TV: HAWAII FIVE-0, S07E25: “Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka ‘Aina I Ka Pono”

#1 TV show, Friday, 5/12/17

8.22 million viewers

What it is: A buddy cop procedural drama about a Hawaii state police task force, rebooted from an original series which ran from 1968 to 1980. In this episode, the protagonists must rescue a bunch of child sex slaves from the back of a cube truck while it’s speeding down the highway.

My main reaction to Hawaii Five-0.1 is that it seems unintentionally darker than you’d expect a sun-drenched tropical network cop show to be. The child sex slavery storyline is part of that, of course (especially when the cold open showing a bunch of young girls being roughly herded from bare mattresses in an abandoned house to the back of a truck cuts to the theme song montage of gnarly waves and bikini babes), but so is the moment at the end of the episode when unit leader Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) reveals to Danno (Scott Caan) that he got radiation poisoning from a dirty bomb they apparently defused earlier in the series. This plot point may have been introduced because O’Loughlin is leaving the show after the next season, partly because he’s been messing up his back doing stunts, and I guess this is one way of setting up McGarrett for a tragic/heroic end. But it’s still pretty bleak stuff for network laundry-folding material. Continue reading

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By Jay Asher

#1 USA Today bestseller, weeks of 4/13/17 and 4/20/17

What it is: A 2007 young adult novel that returned to the bestseller list after having been adapted into a Netflix series. In the book, a high school kid named Clay receives a set of audiotapes from a classmate named Hannah Baker who recently committed suicide. It turns out that the tapes contain Hannah’s explanation of the events that led up to her death, with each side dedicated to a particular person involved, each of whom is supposed to pass the tapes on to the next person in the series. The narration alternates between Hannah’s recorded monologues and Clay’s narration of what’s happening as he roams around town and listens. Continue reading

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TV: THE BIG BANG THEORY, S10E23: “The Gyroscopic Collapse”

#1 TV show, Thursday, 5/4/17

12.39 million viewers

What it is: A CBS sitcom about nerds and their romantic relationships. In this episode, the military (personified by Breaking Bad‘s Dean Norris in his recurring role as a gruff officer) shuts down some advanced project the main guys were working on, and Penny (live-in girlfriend of Jim Parsons’ Sheldon) gets offered a summer job at Princeton, causing her to worry that Sheldon will feel she’s abandoning him. Continue reading

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#1 movie, weekends of 5/5-5/7/17 and 5/12-5/14/17

Gross: $146,510,104, $65,263,492

What it is: The second entry in Marvel Studios’ series about the adventures of a band of intergalactic misfits. This time around, Quill a.k.a. Star Lord (Chris Pratt), the only seemingly human member of the team, meets his father (Kurt Russell), who turns out to be a god. Meanwhile, other members of the team, including Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a baby version of the anthropomorphic tree Groot (Vin Diesel) get captured by space pirates. Continue reading

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By William P. Young

#1 USA Today bestseller, weeks of 3/2/173/9/17, 3/16/17 and 3/23/17

What it is: A novel originally self-published in 2007 and eventually adapted into a recent film starring Sam Worthington, the release of which seems to have prompted the book’s return to the bestseller list. The story follows a man named Mack who receives a mysterious note inviting him to the shack where his young daughter Missy is presumed to have been murdered after having been kidnapped. There he meets three personifications of the Holy Trinity: A black woman named Papa, a Middle Eastern-looking young man named Jesus, and an older Asian woman named Sarayu. They teach him how to develop a relationship with God and deal with the loss of his daughter. Continue reading

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TV: SURVIVOR, S34E08: “A Line Drawn in Concrete”

#1 TV show, Wednesday, 4/26/17

8.49 million viewers

What it is: A competition reality show in which contestants camp out in an exotic location and compete in various summer camp-ish games while gradually voting each other out of the running until only one remains. This season takes place in Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands and is subtitled “Game Changers” because the contestants are all people who competed on previous seasons of the show. In this ep, they compete in an oceanic obstacle course relay and another exercise that involves stacking blocks, then conspire to vote off either Andrea or Debbie. Continue reading

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Music: Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.

#1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, weeks of 5/6/17, 5/13/17 and 5/20/17

What it is: The fourth studio album from rapper Kendrick Lamar.

In a way, Kendrick Lamar achieved rap dominance the same way Kanye West did: By bringing together both its gangsta side and its more conscious, self-aware threads. (Kendrick’s* 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly mixed anti-cop death threats with Sufjan Stevens samples and appeals to the ghost of Nelson Mandela.) But Kanye’s style is more cerebral, which makes sense for a middle-class producer whose street cred came pretty much entirely from co-signs and collaborations with other artists like Jay Z. On the other hand, Kendrick grew up on the notoriously tough streets of Compton, and his style is more physical, with a lot of energetic and technically breathtaking verses as well as production that has an organic and cohesive sound rather than one that calls attention to its own source material. Continue reading

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