It’s 3-D, Charlie Brown

20th Century Fox & Peanuts Worldwide Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang (Franklin, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty and Sally) revel in a snow day in "The Peanuts Movie, which opened Nov. 6.

20th Century Fox & Peanuts Worldwide
Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang (Franklin, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty and Sally) revel in a snow day in “The Peanuts Movie, which opened Nov. 6.

When I first heard that “Peanuts” was being brought back to the screen in CGI and 3-D, I was worried. I thought, good grief, they’re going to ruin these characters. As a lifelong fan of both the strip and animated films, I didn’t want to see Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang reimagined, I wanted the timeless classics.

After seeing “The Peanuts Movie” this weekend, I learned I didn’t need to worry. When I heard the first notes of Vince Guardaldi’s “Linus and Lucy,” I knew we were in for a nostalgic treat. If I could describe the movie in one word, it’d be “charming.”

I found myself smiling throughout the film as we saw familiar scenes recreated on the big screen — Snoopy as the World War I flying ace fighting the red baron and attending a school dance as Joe Cool, Lucy giving advice for those cold, hard nickels at her psychiatrist stand, the kite-eating tree, Linus snuggling his trusty blue blanket and pondering life’s big questions with Charlie Brown at that brick wall we’ve seen on countless occasions.

With the help of Charles Schulz’s son, Craig, and grandson, Bryan, director Steve Martino (“Horton Hears a Who”) succeeds in a faithful adaption of the beloved comic strip and the film is a love letter to the “Peanuts” gang.

The driving plot of the film centers on our favorite “blockhead” Charlie Brown once again pining away for the Little Red-Haired Girl, who this time moves across the street from the Browns. Charlie Brown sees this as a chance to have a clean slate with her. Finally, someone who doesn’t know of his past failings — buying a pitiful Christmas tree, failing to kick a football time and time again, never being able to keep his kite in the air. But, of course, he wouldn’t be Charlie Brown if things went well, so we see his good intentions throughout the movie derailed by his constant bad luck.

While CGI wasn’t how I’m used to seeing the gang, the animators stayed true to Schulz’s style, going back at the more than 18,000 strips for reference. Martin0 said the complexity of the animation was getting it to look so simple. The crew had to develop a technique that allowed them to keep the “soft wiggle” of Schulz’s work while translating characters in a 3-D world.

There are some small changes — all the kids, except for Sally, are in the same class. Even Peppermint Patty, Marcie and Franklin, who went to a different school in the “Peanuts” universe. It makes sense tough, in a 90-minute movie, there wouldn’t be time for everything. But, it works well and keeps the core gang all together.

There are some Easter eggs for long-time fans including mid-credits scenes involving Lucy, a Blockhead and a football, a group of Christmas carolers, the odd dance moves that we were accustomed to, Snoopy’s voice from specials long ago and traditional animation for Charlie Brown’s inner thoughts. In other words, something for every member of the family.

A Hero is Born — “Once Upon a Time episode 6 recap”

This blog contains spoilers from “Once Upon A Time” Season 5, Episode 6 — “The Bear and the Bow”

Sunday, we learned the danger in Storybrooke (and to Emma Swan) is greater than we thought. We are again taken back to six weeks ago in Camelot where we see the group working with Merlin to free Emma from the darkness.

Charming and Hook fight through the guards in the dungeon to reach Lancelot. They discover Merida has also been imprisoned. Merlin says the bars have been enchanted and his magic won’t work. Belle finds a spell in her book, which Merlin then uses to dissolve the bars.

While walking through the woods, Merida asks Belle to hang back and when the rest of the group is out of sight, she knocks her out and takes her to the Shores of DunBroche. When Belle comes to, Merida explains that the other clans refuse to recognize her as queen unless she marries one of them and they had kidnapped her three brothers. They break into a witch’s cabin and use the cauldron to check on Merida’s brothers; they see them tied to posts and the clans, tired of waiting on Merida to re-emerge, say the trio will be executed. Knowing Belle’s skill with magic, Merida persuades her to concoct a potion that will turn her into a bear.

After seeing Merida’s archery precision, Belle asks why she needs the potion — that she could take on the clans with her bravery and her bow. Merida says she missed shooting an arrow at her father’s attacker that resulted in his death.

