Archive for the 'Television' Category


It’s Pilot Season – 2015

The Fall 2015 television season is upon us. And that means we’re inundated with the worst the networks have to offer. Each year brings us new series; a few will be great, but most will be unwatchable trash. There’s far too many horrible series out there for me to review them all. So, I’ve decided to watch the three pilots that had the most promotional advertising of this season and review them. Please note, my reviews are not necessarily what I think of the entire series, but simply my thoughts on the pilot episode.

The Muppets

The Muppets have been an entertainment staple since the beginning of time. Ever since Thomas Edison’s phonograph played Mary Had a Little Lamb, the Muppets have been there to make us laugh. Everyone has grown up watching them, and everyone loves them. They love them so much, in fact, that they have become desperately protective of them.

The Muppets are flexible, and have changed their style, format, and humor as the times have changed. In the 1970s, they had a hit show which was based on the popular variety show format of the time. In the 80s, they did feature films. In the 2000s, they had a long dry spell where they only did Disney-based attractions (and Kermit got heavily involved in alcohol). Today, they are back on TV, and the format has changed once again. Now, they are doing an Office-like show, a behind the scenes comedic look at running a TV series, complete with A and B storylines and cut-away confessionals.

People don’t like the new format. Why? Because people are stupid. They cling to nostalgia the same way an NRA nutcase clings to his guns. Since the Muppets’ new show is different from whatever version the audience grew up with, IT’S AN ABOMINATION AND MUST DIE, KILL IT WITH FIRE!

Continue reading ‘It’s Pilot Season – 2015′


Justified Season 6

We’ve reached the end of the road. With the conclusion of season 6, Justified has finally gone off the air. It’s sad, really, because this has been one of the most consistently well-written, well-acted series on TV in an extremely long time. Fortunately, the final season did not disappoint in the slightest.

Season 6 is the culmination of everything that came before. Raylan and Boyd, the two main characters, were often like ships passing in the night for much of the series. Their exploits affected one another in tangential ways, and they only occasionally crossed paths directly. This season, however, removes all other distractions, and Raylan’s final task is to confront Boyd directly and bring him to justice.

But it’s not that simple. It’s never that simple. It’s Justified, after all.

Continue reading ‘Justified Season 6’


Fringe Rewatch

You didn’t think I was done posting about Fringe, did you? I recently got the blu-ray set, and I decided a rewatch was in order.
Season 1
I actually enjoyed Season 1 more the second time around. Although, my initial complaints about it still hold true. It does get off to a slow start, and there are several clunky episodes that don’t work. The first half feels disconnected from the rest of the series. It still seems like a X-Files rip-off for about 10 episodes until the meat of the main storyline starts to take effect. On the positive side, the seeds for what is to come were planted early on. There are many subtle hints about the future of the series that are so subtle you couldn’t have realized what they were talking about until you’d already seen the series at least once. For example, in one episode, Walter is distressed and laments that he doesn’t “have access” to all of his memories. The first time you see this, you just assume that it’s because he’s crazy and spent 17 years locked in a mental hospital. The second time you see this, you realize it’s a hint to the fact (later revealed in Season 2) that Walter had parts of his brain removed. There are other subtle hints about the two universes and the truth about Peter early on. It seems the writers had put more thought and planning into the early days of the show than I had originally given them credit for. On this rewatch, I can appreciate these things more. Of course, I know that the story is going to get a lot better, so watching the early clunky episodes is kind of a drag. I just wanted to skip them. The other complaint I had was the villain of the season, David Robert Jones, is squandered. He shows up a few times, does some cool and evil things, but is defeated far too easily. They should have done much more with him. The season still works in terms of character dynamics. The acting is fantastic, and the actors bring these wonderfully written characters to life. They interact in believable ways, and Peter’s lessening estrangement from Walter is handled in a realistic manner. Overall, though, Season 1 is Olivia’s story. She is a cipher for the audience, being pulled into the world of Fringe, and slowly learning about all the crazy things this world has to offer. She’s a strong, uncliched female character, and a great anchor for the series.
Verdict: Good

Continue reading ‘Fringe Rewatch’


Boardwalk Empire is Over

Boardwalk Empire quietly aired on HBO for the last five years, and the final season recently wrapped up. This was an interesting series because it had the pedigree of an all-out hit. It had Steve Buscemi in the lead with lavish productions values, a fantastic period setting, and a pilot directed by Martin Scorsese. Strangely, it never reached commercial mass appeal. It seemed to always be overshadowed by other series like Game of Thrones or whatever else HBO happened to be airing. Boardwalk Empire was always the bridesmaid on the progamming block. That was too bad, because it deserved better. It was a great series.

The story was about prohibition-era gangsters, their battle for control of the bootleg liquor industry, and the rise of organized crime in the United States. While it is ostensibly fiction, there are a lot of historical characters populating the series like Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and many others. Buscemi’s character, Nucky Thompson, was based on real-life gangster Enoch Johnson. They chose to fictionalize him so they could do whatever they wanted with his storyline, and not have to stick too rigidly to historical fact.

The numerous characters wove a fantastic tapestry of stories stretching over the course of the roaring 20s. The characters all effected one another, not always directly, but each player had a part that could influence events in everyone’s lives. It doesn’t quite get to The Wire’s level of interconnectedness, but it certainly does a good job, anyway. The characters are absolutely fascinating, from the lead played by Buscemi, to Michael Shannon’s rage-proned prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden, to Kelly MacDonald as Nucky’s wife, to Michael William’s Chalky White, to disfigured Richard Harrow, played by John Huston. There are many more characters than this, and they all electrify the screen.

