’s about it for what I’m looking forward to this month. Most summer TV is in the middle of their seasons and will be wrapping up soon, so there’s nothing really new until the official start of the fall TV season. It’s rare to see a new show premiere in the late summer, but I was just reminded that on August 5th, it will be the 10-year anniversary of The O.C. premiering on FOX (can’t believe it myself). It’s a slow month to say the least, but it’s a sign that summer is almost over. Before I know it, fall will be here and September will bring forth the start of a new TV season, along with the Toronto International Film Festival. More fun is still to be had!

Pop Cultured Summer 2013 – July

Summer is usually a time reserved for sunshine, beaches, and vacations. For pop culture fans like me, it may mean the end of my regularly scheduled TV programming but the start of a batch of other summertime shows. It also means the air-conditioned movie theaters are filled with the latest blockbusters, and live music abounds at stadiums/arenas/amphitheaters everywhere. So as we continue on with what summer brings us, here’s what I’m looking forward to this month. (Also, Happy Canada Day!)

JULY

I can’t wait for what’s in store in July!! And funny thing is a lot of the things I’m looking forward to all happen within the same week. On July 16th, two of my favourite summer shows are back for their new seasons – Suits and Covert Affairs. Both shows are coming back from their respective game-changing finales that involved revelations and new relationships being made. July 14th marks the return of The Newsroom, the Aaron Sorkin drama that divided critics and audiences alike. Personally, I enjoyed the show last season and though there were some flaws, I found it nice to have some intelligent drama. We also get to enjoy the series premieres of two other shows – The Bridge, starring Diane Kruger and Demian Bachir as two police detectives working together to solve a series of murders plaguing the Texas/Mexico border; and Camp, which stars Rachel Griffiths as the head of a summer camp and the antics that abound (both premiere on July 10th).

Also on July 16th, Sara Bareilles releases her third album, The Blessed Unrest, while Matt Nathanson releases his latest, Last of the Great Pretenders. One of my favourite artists coming out of The Voice is season 2’s Tony Lucca, who having been signed to his coach Adam Levine’s 222 Records is finally releasing an EP (I know ‘finally’ gives off the sense that it’s been a really long time, though in reality it’s only been a year since season 2 aired – not going to lie I’m already starting to feel a little bit of Voice fatigue from this 2 seasons a year thing). On the concert front, I know I’ve mentioned it before but it needs to be said again – the Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z, Legends of the Summer tour kicks off in Toronto on July 17th!!! I changed/modified my travel plans for this concert, because simply put, it’s going to be AWESOME!

On the movie side of things, there aren’t a lot of “big movies” that I’m excited about. There’s Despicable Me 2 (I’ll be honest, I can’t say Despicable Me without saying “IT’S SO FLUFFY!!!”); R.I.P.D, which stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges as two cops protecting the living from the dead, seems interesting; and surprisingly, I’m only a little bit excited for The Wolverine, the latest movie starring Hugh Jackman’s X-Men character. The movies that I’m really interested in this month are the smaller movies. The Way, Way Back is a coming-of-age story brought to us by the Oscar-winning screenwriters of The Descendants, Nat Faxon (aka Ben Fox of the late FOX TV series, Ben and Kate) and Jim Rash (aka Dean Pelton of Community). I heard great things about Fruitvale Station, after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival; it’s the true story of Oscar Grant, and follows his last day before he was tragically shot at the Fruitvale subway stop in the Bay Area. The other movie I’m interested in is The To Do List, which is simply due to the cast involved – Aubrey Plaza, Rachel Bilson, Scott Porter, Donald Glover, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Connie Britton, and Clark Gregg.

The pinnacle of July, and what ultimately got affected by JT & Jay-Z announcing their show on July 17th, is my first-time at San Diego Comic-Con! As a pop culture fan, I have spent so many years reading all the news coming out of SDCC, whether it be movie announcements or just some cool stuff having to do with my favourite TV shows, and wishing I was there taking it all in. Well this year, it’s happening! I will be getting my nerd on (no cosplay, I’m not THAT much of a nerd), hopefully getting to see some of my favourite actors/actresses, and experiencing all the craziness that is SDCC. Will I camp out for the infamous Hall H or Ballroom 20? TBD. News has been slowly trickling out as to what shows and movies will be having panels at the Con, prior to the official schedule release on July 4th, but there are some confirmations that have got me excited: new shows Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (yeah, me and everybody else is excited for this), Sleepy Hollow, and Almost Human; How I Met Your Mother (random, I know, but I still love this show damn it!), Grimm, Arrow and Nikita. The announcement of the Nikita panel is obviously bittersweet – I’m so excited to see pretty much the entire cast (Lyndie Greenwood, who plays Sonya, was the only one not listed in the press release) but it’s a reminder that it’s for the final season. [On another note, how sad is it going to be that I would have to fly out to San Diego to meet the cast, who film the show in Toronto?!] And as part of the SDCC celebrations, I’m so excited for NERDHQ, the nerd gathering run by Zac Levi and The Nerd Machine! Because it is my first time at SDCC, my objective is obviously to have lots of fun and trying to do everything I REALLY want to do/see, but I will try to make note of my experiences and blog about it here.

