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You’re the Worst (FX): Like the equally surprising Broad City, You’re the Worst shattered preconceptions of the “edgy” cable comedy with smarts, heart, bracing moments of relationship realism (and outright debauchery), and a fearless cast led by relative unknowns Chris Geere and Aya Cash. No worries that the Toxic Twosome and gang are moving to FXX this year … right?

The Bridge (FX): Apparently, FX can only sustain so many quality dramas: The Bridge was canceled after a low Season 2 turnout, and those who did show up were treated to a Tex-Mex stew that was a little overcooked—yet it was still better than most crime dramas.

The Strain (FX): Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampires-bent-on-world-domination tale transitioned from novel to TV series with only a few bumps and a whole lotta scares (not counting Corey Stoll’s hairpiece), and reclaimed bloodsuckers from the glam universes of Twilight and True Blood.

Ray Donovan (Showtime): His sketchy character’s name is the title, and star Liev Schreiber did his damndest to take the show back from father figure Jon Voight in Season 2, mostly succeeding while taking on a twisted new FBI antagonist (Hank Azaria, killing it).

Masters of Sex (Showtime): There’s no power couple on television as compelling and confounding as Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), and they’re barely “together,” in any sense. Was anything easy in the ’50s? Besides Virginia? (Rim shot.)

Welcome to Sweden (NBC): This Swedish import turned up on NBC’s summer schedule seemingly by accident, a subdued and charmingly awkward comedy that should have no place on an American network—and yet it worked fantastically. Watch for Welcome to Sweden when it “accidentally” comes around again.

Garfunkel and Oates (IFC): Musical-comedy duo Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci are no Flight of the Conchords—they’re better, at least when it comes to song quantity and lack of indecipherable New Zealand accents. For Garfunkel and Oates, TMI means both Too Much Information and Touching Musical Interludes.

Outlander (Starz): Starz finally acknowledged that women watch TV—and then told them they’d have to wait six months for the second half of their new favorite Scottish bodice-ripper. Spartacus never would have stood for this.

The Knick (Cinemax): In yet another instance of indie-film directors realizing that television is where it’s at, Steven Soderbergh directed this 10-part oddity about a doped-up doc (Clive Owen) at the precipice of modern medicine—he’s House 1900, with a premium-cable license to shock.

Doctor Who (BBC America): Peter Capaldi. That is all.

Bojack Horseman (Netflix): A former sitcom star man-horse (voiced by Will Arnett) and his slacker roommate/squatter (Aaron Paul) get turnt up and knocked down in Hollywood. It’s Californication: The Cartoon.

Sons of Anarchy (FX): The seventh and final season of Hamlet on Harleys was overwrought, overindulgent and over-the-top—and you expected, what? For all his faults, showrunner Kurt Sutter is still a passionate storyteller, and the finale of Sons of Anarchy was a fittingly chaotic closer that tied up (almost) all of the loose ends. Time to retire the patch and the musical montage.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox): It’s not the Andy Samberg Show; it’s one of the best ensemble comedies on TV, something Fox is nailing better than anyone these days. Witness …

New Girl (Fox): By no logic should New Girl be this good in Season 4, but Zooey Deschanel and crew have become a fuzzy juggernaut of funny that still manages to surprise every week, putting one-note sitcoms like The Bang Theory and, well, every other half-hour on CBS to shame.

Gotham (Fox): Batman without Batman? Yeah, it’s working.

The Blacklist (NBC): James Spader’s “Red” Reddington is one of the best villain-heroes (villo?) ever, and Season 2 of The Blacklist has found his FBI foil Lizzy (Megan Boone, finally free of the wig) stepping up her game, if not her crazy. And kudos for selling Pee-Wee Herman (!) as an underworld “fixer.”

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC): Season 2 has introduced real danger and consequences for the agents, as well as Marvel-flick-worthy action and effects. Stop asking, “When’s Iron Man gonna show up?” and just get onboard, already.

Black-ish (ABC): Anthony Anderson’s TV resume (Law and Order, Treme, The Shield) didn’t indicate that he could head up a family comedy, but new sitcom Black-ish—I know, dumb title—is more consistently funny than Modern Family is now, thanks to strong assists from Tracee Ellis Ross and, yes, Laurence Fishburne.

The Flash (The CW): The sunny answer to Arrow (seriously—is it never daytime over there?) is the most comic-booky of all DC Comics adaptations, and the most fun.

Jane the Virgin (The CW): Usually, “Golden Globe-nominated” means nothing—but Jane the Virgin is the first CW show to ever score a nom! That’s also the first time I’ve ever used the term “nom.” Firsts all around, here.

The Walking Dead (AMC): Team Rick is on the road, finding new places to explore and more people (zombie or not) to kill—less talk and more rock makes for a more entertaining apocalypse; hopefully, they won’t slow down when Season 5 resumes in February 2015.

Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways (HBO): Idiotic Foo-hater rhetoric notwithstanding, Dave Grohl’s Great American Music Roadtrip uncovered gems even the most hardcore music geek wouldn’t be aware of. Real people playing real instruments writing real songs—embrace it while you still can.

American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX): The best elements of three previous seasons came together on No. 4, Freak Show, along with more gorgeous cinematography, more sympathetic characters and more Jessica Lange than expected. The early loss of Twisty the Clown seemed like a misstep, but the rest of this season has been perfect.

Benched (USA): With no hype besides airing after the craptastic Chrisley Knows Best, new comedy Benched, about a former corporate attorney (Happy Endings’ Eliza Coupe) slumming it in the public defender’s office, managed to crank out 12 hilarious episodes this winter—and no one even noticed.

The Birthday Boys (IFC): The sketch-comedy troupe relied more on themselves than producer Bob Odenkirk (who was presumably busy making Better Call Saul) in Season 2; the result was a hysterical collection of bits with callbacks and intertwining gags galore. (Fast-food spoof “How Do You Freshy?” is an instant classic.) It ain’t Mr. Show, but it’s as close as anyone’s come in years.

