Reviews

93 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Broad City (2014– )
10/10
We have a new Carol Burnett
4 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Ilana Glazer is a true genius, taking nothing away from her partner-in-slime; Abbi Jacobson who is superb in her own rights, Glazer has that X-factor I have not seen in a comic-actor in decades, even more than Fey, McCarthy, Shannon,Wiig, or even Radner. Broad City, a mature comedy that does develop a topic every episode ( with splinter skits), is refreshingly original, edgy, risky, modern, and always hilarious. Very well written, great guest stars, unusual predicaments, and well paced/edited/directed. Very infectious : always leaving me wanting more and eager to see the next show. I hope this has legs and runs for a while, definitely one of those series Im going to get on blu-ray when its over.
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Better Things (2016– )
10/10
An overlooked gem of a show.
4 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This dramedy is about as real as it gets. No pretension, superb cast. Deliberate in its delivery, and nearly always some very poignant message usually ensconced in love, compassion and family. This show wisely avoids Hollywood clichés like Californication and Episodes, so even though the protagonist is a Hollywood actress, they treat her career like anyone else's: no celebrity or entitlements. The love from the mother,Pam Adlin, often very tough at times, is so thick its palpable. She works hard at everything she does and always has her children's best-interest at heart. I have loved every episode, a few made me cry. This show pulls no punches nor truncates itself, the language and topics are often stark and riddled with expletives. This is not a show a child should watch without their parents, but rather be guided through. There is much wisdom here. Ignore the negative reviews, I read them, they failed to get the point of this wonderful show.
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8/10
Not a great film, but perhaps the only accurate look at the biz
15 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I am rating this high merely due to the rare nature of its accuracy. There's still an element of Hollywood cliche's of the record industry included, but the studio scenes and some of the management scenes are compelling. Some of the things are over the top; like Bert Parks singing, and Earth Wind and Fire performing in a roller rink and the staged ghetto-talk by the brothers. Even with some of the bloated soap-opera elements,there still is this aura of docudrama about it. I don't know of a film that portrays the recording/arranging process better. This accuracy may be some or most of its undoing, people often don't acre about the ingredients of the cake they are eating, just the flavor. The "how" it got there is unimportant, only the finished product. Napster being a prime example. So with that, this film may only appeal to Earth Wind and Fire fans as well as those who have a curious nature.
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Bikini Avengers (2015 Video)
1/10
Where's the bikinis?
4 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Yes, we all know that Skinemax (and/or the ilk on premium channels) videos have the appeal of a wet ashtray. We all know the sex is fake, the boobs are fake 90% of the time ( usually with atrocious boob jobs- poor girls) they can't show aroused genitalia, any type of sex, sperm etc. Also off the table is a coherent story-line, acting skills, large cast of players to pool from, original music, etc etc. So I set the DVR to record this and watched a few days later and of course its right-off-the-bat into the fake sex-scene without any explanation, then some pointless dialogue that went absolutely nowhere, and then we have two scenes back-to-back of our lead protagonists who are the bikini avengers ( not sure what they are avenging) who seem to spend their time in regular street clothes or spandex unitards and capes, they have a big expensive "bat cave" then depart in the bikini mobile- a Honda. Then its another abrupt sex- scene with the same girl in the 1st but this time its lesbian action with music I swear they lifted from the weather channel. Then its another Avenger scene, alas, still no bikinis another fake sex scene this time with an actress who fakes a Russian accent, back to the avengers bat cave, still no bikinis, fake breasts sex scene with more weather channel music, blah blah blah, back & forth, no bikinis ever. The thing is they changed the title of the move from Bikini Avengers to Bikini Super Heroes, which was an excellent time to change it to Spandex Super Heroes or really what it is : Spandex Boredom Bandits.
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Trainwreck (2015)
2/10
WTF-Amy?
