Posts Tagged ‘Fringe

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’

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02
Aug
14

Breaking Bad Was Breaking Great But Not Breaking Perfect (AKA Endings Are Hard)

Breaking Bad is heralded as one of the greatest TV series of all time. I recently finished my first watch of the show on Netflix, and I have to admit, it was pretty fantastic. There are very few other shows that have such complex stories and deep characters, and are able to consistently deliver riveting television episode after episode. I’ll admit I was pretty obsessed with the show while I was watching it. I purposefully waited until the show was over to watch it, because I knew I would want to marathon it. Seeing every episode in such a short amount of time allowed me to view the character and story arcs as they naturally developed. Night after night, I couldn’t wait to see what kind of nefarious scheme Heisenberg had cooked up. And time after time, the show delivered things in fresh and satisfying ways. Watching the series, I knew why people were saying it was one of the best shows of all time. It had great acting, dark humor, complicated storylines, and it never pulled any punches. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a perfect series. Despite the writers’ best efforts, the show faltered in its final season and left a series finale that didn’t deliver what it should have.

When Breaking Bad starts, it’s about a schlubby high school chemistry teacher named Walter White who lives a boring life. He’s married to a bitch, his job sucks, and he just got diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say his life is terrible. So, wanting to provide for his family after his death, he does what any normal person would do, start cooking and selling meth. Walter, having such a shitty life, stops giving any fucks about anything, and lives a life that we, as viewers, only wish we could. He talks shit to people he hates, he blows up an asshole’s sports car, and he begins to grow a criminal empire. Living vicariously through Walter was one of the reasons the first season was so damn good.

Continue reading ‘Breaking Bad Was Breaking Great But Not Breaking Perfect (AKA Endings Are Hard)’

16
Nov
13

The Last Story, L.A. Noire

The Last Story

Will The Last Story have a million sequels just like Final Fantasy?

I was really excited when this game got licensed for North American release. At first, Nintendo of America stated they had “no plans” to release this RPG in the U.S. even after it was a big hit in Japan and Europe. Great idea, guys. Let’s not release a game that was critically acclaimed, a financial success, and created by the same person who created the Final Fantasy series. Sure, Nintendo, you’re right, that shit’s not gonna sell at all.
Anyway, Nintendo of America finally pulled their heads out of their asses and released The Last Story for the Wii in late 2012. Now, I’ve long since given up on the Final Fantasy franchise. It has too rigidly adhered to extremely outdated JRPG tropes. Final Fantasy IX was the last game in the series I enjoyed, and my personal favorite was Final Fantasy VI. Final Fantasy X can still suck it.
05
Apr
13

Person of Interest Season 1

Peoples of Interests

J.J. Abrams is the king of producing entertaining pilot episodes. From the incredibly awesome like Fringe to the good but flawed Alias to the hilariously terrible like Lost, he knows how to put together a first episode. Abrams, however, as a hands-off producer, isn’t the driving force behind this series. That title belongs to Jonathan Nolan, brother of famous film director Christopher Nolan. Jonathan is no slouch in the writing department. He wrote a short story which became the film Memento, and he was co-writer on The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Of course, when I started Person of Interest, I didn’t know any of this, I just started it, expecting another shitty, by the numbers cop procedural.

Surprisingly, this series offers much more than that. Let’s start with the bad stuff. Yes, the show has a case-of-the-week format. Yes, there are a lot of filler episodes. And yes, it airs on network TV which is usually not a good thing. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the good stuff.

First, the premise is great. A computer genius named Harold Finch (played by Michael Emerson) created “The Machine” for the U.S. government in the paranoia following 9/11. The Machine is an omnipresent monitoring device the government uses to eavesdrop on everyone via security cameras, email, telephones, GPS, etc. If it finds what it perceives to be a terrorist threat, it passes that information to the government. If some piece of information is considered irrelevant, it ignores it. Finch realized that the irrelevant stuff often led to crimes and/or murders that he had no way of stopping. He eventually teams up with a disavowed CIA agent named John Reese (played by Jim Caviezel) and the two of them try to stop the “irrelevant” crimes.

“Let’s go save some people we are interested in.”

Second, the show kicks ass. Solving crimes doesn’t involve a bunch of CSI-style bullshit lab work. No, it typically features Reese following bad guys and then confronting bad guys. In order to solve crimes, he usually commits way more crimes including armed robbery, arson, kidnapping, assault, and murder. Of course, he is doing all this stuff to bad guys, but it is fun to watch him deal vigilante justice and cause way more destruction and mayhem than if he had just ignored the irrelevant crime in the first place. Anytime Reese throws down with someone, the show is plenty exciting.

Third, the writing is great. Despite having a case-of-the-week format, there are several story threads that run continuously throughout the episodes. Every character has a compelling back story, which is teased to the audience through flashbacks throughout the season. By the end of the season you know more about Reese, Finch, The Machine, and the two main antagonists, but you certainly don’t know everything. There are plenty of mysteries left to be unraveled. The show can also be surprising, as when Reese and Finch set out to stop a crime, they don’t know if the person The Machine has given them is going to be the perpetrator or the victim. A couple of times, the person they are protecting turns out to be the bad guy. It keeps the show more fresh and varied, and offers up a good deal of entertainment.

Time to shoot some interesting people.

