5 binge-worthy early summer shows and streams

As we inch ever closer to summer blockbusterland, the entertainment gods seem to be getting kinder with each passing year, as every new season they seem to be gracing us with even earlier mega-releases.

Whetting our appetites just enough for us to want a full taste of the treats they have in store. And with so many new outlets and options available to us, the movie theatre isn’t the only place to be blown away this summer.

Of course there will be the usual hyped fare like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and the latest in the Pirates of the Caribbean campaign. But many will be equally as stoked for the return of the Twin Peaks series as well as the new season of the award winning Netflix series House of Cards. And many-a-Deadhead will rejoice in the fact that Amazon will be releasing a six-hour Martin Scorsese directed documentary on the Grateful Dead titled Long Strange Trip. So there will be something for everyone in this generous pre-blockbuster month to help jumpstart their summer of buster blocking entertainment.

Twin Peaks

May 21

 Since the announcement of the 90s cult phenomenon Twin Peaks return, diehard fans have been scrambling the interwebs in an attempt to find any morsel of info they can come across regarding the new direction of the upcoming series.

And as you, yourself, may have been able to possibly conclude from the very, very long winded opening of this really, really interesting piece about this truly groundbreaking and much beloved program, I, myself have had a rather trying and hard time coming across any pertinent info about the debut of this adored and cherished show.

And you can blame none other than the genius himself behind this esteemed and admired series, David Lynch. For it is he that has kept a super-tight lid on the goings on with the new show, and has made it virtually impossible for anyone to ascertain what the hell he’s gonna now do with the Laura Palmer case. Lynch has a bit more freedom with his storytelling this time around as the show will now be seen on Netflix.

It is believed that much of the new series will revolve around Agent Cooper’s (Kyle MacLachlan) return to the tiny northwestern town. A slew of new players have been announced including Michael Cera, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Laura Dern. How they’ll fit into the great scheme of the show is still unknown, but we will find out when Twin Peaks debuts Sunday May 21st at 9pm.

House of Cards

May 30 on Netflix

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A president in the midst of a personal scandal ramps up a war against a terrorist organization in the high hopes that it will distract the electorate from the shit-show that is his presidency.

Sound familiar? Sometimes truth and fiction collide in ways you wish they didn’t have to, but that is the case in the upcoming season of the acclaimed Netflix series House of Cards. President Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and first lady Carrie (Robin Wright) found themselves in a bit of a political pickle the last time we saw them. And in true Underwood form, the duo will be turning to old acquaintances to help them get out of their current jams, by any means necessary.

Faced with a damning article that threatened to reveal the secrets of their shady inner world, the ICO (terrorist organization) suddenly seemed like a logical target to hit to help distract the world. Hoping to shift the media’s focus, President Underwood still has a field of obstacles and distractions of his own to overcome. The return of his hitman/chief of staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) will help take some of the burden off of the prez. And Mrs. Underwood will have her own set of searing eyes looking out for her, as her old advisor Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) will again be taking care of the first lady’s dirty laundry.

We’ll see if anything or anyone else dares to interfere with the Underwood clan as the fifth season of House of Cards begins Tuesday May 30th.

War Machine

Netflix, May 26

When you’re sent into win an unwinnable situation, nobody really likes for you to point out that the situation you were just put in is in fact, unwinnable. You are, for the most part, just supposed to shut your mouth, do as you are told and look good for photo-ops.

But if you just can’t help yourself from being yourself, well then that’s when the trouble begins. Just ask Gen. McMahon (Brad Pitt), who was tasked with bringing order to the chaotic war in Afghanistan in the new Netflix film War Machine, based on the book “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan” by the late Michael Hastings. McMahon, based on real-life Gen. Stanley McChrystal, was the lucky soul promoted to lead the rebuilding of the war-torn country.

Well liked and looked upon as a true warrior by the men who served under him, McMahon did not mince words when asked about the realities and prospects of battle. His words garnered him more support among the enlisted men, but the officers and politicians back safe in their homes having to answer to their angry constituents, did not cotton to his brand of honesty.

While you may be good at your job, there is only so many bites the hand that feeds you will take. So the inevitable clash between McMahon and the power players behind the war made for one national embarrassment, but one that ultimately gave us a rare look into the dysfunction and unchecked egos that can drive foreign policy.

This level of greed and arrogance is nothing new in politics and nation building but it’s disheartening and a bit comical to see it carried on into the 21st century. Check out the mess we’ve helped to create in all its glory when War Machine debuts on Netflix Friday May 26th.

Long Strange Trip

Amazon, May 26

Back in 1966, a group of young musicians banded together to start a group that would go on to become a part of the American lexicon and define the face of the counterculture.

Now, 50 years later, The Grateful Dead are being honored with a six-hour documentary retrospective of their historic career. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the epic Long Strange Trip chronicles the band’s baby days in Palo Alto, California as a predominantly blues oriented band known as The Warlocks-to their days as the house band for Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests and on to their own endless tour.

Creating a devout following of fans along the way, and a culture all of their own that would live on long after Jerry Garcia’s passing in 1995. As evidenced by the band’s successful Fare Thee Well tour two years ago and subsequent Dead and Company tours that have followed, it seems that the music really never stops.

I’m sure new fans will be flocking to the Grateful Dead archive that is chock full of thousands of hours of live shows after Long Strange Trip premieres on Amazon Friday May 26th.

Mini-Blockbuster Trilogy

Alright, I give up. I know it’s useless to fight against the unending waves of remakes, reboots, prequels and sequels that lap against our shores every year. So I’ve decided to swim with the stream and wrap a few of these mega-plex releases into one easily digestible piece. This month the biggest splashes will be made by the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales and the movie version of the 90s hit show Baywatch, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. So there’s your mini-blockbuster trilogy for this month. I’m sure the summer will produce even more easily edible pieces.

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