The Comeback (HBO): The first season nine years ago was merely uncomfortable; The Comeback’s out-of-the-blue comeback was borderline torturous—in the funniest possible way. Lisa Kudrow’s depiction of fame-junkie desperation is so masterful, you have to wonder why anybody’s even paying attention to Jennifer Aniston.

Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce (Bravo): Bravo’s first foray into (overtly) scripted programming is not only not terrible; it’s actually pretty great. How the hell did this happen?

Mike Tyson Mysteries (Adult Swim): Whatever drugs were responsible for the creation of this … thank you.

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Peter Pan Live! (Thursday, Dec. 4, NBC), special: Last year, it was The Sound of Music; in January, it’ll be The Music Man; tonight, Peter Pan—NBC can’t launch a TV series anymore, but at least they have the high-school musical market locked down. As with The Sound of Music, the hook (ha!) of Peter Pan Live! is the possibility that stars Allison Williams (as Peter Pan) and/or Christopher Walken (as Johnny Depp, er, Captain Hook) will blow a line or fall to their deaths In Real Time, because we are a nation of horrible, horrible people (or musical theater aficionados—same diff). Is it just me, or does Williams in boy drag eerily resemble Jason Schwartzman? Probably could have gotten him waaay cheaper.

The Librarians (Sunday, Dec. 7, TNT), series debut: Noah Wyle’s TV-movie adventure trilogy never topped the first outing, 2004’s The Librarian: Quest for the Spear; follow-ups Return to King Solomon’s Mines (serviceable) and Curse of the Judas Chalice (turrible) proved that Wyle and producer Dean Devlin couldn’t just repeat the same quasi-Indiana Jones formula every two years and expect it to stick. Ten-episode series The Librarians wisely changes things up by relegating Wyle (as well as returning co-stars Bob Newhart and Jane Curtain) to the background and introducing a new team of magical-artifact hunters: Rebecca Romijn (as the military-trained muscle), Christian Kane (who usually plays the muscle; here, he’s the brain), Lindy Booth (as a genius with heightened senses) and John Kim (as the obligatory tech-hacker). The Librarians retains the action and clever twists of the movie franchise, and adds the humorous ensemble friction/camaraderie of Devlin’s previous series, the late, great Leverage. It’s a splashy year-end capper to TNT’s solid year of new originals (like The Last Ship and Murder in the First) and jettisoned dead weight (see ya, Franklin and Bash).

Mike and Molly (Monday, Dec. 8, CBS), season premiere: It’s fitting that the worst comedy season ever (R.I.P. Manhattan Love Story, Selfie, Bad Judge, A to Z, Mulaney, Red Band Society and The Millers) is forcing CBS to call up one of the worst comedies ever to pinch-hit on Monday nights: Mike and Molly. Why CBS’ audience rejects one laugh-tracked hackfest (in this case, The Millers) but embraces another year after year (Mike and Molly is now entering Season 5) is a mystery right up there with The Big Bang Theory (the TV series and the cosmological model). Fun fact: If you freeze-frame certain scenes, you can see notes Melissa McCarthy has placed around the set reading “GET ME OFF OF THIS SHOW!”

Sons of Anarchy (Tuesday, Dec. 9, FX), series finale: The #FinalRide nears the end, and as much as I want it to happen, I doubt Sons of Anarchy will grant my long-held TV wish of concluding a series by killing off the entire cast. The Sopranos, The Shield, Rescue Me, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire—none of these greats dared to pull the final trigger, though Six Feet Under kinda-sorta did it with a fatal fast-forward in 2005. No, I predict that Jax (Charlie Hunnam, who finally learned how to act sometime around Season 2 or 3) and most of SAMCRO will live to ride another day in Charming, the most erroneously-named town in America. I also predict that series closer “Papa’s Goods” will run three hours, 70 minutes of it strictly musical montages, followed by a two-hour Anarchy Afterword discussion with a bottom-screen crawl of every “Hamlet on Harleys,” “Sopranos on scooters” and “Charles in Charge on choppers” reference ever made by TV critics about SOA. But seriously: Thanks for a fantastic, flawed, exciting and maddening series, Kurt Sutter.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR DEC. 9!

Guardians of the Galaxy

Peter “Starlord” Quill (Chris Pratt), along with a tree (Vin Diesel), a raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and a green chick (Zoe Saldana), steals an orb and runs away from an evil supervillain (Lee Pace). Of course it’s the biggest movie of 2014 (below). (Marvel/Disney)

The Cabining

A pair of desperate writers have two weeks to finish a horror-movie screenplay or lose their funding, so they check into a quiet artists’ retreat—no sooner than you can say “Whoa, meta,” the bodies start piling up. Is this that movie? Dude … (Indican)

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead

In the follow-up to the 2009 Nazi-zombie classic, Martin (Vegar Hoel) wakes up in a hospital with a new arm—too bad it’s a zombie arm that wants to kill him, which will complicate his vengeance quest. Yet another Obamacare fail. (Well Go USA)

Under the Dome: Season 2

In the second season of the Stephen King adaptation, the townsfolk of Chester’s Mill are still trapped … under the dome. But then they find a way out! Or not! Here’s a mystery girl! Oh, and blood rain! What? Never mind. (Paramount)

You Can’t Kill Stephen King

Unrelated, a group of pals attempt to drop in on the author, only to find unfriendly townies who hate outsiders and questions about their famous resident. The pals start winding up dead, one-by-one, which makes more sense than Under the Dome. (CAV)

More New DVD/VOD Releases (Dec. 9)

Age of Ice, Calvary, The Claire Sinclair Show, Cruel Tango, Day of the Mummy, Doctor Who: Season 8, Dolphin Tale 2, Family Guy: Vol. 13, Frank, I Origins, Kroll Show: Seasons 1 and 2, Mork and Mindy: The Complete Series, When the Game Stands Tall.

