Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

horn

 

That horn.  That smile.  It’s the image that launched a wave of outrage across the internet.

Last Monday, if you weren’t crapping on a show you probably never watched, you were probably busy watching the series finale of How I Met Your Mother.  The third option is of course anything but the previous two.  Actually, the majority of you were probably doing that.  But who’s counting?

I find it necessary now to advise you of potential spoilers from here on out.  I’ll be talking about that HIMYM finale.  So, yeah.

SPOILERS

After 9 seasons, 208 episodes and 25 years of television time, Ted Mosby ended up right where he began.  Holding up a blue horn as an offering to his future/former girlfriend, Robin Scherbatsky.  In that span of time, he had many near misses and a wife he loved with whom he fathered two children.  The serialized show (a rarity in the world of sitcoms) was about how Ted met the mother but it was just as much about everything that happened to him before that fateful moment.  And as the finale, in my humble opinion, so eloquently established what happened afterwards.

Ted very much loved the mother.  That was made perfectly clear in the brief glimpses of their future lives together that the final season offered.  But then she got sick and then she died.  And Ted mourned.  And after six long years, the torch he had always held for Robin burned bright once more.  And with the blessing of his kids, he went to see if he could get his second happy ending.

I thought it was lovely.

But I was in the minority.  It seemed most people hated it.  And I’m not sure why.  They said it shouldn’t have ended that way.  But this is what the creators had intended from the beginning.  So the question then becomes why can’t we respect the vision of the creators?  Why must we second guess the people who created the characters and, in this case, shepherded them through 9  years of ups and downs to get them to the place where they were meant to be?

The answer, I think, lies in the way we watch our favorite programs.  Before Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Instant we were forced to savor television shows in 9 month chunks with 3 month breaks.  This can be especially frustrating when you’re dealing with serialized storytelling.  I wonder if those who binge watch shows might not be better off.  Cramming three seasons of Game of Thrones into a weekend in anticipation of the fourth season doesn’t really allow time for speculation. And that speculation is what ultimately and almost inevitably leads to disappointment.  Because let’s be honest, NO ONE’S ideas are as good as our own.  So when a show fails to match the lofty ideas we’ve set in our own minds, we get disappointed.  We get angry.  And then, we get on Twitter.  Can you imagine what would have happened had the internet existed when entire series like Newhart and St. Elsewhere were ‘Bobby Ewinged’ in their finales?  It would have been insane.

But no more insane than the numerous negative reactions to the finales of Seinfeld, The Sopranos, Battlestar Galactica and Lost.

We are a notoriously difficult audience to please.  In fact, it’s impossible.  Someone’s going to get pissed.  Someone’s going to get disappointed.  And people have a right to feel however they feel.  But before you allow yourself to become one of the naysayers, ask yourself why you’re so pissed off.  Was this story well told?  Was it well produced?  Well acted?  Now be honest with yourself as to why you didn’t like it.  You might be surprised by the answer.  We’ll never all agree on anything but I think we can all agree to be fair and give a show its due.  It’s why we were fans in the first place.

Actually, hold on.  I think there is one thing we ALL can agree on.

Breaking Bad was the best show ever and the series finale kicked ass.

Okay, carry on.  It’s settled.

 

What?

You hated Breaking Bad?  The finale sucked?

*sigh*

Never mind.

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This!

Posted: February 26, 2014 in Movies, This!, TV
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Veronica Mars

A long time ago we used to be friends.  But I hadn’t thought of you lately at all.

That’s a lie.  I always remembered Veronica Mars.  How could I forget her?

She came storming back into all our lives with a tantalizing chance at a long promised and rumored return.  And in record time, she pocketed $2 million and that promise became a reality.

And she’s not coming back alone.  Oh no.  She’s bringing her old man Keith with her.  Old friends like Wallace and Mac.  Old boyfriends like Logan and the unfortunately named Piz.  She’s going to her high school reunion.  So all those Neptune schoolmates who ostracized her 10 years ago?  Yeah.  They’re going to be there, too.

And there’s a nasty little murder mystery that’s going to need solving.  It’s been 7 long years, Veronica.  And it seems very little has changed.