8 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
There's no bigger fan of A.S. than me. I'll write that again; there's no bigger fan of A.S. than moi! Seven years ago I caught here stand-up routine and was completely impressed, so much so, I boasted to my friends:"keep your eyes out for this one, she's going to be huge". I was right. So when I heard she had merged her skills with the omnipotent Apetow and SNL vet Hader, I was thrilled, especially on the heels of her success with her solo show " Inside Amy Schumer" which IMO is brilliant from top-to-bottom, and has only improved since its debut. Sadly,this is where my admiration pauses, and I do hope its ONLY a pause. It appears that her 1st foray into a tinsel-town backed project was to be guided with a conservative hand, to narrow the margins of Amy's comedic breadth, which as you know, is highly suggestive and sexually charged, as some sort of test to see if she will play ball with the establishment and/or if not, Apetow would be there to pull in the reigns, thats the sense I get of this because even though she is credited as the sole writer, its far too prosaic, conservative for her, and its in the absence of her brand we get cliché'd and perhaps Apetow script(ed) influence. The film starts off closer to Amy's M.O. but as it progresses in run-time, it regresses in edginess and her personality eventually gets lost amongst predictable clichés. Some of the material in the film closely mirrored bits from her erstwhile stand-ups. Amy needs to be Amy. Its as simple as that. The whole package, at least for now, is this innocent cherub-looking blonde who juxtaposes her appearance with dismissively dry explicit sex talk. Good news, is there was a lot of hype and great publicity for her in 2015. Along with the ROI the distributors made with Trainwreck, she will be sitting pretty….for a while.
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Flesh and Bone (2015– )
8/10
Heavy on the cliché but entertaining.
28 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Just about everything from top to bottom on this latest Starz Original series entry is a tried cliché, and maybe that was the intent but to strip it down and expose the visceral underbelly of the current ballet industry. Of course, there's no accuracy in this at all. We have seen it all before in Flashdance and in Black Swan, but also in more subtle forms like in Fame or even Meatballs. On the plus side, the casting is superb, they must have spent a year gathering this ensemble of actor/dancers who have the energy and talent for such demanding and explicit roles. The production quality is excellent with the editing and directing spot-on. I can live with the cliché's as long as I'm not insulted or bored, and F&B is both compelling and entertaining, totally binge-watchable too. But the writers need to reign-in Claire's nonstop suffering and playing the psychotically-damaged victim. She seems completely unable to experience joy on any level and its getting old, leaving me wanting to smack some sense in her; our protagonist MUST have more dimension other than suffering. The rest is as you may expect: she needs money so she strips, one of the dancers is rich so daddy funds her "hobby", the aging star is evil and a coke-head, the rest of the company is envious and punishing, the company is losing money, the would-be benefactor is a pervert, a hobo is the voice of reason, typical offerings from Hollyweird in the cliché'd world of dance. BTW, ballerinas eat and eat heavily, its MODELS who starve themselves.
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1/10
Huh?
22 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
First off, no bikinis. Maybe thats what they are wearing under their tops? Who knows? Maybe they forgot one of the words in the title of the film they were shooting. ( there's also no "bash", btw) so I don't know how "great" it is! Secondly, these are some pretty ugly skanky women. Sure , Im not expecting Julie Andrews in a film of this title, but this also isn't a porn-movie, so there's no excuse for not hiring women who have not endured the wrath of inbreeding and Dr. Frankenstein manipulation. One of the girls looks like a Mexican version ( not meant as offense to Mexicans in any way) of Barbra Streisand but much more odd looking ( if thats possible). The gargantuan/chubby blonde has had some pretty messed up botox and other altering procedures along with horrific fake breasts. the 3rd girl looks the most normal of the 3, yet has the worst boob-job, far more sexier with her clothes on, that applies to all 3 of them. The story is inane and cliché'd, of course. Apparently you can get a B-list actor to cough up $4 million to throw a frame in a bowling-match to save a bowling- alley that has no patrons. How about gals that looks somewhat human?
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Whiplash (2014)
4/10
Stupid and Improbable story.
20 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Well acted? Sure. Decent directing and production values- yep! Plausible or realistic storyline? Not at all. There is no Shaffer Conservatory. Berklee College of Music in Boston used to be heavy on big-band jazz, but now the school has become far more vocational. None of the conservatory's I am aware of feature jazz as a curriculum, and if they did, it certainly would not be a major. No music professor in the USA would have a job if they behaved the way Fletcher does, and more to the point, no JAZZER would ever behave this way under any circumstances. Jazzers are not confrontational or competitive, that would contradict everything they stand for. The way the other musician behaved and talked in this film is not even remotely accurate AT ALL. Real musicians in REAL life, ESPECIALLY JAZZERS, are brotherly. A professor would never come into another professor's class and take over, would never physically abuse a student or yell at them this way ( with intense profanity, humiliation, and gender-insensitivity). A teacher wouldn't come in and insult the entire ensemble EVER. They would never audition them in the manner Fletcher does. They would never focus so much on the drummer, nor would they put so much emphasis on a stupid and pointless competition. The JVC Jazz festival, like any other jazz festival, does not have label-people attending to scout for new talent like baseball scouts. Labels are overrun with demo tapes and web links to downloads, and his remark that if you screw up they will remember you for the expressed purpose of denying you a deal is absolutely inane.I have NEVER seen a drummer get bloody hands just from playing fast: a stick only weighs about 2 ounces and is very smooth. Oh BTW, drummers never share sticks. Sticks are very personal, and ALL drummers, in a music program, carry a stick bag with them like a woman carries a purse. I have never seen "alternate" drummers in an ensemble or page turners for drummer. Big-band rehearsals at 9AM? Are they joking? You'd never get that many musicians to be at class that early and behave like soldiers in bootcamp, NO WAY! Are we to believe that Andrew get tossed from school, before Fletcher, because he messed up playing a song in a competition? Seriously? Even though he was bloody from a car accident? Maybe if this imaginary tale took place in hell, it would have slightly more credibility. Hollyweird NEVER portrays musicians accurately in a feature film. This is not a powerful movie, it doesn't make a point or carry any type of profound message and it doesn't portray musicians or music-schools with an accuracy at all. Im sure its fooled a lot of lay-people.
