Blog Archives

Marc Stryker

We’re still in the age of Peak TV, where an endless stream of original programming is coming at us in all directions. And that’s before tech behemoths Apple and Facebook have even dipped more than their toes in the TV waters. As it becomes a constant struggle to stay on top of it all, you have to wonder when, not if, the TV bubble will burst. One day Netflix will run out of subscriber money and they’ll need to turn to… gasp… advertisers for another revenue stream.

We’re all watching so many different TV shows, it’s really hard to build a consensus list of top picks. But we did it anyway. You’re welcome, blog readers:

This is Us – NBC’s tearjerker drama continued to impress us, as did actor Sterling K. Brown at this year’s Emmy Awards. He deserved his award (thankfully beating out Kevin Spacey pre-scandal), as he acted the snot out of his half season-long arc with his dying father. People, if you have any humanity left in you, sit down and watch this show.

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Mindhunter – Okay, from here on out, it gets a little less warm-hearted as we descend into serial killer psychology with the David Fincher produced (and directed half of the episodes) Mindhunter. Come watch Jonathan Groff (acted and sang the part of evil Kristoff in Frozen) and Holt McCallany do the dirty serial killer profiling work no one in the FBI could imagine doing. Based somewhat loosely on real-life events. Never fun to watch, but always compelling.

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Rick & Morty – We’re often told that young males aren’t watching TV anymore. Rick & Morty is 100% proof that they still are. And it’s usually with this show and the rest of Adult Swim (Cartoon Network’s after hours block). The show is absolute bonkers, which is understandable when you find out that it’s from the demented mind of Dan Harmon (Community and HarmonQuest). And it also generated a McDonalds scandal this year, when fans demanded their Mulan-inspired Szechuan sauce and the restaurant somewhat obliged them.

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Game of Thrones – Season 6 was polarizing for many fans, as characters seemed to teleport from place to place with ease and characters did weird and stupid things. Now that GOT writers have surpassed the plot lines of author George R. R. Martin’s own books, have they lost the Westeros vibe? Who knows, but it still pleased enough of the staff to get it on our list. Did you check out that fiery loot train battle? And an ice dragon? And aunt/nephew dangerous liaisons?

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GLOW – Sure, it’s ostensibly about the creation of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling TV show back in the 80’s, but that hook is kind of a Trojan Horse for a lot of other ideas about ambition, friendship, women’s rights and identity. It could be seen as an older sister 80’s nostalgia companion to Netflix’s other hit, Stranger Things.

The Handmaid’s Tale – The first streaming show to win a best drama Emmy and it happened on Hulu! Netflix was certainly flogging itself after the news and later cursing its collaboration with the disgraced Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. Based on Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed 1985 novel, the show achieved major cultural relevance in the wake of the women’s march against President Trump. And then that Harvey Weinstein thing happened…

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The Good Place – With the track record producer Michael Shur has (The Office, Parks & Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), it’s no surprise that The Good Place is a great show. We wondered where they would take it after the big twist at the end of Season One, but Season Two is even better. Time for another Jacksonville dance battle.

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Legion – Now that Disney purchased Fox Television, (Legion debuted on FX), this 8-episode series superhero/mental illness drama might get the Marvel overhaul, but that would be a mistake. Creator Noah Hawley scored with his adapation of Fargo from film to television and he’s doing pretty well with this one. But it was weird and challenging enough to keep most people away with its non-linear storytelling and Audrey Plaza weirdness. Not our creative department though.

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Master of None – What’s with all these comedians trying to be Woody Allen circa 1979? Well, if they’re done in the style that Aziz Ansari brought to his wonderful Master of None, we’ll take it. The show has its pretentious moments, but it’s also very open and honest and welcoming, giving voice to people who don’t normally get character depth on television. Tom Haverford, you’ve come along way since your days at Entertainment 720.

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Stranger Things – The overwhelming consensus as the number one show of 2017, Stranger Things 2 was equally binge-worthy as the first season. More 80’s pop culture references, more Demogorgons and more government secrets to unravel – the show probably needed more for Eleven to do than fall in with a bunch of unconvincing X-Men punks, but it still delivered the goods we craved.

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Honorable Mentions: The Leftovers, Godless, Insecure, Chicago Med, Bloodline, Marco Polo, Preacher, The Ranch, The Crown, Trial & Error, The Long Road Home, Manhunt: Unabomber, Big Little Lies, 13 Reasons Why, Desus & Mero

Did we miss any of your favorite TV shows? Let us hear it in the comments.

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Every year we ask the Penna Powers staff to list the top movies they saw. These are the best movies of 2017 that moved, entertained, challenged or inspired us.