C’mon now, honey…bring it on, bring it on!

Netflix Pix #3 – Archer

Posted: March 13, 2013 in Netflix Pix, TV
Tags: ,

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Archer

It’s almost unfathomable to me that some people might never have seen this show or maybe even heard of it.  Those poor souls have been deprived of the ceaselessly entertaining adventures of Sterling Archer and the other eclectic characters that staff spy-for-hire agency ISIS.

At first gloss, Archer is a New World James Bond, a smooth ladies man dressed to the nines and deadly with any weapon.  But scratch away the very thin veneer and one will find a stunted man-child who is more likely to be found passed out whiskey drunk next to a high dollar escort than to be sipping martinis in the company of a high-class dame.  Part of the problem is that Sterling has mommy issues which are no doubt exacerbated by the fact that his mother Mallory, the shrewish harridan who has so dominated his life, is his boss at the oft inept covert organization.  He also keeps getting sent on missions with Lana, his Amazonian ex-girlfriend, who is repulsed by him despite and because of his repeated and unwanted attempts at reconciliation.

The animation is sharp and stylish.  The voice actors are superb, led by the incomparable H. John Benjamin who some may remember voiced Coach McGuirk on the late, great Home Movies.  The writing is witty and clever, often setting up standard spy plots before veering into complete chaos all while cleverly incorporating obscure pop culture references from Gator to Fandango and anything and everything in between.

Archer is easily one of the best comedies on television.  It’s currently in the middle of its fourth season on the FX Network and it was recently announced that a fifth season would be forthcoming.  The first three seasons are available right now on Netflix Instant.  Do yourself a solid and check them out.

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Bullet in the Face

Why this? Because it’s a wonderfully, gloriously, ridiculous send up of 90s era action dramas. And it’s got Eddie Izzard.

The Canadian dark action comedy comes from the twisted mind of Alan Spencer, the man who brought the cult classic Sledge Hammer! to the unappreciative masses in the late 80’s.

The six episode first season starts off easily enough. During a heist gone wrong, a sociopathic hit man is betrayed and shot in the face by his high-strung partner who happens to be his lover and his boss’ wife. In short order, the authorities pull a Face/Off and replace the crazed German’s gob with that of a cop he killed during the botched robbery.

Pressed into service by his jailers, he assumes the life of the dead policeman and is tasked with furthering the gang war between his former employer (played to pitch snow-globe obsessed perfection by the aforementioned Izzard) and his chief rival (a smarmy and oily Eric Roberts.) 

Max Williams and Kate Kelton portray the erstwhile feuding lovers, Gunter & Martine, and while I had no idea who they were prior to this wonderful project, I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on their future work.

It’s all rather ridiculous but irresistibly addictive fun. It’s over acted and over the top and well worth your time.

IFC ran the entire first season this past weekend and will no doubt be running marathons in repeat until an inevitable release on DVD/Blu-ray.  If you can’t wait (and I suggest you don’t), it’s available for rent on Amazon Instant View.

Do try to check it out.

I like these shows.  So should you.

Louie (FX – Thursday 9:30 PM Central)

Back in 2006, Louis C.K. had an HBO comedy, Lucky Louie, that lasted 13 episodes.  It was in the traditional three camera sitcom format filmed in front of a live studio audience and it had a laugh track.  I’ve never seen it and I imagine Louis is okay with that.  It was a troubled production as Louis had a contentious relationship with the network.  I doubt he was terribly upset when it was cancelled.

A few years later he landed a new show on FX in which he had complete creative control.  And it’s one of the best shows on the air.  If you’re a fan of the comedian’s stand-up, you’ll already be inclined to like it.  Like Seinfeld, it mixes Louis’ bits in front of an audience with story.  Unlike the famed precursor, the situations tend to be less ridiculous and more dripping in brutal awkwardness and honesty.   It’s sometimes painful to watch but never less than entertaining.

The first two seasons are available on Netflix Instant and on DVD/Blu-ray.  The third season is currently running.

Longmire (A&E Sunday 9:00 PM Central)

Based on a series of novels by Robert Johnson, this is a young procedural that is steadily growing more comfortable with itself as it gets more episodes in the can.  Aussie actor Robert Taylor plays the titular lawman Walt Longmire, a Wyoming sherif trying to keep order in a county that is disturbingly becoming more volatile.  The weekly mysteries, usually centered around some unfortunate’s death, are typical of the genre but engaging enough to maintain your interest. 

I personally hope the show stretches its legs a bit and has the confidence to get away from the murder-of-the-week format from time to time.  There’s a lot of a great character actors in the show that they can do a lot with.  Taylor brings a world-weary stoicism to the recently widowed sherif.  There are some dark things in his past that have been alluded to in some vague flashbacks.  Lou Diamond Phillips plays a bar owner and Longmire’s best friend, an indian off the local reservation where the cops have a less than amicable relationship with the county authorities.  Katee Sackhoff of Battlestar Galactica fame plays Vic, a brassy deputy who brings her experience policing the mean streets of Philadelphia to the American west.  Her working relationship and friendship with Walt has been a highlight of the first few episodes.  Bailey Chase plays Branch Connaly, another deputy who feels that Walt’s getting a bit long in the tooth and has decided to run against him in the next election.  And oh yeah, Walt doesn’t know it yet but Branch is totally sleeping with Cady, a local attorney who happens to be Walt’s daughter.

The show is gorgeous to look at.  It’s filmed in New Mexico which serves as a worthy substitute for Wyoming.  And, as long as the show doesn’t forget to focus on all these fun characters, I’ll be watching.  Five episodes of the 10 episode first season have aired and can probably be caught on-demand from your local cable provider.  A&E has already ordered a second season.

Big Brother 14 (CBS  Sunday & Wednesday 7:00 PM, Thursday 8:00 PM)

I know, I know.  Believe me, I know.  Every year I tell myself I’m not going to watch this glorious train wreck of the very worst of human behavior.  And yet, I always do.  Can’t help myself.  The show began the same year as it’s far more famous and watched network sibling Survivor and has been struggling for respect ever since.  More than a decade later it’s still trying and still failing.  The premise is simple enough.  A bunch of wanna be movie stars (models, bartenders, fitness trainers, etc) get thrown together with some geeks and some random old people.  The producers stage challenges in which contestants can gain the power to nominate people for eviction.  Campaigning begins, alliances form, people lie to each other all within the confines of a tricked out house with no forms of communication to the outside world. 70 or so days later one victor emerges and I feel dirty for the next 10 months.  It all plays out in as close to real time as a show can get and it’s ridiculously addictive.

The new season begins on Thursday, July 12.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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Breaking Bad

Why this?

Because simply, it’s the best show on television.

Those who are already fans fully understand the implications of the above image.

Those who haven’t been watching are really missing out.

The upcoming season 5 has been announced as the final for the series. It will be composed of 16 episodes to be split into two separate 8 episode arcs and promises to bring an epic conclusion to the story of Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and the many people caught up in the wake of their monumentally poor life decisions.

Vince Gilligan, a former writer for The X-Files, has created in Mr’s White (Bryan Cranston) and Pinkman (Aaron Paul) two of the most fascinating characters in television history. Both performers have won Emmy’s for their roles and they truly deserve every accolade thrown their way.

The premise of the show is laid out in vivid detail all the way back in the pilot episode. Walt White is a schlub of a high-school chemistry teacher who finds out he has an aggressive form of cancer with little chance of survival. He blackmails a former student, Pinkman, whom he has discovered cooks and deals meth. Using Walt’s chemical expertise, the two devise a batch of pure, high quality product that becomes a hit on the streets.

At first, Walt’s intentions are as pure as his actions are misguided. But every choice he makes in the service of providing for his family with the money he has made before he dies only serves to strip away more of his humanity and morality. Jesse just wants to make money and smoke out. Gradually, the confidence he gains while working with Walt makes him into a stronger, independent yet highly flawed man. The relationship between the two is very strained at times. One can only imagine at the inevitable showdown that awaits for these two.

