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A Rose Amongst the Thorns
Hatufim is an exceptional TV program that has heart, soul, and intelligence. The character development is so good that I could even relate to most of the antagonists on some level because Raff created 3 dimensional complex characters and dialogs that are relevant and engaging. He also tackled complex subject matter, like Israeli-Arab relations, bureaucratic oppression, husband-wife-children dynamics, etc., all the while achieving a level of mastery rarely if ever seen on TV. He didn't sugar coat anything; he didn't white wash anything; and the result is one of the best TV programs I've ever seen.
Contrast that with Homeland, and it's night and day. I honestly cannot believe he was the creative force behind both shows. Everything that Hatufim is, Homeland most definitely is not.
Homeland has lousy actors (i.e. Claire Danes has 2 or 3 facial expressions and she either SCREAMS or pouts her lines. And at least 2 of the other actors only have ONE facial expression -- a scowl.)
It has lousy scripts (We're REALLY supposed to believe that a bi-polar psychopath agent is going to BLACKMAIL HER CIA BOSS into giving her the job she wants?!!! REALLY?!!!)
It has lousy dialog (i.e Repeatedly after some tragedy occurs, some actor turns and asks: "Are you OK?" Wow. Riveting stuff there.)
And it has despicable "protagonists" (I've never before rooted as hard as I did for a character to get nuked as I did after Carrie Mathison attempted to drown her own infant daughter.) In Hatufim, I found all the protagonists and anti-heroes engaging, and was even able to relate at some level to the antagonists. In Homeland, I basically wanted all of the PROTAGONISTS to die. And that's never a good thing.). About the only good thing I can say about Homeland is that it turned me onto Hatufim.
Maybe Raff got caught up in the American system or something. I don't know. I just wish he'd stuck with Hatufim and provided more seasons rather than spearheading Homeland. Along those lines I hope there's at least a season 3 somewhere in the cards. The show deserves it. And the fans deserve it.
Homeland: Tower of David (2013)
Homeland By Committee
Watching this episode I had the distinct feeling I was watching something created by a committee. You know what I mean, right? Someone had an idea: "Hey...let's throw THIS in". Then someone else had an idea: "Hey...let's throw THAT in". And before you knew it...it was like some stitched-together Frankenstein Monster. Some shows are about torture. This show WAS torture. In fact, I wholeheartedly believe the luckiest person in this episode was the guy who got thrown off a building. At least he had a concrete ending. Literally. And figuratively. And while it might or might not have been a happy ending, at least it WAS an ending. This Tower of David was like those Spin Art devices you've seen at carnivals -- where it just goes round and round and round, and you pour in a bunch of colors, and in the end you get some razzle-dazzle colorful "painting". Except in this case, there were no colors; just a nauseating array of grays.
About the ONLY good thing I can say about this mess is that at least it was devoid of "The Brody Bunch". (The Brody Bunch...The Brody Bunch...That's the way they became The Brody Bunch.)
Homeland = big collection of unlikeable characters
This show is laughable from the point of view of unlikeable characters, non-believable story arcs, and questionable at best acting.
Never before have I seen such flat affect from so many characters.
Dana is insufferable. She's like some EMO teenager on too many sedatives.
Estes is equally insufferable. I don't think I've seen him smile once in two seasons.
Saul is the same. Deadpan. Expressionless. Emotionless. Ridiculous.
Then there's the obnoxious Jess. Whiny. Hypocritical. Loathsome.
Then there's Carrie. Good lord...somebody order up some more E.C.T. Please. (I swear...when she was going in for some "procedure", I thought she was going in for a lobotomy, not E.C.T.)
Then there's Mike. Totally forgettable.
Then there's Lauder...a PTSD on steroids.
Then there's Virgil, the obedient lap dog.
About the only tolerable character is Quinn, until he tanks because of his "love" for Carrie. (Wise up, dude. She's a psychopath.)
And then...there are the stupid, humorless, non-believable story arcs that are annoying at best, and the cheap soap-opera melodrama vs real drama.
And then there's the pacing...which is like watching paint dry.
And then there's the writing...which is as laughable as the one dimensional cut out characters.
Added all up...this show is not only less than the sum of its parts, the parts themselves are less than they should be.
What a grossly over-hyped, over-rated series.
Nurse Jackie (2009)
Anatomy of a sociopath
Good premise. Decent first season. Then, not unlike too many other shows that start out with a lot of potential Nurse Jackie quickly runs off the rails and never gets back on track. This show suffers from the all-too-typical "caricatures rather than characters" syndrome. There are simply too many one dimensional cartoon characters in this show to even begin to take it seriously. "Coop". Zoey. Thor. All cartoonish immature 1 dimensional clowns. And that's simply unacceptable. So is its schizo nature of taking itself way too seriously then not taking itself seriously enough. And so is the problem of having no one to really care that much about. So in short, this show is neither here nor there, and as such, the net result is a big waste of time.