Published in TV

The League (FXX; Wednesday, Sept. 3, season premiere): The funniest sorta-sports-related show ever returns, with Katie as the reigning (and insufferable) fantasy football league champion. Thanks to The Simpsons, FXX is finally on America’s radar.

Boardwalk Empire (HBO; Sunday, Sept. 7, season premiere): In the fifth-season (and final-season) premiere, Nucky’s in Cuba wooing Bacardi Rum as Prohibition ends, and the Great Depression of the 1930s sets in. So, if you though the show was a downer before

Sons of Anarchy (FX; Tuesday, Sept. 9, season premiere): In the premiere of the seventh and final season, Jax sets a new mission for SAMCRO: Avenge the murder of Tara, as soon as he figures out who did it. Yes, the premiere is 90 minutes, and yes, half of it is musical montages.

Z Nation (Syfy; Friday, Sept. 12, series debut): In Syfy’s answer to The Walking Dead, a group of survivors must transport a man with the potential cure across a zombie-ridden U.S. of A. Finally, we’ll learn if West Coast zombies are more laid-back than East Coast zombies.

Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories (Adult Swim; Thursday; Sept. 18, season premiere): Last year’s Halloween special is now an anthology series, with Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim inflicting more weirdness on a higher budget than ever. Like $200.

Squidbillies (Adult Swim; Sunday, Sept. 21, season premiere): The redneck sea creatures return for Season 9 (!), this year taking on “marriage inequality, taint cancer, speciesism, and the impending Russian snake apocalypse.” Thanks a lot, Obama!

South Park, Key and Peele (Comedy Central; Wednesday, Sept. 24, season premieres): No one knows what Trey Parker and Matt Stone have in mind for Season 18 of South Park, probably not even them. Same goes for Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele with their new season. Godspeed, Comedy Central censors.

Homeland (Showtime; Sunday, Oct. 5, season premiere): It’s now The Carrie Mathison Show, as our precarious heroine is deployed to the frontline in the Middle East (great plan, CIA). No, she won’t be bringing the Brody baby—she’s not that nuts.

American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX; Wednesday, Oct. 8, season premiere): In 1952 Florida, a traveling troupe of carnival folk (including AHS regulars Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson, as well as newcomers Michael Chiklis and Wes Bentley) encounter dark, evil forces. Insert Florida joke here.

The Walking Dead (AMC; Sunday, Oct. 12, season premiere): Will Rick and the gang get out of the boxcar alive? Or will they become Terminus burgers? Are Carol and Tyreese on the way? Where’s Beth? Will the Z Nation entourage pass through Georgia? Why the hell is Comic Book Men still on? So many questions.

The Affair (Showtime; Sunday, Oct. 12, series debut): Joshua Jackson, Maura Tierney, Dominic West and Ruth Wilson star in the story of how an extramarital affair affects two families. It’s a departure for Showtime in the fact that only one affair is happening.

Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways (HBO; Friday, Oct. 17, series debut): Director Dave Grohl documents the history of musical landmark cities over eight episodes. Oh, and the Foo Fighters record one song for their new album Sonic Highways in each town.

Web Therapy (Showtime; Wednesday, Oct. 22, season premiere): Lisa Kudrow is back for a new season as online therapist Fiona Wallice, with a new patient list that includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Hamm, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Matthew Perry, Allison Janney, Lauren Graham, Craig Ferguson, Calista Flockhart, Dax Shephard and Nina Garcia. Then, in November, Kudrow returns to HBO in the comeback of The Comeback—she’ll be starring in two comedies on two premium-cable networks simultaneously. What are you up to, David Schwimmer?


DVD ROUNDUP FOR SEPT. 9!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Cap (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) battle an inside conspiracy against S.H.I.E.L.D. and the titular Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). It ties in with a certain TV show below. (Marvel/Disney)

Homeland: Season 3

Carrie (Claire Danes) and Saul (Mandy Patinkin) search for the CIA headquarters bomber, while Brody (Damian Lewis) takes on a mission of redemption in Iran, which doesn’t go well at all. Oh, don’t get hung up on spoilers. (Paramount)

Mantervention

After a girl breaks his heart, a dude asks his friend to stage a “mantervention” of sex and debauchery to cure him of being a hopeless romantic—only to learn that love isn’t so bad, after all. But neither is sex and debauchery, so win-win. (Vision)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 1

Not-dead Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) assembles a ridiculously good-looking team of operatives to investigate weird cases-of-the-week and occasionally intersect with Marvel movies. Maybe just skip the first nine episodes. (Marvel/ABC)

Supernatural: Season 9

Sam and Dean must reopen the gates of heaven and stop a demon insurrection in hell while dealing with their own personal, heh, demons. Meanwhile, Castiel adjusts to being human and Crowley steals the whole damned, heh, show. (Warner Bros.)

More New DVD/VOD Releases (Sept. 9)

Blue Bloods: Season 4, Brick Mansions, Burning Blue, Dead Within, Deadheads, Doctor Who: Deep Breath, God’s Pocket, The Goldbergs: Season 1, Killer Mermaid, Last Passenger, A Long Way Down, Monika, Palo Alto, Top Model, The Vampire Diaries: Season 5.

Published in TV

Doctor Who (Saturday, Aug. 23, BBC America), season premiere: The Only TV Column That Matters™ is glad to be rid of Matt Smith and his stupid hair—bring on the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi. Season … OK, series 8 of Doctor Who introduces a less warm-and-wacky Doctor: Capaldi’s incarnation is an all-business Time Lord who doesn’t care all that much for humans or niceties—my kinda guy. While the timey-wimey shakeup is intriguing, I’m more interested in the new BBC America series that follows …

Intruders (Saturday, Aug. 23, BBC America), series debut: This supernatural-murder-conspiracy-horror production from Glen Morgan (The X-Files) doesn’t have a breakout star like Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany, but it does sport an even creepier premise than cloning: “A secret society devoted to chasing immortality by seeking refuge in the bodies of others.” Yeesh. John Simm stars as an ex-Los Angeles cop with a nagging twinge of a British accent whose wife (Mira Sorvino) disappears after exhibiting strange behavior and awkward jazz dancing (uh oh—Black Box flashback). There’s also a little girl (Millie Brown) who flips between sympathetic and terrifying personalities, an assassin on a mission (James Frain), an outta-nowhere appearance from screen vet Robert Forster, and the feeling that Intruders isn’t going to start making sense until a few episodes in. You know, like Orphan Black.