Pop Cultured Summer 2013 – May/June

Summer is usually a time reserved for sunshine, beaches, and vacations. For pop culture fans like me, it may mean the end of my regularly scheduled TV programming but the start of a batch of other summertime shows. It also means the air-conditioned movie theaters are filled with the latest blockbusters, and live music abounds at stadiums/arenas/amphitheaters everywhere. Summer may be well underway, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go back and talk about what’s interested me the past couple months (also, wanted to get this out before posting next month’s).

MAY

Before going forward, I figured I should go back ever so slightly. The month of May is typically known as the start of the summer movie season, and as has occurred for several years now, it started with a superhero movie. This year, we got the beginning of Marvel’s Phase Two with the release of Iron Man 3. A couple weeks later saw the Star Trek sequel, Into Darkness. I had time to go see both of those, but another movie that got released at the end of the month, that I still have yet to see is Now You See Me – I mean, magic caper thriller, an original story (meaning non-sequel/reboot/etc.) and an awesome cast to boot? What more can you ask for?

Concert-going is a big deal to me and my summer concerts actually started at the end of April, when I got the chance to see Sara Bareilles on her Brave Enough solo tour. The first time I actually saw Sara in concert was when she opened for Maroon 5 on their It Won’t Be Soon Before Long tour, and it was at that show that I got to meet her. It’s been such a long time since I had seen her live that I almost forgot how great she is, and with this tour being just her performing, it was such a great reminder. A week later, I went to check out Tyler Hilton, Teddy Geiger, and Ryan Cabrera on their joint tour and that was kind of a cool show to check out, because they actually came out during each other’s sets to play a song or two together.

On the TV front, May meant only one thing to me: the beginning of a new season of So You Think You Can Dance!! Regardless of how I felt about last season’s vast amount of changes, I love this show so much.

JUNE

Though it can sometimes be difficult to follow the cable shows, being from Canada and all, but it is those shows that make up most of my summer. One of the shows that I was really looking forward to seeing was Jeff Eastin’s (creator of White Collar) new show Graceland, starring Aaron Tveit and Daniel Sunjata, as two of the five undercover agents living under the same roof. Lucky for me though is that Bravo Canada is simulcasting the show on Thursday nights. The sixth season of True Blood recently premiered and I must admit that was only slightly excited about it. The show has had its ups and downs, with last season being not very good, so I was a little bit unsure as to whether I would want to keep watching. Under the Dome, based on the Stephen King novel about a town that mysteriously gets trapped under a dome, is one of the first shows by the major broadcast networks to adopt a cable-style season structure (that is, 13-episodes as opposed to a full 22). The final season of Dexter premieres June 30th, and though the show had a rough couple of seasons, it was back to form last season after Deb found out about Dex, and now we’re waiting to see how it all ends. Following Dexter is the series premiere of Ray Donovon starring Liev Schrieber as an L.A. professional fixer (think Scandal without the politics of DC, and the glitz of Hollywood).

Continuing on with the movie season is the recently released Man of Steel, the latest reboot in the Superman franchise. Coming from director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and producer Christopher Nolan (do I really need to say the Dark Knight trilogy?), the movie sets Superman/Clark Kent firmly rooted in reality. This year’s big Pixar movie for the kids and the kids at heart is Monsters University, a prequel to their hit Monsters Inc. (so sadly, there will be no Boo in this one). Seth Rogen assembles an all-star comedy cast including Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, James Franco, and Craig Robinson among others for the end of the world comedy This Is The End, which also features many other celebs playing themselves (albeit a very comedic, some say deranged versions of themselves). A few years ago there was a big story about teens who stole millions from the homes of Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson, and Orlando Bloom, among others – flashforward to now where director Sofia Coppola brings the story to light in The Bling Ring, starring Emma Watson. A slight twist to the typical buddy-cop comedy is The Heat, which brings together Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.

One of the things that I was really excited about this month was seeing Shaping Sound when they came through Toronto on their tour. Shaping Sound, for those who don’t know, is a dance company founded by SYTYCD alums Travis Wall and Nick Lazzarini, along with Teddy Forance and Kyle Robinson. The company is filled with so many fantastic dancers (including other SYTYCD alums Jaimie Goodwin, Alexa Anderson, Channing Cooke, Noelle Marsh) and the show itself was just phenomenal! Amazing dancing all around and I only wish I could see it again.

