‘The Greatest Showman’ is a beautiful celebration of showbiz that doesn’t pretend to be subtle (Movie review)

“The Greatest Showman” (2017), now available for home viewing, takes us back to a time when anything is possible if you dream big and are persistent. Did such a time ever exist? That’s beside the point, as is what happened behind the scenes at Phineas Barnum’s circuses. (Don’t do an extensive internet search if you don’t want your illusions shattered.) Last year’s most-hyped musical is – within its own confines – a joyous celebration of dreams and achievements, with brief nods to hardships.

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‘Pitch Perfect 3’ is completely off key in formerly fun franchise’s finale (Movie review)

“Pitch Perfect 3” (2017), now available for home viewing, is an unfortunately perfect example of a franchise that keeps going after it has run out of good ideas. Following the fun and catchy original (2013) and the ultimately winning sequel (2015), the third entry is a mishmash of a concept it doesn’t commit to, a jokey style that rarely results in laughs, characters who speak more about “family” than the “Fast and the Furious” crew yet don’t seem to like each other, and – most inexcusable – a soundtrack of forgettable tunes.

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First episode impressions: ‘Rise’ (TV review)

I was never involved in theater in school, but I learned to appreciate it during my years covering arts and entertainment for newspapers (even if my love of music, movies and TV was why I initially sought those jobs). Not to discount the pleasure of seeing a well-performed play or musical, but what I most remember is the theaters themselves and the groups of high school or college students or community members who performed in them.

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‘Score’ an informative yet gorgeous journey through the history of film composing (Movie review)

“Score: A Film Music Documentary” almost seems like it’s cheating. Its score – by the very definition of the subject matter – is the greatest music cues from the history of film. And inevitably, that is a percentage of the doc’s appeal. But this is also an accessible 90-minute history lesson that vastly increased my knowledge of the topic while keeping me glued to the screen – it proves learning can be fun.

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16 years ago, geek culture transitioned to the mainstream (Commentary)

Geek culture is indisputably mainstream today (as evidenced by the 57 superhero shows on TV), but that wasn’t always the case. So when did the transition happen? It was a gradual process, but I like to point to the game show “Beat the Geeks” (2001-02, Comedy Central) as a fulcrum. Like many great geeky things, it didn’t last long, but it did signal that it was safe for geeks to come out of the woodwork, and safe for non-geeks to show their geek side.

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All 89 ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ songs, ranked (TV commentary)

CW publicity image

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” recently marked its 100th song, so it’s a perfect excuse – I mean, reason – to rank every song. (This list goes to 89 because the show counted some reprises and songlets, and I did not – although in some cases, I combined a related songlet or reprise in an entry with a more complete song.)

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First episode impressions: ‘Roadies’ (TV review)

Showtime publicity photo

“Roadies” (10 p.m. Eastern Sundays on Showtime), the new series from Cameron Crowe, feels a little more like “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” or “Love Monkey” than it feels like “Almost Famous.” The pilot episode has more bark than bite; however, it’s better than, say, Crowe’s second-rate “Garden State” “Elizabethtown,” and the fact that it’s about the same subject as “Almost Famous” might allow him to recapture a bit of that old magic in upcoming episodes.

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John’s top 10 songs from ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ so far (TV commentary)

The CW

Two new shows I kept on my viewing schedule have already been canceled – “Wicked City” and, for all intents and purposes, “Minority Report,” which had its episode order cut to 10. But the TV networks have kept the best fall show: “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” I’m setting myself up for more disappointment, perhaps, as I’m now not only hoping for a DVD and soundtrack, but also for a second season.

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