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TV Review: Clever, Fun ‘Toy Story of Terror’ Makes ABC Debut

CHICAGO – Was “Toy Story 3” the last great Pixar production? With the modest critical reaction to “Cars 2,” “Brave,” and “Monsters University,” it seems an entirely defensible position to take. In fact, one could easily argue that “Small Fry,” the “Toy Story” short that premiered with “The Muppets,” and “Partysaurus Rex,” which played with “Finding Nemo 3D,” should be considered higher on the Pixar hierarchy than “Cars 2” and maybe even “Brave.”

TV Review: Rebel Wilson Brings Routine to TV for ‘Super Fun Night’

CHICAGO – It seems logical that Rebel Wilson, the scene-stealer from “Pitch Perfect” and “Bridesmaids,” would get her own sitcom. Logical, yes. A good idea, maybe not. Wilson’s “Super Fun Night,” premiering this evening on ABC at 8:30pm CST after “Modern Family,” is not yet super and not too much fun to start.

TV Review: James Caan Comes Home in ‘Back in the Game’

CHICAGO – From Archie Bunker to Frank Barone, TV has a long history of crotchety, irascible, borderline offensive fathers who really love their kids. To the long list, we can now add Terry Gannon (James Caan), the scene-stealer from ABC’s “Back in the Game,” premiering tonight, September 25, 2013 in a coveted time slot between the returns of “The Middle” and “Modern Family.”

TV Review: ABC Launches New Comedies ‘The Goldbergs,’ ‘Trophy Wife’

CHICAGO – It takes guts or stupidity to launch an entire night of new programing but that’s what ABC is attempting this evening, September 24, 2013. And they’re not even doing it consistently in terms of genre and quality. It starts strong with “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and ends on a whimper with “Lucky 7.” In between?

TV Review: ‘Lucky 7’ Misses Chance to Win Creatively

Lucky 7

CHICAGO – “Lucky 7,” debuting tonight on ABC to end their practically unprecedented attempt at an entire night of new programming, is a case of concept over actual character. The creators of this inert drama think cluttering their storytelling with various subplots will make up for the fact that you just don’t care about any of them. It’s a case of quantity over quality and that never works. I could be wrong but this one’s high on my list of shows that could be cancelled before Christmas.

TV Review: ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Hits Target Audience

CHICAGO – You can all breathe easy. It’s not bad. Serious Marvel and Joss Whedon fans are probably having flashbacks after reading those two sentences. We were all incredibly nervous that one of the best writers in the history of television was going to get the biggest blockbuster in recent years and find a way to screw up “Marvel’s The Avengers.”

TV Feature: The 10 Most Promising Network Shows of Fall 2013

CHICAGO – In the decade-plus that I’ve been covering network television, no season comes close to this upcoming one in terms of lackluster, bland, uninspired programming.

DVD Review: ‘Last Resort: The Complete Series’ Offers History of Doomed Show

Last Resort (cropped)

CHICAGO – Around a year ago, I named Shawn Ryan’s excellent “Last Resort” the most-promising new show of the Fall season. I think I need to relabel that this year to “creatively promising,” for while I knew Ryan and his crew here had a chance to produce something special, I also worried that ABC was dooming it on Thursday nights.

TV Review: ABC Takes Reality TV Down Dark Road with ‘Whodunnit?’

Whodunnit?

CHICAGO – If you’re old enough, you may remember when murder mystery parties became a trend. Game stores would sell boxes designed to get people to gather friends and essentially host their own version of the movie “Clue.” One guest was the murderer, the other party goers had to solve the crime. Well, it took longer than expected but reality TV has officially run out of ideas and have decided to turn those murder mystery parties into a weekly series.

TV Review: ABC’s ‘Mistresses’ Cheats on Good Television

CHICAGO – At its worst, ABC’s “Mistresses” feels like “Nicholas Sparks: The TV Series” with all the horrendous plotting and melodrama that implies. At its best, it feels like a “Desperate Housewives” knock-off, in which the charisma of its leading ladies get viewers past the writing flaws.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Bobby Pin Girls

    CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 10th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Transformers 5 front

    CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

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