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The Strain (2014)
Weak. Stupid. Godawful. Unintentionally preposterous.
Pointless banal plot. Interchangeable one-dimensional characters. Jarring music. A bunch of clichés randomly jammed together.
It is baffling that so many good actors could work together to make this turd.
The first episode was so terrible I decided to look it up on IMDb. When I found that it had a good rating, I felt compelled to warn people how extremely unpleasant this show is. That is, it's so terrible it inspired me to tell strangers how terrible it is.
Don't watch this.
Once Upon a Time (2011)
Once Upon a Time is a silly, Shrek-ish idea. Though the pilot was executed somewhat well, it's difficult to overcome a premise so banal. It lacks suspense, surprise (besides the date scene), and proper editing. The flashbacks interlacing the present were nicely done, but several scenes should have just ended abruptly instead of sentimentally meandering along, accomplishing nothing, not even character development.
The main actresses, Jennifter Morrison as Emma Swan, Ginnifer Goodwin as Mary Margaret Blanchard, and Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen, each performed well despite questionable material. But many of the minor characters almost seemed like they were squinting at cue cards and shouting, where a more subtle approach would have probably accomplished more.
What Once Upon a Time has going for it is the contrast between real life and fairy tales; if they can dig deeply at it, stress it by showing some unpunished injustice, punctuate it by killing off some likable characters; if they can cause Snow White to suffer and cry and change for the worse, and if they can make us think there will never be a fairytale ending again, the show will then be interesting and consequential. But if they fall into the trap of sappy clichés, the show will quickly be lost and forgotten and no one will care.
Are we helpless before the tyranny of circumstance?
Lenard Shelby is in a hopeless fight against the unalterable past: time runs backwards and counts down, and every moment we see is a moment in the past that Lenard can never escape, the consequences already known to us and the cost already paid, but each scene rises up from the ashes of the previous one, revealing our own flawed perception of what has really happened.
Memento is a murder mystery where the whodunit question is answered in the first scene. But did the victim deserve it? Or did someone trick Lenard Shelby into killing the wrong man? And if so, why?
Because of his 'condition,' Lenard knows he has to watch out for people who want to take advantage of him. Condition is a euphemism for severe brain damage, which left him unable to make new memories. The last thing he does remember is his wife dying in front of him. When he closes his eyes, he sees her dying, and since he can't make new memories, the horror of her death and the pain of his loss is always there, fresh and never fading.
Memento at its heart is a quest for freedom from the prison of personal limitation. Lenard desperately wants to regain control over his reality. He follows clues, writes notes, takes photos, hypothesizes solutions. These things, however, can never compensate for the terrible loss of both the continuity of the present and the connectedness of time itself; he knows neither what year it is now nor how long ago his wife died. But he believes if he can somehow avenge his wife, even with his tremendous limitations, he will regain some part of the self-worth that he lost when his brain became damaged.
Profound, unique, and beautiful in its achievement -- Memento isn't a gimmick; it's an elusive puzzle with a clear answer. Is Lenard Shelby a helpless prisoner to past circumstance, or can he still decide his own future?
So damn funny
This repugnant farce of a sitcom is the funniest show I've ever seen. There is no end to its depraved genius. I've watched all the seasons and laughed like a smothered hyena through every rancid episode.
It's Always Sunny will always take it too far. There is no line they will not say, no joke too crass, no situation too absurd, no calf too sacred to be slaughtered. They will mock any decency, insult any power, pervert any principle. And it is all so very funny.
I would almost call it fearless in its humor except it's more like a gloriously crazy recklessness.
I think it's fair to say that if you don't laugh while watching this show, you probably don't have a soul.
Terra Nova (2011)
Where is the trust?
There are many reasons to despise Terra Nova: the stilted acting, the listless story lines, the half-conceived clichés, the lack of personality, character, depth. But the thing that makes Terra Nova unwatchable for me is simply the dialogue, the direct, passive, plodding dialogue that says what it means and means what it says. Where is the rhetoric or the implication or the humor? A computer could have written this show with more humanity, art, and soul.
The dialogue is a symptom of the same disease that pervades the whole show. Faithlessness. The creators have no faith in their audience. It must seem pointless to dazzle us with their wit since they obviously think that we're witless.
American Horror Story (2011)
A dysfunctional family moves into an old house, a house with a history of horror. For the main characters, history is what the first episode is all about: the husband's history of infidelity, the wife's history of having a bloody stillbirth, the daughter's history of cutting herself -- for each a long history of pain and resentment and longing for change, though it quickly becomes apparent the only change coming will leave them hysterically screaming to the sudden, violent, gory end. The one sure thing this show promises is that people will die horribly, and we will all be terrified by it.
The characters are not likable; they may not even be redeemable. Even the suffering wife is bitter and cold and hateful. But do they deserve what horrible things will assuredly happen to them? Nope. Which means their fight is our fight, and their fear is our fear.
American Horror Story is interesting, entertaining, suspenseful, and ambitious. After watching the first episode, I want to watch some more.
Game of Thrones (2011)
Can't wait for the second season
Cruel, bloody, vulgar, Machiavellian, unrepentant. And that is just the writing. The camera angles, the score, the pacing mesh together for grand storytelling: a mix of horror, swords and sorcery, and endless treachery.
And all of that would be somewhat squandered if it wasn't for the best casting I've ever seen. From Lena Headey as soft spoken Cersei to Peter Vaughan as ancient Maester Aemon, each character pulses with depth and believability. Peter Dinklage may have sacrificed a virgin princess to get this role; I've never seen a better fit, not in size (though there is that) but in the way his eyes convey shrewd arrogance coupled with unabashed debauchery.
Can't wait for season 2.