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3/10
Two Saggy reasons
7 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Hey, I have the guts to be honest, the only reason I watched this was because I remembered " that chick from the Bond flick who's boobs came close to falling out of her top leaning over at the craps table!" Well that film was Diamonds Are Forever, and her character was Plenty O'Toole who later gets tossed out of a hi-rise hotel window by mobsters and in real life she's the bubbly, vivacious, curvy and beautiful Lana Wood. Apparently her 15-minutes was not enough for her because we fast forward a full decade and she's back, this time in the low-budget Satan's Mistress ( although the version I was streaming titled it "Demon Rage"). Over 5 minutes of the film goes by before the opening credits begin when I am greeted with the production company titled: " BJ Creations." This, along with the screen-caps of Lana Woods breasts, Lana's major nip-slips in the intro, compelled me to believe I was in for an enjoyable evening of typical gratuitous low-budget boobies, and general sleaziness. However the top billing went to Britt Ekland, another Bond co-star ( as agent Goodnight in "The Man With the Golden Gun") and Kabir Bedi yet another Bond co-star ( as Gobinda in "Octopussy") Hmm, 3 actors, 3 different Bond film. Whats going on here, especially after all of this time? Well Britt is hardly in the film at all, but of these 3 ex-Bond characters, she's the most-known, so I guess they needed her name for some street-cache. The film is irretrievably stupid, based on some premise ( which the producers try to sell as fact in the opening credits) that supernatural powers commonly cause people's loneliness. Buy hey, again, to be honest, I already outlined my "2-reasons" for wasting my time. We get a few brief topless scenes of Wood who has remarkable areola on her DD's ( just guessing cup size), 2 of which are her on her back, where she's aged just enough for them to start sagging and be headed towards her arm pits. Needless to say, I was disappointed and hardly titillated at all.....
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5/10
Are they kidding?
9 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Im giving this a "5" for the way it was produced, assembled and edited on a technical level within the confines of a documentary. The actual content/message is a complete joke. Is there anyone with minimal intelligence who's not aware of how tough the entertainment business is? Free-will is a bitch! You would think the women interviewed in this documentary were immune. The average woman in the USA earns $15K a year, after 30 years thats $450,000. An A-list actress makes 20 times that for 8 weeks work. This crockudrama' features bitter C-list bit-players moaning about this and that, when they should be thankful they still had many gigs without resorting to giving BJ's to execs. Looks? Yep! You betcha', I don't wish to pay $12 to see a fat hag, I wanna see beautiful women, because they are the freaks of nature, not the norm. Beauty, like entertainment is usually successful because its bigger than life isn't it? Why should Paramount forfeit profits to appease the unattractive? Its an open market. Berklee College of Music, a world renowned school of music, and the only school of music that aims most of its agenda/curriculum within the entertainment business, only produces graduates in which 3% find employment. This isn't new news folks, its cliché and has been for decades ( see "All About Eve"). Of course women are used less; movies are more about life and the MALE dynamic, his physical strength, his professions, his dominance, and his criminality. This may change by the next century, but that's the way it is NOW. Who does not know this? Answer: Apparently the women in this pointless film. Genetically, women are more in need of self-assurance, acceptance, and self esteem than men, this is why you are more upset when you are rejected: You have more to prove, so the distance of your fall is greater in your mind. I do agree with the women in this film on one point and that is their assertion of the male assholes presence within their profession. ( again, not exclusive to the film industry: see Mad Men) But, they are also assholes to the man as well, just in different ways. Not one of the women in this documentary has created a noteworthy role on the level of say: Olivia de Havilland, Sigourney Weaver, Meryl Streep, Ida Lupino, Bette Davis, Hillary Swank, etal. None of them are beauties but earned respect and built great careers. But I do want to close with this:All of the award shows ( and there are 75 of them) award the same amount to women as they do the men.
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6/10
Point?
21 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
There is a vital reasoning behind the purpose of making this film. Chanel is one of the most influential persons of the 20th century, and Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" is arguably the best piece of music ever composed. As a matter or fact, I am quite surprised this story, in its generality, was not tackled sooner. This film has many of the element we see in any other films that are well shot, acted, and edited. However, it is the constant vagueness of the storyline which concerns me and left me unsatisfied. I can see the styling of sparse dialog, especially when the writers can convey all the meaning they need to with forced economy, and economical dialog is what you get with this film. However, this is an information-driven story, and next to nothing is explained to the point I felt it was assumed that I as a viewer were to be expected to know the details about the subject before hand. As a result, I had to research multiple web-sites to fill in the blanks, to answer the questions that this film left behind. When you are trying to convey complex scenarios with limited dialog, the camera becomes more vital to tell propel the story and the burden on the actor's abilities become's crucial. This is where, IMO, the film lacks cohesiveness and purpose. I wanted to know more about both of our protagonists, Coco and Igor, but I got little information, leaving me to use my imagination, when I wanted facts instead. I never new "Rite" had so many re-writes over so many years, I never knew of the affair, I knew of the controversy behind the the music but I had been taught early performances caused riots. What happens to Katarina? The kids? Did they get back together? What were Coco's thoughts about her affair decades later? What drove her to Stravinsky? The "Rite" score seems to just magically be completed but I was eager to learn insights of the creative process and see it develop. To that point, I think they really missed out as "Rite" is the primary music played throughout the film and is used as a phantom character. I like Mikkelsen well enough, but found him to be an odd choice for this role. Coco, portrayed by Anna Mouglalis was sublime and commanding.
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Agent Carter (2015–2016)
9/10
Another winner for the Marvel franchise
7 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
It was a double-pilot night for the latest addition to the Marvel franchise/saga and I am happy to write I was not disappointed. Taking place in the 40's, with hints of post WWII as pseudo- narrative backdrop against the fantasies dreamed up by Stan Lee, Agent Carter adds a stylish touch to what may be best described as pre-quel to the mammoth story-line the smart folks at Marvel are weaving, this time as a precursor to "Shield", piggybacking on Captain America. The real standout to me, is our protagonists, Peggy Carter ( adroitly played by Hayley Atwell) who's strength on her own is enough to carry the entire show on her shoulders. Yes, she's that good and commanding in her role. She has all the right elements, the camera loves her, and her character earned my respect almost immediately. It's great to see more & more women being cast as power figures. Carter has the unfortunate circumstance of living thru the male/sexist dominated era but she doesn't whine about it, she walks the walk. She's nobody's fool. All of the necessary production values are here: solid directing, writing and editing, detailed and good looking. They really capture the essence of that era with lighting, set-design, technology, and costuming. The era-specific music goes a long way to tie everything together. Not the best show on ALL of TV but may be the best new show on network TV and a pleasure to watch until Shield return.
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7/10
Thought this was supposed to be real?
1 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I was born in the early 60s and grew up in the 70's during my teen years. As a young man, I loved that time: love was open, recreational drugs were plentiful, the economy was decent, and oh, a lot of chicks didn't wear bras. I have read ( yet cannot confirm) that Dunst has some sort of no-bra policy, but I don't recall her mandate ever being obvious in her other films. In this case, it sort of throws a monkey wrench in the credibility machine. Allow me to explain. If you are a teacher or principal at a high school, a doting FATHER, fellow friend, unknown person you engage in public, or a woman who is hell-bent on judging you who has given birth by your father, I cannot imagine ANY scenario where NO ONE ever makes a comment that this teenager never wears a bra, and on top of that, seemingly never washes her greasy hair. This simply makes no sense to me. She not only goes braless, but also wears cut off t-shirts or shirts that are open on the sides, SO, the look is intentional/deliberate and is accentuated. Kirsten's bulbous CC-cups( just guessing the size) bounces throughout the entire film and no one ever seems to care or even notices the slutty appearance of a character who is only 17-18. Even her gal-pal goes braless in a couple of scenes and in a long segment of the movie, she jokes about her forgetting to wear a top. ( she's wearing a micro bra or bikini AS a top) So, at this point I have to conclude this may be not a mandate by our lead but some sort of fantasy whipped up by one of the producers or the director. In 2001, its entirely inappropriate to unilaterally condone this look for a teenager. Thing is, at the core, its a decent teen-romance film, replete with come cliché's but its cool anyway. We LIKE the characters. There's decent acting chops here, along with marginal writing and production skills. Its a good movie. But there is definitely an intent by whomever, for me to be distracted by bouncing breasts, which ( even though titillating) is wildly inappropriate and unrealistically presented in this context.
