Top 10 “give it a look” new TV series of 2011-12 season.

As we hit the Labour Day weekend in North America, back to school, autumn and the new TV season are just around the corner.

I was taking a look at some of the new shows and picked out a few that might be worth a look, based on their descriptions, pedigrees and/or cast. Could be hits. Could be misses. I couldn’t actually decide on just 10, but since some will inevitably be cancelled, we might end up with just 10 of these.

Charlie’s Angels – A remake of the 70’s ‘classic’ is brought back by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.  With their previous reboot, Smallville having just completed it’s 10 year run, these two know how to breathe new life into an old concept.  CTV/ABC
Once Upon A Time– another fantasy/drama from the creators of Lost. Intriguing and confusing but possibly interesting, set in a small New England town that is actually a parallel

Pan Am

world where the population are fairy tale characters. CTV/ABC
Pan Am – taking it’s cue from Mad Men, this set-in-the-60’s series starring Christina Ricci and from the creators of West Wing and ER, takes a look at the heydays of the iconic Pan Am airline. I expect lots of their signature ‘walking and talking” scenes. CTV/ABC
2 Broke Girls – a rather simple sounding workplace sitcom about two girls striking up a friendship working in a greasy spoon. Star Kat Denning, might be the saviour if this is a vehicle written to suit her style.  City-TV/CBS
How To Be A Gentleman – based on the book of the same name the story of the friendship between two polar opposite men, one refined, one very unrefined.  Let’s see if star Kevin Dillon can break away from his iconic roll of Johnny Drama on Entourage.  Global/CBS
Person Of Interest – A presumed dead CIA agent (Jim Caviezel) and a mysterious billionaire (Lost’s Michael Emerson) team up to solve crimes with their own vigilante justice, sounds a bit hokey but a solid cast and backing from J.J. Abrams will probably keep this going for at least one season.

Hart Of Dixie

Hart Of Dixie – Rachel Bilson, that’s enough to make this ‘fish out of water’ story about a recently graduated New York Doctor trying to adjust to a practice in small town Alabama, worth a look.  Add in a the production team behind, Gossip Girl, The O.C. and Chuck and it might be a winner. The CW
The Secret Circle– based on the books by Vampire Diaries author L.J. Smith and from the same production team as The Vampire Diaries, will luck strike twice for this team and can they turn this series into guilty pleasure TV? MuchMusic/The CW
– Buffy’s Back! No, not really but Sarah Michelle Geller returns to TV as a woman who takes over her late twin sister’s life to avoid the Mob but soon learns her sisters life wasn’t as idyllic as imagined.  Global/The CW
New Girl– Who doesn’t love Zooey Deschanel? Apparently that’s how this new series starts, after a bad break-up the ‘new girl’ moves in with three male roommates…sounds a bit like a

New Girl

Three Company situation comedy but let’s see if Zooey’s cuteness can carry it.  CityTV/Fox
Grimm – part crime drama/fantasy, inspired by the Grimm’s Fairy Tales looks at what if those weren’t just stories but warnings about real creatures and how to deal with them. CTV/NBC
The Playboy Club – like a 60’s cocktail, mix a little Bunny Tail with a bit of Mob drama and Academy Award winning producer Brian Grazer and concoct a new show.  CityTV/NBC
Smash – a musical drama with Debra Messing, Angelica Houston, Katherine McPhee, Jack Davenport from executive producer Steven Spielberg with music by Marc Shaiman. This has to be worth a look. NBC

