2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Behind the Scenes at Local TV Stations Part 1 – KKTV

    Mon, June 30, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

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    We see local newscasters on TV every day. Everyone has their favorites and we get comfortable with people we see onscreen because they’re in our living room so often. But what does a TV station look like away from the camera? Where does my favorite anchor sit when he’s not telling me about the latest news? What does my favorite weather person see when they’re on camera?

    I periodically visit local TV stations. When I first visited news stations a few years ago, I was surprised at how different they all looked in person. What I saw on TV was much different than what was actually there. At each station sets, control rooms and workspaces all looked different. No two local stations looked the same. Simply put, I got to see how the sausage was made. Since I’m sure many of you are curious about this as well, I’m visiting every local TV station over the next few weeks and showing you what they don’t show you on TV. This series is your backstage pass to the TV industry in Colorado Springs.

    The first station we’ll get a closer look at is local CBS affiliate KKTV. I visited the station’s new studio (they moved into it in February and are still settling in), which featured a new 360 degree set and an emphasis on technology, on a Wednesday and stayed from 3:30-5:30. I watched KKTV’s 4:30 p.m. newscast sitting just off camera. Below is a photo gallery of my visit, be sure to click on the pics for a larger view.

    Next Monday – KXRM Fox 21

     

     

  • Video Game Haiku Review – “Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark”

    Sun, June 29, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    Transformers

    Title: Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark
    Format: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, Wii U, 3DS
    Price: $29.99-$59.99
    Publisher: Activision
    Developer: 
    Edge of Reality
    ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
    The Grade: D

    Transformers RotDS Haiku Review

    Series has new dev

     Transforming is no fun

    So what is the point?

    Summary: There are warning signs in “Transformers: RotDS” right off the bat. I played the game on Xbox One and it looked like I was playing an Xbox 360 game. But that’s just the first impression. From there gamers will find repetitive and uninteresting missions, combat lacking any kind of excitement and a tenuous attempt to connect the game to the “Transformers: Age of Extinction” film. Most disturbing is the game’s inability to make the Transformers any fun when they turn into their vehicular form. If you become a flying vehicle your guns are powerful but maneuvering is a chore. Transforming into a ground vehicle is the worst. The aiming system is unnecessarily challenging and steering is comically bad – like driving a remote control car on ice. If it’s no fun to transformer as a Transformer, what’s the point?

    “Transformer: RotDS” does have a few redeeming qualities. When/if you can find others to play with, there is some fun to be had in Escalation mode, where teams of up to three face wave after wave of enemies. Many of the actors who voice characters in the movie and cartoon reprise their roles in the game (most notably Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime) and playing as dinobot Grimlock late (very late) in the campaign is quite a treat. That said, “RotDS” just has too many issues.

    Kids or hardcore Transformers fans may find some value here, but developer Edge of Reality (taking over the franchise from High Moon Studios) has failed to create a game anyone outside of that demographic can enjoy.

    Positives:
    + Escalation mode is fun with friends
    + Many of the voice actors from the films are in-game

    Negatives:
    - Wonky vehicle controls
    - Repetitive shoot’em up action
    - Weak story
    - Poor visual presentation

    Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamePro, GamesBeat, PC World, GameZone, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.

  • Video Game Haiku Review – “Blue Estate”

    Sun, June 29, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    BlueEstate

    Title: Blue Estate
    Format: Xbox One, PS4
    Price: $19.99
    Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
    Developer: 
    He-Saw
    ESRB Rating: M (Mature, 17+)
    The Grade: C –

    Blue Estate Haiku Review

    On-rails shoot’em up

     Story based on graphic novel

    Too inconsistent

    What’s it all about: “Blue Estate” is an on-rails shooter about a clueless private detective who’s being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Procrastination. The action in “Blue Estate” acts as a prequel to the graphic novel of the same name created by Viktor Klavachev and Kosta Yanev. The comic is full of dark comedy, vicious villains and lots of gunplay. Klavachev sites the works of Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino as his inspiration for the “Blue Estate” universe.