 

Wonder Woman – You’d be forgiven if you had seen Batman V Superman and seriously worried about the viability of a stand-alone Wonder Woman movie. It had all the makings of a train wreck. While the opening Themyscira scenes had some cringe-worthy CW-level posturing and acting, we quickly got pulled into the story thanks to the incredible charisma of star Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins’s assured direction. Wonder Woman, we believe in you.

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The Big Sick – You may know Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh from Silicon Valley fame, but here he nicely dials it back as a struggling stand-up comic who falls back in love with his ex-girlfriend while she’s in a coma. Based on true events and written with his now-wife Emily Gordon, we really dug the story and performances, especially Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as Emily’s parents.

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John Wick 2 – After Keanu Reeves’s titular character avenged the death of his dearly departed dog, he thought he could just lead a quiet civilian life. Of course he’s mistaken and soon has to kill lots of bad guys in hyper-stylized and brutal ways.

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Thor: Ragnarok – After the dreadful Thor:The Dark World, something had to be done to give life to the God of Thunder. Enter Taika Waititi, director of the fantastic faux vampire documentary What We Do in the Shadows and the quirky brilliant Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Pretty much directing a Thor/Hulk buddy movie, he brings a desperately needed dose of humor and buoyancy before the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s dour slide into the Infinity Wars.

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Dunkirk – Some movies must be seen in a movie theater – Dunkirk is one of those movies. Director Christopher Nolan out-Nolaned himself once again by delivering a war movie that defied all of the usual conventions associated with the genre, all in under two hours. You’re provided absolutely no back story to any of these characters. There’s no helpful historical context (although a title card provides some), no explanation of what a “mole” means or preparation for the three timelines depicted. You’re dropped into it just like the film’s non-descript soldiers. It’s basically a horror movie masquerading as a war survival tale. And it’s an amazing cinematic experience.

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Get Out – Call it a horror film, comedy, social parable or whatever else you want, Get Out managed to capture the zeitgeist of racial anxieties in a Trump-presided America. Comedian Jordan Peele (of Key and Peele fame), nails his directorial debut with a tale that will literally get under your skin. If you went to the theater to see M. Night Shyamalan’s creepy Split, you probably saw the Get Out trailer and thought, “What the hell?”. No, not hell, just the Sunken Place.

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Logan – Marvel got serious with Hugh Jackman’s last performance as the iconic Wolverine. It pretty much amounts to a graphically violent 2017 comic-book version of the western Shane-meets-Unforgiven. It has some killer moments, like when a dementia-afflicted Professor X nearly destroys the world, or at least Las Vegas.

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Blade Runner 2049 – Not everyone’s cup of tea, but neither was the original. Why anyone gave acclaimed director Denis Villaneuve (Sicario, Arrival, Prisoners) this much money to direct a 3-hour sci-fi art film is beyond movie studio logic. But hey, we dug the outcome. If you loved the first film (before it became a cult classic that you were obligated to love), then you probably loved this.

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It – Who would’ve thought a Stephen King-adapted September movie release would become the highest-grossing horror movie of all time? Riding Stephen King’s coat tails doesn’t always result in box office success (for every Shawshank Redemption, there’s a Dreamcatcher), but the marketing team deserves an Oscar for properly seeding the sinister trailer that suddenly got everyone excited about killer clowns. We can now properly bury the horrible TV movie adaptation starring Tim Curry.

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You might ask yourself, “That’s all very well and good, Penna Powers, but where is The Last Jedi?” Great question! Well, it’s not because it went unseen at press time. It’s just that there are too many fan boys here who have religiously studied the Jedi scrolls and have declared The Last Jedi a blasphemous mess. Some of us vehemently disagree, but not enough to get the movie on the list. We’re terribly sorry – all apologies to director Rian Johnson for having the chutzpah to try something different.

Honorable Mentions: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Baby Driver, Call Me By Your Name, Alien: Covenant, A Dog’s Purpose, Wonder, Wind River, Logan Lucky, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Last Jedi, The Disaster Artist, Girls Trip

So what made your top 10 movie list this year? Please please share in the comments! And check out our past movie lists for 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011.

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We’re honored to win Utah Business’ Best Companies to Work for Award once again this year. This marks the sixth time we’ve won this award and the fourth year in a row. While we could list out the million reasons why working at Penna Powers is incredible, it’s easier to let our employees speak for themselves.

