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Is it 30 Rock? No. Is it far better than most of the drivel Disney Channels pulls out? By far.
I'm not a fan of Disney channel, in fact I totally hate it and blame it for the lack of great television for younger kids. However, I had an opportunity to watch this. I had to record this so I could watch a sneak peak of "Up!". I decided to go ahead and watch this and give it a chance, because as an aspiring film/television director I always hope people would give me the same chance. With an open mind I found it to be cute and entertaining.
Will it be the next Office or Lost? Well no. However, it's good in the "it's so bad it's good" way. People complain about the writing and the acting, but I find it to be surprisingly better than most Disney channel shows past and present. The premise isn't crazy-original, but what isn't? The writing is okay, but it works if you enjoy random silliness and great one-liners. Some of the acting is pretty good, the extras are far less annoying than Hannah Montana's and their family in the show is tolerable and their father isn't treated like an idiot.
Out of the three brother's Nick is lucky to be so adorable, because he's very weak in the acting. Joe is actually pretty funny and enjoyable to watch. As for Kevin, you can tell he isn't taking himself seriously as an actor and just having fun (and that is very evident with Joe too) and I can appreciate it. They don't try to be more than they are, as with this show and I actually set a series recording and enjoy watching episodes in my spare time. And kudos for nixing the laugh track.
I will still hit it on weak story lines and execution, just because it's Disney Channel doesn't excuse poor production quality. This show actually has potential to be a monkey-esquire and could be very good. And some of the music is bad- or more or less written for the show and just to fill time. But they get credit for writing it and trying. It's not groundbreaking or thought-provoking, but it's a fun way to pass the time.
The Mentalist (2008)
A show that is so much more than it seems.
For anyone who thinks this is close to Psych...you're dead wrong. While both shows take a similar premise, they're so different in many ways. This show does have a man with the ability to spot minute details, but he does so much more, he plays mind games with people, reads their emotions and sets elaborate traps to catch them. Many compare him to Shawn Spencer of Psych, but I would rather compare him to Sherlock Holmes, except more tortured. The pilot obviously takes on a more serious approach than Psych and the dynamics of the show go from cute and funny to deeply disturbing in seconds.
It takes your one crime per episode procedural drama with a gifted detective and takes it one step further. Patrick Jane is more self effacing, gets into trouble and is a known fraud. But he isn't mean or intentionally rubs people the wrong way like House(also based on Holmes) or Spencer. He is very soothing, warm, instills trust and seems to get along with people pretty well, from the guy who did it to his team. At the same time, he does like to flex his intellect and power over people and loves to play games to get answers (and yet, so charming when he does so). So it's kind of disarming when you begin to see there are some serious issues with this character, he doesn't sleep, doesn't believe in life after death (and is happy that way), and is actually anti-social with the group. There are further reasons as to his psychosis that won't be discussed. Behind those warm baby blues, warm smile and calming presence, there is a man being crushed to death by very weighty issues.
Patrick Jane is a fantastic character, he's obviously brilliant, but a little distant and isn't fond of working with others. As a former faux psychic he seems pretty ready to disable believers. And of course, Simon Baker is a brilliant actor and is the reason I tuned in (I admit I too feared this was a Psych ripoff) and he brings so much depth to this character. When he plays his mind games he always brings a sense of "I know more than you and there is nothing you can do about it." type of amusement and when Red John or death apparates in conversation you see a distant look in his eyes that conveys more than what he actually saying (the psychiatry appointment in the pilot was incredible). He really plays off the layers of Patrick Jane well, pulling some back and when we get a true glimpse, the layers fall back in place. And credit goes to the set-up of Red John as his "nemesis" through a copy cat. He and Jane have a very tense meet up awaiting them, but I can wait for that just to experience the chase and the unraveling history between these two.
Another credit would go to the incredible Robin Tunney (of The Craft and Empire Records) who was reason number two for watching the pilot. She has had very little to work with in the first two episodes (but her role grew from 1 to 2 so I have faith), but she plays the hard nosed detective with a little more prudishness and distance than I would have expected. How much she knows about Jane and how far they go back is a mystery to me and their dynamic is interesting. She doesn't fall into stereotype and has retained a beguiling sense of mystery. I also appreciate the lack of clichéd moments "fraught with sexual tension" between Lisbon and Jane.
