Wizards and Muggles alike have been waiting with baited dragon’s breath for more news on the upcoming wizarding adventure Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and this month their wishes were granted. Continue reading Rowling’s Bringing Magic Back With Fantastic Beasts And A Cursed Child
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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…
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 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.
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.
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…