Fall TV 2013 New Shows

Here is a roundup of some of the new Fall shows for the 2013 season that have debuted.

Brooklyn Ninety-Nine

This is a half hour police show.  It is designed as a comedy, with some serious underpinnings.  It reminded me a little of the 80's  "Sledgehammer," although a little less silly and slap sticky.  Worth checking out.

Grade: B+


Apricorn Aegis Portable 3 - 256 GB

Disclaimer: Apricorn provided the review unit to the author for testing and review. Also be aware that Apricorn has no input into the content of this, or any other review.

Categories of accessories are pretty well established these days now that computing is a mature platform. When thinking of external storage that gets plugged into a USB port, on the one hand we have the small flash drive. It is light and portable, but limited by the capacity. On the other hand we have an external hard drive. These devices offer high capacity, but the trade off is increased weight, a larger size, and they are subject to mechanical failure.

The Aegis Portable 3 fits in neither category, and in fact straddles between these two categories. It is an external drive, that fits into the 2.5" hard drive category, but it is based on an SSD drive (other versions are available with a mechanical hard drive). While it still has the size of an external casing of a notebook hard drive, it gains the advantages of first and foremost speed, and secondarily a lighter weight, and a resilence to falls.



Hollywood thrives on the action movie where someone takes the law into their own hands to do what the authorities can't -- especially if the vigilante is protecting their family.  But what if that happened in the real world?  What if doing what you thought was necessary turned the would-be hero into a monster?  This is the dilemma of Prisoners, a drama where the lines between right and wrong are very blurry.

Kelly Dover (Hugh Jackman) is a family man, religious person, and survivalist who believes the best lesson from his father is "be ready."  Unfortunately, he can't be prepared what happens on Thanksgiving: During a dinner with their friends the Birches, the families' young daughters Anna and Hope walk back to the Dover house -- and vanish.  Suspicion falls on Alex Jones (Paul Dano), a weird man whose RV had been parked outside and which the kids had been playing on earlier.  But Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhall) thinks Alex is innocent, since he has the I.Q. of a ten year old, and since his RV has no evidence the girls were in there.

That's not good enough for Kelly.  When he confronts Alex as the police are releasing him, Kelly thinks Alex says something incriminating.  So while his wife Grace (Maria Bello) convinced herself Anna will come back any minute and Franklin and Nancy Birch (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis) put their faith in the police, Kelly kidnaps Alex, torturing him until he gives up Anna's location.  Meanwhile Detective Loki follows a bizarre string of clues, from a mysterious maze symbol to a priest with an adult's dead body in his basement.
Prisoners is a relentless, grim combination of mystery, thriller, and examination of whether the ends justify the means.  Instead of a hero, Hugh Jackman turns Kelly into a desperate man, someone so desperate to get his daughter back he may be deceiving himself just to believe he knowing who's responsible.  He rationalizes his brutality by telling Alex "You did this to yourself" while turning him into a  bloody horror of a human.  Jackman is terrific, transforming what would normally be a one-note hero into a determined, desperate man willing to abandon his humanity (and ignore his family) to do what he thinks is right.  Howard and Davis are excellent as the parents torn between wanting to support Kelly in finding out what happened to their daughter, and still being able to ask "What if you're wrong?"  Gyllenhall is good as the relentless detective, and Dano is effectively creepy as Alex, someone who seems pathetic and small, but with enough flashes of cruelty and violence to make it seem plausible he is involved in the kids' disappearance.

Prisoners manages to elevate the discussion about torture by melding it with a police procedural and some very strong performances.  This isn't an easy movie to sit through (especially when we see the results of torture) but it is very powerful and very well done.

Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch



DC Comics was the first huge comic book publisher, and with iconic characters like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, DC Comics has expanded well beyond comic books to television and movies, animation and live action.  The Music of DC Comics: 75th Anniversary Edition is a 31-track sampling of the wide variety of the music (and, often narration) that has accompanies those sound-filled exploits.

While 75 years of music could easily fill several volumes, The Music of DC Comics (released in 2010) does a quite satisfactory job of showcasing the sounds accompanying their superheroes, from 1941's "Superman March" to 2009's "Green Lantern: First Flight."  There are iconic numbers (such as the theme from the Batman television show or John Williams' Superman movie theme) and rarities (introductions to cartoons from the 1960s; the opening to the "Legends of the Superheroes" comedy roast; and who remembers the Swamp Thing cartoon, let alone its opening?).  The first seven songs are all from Superman-based works, the next seven from Batman's body of work, then a variety follows.

The Music of DC Comics is a terrific trip down memory lane -- but it feels like two albums mixed together.  The instrumental songs here are all very well done, quite dramatic and often very powerful.  Then there are the narrated songs, which are often just a smattering of background music while a narrator extols the powers of the hero.  (These are contrasted at the end of the album, where the dramatic instrumental from the end of the Wonder Woman animated movie is followed by the disco-inspired theme song from the live-action Wonder Woman show ("in her satin tights/fighting for her rights."))  Worse, there are no notes on how the album is put together, what determined which songs made the cut (like the intro to the Plastic Man Comedy Adventure Show) and what didn't (no Challenge of the Super Friends, though there are two other Super Friends songs).  There isn't even an introduction by one of DC's writers or artists to talk about the impact these tunes have had on the heroes or on them.