    The story in “Blue Estate” describes the fall of Tony Luciano, the only son of L.A. mob boss Don Luciano, and the rise of Clarence, a dishonorably discharged Navy SEAL, looking for a fresh start. You’re given a series of primary and secondary weapons to help make your way through perilous missions. “Blue Estate” offers the opportunity for a second player to join through a cooperative mode.

    Summary: “Blue Estate” is a throw back to the glory days on-rail shooters. I played the game on my PS4 and enjoyed the clever use of the controller’s motion sensor as a targeting reticule. Moving room to room, blasting villains was smooth and easy and targeting (for the most part) was simple and rewarding. Gamers will get a kick out of popping in and out of cover, upgrading their weapons and blowing away destructible environments. The in-game story is humorous and filled with intentionally cheesy dialogue.

    While “Blue Estate” does have potential, it fails to live up to it due to a lack of consistency. The targeting reticule will occasionally off calibrate, especially after pausing the game, making aiming (the key element to the game) either impossible or incredibly difficult. There were times I’d have to contort my body just to get my targeting sight onscreen. Reloading a weapon in a fast paced game needs to be done quickly, unfortunately that’s not the case in “Blue Estate.” A slow reload time wouldn’t be so bad if you could always count on doing so while taking cover, but cover is sporadically available. Using the PS4 controller’s swipe pad to open doors and pick up items is fine, but using it to wipe my hair out of my face seems like a waste. “Blue Estate” is fun when it works but its lack of reliability combined with the game’s high price point and short play through time (about 4 hours) lead to a title that can be more frustrating than fun.

    Positives:
    + On-rails movement works well
    + Interesting comic noir story with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor
    + Gunplay galore
    + Clever use of the PS4 controller’s motion sensor

    Negatives:
    - Cover is inconsistent
    - Frequent reloading is time consuming
    - Motion sensor will randomly off calibrate
    - High price point
    - Use the swipe pad to move hair away from your face?

    Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamePro, GamesBeat, PC World, GameZone, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.

  • Amy Van Dyken-Rouen chats with Matt Lauer at Colorado hospital

    Fri, June 27, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    AMyVanDyken

    In case you missed it, Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken-Rouen appeared on NBC’s “Today” show this morning. Host Matt Lauer visited the swimmer, who suffered a severe back injury after crashing an ATV June 6, at Craig Hospital in Englewood, CO yesterday. Van Dyken-Rouen’s injury was so serious that prior to surgery to repair her severed spine, she and her husband Tom Rouen (a former Denver Broncos punter) said their goodbyes to each other.

    NBC hasn’t released an embed code for the interview yet but if you’d like to see it, you can view it on the Today.com website right here.

  • TV Review – HBO’s “The Leftovers”

    Thu, June 26, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

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    Cast: Justin Theroux (“Mulholland Dr.,” “American Psycho,” Mr. Jennifer Aniston), Amy Brenneman (“Heat,” “Private Practice”), Christopher Eccleston (“28 Days Later,” “Dr. Who”), Liv Tyler (“The Lord of the Rings”)

    Air-date, time: The pilot episode airs at 8 p.m. Sunday on HBO

    The premise: When 2% of the world’s population abruptly disappears without explanation, the world struggles to come to terms with what happened. Three years later, after what people have dubbed The Sudden Departure, “The Leftovers” is the story of those who were left behind.

    Focusing on the Garvey family, “The Leftovers” is set in the fictional New York town of Mapleton. Kevin Garvey (Theroux), the town’s chief of police and father of two, is trying to maintain some sense of normalcy. While Kevin and his rebellious daughter Jill (Margaret Qualley), try to go back to the way things used to be, Kevin’s son Tom (Chris Zylka), chooses a different course of action. At the same time, Kevin is faced with the conflict between the townspeople of Mapleton and the Guilty Remnant, a cult-like group that offers an escape for residents looking for a refuge.

