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The Increasing Necessity to Watch Todd Margaret
13 January 2012
If ever it was possible to have an American show with a strong dose of British humor (or should this be humour?), 'The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret' is it. I admit I was put off by the name of the show (shortened to just 'Todd Margaret' by my DVRecorder), petty I know, committing the error of judging a book by it's cover, which I suppose is actually an inside joke in itself. This is definitely one of those 'love it or hate it', shows, so be warned. Caveat: I have sometimes found myself not liking something at first, but come to appreciate it over time. Likewise, some things I like immediately prove to lack staying power. 'Todd Margaret' brings a mix of these moments, and I'm curious what I will think of this show in a couple of years, even if I were to never see another season. (I am just hoping, to the producers, PLEASE Please please don't try to drag five seasons out of a two or three season story arc, which has become a fatal flaw in all too many shows in the past.)

I like to think of myself as being reasonably sophisticated and eclectic, yet found at some points the show becomes so edgy that I can't bear it, and have to pause the show and go watch something else for a while before returning. While some possibly more prudish viewers might read 'bad' here and not 'edgy', fine. Go watch something else like I did, and come back to it or not. The show isn't trying to be either G-rated or aimed at social conservatives, so if you find it offensive, go count your blessings, warn your fellow church goers not to watch, and leave this behind you. No harm, no foul.

Many parts of the show are intentionally melodramatically exaggerated, which if they weren't being obviously absurd might otherwise not care for, but after adjusting my brain from 'Normal' to 'Todd Margaret', I don't find off putting. After all, no one expects 30 open cans of tuna to precipitate a biologic hazard that condemns an entire apartment block and sets off an international manhunt, but in Todd's world, it's just one more way that world conspires against him.

If any loyal Season One viewers are having trouble tying some of these diverse pieces together, I recommend 'The Increasingly Necessary Recap of Todd Margaret'. (Sorry if I got the exact title wrong, I'm working from my ever-decreasing memory.) While the description informs us in advance that this is "an animated special, in the Korean visual style" (again, from memory) which I found agonizing since I don't like anime or anything like it, try not to be put off by this description as I was for so long. It really lends insight to some of the most subtle humor (much of which admittedly will miss many American viewers like me), which Cross freely admits aren't really expected to be discovered by viewers anyway.

In the final analysis, there are far to many derivative productions that I just don't or no longer find entertaining (recent example 'Persons of Interest'), or which drag on long after their 'Use By...' date (Law and Order season 100). Other than its classification as comedy/other, 'Todd Margaret' can't be pigeonholed into any category—it is different from almost all other shows out there, which to me is in itself is meritorious in this age of derivative entertainment. Love it or hate it, I'm pretty sure that after you've seen it, you can't forget it.
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House of Lies (2012–2016)
Cutting-edge comedy, not for the faint of heart
12 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I almost never write movie reviews, but feel I need to weigh in on this show after seeing it panned by the 1-star prude. I watched the first episode of 'House of Lies' twice after it was highly recommended by a trusted friend. I loved the show, and agree with hanna uzelac on virtually every point.

I found the way this show breaks the fourth wall was brilliant. Sorry, I haven't watched much cable television the last couple of years, so I don't know how innovative this was, I just love the way the show used it to underline the action and reach out to the viewer.

Yes, there was a lot of swearing and sex, at least in the pilot episode, but that didn't bother me. I'm no prude by any means, but at age 56 I've just come to a point where gratuitous sex doesn't grab me, and I'll often find myself fast-forwarding much of it, but not here. What sex there was was brief, not gratuitous, and served to punctuate a comedic scene to follow, like... ***spoiler alert***

***spoiler alert*** ***spoiler alert*** ***spoiler alert*** . . .

the quick look grandpa gives his son (Don Cheadle) after he comes inside to the end of the his grandchild's play after Don was out banging his son's rival wife in her minivan. It's just brilliant, and I thought it plays very well. Other times, it was used to set up a fourth-wall comedic break, such as Don telling us from the very start to ... never...f&@k...your...ex...wife." Good advice or not? You decide.