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State of Affairs (2014–2015)
3/10
Blech!
8 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The eagerly awaited vehicle for Heigl has all the earmarkings of contractual control for both Katherine and her mother/manager Nancy. Personally, I have been involved with a mother/daughter team before in the entertainment biz and it too was an ugly mess, built on fear and the blatant substitution of control to compensate. The mother dotes and assumes the newly found wealth is a direct mirror to talent, and since its the mother, she is blind to objectivity. Just like Dave Caruso's premature departure from "NYPD Blue" to pursue a bigger film career, as did K.H. leaving Grey's Anatomy. Every role she appeared was akin to the other, never stretching out of her comfort zone, which is limited. By comparison, her role on "Grey" had much more depth than anything she has yet to do. By all account, and not cowering to vapid Hollywood gossip, the reports seem endless as to the difficulty it is working with her. The common denominator to all of this a self-importance, a self-righteous ego. This brings us to her new show, SOA , which exemplifies and supports all of my erstwhile claims and assertions. The best-written scenes are the one with her. She always comes off as the dominate and commanding presences, even in the oval office. While I have great respect for Alfre Woodard's full career, she is terribly directed and written-for in this one, as her character comes of sleepy, spineless and unsure...not at all presidential. But I don't blame Alfre for that, I blame the controlling hand of the Heigl's and how their strict control overpowers the directors hand. Its very obvious watching that this is the case, as many of the scenes simply have little credibility or for that, spontaneous drama. Its all controlled and posed. The show itself comes off too neat and pretty, watered down for an older audience who likes their political and operational news served with a side of strawberry sorbet. Just enough curvy blonde to satisfy the 60+ age group who is unhip enough to not know why this show is total crap but has been tailor-made pabulum for the conservatives. It seems Heigl had the chance to really shine on the big screen, but she ( and/or her mother) chose the wrong films, or too many similar ones, none of which showed her range like Grey's Anatomy did, which I enjoyed her in. Will this show redeem her? Maybe if it garners a lot of ad- revenue. $$ talks. But NBC is not shy about cutting programs, good OR bad. If this one goes after this season I'm afraid by the time Heigl is given an opportunity with real meat on the bone, she will no longer be the blonde hottie she blatantly avoided to be while she was still young enough to pull it off..tic-toc,tic-toc.
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Legends (2014–2015)
9/10
Great Show!
19 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
At first, I thought this was only going to be about a man who had lost his identity, who had superior field-agent skills within the realm of black-ops. While there certainly is that element, what I really dig about the show, is that by the end of this 1st season, questions are being answered and a larger-scale issue has emerged and is taking focus.( Verax=Halliburton) I cant stand it when answers to basic questions get delayed over seasons, because I tend to lose interest, if for no other reason, the pay-off is not as good as what they are setting it up to be. This is where Legends shines. The storyline evolves and moves forward without meandering or needless ( and boring) minutia. Sean Bean is perfect for this role, as he is aged and rugged and his eyes tell the story of a complex past, yet despite the horrible aspects of his job, he's a moral man. I have to admit, my mean reason for checking out this show was for Ali Larter, who's got the sexiest smile in H'wood. But the show grabbed me from the get go and has maintained my interest since. I hope this one comes back for another season.
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Halt and Catch Fire (2014–2017)
9/10
Excellent show
12 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Maybe not THE best show on TV, but certainly ONE of the best. I'm not a computer-geek, so I cannot in good faith espouse technical accuracy of this show, but AS a show, its a true standout. The acting, pacing, editing, dialog and story-telling are all top notch. Every episode begs me to want more. The three main characters are sublime, rich in depth and development, especially Lee pace and Mackenize Davis whose presence dominates. While not on par with "Breaking Bad" , IMO it doesn't fall short of this far enough to mention. I also really love how women are portrayed here as not only are their characters meaningful, they are smart, creative, and vulnerable. Ture survivors in a time when women normally had more sub-serviant roles. Bravo, AMC! This one is a winner.
