BIG RELEASE: Evil Dead (April 5)
THE BIG PICTURE: There are a lot of books I would suffer through at a remote cabin -- just to kill time. We've all been there. You're bored. You reach for the dust and spider-web laden shelf to find any number of literary horrors: Twilight, Nancy Drew (any of them), The Liberal Red Book, Garfield: Survival of the Fattest. But you know one book I would NEVER read? One called The Book of the Dead. Yet that's just what the group of twenty-somethings do in this film -- unleashing hell on Earth. It's like Jumanji, but with more than one demonic possession (sorry for outing you Robin Williams). This film's slogan: "Once you unleash evil, it will consume you." (Coincidentally, I believe this was also once a working slogan for the Oprah Winfrey Network.)
FORECAST: I know this got Sam Raimi's blessing and all, but remaking the director's 1981 cult classic seems like almost as bad of an idea as opening up something called The Book of the Dead. Unless Bruce Campbell is making a cameo as Ash Williams, this is a chapter you can probably put down. To be fair, Campbell and Raimi both serve as producers on the film -- and horror enthusiasts gave it positive reviews at its recent world premiere at SXSW in Austin, Tex. You can expect plenty of blood and guts. Me? I'll be reading Garfield in anguish. It may be jarringly unfunny. But at least it's not another remake.
BIG EVENT: Rogue (April 3, The Movie Network, 9 p.m.
BIG PICTURE: No, not the member of the X-Men. And not Sarah Palin. This Canadian co-produced drama promises a show about people who cross the line "morally," "sexually" and "emotionally" with "devastating consequences" for themselves and the people around them. (At this point, I can guarantee that at least Charlie Sheen will be watching -- AND taking detailed notes). Thandie Newton stars as Grace, an undercover detective haunted by the possibility that she played a role in her son's tragic death. Her ill-conceived, heated relationship with Jimmy (Marton Csokas), the mob boss who may also bear some responsibility, makes things even murkier. It's like The Departed meets Monster's Ball.
FORECAST: A tale of twists, lies, betrayals, redemption and wanton sex scenes. In TV terms, it's basically Homeland for the mobster-detective crowd.
HONOURABLE MENTION: Hannibal (NBC, Citytv, April 4, 10 p.m. Who needs a Book of the Dead when you have a Cookbook of the Dead? This Hannibal prequel brings everyone's favourite cannibalistic psychopath to the small screen for the first time. Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen plays the notorious Dr. Hannibal Lecter. This macabre drama is set before the events of the novel Red Dragon, when Hannibal is a free man and respected psychiatrist (his inner monster a secret to the world). In the new series, Hannibal forms a dangerous, complicated relationship with a new patient: troubled criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). You've heard of the blind leading the blind? This is the dark leading the dark. Laurence Fishburne and Montreal's Caroline Dhavernas co-star in this series from executive producer Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls).
BIG RELEASE ON APRIL 2: Cold War Kids (Dear Miss Lonelyhearts)
BIG PICTURE: Low-fi charm, mid-tempo ballads, swelling choruses, a touch of blues, a speck of soul, a dash of punk and electronica -- the Cold War Kids are anything but consistent. But there's a certain joy in that inconsistency. The nostalgic indie rockers have amassed a devoted following since their 2006 debut. As an added bonus, former Modest Mouse member Dann Gallucci is the group's new guitarist.
FORECAST: If you thought the Cold War was confusing, listen to this band. Even lead singer Nathan Willett seems to suffer from an identity crisis -- growling his way through one track and crooning soulfully on the next. But these Cold War Kids have a chameleon charm. They can conjure Mick Jagger one moment, CCR the next and then hit you with a touch of Bruce Springsteen. A band could do far worse in terms of inspiration.
DISHONOURABLE MENTION: New Kids on the Block (10). At what point do you stop being a "New Kid?" According to Jordan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg and company, 40 is the new 17. The tracks Back to Life and Defying Gravity seem aptly titled -- if not a little optimistic. With their first new album since 2008, these Boys will join some fellow age-defying "young" lads: Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees, on a summer tour. I expect a lot of tear-filled nights in the tour bus watching Justin Timberlake's Suit & Tie video and wondering: "Why can't we be like him?"
"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," but these days, a guide through the seemingly endless flurry of pop culture offerings is just what we need. With that in mind, here is what's on the radar screen in TV, music and film for the coming week.