Tag Archive for TV

Yet Another Review Collection

Shakefire.com

Shakefire.comThe Shakefire site is relaunching soon. Until then, enjoy the old site and these reviews that I wrote upon it.

Enjoy!

Oh, and yes, I’ll still be reviewing after the relaunch.

Shakefire Ramblings

Shakefire.com

Shakefire.comHere is another list of reviews I’ve written for Shakefire.

Enjoy!

I Still Write for Shakefire

Shakefire.com… such that it is.

  • Accident : A team of killers create elaborate accidents to take out their targets, but now they are falling prey to accidents of their own, or are they not accidents?
  • Falling Skies : I got to preview the first four episodes on the new season.
  • Trial & Retribution – Set 5 : The UK makes some pretty good cop shows, and this is another one.
  • Road Trip : It was funny when I originally saw it, and it’s still funny now.
  • The FP : This movie is a comedy, but it’s done in the style that the film takes its subject very seriously, leaving the comedy to be found by the audience. The subject? Gangs who battle through a Dance Dance Revolution type game.
  • Franklin & Bash – The Complete First Season : Love this show!
  • Rogue River : Some horror films make sense, and some horror films just get made.
  • A Necessary Death : This was far more interesting than I though it would be. It captured the idea of following around a person intending to kill themselves very well.
  • Destination Truth : I watched the first couple episodes of the new season and mostly concluded that these guys seek truth without science, and thus will never find truth.
  • Freakshow Apocalypse: The Unholy Sideshow : I’d ask who gives these people the money to make a movie, but clearly they spent very little on making it. Terrible.
  • Warehouse 13 – Season Three : I love this show.
  • Extraterrestrial : Simply the best romantic comedy set against an alien invasion ever. This was hilarious and fun.
  • Sanctuary – Season Four : It’s a shame they didn’t get a fifth season, but this works as a good finale.
  • Ghost Attack on Sutton Street : Is this a documentary or a horror movie?
  • Lady of the Dark, Genesis of the Serpent Vampire : This might have been a good short film or music video, but it is a terrible movie.

And there you have it.

YouTube TV

Due to poor quality of my photos, the blog post I was going to put up today will be delayed. In the interim, I’d like to take just a second to talk about something else. YouTube, a while back, put together an initiative to try to launch channels, less like their normal “someone posts videos” channels and more like a TV channel with programming and schedules and such.

Out of this have come two channels which launched today that I am very interested in. The first is from the Nerdist. I’ve been enjoying their podcasts, and much of the Nerdist podcast network, for some time now. Their new channel is going to feature a few awesome things, like Weird Al doing interviews and a show with the Muppets and cartoons. Here is a sneak peek at their line-up:

The second channel, and the one I am much more excited for comes from Felicia Day and it’s called Geek & Sundry. The channel has Dark Horse providing motion comics, Wil Wheaton’s Table Top, a book club, The Guild, Felicia’s own Flog, Written by a Kid and more. I am currently annoyed to be at work today where I can’t be watching the episodes they’ve already released. Check out this set of previews (it’s a playlist):

Given the level of awesome of previous music videos from Felicia & the Gang, I’m chomping at the bit to get home so I can properly watch this:

Until now, I’ve subscribed to few channels on YouTube, trusting that the best things would find their way to me on their own, but this new direction will have me actually going to YouTube on purpose to watch shows regularly and subscribing to channels so that I don’t miss a thing.

This is going to be great!

The Walking Dead, Season 2

The second season of AMC’s The Walking Dead ended just a few days ago, and I figured I’d go ahead and put down my thoughts on the events we saw.

We start the season with the survivors heading to Fort Benning. They quickly come to a traffic jam, and while taking a break and trying to make their way through, a herd of zombies comes strolling by. Season 1 of the show deviated from the books in small ways, introducing a couple of new characters, of course the CDC (Robert Kirkman says he wasn’t aware the CDC was in Atlanta, or else he would have included it in his original story), and Shane didn’t die like he was supposed to. The zombie herd was a concept that didn’t get introduced in the comics for a long while, but given the nature of it, it makes sense to have it sooner. After the herd mostly passes, Sophia is spotted by one and runs off into the woods. Rick goes after her, tells her to hide while he takes care of the chasing zombies and when he comes back she’s gone. This sets in motion of the worst parts of the season: search for Sophia. For seven episodes the survivors will spin in circles searching the woods for the missing girls, and while there are a few bright moments (and by bright I mean exciting) it is an extremely dull series of events. But before we finish the first episode, we see people scouring the woods and Carl gets shot.

