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Slow Horses (2022)
Slow Horses are MI-5 washouts and this series might join 'em
"Slow Horses" (S01, 6-eps, 40-50+ mins, Apple) is a British counter-terrorism drama with a tinge of comedic elements that derive from MI-5's Slough House, a dumping ground for washed out counter-spies affectionately, er derisively, referred to as slow horses. The nut of the plot is an Indian student in London needs to be rescued from domestic terrorists before he's beheaded, and the "slow horses" that should be sidelined with time-wasting paperwork endeavor to contribute to the rescue. The pacing is slow, production values are low budget, and you have to be inside British culture to get alot of the references. Gary Oldman stars as Jackson Lamb, a horrible burned out curmudgeon who insults and denigrates almost anyone in his orbit. He's like "Dr House" without a filter. This turned me off initially but I grew numb to it later. It's a decent watch, and the case is resolved, so if there's a sophomore season, it'd feature a different storyline. I would be more enthusiastic if it had a more attractive cast and tripled its budget.
I was kinda super pumped moving through each episode
"Super Pumped" (S01, 7 eps, 1-hr, Showtime) is an engaging docudrama of the rise and fall of Travis Kalanick and his Uber empire. You get to see him at his best and worst where the distance between those two is ever so slight. Whatever you think of him, his story as told here is pretty riveting. BTW, this story wraps with the season finale. I don't see how there's a second season unless it tells another's rise/fall.
The Afterparty (2022)
Afterparties are supposed to be memorable
"The Afterparty" (S01, 8 eps, 30+ mins, Apple) is just agonizing to sit through. I suppose they're trying to perform a murder mystery comedy but those two are at odds in this low-budget production. I tried to power through two eps as it beat on me with its slow pacing, stale comedy, man it was just boring! "Game Night" worked much better than this.
Not So Pretty (2022)
The Cosmetics Industry is Not So Pretty
"Not So Pretty" (single season, 4 eps, 30-min, HBOmax) is an eye-opening takedown of the cosmetics industry's lack of regard for the public's health. Each episode takes down one or more companies in the makeup, nail, skin, and hair products areas. Their products are responsible for illnesses and/or conditions that can lead to death and Congress refuses to enable the FDA to advocate for consumers since they're in the pockets of, well frankly, all industries including the cosmetics industry.
The Endgame (2022)
The Endgame ended S01 well
"The Endgame" (S01, 10-eps, 1-hr, NBC) is a better than avg network show from a pair of exec producers/writers with some decent shows in their past. Morena Baccarin as "The Queen" relished her manipulative role and it paid off. The pacing was pretty decent and who doesn't like to see the FBI led around by their nose instead of always being celebrated by other shows?! However, the formula of the show - neutralizing a govt figure each ep - wore thin mid-way through, so we skipped eps 5-7. But eps 8 and 9 delivered, with the season finale being surprisingly plausible with a not-Hollywood-happy-ending. Instead, we see a major character killed, one injured, and a pretty decent hook for a sophomore season.
All the Old Knives (2022)
Yeh, it's about old stuff for sure
"All the Old Knives" (90-mins, Amazon) definitely lulls you in with A-list stars but its low budget and newbie director betray its potential. Instead, you get one of the most boring terrorist hijacking films ever, but executive producer/star Chris Pine gets to love on Ms Newton quite a bit so this seems to be more a treat for him than entertainment for us.
I am Woman, Hear me Roar
"Roar" (S01, 8 eps, 30-min, Apple) is an anthology of femme-focused stories with a touch of weird. The problem is that this series is 98% women produced, written, directed, and acted with the men typically shown in poor light. I tried to watch/enjoy but it's clearly not for my kind, so I doubt this can be a long-running series.
Hard Cell (2022)
Hard Cell is an impossibly hard sell
"Hard Cell" (S01, 6 eps, 25-min, Netflix) uses Catherine Tate as writer/producer/actress and sorry it's just too much for her. Someone at Netflix is like "hey, I love her as an actress, let's let her have her own show." Well, that backfired. "Hard Cell" is about a UK women's prison where Catherine is the prison "governor" and fancies producing "West Side Story" featuring the prisoners. Uh, no. Just more Covid-era trash they're throwing at us along with "Minx", "From", and "Russian Doll S02", all just total wastes of time and resources.
From interesting premise to I am sooooo bored
"From" (S01, 10-eps, 45+ mins, Epix) didn't grab me, gave me no reason to continue past its initial juvenile horror effects, and boring, way too slow pacing. You get a real parenting vibe, too, so guess it's a weird let's-watch-as-a-family show? Its creator is brand new, almost no writing/producing credits, so they're continuing to throw undeserving material at us like we're still in the Covid-era. Uh, no.