Making the Best of Summer TV

In the doldrums of summer, people are expected to be out and about, having fun, going on vacation, etc., not sitting around watching TV like they do the rest of the year. Then there are people like me where summer doesn’t mean much, except that all my television shows are on hiatus, meaning when I come home from work, there’s not much for me to watch. Over the years, I’ve managed to use my summers as a time to catch up on shows I didn’t get a chance to watch during the regular season or marathon the hell out of old shows (i.e. Friends, Alias). But that’s not to say that the summer doesn’t provide some quality shows – you just have to have premium cable/satellite or a very good internet connection for the majority of them. So here are some of the shows I’ve been watching that help make the summer a little more bearable.

1.) SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE

For 8 years, SYTYCD has been my summer staple (except for, obviously, the ill-conceived fall season of the show). I know no matter what, SYTYCD will always be there, despite the results show being cut this season for some ridiculous dating shows. The talent gets better and better every year, and the show is always entertaining. Also, Cat Deeley FTW! 🙂

2.) SUITS

I have always been one to scoff at the idea of another cop/law/medical drama – I mean how many shows can there be with the same procedural element. This is, of course, before I discovered what the USA Network had to offer. The first of many USA Network shows to appear on this list is Suits. Currently in its second season, Suits stars Gabriel Macht as big-time lawyer Harvey Specter, who hires a talented young associate with a photographic memory named Mike Ross, played by Patrick J. Adams. The catch? Mike isn’t actually a lawyer; in fact, he’s not even a college graduate. The dynamic between the two leads is fantastically fun and though the show does have a little of a case-of-the-week style, the show keeps everything light and interesting. Bonus: Harvey and Mike are often making movie references and spewing quotes like it is every day talk (and if you know me, you know I love me some pop culture references). The show also stars Gina Torres, Meghan Markle, Sarah Rafferty, and Rick Hoffman.

3.) WHITE COLLAR

Another wonderful dynamic leads this show about a former con artist, who in order to avoid spending jail time, is forced to work for the FBI. The ever charming Matt Bomer plays Neal Caffrey, the former con man, while Tim DeKay plays his FBI handler Peter Burke. Now in its 4th season, White Collar sets up the weekly cases, while also playing up the season (or half-season) arcs, which keeps it from turning into a typical procedural. It also helps that there’s a healthy dose of wit and humour amongst the cast to keep things light and not so serious. Also starring Tiffani Thiessen, Willie Garson, Marsha Thomason, and Sharif Atkins.

4.) COVERT AFFAIRS

Consider this my summer solution to filling the Nikita void (though technically, Affairs debuted a couple months before Nikita in 2010). Covert Affairs follows a young CIA agent, Annie Walker (played by Piper Perabo) as she navigates the spy world. Action, humour, romance, intrigue – what more could you want? Covert Affairs also stars Christopher Gorham, Peter Gallagher, Kari Matchett, and Anne Dudek.

5.) TRUE BLOOD

While the regular season has The Vampire Diaries, summer is all about the vampires, faeries, werewolves, shape-shifters, witches, and for good measure, regular humans of Bon Temps. True Blood takes TVD and turns it up 10 times crazy notches. Just good fun.

6.) THE NEWSROOM

Only in its first season, The Newsroom is Aaron Sorkin’s solution to the problem of mindless summer reality TV. Some people love the show, some people hate it. Personally, I think the show works better when it really focuses in on the aspects of making a news broadcast. When they start delving into the typical TV drama stuff (i.e. romantic relationships), it suddenly sheds a not so flattering light on its characters, namely its female ones. But when it’s good, it’s really good. The Newsroom stars Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy, TV anchor of the fictional News Night. He co-stars alongside Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Dev Patel, Thomas Sadoski, Olivia Munn, and Sam Waterston.

7.) BIG BROTHER

Yes, I just followed up The Newsroom with a mindless reality TV show. To be fair, it’s the biggest guilty pleasure there is in the summertime (except for the ill-advised season that aired during the Writers’ Strike of 2007-2008). Watching a group of strangers live together for 3 months, going stir crazy, and do ridiculous things – it is bad, but oh-so-good TV all at once. And we’re lucky when we get really great characters come into the house and make things interesting, which in turn makes them the most memorable – and yes, I’m talking Chilltown, Dr. Will & Mike Boogie, two of the best players ever.

7 shows + various other shows/movies that I have backlogged, means I’ve got more than enough things to fill my summertime hours as I await the return of my regular shows. What’s everybody’s go-to shows for the summer? Let me know in the comments!