view from the couch

by kellie abrahamson

on the tube
Actor and Parkinson’s survivor Michael J. Fox will host a primetime special on ABC exploring the nature of optimism. Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist airs at 10 pm on May 7th. . Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy unveils his new comedy Glee on May 19th. The series follows an optimistic high school teacher who tries to return the Glee Club to its former glory. Think High School Musical with better jokes, better talent and better songs. The bad news is we won’t see another episode until fall, when the series officially launches. Still, this sneak preview is better than nothing! . A new miniseries begins on ABC on the 24th. Diamonds will delve into the personal and political effects of the blood diamond trade. The four-hour tale stars Judy Davis and James Purefoy. . The CW will show off their new reality series Hitched or Ditched on May 26th. The show will test the relationships of couples unable or unwilling to commit to marriage. In the end, each will have to decide whether they want to walk down the aisle or walk away. . Country music’s biggest stars will salute ACM’s Artist of the Decade George Strait in a massive concert event on CBS. The special will bring together Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Montgomery Gentry, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Ann Womack, Faith Hill, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift and many others. See George Strait: AMC Artist of the Decade All Star Concert on May 27th. . ABC gets into the animated comedy game this month with The Goode Family. The series was created by Mike Judge and is about a couple of environmental do-gooders whose WWAGD? (“What Would Al Gore Do?”) mentality often drives those around them crazy, including their own children and dog. The Goode Family premieres on May 27th. . Mental, a new drama airing May 29th on Fox, follows the work life of a young psychiatrist whose unorthodox methods unnerve the staff and management at the LA mental health facility he practices in. Sounds like House but with more interesting patients! . Network upfronts are the 3rd week in May. This is a very special (read: terrifying) time for TV fans as we get to see which of our favorite shows are sticking around, which will get the boot and what they will try to replace those rejects with. We’ll recap what goes down in our June issue!

rent this!

(Starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis). Rated PG-13 for thematic material
The Oscars are long over and now all of winners and losers are getting a second life on DVD. Nominated for five Academy Awards, Doubt was easily one of 2008’s best movies. Written and directed by John Patrick Shanley, the film messes with your emotions, messes with your head and invites you to draw your own conclusions.
Based on Shanley’s Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Doubt: A Parable, the film centers on a pair of nuns who begin to suspect a priest of sexual impropriety with an altar boy. Set in a small New York Catholic school in 1964, the drama unfolds when the young, innocent Sister James notices the parish’s progressive pastor, Father Flynn, taking an interest in the school’s only black student. At first the bond between the two seems harmless, but when the boy acts unusually after a private meeting with Flynn, Sister James reluctantly takes her concerns to Sister Aloysius, the school’s icy principal. Already suspicious of Father Flynn for his modern thinking, Sister Aloysius immediately believes he’s guilty and begins plotting to have him removed from the church at any cost.
In both the play and the film, Shanley leaves it up to the audience to determine Father Flynn’s guilt or innocence. The ambiguous ending makes Doubt the kind of movie you will be discussing and debating with friends for a very long time. Any hope of finding answers in the DVD’s bonus features is for naught, but there are plenty of clues sprinkled throughout that are sure to add to the discussion. The disc contains four featurettes, each covering a different aspect of the film’s transition from stage to screen. Where things really get interesting, however, is in Shanley’s audio commentary track where he not only talks about the making of the film but also shares stories from his childhood and other fascinating anecdotes.
Doubt may not have won any Oscars but it’s easy to see why it was nominated for so many. The film is utterly captivating from start to finish and is sure to stay with you long after the credits have rolled. Stellar performances from each and every cast member, as well as Shanley’s fascinating story and expert direction make Doubt a worthy addition to any DVD collection.

dvd releases

May 5
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Rated PG-13)
Last Chance Harvey (Rated PG-13)
Enchanted April (Rated PG)

May 12
Taking Chance (Not Rated)
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (Rated R)
Passengers (Rated PG-13)

May 19
Valkyrie (Rated PG-13)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (Rated PG)
My Bloody Valentine 3D (Rated R)

May 26
New in Town (Rated PG)
Killshot (Rated R)
The Ramen Girl (Not Rated)