January is Cold, but at Least There is Stuff to Watch

For as cold and awful as January is around here, it’s at least a good time to be a pop culture fan.

January has become the launch date for what amounts to almost a second TV season and awards season movies start trickling out for the masses (us) to see. And not just into theaters, but movies that weren’t released until September or October, only stuck around for a week or two in the theaters, and now they’re hitting DVD (Drive, Ides of March, 50/50 all release this month). So don’t worry about the fact that you may not see temperatures in the 60s again until April. At least it seems like we have some things to look forward to on TV and in the movies:

i'm starting to worry that the avengers movie won't be as good as the disney cartoon.

Normally I’m pretty cynical around this time of year when websites start touting “20 MOVIES WE’RE SUPER-EXITED FOR IN 20–!!!” Normally you can’t find 20 movies you’re legitimately excited for, so you fill it out with movies with big stars. That leaves lists dotted with crapfests like a 2011 list that included Apollo 18, Battle: Los Angeles and Conan the Barbarian or one that included Arthur, Larry Crowne and The Thing. Not exactly inspriring. But even I’ll admit I’m pretty impressed looking at the 2012 slate. Beyond the Big Comic Book 4 as I shall now forever call them — Avengers, Men in Black 3, Spider-Man, Dark Knight Rises — there is some pretty promising stuff coming, right? And I don’t even know what Hunger Games is all about! On top of the BCB4, there is new James Bond, new Quentin Tarantino, new Hobbit, the last Twilight and some pretty good indie fare (Moonrise Kingdom, World War Z, others) too. I’ll probably do a top 10 most anticipated for the PopRox Sunday column this week. Hopefully business picks up, but only if the movies are worth it. And in case you’re looking for the same-old, same-old, 20 percent of the wide-release schedule for the year is sequels, prequels or spinoffs. Yowza.

Not a huge fan of Matt Matovich at TV Line because I’m not into reading up on spoilers and that’s the website’s specialty. But he put together a pretty nice calendar of all the January TV premieres. The five January premieres I’m looking forward to most:

1. Justified, Jan. 17, FX: Very, very interested to see where the show goes this year after its fantastic season last year and the advertising campaign that has Raylan and Boyd working together. You know what that means! Even more references to “coal pickin'” when they were kids!

2. Alcatraz, Jan. 16, Fox: Probably because my wife is jazzed for it too, which makes it easier to insert it into the schedule.

3. Portlandia, Friday, IFC: Good sketch comedy show that had great highs, nauseating hipster lows and not much in the way of creamy middles. It got so much good buzz in the 10 months it’s been gone without new episodes that the show is going to have to keep the highs, really, really cut back on the lows and just know that it’s OK to only get a medium laugh now and then. Not everything is a home run. I’m not asking them to do a whole episode about the mayor eating three bowls of chili and then farting for the next 29 minutes to get cheap laughs, but while the idea of going really high concept on every sketch is noble, it doesn’t seem realistic. Not for this show. I mean, just watch an SNL episode for some ideas. All they have any more is middle-type sketches.

4. 30 Rock, Jan. 12, NBC: Still not sure what NBC is thinking to keep what is obviously its best comedy lineup (Community, Parks and Rec, The Office, 30 Rock) off the schedule together. But for as much as 30 Rock has fallen in the last, say, 18 months, it’s still better than just about every network TV show. Do you think Tina Fey sits back and thinks that? “I don’t care how much I’m mailing it in these days, we’re still better than all the other crap!” Probably not. One thing we can always rely on with 30 Rock — making fun of Lutz never gets old.

5. Napoleon Dynamite, Jan. 15, Fox: Back in May when they announced this show, I was looking forward to it probably more than any other show. Now, after weeks/months of seeing the commercials and the trailers? I’m worried. It doesn’t seem funny. At all. Something Napoleon Dynamite-related should make me laugh instantly, and often. This does not. Still holding out hope — just not as much as a few months ago.

One thing I’m not necessarily looking forward to is the return of In Plain Sight, I dropped it from my rotation last year for no other reason than I got bored. It was getting squeezed out already, but last year I totally dropped it. Airing it on a Friday night helps since there isn’t much else to watch, but you know what doesn’t help? Premiering it on the first two Friday nights of the NCAA Tournament. So I’ll be down two weeks before I get into it, if I get into it at all.

Is it just me, or did Celebrity Apprentice just raid the Howard Stern guest list? George Takai, Adam Carolla, Penn Jillette, Lisa Lampanelli, Dee Snider — maybe they just used Stern’s Rolodex to find this year’s cast. Apparently Gilbert Gottfried was busy. That kind of guest list was why I didn’t have much of a problem letting my SiriusXM subscription lapse. It’s certainly not going to make me tune in to a a crappy reality show hosted by another one of Stern’s go-to guys, Donald Trump.

Fun little game:

OK, I’ve listened to this thing about 10 times now and I can’t find the last TV theme song hidden in there somewhere. There are supposed to be 15. The first time I listened to it, I found 10 right off the bat. A second time got me two more. The third time got me two more. Repetitions four through 10, bupkis. Nothing. So then I checked out the comments and it looks like the one I’m missing is (SPOILER IF YOU’RE TRYING TO FIGURE IT OUT) X-Files. Can’t seem to find it anywhere in that song, which, by the way, is replete with awesoemness to the point I’d consider buying a Koren Ensemble album right now. Oh, forget the spoilers. Here’s what I got: Office, 90210, Friends, Simpsons, Dexter, Sex and the City, Pink Panther, Married with Children, Mad About You (the only one I’m not totally sure about), 30 Rock, Always Sunny, Dawson’s Creek, A-Team and Cheers. So I’m missng one. If anyone can find it and tell me where it is, be my guest.

I really hope this doesn’t end up to be a “fool me twice, shame on me” thing, but the Sherman Theater announced yesterday the Bartstool Blackout Tour will be coming on March 24. All I know about the tour is what I saw on its website and the first picture I saw on it when I clicked it is a billboard with Case Keenum giving the shocker. Sooooo that probably gives you an idea of what the website and tour is all about. From what I can gather, it’s dancing and drinking for college kids. Sounds like a big rave, so that seems pretty cool. Now I’m going to have to caution everyone here. The event is not on the Sherman’s website, nor is it on the Barstool Blackout Tour’s concert listing page. The Sherman made the announcement on its Facebook page. But on March 23 the tour is supposed to be in Washington, D.C., and on the 25th it’s going to be at the Starland Ballroom in Jersey. So it’s perfectly logical that it could make a stop here on the 24th. All I’m saying is that it’s not yet on the Sherman’s website, BarstoolU’s site or Ticketmaster. I regretted not looking at those warning signs for the Drake show that turned out to be a scam, but I’m gonna go ahead and say I believe it’s coming.

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