Merida and Belle head out to save her brothers and upon their approach, Merida asks Belle for the potion. She warns the clans that they’ll regret challenging her and drinks the potion. When nothing happens, Belle tells her that it’s just water and that Merida doesn’t need the potion to save her brothers. Clan members launch arrows at the brothers, Merida draws back her bow and splits all three arrows in one shot. Shortly after, the clans lay down their weapons and kneel before Merida.

Meanwhile, at Granny’s in the woods of Camelot, Emma finds Merlin holding a candy bar and soon learns he was the usher who spoke to her in a movie theater when she was a little girl. Emma had stolen the same kind of candy right before Merlin spoke to her. He asks her if she remembers what he told her then:

“Leave Excalibur alone. The fate of everyone you love rests upon it.”

In present day Storybrooke, the Dark Swan sends Merida to hunt down Belle and kill her after Rumple escapes. Belle finds Rumple in the library and the two make their way to Gold’s shop. He grabs a pouch from a safe before an arrow crashes through the window. Merida bursts into the store, finding the pair in the back. Prodding Rumple to become the hero Emma wants him to be, she draws back to fire when Belle yanks the rug from under her and the couple escape in Gold’s car. As they’re nearing the town line, Rumple tells Belle the pouch contains transformation powder that will allow them to cross the line safely.

Realizing  Rumple has returned to his cowardly ways, Belle jumps from the car and leaves Rumple behind. He seemingly drives off to safety. Belle is confronted by Merida who tells her she has reason to be afraid and downs a potion that Dark Swan gave her. She transforms into a giant bear and chases Belle through the woods. As she stands above Belle, Rumple reappears and the bear turns its sights on him. Gathering his courage, he grabs the pouch and throws it into the bear’s mouth. Merida returns to her human form. Belle asks how he knew the powder would work, Rumple says he didn’t, he just took a chance.

The trio return to Emma and Rumple makes a deal before agreeing to try to pull Excalibur from the stone. He wants Merida’s heart back and to know how her brothers are. Dark Swan reluctantly obliges and Rumple steps toward the stone and pulls it out with ease. As he’s leaving, he tells Emma that she will regret making him a hero because he knows how the Dark One thinks.

Regina, Hook and the Charmings meanwhile discover that King Arthur double crossed them in present day Storybrooke and burned the magic mushroom needed to contact Merlin instead of using it in the cauldron. Regina remembers that one other person in Storybrooke was chosen by Merlin — the Author (now Regina’s son Henry). Henry casts the mushroom into the pot and a message from Merlin appears in the smoke. He tells the group that if they’re seeing the message, then things are worse than they feared and the only hope to save Emma from the darkness now is finding a person named Nimoway. The Dark One finds Merlin before he finishes the message, leaving us wondering who Nimoway is until next week.

“Once Upon A Time” airs at 8 p.m. EST Sundays on ABC. 

Camelot comes crashing down — Episode 3 Recap

This blog contains spoilers from “Once Upon A Time,” episode 3 of Season 5, Siege Perilous:

So much happens this week in Storybrooke and Camelot. A quick recap of some major events:

While the Dark Swan searches for a way to free Excalibur from its stone, Emma Swan’s loved ones continue their quest to save the Savior from herself. They struggle to recover their memories from Camelot and find Merlin.

Since dark magic has so far been able to release the legendary sword, The Dark One steals Happy’s axe since Dwarf axes can usually cut through anything. But since Dark Emma isn’t worthy to free the sword, the axe proves useless.

Meanwhile, in a flashback to Camelot, the group discovers that a magical toadstool will allow them to speak to Merlin, who in that realm is encased in a tree. King Arthur volunteers to accompany Charming on the journey to retrieve the mushroom. Only one person is able to cross the bridge leading to the toadstool, so Charming hurriedly makes his way over the water and retrieves the toadstool. On the way back, however, he is attacked by phantom knights and drug beneath the surface. Arthur pulls him up, but the toadstool is (seemingly) lost.

Emma leaves Hook a note to meet her on the Jolly Roger. After years of hunting a Dark One, he knows Dark Emma wants something. When she tries to reassure him, he tells her that he “loved” her. He loved Emma Swan, not the Dark One. He keeps pressing her as to what’s behind the locked door in her house (Excalibur), but she disappears in a cloud.

