Reviews written by registered user
|51 reviews in total|
I will begin by stating I am not a fan of Star Trek, original or TNG. I
respect the series for it's promotion of sci-fi, and keeping it alive
in some dark hours, but overall, Star Trek has always seemed a bit too
safe and kiddy of a sci-fi show for me. It always seemed a series bent
on being 'family viewing'. At it's best moments, it would get a hint of
more maturity, and then pull back, scared.
I was assured that Deep Space Nine was different... darker, flashier, better story arcs, better acting, and... less kiddy.
That's half true. There are episodes of DS9 that definitely fall within the 'best sci-fi episodes ever' list. There are a perhaps a couple dozen episodes (that's a lot, really) that I;d say are just downright brilliant. And some of the characters become so well developed by the end of the series it's incredible.
And then there's always the kiddy element, the silly, clownish elements that make non-Trek fans like me feel a bit more assured in our skepticism towards the merit of the franchise.
The series is pretty weak until Season 4, and then gets pretty solidly good. There are some gems scattered in the first 4 seasons, and missing those seasons would make the characters and their motivations (and the politics) that arise later in the series difficult to appreciate. But it's a lot of ho-hum mediocrity to have to sit through, for a satisfying but not mind-blowing payoff. I can see how DS9 paved the way for a whole genre of sci-fi on TV that I now somewhat unfairly hold as the standard by which to judge DS9 itself upon... but so be it, I'm spoiled by the goodness this show resulted in enough to wish it had been a better template.
The strength of this show is indeed it's character development, though the space-fights towards the end are damn good, too. But by the end, for all the promise and the possibility this show inspires, one wishes the show's creators and writers hadn't so frequently opted to err on the side of 'tamed down'. It's where they forget to do so that the show shines.
If you decide to watch this, I'd HIGHLY recommend finding a review site with episode reviews by someone who's opinion you agree with, so you can skim over the exceedingly regretful episodes. Otherwise you may find yourself in the situation I'm in --- wishing I wasn't holding all the corniness of this show against it's brilliance.
I started watching this show several years ago, when it was new (in
America) and fell in love with it. It had a good first few seasons, But
then it began to parody itself, and seemed to dumb itself down
painfully. It became more about 'the characters' then food. The premise
becomes hard to take seriously. At this point, each episode is perhaps
30% flashbacks from within the episode itself. It feels like filler---
which is good neither in food nor TV. Now, the announcer explains every
five or so minutes that something incredible and brand new and never
before done will happen... and the hype gets exhausting.
I made the mistake of closing my eyes for a few minutes, just listening to the show as it played. It was laughable without the flashing camera back-and-forth. Loud, dramatic music with pounding drums, Ramsay screaming about "french fries oh god what the HELL is wrong with you oh you donkey NOOOOOOOOOO O Chef NOOOOOOOO (clanging pans) It's RAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWW CHEF! CHef O NOOOOOOOOOOO (louder drums) GET OUT! GET OUT! NOOOOOOOOOO. YOU moron, you can't COOK FRENCH FRIES JUST GET OUUUUUUT!...." Yeah, it gets silly.
At a certain point, if Ramsay's letting people who deserve the verbal abuse he's giving them as deep into the series as he does, then the show's not realistic, unless it's not really about cooking. If it's not really about cooking, then it's just 'the Real World', maybe dumber.
The season finales are always great big emotional releases... but it's becoming more and more painful to sit through a season to get there.
There comes a point, when you've watched all the glitzy, fancy sci-fi
series that have come out in the last decade, and miss that sense of
discovering an awesome new series with some good sci-fi elements that
you start turning backwards, watching shows from previous decades,
which begin to make more and more unrealistic projections of the next
But then there's this show, this horribly-titled, 1-season show, with a pilot that begins on the wrong foot (sickly children in need of help. Awwwwwwwwww....) but... about three or four episodes in, you're hooked.
Because it's a damned good show. It relies a bit heavily on the whole 'Gaia Earth' theory, and it's a bit corny to hear characters circumventing the usual technobabble of sci-fi by insisting all oddness on the planet can be explained through 'the planet's strong metaphysical plane' (I mean, what the ****?)... But having just finished watching all of 'Deep Space Nine', I can definitely say that Earth 2's cheese quotia is far below that of anything 'Star Trek'. I'd even put it on par with some of the old Stargate SG-1.