Sunset Burgers

Sunset Burger's 80's inspired decor
Chicken Burger with Mac n' Cheese

Some friends and I tried out the newly opened Sunset Burgers in downtown Vancouver this week.
The decor has a very Patrick Nagel inspired look, brightly painted with neon lighting accents, giving the restaurants a cool 80’s retro feel.
Sunset Burgers offers a good size menu of Kobe Beef burgers with Chicken, Veggie Burger and Grilled Cheese Sandwich as non-beef options.  I wide list of add-ons are available, from free to $1.29 depending on the item. Sides include, hand-cut fries, yam fries, onion rings, Mac n’ Cheese and poutine.
My chicken burger was very tasty and the ingredients were nice and fresh.  The cup of Mac n’ Cheese I got as the side was very nicely seasoned and well cooked, the added touch of a bread crumb topping elevated it beyond a cafeteria style side dish.
While the menu looks impressive and the food tasted good, the price is quite high.  On their own, the burgers range from just $4.49 for the Grilled Cheese to $7.59 for the Chicken Burger but it adds up quickly to make a meal out of it.  A Chicken Burger combo, including a side and soft drink, with an added slice of cheese came to $15 plus tip.  The price would have been fine if the portions suited the bill, we were a bit disappointed in the serving sizes.  My chicken burger could have been finished in about 4 large bites, my friend’s side consisted of 6 onion rings.  Our only flavour criticism came from the fries, they were bland and not crisp enough, seemed like the oil wasn’t hot enough to fry them well.  We’ll leave that to the fact it was only day two and they haven’t got their timings down right yet as it was very busy in the restaurant.
All in all I’d give the Sunset Burgers experience a 3.5 out of 5, mostly for the unexpectedly high price. If I’d been forewarned I might have a different opinion because based on the food alone, it was tasty.

Blink 182 – What’s their age again?

Blink 182 – Rogers Arena – August 31, 2011

Mark, Tom & Travis : Blink 182

Mark, Tom & Travis brought the Blink 182 show to town as part of the 10th Annual Honda Civic Tour with Rancid and My Chemical Romance.
Although they are in their mid to late 30’s they still know how to party like college kids.  While they’ve had their speedbumps over the years, these three are genuine friends and that comes across on stage too.  Juvenile pranks on each other, toilet humour and playful jabs are prevelant throughout the show.  At the same time, their family men, on stage are two of their children, not introduced, one shirtless

Travis plus Blink 182 - the next generation

playing along on his guitar and another set up behind Travis on their own  drum kit.
After three bands before them, they crowd was ready for the feel-good pop-punk Blink 182 is famous for…and they got it! The audience was on their feet, singing and dancing along as the boys tore through their hits like “The Rock Show”, “What’s My Age Again”, “I Miss You” and “All The Small Things” plus a few new songs from their upcoming album; “Neighborhoods”. One of the highlights of the show comes at the start of the encore, when Travis gets his moment in the spotlight, he shifts to a second drum kit which is on a hydraulic arm that swings and turns him over the audience as he rips through a 5 minute solo, before Mark and Tom rejoin him on stage and he returns to his main kit to wrap up the

Travis is lifted above the audience.

Sadly the tour doesn’t seem to have sold that well, with only the bottom level of Rogers Arena open and the planned date in Victoria cancelled for lack of sales. The bands much delayed sixth album was due for release prior to the tour but has been delayed until late September 2011.  Let’s hope that release reminds the fans of how much fun and talent are behind the penis and masturbation jokes.

What’s On Weekends – Sept 1 – 5, 2011

Labour Day Long Weekend is here!

Thursday Sep 1

Wilson Phillips

– Taking the stage at The Biltmore Cabaret is The Jim Jones Revue
– The PNE continues it’s nightly concerts with Wilson Phillips
– in Victoria, 10th annual Greek Fest runs until Sep 5th

Friday Sep 2
– singer songwriter Ray LaMontagne graces the Orpheum Theatre
– retro takes over the PNE with Daryl Hall & John Oates
– in the suburbs at Boulevard Casino in Coquitlam is the Little River Band
– hit the late night dance floor at The Helm, DJ Adam Dreaddy & Lisa De Lux spinning at Bounce #3

Saturday Sep 3
– PNE brings the “United Nations of rock n roll” to the concert stage with Dehli 2 Dublin
– across the water on Vancouver Island, Western Canada’s Oldest Continuous Agricultural Fair, the Saanich Fair kicks off until Monday.
– musician & performance artist Peaches, spins an early DJ set at Venue
– alt-rockers Butthole Surfers light up the Rickshaw Theatre

Sunday Sep 4
– Canadian pop-rock stars Stereos come to the PNE
– local divas come together at The Junction as Joan-E, Carlotta Gurl & Iona Whipp celebrate the long weekend
– The Cobalt celebrates the 1st drag-iversary of Apocalypstick with Isolde N. Barron

Monday Sep 5
– at the Commodore Ballroom, Anglo-American group, The Kills performs.
– indie rockers The Walkmen perform in the intimate setting at Venue.
– the PNE comes to a close with Hey Ocean! with personal fave Andrew Allen