Women's porn, eww gross
"Minx" (S01, 10 eps, 30-mins, HBOmax) features a cast of unattractive unknowns set in the '70s (fun soundtrack) with "Joyce" attempting to bring a women-empowering magazine to life and finds her path leads to hardcore women's porn, we're talking full-on male nudity, so think NC-17. And um, no. Show's creator has only a few writing/producing credits, again, no.
I severed myself from "Severance" so fast
"Severance" (S01, 9 eps, 40-57mins, Apple+) comes highly rated and recommended, a creation of Ben Stiller who also directs most of the 9 eps. I wanted to like this, I was pre-disposed to liking this, and I apologize to the vast shill army out there, but this is just horrible. Its banality is record-breaking, it's boring to the point of watching paint dry. I seriously could not stomach this travesty past the second episode. It's like if both Twilight Zone and Black mirror got drunk at a party, did the deed, tried to Plan B the deed, but this was born anyway. I started "The Adam Project" right after aborting this and omg, soooo much better.
Raised by Wolves (2020)
Raised by Wolves is a misleading title for a decent scifi series
"Raised by Wolves" (S01, 10 eps, 45+ mins, HBOmax) is an original type of future sci-fi with pretty decent production values. It grasps with pretty heavy social issues such as faith (in "Sol") vs atheism (there's no in-between for agnostics, etc) and associated trust or not, rights of androids, androids exhibiting emotions and even technologically capable of childbirth (sort of), whether androids have souls or not, self-governance without law enforcement, etc. The producers do a good job of not taking sides, so unlike sooooo many other series, this isn't your typical Hollywood Leftist propaganda, nice. The cast are all unknowns which helps to sell the alienation of other worlds. Amanda Collin stars as the android called "Mother" and her character's manner and voicing easily reminds me of "Queen Kane" in the series "See". But "Mother" can levitate and travel fast that way emitting a body-destroying shriek so that's fun. The pacing is kinda slow but it's deliberate, IOW there are little wasted moments. Normally I'd want to FF through slow parts but not with this one. The season finale is pretty bonkers and hooks you good for S02, which I'm watching right now, so I'll update this review shortly.
Jackass Forever (2022)
Jackass has been and always will be a guilty pleasure
"Jackass Forever" is the pinnacle of juvenile antics but you can't help but smile, chuckle, or outright laugh. I want to despise it but it's an enduring guilty pleasure.
The Last Bus (2022)
The Last Bus for tweens
"The Last Bus" (S01, 10-eps, 30+ mins, Netflix) is a Brit dramedy for your tweens, especially if they're nerdly triggered by terms like robotics and AI which are in every other sentence, and where tweens are geniuses and adults are dolts. This is a lot like Disney's "Lab Rats" so if that was for you, then you'll dig this.
You're right to be suspicious of "Suspicion"
Suspicion (S01, 8-eps, 45-min, Apple) starts off with a fast-paced kidnapping in NYC but fritters its mystery across 7 more unnecessary eps, mostly in the UK. In fact, this is one of those stories that would've presented its material better as a 100-min movie than as a long, drawn-out series. As you tire of the plodding pace by episode three, I promise you can skip to the last episode, you won't have missed anything of real importance. The cast is tepid, no real star power on display. Of trivia interest is Noah Emmerich (FBI agent "Stan Beeman" in "The Americans") as the point FBI agent here, and Elyes Gabel ("Walter O'Brien" of "Scorpion") who basically plays a tougher "Walter", still no social skills or "EQ".
Pam & Tommy (2022)
Surprisingly engaging tale of this moment in history
"Pam & Tommy" (S00, 8-eps, 45-min, Hulu) is a pretty fascinating telling of this moment in history. It's not just about their sexcapades, it's about the 90s, the early days of the internet, about their energetic/frenetic relationship, the mercurial/immature nature of Tommy against Pam's more mature/adult nature. It's also about the seedy business of porn in the early days of the internet. It's surprisingly engaging as you'll want to watch each ep in quick succession.
Diabolical: I'm Your Pusher (2022)
"The Pusher" was the first of these "Diabolical" eps that I felt was worthy. It was a good, self-contained tale of the supes' drug pusher, how he got compromised, and the catastrophic consequences. Still alot of cartoon gore but mainly limited to one scene.
Psycho supe misfits
This second episode of "Diabolical" was about as poor as the first one, with its middlin' story/plot of supe misfits and over-the-top cartoon violence. But Justin Roiland ("Morty") voiced a character so it wasn't a total waste.