After their harrowing journey, Arthur rewards Charming with the Siege Perilous, a chair reserved for the knight with the purest heart. It was formerly occupied by Lancelot. When Snow leaves the hall, she is surprised to see Lancelot, who tells her Camelot is “not what is seems” and that the Dark One isn’t the only villain. We soon see what he means when Arthur unwraps the toadstool Charming thought was lost in the water and we learn that he set up the robbery of the chest of magical items in the present day. When Arthur’s squire is arrested for the robbery, Arthur convinces him to commit suicide as a “service to Camelot.”

Toward the end of the episode, Belle visits Granny’s Diner, toting the Enchanted Rose, whose petals suddenly reattach, signifying Rumpelstiltskin has awakened. The real reason Dark Swan met Hook on the Jolly Roger was to get her hands on his sword, an object that came in contact with Rumpel before he became the Dark One. Dark Emma uses the sword in a spell to wake Rumpel up since she knows he’s now a “blank slate” and might be the one to pull the sword from the stone.

So much has already happened in season 5 and it’s been interesting to see different sides of the characters we’ve come to know. Jennifer Morrison is doing a fantastic job as the Dark Swan and I’m loving Regina as  she works to save Emma. Next week, we’ll see her, Hook and Robin Hood on a quest together. “Once Upon A Time” airs at 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC.

The Dark Swan has risen

Emma Swan goes dark on "Once Upon A Time"

Emma Swan goes dark on “Once Upon A Time”

Following post contains SPOILERS from the Season 5 premiere of “Once Upon A Time”:

Ever since Emma Swan was swept away during the season 4 finale of ABC’s “Once Upon A Time,” we’ve been awaiting the arise of the new Dark One. The Season 5 premiere didn’t disappoint as we see Emma’s loved ones in Storybrooke willing to do anything to find her.

The episode opens with an introduction to the Knights of King Arthur’s Court, including Sir Lancelot, who were searching for Excalibur. They notice something amiss — someone got there before them. When the sword is pulled from the stone, we see a familiar pattern — the end of the legendary sword is the blade of the Dark One’s dagger. The dagger that now bears Emma Swan’s name.

Captain Hook, desperate to find Emma, wants to summon her with the dagger, only to be told by Regina that it won’t work. Emma is not in their world anymore. Hook’s hopes that Henry (the new Once Upon A Time author) could rewrite the story and restore Emma’s goodness were quickly dashed when he learned Henry broke the magic quill last season. Hook even resorts to freeing Zelena (The Wicked Witch of the West).

Regina, knowing Zelena’s true nature, tricks her when she opens a portal to return to Oz and transports Snow White, Prince Charming, Henry, Hook and a few others to find and save Emma. Granny’s Diner goes airborne much like Dorothy’s house and enters the swirling vortex.

We see Emma in The Enchanted Forest, fighting an internal struggle between good and evil as Rumpelstiltskin takes form as the worst conscience ever trying to get Emma to embrace the evil and turn herself over to the darkness. Emma sets out to find a magical wisp that can take her wherever she wants to go — such as finding the only person that can destroy the darkness inside her — Merlin. She comes across Princess Merida (from Disney’s “Brave”), who is also seeking a wisp to find her three kidnapped brothers. Merida offers to take Emma along and promises her the wisp when she’s finished.

Prodded by Rumpel to keep the wisp for herself, Emma is coaxed into snatching Merida’s heart and is in the process of crushing it when the Storybrooke gang arrives. Seeing her loved ones, she overtakes the darkness and they set out to find Merlin. On their way, the are met by the Knights and told a prophecy had foretold their arrival. They are escorted to the shiny turrets of Camelot.

Six weeks later, we see the group sans Emma drop back into Storybrooke dressed in Renaissance duds. They have no memory of the last 6 weeks and when the door swings open, we get our first glimpse of Emma, who has now fully embraced the darkness.

You went to Camelot to get the darkness out of me and you failed. — Emma Swan

With all the action in this premiere, I can’t wait to see how the rest of the season unfolds.

And the winner is . . .

Jeffrey Tambor accepts the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor Comedy Series for "Transparent" at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards Sept. 20 in Los Angeles.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Jeffrey Tambor accepts the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor Comedy Series for “Transparent” at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards Sept. 20 in Los Angeles.

As two of the world’s biggest fans of the short-lived, but critically acclaimed “Arrested Development,” my husband and I follow the post-Arrested careers of our beloved Bluths with earnest. Sunday night, we were thrilled to see members of our favorite dysfunctional family (and one frequent guest star) shine on stage at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who guest starred as lawyer Maggie Lizer on “Arrested”) again took the award for Outstanding Lead Actress Comedy Series for her portrayal of President Selina Meyer on HBO’s “Veep.” Louis-Dreyfus’ co-star Tony Hale (who played youngest son Buster Bluth on “Arrested”) took home his second Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor Comedy Series for his role as Meyer’s loyal assistant Gary Walsh.

Jeffrey Tambor (the Bluth family’s jailed patriarch George Bluth Sr.) was honored with Outstanding Lead Actor Comedy Series for his portrayal of  Maura Pfefferman, a middle-age father who transitions to life as a woman in Amazon’s original series “Transparent.”

Here’s a full list of winners at Sunday’s 67th Primetime Emmy Awards:

Drama Series: Game of Thrones,” HBO.

Actor, Drama Series: Jon Hamm, “Mad Men,” AMC.

Actress, Drama Series: Viola Davis, “How to Get Away With Murder,” ABC.

Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones,” HBO.

Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Uzo Aduba, “Orange is the New Black,” Netflix.

Directing, Drama Series: David Nutter, “Game of Thrones,” HBO.

Writing, Drama Series: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, “Game of Thrones,” HBO.

Comedy Series: “Veep,” HBO.

Actor, Comedy Series: Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent,” Amazon Instant Video.

Actress, Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep,” HBO.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Tony Hale, “Veep,” HBO.

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Allison Janney, “Mom,” CBS.

Directing, Comedy Series: Jill Soloway, “Transparent,” Amazon Instant Video.

Writing, Comedy Series: Simon Blackwell, Amando Iannucci, Tony Roche, “Veep,” HBO.

Limited Series: “Olive Kitteridge,” HBO.

Actor, Limited Series or Movie: Richard Jenkins, “Olive Kitteridge,” HBO.

Actress, Limited Series or Movie: Frances McDormand, “Olive Kitteridge,” HBO.

Supporting Actor, Limited Series or Movie: Bill Murray, “Olive Kitteridge,” HBO.

Supporting Actress, Limited Series or Movie: Regina King, “American Crime,” ABC.

Directing, Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special: Lisa Cholodenko, “Olive Kitteridge,” HBO.

Writing, Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special: Jane Anderson, “Olive Kitteridge,” HBO.

Variety Talk Series: “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central.

Directing, Variety Series: Chuck O’Neil, “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.”

Variety Sketch Series: “Inside Amy Schumer,” Comedy Central.

Writing, Variety Series: “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central.

Reality-Competition Program: “The Voice,” NBC.

The Man Behind the Mouse

For those of us born after 1966, Walt Disney is a mythical figure. Having never been alive at the same time as the father of Mickey Mouse, the animated feature and modern theme parks, Walt seems more like a symbol of wholesome family entertainment than a real person.

Walter Elias Disney was an animator, a businessman and a visionary who changed the world. He rose from a humble upbringing in the Midwest to starting one of the largest corporations in the world. Tonight, PBS’ “American Experience” takes us on a tour of Walt’s life and career in a candid two-part, four-hour documentary. Having watched nearly every “American Experience” produced, I’m incredibly excited for this new take.

There aren’t many people still around who knew the real Walt Disney. Walt kept his personal life separated from his public persona. Walt was well aware of this fact, saying once,

“‘I’m not Walt Disney,’ he once told a friend. ‘I do a lot of things Walt Disney wouldn’t do. Walt Disney doesn’t smoke. I smoke. Walt Disney doesn’t drink. I drink.’”

As the years have passed, there are fewer and fewer people who collaborated with Walt. Composer Richard Sherman, biographer Neal Gabler and Disney’s son-in-law Ron Miller are among the interviewees featured in the program. In an unprecedented move, the Walt Disney Company opened the vaults to PBS and gave filmmakers access to never-before-seen archival footage of Disney at work and behind-the-scenes footage of some of Disney’s classic films. “American Experience: Walt Disney” airs at 9 p.m. ET on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 14 and 15.

Screenshots of the Unboxing of the New “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” X-Wing Fighter

The pieces are said to me much sturdier and less likely to break. The X-Wing has a pop-up droid that, when pushed, releases the wings from the locked position to form the X-position. Attachments are set up differently than previous toys, in that they only fit the slot for which they are designed, meaning that each wing’s attachment will only fit the correct wing.




Fall Television Preview

Summer goes by fast. Warm weather and short sleeves are almost over for another year and flip flops, normally reserved for feet in the sand, will revert back to what we refer to when a politician changes position on an issue.

Truthfully, the only lengthy thing about summer is the wait for fall television shows to return and this season is going to be quite an array of fun. There are some favorites coming back and some new programs that will quickly find an audience.


“The Simpsons” on FOX is returning with the voice-cast IN PLACE. This is big news, since negotiations seemed to have fallen apart over the last year. This animated series is back, starting Sunday, September 27, at 8 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: DVR

Homer Simpson

My wife loves “Once Upon A Time.” The series is brilliantly cast, the story is ever-changing and the characters are masters of developing, from good to evil and back. Now, we are seeing Merida coming to the series, as well as dark Emma, changing the entire idea of what we’ve seen the first four seasons! “Once Upon A Time” returns for Season 5 Sunday, September 27, at 8 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: WATCH

If you were a fan of “Dallas” on TNT, you definitely have a hole in your heart since the series was prematurely cancelled by the network (which I still haven’t forgiven) last year. Thankfully, ABC has a similar program, starring Don Johnson and Chase Crawford called “Blood & Oil” that is set in North Dakota, where a family faces off against a cruel oil tycoon. The series is set to premiere on Sunday, September 27, at 9 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: WATCH


“The Voice” makes its return with a different lineup (again) with Gwen Stefani returning to join Pharrell Williams, Adam Levine and the newly single Blake Shelton. You can catch the returning NBC singing competition on Monday, September 21, at 8 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: DVR

One of the most watched shows on television is “The Big Bang Theory.” The geek-friendly show has lost some of its shine, but the cast is good and the opportunity is there to bring the story back to the premise that originally made the show great. This year, the boys with be making a road trip to Mexico. Hopefully, CBS won’t be moving the show to a different night again, which also didn’t help. The series returns Monday, September 21 with TWO NEW episodes, back-to-back, starting at 8 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: WATCH

“Gotham” wasn’t what I expected, therefore, I gave up on it early on. I regretted that decision and had to go back and catch up on what I had missed. The show really picked up the pace late in the season and captured a vibe all its own. The new season gives us a more sinister Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) and Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), as well as a now crazy E. Nygma/Riddler (Cory Michael Smith). The Bat-Cave is now in play, the Joker is on his way, Detective Gordon is angry and the city of Gotham is witnessing the birth of villains with the worst of intentions. “Gotham” returns Monday, September 21, 8 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: WATCH


The Muppets

“The Muppets” on ABC isn’t quite the same as you remember. Miss Piggy has moved on from her relationship with Kermit and is now (possibly) dating Liam Hemsworth, while Kermit is dating another pig. He definitely has a type. The structure of the show is set up more like ‘Modern Family,’ in that it has cut-aways to an interview-type of camera work. This means that we can see our Muppet friends break the fourth wall and talk directly to the camera. Watch the ABC premiere on Tuesday, September 22, at 8PM Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: WATCH

“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back for a third season on ABC and some major changes. Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Agent Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) are searching for more people with powers. Inhumans will have a part in keeping them from finding those people. The new season starts Tuesday, September 29, at 9PM. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: DVR

Everything old is new again! Fred Savage from “The Wonder Years” is back on television, opposite Rob Lowe from “Parks and Rec”, in FOX’s new series, “The Grinder.” Savage is an attorney, while Lowe is an actor who plays an attorney, in an all-star comedic cast. Look for Christina Applegate later in the season! FOX’s “The Grinder” premieres Tuesday, September 29, at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: DVR

“Fresh Off the Boat” also returns on Tuesdays, this fall. Though it had a slow start last year, the ’90’s throwback series, following the Huang family, is above average and deserves to find a solid audience. Based somewhat loosely on the memoir of famed chef, Eddie Huang, the series a great representation of the life of a preteen immigrant and how he deals with moving to a new state. A great use of ’90’s hiphop music sets this show apart. ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” returns Tuesday, September 22, at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: WATCH

The CW is a booming network! They’ve found quite the support with their new shows and will continue to build on it this season. “The Flash” is one that really surprised fans because, even though there were cliffhangers, events actually played out and jaw dropping surprises were present in nearly every episode. Since last season’s S.T.A.R. Labs team no longer has a leader, look for The Flash to try to go solo, in an effort to avoid hurting the ones he loves. This fresh, exciting series comes back Tuesday, October 6, at 8 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: WATCH

If you were a fan of zombies and a fan of “Veronica Mars” and a fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” then “iZombie” is probably already on your watch list. It’s a detective style comedy/action mystery series that breathes fresh air into a saturated zombie market. The CW series returns for its second season on Tuesday, October 6, at 9 p.m.Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: DVR


“The Mysteries of Laura” was on the chopping block last year with ratings that seemed to lead many to believe it wouldn’t see a second season. It’s back, though and may potentially find its footing with a new year. Speculation of guest stars, like last season’s Melissa Joan Hart, may add to the enthusiasm NBC had for this cross-over comedy/action/drama. The return date is Wednesday, September 23, at 8 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: DVR

“Arrow” is another “DC Comics” series that the CW airs, along the same lines as “The Flash.” Arrow is based on the “Green Arrow” comic book and has an incredible social media presence on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t expect it to make a lot of sense, unless you start from the beginning of the series. It’s a good time for you to go back and watch last season online, before the new season starts on Wednesday, October 7, at 8 p.m.Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: DVR

Wednesday night comedy belongs to ABC, so grab the popcorn, a soda, sit back and prop your feet up with the family. From 8PM until 10PM, there’s no reason to turn the channel.
Starting at 8 p.m., “The Middle” is back with a seventh season! Who doesn’t love Sue Heck? It’s the middle of the United States, during the middle of the week and middle child, Sue (Eden Sher) is starting college and Axl (Charlie McDermott) has to deal with having his sister even closer than before. That means Frankie (2 time Emmy winner Patricia Heaton) and Mike Heck (Neil Flynn) are home with one child, Brick (Atticus Shaffer). Wednesday, September 23, at 8 p.m. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: WATCH


The Goldbergs

If you’re not watching “The Goldbergs,” we probably wouldn’t get along. It’s the funniest show since “Arrested Development” and the entire cast is perfectly cast for this ’80’s stroll down Memory Lane. Set in Pennsylvania, the series is narrated by Patton Oswalt and is seen through the eyes of young teen, Adam Goldberg (Sean Giambrone). It’s like an more modern version of “The Wonder Years,” only funny. The series returns Wednesday, September 23, at 8:30 p.m.on ABC. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: WATCH

“Modern Family” has become a staple of ABC’s comedy lineup. We’ve watched the kids grow up, been a part of the weddings and taken vacations with the family. It was a groundbreaking way to present a comedy series, almost like a documentary comedy, with interviews and asides. Now that another Alex Dunphy (Ariel Winter) has graduated high school and her sister, Haley (Sarah Hyland) has a job, the audience gets to see a new direction for “Modern Family,” which should open doors of opportunity to see new guest stars. The series returns Wednesday, September 23, at 9 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: WATCH

“Black-ish” was a hit in its opening season, last year and returns this season with Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross. This fun series tackles tons of hard issues, from racism to dating, with a mix of old school and modern parenting. This is one of the funniest ensemble casts on television! This season, rumor has it that the show will be tackling “The N-Word.” The series returns Wednesday, September 23, at 9:30 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: WATCH

Comedy Central has a long-running animated series you may have heard of. It seems the seasons of “South Park” get shorter every year, but the anticipation is always high and they don’t disappoint. The new season begins Wednesday, September 16, at 10 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: DVR

The hottest show of last year is returning for a second season. While I couldn’t get into it at all, “Empire” is undoubtedly the biggest hit FOX has ever had. The season premiere for “Empire” is Wednesday, September 23, at 9 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: (If you’re already a fan) WATCH


NBC had a potentially exciting premise for a television show several years ago called “Heroes.” There was an amazing cast, a solid fanbase going in and a good time slot. The problem was, nothing happened. It dragged on, without mercy, until it vanished. For whatever reason, NBC is bringing it back in the form of “Heroes Reborn,” only without the biggest stars and the fanbase. The premiere of this NBC series is Thursday, September 24, at 8 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: SKIP

In keeping with its decline in caring, NBC doesn’t have much to offer this fall. One bright spot will be a favorite, “The Blacklist.” We’ll see a different attitude from Liz this year, as she has just discovered that she was the one responsible for the death of her father. Now she is the prey instead of the hunter. You can follow Raymond “Red” Reddington starting Thursday, September 24, at 9 p.m.  Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: WATCH


NBC used to be the go-to for comedies, particularly sitcoms. “Undateable,” unfortunately doesn’t hit the mark. The series is on Friday nights, which is a great timeslot for a show that is slowly sliding off the radar. Never fear, the cast is good enough to land other shows very quickly. If you’re hoping to see this show, catch it while you can. “Undateable” returns Friday, October 16, at 8:30 p.m. Eastern WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: SKIP

“Grimm” has a supportive fanbase that has kept it alive and an online community that rivals most other shows on network TV. It’s not for everyone’s taste, so a wide audience isn’t going to be reached, but a loyal one will. “Grimm” returns Friday, October 30, at 9 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: (die hard fans) WATCH

“Community” fans rejoice! Ken Jeong is returning to network television in a new ABC comedy, “Dr. Ken.” The doc has absolutely zero bedside manner, but he’s fortunate to have married a therapist, who might keep him from surgically sewing his foot in his mouth. “Kids In the Hall” and “The Middle” star, Dave Foley will also star in the series, along with Suzy Nakamura from “According to Jim” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The premiere is Friday, October 2, at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. WATCH, DVR, or SKIP? VERDICT: WATCH

Take a Walk on the Dark Side

Members of Garrison Carida, local chapter of the 501st Legion, discuss costuming and giving back at Steel City Con.

Members of Garrison Carida, local chapter of the 501st Legion, discuss costuming and giving back at Steel City Con.

One of the best parts of going to comic book conventions is finding like-minded people who share a passion for your particular fandom, whether it be comic books, manga, television show or movie. I’ve found it’s much easier to strike up conversations with fellow convention-goers than most people I come across in everyday life. Ever since the Millennium Falcon first soared through a Galaxy far, far away and onto movie screens, fans have been captivated by the “Star Wars” universe. With “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens” slated for a December release, interest in the series is at an all-time high.

Going to various cons, we’ve seen our share of mediocre “Star Wars” cosplay, but one group always stands out with their commitment to the fandom and attention to detail. The 501st Legion has members all over the world and ensures costumes’ authenticity through strict guidelines to guarantee every weapon and rivet are screen accurate. We recently had the chance to attend a panel at Steel City Con hosted by members of the Garrison Carida Imperial Academy, the local chapter of the 501st Legion with members in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia.

FullSizeRender-2The 501st Legion is the world’s premiere charity-focused “Star Wars” costuming organization. Garrison Carida was formed in 2002 and currently has more than 170 members. Not only does Garrison Carida strive for spot-on costume accuracy, the group also combines their love for “Star Wars” with the desire to give back to their communities. The group has volunteered with many charitable organizations including the Special Olympics, Walk for Autism, Cystic Fibrosis Walk, Hoops Family and Children’s Hospital and Relays for Life.

Because of the 501st Legion’s commitment to accuracy, members of the group are often asked to participate in official Lucasfilm events such as movie premieres, toy launches and other special events. One Garrison member was one of a few dozen who received the build kit for the new Stormtroopers’ armor featured in “The Force Awakens.” Garrison Guard Jason Romanoff, one of the group’s founding members, said although he’s had the chance to meet various celebrities, appear on the “Today Show” and visit the vault at the Skywalker Ranch, the most rewarding part of “trooping” has been giving back to the community. He said his favorite memory was presenting a custom 501st Stormtrooper helmet to a young Make-A-Wish recipient in Pennsylvania.

Members say they’ve really become family and often get together for “armor parties” to put together costumes. In order to stay active, members must “troop” — or participate in an event — once a year. In 2011, West Virginia members organized to form Squad Corellia, in order to provide more localized, and personal service to the citizens of West Virginia.

For more information on Garrison Carida and the 501st Legion, visit or email For those aspiring padawans not wishing to join the Imperial forces, visit