But these complaints pale next to the very wide variety of songs collected here.  The Music of DC Comics is far from complete and could have used more explanation, but what this provides is a neat trip down memory lane, a showcase of songs the listener hasn't heard before (I doubt even the most ardent comic book fan has heard all the songs here), and a pretty exciting soundtrack to go along with some of comic books' mightiest heroes (plus Aquaman and Hawkman).

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch


HIS AT NIGHT by Sherry Thomas

It's time for some Regency romance with His at Night, a Sherry Thomas novel that combines mysteries, damsels in distress, and manly males to create a romance that's as much about forgiveness as about love, His at Night has its hero and heroine meetings through a big coincidence. Elissande Edgerton lives, with her Aunt Rachel, as a prisoner of her sadistic, controlling "boo! hiss!" evil Uncle Edmund Douglas. When, through a neighbor's home's sudden rat infestation, several people move temporarily into the Douglas home, Elissande hatches a plan: Find a wealthy single man, get them caught in a compromising position, marry him, and rescue her aunt and herself from the home. This seems easier -- at first -- with her immediate attraction to Lord Vere.

Lord Vere has his own mysteries. Lord Vere is an amazingly intelligent secret agent for the British government, who acts like a moron and klutz to everyone but his fellow agents. His current assignment is to investigate Edmund Douglas for fraud involving diamonds, and he arranges the rat problem to get into the Douglas home to look for evidence. Of course he is also lonely, and when he meets Elissande he thinks she's the fantasy woman he's been dreaming about. Of course, complications ensue. Elissande quickly becomes exhausted by Vere's continual rambling, clumsiness, and stupidity; while Vere thinks Elissande is a shrewd actress out to snare any rich man as her husband -- worse, that she has her eves on Vere's brother Frederick. But soon they are found together, a quick marriage follows, and the two people who couldn't stand each other begin to learn the truth behind each other's facade. And while this happens, more and more dark secrets about Edmund Douglas come to light; and with them, more danger...

His at Night is a bit unusual for a romance novel. Instead of what Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books called "the big mis" (the misunderstanding that must be resolved for the characters to be together), this time the obstacle to the hero and heroine are the very real lies both characters have maintained, and suffered behind, their whole lives; the challenge lies not in straightening out the misunderstanding, but getting past their deceptions -- to others and themselves -- to move forward. There is plenty of comedy, from the swarm of rats to Elissende's reaction to first seeing Vere ("Her heart raced with a burst of nerve-wracking happiness. He rescued young women from plagues of rats; he had lovely friends; he looked like a hero of classical antiquity") to Elissende's attempts at getting Vere to reveal his identity. There's also a sweet, contrasting romance between Frederick and Angelica, two people who have been friends for so long that they have trouble becoming lovers. His at Night also shared some of the excesses of romance novels. Edmund Douglas is the sort of villain who is so evil and without any redeeming qualities, you'd think he ate pure evil for every meal. Both the hero and heroine have tragic pasts which give them nightmares. And Vere shows signs of the alpha male hero, the devastatingly handsome, sexual dynamo whose dominance is thrilling and part of the appeal. The drama sometimes tips over into melodrama, the worries and passions reaching almost ridiculous heights.

But His at Night is enjoyable nevertheless, a tale about two people getting over their initial attractions, and then repulsions, to find love not in physical beauty but in learning about each other -- and revealing themselves in the process. His at Night is a quick read, a romantic roller-coaster ride of mystery and character development.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch



It makes sense that Steve Jobs would be the subject of interest in the movies: He founded one of the biggest computer companies in the world, he gave us the iPod and iPhone, he had a fair share of controversy in his life, and his fairly recent death renewed interest in his life.  Jobs is the first movie to take on this person of so much interest.
Jobs is largely a one-person movie, as Ashton Kutcher portrays Steve Jobs (without any makeup, except for aging him from the later years).  The movie follows Jobs' life from 1974 (when he was a college dropout) to 2001 (when the iPod was introduced).  We see Steve Jobs advance from an Atari employee to the creator of Apple Computers -- and see how his relentless independence and quest for perfection could be both inspirational (as when he motivates employees) and detrimental (as he ignores his stockholders to spend endless time getting something right).

While Jobs includes several recurring characters -- Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad) as Jobs' friend and technical guru, Mike Markkula (Dermot Mulroney) as Apple's first investor -- this movie begins and ends with Kutcher -- and he delivers.  Kutcher brings full passion into bringing Steve Jobs to life, showing how he was both a revolutionary and a very flawed human being.  Jobs would have benefited more if it broadened its scope to show how Jobs was affected, positively and negatively, by the people in his personal and professional life.  But Kutcher carriers the movie well, making Jobs a good portrait of one of technology's greatest minds growing from a rebellious teen to a corporate giant.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch