Sunday, November 27, 2011

Netflix Reviews #7

I get the chance to watch a couple of movies I was looking forward to.  The newest Kevin Smith movie, The newest X-Men installment and Lars von Trier's Melancholia.

X-Men: First Class

I have to admit it.  I expected this movie to be pretty bad.  But the truth is that if you think about it, there shouldn't have been any expectations for this movie to be any good.  X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine went from the ridiculously bad to the incredibly mediocre.  They both lacked what this movie had in spades.  A great director, fantastic actors with things to prove, and an emphasis on ambiance and character development.  Let me also say that Matthew Vaughn still hasn't made a movie I didn't enjoy (Stardust, Layer Cake, Kick-Ass) .  The other X-Men movies always felt like a mutant catwalk.  The 'let's see how many mutants we can get in the movie' mentality hurt them immensely.  Here we have a lot of humans, but we kind of feel like we know them all and begin to care about them (at least the good guys... the bad guys are another story).  The story is one that any fan of the X-Men is partially familiar with.  Eric Lehnsherr is a young Jewish boy during World War II.  He and his parents are taken to a concentration camp where his powers to manipulate magnetic fields are released.  There is also a young genius called Charles Xavier.  He is a telepath and an expert of various fields of science.  These are the main characters and their relationship drives the whole film.  James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are fantastic actors and they really showed them here.  Both of them have charismatic personalities but they both are destined to be enemies by the cards that each was dealt by the universe.  There is also the really interesting plot point of Mystique and Beast and their relationship.  So as not to spoil anything, let me just say that you should watch movies.  It's not only a really good superhero movie, but a good movie overall.

8.5 out of 10


I was looking forward to this movie.  Superbad and Adventureland director Greg Mottola knows how to make a funny movie.  This time he had the help of one of my favorite comedic duos from the other side of the pond.  Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are the kings of the buddy movies.  They tackled zombies and crazy cultists and now they are on a trip of the UFO sites across the US.  Here they meet a bunch of different characters, especially the extraterrestrial Paul voiced by Seth Rogen, who is being followed by "the government".  It is a funny tale of friendship and camaraderie.  It's nothing out of the ordinary, but I think they did well in the use of the alien.  And the voice of Seth Rogen fit him perfectly well.

7.5 out of 10


The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Terry Gilliam has always been a wondrously imaginative director.  From his hilarious comedies (Monty Python and the Holy Grail) to his darker looks at humans and humanity (Brazil and Tideland), to his more well known films like Twelve Monkeys and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Gilliam always knows how to take something that might be just interesting and turn up to the oomph degree.  This movie is a little bit hard to explain, so I'm not going to even try.  Let's just say that Doctor Parnassus (played by the always awesome Christopher Plummer) is looking for people to enter his Imaginarium (in a way, it is his own mind).  Along with his faithful daughter Valentina (Lily Cole), his "adopted" son Anton (Andrew Garfield), and old friend Percy (Verne Troyer), they discover that Tony (Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell) has an ability to attract people to the Imaginarium as well as having a very secret past.  Obviously that is only part of this very confusing tale.  This movie is most well known as being the last movie Heath Ledger was in before he passed away.  His performance wasn't done, so the filmmakers called on three of the top actors to play the same character in different dream sequences.  I think they did well with this gimmick and its a good homage to Ledger that the movie was still released while keeping his part in it (which is really good).  Besides the amazing imagery and visuals, the acting is what keeps the movie interesting.  All the actors do a really good job.  I especially enjoyed Tom Waits as Mr. Nick, one of the villains in the film.  This movie is not without its flaws, but its interesting enough to keep me watching.

7 out of 10


Red State

I take religious extremism very seriously.  It is a disgrace that people still murder each other because they think differently about some imaginary being that there is no evidence exists.  Either way, this movie was not at all what I expected.  Kevin Smith is well known for his hilarious comedies full of memorable characters and fantastic dialogue.  This is not like any of his movies so far.  It's not a comedy and it's just something I didn't expect at all.  A group of teens find this horny older woman that is willing to have sex with them online.  Little did they know that she was a member of a cultish church not unlike the Westboro Baptist Church that has been on the news (except for the killing and the guns... yet).  What happens after, I'll let you find out.  While the cast has some interesting names, especially Academy Award winner Melissa Leo and John Goodman, the shining light of the whole thing is Michael Parks as the head of the church, Abin Cooper.  There is a charisma that surrounds him that is easy to see but hard to define.  The words that come out of his mouth are vile and hateful, but they all hang on every word and every song and every smile the old man deals them.  This guy is freaking scary.  I'm not sure I liked the final discussion of the movie between federal agents, and it seemed like an unnecessary way to end the movie.  It has a lot of crazy talk, a lot of shooting and it is definitely something new from Kevin Smith.  It's always interesting to see filmmakers move out of their comfort zones.  That said, this is not a masterpiece or anything like that.