This gets us to Hershel’s farm. Lots of stupid happens here. For one, this farm is surrounded by flimsy wood and wire fences, totally unsafe, but most of our survivors sleep in tents with no protection. Hershel and his family have added no additional security to their house and basically live like nothing has changed, except that when they go to town for supplies now they don’t have to pay. (Interestingly enough, that’s actually a nice touch in that the town’s general store/drug store has a sign up about taking only what you need and it isn’t fully looted, presumably because any people like Hershel on nearby farms have been only taking a few items at a time rather than clearing the shelves.) People stand around and talk a lot. They talk about finding Sophia and yet only a couple of people ever really go out looking, the main one being Daryl.

Daryl was given to us in season 1, a character not from the books, he was essentially just the crossbow hunting brother of the racist guy who got left handcuffed to the roof. In season 2, Daryl is fully fleshed out. He tells a couple of stories of his youth. After an injury he hallucinates about his brother and we get to see some depth in him. His relentless search for Sophia and his kindness to Carol. Daryl quickly became a fan favorite, as well as a person favorite. (He’s so popular that Kirkman will be adding him to the comic.) Throughout the season, Daryl exhibits the kind of clear-headed decision-making and purpose that Rick lacks.

Shane turns into a complete asshole this season, which as a comic reader I expected. But it is just so drawn out and often poorly handled. It’s almost like they had a bunch of different writers with different ideas of how the story should play out, and they tried to do all of them. Every conversation between Shane and Lori becomes a reason to punch the screen. In turn, most of the stuff between Rick and Lori hurts too. The decision to let Shane survive season 1’s story (where he dies in the books) added a wrinkle that could have been good but played out terribly on the show. The love triangle just had no traction, and Lori’s pregnancy with both possible father’s still around made for melodrama that the show didn’t need. Everything about it made Lori unsympathetic and hated by many fans. Hopefully that can be fixed in season 3 before… well… yeah.

Anyway, the gang eventually finds Sophia. She’s been in the barn the whole time. She’s a zombie. Otis (who died a couple of episodes in getting supplies to help Carl) put her there and no one else knew. But the barn got opened and all the other zombies Hershel was keeping there to try to cure are killed. The mid-season break comes as Rick is forced to put Sophia down for good.

The latter half of the season had more action. There was a bar fight, of sorts, and having to deal with a prisoner whom they don’t want to keep and can’t just let go. But like with Sophia, it takes them about 5 episodes to deal with the prisoner, dragging the story out to the point of annoyance. Meanwhile, Carl is back on his feet and constantly getting into trouble. First he goes places he shouldn’t be and then he starts wandering off. He almost gets himself eaten by a zombie, but instead leads it back to the farm where it eats Dale instead. This’ll be an interesting twist because in the comics Dale survives for quite a while and even has a relationship with Andrea. As a reader, I’m happy they are changing things up as it gives me less fore-knowledge of events, at least the specifics.

So we get to the penultimate episode and finally people stop acting silly. They start gathering supplies, boarding up the house, preparing for the coming winter. But Shane finally goes off the deep end and concocts a plan to kill Rick so he can have Lori for himself. It doesn’t work out so well for him, and Rick kills Shane. Then Carl shows up and kills zombie-Shane. This shooting has attracted a passing herd of zombies.

The final episode of the season really delivered. Not just in zombie action, but in character defining moments. Sure, given the slowness of so many of the thirteen episodes of season 2, the onslaught of the zombie herd overrunning the farm was glorious. They broke fences and (slowly) stormed buildings, and they ate a couple of people. But for me the most excellent development was with the character of Andrea. Season 1 ended with her wanting to give up and die after the death of her sister, and throughout this season she has dealt with that, in part due to Dale’s coddling and pushing. She went from wanting to run off with Shane and leave the group, to leaping out of a truck where she was safe to go rescue Carol in this final episode. She gets left behind and resorts to escaping on foot, pursued by zombies. And when we see that all the other characters are safe, we return to Andrea who is several hours into gaining a lead, then turning to fell the lead zombies, which by the lack of zombies following her you can tell she’s been doing and succeeding all night long. Andrea, through the course of the season, went from defeated and weak to protecting others and fighting for her life with every ounce of her being.

As much as I love the comic and have mostly been enjoying the show, if next season with the full cast is going to be more of what we got a lot of this season (slow drama), I’d rather Andrea and Daryl run off together and we get a real zombie survival show. But the final scenes give me hope. Face it, even in the books Hershel’s farm was kind of dull. That’s why they didn’t stay there very long. But the prison on the other hand, that was good stuff, and what do we see not too far from our band of survivors? The prison. Plus we also got a scene with Michonne, and entertainment news has told us they cast “The Governor” which pretty much cements what next season will be. Hopefully they’ll do it well and not drop the ball.

American Horror Story

American Horror StoryIf you watch the show Glee you’ll know what I mean when I say that Glee includes everything from high school. Seriously, the creators and writers of that show have literally taken every story and stereotype that has ever come out of high school, every personality type and quirk, and found a place for it in the show. It is absurd, and I suppose that absurdist take on high school is what keeps people watching. That and the singing.

Taken from that angle, it probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that the creators of Glee also created and wrote Nip/Tuck, which was a show that took every story and stereotype that has ever come out of plastic surgery and mashed it into an absurd take on the profession.

Following in that tradition comes American Horror Story. It’s about a family that buys a house that is haunted. Within the framework of their story, they are taking every story and stereotype of the haunted house and ghost story traditions and mashing them into an absurd wild ride. Perhaps other people will find the show scary, and even I might admit to finding a creepy moment or two, or a scene that makes me jump now and then, but mostly this show is just insane.

We’ve got ghosts of murder victims and ghosts of their murderers, we’ve got previous owners who managed to survive still drawn to the house, we’ve got a family of current owners with secrets, we’ve got crazy neighbors who seem to know the house is haunted and they don’t seem to mind. We’ve got haunted places and haunted people and haunted items. We’ve got people with blood on their hands who know it, and people with blood on their hands who don’t know how it got there. We’ve got ghosts who appear only to some people and we’ve got ghosts who appear differently to different people. And all of it is happening all at once.

I hesitate to call this a great TV show, because I know it isn’t for everyone. But for someone who loves horror, I think I almost have to watch it. The first episode, to me, had some pacing issues -as I find much of TV and movies do these days since so many editors don’t seem to know how to cut transitions that evoke the passage of time- everything seems to happen all crammed together rather than over a period of days or weeks, but later episodes have resolved that a bit. Every actor here is also giving a top-notch performance, even Dylan McDermott whom I normally can’t stand.

All in all, I’m finding it worth watching. And it has already been picked up for a second season. Woohoo!

Death Valley

Years ago (or can it be measured in decades now?) when MTV pretty much stopped airing music videos, I pretty much stopped watching it. Occasionally I might drift back to it for the odd awards show, special event or boredom, but that came to a complete stop when I canceled my cable TV and no longer had easy access to it. Which is why I find it so odd that I’m now watching (by *ahem* other means) a show on MTV.

But how could I not watch Death Valley?

The show is set in a world where zombies, vampires and werewolves (and possibly other things) exist. Shot as a reality show like COPS, the camera crew follows members of the Undead Task Force (UTF) of the Los Angeles Police Department as they deal with the shambling undead, ones that are fresher and run faster, vampires involved in the “blood for sex” trade, werewolves who forget to lock themselves up for the full moon, and more.

Being that it’s on MTV, this show is far better than it has any right to be. While occasionally there is an effects shot that looks off, the majority of them are quite good, probably because CG work is becoming so cheap while quality keeps improving. The acting is also pretty good as well. Anyway, this totally gets a thumbs up from me and I recommend at least checking it out to see if it happens to be your cup of tea.  Check out the trailer below for a start.

