Tag Archives: Ron Perlman

Amazon Pilot Season! A Roundup of What’s Actually Worth Watching

Amazon has recently taken big swipes in the entertainment industry. They’ve gone pretty wholehog into this Fire thing, and to be honest, I really dig it. I like their approach to digital media distribution and the way they handle their cloud. They’re also great at creating original content, which is something they’re really starting to get a handle on. In the past few years they’ve even gone and made a “Pilot season” for their original programming. The Amazon pilot season is now in it’s third iteration, and while I’m not familiar with the previous two “winners” (all the pilots are in a contest to be chosen which will continue by viewer demand), the current lineup has two clear front-runners out of the pack that includes:

Hand Of God

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This is a pretty typical “ambiguous religious duty” kind of show. You know the type, where the character is maybe getting some secret message, or maybe they’re just crazy, man. It’s not written terribly well, but it’s not boring or laugh out loud stupid either. If anything, it’s pretty clear that the whole thing is a vehicle for Ron Perlman to strut his stuff and show off his acting chops, of which he has plenty. Perlman is the draw here, because his performance elevates an otherwise pretty dreary and dull script. The show is captivating because of him and him alone, but that in and of itself is enough to keep me watching. The issue with this is that when your whole show rides on one actor, it tends to create a pretty huge vacuum if, for some strange reason, he decided not to act in it anymore. I’m not saying Ron Perlman is gonna die, but if he does, then this show will suck.

  • Look: 75
  • Sound: 70
  • Players: 90
  • Script: 30

Red Oaks

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This was the most pleasant surprise of the selection for me. I never thought a story about a tennis coach could be so interesting, but Steven Soderbergh has managed to produce a show about tennis that’s magically not stupid as hell. Granted, it’s accomplished by being set in the ’80s, which is the cultural equivalent of that neon colored frosting on store bought cupcakes. Bright and beautiful, but mostly just filler and lots of saturated fat. And cocaine. Did you know that all store cupcakes have cocaine in them? Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

Anyway, the pilot centers on a kid who teaches rich folk at a tennis club how to tennis better, or whatever. He eventually gets tied up in some hijinks and ’80s genre leitmotifs. I loved it, not only because I’m a sucker for ’80s music, but because everyone in this acted like real people who were trying to do things. When you’re making a dramedy, the characters HAVE to feel real, or else you’re just an unfocused director or writer trying to console their own feelings on camera while calling it an “exploration of the human condition”, or something really dumb like that. Red Oaks isn’t that, it’s just an interesting show that’s well-acted, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

  • Look: 80
  • Sound: 95
  • Players: 75
  • Script: 75

Really

really-amazon-pilot

This kind of show has been done. It’s basically This is 40, the TV show. Another dramedy about a group of middle aged 30-somethings trying to understand their own burgeoning maturity and mourning the loss of their youth. It’s a common story in these kinds of shows. The one aspect this brings to it is thankfully all the characters are likeable, which is a fresh breath of air compared to most of the other relationship dramas of this kind. It makes it stand out a bit more from the rest of these pilots, but not enough to warrant a continued series. Likeable characters in your show are the difference between an objectively bad show being fun and a mediocre to good show being unwatchable trash, like Mad Men. Yes, Mad Men is boring trash. Fight me. (<— Editors Note: Mad Men is great – I will fight you.) 

  • Look: 70
  • Sound: 65
  • Players: 75
  • Script: 77

Hysteria

mena-suvari-hysteria

This is one of those shows that is destined to fail. You know the ones, like 666 Park Avenue or Happytown. Does anyone remember Happytown? This show is like Happytown. An incomprehensible mess. There’s the old TV trope of the one scientist or doctor who discovers a new virus that’s somehow spread by social media. Not to mention the dismal pacing, acting, plot and terrible editing. It’s the kind of idea that some really naive but peppy exec would pitch to appease some Suit, or a Suit’s idea of what’s hip and new in the drama scene. I can imagine the scene right now:

“Viral stuff is in! Let’s make it a virus story! VIRAL! THE INTERNET! MY GOD JIMMY, I’VE DONE IT AGAIN!”