6 out of 10



This is one of the hardest movies to rate that I have seen all year.  I was looking forward to this movie and thanks to HDNet Movies, I was able to check it out before it arrived at Netflix.  Lars von Trier has always gotten a bad rap for being pretentious for pretentiousness sake and for going so far out of bounds that some people just can't stomach or handle it (see: Antichrist).  This movie is pretentious.  This is not a movie that everyone will enjoy and truthfully, I didn't enjoy it at times.  There is something about it though that deserves to be noticed and watched.  Whether the fantastic performances by all the actors involved or the magnificent cinematography coupled with the grand score.  While it reminded me a little bit of a movie I hated (The Tree of Life), there is something about this film that drew me in.  Kirsten Dunst plays Justine, she just got married with Michael (True Blood's Alexander Skarsgård) and the first part of the movie is their wedding.  Michael is happy but Justine seems to be in a downward spiral of depression.  You can immediately see that her family is not normal by any means.  Her parents, played by John Hurt and Charlotte Rampling show a little bit of the disfunctionality that Justine and her sister Claire probably went through.  Claire is played by Charlotte Gainsbourg and once again she shows exactly why she won the Best Actress award in 2009 at Cannes.  Claire is married to John (Kiefer Sutherland), and they seem to be a partly happy couple.  That is until we get to the second half of the movie that deals mostly with Justine's catatonic state, Claire's utter fear that the planet Melancholia will destroy the Earth and John's obsession with this blue ball in the sky.  This is a story of depression and what it can do to the mind of a person.  It is also a look into the end of the world through von Trier's eyes.  If you get a chance to see it, you should, just because it is an experience unlike most of what's out there.  If only just for the performances.

6 out of 10 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Fall TV Review Post: An Early Look (Part III)

More and more shows... this seems freaking endless!  Let's see what this part brings.  One really funny show, two shows that want to be funny but mostly fail and Rachel Bilson in hicktown...  Not the best of the lot...

Whitney (NBC)

Whitney Cummings seems to be this years darling comedienne.  She stars here in her own sitcom as she tries to rekindle her love with boyfriend of 5 years played by Chris D'Elia.  I first saw Cummings in the Roast of David Hasselhoff and while she was funny, she wasn't anything really special.  Then I decided to watch her stand up to see if she was better doing stand up.  Money Shot was okay, but there is something about her delivery that I really can't stand.  Her voice is so high sometimes that I can't really stand it.  It makes watching her sort of a chore.  Also, the way she laughs at her jokes is pretty lame.  The show is not much different from most of her stuff, except for Chris D'Elia.  Most of the time he has this look of pure confounded ignorance about everything that is going on that you hardly even notice he is on the show.  Also, her friends are idiots and his friend is a jackass.  Nothing really worthwhile here.

Recommendation: Unwatchable 

 2 Broke Girls (CBS)

Whitney Cummings rears her head here once more but this time, not seeing her at all helps the show ten fold.  She co-created it.  Kat Dennings plays a broke and down on her luck waitress slash babysitter and Beth Behrs is Caroline, an ex-millionaire whose father got arrested for stealing money.  The two make an interesting couple.  One is the perennial cynic who does what she has to do to get by, even if it means stunting her emotions.  The other is the girl who has always had everything given to her and now has to get by waitressing.  There is a cast of characters that are pretty funny.  Jonathan Kite as Oleg is pretty hilarious as he does the pervert routine to perfection.  Matthew Moy plays Han Lee, the owner of the establishment.  He is incredibly likeable as he tries to be hip and cool.  My favorite character is Earl played awesomely by Garrett Morris.  He's the one that handles the cash register and also has all the awesome lines.  If you watch it, just wait for his parts and laugh as much as you can.  The good thing about this show is the dynamic between the two girls.  They seem to be able to play off of each other perfectly.  Check it out.

Recommendation: Definitely Watchable


Prime Suspect (NBC)

Maria Bello has always been an actress that you can count on when you need an actioner female lead.  She just has a swagger about her that makes you feel like she will probably kick a lot of ass.  Here, she not only has to face the challenges of the criminals on the streets, but also a misogynist police department and even her boyfriend's ex.  At the start of the 1990s, Helen Mirren played a hard nosed detective in a series of the same name.  Those are some tall shoes to fill.  Bello is up to the task though.  The cast are all pretty good actors that do a good job in making Bello's Jane Timoney feel completely out of place.  She does her best work when she is out of place and questioned at every turn.  Now, this show is not the most ground breaking of its kind.  Not by a long shot.  But if you are like me and you enjoy detective shows, then you should check this out for a few episodes and see if you like it.