Fort Langley CNR Station

From Sea to Sea to Sea, Canada in the early 20th century was a growing country and railways were tying it together. As the population grew more stations were built to meet demand, in 1915 the village of Fort Langley reach that level. Canadian Northern Railway built Langley Station to the same “Third Class” specifications as 85 other similar size stations across the country.  The building holds an office, reception area and private living quarters for the station agent on the mail floor with staff bedrooms and kitchen on the second floor. 
Langley Station was used by Canadian Northern until it ran into financial trouble and was bought by Canadian National Railway, who used the station continuously until 1980 when passenger service to Fort Langley was discontinued.  The site lay dormant until the town purchased the site in 1983, designated a Municipal Historic Site and turned into an information centre, with the station office turned into an interactive museum allowing a glimpse into train travel in the early twentieth century.
Volunteers explain the history and operations of the station and the station agents.  Along the way they may point out some of hightlights of the stations story, like the Royal visits of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mum) as well as the visit of then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.  Other pieces of important rail history lay on the tracks next to the station, a 1900’s velocipede, a restored 1947 CN passenger car holds some of the memorabilia passengers would have seen onboard a train trip and attached 1920’s caboose holds a model railway.

Fort Langley CNR Station is located at 23185 Mavis Street, Fort Langley and open weekends, noon until 4pm, with volunteers present from May thru October


Blast Energy Drink

Lemon Shakers Lemonade Stand

Recently I found this great lemonade stand while at a couple of downtown Vancouver street festivals.  At first glace it looked like any other lemonade stand but on second look the equipment and product were different that your run of the mill street vendor.

The industrial stainless steel prep area made it seem cleaner than average and the super cool hydraulic lemon press, applying 250psi, really drew attention.  The press makes sure every drop of goodness is squeezed out of the lemons. Add in cold filtered water, some simple syrup and you’ve got a great refreshing lemonade for a hot day. What made Lemon Shakers stand different was the option to add in a shot of Blast Energy Drink.  I had an ounce of Cranberry-Grape concentrate to my lemonade and it was super tasty. The Blast Energy Drink concentrate was like getting as Energy drink shot added to my lemonade, an extra boost on a late summer afternoon.  It really set the lemonade apart from the stands selling a lemon cut in half and filled with water.

Blast Energy Concentrate

The concentrate isn’t available to consumers but I got to try a couple of the canned versions, they’re sugar free (just 8 calories/can), most of the 11 flavours are carb-free, low or no caffeine and packed with vitamin B’s for energy (there’s even a kosher version). I usually find other brands too sweet and artificial tasting.  While there was no denying that this wasn’t really a citrus juice, the flavour was quite good and refreshing. I was surprised to find that XS Blast Energy drinks are not available in retailers, only through direct sales online  or phone (778-227-9679) and only RedBull sells more energy drinks in the USA.

XS Blast Energy Drinks

If you get a chance to see the stand at a fair, stop by and try a lemonade with or without the energy shot, it’s a great, refreshing drink. As an added bonus the Lemon Shakers folks also sell sweet & salty kettle corn, made right in front of you.  Rob, the stand’s owner says they’ve been at street fairs all summer and more to come into the fall.  Also the stand is available to rent for private events and functions. It would make a great combination with the traditional bar at a party.

*While I was provided with a couple of free drinks this endorsement of XS Blast Energy drinks & Lemon Shakers Stand is completely unsolicited.

Whitecaps FC vs Houston Dynamo

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Houston Dynamo – Empire Field – August 27, 2011

Whitecaps v DynamoCould we be on a roll? Two back to back home wins for the Whitecaps! I know it’s a lot to hope for but in a season with more losses than wins fans will find hope in every small gain.

As the Whitecaps played their second to last match at Empire Field before the move downtown to BC Place, their was glimpses of good teamwork and skill showing up on the field and for a change it wasn’t all from the opposing team.  The ‘Caps definitely had some good chances on net throughout the match and Joe Cannon kept the score level at nil-nil with some excellent saves. Then late in the match Shea Salinas brought all 20, 226 fans to their feet with an excellent shot into the far corner of the net.  The final 4 minutes of the match remained tense as Houston tried to apply pressure but their poor road record (0W-5L-8D) stayed intact as the final whistle blew for a 1-nil victory for Whitecaps FC. 1 - 0 victory for Whitecaps

If the ‘Caps can maintain the momentum at home and gain some draws and even wins on the road, it will go a long way to boost the team and fan moral as the team launches its next season’s ticket sales campaign.  Let’s hope the next match at home, against arch rivals Seattle Sounds is also a resounding victory! See you there!