True Blood (Sunday, Aug. 24, HBO), series finale: The sensational-to-sucktastic arc of True Blood goes like this: Season 1: Exciting newness! Sookie, Bill and a reasonable amount of characters to keep up with! Sexy times! Season 2: Godric! More sexy times! Season 3: Time for the werewolves to get some! Russell! Season 4: Uh … fairies? King Bill? Season 5: The Vampire Authority … Billith … fuuu … Season 6: The ejection of extraneous characters and bullshit begins! Probably too late! But here’s some sexy times! Season 7: Let’s win back the fans by killing off everybody they still love! Will True Blood truly end the way I’ve been wishing at least one brave series to conclude for years now—by snuffing out the entire cast? The Shield, The Sopranos, Rescue Me, Wilfred—they all blinked. To the True Death, Bon Temps!

Rising Star (Sunday, Aug. 24, ABC), season finale: The sub-CW ratings indicate that this will be a series finale as well. Rising Star is yet another karaoke competition that claims it will launch a superstar music career, even though these shows have proven themselves to be the Witness Protection Program of the entertainment business. But! Rising Star has a twist: The “judges” (Josh Groban, Brad Paisley, Kesha and Ludacris) don’t have the final say—you do, ’Merica! Well, you would if you were watching, anyway. I’m no math surgeon, but if American Idol and The Voice, which are still viewed by tens of millions, can only produce obscurities for the state-fair circuit, then the “winner” of Rising Star will be buried near the Earth’s core, shot into space or employed as Kesha’s fluffer.

Legends (Wednesdays, TNT), new series: Most of the press around TNT’s new Legends refers to star Sean Bean’s propensity for screen deaths (Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Family Guy, etc.), and little about how the producer of 24 and Homeland and Sean goddamned Bean ended up on a basic-cable FBI potboiler with a C-list cast and dialogue that actually includes lines like “trust no one” and “pulling this cowboy crap.” Still, the dumb-fun factor of watching Bean out-act everyone as a grizzled agent who’s been undercover for so long that he doesn’t know who he is anymore—another line sure to be uttered—can’t be denied.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR AUG. 26!

Blended

After a terrible blind date, two single parents (Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler) and their kids end up sharing a vacation suite at an African safari resort and going through the same rom-com motions you’ve come to know and tolerate. (Warner Bros.)

Cat Run 2

Amateur detectives Anthony (Scott Mechlowicz) and Julian (Alphonso McAuley) return, this time unraveling a military murder case while, natch, trying to not get killed by a female ninja assassin (Winter Ave Zoli). If it ain’t broke … (Universal)

The League: Season 5

Andre’s wedding blows up; Ruxin quits the fantasy football league; Taco opens a Pubercuts salon; Kevin and Pete are generally useless; Jenny frets over no longer being able to give dogs boners; and Rafi and Dirty Randy get their own episode! (Released Sept. 2; Fox)

Sons of Anarchy: Season 6

Jax struggles to get SAMCRO back on the legit path (again), only to see more members and family killed (again). The season with the most violence, depravity and musical montages was also the highest-rated yet—coincidence, America? (Fox)

The Walking Dead: Season 4

Idyllic life inside the prison ends when the governor comes calling, forcing Team Rick back on the road, en route to alleged safe zone Terminus, which doesn’t sound very safe at all. They should make a comic book out of this. (Anchor Bay)

More New DVD/VOD Releases (Aug. 26)

Bongo: Killer Clown, Criminal Minds: Season 9, The Double, Elementary: Season 2, Haven: Season 4, Jim Norton: American Degenerate, PMS Cop, Portlandia: Season 4, President Wolfman, Revenge: Season 3, Trust Me, Young and Beautiful.

Published in TV

After the TV show Sons of Anarchy featured two of his songs, could Idaho native Jeff Crosby be on his way to becoming the next big thing?

Answer that question for yourself at Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, June 5, when Jeff Crosby and the Refugees play a free show.

Crosby’s sound has a genuine roots-rock feel that reminds of The Byrds and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. With two EPs and a full-length album to his credit, Crosby is certainly on the rise after being noticed by singer-songwriter Jerry Joseph of Stockholm Syndrome, who has described Crosby as “authentic.”

During a recent phone interview, Crosby talked about his upbringing in Donnelly, Idaho.

“I grew up a couple of hours north of Boise up in the mountains,” Crosby said. “It’s actually beautiful where I grew up. I grew up on a lake, and there was a lot of ski culture. In the summer, it’s all about having fun outdoors and running around in the woods. I was never too affected by the strange politics of Idaho, so that’s sort of surprising.”

When asked to elaborate on the “strange politics,” he mentioned a recent gubernatorial debate that ended up all over YouTube.

“Everyone was kind of laughing about how ridiculous it was,” he said. “It’s mostly this Republican mindset, and there aren’t a lot of liberals. People kind of imagine it as a redneck culture. I didn’t really grow up in that. I grew up in a sleepy mountain town and was unaffected by that.”

However, there was a downside to growing up in that sleepy mountain town: Its population was only about 100. As far as finding music stores or attending concerts, he couldn’t do that until he got older. However, he did find a source of musical inspiration.