Continue reading ‘Boardwalk Empire is Over’


The Other Woman, Broadchurch Season 1

The Other Woman


The Other Woman is the epitome of shitty Hollywood film-making. It features a braindead plot about a high-powered New York City lawyer, played by Cameron Diaz, who never actually has to do any work. She is unwittingly having an affair with a married man. She is “the other woman.” When the wife, played by Leslie Mann, finds out, she immediately gloms onto Diaz, and forces the two of them to become friends. They bond over their mutual hatred for the husband. Obviously, this would never happen. The movie tries to force insipid, unfunny buddy comedy down the audience’s throat. I guess you could equate watching this movie to being waterboarded. Anyway, the two women hook up with a third woman who is also unwittingly sleeping with the husband. The three of them team up to humiliate him. They eventually get revenge, and the movie takes a sudden and bizarre turn into gross-out/violence humor when the husband walks through two plate glass windows and gets soaked in blood. As an aside, what the fuck happened to Cameron Diaz’s face? It looks like an old catcher’s mitt in this movie. I wish I had a score lower than Shitty on this blog, because that’s what I would give this train wreck.

Verdict: Shitty

Broadchurch Season 1

These are our happy faces.

Broadchurch is a 2013 British TV series about a murder investigation in a small town. The series was so successful that it managed to snag a second season, even though it was originally meant to just be a mini-series. An 11-year-old boy is found dead on the beach in an idyllic coastal town. Police show up to investigate, but the lead investigator, played by David Tennant, has a black mark on his record, being unable to close a previous case due to a scandal. The media shows up, as well, making the investigation much harder to conduct. There are several central characters populating the small town, each of whom has some kind of secret they are protecting. The point of Broadchurch wasn’t really the murder investigation. It was how the investigation turned up all the town’s dirty secrets, and turned citizens against one another. It featured some brilliant writing at times, the case was riveting, and the performances from Tennant, and his co-lead Olivia Colman, were fantastic. This is a great series, and a great deviation from the usual procedural crap that plagues TV these days.

Verdict: Good


Justified Season 5, Louie Season 3

Justified Season 5

Justified is nothing if not consistent. It consistently provides some of the best stories on TV. Once again, we journey to Harlan county, although this time with the first detour to Florida since the first episode. Raylan goes head to head with the Crowe clan. The Crowes are the dumbest, most bumbling group of redneck criminals of all time. Despite their idiocy, they manage to pose a significant threat to the good people of Harlan. Raylan does his usual shtick of talking tough and quick-drawing on bad guys. He’s a fairly straight-forward character, it’s true, but you know exactly what you’re getting with him. The person you can never be quite sure about is Boyd. Once again Boyd weaves his way in and out of the lives of the other various characters in Harlan county. This season sees him travel as far North as Detroit and as far South as Mexico on his quest to become a drug kingpin. Boyd probably kills more people this season than in any previous. Despite him being a despicable criminal, he has so much damn charisma, it’s impossible not to root for him. The biggest surprise this season was that Boyd’s relationship with Ava became the driving force behind the story. The fifth season of Justified continues full-steam ahead, bringing awesome, complex tales week after week. The best part, as always, remains the lively cast of characters.

Verdict: Awesome

 Louie Season 3

I’m not sure what sort of glowing praise I could write about this series that hasn’t already been written. Louis C.K. remains at the top of his game in the third season of the show that he writes, directs, edits, and stars. That’s a lot of heavy lifting for one person. But with near total creative control, he manages to stick to his vision resolutely. It pays off nearly every single time. Each episode is funny, insightful, and somehow tragic all at once. He experiments more with long form storytelling this season than in the previous two. He features a long arc in which Louie is recruited to shoot a pilot to show if he has the right stuff to replace David Letterman. This late night “mini-series” was by far the highlight of the season, and David Lynch was a treat as the “mentor” (if you can call him that). Louie continues to grow, continues to take risks, and continues to pay off in spades. It is one of the best comedies on TV.

Verdict: Awesome


It’s Pilot Season – 2014

The Fall 2014 television season is upon us. And that means we’re inundated with the worst the networks have to offer. Each year brings us new series; a few will be great, but most will be unwatchable trash. There’s far too many horrible series out there for me to review them all. So, I’ve decided to watch the three pilots that had the most promotional advertising of this season and review them. Please note, my reviews are not necessarily what I think of the entire series, but simply my thoughts on the pilot episode.


Holy shit on a stick, Batman! Gotham is Fox’s attempt at cashing in on the tiresome superhero craze that plagues the world. Last year, I complained that doing an Avengers show without the Avengers was an idiotic idea. Gotham is more of the same, as it is a Batman show without Batman. It’s a prequel to the adventures of the caped crusader. And, guess what? It sucks. Nobody gives a fuck about the origins of all these villains. What’s the point? None of them are ever going to die, because they wouldn’t live to face the dark knight. So, there is no tension whatsoever. This is combined with a cheap series of sets that look like they came from the 90s, plus an entire backdrop of CGI just for an extra layer of shit. The writers are trying to make this into long-form series by positing the idea that Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed in a conspiracy, rather than a random mugging. I think they are going to be stretching a thin idea too far. There is no way they can keep this going for multiple seasons and make it good. Not that the first episode was good either. It was a huge hunk of gouda, a slice of the stinkiest cheese imaginable. Everyone chews scenery, bringing in over the top performances which also belong in the 90s.  Continue reading ‘It’s Pilot Season – 2014′

November 2015
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