This week's must list features two Empires - one of them Fallen, the other going on a brief hiatus - as well as the debut of another Mark Wahlberg crime movie (hey, gotta go with what works!) and a new TV series that fans of a certain David Boreanaz series may or may not have a Bone to pick with before the week is through. Of course, the highlight of the next seven days in entertainment promises to be the hosting performance of British comedian Ricky Gervais at the first big awards show of the season. We hear that guy is you-know-what on Wheels.
TUESDAY, JAN. 10:
Snow Patrol, "Fallen Empires" [Interscope]
Must Factor: Glasgow alt-rockers Snow Patrol engaged in some California dreamin' while putting together their sixth studio album "Fallen Empires", recording in several Socal locations including Joshua Tree, Santa Monica and Topanga Canyon. "We wanted to make a massively ambitious record," crowed lead singer Gary Lightbody in a release announcing the album - and to achieve that goal they enlisted the help of folks including now-former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen and singer/songwriter Lissie, who provided guest vocals on four tracks.
Already released across the pond, "Empires" doesn't seem poised to reach the same commercial heights as the band's 2006 Billboard platinum-seller "Eyes Open"; nevertheless, fans of Coldplay-style melodies and low-key romantic ballads - not to mention a little more electronic tampering this time around - will probably find a lot to enjoy here.
"Called Out in the Dark" music video:
"Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season" DVD/Blu-ray [HBO]
Must Factor: Coming in at #9 on Alan Sepinwall's list of the best TV shows of 2011, #12 on Daniel Fienberg's list of the best shows of 2011 and scoring a trio of Golden Globe nominations including Best Television Series - Drama, "Boardwalk Empire" is coming off its second season in fine form.
Still haven't seen it, you say? Well, now you've got a perfect opportunity to catch up, as the show's complete first season hits DVD and Blu-ray today. For those already hooked on the Martin Scorsese-produced Prohibition drama, the set includes a host of extra features including a making-of documentary, six audio commentaries with cast and crew and something called "Speakeasy Tour". I'm assuming it goes well with alcohol.
You can sign up for instant alerts on everything "Boardwalk Empire" over at our fan page.
Alan Sepinwall's Top 10 TV shows of 2011:
THURSDAY, JAN. 12:
"The Finder" [FOX, 9 PM]
Must Factor: One of our most anticipated TV premieres of 2012, "The Finder" premiered with a "backdoor pilot" last year during an episode of "Bones" - the highly-successful David Boreanaz-Emily Deschanel crime series that spawned it and whose episodes have been shuffled around to accommodate it - though it's since been changed somewhat (hopefully for the better), with Saffron Burrows exiting and two new female leads played by Mercedes Masohn and Maddie Hasson joining the fray.
Starring Geoff Stults as an Iraq War veteran who became uncannily adept at "finding" things for people following a traumatic brain injury, the show - also co-starring Michael Clarke Duncan - will hopefully serve as an appealing alternative to the aging "Bones" once the latter show reaches the inevitable end of its run. Can it meet the high standards set by its predecessor? Guess the only way to find out is to tune in.
"The Finder" promo:
Must Factor: "What would you hide to protect your family?" asks the tagline of the new action-thriller "Contraband" starring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale. We may have to put a little thought into that one ourselves, but it seems Wahlberg's character, former smuggler Chris Farraday, has some very definite ideas about it - namely running contraband in order to help settle the enormous debt his brother-in-law owes to a drug lord.
Ok fine, so it's slim pickings again this week at the multiplex (though last week's pick "The Devil Inside" scored a jaw-dropping $34.5 million at the box-office despite suffering from abysmal reviews); in other words, this remake of the Icelandic film "Reykjavik-Rotterdam" will have to do. Of course, those more inclined to go the safe route can always plop down a few extra bucks for the 3D re-release of a tried-and-true Disney animated classic instead.
"Contraband" interview with Mark Wahlberg:
SUNDAY, JAN. 15:
"The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards" [5 PM PST/8 PM EST, NBC]
Must Factor: The Golden Globes may not be held up as a reliable barometer for who'll be taking home the glory come Oscar night nearly as much as they used to be (in fact, they may just be completely irrelevant at this point), and yet we still like to tune in if only for the fact that the show tends to be a bit more - how do you say - liquored-up than its more esteemed awards-show cousin. Also, we're hoping Gervais sticks to his promise of being even more wildly inappropriate this year.
You can check out a full list of this year's nominees here, and sign up for instant alerts at our Golden Globes fan page here. Also, be sure to take a gander at out our picks for the biggest "Winners and Losers" among this year's crop of nominations (or, err, non-nominations). Oh, and join our awards pool, why dont'cha? There may just be a brand-new Kindle Fire in it for you.
"Hell on Wheels" [AMC, 10 PM]
Must Factor: While some may well consider it the least-successful of AMC's original series thus far (both Alan and Dan were underwhelmed by the pilot), "Hell on Wheels" nevertheless proved popular enough to justify a second season. Tonight is the first-season finale of the show - which stars the Eastwood-stealing Anson Mount - before it returns for another run later this year.
If you missed 'em before, you can read Dan's interview with series creators Joe and Tony Gayton here, Anson Mount here and Christopher Heyerdahl here.