Friday Night Lights

Back in 2006 when I took a look at the upcoming fall TV season, I said:

Friday Night Lights? Didn’t enjoy the movie, I’ll probably not enjoy the show.

At the time, that was accurate.  I’d seen the movie and while “didn’t enjoy” might have been a tad harsh, the movie was decent but it didn’t blow me away.  I certainly didn’t see why it would be turned into a TV show.  Later on, people would tell me how good of a show it was, but I still avoided watching it.  I didn’t want to watch a show about football.

Thanks to Netflix’s Instant streaming service and my Xbox 360, I’ve caught up on 4 seasons of the show and am now watching season 5.

Surprised is just too small a word to describe my reaction to Friday Night Lights.  I was naive to have dismissed the show as being “about football” when football is just the backdrop for this story about people living in a small town.  The drama depicted here is just so well done, so deftly written and played out, I’m kicking myself for having waited so long.

And it isn’t just the story or the writing, the performances by the actors here is amazing.  I suppose it helps that many of them are people I don’t recognize.  Outside of Kyle Chandler (who I know from various places including Early Edition) and Connie Britton (from Spin City), I don’t think I’d seen any of them before, and if I did it was clearly not enough for me to remember them.  But each of them clearly understands their characters and their scenes play out so naturally, so real.

The main reason I write about the show now though is that this season, the fifth, is going to be the last.  And it will be missed.  If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend watching Friday Night Lights.

The Walking Dead: Season 1

A couple weeks ago, the season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead aired.

Overall, I am very pleased with it.  Who am I kidding?  This was just awesome!  It is the epitome of everything I love about the zombie genre.

First off, it isn’t about the zombies.  Frankly, I hate movies or shows where people try to protect the zombies (or love them) or where the undead are just not living but go around talking and stuff.  Here, zombies are used the way I feel they are best used, as a setting.

The only real complaint that I have about the show is a similar complaint I seem to have with many movies and TV shows these days: poor communication of time passage.  When you sharply cut from one scene to the next, my brain assumes that either these events are happening at the same time, in succession or that one is shortly after the one preceding it.  If you have a character say, “I’ll go do this.” and then sharp cut to a scene taking place in the same setting as the previous one and the guy who said he was leaving is still there, my brain assumes he has not left yet.  The Walking Dead did this once only it was supposed to be that the guy had gone and come back and a couple of hours had passed.

That issue aside, The Walking Dead on AMC was just fantastic.  I look forward to owning this on DVD or Blu-Ray, and to seeing season two next fall.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

And now it is too late…

Almost two months ago I wrote about the best show on TV that you weren’t watching, Terriers.  You were supposed to start watching, like, immediately.  But apparently, you didn’t.  And now they’ve gone and cancelled the show.

I hate procedurals.  They bore me, mostly because I want to know about the people solving the crimes, not the crimes so much themselves.  If I wanted to see crimes solved I’d read a newspaper or something.  What I want in my television are characters worth caring about, and most procedurals spend too much time on the science (half of which they make up anyway, or at least use in unrealistic budgetarily unconstrained ways) and not enough on the people.

Terriers was about people.  Sure, there were crimes.  Some of them were wrapped up in an episode, and some arced over several episodes.  But most the compelling part of the show was the people who were tangled up in the mess.  And ultimately, the core of the drama on Terriers was that it went to great lengths to illustrate that all actions have consequences.  Nothing in this show was wasted.  By the end of its run of just thirteen episodes, everything bore fruit, every action affected someone or something, every decision had consequences.

At this point, you’ve got a few options to see this gem in its entirety.  Head over to Amazon and buy it from video on demand, or get it from iTunes, or go find some less than legal avenue to download episodes… or wait for the DVD release, of which I hope it gets good treatment of extras and not just episodes on disc.

Of course, one of the biggest letdowns of the cancellation is that I won’t get to hear “Gunfight Epiphany” each week.  (Sadly, the song is only for sale on iTunes, and I hate iTunes.)

Just know… you could have saved this show.  But you didn’t.  And for that, I like you a little bit less today than I did yesterday.  I’ll get over it, but we lost one of the good ones here, and that’s on you.