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About a Boy (2014–2015)
8/10
Above average sitcom, but musicians wronged again!
14 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I really like this show. Its very fluid and light and modern. The character development is strong and story lines are more credible than most sitcoms, and it doesn't get too soap-ish'. Some of it gets a little predictable but there usually is just enough of a twist that it doesn't bother me, I guess its due the good cast, and the characters are all likable. Already we have seen the relationship amongst the characters evolve and grow, and it all seems to fit. Some of the story- lines are quite touching, especially the bond between the Will and Marcus. I have do one MAJOR issue with this show. As a musician, I am never surprised just how often film-makers get our profession wrong. In this show I will cite 2 glaring examples. (1) It's highly doubtful Will makes enough in royalties from one song to support himself, especially in such a very nice home, in the very expensive San Francisco metropolis. Will's character is young so its not as if he wrote this one hit song 15 years ago. He still get big checks, not possible. Only a handful of people make serious money from royalties anymore. ( 2) So, his band magically gets together, gets an immediate gig in club and voila! They sound like a polished record, with Fiona playing uke and singing like a seasoned pro on a song she learns on the fly. This constant fake portrayal and blatant disregard for the music industry always make me shake me head.
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Salem (2014–2017)
8/10
Pleasantly surprised!
26 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I had only one pre-conceived notion of this new show and that it was going to be a fact- based account of the famed Salem witch trials. Instead it take a different approach by showing what if witches were real? So the show is a fantasy, and a very good one at that. I really enjoyed the cast, the pacing, the mood, all of it. There have already been a bounty of witchery' techniques and and anti- witchery' techniques I found unique and entertaining. The dialog was solid and comprehensive, a lot happened in the1st episode and really set-up future episodes well. The show jumps around a bit chronologically to explain things, which IMO really accelerates the pace and removes what could have been deemed tedious. This show is on the edgy side, almost too edgy for standard cable, not a kiddie fare as there is nudity, sex, and stark violence. I think the other reviewers who have condemned this show for being in bad taste need to lighten up. The real tragedies at Salem happened over 300 years ago, and is a story we all know from school and has also been covered on the History Channel. We're not talking about genocide here: the result of the Salem witch trials only accused 160 people of being a witch and out of that, 20 were hung, and 5 died in prison, none were burned. So the fact that someone has presented this is in a progressive and fictional way, is refreshing and entertaining. Id bet good money that if you were able to find a person who is related to one of those who died, they would be far less angry than those who have peppered the message board with outrage. Its a TV show folks.I look forward to see how the rest of the season plays out.
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Bad Teacher (2014)
1/10
Awful and in bad taste.
25 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I saw the movie with Carmen Diaz and sort of liked it for what it was, a dark fluff film. But IMO, that should have been the beginning and end of it. Ripped directly from the feature film, the TV version is far more annoying, and the main premise of the show had already played itself out by this first episode. It sort of reminds me of what Peg Bundy ( from Married with Children), as THAT character, would have been if she were allowed to become a grade-school teacher. But MWC worked because it WAS so ridiculous, a sort of updated version of All In the Family, set to a Bugs-Bunny cartoon. Bad Teacher fails because it tries to sell us on its credibility, which is a BAD move on their part. Aside from that, the other main problem I see for this show is the casting of the central character Ari Graynor as the bad teacher. She's bad alright, bad at acting, and not likable at all. Her character is supposed to be someone who is hot enough to attract interest from all the men she meets and mingle within the show. I simply don't see that she's that person. I hope the network yanks this one, PRONTO!