“(In Donnelly), there are a lot of old-timers and old-time musicians,” Crosby said. “They just kind of sit out and play folk music. I was about 15, and my neighbor was this Harley-riding, wild character who played guitar and had these big backyard barbecues. He’d have people over and set up to play songs like ‘Mustang Sally’ and stuff like that. I remember going over there, and he’d teach me guitar chords, and he was the one who really inspired me to start playing.”

Crosby recently found himself in a transitional period: He moved from Idaho to Los Angeles, and took a trip to Colombia, which served as his inspiration for his latest EP, Silent Conversations.

“I was in a strange relationship. I actually met her down there,” Crosby said. “… It was kind of one of those freak-out trips: I didn’t think I could afford it, and I just sort of made it happen. It ended up being a really positive thing for me, because I ended up writing a couple of records’ worth of songs when I was down there. It gave me a lot to work with when I got back home.”

He said that experiencing cultural differences was also good for him.

“It really opens you up, and it really brought into perspective stuff that I was trying to figure out back home,” Crosby said.

The list of acts that Crosby has shared the stage with is impressive. The list includes Michael Franti and Spearhead, Delta Spirit and The White Buffalo, just to name a few. However, the one he remembers most fondly is Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon, he said.

“There’s something about that guy,” Crosby said. “I kind of understood why people are such fanatics of that band once I met him. We’d stay up, play guitars and hang out. He’s such a wild character.”

He also said that crossing paths with Jerry Joseph has been a great experience.

“I was living in Salt Lake City for about six months, and I met this friend down there who came to one of my gigs, and he said, ‘I should introduce you to my friend Jerry Joseph,’” Crosby said. “Jerry was coming through town, and he introduced us. I ended up doing this run of shows through Montana and Colorado opening up for him. He and I just hit it off and got to know each other.

“It’s kind of evolved into this great working relationship. I got to see a totally different side of him, because people told me, ‘Stay away from him; he’s crazy.’ Once I got to know him, I sort of got to understand, and we’ve become really good friends, actually.” 

Two of Crosby’s songs were recently featured on the TV show Sons of Anarchy. Crosby said he never really followed the show but was surprised when he saw how well his music worked.

“It was pretty wild,” Crosby said. “It was kind of a goal I had made to where I would get those kinds of placements. I didn’t realize how crazy people were for that show. We’ll get these people at our gigs who are Sons of Anarchy fans, and are these biker figures from Montana and stuff like that. It’s done great things for us, and we’re pretty proud of it. They play a lot of good music on there.”

When it comes to his live performances, he said he tries to make them unique.

“We’re kind of in this perfect place between acoustic folk music mixed with rock ’n’ roll,” Crosby said. “It’s got a good ’60s and ’70s vibe to it. Recently, I’ve been trying to make the show more of a good blend of telling the stories and personalities in the song. (Pappy and Harriet’s) is, of course, a bar, so we’re going to try and make it a good time up there.”

Jeff Crosby and the Refugees will play at 8 p.m., Thursday, June 5, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

The Sound of Music Live! (Thursday, Dec. 5, NBC), special: So what if Parks and Recreation, Parenthood, The Michael J. Fox Show and the rest of Must-Flee Thursday are doomed to cancellation? NBC has the ratings answer: a three-hour (!) musical stage reproduction of a 1,000-year-old book/play/movie starring an American Idol (Carrie Underwood) and a True Blood vampire (Stephen Moyer)! Since The Sound of Music Live! will be performed live (though there is no theater audience, and the music is karaoke-tracked, adding to the weirdness), much can go terribly wrong … oh, now I get it.

Bonnie and Clyde (Sunday, Dec. 8, A&E, History, Lifetime), miniseries: The story of beloved 1930s American outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow has been dramatized before, but never this lavishly and long: Bonnie and Clyde is a glossy production spanning two nights and, for no logical reason, three sister cable networks. The four-hour miniseries is lighter than the famously violent and groundbreaking 1967 Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway Bonnie and Clyde, and it helps that stars Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger are relative unknowns. (Fortunately, Grainger replaced original “Bonnie” Miley Cyrus—yes, really.) Bonnie and Clyde’s Great Depression is sexier and less think-y than that in Boardwalk Empire, and you already know how it ends. Bonus: You can imagine Miley trying to act, smoke, wear a hat and shoot simultaneously. (Concludes Monday, Dec. 9.)

Holidaze (Sunday, Dec. 8, ABC Family), movie: Think you’ve seen every possible variation on the Workaholic City Girl Learns the True Meaning of Love, Christmas and Wearing a Simple, Off-the-Rack Sweater holiday movie? You have, and here’s another: Corporate business lady Melody (Jennie Garth) would rather spend Christmas jet-setting and cocktailing, but instead is sent back to her quaint hometown to sell the quaint townsfolk on a new big-box store, much to the disapproval of her quaint, estranged family, and quaint, hunky ex-boyfriend (Cameron Mathison). No sooner than you can say “Merry Christmas, movie house!” Melody hits her head and finds herself in an alternate reality where she stayed in her quaint hometown/tax bracket and married Mr. Hunky! Will she awaken from her gender-repressed nightmare coma, build that MegaMart and return to her swinging-single lifestyle? Maybe in the sequel, Holidaze 2: Escape From Quaintsville.

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (Tuesday, Dec. 10, CBS), special: Like you, The Only TV Column That Matters™ watches the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show strictly for the top-notch musical guests; this year’s are Fall Out Boy, A Great Big World, Neon Jungle and mysterious recluse Taylor Swift. CBS can try and cheapen this celebration of timeless music (have you heard Neon Jungle’s “Trouble”? It’s like Icona Pop without the overwrought intellectualism—refreshing) with bouncing breasts, pouty lips and underwear designed for women who only exist in porn and comic books, but it’s really about the music. Recognize.

