Back to ‘The Newsroom’

The second season of Aaron Sorkin’s acclaimed show ‘The Newsroom’ has started a few weeks ago, on July 14th. The HBO series starring many respected  and talented young as well as more seasoned actors centers on  Will McAvoy, a news anchor played by Jeff Daniels who has a new team of journalists working with him in addition to the tough and smart MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer), the executive producer of the broadcast.

The show successfully manages to show complex relationships as well as delving into many aspects part of the ‘newsmaking’ process with precision (news pitches, research, fact-checking…). It’s a show where dialogue is very crucial; the script is final. Actors have to memorize very intricate phrases at times; No word can be left out from the script. There isn’t much leeway as Chris Messina explained on Jimmy Kimmel earlier last month. He guest-starred in this season as Reese Lansing. It is a great drama which keeps you on the edge of your seat at times. Also, if you are interested by journalism and communication, this is a very insightful show. Even though there are many characters, I found myself attached to them as the show follows each of their storylines throughout the episodes.

‘The Newsroom’ has a leading plot line, that will be explored throughout the season. As stated by the show’s creator; it’s very accessible to new viewers since it has a linear arc. As a new viewer myself, I found it easy to understand the dynamics between the characters and the writing is well delivered by the actors. I also noticed a not-so-subtle political critique notably by the ‘segments’ involving  Jim Harper(John Gallagher Jr.) who is following the 2011 American political campaign and Neal Sampat (Dev Patel) who is very interested by the Occupy movement. The way it is brought onto the screen is very refreshing and thought provoking, especially last Sunday’s episode ‘Willie Pete’.

I see much potential in the continuity of this show and rate it 4 stars.

What if ‘Swithed at birth’

After having done an all ASL episode of ‘Switched at Birth’ during the first season, the ABC Family hit show had a ‘What if’ episode last Monday.These kind of ‘special episodes’ are appealing, as they show the viewers a different way of storytelling and different writing styles, which keeps things fresh and intriguing. The drama is centered between two families. On one hand there’s Regina Vasquez who raised a redheaded deaf teenager, Daphne,with little money in a rough neighborhood and on the other hand is the Kennish family; the parents Katherine and John with their children Bay and their eldest son  Toby, who are going to private school and are wealthy. They learn that their daughters were switched at birth after Bay does a blood test in her biology class. After learning the news, the Kennishes take in Regina and Daphne in order to connect with their respective biological children. The ‘What if’ episode could of fallen flat as it could of been very cliché , not realistic or thought through. But the writers did a great job at delivering a heartfelt and informative episode, giving us a glimpse of what would of happened if John and Katherine would of known earlier about Daphne. It gives the viewers the chance of seeing what the characters would of been like. This alternative reality is ‘dreamt’ by John after he and Regina fight; she finds him on the kitchen floor. He had a seizure. The episode has a strong focus on every characters’ relationships with each other; the good as well as the bad aspects of them. It’s an episode that keeps you guessing as for what is going to happen next which is great. Even though it’s a fictional scenario, I’m sure that it will have at least a slight impact on John’s view of Regina which will hopefully be more positive from now on as he tells her at the end of the episode ‘I’m glad you’re here!’ as he wakes up in the hospital bed.

The follow-up episode will air tomorrow, July 15th on ABC Family at 9:00 PM.

I give this episode 3 and 1/2 stars.

Aly & AJ ; back with a new sound

After five years of absence from the music scene, Aly and AJ Michalka now known as 78Violet are back, after having parted with Hollywood Records. July 8th, they released the music video for their single ‘Hothouse’ which will be on their new record set to be released in the following months. It is a great departure from their previous albums and sound which was more pop oriented even though the chorus  of this new piece is catchy. The music video itself shows a very different vibe that strays from their Disney Channel days , having started out as teens. It has a cinematic aesthetic as it starts off with a voice-over at the beginning and features breathtaking scenery and landscapes. Also, you immediately understand that Aly and AJ have grown up while watching the video. 78Violet has a more mature sound now that the duo is in their early twenties. They have had more life experience and have different artistic tastes and artistic visions. This has a direct impact on their writing and their musical influences. Having filmed their music video on their own, the sister-act has definitely worked on creating a distinct creative vision in which they actively took part in it. This new song has a whimsical and indie feel to it as well as somewhat of a slight 70s undertone with the instrumentals. After a long wait,their new sound is a pleasing surprise.They managed to come up with material that is fresh and innovative sure to satisfy their longtime fans who had been patiently waiting to hear more from them.