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Fargo (2014– )
9/10
Mirrors the Movie
25 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
My review is not so much a review of the show itself, but the popularity of adapting feature films to TV series. I take some caution getting involved with TV series that stem from movies for one several reasons, but the main one is: If they will able to sustain an already established story line by stretching it out over hours upon hours, and to that end, season-to-season. I cant help but feel that some series approached their writing at the onset to reflect a short run, so when we get to the end of the 1st season ( or sometimes, only half way into a season) the writers have to deviate from the original intent to find new ways to lengthen the story, sustain interest, and remain credible within the confines of the original story-line. Conversely, some assume the series will enjoy more success than it ultimately will have yet gets prematurely yanked. In those instances ( and staying within the confines of the circumstance at hand) this usually arises from too much needless minutia being addresses that may have not been possible in a standard feature film,ergo, less drama and dynamics which leads to a bored or apathetic audience. In either scenario, special consideration and interest must be made to the production costs as the very nature of some of these shows reach epic ( or near epic) proportions, so the determination of how the long or short term goals of the story-line become that much more salient. Fargo, seems to have already struck a working balance. There are already some slight differences from the movie that seem to set-up such a protracted treatment. One of the main things I'm concerned about is the frequency of crimes and murders that would or could happen in such small town over a short period of time. I call this the Gilligan Island syndrome. For such a deserted island, that didn't appear on any maps, the island certainly had its fair share of visitors: a crook, pilot, band, jungle boy, mad scientists, head hunters, just to name a few. But G.I. was a stupid sitcom not based on reality, yet Fargo producers maintain their story is real in both movie and TV series. Time will tell. The cast is very strong, but this is Thornton's vehicle all the way and he's already established a dry-deadpan, matter-of-fact unflappable character that can say as much with silence as he does with an economy of words. A lot of the quirky Coen-isms still exists as does SOME of the accents. The show is as funny as it is visceral, a real pleasure to view with a story-line that is accessible without being infantile. The directing, music and other production techniques are reminiscent of the movie, especially the music. Filming snow in a way for it to be a phantom character can be challenging, the movie's cinematographer and photographers were excellent in this regard, as is the approach for the series. I highly recommend this show to anyone who saw the original and has a disposition to this type of story-telling. I imagine this will do very well at the awards next year.
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The Following (2013–2015)
5/10
Fun to watch because its so awful.
21 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Ill give this 5 right up the middle, only because the show is so far-fetched ridiculous, its fun ( as in I'm laughing at it) to see where they are going to steer this next. Apparently there be lots of them sociopathic killers alive in the northeast, all with resources, and and most with James Bond ability to never be killed while simultaneously to all be experts at weaponry and high tech media devices. They also have the ability to persuade the multitudes of others to go on Helter-Skelter killing sprees, doing nothing more than a couple of events of speaking before them in over-emoting stylings. That's all that would take for me to start killing people, right? Some inane televangelistic rhetoric of how I going to free a random person's soul by stabbing them to death, is all it takes. Of course their large network of followers are instant experts on how to allude intelligence agencies and kill people. Of course Claire is still alive, Joe survives gunshots and explosions to gain control over another cult and converts them all into psychopathic mass murderers, in a just a couple of days, he so clever. Then there's the soap opera stuff woven thru with Ryan and CLaire, and Ryan and Carrie, and Agent Weston's obviously falling for Ryan's sister Max, and Emma's unwavering hots for Joe. Of course, neither Joe or Ryan ever kill each other when they have the chance, nope that would be to easy, and too devastating for the show. I could go on and on, but I would like to offer just ONE bit of advice to Ryan to catch that nasty old Joe Carroll and thats to just once drive a FBI issued vehicle with GPR, you know the ones they all drive in, cause it seems like every time you get close to Joe, your team cant find you.
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9/10
Near flawless one-man-show
23 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
John Leguizamo hits the ball out of the park in this excellent HBO special. John revisits his erstwhile format of one-man-shows, which I must say, and not to detract from other works in his career, is his true wheelhouse. Ghetto Klown is decidedly different in this offering as it's a autobiographical/chronological look at his life and career,displayed as performance-art, with John assuming the roles of the many people within his personal and professional journey to self-discovery, via vivid impersonation and characterization. The entire show is well paced, and is evenly balanced with humor,sadness,profoundness, and poignancy. John's overall manner rings true, honest, and self-effacing. There's nothing overly dramatic or phony about his self-assessment nor his discoveries. Best of all, its not self aggrandizing or self-important. His is a story worth viewing on different levels. I highly recommend its viewing, I took a lot from it. I hope the Emmy's and the Globes, give this one a serious look, he deserves it.
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The Crazy Ones (2013–2014)
2/10
David E. Kelly needs a new muse
7 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I put the failure of this show directly on Kelley's shoulder. It may make some bank, and its insipidly inane enough enough to gain traction on the mostly senile audience which is CBS ( see Two Broke Girls, Mike & Molly, & the lets beat a dead horse show: 2.5 Men,). Sure, CBS would be foolish to pass up a Kelley pitch for a new show, he has had a solid career. Sure, the producers would be foolish to pass up Robin Williams. With a career that encases "Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, Awakenings, and Good Will Hunting" along with historical stand-up that goes back to the 70's Troubadour, and Mork & Mindy, like him or not, thats a resume just about any performer would be proud to have. But just as Robin lost his mojo when got sobered up, so has Kelley when he didn't change with the 2010's. The show is plastic and one-dimensional with no dynamics or climax. The supporting characters are annoying, weak and vapid. Once again, we get another sitcom based in the ad-agency world, which resembles nothing to the ad-agency world, which I could have forgiven had the show been more likable and credible, and the supporting cast ( which has experience) be more supportive and less self-aware. The only few bright moments are Williams ad-libs, but even those are watered-down for prime-time, and draw from a less inspired place.