Furthermore the continuity from one season to the next is hands down THE WORST of any TV series I've ever seen. It's like the writers/directors/editors/producers were all on PCP. The gaps and unexplained events from one season to the next are appalling and any semblance of suspension of disbelief is totally destroyed.
But possibly the biggest problem with this show is that it SEEMS to be focusing on addiction, when in fact, it's the lead character is a sociopath who is also an addict. Jackie has no conscience whatsoever, and her persistent incorrigible behavior makes it impossible to want anything for her except incarceration. Rarely has one TV character generated so much hatred.
My suggestion? Please...pull the plug on this rotting comatose vegetable already.
Californication: Daughter (2014)
It just keeps getting worse and worse
I thought S7E9 (Faith, Hope, and Love) was rock bottom.
I was wrong.
I wish this episode allowed for negative ratings, that's how badly it sucked.
I don't even know where to being.
We have the cancellation of "Santa Monica Cop". Okay so far.
Then we have Marcy's brainstorm: she'll sleep with Stu for the cool million and Charlie gets one get out of jail free card. (I wish the earth would just open up and swallow the three of them -- Charlie, Marcy, and Stu.) But wait...there's more. Or less, as the case may be. We're "treated" to the return of Becca. (Yeah, I know...just when you thought this mess of a season couldn't get any worse.) And after all the bonding that Hank and Levon have done, he can't even bring himself to joyously tell Becca that Levon is her half brother. What a crock. And we're supposed to believe that Becca is capable of getting married?!!! Or for that matter, we're supposed to have ANY connection to that wretched character whatsoever?!!!
The BEST way to end this abortion? Have some major earthquake swallow up the entire production company lock stock and barrel.
Review of seasons 1-5
This show is little more than the portrayal of David Duchovny's real life sexual addiction. That's the good news. The bad news is that it never gets out of first gear because it never ADDRESSES the devastating consequences of sexual addiction and the need to get treatment for it. Rather, it sensationalizes, titillates, and/or totally ignores that most basic reality.
As a result, the main character is totally annoying, as are almost all of the other characters that support or enable his sexual addiction in one way or another. He's like Peter Pan on PCP. There's never any resolution. There's never any progress. Sophomoric smugness and sarcasm replace humor, which is never a good thing. But the biggest failure is trying to make sex addiction "cool".
As I posted on the message board, the "symbol" of this show is the Porsche. It's always (intentionally) dirty with a broken headlight. (In fact, when Moody gets another Porsche after his first one gets totaled, the first thing he does is smash the right headlight.) Even after Moody gets pulled over by the cops for having a broken headlight, he's WAY TOO COOL to get it fixed.
And that's what's wrong with this show -- the things that SHOULD get fixed, or at least addressed, are not only never fixed, but broken intentionally and thrown into the viewers' face as some form of perverse, "cool" rebellion. So instead of using this show as a vehicle to address the serious issue of sex addiction, it ends up losing its way. And the more lost it gets, the more it relies on shock and increasing levels of depravity to try to hold the viewers' attention.
In a way, it's similar to "Seinfeld", in that it's a show, basically, about nothing. The only "something" is the long term totally dysfunctional relationship between Hank and Karen. But unlike Seinfeld, it has no likable characters, no adult humor, and no charm whatsoever. All it has is a bunch of T&A, drugs, tons of rationalizations, and some moments of really good music). In short...it's a recipe for disaster.
This Saturday morning cartoon ran 4 seasons too long
This series is an insult to everyone's intelligence above the age of 8-10.
To begin with, the acting is laughable. Where did they dig up some of these actors, anyway? Ben Browder makes David Hasselhoff look like Sir Lawrence Olivier. About the only person in this series who can actually act is Claudia Black (and to a certain extent Virginia Hey). The rest...quite forgettable. (I wish!) About the ONLY thing they're good at is annoying the viewing audience. (And that's never a good thing.)
The stories are trite, clichéd, and boring.
The direction is pathetic.
This thing should have never made it off the cutting room floor. It's an insult to Muppets everywhere.
Living ships that can give birth? Riiiight.
They're dead. No they're not. Yes they are.
It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a big blue plant.
He's bad. No, he's good. No he's bad. No he's good.
He's in my head. No he's not. Yes he is. No he's not.
My side. Your side. My side. Your side. My side.....
VOMIT! You can ride out on the wave of the vomit. In front of the vomit.
Please. This mess should have been euthanized/aborted before it ever had the chance to see the light of day.
But even more disconcerting than the series itself is the group of people who claim to love it. Reasonable minds can and do reasonably differ...but to love THIS series? What is this world coming to? Have those people ever SEEN good acting in their lives? Or compelling story lines? Or meaningful dialog? Or anything OTHER than Saturday morning cartoons? This disaster is good for one thing and one thing only: LAUGHS! But not laughs intended by the creators; laughs because this thing is such a mess the only thing one can do is laugh at it.