    “The Leftovers” is based on the Tom Perrotta novel of the same name. Damon Lindelof (Emmy winner for “Lost”), Perrotta, Peter Berg (director of “Friday Night Lights,” “Lone Survivor,” “Battleship”) and Sarah Aubrey are executive producers. Lindelof also serves as showrunner. The show has a 10-episode season.

    Highs: Instead of wordy exposition filling in the blanks, “The Leftovers” starts by giving viewers snippets of different characters using minimal dialogue. This is a bit confusing because most of the backstory is initially excluded. Some will find this disorienting but in the first couple of episodes I enjoyed feeling like one of the people in the town, just as perplexed as they are about the events that are transpiring. Showrunner Damon Lindelhof is letting viewers figure things out on their own and won’t hold your hand.

    Mapleton is an odd but intriguing place. They’ve suffered an incredible tragedy but there are no zombies or strange viruses to blame. Life has returned to “normal” in the three years after the Departure but things certainly aren’t the same. Teens are acting more extreme. Townspeople are on edge but we’re not sure if it’s because they’ve been left behind or because no one has any idea why the Departure happened. Then there’s the Guilty Remnant. They’re an odd group – non-violent, never speak, dress in white and constantly smoke cigarettes. There’s definitely a lot more going on than it seems.

    Lows: While trusting in an audiences’ intelligence is a good thing, a show refusing to give viewers answers to its own questions is an exercise in frustration. There are just too many secrets without any hint of resolution. ‘The Leftovers” starts as a thought-provoking mystery but turns into a novel with missing pages.

    Why would anyone join the Guilty Remnant in the first place and why do they act the way they do? Why do some characters have trippy dreams with a mystical, hidden meaning and others don’t? And what do those dreams mean? Why did everyone disappear? How come there are no likeable characters and why is Justin Theroux’s Chief Garvey such a jerk? He abuses his power, is a horrible father and has a bad temper. There’s no reason to root for him, no matter how artsy the character is portrayed as, and for that matter no reason to root for anyone else either.

    The show struggles to juggle its multiple storylines. Unlike its HBO brother “Game of Thrones,” “The Leftovers” can seemingly only handle one or two plot points at a time. This creates a lack of continuity and an inability to follow story arcs. Characters will disappear for long stretches of time, sometimes for multiple episodes. When you can’t keep track of what’s going on, you’ll quickly start to lose interest. Sadly, all of these issues lead to the waste of some very good actors.

    Grade: (C-): After watching almost half a season of “The Leftovers” (I viewed episodes one, two, three and five. Episode four was not made available to critics.) I still didn’t have a vested interested in any character and became fatigued from a plot that went in circles. Perhaps even worse, showrunner Lindelof has even stated in interviews that the central mystery of the show, why everyone disappeared, will never be explained. While there were parts I enjoyed and I appreciated the attempts to occasionally lighten the mood (there’s a news clip in episode 1 showing that Jennifer Lopez, Shaquille O’Neal and Gary Busey were a few of the celebs that vanished), “The Leftovers” still left a bad taste in my mouth.

  • CW announces Fall premiere dates

    Wed, June 25, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    TheFlash

    Today The CW announced its Fall premiere dates, including the debut dates for two new series – “Jane the Virgin” and “The Flash.”

    With the success of “Arrow” (one of my favorite shows) I’m intrigued to see how “The Flash” will do. I’ve seen the pilot, and while I’m saving my impressions of it for my Fall TV show preview, I can tell you it’s very fun. Below is a list of the dates when you can expect to see new seasons of your favorite CW shows.