Recommendation: Casual Watch

 Last Man Standing (ABC)

Tim Allen returns to ABC.  That's the way they chose to sell this sitcom.  I don't think Allen has been relevant in a long time.  Before this, he appeared in a bunch of incredibly terrible movies for kids.  Zoom, The Shaggy Dog and Santa Claus 3 immediately come to mind.  He was made famous on TV and so to TV he returns after such a long time.  The show has Allen playing Mike Baxter, one of these hunters, outdoorsy types who just want to win no matter the consequences and don't mind emotionally scarring people who they think are weaker than they are... so he plays a Republican in this show.  Thing is, he has three daughters with completely contrasting personalities.  Kristin (Alexandra Krosney) is the older daughter that has to work at a diner in order to support her son.  Mandy (Molly Ephraim) is the airhead of the group.  Eve (Kaitlyn Dever) is the youngest and the tomboy.  The show is based on their interactions when it comes to everyday family life.  While its a funny show at times, there are places where they try to have some sort of social commentary and it sort of fails.  If they are going to keep doing that, they need to work on making the commentary worthwhile instead of just a bad joke and off to the next one.  I guess it's worth a chance.

Recommendation: Casual Watch


Hart of Dixie (CW)

I was loathing the moment I had to watch the slew of CW shows that seem unbearable to me.  One of them is this one.  When I heard the premise, I groaned.  When I watched it, I groaned.  Rachel Bilson stars as Dr. Zoe Hart (I know... a little farfetched methinks).  She is apparently this hard city girl with her future completely planned.  She wants to be a surgeon like her absentee father.  Her mother is not much better than dad, either.  She doesn't get the fellowship she wanted and thought she deserved because she was too insensitive or something.  So she decides to go to some small town in the middle of Alabama.  This show reminded me a lot of a show that I would never admit to liking (Everwood), except that it lacks everything that made that show any good.  Likeable characters.  There is nothing new here, she has to win over the people of this town who are so different from her and become a more sensitive doctor in order to be a better surgeon.  It's just a tried premise with an actress that doesn't really inspire confidence or any likability.

Recommendation: Unwatchable

Free Agents (NBC)

I like Hank Azaria.  I've always found him funny and likable.  This show sort of sucked the life out of Azaria and he gave us a character that was just plain vanilla.  Two co-workers that recently lost their partners (in one way or another) end up sleeping together and that is the premise.  The show is a remake of a British show and I guess this one wasn't much of a hit for the audiences as it is already cancelled.  There is just nothing memorable about this show.  It's just flat.  Probably the only cool thing about it is the guy who plays the boss.  Anthony Head reprises the role he used to play in the original British show and he is funny.

Recommendation: Unwatchable/Cancelled

Saturday, November 12, 2011

L.A. Noire... Rockstar Style

L.A. Noire (XBOX 360)

Having already told you all about my love of detective novels, tv shows and movies, I recently finished playing L.A. Noire. From the moment you start playing video games (I started back in the early nineties) you look for realism in the characters and the world around you. You understood as you played the games that with the technology of those days it was impossible to make characters that looked identical to their human counterparts. You still praised the developers for trying their hardest. With this game, Team Bondi and publisher Rockstar Games have finally done what we all thought was impossible. Anyways, on with the review.


This is one of the most important aspects of the game. Now, I've always been of the philosophy that gameplay should always come first and that a game doesn't necessarily have to be beautiful in order to be good. When you try to make a game as this one, where the developer wants the player to be so completely immersed in the game, it must do its best to make the characters and the world around the main characters as believable as possible. The technology used in this game is far superior to much of what is out there. The characters in the game look exactly like the actors that portray them (except Elsa Lichtmann who kinda looked weird sometimes). Cole Phelps and Jack Kelso look exactly like the actors that portray them (Aaron Staton and Gil McKinney, respectively).

Fringe's John Noble as villain Leland Monroe.

As you can see from the pictures and from what everyone is saying, the faces look amazing and they do in order to make a key part of the gameplay work. Everything else also looks good. The city, as big a character as Phelps or Kelso, also looks amazing. There are landmarks all over the city to find and while I have never been to Los Angeles, from what I have seen in the movies and shows, it looks the part. I especially love the feeling you get from the graphics. It has it in the name of the game and the feeling of 'noir' is helped immensely by the look and feel of the characters and the city.

The cars in the game also add to the noir feel. And with 95 of them, the streets are full of old school cars.

I had no idea it was possible, but I just read somewhere that there is an option to play the game in black and white and that would probably enhance the feeling of watching something akin to The Maltese Falcon.



