The Couch Potato Report

Cold weekend? Here are some things to watch!!

The Couch Potato Report – January 12th, 2013

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report are Two Oscar Nominees and a judge, jury and executioner from a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

The nominations for the 85th Annual Academy Awards were announced early Thursday morning, and Steven Spielberg’s film LINCOLN leads the pack with 12 nominations and the film based on Saskatoon author Yann Martel’s book LIFE OF PI received 11.

Since neither of those films will be available on Blu-ray or DVD until the Spring, let me focus this morning on two Oscar nominated films that are available in stores and online right now.

The first one is the French Canadian film that was nominated in the Best Foreign Language category, WAR WITCH.

WAR WITCH tells the story of a girl who is kidnapped by African rebels at the age of 12 and forced to become a child soldier against the government.

The reason the child is given the title of War Witch by the leader of the rebels is due to her ability to see grey ghosts in the trees that warn her of approaching enemies.

WAR WITCH begins with the now 14 year old girl telling her story to the unborn child growing inside of her as she tries to come to grips with the things that she has been forced to do and from beginning to end it is an exceptional film.

Due to its subject matter and it’s very graphic depiction or war, it is never an easy movie to watch, but I recommend that you do see it.

WAR WITCH is a very interesting movie…an Academy Award nominated Canadian movie!!

The other Oscar nominated new release that I have for you this week is one that was shortlisted in the Best Animated Feature Film category…Tim Burton’s FRANKENWEENIE.

FRANKENWEENIE is a stop-motion film that is a remake of Burton’s own 1984 short film of the same name.

A young boy named Victor Frankenstein uses science and electricity to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, because he loves and misses him AND wants to win the science fair at school, but his joy at having Sparky back in his life is only matched by the horror of others who want the raised from the dead creature out of their lives.

FRANKENWEENIE is a dog brought back to life onscreen and off as Tim Burton has gone back into his past to retell a story that he loves, a story that is both a parody of and a tribute to the 1931 film FRANKENSTEIN, based on Mary Shelley’s book of the same name.

I for one am glad he did as FRANKENWEENIE is very entertaining…not as entertaining as his stop-motion classic THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, but still very entertaining.

PLUS, several of the voices are provided by the great Canadian actors, and SCTV veterans Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara.

FRANKENWEENIE is a fun flick that is a deserving nominee in the Best Animated Feature Film category for the 85th Annual Academy Awards.

Now to a film that didn’t receive a single Academy Award nomination…but, it was also left of the list of the films nominated for The 33rd Annual Golden Raspberry Awards, which recognize the worst films of the year.

And that is about where DREDD sits…in the middle. It isn’t one of the best movies of the year, but it isn’t one of the worst either.

DREDD is a sci-fi action film based on the British comic Judge Dredd about law enforcers in a futuristic city who are given the power of judge, jury and executioner in a vast, post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Karl Urban from the newest STAR TREK films stars as a Judge who must break in a new partner, all while trying to bring order to a 200-storey high-rise controlled by an evil drug lord.

There was another film done based on these comic books, 1995’s JUDGE DREDD starring Sylvester Stallone and I’m happy to report that this newer film is much better than that one, and is more like the comic books.

That said, DREDD is not great, and because it was made to be seen in 3D, if you don’t see it in that format it is far too gimmicky, but it does have some very cool scenes and I think it is good enough for action film fans to check out.

Yes, DREDD is a good rental.

Here we are, Wintertime in Canada, and if you don’t like to get outside and ski, skate, or enjoy the great outdoors, I three television show sets that are newly released for you, which will provide you with hours of entertainment.

The first one stars one of the original FRIENDS – Matt LeBlanc!! He leads the cast of an amazing television series called EPISODES.

In the show, a British husband and wife team bring their successful and award winning television series to America, making all of their dreams come true, until the network changes almost everything, and suggests they cast the former FRIEND…who changes almost everything about their beloved show, and their lives.

The two main reasons that EPISODES works so well – and it does work very, very well – is due to the very smart writing and the fact that Matt LeBlanc is playing a very odd, but sort of real version of himself, kind of, and the show is better for it!!

EPISODES is smart and funny and I really enjoy it…although, the second season of the show isn’t as good as the first.

It is still funny – laugh out loud funny at times – but there were some slower episodes in SEASON TWO, not enough of them for me to not recommend the two disc set that features THE COMPLETE FIRST AND SECOND SEASONS of EPISODES, but thought I should mention it as I suggest you search it out.

I will also recommend THE COMPLETE FIFTEENTH SEASON of the still on the air animated show THE SIMPSONS.

Can you remember a time when The Simpsons weren’t on the air?

Yes, you can probably remember when you stopped watching the show as you didn’t think it was as funny as it used to be, but the show is still on the air, producing new episodes well into its twenty-fourth season.

THE COMPLETE FIFTEENTH SEASON of THE SIMPSONS is what I am focussing on this morning, as the four disc set is out there – full of hours of bonus features – and available for you to add to the shelf beside the other fourteen sets.

No, this season isn’t the best one the show has ever had, but it did make me laugh out loud, it did entertain me, and I do recommend it!!


I am sure there are those out there who consider the show SMASH to also be great TV.

Others, will simply refer to SMASH as a great guilty pleasure, a musical soap opera…and if that’s what they, if that is what you think, I have no problem with that.

I also have no problems with SEASON ONE of the show, in its entirety. I don’t love it, but I never hated it…and I had heard enough bad things about it that I thought I might.

SMASH is the show starring former American Idol finalist Katharine McPhee as one of two women competing for the lead in a Broadway show about Marilyn Monroe and in SEASON ONE we see the production from conception to opening night.

But SMASH just isn’t about the production of a Broadway musical in New York City, it is also about the lives and loves and drama caused by the loves and lives of the people working on the show.

Most days, there is more drama behind the scenes than on the stage.

As I said, I had heard a lot of bad things about SMASH before I sat down and watched SEASON ONE of the show this week, and perhaps it was because my expectations we so low that I sort of enjoyed it.

The music and songs aren’t that great, and the lip synching is laughable at times, but the cast is very good with the material they’re given. The stories aren’t anything unique, but there are some moments when you will genuinely care about these characters.

And the show could have been more fun, it really isn’t ever that fun…but with all of that said, I still thought that SEASON ONE of SMASH was okay. Not great, not bad, but okay.

I didn’t love it, but I never once wanted to stop watching.

So, to people who love musicals, or enjoy going into things with low expectations, consider that a mild recommendation!

SEASON ONE of mildly entertaining musical series SMASH, THE COMPLETE FIFTEENTH SEASON of the still occasionally laugh out loud funny show starring THE SIMPSONS, THE COMPLETE FIRST AND SECOND SEASONS of the laugh out loud adult comedy EPISODES, the not awful, but not great sci-fi action flick DREDD, Tim Burton’s entertaining and fun feature length version of FRANKENWEENIE, and the very interesting Canadian made Academy Award nominee WAR WITCH are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

Liam Neeson is back fighting bad guys in TAKEN 2, Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin and Roberto Benigni all star in the ensemble comedy TO ROME WITH LOVE and Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence stars in the Ottawa made horror thriller HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET.

I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.

For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.

Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here again next time on The Couch!