Warehouse 13: The 40th Floor (2011)
Worst. Episode. Ever.
This series is good -- when it's good -- when it UNDERPLAYS everything. It uses novelty and the good interactions between the characters to its advantage. But not in this train wreck episode. There is almost nothing about this episode that makes sense. They can't apprehend people right in their grasps. Mrs. Frederic's character is totally OUT of character. The dialog is stupid, and the plot is so beyond belief that it's laughable.
Big Love (2006)
A show about the biggest bunch of screw ups you'll ever meet
This show suffers from the most fundamental flaw imaginable -- not a single main character is worth caring about. Why? Because their flaws range from pure evil to raging arrogance, lying, lust, greed, jealousy, pettiness, delusional thinking, hypocrisy, and sheer, utter stupidity. I'm not kidding. These characters lack even the most basic fundamental human qualities. The men are misogynist, and the women are portrayed in a variety of negative lights -- take your pick.
There are two main groups. The first group consists of a suburbanite polygamous husband and his 3 wives and 7 children who are self-styled adherents to an outlawed variation of Mormonism called Fundamental Latter Day Saint (FLDS), many of whom have broken away from "the compound", an even more extreme version/full-on polygamous community which constitutes the second group.
The head of the FLDS household is Bill, a former member of the compound who was exiled when he was 14 years old (supposedly a common practice to eliminate younger males, leaving more teenage female brides for the older pedophile leader types). He's the "American Dream" come true. He's built up a prosperous home improvement business in the Utah suburbs, where he lives with his three wives (Barb, Nicki, and Margene) and 7 children. (NOTE: Bill's solution to the impotence that is confounding his ability to have continual sex with his 3 wives (they have a schedule) is: Viagra.)
To make a long story short, his first wife Barb is a cancer survivor. They have 3 children. While Barb was going through cancer treatment Bill had a "revelation" that he was supposed to start practicing "The Principle" (the doctrine that some select men are told by G-d that they should take on more wives in a holy mission to get to heaven). So he married Nicki, the daughter of Roman Grant, the self-proclaimed prophet and leader of the compound group, and she bore him two children. Then later on Bill met Margene, a young waitress with whom he fathered two children.
In the process of attempting to expand his one home improvement store, Bill finagles a way to eliminate the 15% due his father-in-law, Roman Grant. (Since Roman fronted Bill the money for the first store for an agreed-upon 15% of the profits, he (Roman) believes he is legally entitled to 15% of the profits from the second store as well. Bill disagrees. Thus begins "The Dysfunctional Family Feud" in earnest.)
Tangentially, since polygamy is illegal, everyone in the suburban clan lies -- to neighbors, co-workers, classmates, etc. As indicated above, all the business dealings are sketchy at best, and situational ethics is putting it mildly when it comes to how this group lives their lives.
As far as the compound group goes...one nut case runs around poisoning those she dislikes. Another nut case (Bill's father) goes around peeing in the sink instead of the bathroom. Bill's mother and Bill's father are at odds and can't be in the same room together. And on...and on...and on.
If there are people in this world who are more lost than these miscreants, I'd sure hate to meet them. They seem to have NO IDEA what they are doing, or why. They claim to be spiritual, yet they constantly obsess about money, each other, and their rivals/enemies. There isn't a single healthy relationship in the bunch -- especially at the compound. (That place is such a total mess it's impossible to even get into it here. One lurid example: Roman Grant can "reassign" any woman/wife to another man whenever he feels like it.) Everyone is constantly lying to one another and cheating on each other and basically just making a total mess out of their lives and the lives of their children.
In short...if you have a lot of patience for stupid, shallow, pompous hypocrites who have no insight into their own behaviors and/or motivations, then this is the show for you. Otherwise, do yourselves a Big Favor and pass on Big Love. The acting is amateurish (Ginnifer Goodwin really SHOULD quit her day job; she's a train wreck in everything she's ever done. And Bill Paxton isn't much better. Heck...even Chloe Sevigny, who I like a lot, is totally wasted here.) The dialogs range from witty and funny to just plain ridiculous. And the story lines are all over the place. The first season was kind of interesting. After that it really went off the rails.
Pretentious and vile
Highly stylized sensationalistic crap.
If you want to watch a show on how NOT to make a show, this is a 10/10.
I think they were definitely testing out actual psilocybin mushrooms in the production trailer throughout this series.
This thing is just rank. Bad scripts. Bad acting. Bad directing.
To quote the principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off: "I weep for the future" if there are actually real people out there giving this mess a 10/10.
At least with Dexter there was SOME humor, earlier on anyway, when it didn't take itself so seriously.
But THIS? Are you SERIOUS? Do yourself a favor. If you want to experience culinary debauchery, go scarf down a couple Wendy's double bacon cheese burgers. It's actually more lethal than this, but not totally unfun.