Archive for the 'Television' Category

20
Aug
18

Person of Interest Season 3, Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 1

Person of Interest Season 3
Person of Interest is a show that just keeps getting better and better. Season three manages to nail everything that works, and tosses just about everything that doesn’t. The biggest thing holding this series back has always been the “case of the week” format. It’s to be expected considering this aired on CBS, who is the king of the crime procedural. However, this season manages to dump the case of the week format a couple of episodes in. What follows are two lengthy serialized stories. The first focuses on Detective Carter and her personal war against the dirty cop syndicate, HR. While I was less than impressed with Taraji Henson’s performance in season 1, she improved in season 2, and she became the absolute highlight in season 3. Having her own storyline, and some real character work to sink her teeth into, Hensen excelled. The second storyline, which has a more intriguing plot, comes when a nefarious organization tries to bring their own surveillance machine online. There are plenty of twists and turns story-wise, and the large, looming threat ratchets up the tension and the action. The rest of the cast turn in good performances, and the action scenes never disappoint. The ultimate villain of the entire series is revealed at the end of the season, and I am very excited to see what comes next. I find it hard to believe that a show this good, a show about artificial intelligence and government surveillance, has gone this far on network television. If you can make it through the so-so first season, then stick with Person of Interest, because it has turned out to be great.
Verdict: Awesome
Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 1
Ever since I watched the original Evil Dead movie on HBO, when I was way too young for it and it scared the shit out of me, I have been a fan of this franchise. Although it ended perfectly with Army of Darkness, like many fans, I thought there was room for more Ash Williams in our lives. I was ecstatic when they announced an Evil Dead television series. Decades removed from the last film, I couldn’t believe how perfectly they nailed the series. The first episode is Evil Dead through and through. It’s got just the right mix of horror and humor. Bruce Campbell is still the best when it comes to slapstick and self-deprecation, yet still manages to be a complete badass when the time calls for it. There isn’t much in terms of a plot, as it’s mostly Ash and his friends on some kind of quest to stop the Deadites. They go from place to place fighting evil each episode. The best part was when he summoned a different kind of demon to fight. He should have been the “big bad” for the season, but he only lasted two episodes, which was kind of a let-down. The show becomes a bit repetitive as they inevitably fight Deadites in each episode, and you know none of the main characters are going to die. This is probably the biggest problem with the show, that and some questionable CGI at times, although they do tend to go with more practical effects, which is nice. The final couple of episodes have a nice bit of nostalgia for long-time fans, and a cool twist to keep things fresh. Overall, this is a fun series, and anyone who is a fan of Evil Dead needs to watch it.
Verdict: Good
24
Oct
17

It’s Pilot Season – 2017

The Fall 2017 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 Orville

Unabashed Star Trek fan Seth MacFarlane’s new series sees him as the captain of an intergalactic vessel charting the galaxy in a comedic fashion. I am absolutely not a fan of MacFarlane’s work. Family Guy is one of the most insipid, vacuous excuses for a TV show of all time. Ted was nothing more than a live-action version of his crassest jokes with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. So, I was not looking forward to this series. On the other hand, I, too, am an unabashed Star Trek fan, and since we haven’t had a Star Trek series on TV in 12 years, I decided this was as close as it was going to get, so I gave it a shot. (Yes, I am aware Star Trek Discovery started this year, but I’m not going to pay for CBS’ shitty streaming service to watch it.)

To my surprise, The Orville wasn’t half-bad. The concept is exactly the same as what you’d find on Star Trek. MacFarlane captains a starship filled with a variety of alien species as they explore the universe. The main gag here is that MacFarlane’s first officer is his ex-wife, whom he hates because she cheated on him. The show presents her as maybe not all that bad, but it’s hard to feel sympathy for her since she’s a cheater. MacFarlane gives a restrained performance, pretty much playing himself and not Peter Griffin. He’s even likable, as he is sensible with the crew and his actions.

The pilot episode features the crew discovering a time-altering device, which is coveted by the deadly alien species, the Krill. They battle it out on land and in space, and use the device to save the day. The writing was pretty solid, the action was serviceable, and the interactions of the crew were believable. But this is a comedy, right? Yeah, there is a hefty helping of comedy, but it doesn’t get so loopy as to take the audience out of the show. They don’t have cut-away gags, and they don’t have any jokes about present-day Earth politics/people. Most of the jokes arise out of the situation, and nothing feels totally out of place. Thankfully, MacFarlane left all his shit jokes for his other projects.

The Orville was much better than I expected, and I plan to check out the next episode. It certainly felt more like Star Trek than the reboot films, and that is definitely a good thing.

Verdict: Average

Continue reading ‘It’s Pilot Season – 2017′

20
Nov
16

It’s Pilot Season – 2016

OK, this post is a little late since I’ve been promoting my book. Pilot season is essentially over, and all the new shows are in full swing. But who cares? I’m doing this post anyway!

The Fall 2016 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 Good Place

Mike Schur is a comedy genius. He wrote for Saturday Night Light, he worked on the US version of The Office, he created and ran Parks & Recreation, and he co-created Brooklyn Nine-Nine. So, I’m going to take notice anytime he gets involved in a show. Now, he has created yet another new comedy series, The Good Place, starring Mrs. Brik’s female crush Kristen Bell.

The Good Place is essentially heaven. It’s where good people go when they die. But the standards are really, really high. Your run of the mill good person isn’t going to get in. You have to be an ultra-humanitarian, a Ghandi or a Lincoln to make the cut. Everyone else goes to The Bad Place AKA Hell.

Continue reading ‘It’s Pilot Season – 2016′

30
Jan
16

Vikings Seasons 1-2

Mrs. Brik and I love to watch historical dramas. We especially liked The Tudors and The Borgias, rife with murder and sex, and “based on true stories.” Vikings promised to be more of the same, and it pretty much delivered on all accounts.

Vikings is about Ragnar Lothbrok, who is a famous Viking, apparently. I’ll confess I know pretty much nothing about Nordic history. Anyway, it’s about his rise from meager farmer to king of the Vikings. Along the way, he engages in the requisite sex, murder, and conspiracies. All these things culminate to make the show fun.

The thing about Vikings that bothers me is that it isn’t masterfully plotted. It’s like the writer (there is only one, Michael Hirst) sits down at a table and says, “What should Ragnar do this week?” Things herk and jerk episodically. I don’t get the sense that Hirst drafted a season-long game plan. That much should be apparent when the big climax of Season 1 comes halfway through the nine-episode run, and then the final episode ends with some basic dialogue, only to be resolved in the first half of the first episode of season 2.

Continue reading ‘Vikings Seasons 1-2’

17
Oct
15

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′

29
Aug
15

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’

18
Jul
15

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’

26
Apr
15

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’

05
Apr
15

The Other Woman, Broadchurch Season 1

The Other Woman

Blergh.

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

25
Oct
14

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




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