 

“I love the laid-back atmosphere and the fun, yet professional people I work with.” – Account Manager Melinda Macfarlane

 

“I get a great sense of fulfillment working at Penna Powers because the clients we work with are dedicated to making a difference in the world. It’s amazing to know that the work we do helps make our communities a better place.” – Associate Project Manager Aubrey Souvall

 

“Penna Powers is the perfect collaboration of great minds coming together to create meaningful work. The fun, inviting environment makes Penna Powers the best place to work!” – Receptionist Sabrina Wilhite

 

“The people. All companies are the same, but the people make Penna Powers stand out. The arcade games, the pool table, great bosses…” – Senior Content Strategist Nick Giustino

 

“I love the flexibility this company has with its employees.” – Videographer Jordan Whitney

 

“The people are my family, the things that happen behind the scenes that clients don’t see (charades, practical jokes, parties, videos, etc.). We do such great work.” – VP of Finance & Ops Traci Houghton

 

“I have experienced a great deal of autonomy working here. Autonomy requires vertical and horizontal trust and just like any productive relationship, trust is the foundation for success. For example, apart from any of my dedicated duties, if I have an interest in contributing on any particular project, all I need to do is express that desire and I am awarded the freedom to do so. This independence and freedom allows for growth and creativity, independent of bureaucracy or other entry barriers.” – Media Planner Jennifer Beaudoin

 

“I love knowing that the work I do helps people live better lives.” – Director of New Business Brent Wilhite

 

“I love the hoodies, staff meetings, that Nerf gun wars are normal and that we get to do great, strategic and creative work every single day.” – VP of Account Planning & Management Stephanie Miller

 

“I like that no two people are the same here. You can be yourself and everyone is accepting of you for you! At the end of the day everyone is different and unique, but we all come together to create some really awesome work.” – Content Coordinator Kelsey Hess

 

“I’ve yet to have a dull day working for Penna Powers. Various clients, new campaigns, creative tactics and great people keep things lively.” – Digital Project Manager Collin Brian

 

“When I started working at Penna Powers, I was fascinated by the amount of employees who were celebrating their 10th or 20th anniversary. After working at Penna Powers for a few months, I realized why. Whether you’re in an entry-level role or a vice president, you know that your voice and your work matter at Penna Powers. The partners ensure that work-life balance is a priority and facilitate activities for the company to grow together. On a Friday night, you’ll find me on the soccer field with my coworkers because I genuinely love hanging out with them outside of work.” – Content Specialist Elyse Freeman

 

“I love that Penna Powers employees take their careers seriously. They are not just in a job. I love that everyone at Penna Powers is really smart. I love that we are not micromanaged ever. We are expected to do our jobs like the true professionals we are. I love that the company will allow you to have flexible hours if you need to take care of something outside of work. I love that we celebrate every employee’s 5, 10, 15, 20-year anniversary. I love that Penna Powers takes our family to Lagoon every summer. I love that the management keeps us informed and gives us a “State of the Agency” presentation once a year. I love that Penna Powers has such a fun, cool culture. I love the work that Penna Powers produces!” – VP of Project Management Chris Menges

 

“I like the overall vibe around the office and unlimited M&Ms.” – Account Manager Bri Binnebose

 

“The partners are so good to us!” – Account Planning Director Wendy Hansen

 

“For me it’s simple: the people and the work. Penna Powers is full of committed, smart, talented people doing work that truly matters to our communities and our future. Pretty rewarding to work at a place like that.” – VP of Client Services Justin Smart

 

“I love working with awesome people, doing awesome things.” – Senior Copywriter Bobby Brinton

 

“I love the change we make in the world, it may be on a small scale, but we are saving lives on Utah’s roads.” – Zero Fatalities Outreach Specialist and Associate Project Manager Kylie Christensen

 

“I laugh every single day. Maybe not all day, every day, but at least once a day I find myself with full on tears in my eyes and big belly laughter. Work can be busy, timelines can be tight, but I find joy and gratitude every single day in my role and I find the stressful days are few and far between because the people of this company make this place such a pleasure to be a part of.” – Traffic Manager Alex Antonino

 

“I like the fact we never get bored. Every project is always something new. And, I’ve got damn good friends here.” – Senior Project Manager Britni Brozo

 

“I love how accepting everyone is.” – Associate Project Manager Alli Blake

 

“I love that it always feels like a positive environment, even when things may not be ideal. It’s always a happy place for me, anyway.” – Receptionist Michelle Adams

 

“I love Penna Powers because it fosters an atmosphere where the best idea can come from anybody.” – VP of Channel & Content Management Marc Stryker

 

“I love how everyone will work together to get things done. It’s a family work environment. Where everyone, no matter role, works to provide the best product for our clients.” – Media Relations Specialist Allyse Christensen

 

“I love the emphasis on being one unified team despite our different projects and assignments.” – Truck Smart Outreach Specialist Alec Curtis

 

“I love the parties and the solid work ethic. Plus, everyone is super inviting and outspoken. If someone has something to say, they’ll say it!” – Zero Fatalities Outreach Specialist Aja Domingo

 

“Laughing is constant during staff meeting,” – Content Specialist Julene Thompson

 

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