I also found the interactions of both grandpa and father with his gender-curious son hilarious, with dad trying valiantly to at least fake positive support despite his own conflicts on that subject. This too was used as a set up for a steamy scene in the restaurant bathroom, enough said.

I also loved how, after layering on its thick frosting of brutal cynicism throughout the entire episode,the last scene has Don almost, but not quite, breaking through to a more human level. It's set up as another fourth-wall break as we see him alone in the bathroom mirror shaving, but instead we see him reaching out to one of his colleagues. but it was the only real moment we see the humane core character break through.

I usually consider it an error to judge a series based only on a first/pilot episode, but reading the 1-star sexually-repressed review, felt I had to chime in. This is an adult show for adult viewers on and adult channel, so if you can't handle it, go watch 'Malcolm in the Middle' or an LDS movie for god's sake, and leave this alone. It was a great show, and I can't wait for more.
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Anzio (1968)
Soundtrack Stinks!
8 February 2004
Never mind the rest of the movie, this has got to be the absolutely worst soundtrack ever made for a war movie, even taking into account that it was made in the Sixties. If you can make it through the title track you might be able to make it through the whole film; it took me three tries, and I'm still wondering why I bothered. Maybe the same reason I watch those old Outer Limits episodes--they have become so bad that they are good. Difference is, Anzio will never be good.
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Submarine X-1 (1968)
Marginal Afternoon Fare
15 January 2003
Yes, I agree with the average 4/10 rating. This is another marginally watchable, below average mid-60s fare, worth your time only if you have absolutely nothing else to do with your time. Not horrible, but nothing remarkable either. Little in the way of character development, no memorable dialogue, and a plodding, straightforward plot (if you can call it that).

If you make it all the way through, follow the crew's example, and break out the brandy; after that, you deserve one.
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Good Cinema; Queen Bitch at Work
15 January 2003
I've always disliked Bette Davis, not just because of her pronounced personality defects, which rose to prominence after her daughter's autobiography appeared, because I was familiar with her work before that. I simply feel that she was a mediocre actress, who gained a reputation early in her career and then produced only average work for the remainder of it. Maybe I was just born a generation too late.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, however, was indeed a marvelous performance by Davis, one I never got around to seeing until 2003. I don't know if it was worthy of an Oscar, but probably was worthy of the nomination it received. It might even have served to change my opinion of her, except that, in light of her malicious and malignant psychological traits, I don't believe it was acting. Davis was simply being herself, an obsessive, manipulative, vindictive queen bitch who did her best to destroy everyone around her; cinema reflecting real life. She, like Baby Jane, lived in a glorious past disconnected from her present reality, and only this wrinkled, hollow shell remained.

Robert Aldrich was lucky to have such material to work with, but I have to agree with another poster, and say that I too would prefer to see Hitchcock's hand on this. Maybe then the maid would have at least turned around in time to see the hammer fall, and a few other plot defects might have hit the Cutting Room floor. Still, this is a movie well worth watching, and it held my interest throughout. Just my opinion.
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Armageddon (1998)
Gold-Plated Turd
12 January 2003
Simply awful. I am astounded that 9% of voters thus far saw fit to grant this piece of drivel a 10. For those of you haven't seen Armageddon, put this right back on the shelf there, next to Vertical Limit and Mission to Mars, and walk away. Quickly. No matter how much gilding you put on a turd, it's still a turd, and this one's a real stinker. Stick a bunch of stars in it, and it's *still* a turd. I gave it a 2 only because it must be possible to be worse, though it's hard to imagine how.

Suspension of belief, fine, I can do that, and I will willingly do that in a fantasy (LotR) or science fiction (2001) setting, and good fiction draws you in your without even realizing it, but this is none of those. Truly awful acting across the board, sickly-sweet patriotism, ham-handed special effects, sophomoric dialogue, implausible plot, Armageddon has them all.

Ironically, I could have rated this film higher if it hadn't *pretended* to be real, and was, say, 200 years in the future, or on an alien world. But those upwardly beaming flag-draped faces wouldn't have meant much then, would they?
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