78Violet’s ‘Hothouse’ can now be purchased on iTunes and you can check out the music video down below!

A new album for Sara Bareilles

Songstress Sara Bareilles’ new album The Blessed Unrest to be released July 16th was made available for free streaming on iTunes at the beginning of this week. After two listens, it is clear that it shows diverse melodies and doesn’t stick to only one type of song.

It starts out with the up beat song ‘Brave‘(released last may) an anthem encouraging to not be afraid of being yourself then follows ‘Chasing the Sun’ which, for me, really sets the tone of most of the album. With simple yet emotional lyrics and a softer sound albeit the casual back up vocals, and drums during the chorus. It also features powerful ballads notably ‘Manhattan’ which shows off perfectly her ‘signature voice’ with a smooth piano melody. The album sometimes  slightly feels like the sequel to Kaleidoscope Heart for the relationship-related lyrics (see King of Anything and Little Black Dress) although it’s absolutely an artwork of its own for the content alone. There is an ‘anthemic’ side to many songs making them very danceable and happy with some studio made effects influenced by the pop genre which is a fun surprise. The latter is used in very original ways especially on the tenth song ‘Eden’ which has a very distinct background music almost  electronic. But the true substance if you will of this album are definitely the songs that are more ‘raw’ featuring mainly Bareilles’ voice accompanied by minimal instruments, which is when her material is  even easier to relate to and most importantly sounds down to earth. Since she is one of the rare people who can actually  sing acapella and has a very unique voice; those songs really make her voice shine.

The singer-songwriter keeps true to her style creating an overall CD with an uplifting rhythm and inspirational vocals. This new album blends seamlessly both soothing and heartfelt ballads with really electric upbeat tracks which is an accomplishment all on it’s own.

You can now pre-order The Blessed Unrest on iTunes.

My rating: 4 stars out of 5!

A review ‘Under the Dome’

The new horror/science fiction series from CBS entitled ‘Under the Dome’ is an adaptation from Stephen King’s novel of the same name  which was published in 2009. He has produced two of the episodes and has given the show support. It is set in the small town of Chester’s Mill where a large transparent dome emerges dividing the town. Soon after its appearance residents witness its destructive power-it splits a cow! Note that it is not a ‘gory show’, what is scary is mostly the unknown and some character’s motives. The structure also separates people, as there is no way for them to communicate with others outside of it. The series stars include Natalie Martinez (CSI:NY),Rachelle Lefevre (A gifted man), Dean Norris (Breaking Bad) and newcomer Alexander Koch. The cast balances between newer and more seasoned actors. Three episodes in, I really appreciate the fact that every character present has a storyline and they evolve through the crisis. You definitely feel that every person in Chester’s Mill has a dark secret and that they have their own reason as to why they are there. This is a show packed with suspense, which is sure to make you keep on guessing who is behind the Dome’s appearance-Conspiracy anyone? With all the reality TV and reruns out there; this is definitely a refreshing show to watch!

‘Under the Dome’ airs on Mondays on CBS and Global (Canada) at 10;00 PM.

My rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

Karmin doing it Acapella

The new found famed duo Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan whom first had great success performing covers of popular songs as well as some of their own songs on Youtube are set to release a new album in the near future. Their new single ‘Acapella’, which is now available for purchase on iTunes, features mainly vocals from the duo as well as the track’s producer Martin Johnson, the lead singer of Boys Like Girls. All sounds heard come from their mouths and was recorded mostly on iPhones. It’s a very original song with cheeky lyrics.It features equally Nick and Amy which wasn’t necessarily the case on  songs from their previous album ‘Hello’,where Amy’s rapping was predominant. The singers have stated that they were inspired by the comedy  ‘Pitch Perfect’ starring Anna Kendrick, notably  by the song ‘Cups (When I’m Gone’), which was released in October 2012 . Karmin will be performing tonight on the show ‘Jimmy Kimmel’ and you can watch out for their music video for ‘Acapella’ which will be posted soon.

(photo from www.billboard.com)