Reacher, so much squandered potential
"Reacher (S01, 8 eps, 45+ mins, Amazon) is a pretty decent action/murder-mystery but it should've been great, instead it has a set of problem points. And that starts with our title lead Alan Ritchson. He's definitely the right size/bulk but his clean cut appearance is at odds with the "wild man" he should appear to be. He looks more like one of those bulked up clean cut agents from the Matrix series. He's more accountant than military. His walk, his gait is kind of sissy-ish. Joel Kinnaman or Jason Momoa would've been SOOOOO much better and more convincing in this very important role. His action partner and love interest, Roscoe, is ridiculously petite, more like his kid sister than a romantic peer. In fact, the casting in general is a dumpster fire. And the action sequences where people die or get maimed are always unwitnessed by anyone, just so implausible. And somehow they keep state and fed law enforcement out of the picture even though his brother, a Secret Service agent was murdered. Ridiculous. That small town would've doubled its size in law enforcement presence within the day. So yeh, it's a disappointing action fantasy when you suspend so many elements of reality. I expected a better entertainment product from Nick Santora.
The Legend of Vox Machina (2022)
Vox is for your pre-teens
"The Legend of Vox Machina" (S01, 12 eps, 1/2hr, Amazon) is a slickly produced animated series that reminds one of "Castlevania", however, though the show centers on teen characters I think the story is really kiddie-oriented, it's a real letdown. It's full of stereotypes, clichés, and it's predictable - just the right mix of elements for your pre-teen. I really wanted to like this, especially since Covid has brought us so much stinking messes of films and series, but this didn't break through for me, just more of the same type of wasted effort as so many others.
Diabolical: Laser Baby's Day Out (2022)
A Disney-like episode
This first episode of "Diabolical" was fashioned after 1960's Disney cartoons. It's devoid of dialogue, has a lot of bungling sound effects and soundtrack, is mostly rated "G" except for the "PG-13" violence of baby's uncontrolled laser-vision, just barely watchable.
How the Dutton's came to be in the Montana of 1883
"1883" (single season, 10 eps, 1-hr, Param+) is really better titled as "The Life and Times of Elsa Dutton" or "Elsa Dutton's Journey" since this short mini-series is most definitely focused on the Elsa character even as a wagon train makes its way from Texas to Montana and Oregon. This is an origin story of the "Yellowstone" series' Dutton family and how they came to settle in Montana instead of their Oregon destination. At times, it's poignant, beautiful, emotional, etc. Yet, at times throughout its run, it's also idealized to the point of implausibility which is why I dock it points down to 7.
Licorice Pizza (2021)
A throwback coming of age story
"Licorice Pizza" is a coming of age story set in 1973's Los Angeles-Encino. A pudgy, pimply-faced yet over-confident 15 year old Gary Valentine falls for a sub-average looking 25 year old year-book photog. She's firm that they can't be a thing and his many, many attempts to impress her enough fuels the film's 2hrs. Look it's not a bad film but it's a low-budget affair that in yester-year would be straight-to-video. Some will love the authenticity of the moment, the attraction between two unlikely unattractives. Alana Haim as Alana Kane is new to mainstream Hollywood but her very plain looks and equiv acting won't advance her from this. This is Cooper Hoffman's first film credit and would've fit in well in the '80s "Porky's".
It's weird and wild but it's from James Gunn, so it's a strange kind of great
"Peacemaker" (S01, 8 eps, 40+ mins, HBOMax) was a really interesting action/comedy series in its first season. There is sooo much to write about but I'm not paid as a pro so you'll just get the short version. James Gunn of Guardians of the Galaxy and Suicide Squad fame, writes/directs, so it's going to be some kind of great. It's wacky, zany, over the top in many ways, and star John Cena embraces the weird and his character gets pilloried alot and I think that's a proxy for taking darts personally, too. I think he knows he's not a real actor yet and in this vehicle we're all right with that. I hope you like '80s hair metal because that's the soundtrack throughout. His crew is definitely the "B" team but they're kind of adorable with "Vigilante" coming really close to "Deadpool" territory. And "Eagly". How do you go wrong with a full size American Bald Eagle as your BFF?! I'll be there for its sophomore season.
Tell Me Your Secrets (2021)
Serial killer, missing girl mystery. Better as a Lifetime movie than a series.
"Tell Me Your Secrets" (S01, 10eps, 45-mins, Amzn) is a missing girl mystery that's going to appeal to a narrow audience: those of the male predator/serial-killer culture. I tried to power through it but this topic doesn't capture my interest. It's also low-budget and set in a grimy little backwoods town, ugh. Besides in the first few episodes the characters do things that don't make good sense, so that didn't help its watchability. I think I'll have more fun, be more engaged with "The Peacemaker".