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Black Sails (2014–2017)
5/10
Overly detailed.
5 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise was well executed and unprecedented in production values. Within that, not much time was spent on the mechanical minutia of their operations, subplots,side-plots, and motivations. The POTC films were mainly high energy with well written and accessible story-lines, portrayed by high-level popular actors and advanced CGI techniques. Now we have a full series, Black Sails which does delve into the minutia of piracy in great detail. The set-designs, art direction, costuming, make-up, sound design, editing, directing are all excellent. Portraying hijinks on the high-seas is apparently too expensive for Black Sails to undergo as only 2 of the 1st 8 episodes have had sea-action, and limited at that. They have chosen to offset some ( perhaps most) of those costly production endeavors with a controlled environment and detailed dialog. This is where Black Sails fails IMO. The banter between the players is mind-numblingly endless. Meeting after meeting after meeting. Its not that its not informative, yet instead tedious. We get to hear and see the thought processes of every detail imaginable, the inner workings of how the captains devise their plans,how traders do their business, how information is disseminated amongst its crews and how the business of looting seemingly has a highly detailed and legitimate operation unto its own. And since Black Sails is attempting to foray into unchartered depths of realism, we also get an adult viewing of people's past-time i.e., explicit sex, rape, torture, murder etc. Not much law around, nor accountability. With the budget constraints, we also get VERY limited action and abated acting talent. Most of the key players are good, some very good, but equally some are bad, very bad. After 7 episodes there has been about 15 minutes of sustained action on a boat, out on the sea, hardly what we have come to expect in any pirate show be it film or shortened drama. Yet, I feel all alone in the crow's nest, looking down without knowing how all of this dialog and story-line is connected. I have fell asleep during every episode and had to rewind simply due to lack of action. There are good things here, but they get lost in needless and un-entertaining details.
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Super Fun Night (2013–2014)
5/10
The Elephant in the Room
13 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
No, my summary isn't about her, its about her problem and how its either ignored or trivialized. First, kudos to her for selling her idea to the ABC execs to get the green-light for this production at such an early age, and without a more qualified resume. However, I cant help but feel, it was her obesity that she marketed to launch this show. She does have a network spot on prime-time, so with that, she's fair game to criticism. Lets be real: would the show be the same if she were a thin woman? Some episodes of this show seem targeted at young girls. Which would be okay, but she openly advertises her gluttony which is not OK. If she has a medical condition that makes her this way, that's one thing, but the message she is sending, as well as ABC, is that's its acceptable to adopt bad eating habits, in a country that is already suffering from an obesity epidemic. Sometimes she goes as far to accentuate her obesity, to draw specific attention to her and even parts of her body. An impressionable young girl, who may not have strong role models at home, will see this and think its OK because Rebel is doing it and look how successful and seemingly wonderful here life is. More on the show itself, Over all, its a bit silly, and not well written, full of cliché's and stereotypes as well as continuity issues that bridge the episodes chronologically. I give it 5 stars for some of its quirkiness and production values. The show really doesn't teach any lesson, certainly not to people of her own age, or profession, which BTW, is supposed to be a NYC lawyer, but none of her language and office-antics support that qualification. The supporting characters are sort of obnoxious and not very likable. Some celebrate that Rebel is fearless in her humility to openly display herself in this way. I give her marks for her energy, but the self aware-nerdisms are wearing thin quick. BTW, what NYC lawyer needs 2 roommates? It would be unfair to equate this with the 80's sitcom, Rosanne, as that character was an older person, a mothers, struggling to make ends meet, in a rural town, i.e., a different dynamic, different circumstance, different target audience, an different time. It more like the show "Girls" , but only in the way a social misfit unashamedly exposes her flaws, and sexuality as some sort of a "aren't I hip because I can be so self-effacing and self- aware?" thing to do. This formula gets old fast.

p.s. to the poster who went on a long diatribe about their assertion that show trivialized peanut allergies: GET A LIFE. Its a fluff comedy show. I have over 100 allergies, most of them food- based and have been in the ER more than once, and I saw NOTHING that offended me in the least. Everyone has one thing or topic they are sensitive to. If they were all avoided to please everyone, there would be no show to write about.
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