And then we’re left watching Mena Suvari’s weird forehead bumble around in the dark and warn us of weird internet diseases. I’ve got a disease for you, and it’s called Dumb-Conceptivitis. Guess what the cure is? Not watching this piece of crap.

  • Look: 70
  • Sound: 50
  • Players: 30
  • Script: 10 (I like the kernel of the idea, but it’s a short story at best, not a full TV show)

Overall the standouts were Hand of God and Red Oaks, mainly because they were good, and the rest were either boring or really dumb. That’s kind of the case with every pilot season, though. If you had to pick and choose through dozens of pilots for each season of TV, you would end up hating a lot of crap too. Watching all of these was fun in a way, because it made me feel like a weird TV exec with some level of power over the content I watch. In a way, this is really the future of television. We’re the ones who will choose the shows that we want, and the stupid middleman system they currently have with the studios will slowly become antiquated and weird. Amazon is doing something interesting here, and I’m honestly looking forward to next pilot season.

*Since this was submitted, Amazon has renewed both Hand of God and Red Oaks for series continuation. Awesome.


 Images: Amazon

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Hellboy/Ron Perlman is a Good Dude

I figured that it is time to get some good news up in this joint and via the Hollywood Reporter, this is will make you give some thumbs up to some people who step it up in the world. Ron Perlman, Hellboy himself, found out through the ‘Make A Wish Foundation’ that six-year-old Zachary wanted not only to meet Hellboy, but also wanted to become Hellboy as well. The makeup house Spectral Motion, who did the makeup for both Hellboy movies, setup the meeting after hearing the story and pitched it to Perlman, who obviously being awesome, was down for the idea.

So he got in the make up chair for another four hours in order to deliver the kid his wish. He showed up in full regale and Zachary even got the opportunity to sit in the chair as well to get his second part of his wish…Looking at the pictures and seeing obviously what the kid has gone through with his leukemia, I thought this was an amazing thing to do. It is one thing for a kid to be like, yeah I want to be Superman or Spiderman or something where you throw a suit on that you bought for 40 bucks at the Halloween Superstore. It’s another thing to pick a badass hero and then be like, yeah, I want the whole makeup and nine yards. Hats off to this kid for not only picking an awesome wish, but facing his illness and probably being like, I’m Hellboy, you can’t bring me down.

Also Ron Perlman and Spectral Motion – You guys definitely got the gold star for the day.

‘Sons of Anarchy’ – Season 4 Ends with a Whimper.

Well, there it is. Sons of Anarchy‘s 4th season came to an end last night, and it wasn’t as thrilling as advertised.

After a season 2 that was among the best in TV history, show creator Kurt Sutter gave us a somewhat lackluster 3rd season. But what both of those arcs had in common was, the premieres and finales were excellent. So SoA’s 4th season airs and it’s awesome all the way though, rivaling season 2. It’s so epic in fact that, in an unprecedented move, FX actually adds a 14th episode mid-season. And so months of treachery and lies and backstabbing was all set to come to a head last night. This was built up to be the almost inevitable end of SAMCRO. It was one of those things where you debating how they could even have a 5th season as it seemed like they were set to kill off everyone…

SPOILERS AHEAD>>>

Ok, so here is what we seemed to know going in to last night:

  • Clay is going to die for what he did to John Teller and Piney, and for what he tried to do to Tara. And ultimately for what he did to Gemma’s face.
  • Once the deal with the Irish is done, so is Jax. He and Tara will leave Charming never to return. Until next season anyhow.
  • The deal with the Irish will be busted up by the feds and the rest of the SoA will join Bobby, Otto, and Juice in prison.
  • Once Jax is in jail, and Clay is no longer backing Gemma, Wendy is gonna make a play to get Abel back.