Though there are weak episodes (mostly in the beginning). The good news is that a few of the characters who begin out the show extremely annoying eventually become quite likable, and the way in which story arcs develop is commendably good.
Beware when watching this show that you see the last few episodes in the right order. The very last episode is called 'All About Eve', even though it's often packaged earlier in the series. If you see this episode before others, you'll ruin the mildly cliff-hangery (and unresolved) ending for yourself.
People get tied up on whether or not this film portrays the life of
Beethoven accurately; this misses the point of the film entirely. This
is not so much a film about Beethoven, so much as the way in which he
effected those around him, and inspired a devotion among his followers
which lives to this day. If you consider a movie like, for instance,
'Shakespeare in Love'--- it's quite apparent to anyone who knows
anything about Shakespeare that the film has only the faintest
correlation to Shakespeare, which didn't seem to get in the way of
people awarding THAT movie, and lauding praise on it, because
Shakespeare was played as a hopeless romantic that everyone WANTS to
believe in. While Immortal Beloved may share a similarity to S.I.L in
it's, shall we say, creative interpretations, Immortal Beloved is a far
superior film because it shows Beethoven in all aspects of his
humanity. There's Beethoven as a Romantic rock star, there's the tender
friend, the arrogant drunken bastard, the possessive misogynist, the
pathetic misanthrope, all of it. Gary Oldman's role is superb. It is
difficult to imagine anyone else in the role after seeing this movie.
The acting is top-notch, albeit a bit melodramatic at points (Beethoven's assistant especially gets a bit heartfelt a bit often). There are a few scenes in this movie which are truly tearjerker moments. The scene in which 'Ode to Joy' is played is predictably great, even though it (like a lot of the film) feels a bit dated now.
All in all, a rewarding and thoughtful piece on a man whose life was indeed complicated and monumental.
This is a great film, and it goes into territories that few films even
recognize, let alone approach. It does start a little slow, and the
first few 'shorts' can come off as a bit ... well, pretentious, to be
blunt. But past that, it's a fantastic portrait of an interesting
character, and one which satisfies on a number of levels ---
creatively, intellectually, and even emotionally.
What sets this film aside from many others are two main elements; the first is the novelty by which the film is presented: 32 short films, some of which are quite the same, but many of which are unexpected blasts of what can only be called 'experimental film'--- some of which seems almost silly, given how far technology and special effects have come since 1993. The 'films' really are quite short, and many of them are almost like small 'puzzles' which unfold so quickly that it's not until a second viewing that their underlying message becomes a bit more obvious, and it becomes clear how well-tied together all the shorts are. This is not short-attention span theatre, but it moves quick enough that once you get into the film, it's difficult to stop watching.
The other element which makes this film so great is the basic premise, and the way in which it refuses to be dumbed down for the audience. This is the rare case of a movie that respects it's audience, even at the expense of losing half an audience by not being bombastic and overly obvious. The first few shorts are the weakest, but they establish the basic character and 'backstory' of Gould quite well" He's a piano virtuoso who has become so amazing at playing piano that calling him 'genius' is a bit of an understatement. And while his character has a definite surplus of eccentricities and quirks, this film doesn't focus on his genius as we're used to seeing films treat the subject. Whereas most films make out a person;s genius to be a heavy burden to carry, which always seems to come at a high cost and lead to a desire for normalacy (to make we in the audience feel better for not being geniuses, I suppose), 32 Short Films goes in another direction: Here's a genius who enjoys being who he is, who makes the most of his mostly self-imposed loneliness by turning it into art, who enjoys the intellectual challenge of his own conflicts with intellectual society. Rather than the familiar portrait of genius as a soul-crippling condition which becomes almost indistinguishable from minor autism, we see a full human being, realized and thoughtful, able to confuse the sometimes-adoring, sometimes-confrontational media by admitting that he doesn't think it's worth talking about music--- how about talking about Indian rights, or the supernatural, or something that has no ostensible connection to music or anything piano-related? If you play music, or if you are an aficionado of classical music, there's a whole depth to this film which you'll enjoy, although it's not as at the forefront of the film as you might suspect. This is not a film about music, but the sort of person who plays music, recognizable as a character APART from the skill which defines him so much for everyone else.