The story revolves around Cole Phelps. A Unites States Marine Liutenant who fought in the Pacific theater and is now returning to work in the Los Angeles Police Department. The stories that are told about the LAPD are of corruption and unrest in the populace of Los Angeles. This one is a little harder to describe, because there are different smaller sub plots dealing with serial murderers and drugs on the streets. What can be said is that these stories are told in three main ways. Each case could be a self contained story or it could be part of something bigger within that "desk" (I'll explain this soon). In the second way, parts of the story are revealed are newspapers you find around crime scenes or places of interest. Once a newspaper is found, you will get a clip that will explain a little more of the plot. The problem with this is that while you may be just dealing with self contained cases, they are giving you pieces of a jigsaw puzzle without you knowing much of what is going on. The third way has you watching flashbacks of Phelps' days in the war. At first you don't really get it, but it eventually begins to unravel a bit.

The characters in these flashbacks will eventually have some effect on the story in general

I have to say that I thought the self contained stories were interesting but the story as a whole was lacking. For example, the whole Phelps and Elsa Lichtmann (a singer) affair thing was sort of bleh.



What about the meat and bones of the game? The gameplay is also divided into different parts. I describe it as Investigation, Interrogation, and All the Action in Between. With this concept, you go through the different desks and the different cases. You go from a simple patrolman to Homicide, Ad-Vice, Arson, etc.

Investigation would be the first phase of the gameplay. After you are given the basic information of the case, you go to the crime scene and look for clues. You check the body, the blood, the car and everything else that you can find that will help you solve the case. It's an interesting aspect of the game that I thought was pretty well done. I suggest taking out the vibration when you are near a clue in order to make it more believable.

After you investigate the crime scene and find the clues, the next big part of the game unfolds. This is also the most interesting and innovative aspect of the game. The interrogations are where the visual aspect of the game either shines or crashes. Once you begin interrogating a suspect or a witness, you will get different strings of conversations. After asking them about something, the person will answer you. This is where you have to decide whether that person is telling the truth or lying. The facial expressions aren't really hard to miss (which really irks me) so it isn't hard to tell when a person is lying or telling the truth. The developers added another option and this is mostly where you will have problems. It's hard deciding between Doubt and Lie and what differentiates them is that you have to give evidence (which you found at the crime scene or through other interrogations) when you think someone is lying. I think this needs a little bit of tweaking before it can become an important piece gameplay design.

Heroes' Greg Grunberg is a suspect in the murder of his wife.

All the action in between is pretty self explanatory. You get to chase suspects across roofs and movie sets, you shoot bad guys in stand alone side quests, there are car chases, you can explore the city and find landmarks among other things. I especially liked chases where the suspect grabs an innocent bystander and you must kill the guy before he kills the bystander. This being a Rockstar game, I expected a little bit more open endedness when it came to exploration, and while you can explore, it is always in the middle of a case and that threw me off. When I'm on a case I want to work on a case. Maybe having some time off for Cole between cases would have helped (this is just me though...). You eventually get to use another character but there really is no difference between the two in terms of the gameplay.

There is something that really irks me about the driving around. Unlike other Rockstar games, where you can basically kill the people you see running around (because you are usually a criminal) in this one, you are a detective and can't run people over. This means that you drag the standing bystander for a little bit and some text pops up telling you that you shouldn't be harming civilians or whatever. Truth is, this really looks awful and hurts the game. Maybe they should find another way to punish players who harm civilians instead of some text on screen.

Anyways, rant over, this is an interesting first attempt at this kind of gameplay and I would definitely give it a second shot in a sequel or something.


Music and Sounds

The music in the game goes along perfectly with the era and the immersion of the player in the game. Whether it be the songs that Elsa Lichtmann sings in the club or the music while you search for clues or hear in the different establishments, the music is fantastic. I absolutely love the main theme music and most of the music in the game just fits perfectly. There are actually two soundtracks for this game. The game score (which is pretty awesome) and another album with songs of the era featuring artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Evelyn Knight, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, among others. Both are worth a look. All the game sounds are well done, the shots, the cars crashing, and everything in between.


Love this theme music.

The Real Tuesday Weld featuring Claudia Brücken


In the end, Team Bondi and Rockstar made a game with fantastic atmosphere, fantastic music, amazing visuals and gameplay that while innovative, needs some tweaking. I have to admit that I really liked playing through the game and would definitely get a sequel, should there ever be one. Give it a shot. You can probably find it used for less than twenty bucks.

7.5 out of 10

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Not Just a Show about Meth Anymore: Breaking Bad - Season 4

"The back of yo' head is REDIKALOUS"
Is it wrong that now whenever I hear the word 'cook', I think of crystal meth? Not to me. It just makes me smile. No, not the crystal meth. It just makes me think of Breaking Bad, which is pretty fucking awesome.