Sons of Anarchy (Tuesday, Dec. 10, FX), season finale: Twelve super-sized episodes and one inexplicable Thanksgiving-week break later (WTF, FX?), the finale of the most turbulent Sons of Anarchy season yet is upon us—but what’s left to happen? Must be time for True TV’s ever-futile SOA predictions: At least one more SAMCRO member is going to die; Jax’s master plan will be fall apart; Gemma’s going to lose another man (so long, Jimmy Smits); Charming is going to lose another D.A. (adios, CCH Pounder); and more musical montages are a-comin.’


DVD ROUNDUP FOR DEC. 10!

Adore

Two Australian BFFs (Naomi Watts and Robin Wright) begin having sex with each other’s hot young sons—yet none of them end up on the Aussie version of Maury, thus negating any sense of realism. Music by Pink Freud. (Paramount)

Fast and Furious 6

The boys are back-er than ever—and working with Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to bring down an international cabal of mercenary drivers! Don’t overthink it, and keep your oh-so-clever and tasteless Paul Walker (R.I.P.) jokes to yourself. (Universal)

Screwed: The Movie

Not to be confused with the way-better 2000 comedy Screwed, or Screwed: The Broadway Musical: When a loser finds a magical VHS tape in a porn shop, he becomes a skilled lover. In Screwed 2, he might even get a partner. (Screen Media)

Some Girl(s)

Before he finally gets married, a writer (Adam Brody) travels across the country to make amends with the previous five girlfriends he mistreated. Written by Neil LaBute, so you know the women will come out looking just fine. (Phase 4)

Touchy Feely

A successful massage therapist (Rosemarie DeWitt) develops a strange aversion to touch, while her failing dentist brother (Josh Pais) suddenly becomes a miraculous healer. Meanwhile, Ellen Page skulks around doing her usual indie-flick thing. (Magnolia)

More New DVD Releases (Dec. 10)

7E, Angels Sing, The Angels’ Share, Battle of the Year, Berberian Sound Studio, Despicable Me 2, Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor, Futurama: The Complete Series, The Hunt, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, Sightseers, The Ultimate Life, Zombie Night.

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Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Gators (Thursday, Sept. 5, Syfy), movie: It’s the last Syfy B-flick of the summer—and this one doesn’t live up to the idiot-genius of Sharknado. As you’ve probably guessed, Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Gators is about killer swamp-chompers; what you can’t possibly surmise is how they got that way: “Contaminated moonshine dumped in a Louisiana swamp turns the bayou’s gators—and the people who eat them—into deadly mutants.” Yes, alligators are a delicacy in the South—do you think Syfy just makes this stuff up? The “Sy” stands for syience!

Boardwalk Empire (Sunday, Sept. 8, HBO), season premiere: Last year’s psycho villain Gyp Rosetti has been dispatched; one of this season’s potential antagonists is a far-more-subtle kind of weirdo: Agent Warren Knox (Brian Geraghty, The Hurt Locker) isn’t just the newbie fed he appears to be; that’s all I’m sayin.’ Meanwhile, Nucky (Steve Buscemi) cautiously gets back to Atlantic City business; Al Capone (Stephen Graham) expands his biz in Chicago; and Nucky’s now-ex Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) is nowhere to be seen in the season premiere—meaning there may not be a likable character left on Boardwalk Empire. It really is the new Sopranos.

The Million Second Quiz (Monday, Sept. 9, NBC), series debut: NBC has a handful of promising, could-be-hit dramas and comedies coming—so of course they’re kicking off their 2013-2014 season with a game show—a game show hosted by Ryan Seacrest, no less, because the space-time continuum will collapse upon itself if this gelled hobbit is off television for even a moment.

Sons of Anarchy (Tuesday, Sept. 10, FX), season premiere: Apparently, Tara (Maggie Siff) didn’t catch Orange Is the New Black before she was tossed in prison—the terrible haircut is optional. With his old lady in the joint, it’s up to Jax (Charlie Hunnam) to hold his motorcycle club together and take care of his two sons, with the latter mostly falling to the motley It Takes a Village crew of bikers and porn starlettes that makes up SAMCRO Daycare. Clay (Ron Perlman) is also behind bars, but probably not for long, as big bad Lee Toric (Donal Logue at his most menacing) is ready to strike any deal it takes to destroy Jax and the club for their inadvertent role in his sister’s murder. The 90-minute season opener, “Straw,” is so loaded with violence and cable-testing imagery—some inflicted on showrunner Kurt Sutter’s own recurring character, Otto—that it seems like Sutter and FX are practically telling moral watchdog groups to suck it. (The Only TV Column That Matters™ approves this message.)

The Heart, She Holler (Tuesday, Sept. 10, Adult Swim), season premiere: Between Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Gators and a second season of The Heart, She Holler, it’s an even worse week than usual for hillbillies on the TV lookie-box—or better, depending upon your social status. If only there were a mildly comedic way to tell if you might be a redneck. Anyway: When last we saw inbred man-child heir Hurlan (Patton Oswalt) and his jealous sisters two years ago, all was not well in the hick town; somehow, things have degenerated even further, as Heartshe has now become “the cosmic battleground of mankind’s final war between Pure Evil and Pure Awful!” TLC vs. MTV? I’ve waited so long for this … (single tear).


DVD RELEASE ROUNDUP FOR SEPT. 10!

Delete

When the Internet becomes self-aware and turns on mankind (just go with it), it’s up to a hacker-activist named Lucifer (Seth Green) to stop it. No, this isn’t a Robot Chicken sketch from 2007; it’s an actual miniseries that was on actual TV. (Sonar)

Homeland: Season 2

After not blowing up Washington, D.C., last season, semi-terrorist Brody (Damian Lewis) is now a U.S. congressman, and Carrie (Claire Danes) is out of the CIA—but will they be able to stay apart and out of danger? Oh, what do you think? (20th Century Fox)

Phil Spector

This shows the murder-trial life of music producer Phil Spector (played by Al Pacino and a dazzling array of wigs) and his defense attorney (Helen Mirren); based on true events but taken to ridiculous, fabricated extremes. Like Spector himself. (HBO)

Reality Terror Night

Five girls spend the night in a “haunted house” shooting a reality show, only to learn that the place really is haunted by a sadistic killer. So it’s like combining Big Brother with Ghost Hunters, then killing everybody? Sold! (Lightyear)

Star Trek Into Darkness

Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the Enterprise crew are called back into action to battle a powerful wacko (Benedict Cumberbatch) who is totally not Khan. Nope, he’s not Khan. Don’t even think about him being Kahn. No Khans here. (Paramount)

More New DVD Releases (Sept. 10)

Army Wives: Season 7, The Big Bang Theory: Season 6, Castle: Season 5, Chicago Fire: Season 1, Clunkers, Luther: Season 3, Madonna: MDNA World Tour, Mary and Martha, Parade’s End, Peeples, Slip and Fall, Supernatural: Season 8, Wish You Were Here.