This movie is a bit dated. That's really one thing it has working against it in some sense--- it feels at times like a movie from the 80's, and not in a 'cool 80's' way. Nonetheless, there's a certain air to the film which seems to disregard any particular age entirely, and this makes sense in a way, because Gould was clearly not one to feel confined to the age, and the ways in which things were being done.
There are so many things that are tempting to say about this film, which are probably just my own interpretations and conclusions, which it's probably better not to go into, simply because half the enjoyment of this film is developing those realizations yourself. Even if you can't stand classical music, you'll find this film rewarding.
If you're a Doctor Who fan, you'll probably watch this regardless of
how bad anyone says it is, because you're own opinions are not all that
influenced by people telling you how bad something is; after all,
you're a fan of Doctor Who. Kudos to you.
Nonetheless, Doctor Who (and apparently all related media) has a tendency to get very dated, very fast. As far as comedy goes, the humor is quite below the levels of humor that recent Doctor Who episodes have engaged in. Pointing out the silliness of Daleks and the pompousness of the Master seems kind of tired, at this point.
Don't expect much. It's light fare. Better than some of the Season Specials of the real show, but quite meager compared to the real deal.
Amidst a number of shows which try so hard to be cerebral and generally
expose themselves as fraudulent, 1000 Ways to Die is an odd breath of
sincerity; sincerely stupid and ridiculous, but refreshing. Each show
is a collection of 'shorts' wherein someone dies, usually in an unusual
way. The acting is atrocious. The special effects are mediocre. The
narration is often funny. And each scene concludes with a 'title' for
that death, which is usually a pun. In my opinion, it's the funniest
bit of the show, and you'll probably find yourself trying to guess what
the death will be 'called' before it appears on screen.
The dramatizations are pure ridiculousness. In many cases, it's pretty clear that the producers and writers took great liberty with the characterizations (they wanted to make sure that for the most part, you don't feel too much sympathy for those who are going to die). Practically every other woman on the show is a stripper (as the narrator assures us) and ample screen time is given to showing us these women strutting around as sex kittens before someone else around them dies. Is it possible that death follows strippers? Maybe. I really don't know. But this is about the only 'thought candy' 1000 Ways to Die provides.
It also gets funny to see the 'experts; the show uses, to attempt a legitimization of itself. The same people keep showing up as experts, though their titles shift. The conspiracy theory expert becomes a certified 'deathologist' an episode or two later. I suspect he was really just some guy selling newspapers outside the studio, who was offered a few bucks to act official and accepted.
And the show doesn't suffer for it one bit.
It's a comedy. Enjoy it as dumb fun and it will indeed be fun. Expect more and you'll be let down. But you should have a pretty good idea of what the show is within the first five minutes.
As far as documentaries go, this should have been a long movie rather
than a series. It's the strrrrrrrrrrrretching out of each episode that
makes this show kind of dull, rather as fascinating as it easily could
(and should) be. While the topic is great, there just aren;t that many
bits of information that can be held out without explaining everything
there is to know about any one of these 'lost Cities" in more than
about 5 minutes. And so most of the show is the narrator explaining
that something mysterious and unexpected, which would change
'everything' was just about to be discovered. And we get boring fluff
about the explorers and some decent re-enactments, a lot of slow
panning across rocks, and fifteen minutes later we're reminded 'It was
a tremendous mystery which nobody could have guessed, but which would
soon be revealed...' at which point you might get annoyed, because it's
clear that there's an extra twenty minutes to go, and you'll have to
sit through it before the single interesting bit of information is
delivered. At which point, you'll realize it was just a lot of hype.
Whatever happened is inevitably interesting, but would have packed a
hell of a lot more punch if the show hadn't spent so long teasing your
Having no expertise on the subject, I can't attest to the scholarship of the series. However, it seems that the parade of experts that such shows generally rely on are notably absent in this series. Which is actually kind of refreshing.