Now up to it's fourth season, it's being regarded as one of the best shows on TV right now, if not the best. I'm not sure if I'd go that far, but it's up there.

The last time I wrote about this show I praised the acting more than anything, but it took me 'till season 2 to realize that as amazing as the performances are, it's much more about the story. The plot really takes center stage from there on in. These are characters that are so well developed that at every turn their decisions are unpredictable, yet somehow, as soon as they take action they always seem to feel appropriate.

The story also benefits from a relentless pace. There hasn't been one filler episode in four seasons. Every detail, every bit of information fed to the viewer is relevant, sometimes in the smallest ways. Every plot hole is addressed, creating a level of realism that just can't be matched for a story this intricate.

The base subject for this season is really interesting to me. It asks the viewer  a very simple question that hopefully people don't ever really need ask themselves; if you had a job where you were forced to think that your boss was willing to murder you at the drop of a hat, would you do it? And if so, would you act any differently that Walt and Jesse do?

I wouldn't make some of these decisions. These two have been through a lot, and anyone can tell that over four seasons, it's taken it's toll. Some of their reasoning is outright bizarre, but when you put into consideration the crazy shit that their profession has put them through, you really can't argue that they need to blow off some steam somehow... And that makes for amazing television: when a great character does something ethically and morally questionable wrong, and we agree with their choice, that's fun to watch.

If you think about it, it's what fuels TV storylines these days. Characters doing bad things that make us feel awesome. Dexter is my current favorite show, and it's probably the best example for obvious reasons. It's focus is making the viewer feel murder is justified and it makes you cheer for the murderer. It might be turning into a formula, but it works, and we're enjoying it. Everyone loves doing stupid things every once in a while, and the only reason we don't more often is because we can't justify them... Well lately, TV has done them for us. And it may not feel as nice, but it's pretty satisfying.

Breaking Bad does an amazing job at this. Every episode has something being blown up, something being destroyed, someone being killed. And at all times, it keeps hold of you. BB seems to make sure that it doesn't jump the shark in it's insanity. It all seems very calculated in the escalation of the character's actions. Obviously the writers are building to something great, and with the announcement that the fifth will be the final season, something probably deadly to some of these characters. I say that because I can't picture all these characters walking out of this show with their lives. There are way too many skeletons in everyone's closets for it to work itself out into a happy ending... and I wouldn't have it any other way.

In closing, being the setup for the final season, the fourth isn't transitional in the least. I would actually say it's the best season since the first. Don't get me wrong, every season is a must watch for this show. Every bit is essential to understanding how complicated this story has become. And for content this outlandish at times, it feels real. And to me, that's what makes it great.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Fall TV Review Post: An Early look (Part II)

In part two, we take a look at a couple of shows I was looking forward to (one was a disappointment and the other wasn't... that much), one that took me completely by surprise and another I had absolutely no interest in watching. Try to figure out which is which before reading the recommendations.

Grimm (NBC)

Who knew? Two fairy tale based tv shows at the same time? Reminds me of when Armageddon and Deep Impact were released so close to each other and also The Prestige and The Illusionist. Grimm is a little bit darker than Once Upon A Time but it's also an interesting concept that I would like to see through. While the latter is more Disney, this one is more gritty and dark (a lot like The Grimm Brothers' fairy tales). My biggest problem with the show and the biggest flaw so far is the main character. David Giuntoli is sort of annoying and I'm not sure he can carry a show on his back. Unlike Once... which has Morrison, Goodwin and especially Robert Carlyle, this show doesn't have much star power behind it. Giuntoli seems like a lost emo from a CW (we'll get to those in the next part...) show. His partner played by Russell Hornsby is more believable. I'll be giving this one a chance, but it also has to keep up.

Recommendation: Casual Watch

Allen Gregory (Fox)

A young boy who has been home schooled all his life, has to go to an actual school where he doesn't fit in. The show was co-created by Jonah Hill and he also voices the main character. When it comes to comedy, in any format whatsoever, I have a litmus test that must be passed. It is a simple test, but when failed, it could lead to absolute disaster. After watching or listening to whatever you are applying the test to, you ask yourself one question.

Is this funny?

Sadly, the answer for this show is a huge resounding 'no'. You know, I am a huge fan of any show that takes taboo subjects and rips them apart. Makes fun of them endlessly and without fear. South Park as always been a show like that. This show just doesn't do anything right. It tries to be risque with the taboo subject of a gay couple raising a kid and then they make these characters to be as unlikable and annoying as possible. It's sad, because it was a lost opportunity to do something right, but they failed. Every joke is like that in this show. Granted, I only watched the Pilot, but that was enough for me to not want to touch this thing with a ten foot pole.

