Category Archives: TV Reviews

Agents of SHIELD: 3.01 – Laws of Nature Review

Tuesday night the first episode of season 3 for Agents of SHIELD aired on ABC with a whole lot of stuff going on. Starting a new season can be tricky, but ABC/Marvel have got this thing down. It seems and highly anticipated season 3 premiere did not disappoint. A whole new plot has been introduced, new characters, potential villains, and of course the ongoing storyline that has been carried over from last season, all made its way into the new episode.

Spoilers ahead…

Continue reading Agents of SHIELD: 3.01 – Laws of Nature Review

Star Wars: Rebels – New Disney Show Gives Fans What They Want

When Disney bought out Lucasfilms and talks started about sequels and an animated series, fans were understandably nervous. What would the massive multi-media conglomerate do with our beloved characters, characters that shaped our own character? Star Wars: Rebels is easing some of those concerns. Continue reading Star Wars: Rebels – New Disney Show Gives Fans What They Want

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

redoaks2

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

http://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?rt=tf_cw&ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fgrizbomb-20%2F8010%2Fbc760f71-927c-4a61-b548-e50025c7befc&Operation=GetScriptTemplateAmazon.com Widgets

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Pilot Review: Does It Succeed? Yes, It Does.

At the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con, there was a debate as to what would be the most anticipated panel.  A lot of people said Game of Thrones, the Marvel panel or the Catching Fire panels would be the most sought after panels. However, judging from the fanbase in Ballroom 20, on Friday at 1:45pm, you would think that the Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel was going to be the best one out there. The question was whether we were going to get an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot. We heard that word clips and small snipets were going to be used but executive producer Jeph Loeb made tons of fans happy by announcing we were getting a pilot. Now they had our attention. Does it satisfy Joss Whedon fans? Of course. Will it appeal to a consistent mainstream audience? Well, we’ll answer that question later. I will say that the pilot was an absolute Whedon-fest of family, snappy dialogue and quick pacing that made the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot all the more enjoyable despite the limitations of being on the small screen.

I’m going to try to keep this as spoiler free as possible but obviously I have to explain what’s going on. The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot picks up after the Battle of New York, and the repercussions of that (much like Iron Man 3). It’s a brave new world out there, and we are introduced to Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) as he James Bond’s his way through stealing, sneaking, beating and all that fun espionage stuff. The opening sequence was fast, funny and strikingly violent, revealing Ward to be the muscle and badass, loner character we all need to create future conflict. I love Whedon’s direction in this sequence because it reminded me of the opening to Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol. Whedon knows how to direct action and keep bits of humor throughout and create depth and get more out of the character on the pages.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot

We soon get our introduction to a new unit in S.H.I.E.L.D. with Agent Hill (Cobie Smulders, returning for a possible recurring then permanent gig after HIMYM ends) putting together a team to help investigate and assess the phenomenons in the world today. From this point, we finally get to see all the hype that #CoulsonLives has been building up to as Clark Gregg makes his triumphant return to the Marvel Universe. He’s eager and ready to go and we get a tiny resolution as to why he’s still up and kicking. Of course, we get a Firefly cameo from Shepard (Ron Glass) that will get the fanboys and fangirls squealing, explaining that there’s more to the #CoulsonLives scenario that everyone realizes.

The first mission introduces us to a bunch of characters that work extremely well together as they hunt down a super-powered hooded ‘hero’ (J. August Richards) that just jumped on the radar. A hacker named Skye (Chloe Bennet) has been tracking him and Coulson sees an opportunity with her to help each other out. Other people on the team include scientists Fitz and Simmons (Iain de Caesstecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, respectively) and stoic ‘pilot’ Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen). All these characters has mysteries and enigmas the series will explore but putting them all together, they have great chemistry and play off each other well.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot

Bennet has a fangirl type of curiosity and charisma she brings to the table and almost acts as the audience as she delves further into this world of espionage. Dalton and Ming-Na play the  badass well with Dalton getting into a great sequence with Skye in an interrogation room. The “twins”, Fitz and Simmons, could be my new favorite duo as they finish each others sentences and work so well with each other, I would watch a pilot of them alone as they navigate and conquer their niche of science in this world. Of course, Clark Gregg is the biggest draw as he serves as a direct connection to the cinematic universe. He obviously plays Coulson brilliantly as the hilariously dry leader of this team. They also don’t try to make him the centerpiece, just as the glue to this ensemble that he ties together effortlessly.

The action in the pilot is quick and well shot by Whedon, who clearly still carries a deft eye for television. However, the production works effectively with a TV budget and creates a great spy and superhero world to explore in the future. The dialogue and story carries a lot of heart and humor that Whedon typifies in his work and carries the major theme of family, which is familiar ground. Although sustainability will remain the big question, because for all the Marvel references, whether we see heroes or major players in the MCU, it depends on the TV audience. These heroes will have to establish themselves quickly as people the audience will dedicate one day a week to watch.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot

Overall, I loved the pilot. The pacing was great. The action was crisp and believable. The production was terrific. The cast works brilliantly together. Whether that’s a testament to Joss Whedon directing or the writing remains to be seen but when you watch the pilot, you feel the same magic you got from watching Buffy and Firefly and other brilliant shows. This one is definitely one to watch and on September 24th, 2013, you can enjoy it as much as the rest of Ballroom 20.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot

Images: SuperHeroHype, Collider

Dexter: 8.06 – “A Little Reflection”

A Little Reflection was yet another disappointing episode in this final season of Dexter. On paper, this sounds like it could be an interesting episode. For instance, Dexter takes on an “intern”; the boy he was going to kill, Zach Hamilton. Last episode we got to meet Zach for the first time and you could tell right away that he was bad news. In this episode, we found out that he is in fact a killer and a psychopath, so much so that he is being seen by Dr. Vogel. This obviously was not a surprise.