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Ghost Shark (Thursday, Aug. 22, Syfy), movie: “Maybe all we gotta do is stay dry, and it’ll leave us alone,” says Victim No. 46 of Syfy’s Ghost Shark, injecting logic where it damned well doesn’t belong—but at least this is more plausible than Sharknado: “A great white shark is tortured and killed by a fisherman, then returns from the dead, exacting vengeance on all humans.” Well, all humans and Night Court’s Richard Moll, who plays a crazy lighthouse keeper (is there ever any other kind?) who teams up with some meddling kids (including 7th Heaven’s Mackenzie Rosman) to stop the spectral-chomping wrath. The only legitimately scary aspect of this flick is that I’m referencing Night Court and 7th Heaven in 2013.

America’s Next Top Model (Fridays, The CW), new season: Cycle 20 (!) started a few weeks ago, but somehow, The Only TV Column That Matters™ totally missed it—and there are guys competing this season! America’s Next Top Model needed something new to shake things up; introducing sausage into the fest is a waaay better idea than previous gimmicks, like using just short girls, or that one painfully dull season when all of the contestants were mentally and emotionally stable (zzz). True TV’s picks—plural, because it’s unlikely that smizeinator Tyra Banks will let just one gender take it—to win are Nina and Phil, who look more like contestants on Portlandia’s Next Top Model.

Escape From Polygamy (Saturday, Aug. 24, Lifetime), movie: A struggling single mom (Mary McCormack) and daughter (Haley Lu Richardson) move into a polygamist compound, because, hey, what ever goes wrong on a polygamist compound? Then the daughter falls in love with a son (Jack Falahee) of the compound’s resident prophet, “Ervil” (William Mapother), who decides to give his kid the “lost boys” treatment. (For those of you who aren’t Mormon-studies scholars, this means banishment, not vampires in mullets.) That way, he can add the teen girl to his own stable of wives and move the whole operation to Mexico, because, hey, what ever goes wrong in Mexico?

2013 MTV Video Music Awards (Sunday, Aug. 25, MTV), special: The nominees for “Best Rock Video” at the 30th annual MTV Video Music Awards? Fall Out Boy, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Vampire Weekend, Imagine Dragons and Mumford and Sons. Barring an aneurysm or stroke, a full version of Old Man Frost’s “None of This Shit Is Rock!” as an annotated rant should be available shortly.

Teen Mom 3 (Monday, Aug. 26, MTV), season premiere: Now this is what MTV does best: exploiting stupid, destitute, pregnant teens to feed the already-astronomical profits of a multinational media conglomerate. After all, exploiting stupid, destitute musicians to feed the already-astronomical profits of a multinational media conglomerate is so 2003. Now that the original Teen Moms have, thanks to MTV, moved onto better, richer lives in prison and porn, four new girls have been called up from the 16 and Pregnant farm league to continue the franchise. Dr. Drew, you’re on deck.

Joe Rogan Questions Everything (Wednesday, Aug. 28, Syfy), season finale: Joe Rogan has the smartest show on Syfy? Didn’t see that coming. In the initial episodes of Joe Rogan Questions Everything—an extension of his Experience podcast—Rogan explored the dangers of worldwide disease pandemics (could happen), chemtrails (conspiracy-nut crapola) and the melding of man and technology (on its way … or are we living in it now?); in the season finale, he takes on “Psychic Spies.” Maybe next season, he’ll get to Teen Moms and Ghost Sharks.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR AUG. 27!

Collision Course

An author (Tia Carrere!) and a flight attendant (David Chokachi!!) attempt to fly a commercial plane full of passengers after a solar flare kills the pilot and fries the electronics. Wouldn’t a movie about human-killing solar flares be better? (Marvista)

Elementary: Season 1

Modern-day Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) comes to New York City to stay sober, become even quirkier and solve crimes, with the help of sidekick Watson (Lucy Liu) and a dazzling plethora of thrift-store-chic ensembles. (Paramount)

The Great Gatsby

Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan star in Baz Luhrmann’s splashy take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tale of decadence, excess and the evils of jazz in 1922 New York City. Or as close as you can get with a PG-13 rating. (Warner Bros.)

Pain and Gain

Three Miami personal trainers (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie) try to extort money from a suspected crime boss (Tony Shaloub), only to have the plan blow up as only Michael Bay can explode it. (Paramount)

Sons of Anarchy: Season 5

Jax takes control of SAMCRO; Clay schemes to regain power; Opie has a bad night in prison; Gemma gets a new pimp boyfriend; Nero’s out for blood; Tara furrows her Muppet eyebrows; a tranny hooker saves the day; shit, in general, goes down. (Fox)

More New DVD Releases (Aug. 27)

Among Friends, At Any Price, Evil Inside, Grey’s Anatomy: Season 9, Meddling Mom, NYC Underground, Online, Pawn Shop Chronicles, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, A Resurrection, Ritual, Seattle Superstorm, Stranded, Tied, The Walking Dead: Season 3.

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There were two rules for Stagecoach 2013’s third day, spelled out on video monitors and texted to attendees who downloaded the Stagecoach app: Drink water, and find shade for your health and safety.