And I'd also like to credit Tim Kang- a lovely surprise and I enjoyed his character who really doesn't give a crap about hurting people's feelings or stepping on toes, he just wants to solve the case. Love it and kudos.
My only complaint would be explained in the two above paragraphs briefly. I love Cho and Lisbon and hope to get see more of the team (Van Pelt and Rigsby are really cute as well), but I understand this is called "The Mentalist" and there is still time to slowly introduce Jane's history with the team and more in depth coverage of these characters. I've only seen two episodes and I think what I anticipate will come into fruition.
Overall, this show is well written, well acted, and beautifully shot. I for one have set up a season recording on my DVR and cannot wait for the next episode, yes you can consider me a fan and I hope you head over to CBS.com and give this show a chance. I wish I had more stars to give.
Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)
I was extremely excited to get this DVD for several reasons. I've been a huge Batman fan as long as I can remember and have really enjoyed the animated shows that have been inspired by Batman as well as comics such as Year one, Long Halloween, Dark Victory, Hush, The Killing Joke and such. After the first string of Batman films and the original show I never felt a real connection to a Batman not printed on the pages of a book. However, Kevin Conroy remains my favorite Batman of all time. And of course to see what David Goyer and the others have written is phenomenal. Each episode is written and directed by different individuals, but the voice talent remains the same (and I do mean talent). It's really cool to see Batman in so many formats and to see Batman from different perspectives as far as writing, directing, and the p.o.v of the episodes go. If you're not used to anime it might be a little tough to watch Batman in this format. But the pallets are really gorgeous and I have fallen in love with the set of episodes and hope they do more.
Also a plus-you don't actually have to watch Batman Begins or The Dark Knight (but who hasn't?) to get it, but if you have you'll enjoy the little nuances that make it great. It will also be enjoyable for comic books fans, it bring back the old noir feeling of the comics (especially with the arrival of Deathshot, wow). I hope this was helpful. Enjoy!
Ballet Shoes (2007)
Another quality BBC production.
I'm an American and I always enjoy the productions that the BBC plays. I was really excited about Ballet Shoes. I read the book when I was younger, my copy was destroyed in Katrina so I didn't have time to re-read it. So this review will be short and sweet and about the film itself. The film itself was well done, very seamless and didn't seem to leave any big gaps of unexplained information. The music really help set the mood. Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies set the mood for all the dancing, which as a dancer was pretty impressive for the three leads, especially Lucy Boyton. And Gershwin Along with Theo's radio help send in the time period (loved Theo!). The costumes and the sets were great. The acting was also fantastic. I don't remember a lot of the book, but I loved Madame Fidolia and Eileen Atkins was superb. I also loved Emilia Fox who is completely lovable and does a great job of bringing Sylvia alive. Richard Griffiths was adorable (horrible word choice, but that's how I feel) in an eccentric paleontologist way. I especially loved Theo and the Dr.'s, they were brought to life and very fun to watch.
As for the young fossil girls I have to say Lucy Boyton was my favorite. She was spunky, funny and very Posy. She showed a maturity far beyond her years. Yasmin Page was very intense as Petrova and appeared very thoughtful and intelligent. She was fantastic. Emma Watson was a little inconsistent. She had moments where she did great, the audition scene was very good, and when she acted like a prima donna she really shone, otherwise it appeared she was just reading off of a piece of paper, her performance was a little wooden and didn't do it for me. All together the three girls had a great amount of chemistry along with Nana and Sylvia they felt like a family. Overall I thought an enjoyable, CLEAN, family film. Worth seeing.
The Dresden Files (2007)
A delightful spin on the "supernaturally-gifted detective" show.
So I just got done watching the Dresden Files and I have to say it's quite a pick-me-up after a disappointing NFC championship game. But to begin I have not read the books.So going into this not knowing anything about it I have loved it so far... Harry is a really great character, he is dark and has a lot of guilt, it appears, but also has a human side and makes mistakes..which oddly makes him more likable. And I have this funny feeling I'm really going to like Bob, he is intelligent and useful and he has an interesting conflict internally. But I found the plot interesting and well developed and the monsters were original.
The only problem I had was with Connie, a bit of a weak character but still has plenty of time to beef up with character development.
In the world of television with shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Charmed, Supernatural...etc. Harry Dresden really stands out on it's own as a new spin on the supernaturally gifted detective-series. It's great to have another show that has a good well-used idea and makes an amazing spin on it...I know I'll be tuning in next Sunday.