Recommendation: Unwatchable

Pan Am (ABC)

With the incredible success of period drama's like Mad Men, ABC decided to jump on the bandwagon and that is why Pan Am exists. It is a show about the "most glamorous way to fly" back in the 60s. Pan Am has a really great cast and it has the feel of the era like very few shows do. The women are beautiful, and the vistas are varied and interesting. What is wrong with this show though? After watching a couple of episodes, I wonder where it is exactly that the drama will be coming from. I know there is a subplot with spies and the Cold War, but I just don't think that much happens during the episodes I watched. I'm hoping that they can settle that down just a bit and give me a story instead of just different side stories that don't really matter in the big picture. The show does have some potential to be great.

Recommendation: Casual Watch

Revenge (ABC)

Remember when I said that there was a show that took me completely by surprise? This is it, believe it or not. Now, before you look at the picture and read the blurb for the show (both of which were making me think this would be terrible), you have to understand that I have a weird fascination and love for movies, books and shows based on revenge. Revenge is as old as we can remember and it has been used by some of the greats and to fantastic and different results. From Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo and Poe's The Cask of the Amontillado, to the Greek myths, to the Vengeance Trilogy by Korean film maker Chan-wook Park are just a simple taste of how some people have viewed the concept. This show is a modern retelling of Dumas' classic. Maybe not a retelling but certainly inspired greatly by it. Starring as the lead character is Emily Thorne, played masterfully by Emily VanCamp. The setting is the treacherous land of the Hamptons. Watch as Emily slowly but surely begins to pick off the people who got her father thrown in jail. Give this show a watch. If you don't like it from the get go, then you only wasted 42 minutes of your life.

Recommendation: Definite Watch

Man Up! (ABC)

You want to see on television how some people view cliched men? Watch this series. Three best friends have to deal with their wives, ex-wives and lack of wives while at the same time showing the world that there are still manly men out there. The premise is stupid and the show is mostly stupid, but so far, I have found it somewhat enjoyable. I have to say, I absolutely hate Dan Fogler... his character is just so annoying and loud and stupid that I can't really stand him. Mather Zickel and Christopher Moynihan round up the trio and they mostly do a pretty good job. Kenny's ex-wife (who is also Zickel's sister-in-law) is dating Grant (played by Henry Simmons) who is this tall, elegant, nice man who doesn't watch Star Wars and stuff like that. I like his character and especially how deadpan he plays him. Also, I like how Teri Polo (Zickel's wife) is the calming force to all the testosterone the show has. Now, don't get me wrong. This isn't great. It's just watchable.

Recommendation: Casual Watch

Charlie's Angels (ABC)

I left the worse out of all the shows for last. Now, let me get out of the way that I'm not a fan of the original Charlie's Angels. I don't have anything emotionally invested with the original series. With that out of the way... this show is a sad excuse for a TV show. This is how the show was conceived... Take three actresses/models from a hat, get them skimpy clothes, give them generic backgrounds, create incredibly badass villains who physically can't kill women, have the lamest dialogue written down on napkins, and just put it all together and shake with an umbrella on top. The acting is seriously lacking and while the women are certainly beautiful, everything else just fall flat. There are many great shows out there that you can probably live without watching this dross.

Recommendation: Unwatchable - Cancelled

Monday, November 7, 2011

Who-Views: The Tenth Doctor

It's hard to explain my feelings about the Tenth Doctor. Let me say before I dive into the negative that I do like the character. I think my problems with the character have nothing to do with David Tennant himself, it's more along the lines of not liking how Russel T. Davies handled the stories.

Tennant does have some really great moments as the Doctor, but I just don't think Davies has that 'bigger picture' writing style that I've grown to love from the series. On top of that, my favorite Tenth Doctor moments were written by the man who took over once Davies stepped down, Steven Moffat.

Davies' stories always seem to revolve around the same ideas, over and over. The Doctor is lonely, the Doctor is sorry, the Doctor destroys worlds. We get it. These ideas are fine and dandy, but when you beat them into our heads every chance you get the audience will get tired of it. He also seems really love putting London at risk, and not being subtle about it. Driving a whole major city into a panic is a pretty cool visual, but when it's done every couple of episodes it kinda gets old.

On the other hand, The Moff can cause world ending tension and never have the characters leave a library, which in turn makes the story completely about the characters and lets them shine properly. But that's not what I love about his stories; he just seems to have this vision of the Doctor that I just love. Moffat's Doctor is, in short, humble and quirky, yet a total bad ass. And it's kinda the way I envision the character. Faithful whovians are probably thinking that I'm describing the Eleventh Doctor, but I'm not. Go back and watch Blink, or Forest Of The Dead, look at the Doctor and try and tell me that you don't see it. This isn't a Tenth or Eleventh thing... It's just Moffat's Doctor. And he's amazing.