    Thursday, October 2 – “The Vampire Diaries” and “Reign”

    Monday, October 6 – “The Originals”

    Tuesday, October 7 – “The Flash” and “Supernatural”

    Wednesday, October 8 – “Arrow”

    Monday, October 13 – “Jane the Virgin”

    Wednesday, October 22 – “The 100”

  • TV Review – FX’s “Tyrant”

    Tue, June 24, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    tyrant

    Cast: Adam Rayner (Bassam “Barry” Al-Fayeed), Jennifer Finnigan (Molly Al-Fayeed), Ashraf Barhom (Jamal Al-Fayeed), Moran Atias (Leila Al-Fayeed), Sammy (Noah Silver) and Anne Winters (Emma)

    Air-date, time: The pilot episode airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday on FX

    The premise: “Tyrant” tells the story of an American family drawn into the political machinations of a fictional Middle Eastern nation. Bassam “Barry” Al-Fayeed (Rayner) is the youngest son of a country’s controversial dictator. He returns to his homeland after a self-imposed 20-year exile in America for his nephew’s wedding. When he returns, Barry is immediately thrown back into the national politics of his country, which is what caused him to leave in the first place. He struggles as he’s again confronted with the harsh rule of his father and older brother Jamal (Barhom), who strongly believe in an unforgiving dictatorship.

    The lead executive producer for “Tyrant” is Howard Gordon, the Emmy and Golden Globe winning executive producer/showrunner of Fox’s “24” and Showtime’s “Homeland.”

    Highs: The cast is loaded with fascinating characters. There’s Molly (Finnigan), Barry’s wife, who has no clue what kind of environment her husband was raised in and just wants him to get closure with his family. Molly is naïve almost to the point of being annoying but she’s what grounds Barry and reminds him of what an insane upbringing he had and why he left. There’s teenage son Sammy (Silver) who immediately embraces the lavish lifestyle his dad’s family enjoys. He suddenly has anything he could want at his fingertips and clashes with his dad as he turns into a spoiled brat.

    Most compelling are Barry and Jamal. The two brothers, on the surface, are at opposite ends of the spectrum – Barry is quiet and uses reason while Jamal drives around in a Lamborghini cranking loud rock and roll music in front of the poor people of his country. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg with these two. Each brother has glaring flaws and isn’t exactly what they seem – both are angry (for different reasons), looking for their father’s approval and share a capacity for cruelty. Barry and Jamal are multi-dimensional characters with real depth.

    The world of “Tyrant” is immersive. Howard Gordon has taken the fictitious Middle Eastern country created by writer Gideon Raff (“Homeland,” “Prisoners of War”) and made it into a living, breathing place. The presidential palace is large and visually stunning, the poorer parts of town look worn down and destitute but there’s also large skyscrapers and beautiful mosques. The fabricated country of Abbudin is a mix of things we’re familiar with – the tall buildings of Dubai, the decadence of a Saddam Hussein palace, the endless sand dunes of Abu Dhabi – but unique. The attention to detail to make the world in “Tryant” an actual place is impressive.

    Lows: Kids are hard to write for in a dramatic series and it’s no different in “Tyrant.” While Sammy is a fun character to hate-watch, the role of the rebellious teen can get grating (see “Homeland” and “The Americans”). Sammy’s sister Emma (Winters) is aloof and disinterested in her newfound family. I’m not sure where her character is going.

    Grade: (A): I only had one episode of “Tyrant” to watch but what a great episode it was. With great production value, abundant familial conflict and engrossing characters, “Tyrant” is a show that deserves your attention.

  • Five TV Shows That Are Worth Your Time

    Mon, June 23, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

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    Have you ever been so invested in a TV show and felt so passionate about it that you tried to get everyone you know to watch it? Are you so insistent to get people tuned into a series that your friends and family ask you if you are working for the network it airs on? Chances are this has happened to you. It certainly has happened to me. My brother has been trying for years to get me into “Dr. Who,” while I’ve been trying to talk him into giving “Arrow” a chance. Even my daughter will bug me to try out shows I don’t normally watch, but there’s no way I’m spending time with “Pretty Little Liars.”

    Despite recommendations from friends and family there’s still a good chance you’re missing out on some quality television programming because there are so many choices. With most series on summer hiatus, now is the perfect time to play catch up on current shows through on-demand or a network’s website. Here are five programs that fly under the radar but deserve your attention.

