BIG RELEASE: Neighbors (May 9)
BIG PICTURE: Seth Rogen is growing up. The Vancouverite deserves a lot of credit (along with his pal Judd Apatow) for today's abundance of slacker man-child comedies. But this time Rogen plays a married, young father living next to the worst breed of man-child: the frat boy! Zac Efron plays the morally bankrupt head of a fraternity that moves in next door to Rogen's family and shatters the peace. What was once a friendly neighbourhood now has students shagging in the front bushes, keggers, fireworks and raunchy pool parties. There's even room for a "condom accidentally in the baby's mouth joke" (of course there is)! Rogen plays the "adult" in the situation. But, of course, the only way to defeat a man-child is to defeat him at his own game. Cue the escalating war of pranks, vandalism and sabotage. Lisa Kudrow and Rose Byrne co-star.
FORECAST: First the Green Hornet and now a newbie dad! Rogen's characters keep maturing. Next up, I predict Rogen will play a chronically stoned president of the United States in an indie comedy. Politics is already filled with man-children. He'll fit right in.
HONOURABLE MENTION: Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return: In the animated sequel, Dorothy goes back to Oz to hang out with Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi and Kelsey Grammar. Actually, THAT would just be creepy. Less so is Dorothy hanging out with their animated characters: Scarecrow, the Lion and the Tin Man. This time, Oz's nemesis is Jester (Martin Short), the wicked brother of the Wicked Witch of the West. I for one think Short would make an excellent tyrannical, all-powerful ruler. (I'd take him over Stephen Harper or Justin Trudeau any day of the week).
BIG EVENT: 24: Live Another Day (May 5, Fox, 8 p.m.); Penny Dreadful (May 11, Movie Central, 9 p.m.)
BIG PICTURE: It's 24 meets National Lampoon's European Vacation. Jack Bauer is back! And you know what that means, right? More torture, furrowed brows and deep frowns than a terrorist can shake a stick at! His trusted sidekick Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) is also on board, but now she's an underground hacker and gets her fashion tips from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. This 12-episode miniseries comes at a desperate time for the big networks as they seek out must-see "event" TV that can attract an increasingly fractured audience. Exiled and in hiding in London, England for pissing off the Russian, U.S. and Chinese governments, Jack returns to action to foil a new dastardly plot. (The series offers a two-night première before returning to its regular 9 p.m. time slot.) Meanwhile, in Penny Dreadful, fiction's most terrifying characters are reinvented in Victorian London. Straight from the pages of English lit, Victor Frankenstein, Dracula, Dorian Gray and other spooks come alive in this blood-and-sex-soaked cable-TV romp (thank HBO). Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton and Eva Green co-star in a series billed as a psychosexual thriller. It's essentially True Blood for English and History majors.
FORECAST: 24 the movie can't be far off. This miniseries is already jamming one day into 12 hours. Trying to do the same thing in 240 minutes is a screenwriter's worst nightmare. Am I the only one who wishes these series had been combined? I'm tired of seeing Jack Bauer going up against terrorists and corrupt politicians. I want to see Jack Bauer: Monster Hunter.
HONOURABLE MENTION: Rosemary's Baby (May 11, NBC, 9 p.m.): Seth Rogen isn't the only rebellious, unreliable dude with a baby this week. Lucifer is looking to get back into the parenting game in this remake of Roman Polanski's 1968 horror classic. The four-hour miniseries airs in two instalments tonight and May 19. Zoe Saldana stars as the very unlucky expecting mother.
BIG RELEASES ON MAY 6: Sarah McLachlan (Shine On)
BIG PICTURE: Sarah McLachlan was a world-recognized Canadian singer-songwriter when you could still count them on one hand. The Lilith Fair founder is back with her first studio album in four years. These 11 new tracks prove the 46-year-old Halifax-born artist hasn't lost her signature voice and songwriting craft. (Hey, not everybody lives on a musical diet of Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry). Standout tracks include Beautiful Girl and Monster -- but not the Gaga kind of monster. I'm happy to have McLachlan back, but I also blame her for starting the trend of every other Canuck chanteuse being named Sarah or Sara.
FORECAST: Shine On you crazy diamond. (Sorry, that was just too easy).
HONOURABLE MENTION: Curtis Harding (Soul Power). It's impossible not to want to boogie listening to this album's jubilant debut single, Keep on Shining. Even Jack Bauer would crack a smile and take a torture break to hit the dance floor. Harding's classic soul delivers timeless hooks with a modern sensibility. All the power to him.