The acting is kind of a mixed bag. Caviezel plays his character as a stoic, monotone warrior who would rather kick your ass than mince words. At first this seems to be a drawback, but as the character becomes more fleshed out, you get a sense of why he became that way, and it ultimately works in his favor. Emerson is consistently good as the nerdy and paranoid Finch, and manages to be dramatic and comedic in all the right places. Kevin Chapman, who plays a crooked cop (Fusco), is also consistently good. Even guest stars like Enrico Colantoni (Elias) can bring in pretty great performances. The major weak link in the acting is Taraji Henson (Carter), who plays a sassy cop who is hot on Reese’s trail. The material is beyond her capabilities, and she is completely unbelievable as a police detective. Any time she’s on-screen with someone else, she’s upstaged. She doesn’t have the acting chops to successfully pull off this role. I’ve never cared for her. She was annoying on Boston Legal, and she’s just as annoying here.

My biggest complaint of TV in general is that seasons are too long. With a 22 episode order, and maybe 11-12 episodes worth of ideas, the writers are stuck shoe-horning in 9 or 10 shitty episodes every year. If the networks followed cable’s example, and did 13 episode seasons, the writing of all their series would be much better. With Person of Interest, it becomes obvious which episodes are meant to move the story along and which are written as afterthoughts because they needed to fill an order for a specific number of episodes. The filler episodes are generally weak, and easily skippable. The important episodes, though, are a blast, totally engrossing, and definitely worth watching.

Sure, Person of Interest isn’t revolutionary. It’s not meant to be. But it is a step above the typical procedural dreck that plagues network TV. If you are in the mood for something a little different, with a cool premise, fun action, and good writing, then you should check this one out.

Verdict: Good

01
Feb
13

Fringe – Season 5

Season 5 title screen.

Fringe Executive Producer and Showrunner J.H. Wyman said this about Season 5, “My biggest concern was telling an authentic, honest story that I could stand behind, and that I would feel I was giving the fans the love letter that I think they deserve.”

Well, if the final season was a love letter to the fans, then the final episode was a gigantic fuck you.

General Thoughts

After watching the final moments of the show, a show I have invested years in, I couldn’t help but be furious. I wanted to smash something. Seriously. Wyman took a damn good season, a damn good series, and crushed it in a few confusing, contradictory final moments. He did two things: 1) he fucked up because he insisted on using time travel while failing to understand its logistics, and 2) he fucked up because he doesn’t give a shit.

Continue reading ‘Fringe – Season 5’

20
May
12

Fringe – Season 4

Fringe title screen.

I’m not exactly sure how to describe season 4 of Fringe. Season 1 was pretty good, although the early episodes were bland and directionless. Seasons 2 and 3 were totally awesome as they focused on the war between two parallel universes. The third season ended with a powerful episode and a massive cliffhanger. Given that Fringe had been firing on all cylinders for two full years, it was probably an impossible task to keep up that level of writing for a third consecutive year. The writing is still good, the acting top-notch, and the ideas interesting, but it just doesn’t live up to the quality of the material that came before it. Season 4 could have continued to expand upon the series mythology, but instead it was bloated with a lot of needless filler. I suppose if I was hard pressed to use a word to describe this season, that word would be: squandered.

Continue reading ‘Fringe – Season 4’

25
Nov
11

The Help, Alias Season 1, Blassreiter

The Help

Talkin' 'bout eatin' shit pie.

Mrs. Brik and I went to the second-run theater to check this out. We almost always go to the second-run theater because it’s cheap. Since most movies are toxic chunks of shit, it’s more palatable to spend $6 on tickets instead of $18. The Help was surprisingly great. It was funny, dramatic, topical, and inspiring in all the right places. It seemed to tell a deeply personal story in what came from a fictional novel. This is a rare example of a movie done right. It doesn’t have a lot of cliche lines, bullshit transformations by evil characters, and they don’t solve racism by the end of the movie. It was simply a different lens through which to view 1960s-era Southern U.S. racism. It didn’t pander and it didn’t dumb itself down. Both of which were very refreshing.

Verdict: Awesome

Alias Season 1

Alias season 1 cast

I’ve already watched Alias once from start to finish. In my boredom from the fact that there is hardly anything good on TV, I decided to crack open my dusty old Alias DVDs and watch the show again. My first thought was that it would be horrible, and my memory of it being good would be tainted by nostalgia. However, as I watched it, I was pleasantly surprised. The main character can be a hot-headed, emotionally-driven, knee-jerk-reactionary bitch. The action sequences can be cheesy, and the special effects weak as hell. However, the story is cool. The other characters are mostly fun. The Rambaldi stuff appeals to the conspiracy-theory fan in me. The writing remained as strong as I had remembered. Apparently, a lot of the writing/producing team went on to work on Fringe, which is definitely a good thing. Overall, each episode was a worthwhile distraction for 45 minutes. 

Verdict: Good

Blassreiter

Grrrrr serious business.

Yet another horrible shit-turd from anime studio Gonzo. What a huge piece of shit this turned out to be. Speed Grapher was terrible, too, but at least it was over-the-top crazy fun. Blassreiter, however, was like Gantz or Blue Gender in that it is just shitty and has no redeeming qualities. The show takes itself deathly seriously, but then it has ridiculous things happen. For example, in the first episode a guy sees a telephone morph into his ex-lover’s face. I literally laughed out loud when that happened. It uses horribly obvious CGI: humans, monsters, vehicles, mecha, everything is CGI. The storyline is ludicrous. The characters die and give inane soliloquies just before they kick the bucket. It tries to be adult, but turns out like a 13 year old boy’s idea of cool.

Verdict: Shitty




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