    “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)
    The premise: The British comedian and former “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” correspondent takes a satirical look at news, politics and current events.
    Why you’re probably not watching it: You don’t have HBO.
    Why you should be watching it: Even though it’s only been on for a couple months, “Last Week Tonight” has made a name for itself thanks to John Oliver’s informative, hysterical rants on two controversial topics – FIFA, the organization that runs the World Cup, and Net Neutrality. Oliver’s take on these issues is a great example of how satire can shine a light on topics that sometimes go unchallenged. While this show is hard to find without an HBO subscription, you can still access it if you’re an Amazon Prime member.

    “Million Dollar Listing New York” (Bravo)
    The premise: Three highly aggressive real estate agents look to make million dollar deals while battling each other for supremacy of the New York housing market.
    Why you’re probably not watching it: You’re leery of Bravo “reality” shows because if any of “The Real Housewives” programs are any indication, they have all the realism of a plastic Christmas tree.
    Why you should be watching it: “Million Dollar Listing” is less about real estate and more about the competitive nature of the three brokers who are in constant conflict with each other. Ryan (the funny jerk), Luis (the naïve upstart) and Fredrik (the high kicking sales machine) have unique personalities and are fascinating to watch.

    “The Americans” (FX)
    The premise: Set during of the Cold War of the 1980s, “The Americans” follows the complex marriage of KGB spies living undercover in suburban Washington, D.C. The couple struggles to balance a home life with two children unaware of their parents’ true identity with the demands of undermining the U.S. government.
    Why you’re probably not watching it: You can’t stand the sight of feathered hair, cordless phones the size of bricks and sweaters tied around peoples necks.
    Why you should be watching it: You know a program is good when you root for the bad guys and the husband/wife duo played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are most certainly bad guys. They murder, scheme and blackmail all in the interests of Mother Russian during one of the most tenuous times in our nation’s history. Yet, despite living across the street from an FBI agent (played brilliantly by Noah Emmerich), they’re still likable and struggle with family issues just like everybody else.

    “Inside Amy Schumer” (Comedy Central)
    The premise: Through a series of scripted vignettes, stand-up comedy and on-the-street interviews, comedian Amy Schumer pokes fun at relationships and the goofiness of life in general.
    Why you’re probably not watching it: You’ve never heard of Amy Schumer before.
    Why you should be watching it: Schumer, who competed on the fifth season of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” is quickly emerging as one of the funniest women in comedy. She can be raunchy and crude but like any good comedian there’s always some truth in her observations. Schumer tackles a number of topics many women are sensitive about – dieting, men, competing with other women – and does it with self-deprecating humor.

    “The 100” (The CW)
    The premise: Ninety-seven years ago a nuclear war decimated the Earth. The only survivors were the inhabitants of 12 space stations that were in orbit at the time. The space stations came together to form, the Ark. Some of the young people on the Ark have been labeled criminals and punished for minor infractions. These juveniles who tested authority are now being sent to Earth, testing it to see if it’s inhabitable.
    Why you’re probably not watching it: It’s on the CW, which can be a hard channel to find if you don’t regularly watch programs targeted at young adults.
    Why you should be watching it: There are few shows that do a better job of balancing multiple story lines than “The 100.” The action and drama that the young adults face on the surface of the Earth is just as intense, yet very different, than what the older adults are dealing with on the slowly decaying Ark. This sci-fi show is a clever mix of “Lord of the Flies” and “Battlestar Galactica.”