I dare not say more for fear of ruining the many twists and turns that wait for our anti-heroes in the four seasons already aired. The uninitiated need to watch this show fresh with no spoilers. The acting is always stellar and the story never goes exactly where you think it might.

The first three seasons are available on Neflix Instant and the fourth is readily available for purchase at any retail store worth a damn or at Amazon.  Season 5 premiers on AMC on Sunday, July 15 9PM Central.

The urban dictionary defines NERD RAGE as a term used to describe extreme anger, offence, indignation, and other similar emotions by a nerd, geek or similar which can be triggered upon seeing a favorite film/show/comic book/etc degraded or insulted in some way

As long as there have been books and comics with fantastical elements that have been adapted into television programs or motion pictures, there have been nerds complaining that said films or programs based on these fantastical comics or books do not closely enough adapt the material contained within said comics or books.

In other words,  nerds like them books, illustrated or otherwise, and take great umbrage when them thar movies aren’t exactly like their beloved tomes.

To this I must say

The most recent perpetrator of this terrible crime, it would seem, is HBO’s Game of Thrones.  I love the show.  Think it may be one of the best things on the ole’ boob tube these days but I have to be honest and admit that I have not read one single word of George R.R. Martin’s magnum opus.  Many of my friends have and attest to it’s greatness.  I’ll take their word for it.  I’m sure it’s alright.  I’ve just never had an interest in ‘high fantasy’ as I understand it is called. 

Over the last few weeks of the series’ second season, I have seen more and more complaints on Twitter and Facebook that it’s starting to stray from the source material.  People are dying or not dying when they’re not supposed to.  Events are not taking place in the proper order or perhaps not happening at all.   And the greatest crime a television/film adaptation can make is to create entirely new events out of thin air.  Man, that shit ain’t right.

Sorry I can’t be more specific.  Like I said, I haven’t read the books.  And I don’t tend to read the complaints.  I’m not too terribly worried about spoilers but I don’t go search them out.  As long as Tyrion doesn’t die, I don’t care.

Pimp

One of the biggest television hits of recent years has been AMC’s The Walking Dead based on the Robert Kirkman comic book of the same name.  Mr. Kirkman sold the series as a depiction of what happens after the typical zombie movie is over.  The survivors make it out of the city but their ordeal is far from over.  It’s just beginning.  The series is quickly approaching its 100th issue which is something most new series from Marvel or DC never even get close so it’s safe to say it’s an unqualified success.  The TV show is no different in that regard.  The ratings steadily improved over the course of the second season.  I’m a big fan.

The TV series quickly established after the pilot episode that it would not tell the exact same story in the exact same manner that Mr. Kirkman did.  The first season ended with an episode set at the abandoned CDC in Atlanta that never happened in the comic.  A character survived much longer than the did in the series and another died years before he did in print.  New characters were created and familiar characters acted different.  There were different romantic pairings.  Most of the same storybeats were there but they were approached in a new manner.  They did eventually get to Hershel’s farm and eventually wise fans of the show came to see Hershel as the badass he truly is.  I’m glad he’s going to be around for Season 3.  He dies in the comic.  Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen on film.

 

Busting caps in zombies like a mothereffin’ boss

The Harry Potter books and The Lord of the Rings novels are geek catnip and both were translated into ridiculously successful film franchises.  And both took great liberties with how the stories were translated to film.  Perhaps, there are budgetary reasons why changes are made.  Maybe cuts were made to make the story manageable and to fit within a reasonable running time.  There are innumerable reasons why things in print don’t get to the big screen.  These decisions are made by people who know a lot more about what works than I do. They are stupid rich because their movies make money.  That’s not a bad thing, mind you.  That’s the reason the movies get made.

Would I consistently make the same choices that producers, writers, and directors make in how to adapt the stories?  Obviously not and it doesn’t matter because those choices are not available to me.  But you know what is available to me?  The books.  The comics.  No one can change those.  They’ll always be there for us.  No series or movie can change that.

Bottom line:  If the story being told to me in the moving images on a big screen in a building or the little one in my living room is enjoyable, well told and well acted, it wouldn’t matter to me if it were adapted from a piece of toilet paper.  Good is good.  That’s all that matters.