While water was supplied by vendors and free refill stations, shade is limited at the Empire Polo Club.

The official sponsor of Stagecoach—Toyota—offered a bit of shade inside their exclusive tent on the right hand side of the “Mane Stage.” The Toyota tent became the “Toyota World of Wonders” this year, featuring an interactive vintage carnival theme, with a milk-jug throw, a ring toss and even a professional palm-reader—seated, of course, in a 2013 Rav4.

Over the weekend, Toyota revealed the brand new 4Runner model, which featured an acoustic performance in the Toyota World of Wonders from Dierks Bentley.

Around 1 p.m. on Sunday, the Budweiser Clydesdales—who made an appearance on El Paseo in Palm Desert earlier in the week—trekked through the lobby area of the festival, making their third appearance at Stagecoach.

“We enjoy a big crowd,” said Budweiser representative Dennis Knepp.

As far as finding shade was concerned, fans were finding it in the Mustang and Palomino tents.

Waddie Mitchell, a “cowboy poet,” offered a reading to a large group of attendees—some of whom sat with their backs turned, uninterested and conversing among themselves. I spotted one woman sleeping on one of the bales of hay. When he ended his 70-minute act, he said, “I think I’ll go start some supper now. Thanks for the ride.”

Riders in the Sky followed Mitchell at 3:50 p.m. Riders in the Sky’s performance at Stagecoach was their 6,419th performance over 35 years, as well as their third appearance at Stagecoach. The group’s performance had a diverse, interested audience of all ages, including children.

During the performance, Fred LaBour and the rest of the group performed solos—slapping the sides of their face making “clacking” noises. Paul “Woody” Chrisman dumped cornmeal on the stage and performed a fiddle solo while dancing on it.

The part of their performance that stood out the most was a cover of the theme to Rawhide, which had many of those in the audience singing and clapping along. Children in the audience got to hear “Woody’s Roundup” from the Toy Story 2 soundtrack, along with “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”

In a way, the Riders in the Sky are the cowboy Rat Pack. Consider Douglas “Ranger Doug” Green’s vocals slightly echoing Frank Sinatra’s during “Trail Dust,” as well as the group’s comedy, which never stops during their performance.

Fans of John C. Reilly—known for his roles in Boogie Nights and The Aviator—were treated to the actor’s musical performance after Riders in the Sky (who took a few comedic shots at Reilly during their set). During sound check, Reilly addressed the large crowd who packed the front half of the Mustang Tent.

“It’s called a rolling festival sound check,” he said, gaining applause.

“I’m John Reilly, and these are my friends. On this hot day, so are you,” he said, before going into his first number. He played the guitar he used in the movie Walk Hard. People at the rear were slow-dancing, as if the Mustang Tent had been turned into a honky tonk. At times, it felt like a performance suited for A Prairie Home Companion. Nice job, John!

Mustang headliners Katey Sagal and the Forest Rangers took the stage around 10 minutes late. Sagal was yet another Hollywood figure performing at Stagecoach; she was a recording artist before becoming an actress in roles such as Peg on Married With Children and Gemma on Sons of Anarchy. The Forest Rangers have been contributors on the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack throughout its five seasons, with various vocalists.

A few Sons of Anarchy and “SAMCRO” T-shirts were scattered throughout the decent-sized audience, and as the Forest Rangers took the stage, Sagal was missing. The group performed alone with what they called “guest vocalists” at first. Through bluesy/southern rock performances of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” and Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” it seemed as if they were trying to shrug off a possible absence.

Sagal finally walked onstage to a deafening ovation. When she began to sing a cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” fans got to experience her magnificent singing ability. She then did a beautiful cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” and a cover of Steve Earle’s “Come Home to Me.”

She turned over the vocals to Curtis Stigers for a performance of “John the Revelator,” which was just as impressive as it was during the Sons of Anarchy season 1 finale.

While Sagal was obviously the major attraction, the Forest Rangers—along with their guest vocalists—were quite a sight to see, and it was a real treat for those who attended.

As Katey Sagal and the Forest Rangers were finishing up, a large crowd in the Palomino Tent was awaiting the Charlie Daniels Band, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Daniels and the band took the stage about 15 minutes late; to be fair, the sound check appeared to be quite extensive. For a man who recently had heart surgery, Daniels appeared to be extremely energetic. The Southern-rock icon was twirling his bow and playing a mean fiddle during their opening song, and seemed to joke with his guitarist by slapping him with it.

“I do believe it’s party time in the desert!” he said after his first song.

While Daniels’ performance was strong throughout, his scaled-back set contained two long instrumentals and left no time for Daniels to play his established hits. Daniels bragged that his current band was the best he’s played with, and while there’s no doubt that’s true, people seemed as if they were ready for the long guitar solos and repetitive bass lines to end. Nevertheless, Daniels’ performance included spectacular lighting, and there was no better way to close out the Palomino Tent for Stagecoach 2013 than with “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

The Zac Brown Band closed out the Mane Stage and were the last act to play at Stagecoach for 2013. The band’s first song, “Keep Me in Mind,” was a delightful opener. Hearing some Americana, acoustic-driven country thrown into the mainstream Nashville sound that’s usually featured on the Mane Stage was a unique experience.

The highlight of their show was a cover of Dave Matthews Band’s “Ants Marching,” which was something I didn’t expect, and it sounded wonderful when played with their signature sound. The Zac Brown Band was not as flashy as Toby Keith or Lady Antebellum, and the group had a more-laid-back approach. Instead, it was all about the music. It was another wonderful night for the Mane Stage, and a lovely conclusion to Stagecoach 2013.

Despite blistering temperatures, fans enjoyed the three days of the most unique country music festival in the United States. It’s the only place where you will see Americana, bluegrass and alternative country, as well as groups like the Honky Tonk Angels Band, plus actors and actresses performing country music, and the thundering sound of modern Nashville mainstream—all in one place.

Photos by Erik Goodman

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