So what we go instead was:

  • Clay will live because without him there is no IRA connection. So he will be stripped of his president patch and continue to sit at the table.
  • Jax is going nowhere as he will now (predictably) run SAMCRO. The big question is will Opie be his right hand or can he not sit with Clay…
  • The big Cartel & IRA deal? Squashed by the CIA in one of the biggest cop-outs since the “It was all just a dream” excuse was invented.
  • Juice is now free and clear, and with Otto on Death Row, Bobby Elvis will simply serve as their new “Man on the inside” that they so often utilize.
  • No mention of Wendy what-so-ever.
  • The Charming Heights storyline was tied up sorta.

What this all means, is that while we’ve set the pieces up nicely for next season, we were delivered a bill of goods with no payoff last night. Instead of righteous violence, we got ‘The Godfather’ ending…

Only it didn’t follow-up all the family business being taken care of, it simply shoe-horned in there. And instead of Jax seeming like the biggest badass ever, ala Michael Corleone, he seems like little more than a puppet that is being pulled back and forth by his mother and his girlfriend…


So Tara is attempting to replace Gemma as the new ‘Lady McBeth’ and she hasn’t yet convinced me. A couple of episodes ago she told both Jax and Clay – “Tell me you love me.” in the creepiest Terminator-like voice I’ve seen since Summer Glau‘s last job. Overall, it was still a great 4th season, and up until the last episode (along with Breaking Bad) had been making a case for shows getting stronger as they go, as opposed to stuff like The Sopranos and Nip/Tuck which totally fell apart starting in their 4th years.

So as weak as the finale was, it does appear to be setting up a pretty solid season 5…

Sons of Anarchy: Bonus Episode Added!

Ok, so I’m way behind on the SoA reviews. I apologize. We haven’t talked about the Sons since the fifth episode – Brick, and a lot to have happened since then. In the 5 episodes I neglected to review Juice tried and failed to kill himself trying to escape the reach of the Law, and Clay has taken the gloves off and become the out right villain. To avoid the reveling of his involvement with John Teller’s death, Clay murdered Piney, put out a(n unsuccessful) hit on Tara, and beat the crap out of Gemma. It’s getting pretty ugly. Anyhow, show runner Kurt Sutter has convinced FX that 13 episodes just isn’t gonna get it done this season, so FX has awarded the creative team behind the show a 14th episode.

This comes from Hit Fix:

“Creatively, this has been ‘Sons’ best and biggest season ever,” FX executive Nick Grad said in a statement. “Kurt asked us to consider adding an extra episode to fully close this current chapter of the ‘Sons’ saga. By adding the extra episode, it wraps up a magnificent season in extraordinary fashion. This is a real bonus for fans of the series.”

Sons of Anarchy: Season 4, Episode 5 – ‘Brick’ Review

This week we focus on the worst of this season’s storylines – Juice being half-black. Is this really an issue? I understand that it might not be openly endorsed by the club, but it’s not like Happy or the members of the Tuscon charter are white as rice or anything. They’ve worked with Black and Mexican gangs, I can’t see the Sheriff outing him as being worse than stealing drugs from the cartel. Oh, by the way, Juice steals a brick. Hence the title.

Now I know Juice didn’t want to steal it, just take a sample and pass it along. And I know that he got stuck and had to take it, but how hard is it to simply NOT fall asleep in the woods before you can put it back?

Then there is the Otto storyline. Luanne’s murder is still unsolved and he wants it handled., so the Sons set out to track down old Georgie (Tom Arnold) and they find him with a little help from the Hoff!

“She taught me that I was more than just a big cock!”

So the Sons have every intention of putting a hurting on Georgie until they find him to be useful and decide to keep him around a little longer. Sure, they’ll kill him later, but Bobby Elvis tells Otto that the deed is already done. Something tells me that lie is gonna come back around.


