The Thing (2011)

Considering the scary amount of hatred hurled at this movie for even daring to exist, it’s a testament to perseverance that The Thing was released on Blu-ray today. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: This movie is not John Carpenter’s version of The Thing. It is not in the same class as John Carpenter’s version of The Thing, which is an unassailable classic. And now for the shocking bit: This movie doesn’t want to be John Carpenter’s version of The Thing, and it doesn’t try to be John Carpenter’s version of The Thing. It really wants to be its own,,,er, thing – and it succeeds.
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ALCATRAZ 1.4: “Cal Sweeney”

Hmmm, it’s only episode four and ALCATRAZ has already gone to the ol’ cop-inside-the-hostage-crisis story. That’s pretty fast to resort to one of the clichés of the genre. On the plus side, the bungled bank robbery didn’t take up much of the story, and I actually thought the motive for the crimes showed some imagination.

The 63 of the week was bank robber Cal Sweeney (Eric Johnson), whose M.O. was to steal only from safe-deposit boxes, leaving the cash in the safe untouched. Unfortunately, he also killed a few people along the way, attracting the attention of Madsen (Sarah Jones) and Soto (Jorge Garcia). The 1960 flashback showed a little more about the way Deputy Warden E.B. Tiller (Jason Butler Harner) exploited the Alcatraz black market, which was operated by Sweeney. Also, we got to see that Chief Warden Edwin James (Jonny Coyne) had nothing but contempt for Tiller.
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NHL 2012 All-Star Weekend

Just a few New York Rangers made the trip to Scotiabank Palace in Ottawa, Canada, for the 2012 NHL All-Star Game, but they certainly made their marks: Marion Gaborik scored a hat trick and an assist, and was named MVP of the game! In the pregame SuperSkills competition, Rangers rookie winger Carl Hagelin won the Fastest Skater competition; and Blueshirts goalie Henrik Lundqvist was a wall in the Elimination Shootout. And Rangers skipper John Tortorella was the coach of victorious Team Chara.

This year’s “Match des Etoiles” was different because two captains – Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins and Daniel Alfredsson of the hometown Ottawa Senators – picked teams like a schoolyard competition, making it Team Chara vs. Team Alfredsson, rather than East vs. West or some other traditional match-up. In the end, Gaborik’s Team Chara prevailed, 12-9. (Yes, 12-9… 21 goals were scored.)
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Stamp of Disapproval

As most Americans have probably noticed this week, the price of a first-class U.S. postage stamp rose one penny, to 45 cents for the first ounce. This is not a financial strain so much as it is an extreme inconvenience: Your letter could be returned for being one cent short just as quickly as if it had no postage at all.

Unless you’re the type to stockpile one-cent stamps, even those people who were aware of the change and didn’t mind paying an extra penny were stuck. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we could simply tape a penny to an envelope? But no, you have to go to a post office (or some other outlet that sells stamps) and stand in a long line to buy a new sheet of stamps or a bunch of one-cent stamps.
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11 TV Shows I Enjoyed in 2011

Doctor Who

After posting thoughts about 11 movies I loved and loathed in 2011, I realized I should do the same thing for TV shows. This isn’t a list about “quality” TV – although all the shows on this list are well-made – these are the shows that I enjoyed watching; felt like rushing home to watch; or was willing to actually program the DVR to see. These are the shows I liked the most. These are my opinions, and I feel comfortable with them.
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TOUCH 1.1: Pilot

Tim Kring, creator of the flash-in-the-pan phenomenon HEROES, is back with a new show about a kid who appears to exhibit extraordinary powers, and a father who just wants to connect with that son.

I didn’t know what to expect from TOUCH because the marketing campaign was so weak and muddled, but the ads depicted Kiefer Sutherland running and shouting a lot, so how far off the rails could it go? But it also looked like it was supposed to be real family story with emotion. And it has a Danny Glover cameo!
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Extremely Unlikely & Incredibly Strange

I’m going to start rooting through this year’s Oscar nominations in the Best Picture category, because it’s the biggest award of the ceremony, and the surprising roster of contenders is a good place to start. And it lets us look at Oscar’s big crime of inclusion: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

At first glance, the inclusion of the critically lambasted box-office dud Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close among the movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar by the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seems pretty inexplicable. But if you think about it long enough, the nomination begins to make (a bit of) twisted Hollywood sense.
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ALCATRAZ 1.3: “Kit Nelson”

As expected, ALCATRAZ slotted right into the “63 of the Week” format this week, introducing the newest returnee from the legendary Rock, child-killer Kit Nelson. But viewers also got a far-more-interesting peek at Dr. Diego Soto’s backstory — y’know, his origin story.

Child murderers are at the bottom of any prison pecking order, so Kit (Michael Eklund) found life behind bars to be a litany of daily beatings. But it didn’t reform him. When he appears in the present, he resumes his old practice of abducting a child on a Friday night with the intention of returning him home on Sunday — dead. But not if “Doc” Soto (Jorge Garcia) and Madsen (Sarah Jones) have anything to say about it. (And they do.)
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PRETTY LITTLE LIARS 2.17: “Blond Leading the Blind”

So… Let me get this straight: The mysterious A was threatening Alison before she was killed? I have to admit that I did not see that one coming.

However, after my initial shock at the revelation that A had left Alison (Sasha Pieterse) a note pinned on a pumpkin by a knife, I immediately became suspicious of the rampage on Alison’s porch. We didn’t see the gourd vandalism in the Halloween special (“The First Secret”), but the incident was presented as happening after Alison’s prank in the haunted house, after she decided that she could trust the Liars to have her back.
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