But altogether, while the subject matter is great, the show deliberately drags in annoying ways. And for this, it suffers greatly. Watch with extreme patience.
One reason I decided to watch this show in the first place was because
of the extremely high ratings it got on IMDb, and the praise lauded
upon it. Some of the praise is beyond much debate. For instance, the
acting is superb, with a realism that at times is almost eerie in it's
precision. Being at least partially written by Dennis Leary, there's a
fair amount of humor (albeit often very adolescent humor) which
certainly helps one catch a breath between all the bleakness. For at
least the first half of the first season, I was quite impressed with
the show, and the way in which it took time to develop compelling
characters; and I appreciated that despite the firefighting premise,
the firefighting was not overdone, and is actually somewhat in the
background of the series, which really focuses on the characters.
And so why the low rating? Because the show is so poorly written --- by which I mean, the writers don't have good ideas. It's actually kind of interesting, in a sense, to see a show that's so well executed but which is so directionless and uses deliberately gut-wrenching scenes to provoke concern in an audience until really, you just can't take it seriously; because, put simply, it's a really, really, really, sad and depressing show. And it relies too heavily on exploiting our concern for characters, until it's become so exhausting and unrewarding that you just don't like the world that the show presents.
I have no issue with violence, or any of the other 'adult' themes that the show deals with. The fact that many of the characters are lousy human beings doesn't bother me. But watching self-destruction isn't all that interesting, after a while. At various points throughout the show, when any character seems to have made any sort of progress, or anything good may have happened, the character goes through a painful loss of some sort. Sometimes they've been lied to or deceived, sometimes they've brought about their own destruction, and sometimes it's just plain dumb luck. But the Universe seems to be conspiring quite avidly against one particular New York firehouse.
It's as if in trying to provide realism, the writers forgot that occasionally good things happen, too.
For me, at least, watching this show became an ordeal. I desperately wanted to see things turn around for characters, and I suppose on that level, the writing sort of worked. But there is a certain point of diminishing returns, which the show has certainly passed. Just consider: If you watch a movie where someone has to see everyone they love die so as to learn the value of friendship, at what point is the lesson not worth the cost? If you're convinced that a character 'realizing' something can justify such prolonged pain for all those around them, then this show will appeal to you. But for those who like a bit of reality with their gritty realism, this show just seems sadistic. And for anyone who watches television for an escape from reality, I can't imagine this being an appealing alternative. It's just too painful to watch.
After a while, even the acting becomes hackneyed. There are fantastic actors in this show. But when the only emotion anyone shows is a brooding anger, an abusive rage, or a tight-lipped sadness as they hold back tears to affirm their manly masculinity--- it just feels like nobody is being utilized as well as they could be. The majority of the comic relief comes from the only 'non-angry' characters, who are all portrayed as borderline retarded (seriously). In short, this is a show where you feel loss along with the characters, but not necessarily for them. And you are expected to laugh at characters, instead of with them. It's all a bit cruel.
If this show could have delivered on it's promises within the first couple seasons, it could have been truly great TV. But for being such a 'provocative' show, it actually played things far too safe, never letting any characters develop past adolescence. It's just the same pain, over and over again, a bunch of lives circling the drain and occasionally bumping each other in somewhat comical ways; before someone lies, cheats, dies, or kills.
All in all, quite a downer.
This is a genuinely funny show, well worth watching, and deserving of
it's high ratings on this site. It's compared to South Park for a
number of reasons, most notably the enthusiasm with which it tackles
socially sensitive issues and assaults them with the most extremist
brands of political incorrectness --- but whereas South Park always
tries to tidy up it's mess and make sure the audience knows the
distinction between right and wrong, this show revels in the depravity
and insanity of it's sociopathy. And it works amazingly well.
Since it's a situational comedy, there's not much to say about it without giving away the goods, but the actors all work better than any cast I've seen in a long time. It really seems like half the show is improvised and that the cast is talented enough to make it work without a hitch. The first few episodes are definitely the weakest, but still stronger than just about any comedy out there.
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