So that brings us the meat, and easily most important pieces of Tuesday night’s show – the letters. Piney tells Clay he knows what happened and gives him a clock to either stop the drug flow, or Piney tells the club about how John Teller really died.

That’s right – it’s finally confirmed. Since the first episode in season 1 they have all but said that Clay was responsible for the death of John. This week though it was confirmed not only that Clay had John killed, but that both Gemma and Ex-Police Chief Unser were in on it. That’s pretty major.

So, while I didn’t love the Juice story, the Hoff guest spot and the John Teller reveal more than made up for it. Solid episode, where things once again point to bad endings for Bobby and Piney. 3.5/5 Bears.

 Next Week:

Sons of Anarchy: Season 4, Episode 3 – ‘Dorylus’ Review

[box_light]Dorylus Ants – A soldier class among the workers, which is larger, with a very large head and pincer-like mandibles. They are capable of stinging, but very rarely do so, relying instead on their powerful shearing jaws. [/box_light]

Things are heating up for the club, or rather in the club. Clay’s drug muling looks to split the Sons unity down the middle, Gemma confronts Tara about JT’s letters, and Juice gets picked up by the Sheriff. Not a major action episode, but there was still plenty that happened…

Let’s start with Gemma. She’s been super worried about Jax seeing the letters from JT, but Tara has them in hiding. So the Queen Bee feeds her some guilt trip BS about how she let John down earlier and how it was bad for the club. Tara plays dumb and makes copies, which she then takes to storage. This is sure to play a bigger part in coming episodes.

sons of anarchy

Juice getting pinched teaches us that his father is black, and that could be bad news for our cranial tatted friend. You see, all white Biker gangs don’t typically admit black guys. The Sheriff, at the behest of the Feds, is simply laying down a baseline to help swing Juice their way in the future.   Continue reading Sons of Anarchy: Season 4, Episode 3 – ‘Dorylus’ Review

Grizzly Review: Drive

[pullquote_left]“My hands are a little dirty.”
“So are mine.” [/pullquote_left] That’s all it took for me. When the trailer came out and I heard that exchange between Albert Brooks and Baby Goose, I knew I needed to see this movie. And now, having seen it, I can tell you that the sheer magnitude of said exchange proves to set up the entire movie from there out, with neither participant fully grasping the effect they will have on one and other.

Brooks plays an L.A. gangster that agrees to invest in a race car, and subsequently a driver. This connection is facilitated by Shannon (Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston) who knows Brook’s character from way back, and who employs Baby Goose at his garage. They plan to make a mint letting Baby Goose race.

On the home front Carey Mulligan plays the girl next door, who quite obviously becomes the catalyst that triggers all the trouble for our beloved driver. Brooks’ partner is played by Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy) and the cast is rounded out by Christina Hendricks (This week’s Grizzly Girl) and Oscar Isaac. So the cast as a whole is great, but they are merely more than players in the much bigger story. It’s almost as if the story is moving on its own and the characters are just along for a ride. That’s how well this movie flowed.

Vince Mancini over at Film Drunk said: Drive is Dialog-Free True Romance“. I can see where he would get that, as both Drive and True Romance are unconventional love stories with a crime element, and it even kind of felt like a Tarantino movie, just shot more beautifully and with almost none of the dialogue that QT thrives on. But for me, I think I’d say that’s only half right, and its more like a mix between True Romance and Punch Drunk Love. Never thought I’d say that…

Gosling pulls off the role perfectly, and the pacing, music, and cinematography all lend to an aesthetic that delivers a unique movie going experience. Not at all like the action movie some of the trailers made it out to look like, Drive is so much more than that.

In the end we are met with more ambiguity then I’d like, but overall I loved this movie. It’s one of those where you walk out of the theater with music that you’ve never even heard prior still resonating in your head. It’s a movie that can stick with you, unlike so many new films which are forgotten by the time you reach your car, this is one that will ensure conversation on the drive home.

4.5 / 5.0 Bears 

‘Hey girl!’