  • “True Blood” Season 7 Preview (Spoiler Free)

    Fri, June 20, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

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    Cast: Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse), Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton), Alexander Skarsgard (Eric Northman), Sam Trammell (Sam), Ryan Kwanten (Jason), Rutina Wesley (Tara), Chris Bauer (Andy), Kristin Bauer van Straten (Pam)

    Air-date, time: The seventh and final season premieres at 7 p.m. June 22 on HBO

    At the conclusion of season six of “True Blood,” Sookie was forced to take a hard look at her future. Bill discovered that salvation comes at a price and Eric’s ultimate fate remained a mystery (tanning on an ice field is not a good idea for a vampire). Meanwhile, the town of Bon Temps braced itself for a new crisis that would threaten humans and vampires alike. The show returns for its ten-episode final season this Sunday.

    Synopsis: I had access to the first two episodes of season seven. In episode one a band of H-vamps crashes a vampire/human mixer at Bellefleur’s. As Sookie seeks refuge from accusations that she’s somehow to blame for the chaos in Ben Temps, the “one vampire for every human” plan moves forward. In episode two a trio of hostages taken in the Bellefleur’s attack look to someone familiar as a possible liberator from the H-vamps. Sookie and Jason visit the neighboring town of Saint Alice, where a young woman’s diary offers clues to the potential fate of Bon Temps.

    What you can expect in the first two episodes (mostly spoiler free):

    -       The action starts fast. The first episode opens in the middle of a huge battle between H-vamps, regular vamps and Bon Temps townies. It’s a mess.

    -       A major character dies within the first five minutes of the season. That said, we don’t actually see this person die so I wouldn’t be surprised if they came back later in the season.

    -       Alcide still only scowls, Sookie still makes horrible decisions and Pam is still funny. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

    -       Sookie gets a lot of grief from the townspeople of Bon Temps (and deservedly so some might say) in episode one. At first she has a hard time dealing with it but then she turns it around and tries to appeal to the town to let her help. Of course it doesn’t work. But hopefully this is a sign that this is a redemptive season for Sookie.

    -       When we first see Eric Northman he’s engaged in a love scene with a character no one would probably expect. Twitter will go nuts after this scene.

    -       Two minor characters die in the first two episodes. With the early death of a major character in episode one and two minor characters, this could mean that the death toll is going to be pretty high this season. Maybe showrunner Brian Buckner learned a thing or two from “Game of Thrones.”

    -       Unlike Warlow or some of the other villains this series has seen the H-vamps are straight-forward and direct, which is a nice break from some of the other convoluted plot lines we’ve seen before.

    -       The Bon Temps townies suffer from a bad case of groupthink. Expect them to make some stupid (yet entertaining) choices.

    Those are the highlights I gleaned from the first two episodes of season seven. I’ll be honest, I’ve been down on “True Blood” for the last few seasons. It lost its edge with too many mythical creatures and by turning characters who were likeable (Jason) or interesting (Sookie) into ridiculous (Sookie) and clichéd (Jason). These first two episodes give me hope, however, that this last season of “True Blood” goes out with a bang.

  • KOAA-TV debuting new Colorado Springs set/broadcast center tonight

    Thu, June 19, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    KOAA7

    Local NBC affiliate KOAA-TV will be debuting their new Colorado Springs set and broadcast facility during tonight’s 5 p.m. newscast.

    The brand new, 25,000 square foot broadcast center, located at 5520 Tech Center Drive, is a significant upgrade to KOAA’s long-standing home in Colorado Springs. Purchased by the station in 2013, the new center boasts more than double the space previously held by KOAA on Communication Circle as well as many technological enhancements. KOAA’s Pueblo facility underwent a full remodel and technology update, along with a brand new, news set that debuted in December. Both buildings are capable of delivering complete news broadcasts to viewers from either city.

    KOAA’s two Colorado Springs and Pueblo buildings include dedicated employee lounges and workout rooms. The new Colorado Springs location also has three conference rooms, with plans to make these available to the public through reservation.

    “We’ve called this area home for more than sixty years and we continue to invest in the communities we serve,” said KOAA president and general manager Evan Pappas. “As part of that investment, we’ve made a conscious effort to continue our role as the only local news station with full broadcast capabilities from both city centers.”

    A photo gallery of the new set is below.