Also, fans of the Eleventh will back me up when I say that Moff writes with a bigger picture in mind. He plants seeds for his stories whole seasons in advance and scatters tiny references to the main story even when other writers take the helm for their episodes. This is where Davies' stories are really lacking to me. Simply placing the words Bad Wolf doesn't really do much for the plot, it doesn't really even mean anything unless you explain what you mean by it. And as far as storytelling goes, it's pretty lazy.

With all I've said, I need to point out that the Tenth is a great Doctor. His mannerisms and wit come across wonderfully, I just think the quirks written in by Davies take away from the Doctor as a whole. While he shares a lot of traits with my beloved Eleventh, the way the character is written just makes him look like an arrogant prick. You have these moments where he tries to show how awesome he is, and Tennant comes off generally cocky and kind of rude. When the Eleventh does it, he just seems quirky and lovable. It has a lot to do with the situations he's placed in, but most of all it's all about the wording of the famed 'bad ass' speeches.

The companions are a bit more complicated, because there's a shitload of them. Over 36 stories Tennant has around eleven companions. Some last more than others, some are around for less than an episode. And unfortunately for me, miss blandness herself, Rose Tyler is back. And once again the world revolves around her. She is the companion for Tennant's first series.

For his second season she is replaced by Martha Jones, a doctor in training (actual Earth medicine doctor). This leads to some interesting dynamic, because she actually helps out at times instead of just standing there, causing trouble. I actually liked Martha, she has a certain spunk to her that makes her a pretty good companion. Unfortunately her whole character is built around Rose and how much the Doctor misses her. They can't go one episode without referencing how much the Doctor misses Rose and how Martha feels like she's just a replacement, and that just hinders her character growth and makes her seem like she's of lesser importance, even if she's much better.

Martha is fine, but without a doubt the Tenth's best companion is Donna Noble. The Doctor first meets Donna between series two and three in the special The Runaway Bride. She doesn't come back until series four when she becomes his third prominent companion. She is by far the most helpful of the bunch, even astounding the Doctor himself with her numerous skills, all of which she attributes to the numerous jobs she's had in her life. She just seems like the only companion who actually has a reason to be with the Doctor.

The rest of the companions (there's quite a few of them) come and go. None of them are really all that noteworthy. Captain Jack Harkness comes back for a bit, not long though. And he's about as memorable as it gets. It kinda wears down how special companions need to be when there are this many of them. And this comes after the concept is watered down by the omnipotent importance of Rose above everyone else.

I've enjoyed watching these two Doctors. But I was even happier when I saw those last minutes of End Of Time (which really sucked as a finale) and Matt Smith finally pops up as the Eleventh, after what might be the most bloated, over drawn, and cliched death sequence in recent TV history (it basically lasts four specials and three episodes). If I had to compare it to something, I'd say it's almost as bad as when Trinity dies in The Matrix Revolutions. Remember how long that went? Remember how you tried to feel sad but just ended up kinda wishing she would just die already? Well this is longer, and slightly more annoying because of how many times he points out how awesome he is and why he would never want to change. Just kinda ridiculous. Especially considering how awesome Matt Smith turned out to be.

So yeah, I'm glad I've reached the Eleventh. I will gladly watch it all again. But in closing, the Tenth is enjoyable. But those moments when he becomes irritating, he is really, really irritating. I'd like to think it's not Tennant's fault, because I do like him as the Doctor, but he just pisses me off way to often. So yes, he is the fan favorite, but oddly enough everyone who has told me that they love David Tennant haven't given Matt Smith a chance yet. I encourage you to do so. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Fall TV Review Post: An Early Look (Part I)

The Fall TV schedule is pretty full. Everyone is looking to those new series that might get them hooked. All the big players are there and since there are many shows, I decided to split them up into a couple of parts. I'm not going to review the show completely now, it wouldn't be that fair until their first season is over. I will give them either one of three recommendations: Definitely Watch, Casual Watch and Unwatchable. So, I will look at these same series at the end of their seasons and let you know what I think then. I will not be reviewing Boss, Enlightened, or Homeland because I don't have Showtime or HBO, Hell on Wheels because I don't have AMC, I Hate My Teenage Daughter cause it premiers at the end of November and any new reality show that comes out. Let's lets kick off...

