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84 reviews in total 
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Right of Way (1983) (TV)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Two giants on the same screen for only one film., 13 October 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"From here on in, it's either depend on these strangers or depend on me."

"We depend on no one, Ruda."

"But you have to, Daddy... eventually."

"Who says so?"

This interaction takes places in the final half hour of the film, as a more understanding daughter, Ruda (Melinda Dillon), implores her father, Teddy (James Stewart), to essentially pick his poison. Despite Ruda's best efforts, the aforementioned conversation serves only to cement his and terminally ill Mini's (Bette Davis) decision to end their lives when they say so. But more than that, it speaks to the deep-held beliefs of Teddy and Mini's generation: they only survived the Great Depression and won the Second World War (Stewart himself voluntarily served with distinguish in the Air Force during WW2).

Teddy and Mini Dwyer, a long married Santa Monica couple live together in a cluttered house with their multitude of cats, dolls and books. Their cats are named after the likes of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, James Caan, and Paul Newman. But, if you ask me, I think De Niro and Pacino should be the ones naming their cats after Stewart and Davis.

The film begins with Teddy and Mini calling their daughter down south for a visit. They lay the news on small business owner Ruda that Mini is dying - for real this time. Mini describes the terminal illness as her body being allergic to her own blood; Teddy doesn't dare try to pronounce the name of it. They explain their intention to kill themselves to their daughter. Ruda doesn't take the revelation well and informs the local county, who in turn release an army of bureaucrats on the beleaguered couple.

The life expectancy in America in 1908, when Stewart and Davis were born, was 51 years old. In 1983, the year this film was released, it was 74. People live longer, in the developed world at least. This gift comes with a set of difficulties. What happens when proud, independent people reach that age where they can't take care of themselves anymore? Compromises must be made. This film depicts the story of two people, Teddy and Mini, who won't make those compromises.

Mini won't be a piñata shuffled from doctor to doctor and pumped full of donor blood to extend her life. Teddy won't live alone (Stewart basically made the same decision in his own life ten years later when his wife died. He confined himself to his home and refused most medical attention. His last words were reported to have been "I'm going to be with Gloria {his wife} now." I find this anecdote makes the film even more powerful and believable).

They commit to ending their lives on their own terms, while they still can.

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
SoA: Playing with Monsters, 24 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I haven't reviewed an episode of SoA in a while, so I should state what attracts me to the show in the first place; I think doing so gives some context to my review. I enjoy shows like SoA, "The Sopranos" and even "Oz" because of the characters. Characters that, to borrow a cliché, don't play by the rules. Through intimidation, bribery, and brute force, they're able to set their own rules, not governed by the laws we take such care not to break in our own lives.

It's escapism. It's fun. It's entertainment. The Sopranos was those three things and also groundbreaking television. SoA is just those three things. Series creator Kurt Sutter likes to describe it as a Shakespearean tragedy. I think that's aiming higher than the series has actually delivered in its seven seasons. This isn't a parable on good and evil, either. You need good for that. SoA is full of bad people and a few gray people who usually end up bad. There are no heroes. The protagonists are murderers, they're just better at it than most people.

I'd like to get down to the nuts and bolts of this episode. This is the third episode of the season. I think you'll find an episode like this at the early or mid-part of the season in a lot of series. Pieces are being moved around to set up for a final showdown. Unfortunately, this episode is pretty naked with its machinations.

An episode of SoA is important if the ending is. The endings almost always contains a shocking (or, at least, it used to be shocking) act of violence. This one was dedicated to Jax beating up the scumbag father of some girl who looks after Abel and Thomas who hit Gemma in anger. This should have little or no bearing on the season. Compare that to the first episode of the season when Jax tortured and killed the young man Gemma framed for the murder of Tara. The end of "Playing with Monsters" is the biggest giveaway that we won't remember this episode by the end of the season.

Beyond this individual episode, the seventh season has some problems. I'll let others opine on the difficulties with the arc of this season as a whole, or what we know of it, at least. One thing that bugs me is the driving force for the police end of things last season was putting someone away for the Sandy Hook-like school shooting. It was a huge deal. We were led to believe the community wanted someone's head on a spike. This seems to have blown over. Now the police and DA and concerned only with solving the murder of Tara and Sheriff Roosevelt. How exactly did the populace forget about the school shooting mass murder with an automatic weapon indirectly supplied by the Sons? They did. In ten days. Yes, ten days. That's the amount of time that passed between the end of season 6 and and the beginning of season 7 within the series. Charming is a forgiving place.

Oh well, onto episode four! I'm ready to be entertained.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The best time to sell your pumpkin supply is NOT January, 12 March 2013

While I'll readily admit the sixth season of The Simpsons has funnier episodes than Homer vs. Patty and Selma, this one still remains one of my favorites from the season. Both Homer and Bart develop throughout the episode. We know more about the characters by the end of the episode than we did at the beginning. That rarely happens in the current, in the 24th, season of The Simpsons.

So Homer invests his money into pumpkins before Halloween and then neglects to sell them off in time to make a profit (or before they rot). This leaves him with a mortgage payment due and no money to pay it. That predicament leads him to Patty and Selma's door for a loan. Many of the episode's laughs come from Homer forcing himself to be nice to his wife's sisters after they make it clear they'll tell Marge about the loan if he isn't. This includes a lot of foot rubs.

Homer goes to these great lengths because he doesn't want to look like a failure who can't provide for his family in front of Marge. I think it would be hard for a man to not sympathize with Homer in this one. In the episode, Bart's manhood (boyhood?) is also questioned as he's forced into ballet and ends up liking it.

The resolution to the episode is especially satisfactory. It's hard for me to find a fault with this one. And why should I? Let's just enjoy it. This is the golden age of The Simpsons as it should be watched.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Competition drives a wedge through the Simpsons' household, 11 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I dare say, this is one of the best Bart and Lisa episodes from the entire run of The Simpsons. The episode deftly explains and expands on the relationship between the two siblings. From the hilarious lows of indiscriminately punching and kicking the air in an attempt to hurt the other without taking blame for it to the heartwarming highs of remembering their shared history at the end, this episode is a winner.

Homer is an irredeemable jerk in this episode. He escalates, really all but creates, the feud between Bart and Lisa. His role in the episode is a brilliant skewer of parents who put too much emphasis on their children's athletic endeavors.

In the end, Bart and Lisa keep their heads and strengthen their bond as the combustible mob that is the Springfield citizenry explodes over their refusal to cut the other down. A defining moment for Bart and Lisa's relationship, indeed.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Homer and Krusty collide, 11 March 2013

Homie the Clown from season six of The Simpsons is one of the best Krusty the Clown episodes from the series. It has some stiff competition, but I'd put Homie the Clown near the top of the list.

The premise is rock solid. Krusty's spending habits are out of control (likely a function of him betting on the Washington Generals against the Globetrotters and using Action Comics #1 to light his smokes). He finds himself in debt to the mob. Krusty opens up Krusty's Clown College to bring in more bucks. One of their billboards convinces Homer to attend and become a Krusty.

I can imagine the people brainstorming and rough-drafting the animation had a lot of fun with this one. There's something funny and unpredictable about taking Homer and making him a Krusty. Of all the jobs Homer has taken on over the series' length, being a Krusty is still one of the coolest. The pink sedan decked out to look like a clown car is a pleasure to behold.

Homie the Clown resides in the upper echelon of season six episodes in my book; that's high praise.

11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
What in the Scooby Doo is happening to you people?, 14 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't think Paranormal Parentage is a victory for the show in the order of Season 2's Epidemiology. But this season is all about growing the old and new audience of Community. You need episodes you can put in the "win" column to do that. I think Paranormal Parentage is one of those episodes. Never mind that it's a Halloween episode airing on Valentine's Day.

The episode begins with the gang gearing up to attend a Halloween party. They end up on a detour at Pierce's mansion. He's locked himself in his panic room while dusting. As one of the characters point out, of all the places to start cleaning, really, the panic room? Moving right along, the study group has to split up in Scooby Doo(esque) style to track down the unlock code for the Panic Room and save Pierce. That would be an easy task if not for the fact that Pierce's house is enormous and there may or not be the ghost of Pierce's dad roaming around! I didn't find myself falling out my chair with laughter at this episode. I think the funniest bit was Troy and Shirley's discovery of Pierce's fetish room. Donald Glover's comedic pitch and timing are world class. It's also nice to see Shirley be the one who's hip to it for a change and not the one on the outside that the rest of the group is treating like a baby or cracking jokes about. This episode was really about Jeff in my opinion. Community has been working toward his reckoning with his father for a while now. It's nice to see that plot line take a much needed step forward.

We're on to episode three of this truncated season. It's been available to critics for a while now, and I've heard some mixed opinions on it, but I remain optimistic. Paranormal Parentage earned that optimism for now.

14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
There's gotta be a joke here, 7 February 2013

Reviewing this episode without taking a moment to discuss the circumstances around season 4 (the Dan Harmon((less)) season) of Community would be like ignoring the eight-hundred pound gorilla in the room. As anyone will point out, plenty of successful shows have transitioned between showrunners. After watching History 101, the premiere to season 4, I have mixed feelings on whether Community will survive. I want it to. I've been a Harmon fan for years and I wish him continued future success in film and on television. Community was his baby.

The episode opens with the study group beginning their senior year. Jeff is only one history credit from graduating. The only history class available is The History of Ice Cream. The class is overbooked so students who want a seat in the classroom have to go through the Hungers Deans for red balls with Dean Pelton's unique (and impossible to forge as he explains) bite marks. The group, disillusioned with Jeff's eagerness to graduate, disperse and leave him to fight for all seven balls.

Yes, this is the premise for the episode. But it's also the first chance Community has to win back and grow its audience. History 101 delivers on some goals and not so much on others. I'm a little worried after viewing the first episode that the mythology and relationships on the show are simplified now. I've replayed parts of it and don't find the jokes to have the same staying power of the first three seasons.

I do think that History 101 did a valuable thing. With Abed's TV and the dance with the Dean, it showed us the new showrunners are willing to take some risks. You can't take the weird out of Community. It's that quirkiness which sets the show apart. I'm not sure they can sustain it, but I hope we all won't feel by mid-season that they gave up and tried to turn it into it the next 30 Rock or The Office. Community has its identity already.

As I stated at the beginning of this review, Community was Harmon's baby. It's hard to envision anyone else successfully raising it. But I'm willing to have my mind changed. The cast is as strong as ever. The chemistry is there. I hope the writing and the work behind the scenes is able to take it over the top.

14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
An epic season finale, 30 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It doesn't matter what the season finale for The Simpsons was, and I couldn't even give you the rough plot outline of a Seinfeld season finale except the last episode, but they really matter for a crime drama like SoA. They're important for dramas. They're important in keeping us invested. Dramas build on the major plot week to week. They need a good payoff on that plot by the finale. I could absolutely tell you the season finale to many seasons of Lost. And who can forget Jack being gift-wrapped for the Chinese at the end of season 5 of 24? I was a little disappointed with the S2 finale Na Triobloidi. But S3's NS is one of the best finales in the show's history. It's the exact opposite of what you might call a by the numbers finale. All the loose ends get tied up, I mean all the right characters find themselves at the end of a gun, or the blade of a knife. This is a powerful hour of television. It's particularly satisfactory to have S3 end on a strong note, given that this season is episode for episode the weakest one in my opinion. But hey, the weakest season of SoA is miles ahead of Grey's Anatomy or any drama you'll find on network television for that matter. Way to go, FX.

There's a real cathartic feeling to the final five or ten minutes of this episode. A sense of the wounds gained in S2 healing. Jax, Clay and the club are on good terms. Stahl is out of the picture for good. They're looking at small time and a more lucrative deal with the IRA to fall back on when they get out. But at the same time, Tara sits at Jax's houses reading letters from his father to Maureen in Belfast. It's understood that these letters may have the power to rip apart all the healing that's taken place between Jax and the MC. The secrets surrounding JT and the years leading up to his death that have long been put to bed by Clay and Gemma are threatening just beneath the surface. A brilliant season finale never lets you get too comfortable. Things can change at a moment's notice. There's no episode better to express that than a season finale. 10 out of 10. Can't wait to start re-watching S4.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The boys are back in town, 29 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A television show usually places a few months, sometimes even a year in between seasons. It allows for the characters within the world to gain perspective on the events of the prior season and necessary setup for the new season. The adrenaline from the final few episodes of last season drain so that the new season can start a new boil on new conflicts. Season three of SoA took a different route. The events of S3 take place almost immediately after S2. We find Jax devastated by the knowledge that his son has been kidnapped and we gain a rough outline of where the season will go with the Sons tracking down all leads on Abel in the first few episodes.

June Wedding, the penultimate episode of S3, picks up with the Sons returning to Charming. They've just risked their lives in Belfast retrieving Abel, and aren't even afforded one day of rest after Jax learns the night prior to their return home that Tara has been kidnapped by Salazar. It isn't long before Gemma confronts Agent Stahl at gunpoint and threatens her career if she doesn't end the deal with Jax. Meanwhile, Jimmy has worked out a deal with the Russians to get him to South America for three quarters of a million dollars and a sweetheart deal on guns for the foreseeable future.

The episode comes to a head toward the end when Salazar takes Tara to Jacob Hale's office and holds them both hostage in exchange for safe passage to Mexico. His grudge goes deeper than that, as he wants to cut Tara into pieces in front of Jax. Hale stabs Salazar with a pen before that can happen. Salazar is able to bolt from the room. Jax gives Tara the gun and tells her to shoot anyone she sees who's not a cop. He chases after Salazar with the knife Salazar had intended to slice Tara with. Salazar ends up at a door at the end of a long hallway with an axe in his hand and Jax right behind him. Jax convinces him to drop the axe by telling him that the Sons don't want him dead, they want him to rat on Hale about being hired by him to intimidate Lumpy into selling his business, actions which led to Lumpy's death.

Jax doesn't keep his promise. The moment Salazar's axe drops, Jax jams the knife into his abdomen and kills him. Outside Stahl devises a plan to keep her job safe. She really goes off the deep end and kills her partner, later completing her plan to frame her partner for the dirty kill she committed by pinning the murder on the now dead partner.

I remember this season as the weakest of the bunch. Too many sacrifices are made by picking up right where S2 left off. Neither the characters nor their conflicts are allowed to breath. SoA loses much of its focus on the dissension within the MC in favor of a simpler find Abel season. The Belfast excursion provided for an interesting setting and some fresh conflicts, but I was always disappointed that the season didn't have enough meat on the bone. The final two episodes of the season are quite strong, though. I'll discuss a couple points I find most interesting.

Isn't it fascinating that Jacob Hale materializes as the greatest threat to the Sons in S3? David Hale's older, less scrupulous brother. His gerrymandering of city council pushes out Charming PD and puts the Sons on track for jail time. Jacob Hale takes a page from Zobelle when he realizes the way to hurt the Sons is to bend the will of Charming against them.

Another thread I've followed is the way Jax seems to have an epiphany in Belfast upon finding Abel's adoptive parents murdered. Protect your own by any means necessary. His father's memoir never seems further out of reach than now. Jax's qualms with violence, with the MC running guns, never seem more distant. Jax is billed from the beginning as a big picture guy. Clay is the in the moment, shortsighted one. Ironic then that Jax succumbs to his need for revenge on Salazar rather than letting him take down Hale, the real threat to the Sons' future.

Isn't it just fitting that the rift between Tig and Kozik is over a dog? A beautiful German shepherd named Missy. They spend half the season immaturely beating the other to a pulp and bickering like a couple of old grandmas. We'd be giving these guys too much weight if Missy were anything other than a dog. Tig's storyline consistently throughout S3 was the highlight in my book. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Abel's safe. But we knew he would be from the get-go.

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Nothing special. A 6 out of 10 episode, 27 January 2013

Knowing the rough idea of the plot beforehand, I had higher than normal hopes for this episode. Beyond some promising episodes, I'm thinking of Gone Abie Gone here, season 24 has been a bit of a drag. Changing of the Guardian is no different.

The gist of the episode is that after a minor scrape with death, Homer and Marge realize Bart, Lisa, and Maggie need guardians to take care of them in the event that they both die. This starts a search throughout Springfield for the perfect guardians.

The episode concept for this one intrigued me. Unfortunately, I don't feel the episode delivered on the concept. The highlight of the episode ended up being the beginning. The resolution at the end of Changing of the Guardian is the same one from many episodes of The Simpsons, and those episodes have expressed it better.

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