Dexter Zach Hamilton

Vogel suggested that she and Dexter teach Zach “the code”. What the hell is Vogel’s deal?! Let’s take this guy who’s already killed an innocent woman, who is drawn to the blood like Dexter, and who was going to kill his father, and give him a set of rules to live by. If Dexter has this much trouble following his own code, what do you think will happen when this kid is told it’s okay to kill?! Zach pulled on Dexter’s heartstrings when he said he was killing to protect his mother… something Dexter has always wished he could have done. This seems like another situation like Miguel Prado or Lila; where Dexter lets them know who he is, they kill someone innocent, and then Dexter kills them. Only this time, we know little to nothing about the killer in question. Yawn.

dexter deb

There is something unsettling about Deb being fine suddenly. She was psychotic and tried to kill Dexter and herself, and now she is like regular old Deb. She keeps saying she has PTSD, but you can’t just shut off PTSD merely because you want everything to be like it used to be. She has just decided to let Dexter be Dexter.

I don’t even care that Hannah McKay is back. Like… at all. I cared so little about her when the whole season (7) revolved around her, it is obvious why I cannot muster up an ounce of give-a-shit now that she is back. We’ll see what happens, but I suspect I will continue to feel disinterested. I feel no connection to most of the characters. I feel little connection to Dexter anymore, as he just comes off as tired and aging.

Dexter Hannah McKay

I don’t know what to say, really, other than hopefully this show gets better. Unless I see some wicked action in the next few episodes, I will be horribly disappointed with the final season of a show that should have ended after season 4. It can never get any better than Trinity! Speaking of which… did Astor & Cody die or something? Where the hell have they been?

I give this episode a 1/5.

[Ed. Note – Just want to say, despite the show spiraling into mediocrity, I really enjoy that Dora Madison Burge is here.]

Dexter - Dora Madison Burge

Dexter Review: 8.05 – “This Little Piggy”

Even though the supposed “Brain Surgeon” was killed by the Dexter/Deb duo, ‘This Little Piggy’ was one of the more boring episodes of season 8 so far. Certainly not as entertaining as last week’s ‘Scar Tissue’.

Dexter and Deb have a therapy session with Vogel and suddenly, after a brief angsty bitch session by Dexter, everything is okay again between the brother and sister. Deb wants to help Dexter kill Yates after the “Brain Surgeon” kidnaps Vogel because, as she said, “…the family that kills together…”. They are successful in ridding the world of Yates, but something tells me that the world is not rid of the “Brain Surgeon”. Why would it be Yates? If he is this easily manipulated and this precise thus far, how did he let himself get caught and why would he suddenly kidnap Vogel? I guess he could be the Brain Surgeon, but I wouldn’t like how little sense that makes. Also, usually there is much more of a chase than this has been with Yates. I would want it to be someone stronger; someone like Dexter.

This Little Piggy

Quinn goes to get a DNA sample from a man who is very wealthy and contributes a lot to the community, so when he gets a bad feeling about the man’s son, Matthews shoots him down. Here’s the thing….. the “feeling” Quinn got? Yeah, we all got that as well. What f-ckery is this, where they make the supposed psychopath look like an outright… well… psychopath! He is obviously up to something when you first see him. If that wasn’t telling enough, the kid asks Quinn a bunch of questions about the murder. So even dumb as rocks Joey Quinn can tell that there is something obviously wrong with this Hamilton kid. They should just play ominous cheesy 80s horror film music as he appears on camera.

This Little Piggy

There were other things that happened in this episode, none of which I particularly care about. Jamie brought over a cute friend for a double date with Dexter, but he had to leave (Vogel/Yates/Deb situation) and she was very cool about it. Blah. It is too far into the season to be adding new characters and expecting me to care about them.

The reason that Dexter is such a great show is because you get attached to these characters (Rita, Miguel, Lila, Maria, etc…) and you get to watch Dexter destroy their lives, leaving the audience feeling some sort of emotion about it. In the season 4 finale when Trinity killed Rita, the second I saw Harrison in the blood pool I began sobbing. When I saw Rita’s face, I cried my eyes out. John Lithgow still haunts my nightmares! But this adding new characters for a few episodes and then expecting me to give a shit? I dislike that. Like that woman detective who is trying for sergeant…. I cannot remember her name off the top of my head. If she wasn’t in the next episode, I probably wouldn’t even notice. I understand that the series is ending, I just thought it would go out with a bang!

This Little Piggy

Overall I give this episode a 2 out of 5, and mainly only because Deb and Dex are back together again.

grizzly rating 2of5

This Little Piggy