Terra Nova (FOX)

After the Battlestar Galactica finale, I really didn't have a lot of options to satisfy my sci-fi quota. Other than Doctor Who everything else is pretty much run of the mill. When I heard of Terra Nova, I was excited for what was about to come. Fuckin' dinosaurs rule. I tried ot keep myself from reading too much information on it and was pretty much able to do that. After watching a couple of episodes, I have to say that I think I will have to wait some more for something to really satisfy me in a sci-fi way (Rosey just won't do anymore!). It's not that the show is bad. Not at all. It's just that the first few episodes haven't really done such a great job in piquing my interest. The things that seem to be important get glossed over for encounters with deadly dinos. That's all fine and dandy, but if you want to keep people interested you have to give them something more. They don't have to get all Lost-y with all of us, but give us some real info each episode so we want to come back for more. I have no problems with the cast yet. I like Shelley Conn as the doctor and Jason O'Mara as the husband and cop. I especially like Stephen Lang as the leader of Terra Nova. He just has this look about him that you know something is not right about him but he could end up being a good guy in the end. Hopefully they turn it on soon or I might have to stop watching this.

Recommendation: Casual Watch

New Girl (FOX)

I have to admit that I have a crush on Zooey Deschanel. When I read she was going to be on TV every week, I thought the world had finally fallen into its rightful place. How wrong was I. She has always had the quirky look down. Quirky is her thing and she has it down pat. Why someone thought turning it up to 11 was good idea for this show should be tossed in a crocodile pit. The idea behind the show is not very inspiring in the first place. A weird girl living with three other men... hilarity should supposedly ensue... It doesn't. It never does. You know why? Zooey Deschanel's Jess is not quirky, she is some mixture between an idiot and completely bat shit insane. When dhe does anything, you never get that ' aww, that was cute' feeling but the 'holy shit, she's nuts. Let's get the fuck outta here.' This show is a real mess. I'm going to find it hard to finish this thing.

Recommendation: Unwatchable

Unforgettable (CBS)

I'm a fan of detective shows. I don't know exactly why I'm so in to them, but I am. I guess it's the sense of having to figure everything out along with the cast that attracts me. That being said, this show won't set the world on fire or change the way detective series are done. Poppy Montgomery (with awesome red hair) plays Carrie, a detective with an interesting quirk. She has hyperthymesia. This means that she remembers everything she hears and sees. I wouldn't want to be this girls husband is she could remember every single thing. It would scare the shit out of me. Anyways, basically she can go back to a crime scene and see things that will eventually lead to them solving the crime. Her back story is mostly what drives the character. When she was little, her sister was murdered and she was left alive. Because of the traumatic events, she can't remember the killers face like she can remember everything else. For years she has been searching for this killer and she seems hell bent on continuing even after 20 odd years. It's not that great a plot point, but I'm hoping they can do something interesting with it.

Recommendation: Casual Watch

Once Upon A Time (ABC)

When I read the premise for this show, I was immediately interested. I like it when authors and shows use characters from stories in different situations and settings. In this case, fairy tale characters are living in a small town in Maine called Storybrooke with no knowledge of who they really are. This happens after a witch fulfills a prophecy. It stars Jennifer Morrison (of House M.D. fame) as the mother of a kid who knows somethings about what is going on and about the town and its inhabitants. It's an interesting premise and I'm hoping to see what they can come up with next. I'm not so sold yet on the evil witch, but I'll give it some time to develop a little bit more. Hopefully, they build on this and continue to make this show interesting before they cancel it or something.

Recommendation: Definite Watch

How To Be A Gentleman (CBS)

If you have never watched Kevin Dillon as Johnny Drama in the awesome show Entourage, then you know why I might be excited about a show like this. Dillon is funny in a macho, jock way that not everyone can do. Too bad this show is just fucking terrible. ?? plays a magazine writer that is supposed to be everything a gentleman is. Except he's the farthest thing from that you can imagine. When you think of gentlemen, you think of people like Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine, not of this effeminate goof ball. Supposedly, Dillon's character is supposed to teach this guy to be young and edgy since the magazine was bought and being revitalized. The premise might have been funny, if it weren't for the fact that both characters are incredibly unlikable... no, hateable. So, look elsewhere for your comedy needs.

Recommendation: Unwatchable - Cancelled (after TWO episodes... terrible)

Up All Night (NBC)

Will Arnett is awesome. I remember watching Arrested Development and laughing out loud at Gob's antics. He teams up with Christina Applegate for this comedy show. They are a couple who, even though they are older and have a daughter, try to be hip and still pretend to have the same social circumstances as before. I think they are both pretty funny. It's one of those shows that makes you embarrassed for the characters on your screen, but to the oomph degree. Maya Rudolph plays Applegate's boss and this sort of TV show host. While some of her stuff is funny, some is pretty lame and having her on screen sort of ruined my viewing experience. Hopefully they tone her down a bit and leave most of the heavy lifting to Applegate and Arnett.

Recommendation: Casual Watch