Tag: Small Screen Reviews

Small Screen Reviews: ‘Titans’ from DC Universe

 

Pictured: Not the beloved Titans

I went and subscribed to DC Universe, the DC multi-media service which includes comics and streaming. So far, a few months out the former is nowhere near as extensive as Marvel’s Marvel Unlimited service, but it seems DC is going in a different direction with their app. As for Streaming, there’s a small helping of shows. Most of them are older films and classic television programming such as the original Wonder Woman show and black and white Superman or even Superfriends episodes which demonstrate the truth that the Jason Mamoa film tries to hide: Aquaman has always been lame.

Small Screen Reviews: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

 

With special guest star: The Lord of Lies!

One well that TV execs like to go to frequently is the “gritty reboot.” They’ve dipped into that well so much in the past decades it’s running dry, but until they get nothing from it, they’re going to keep lowering the bucket to get all they can. In this case, we take an Archie Comics title, Sabrina the Teenaged Witch, which given from its publisher it would be noted this title would typically be lighthearted fun much like most incarnations of it on television of which are a surprising amount. A couple of cartoons and a live-action show that involve wacky adventures of a talented half-witch half-normal girl raised by kooky witch aunts. Netflix takes this and, building off The CW’s Riverdale (the gritty Archie and Friends reboot) and gives us The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

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If you were single and male about fifteen years ago, there’s a good chance you were watching Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” shows. One of the things they offered during that block was different anime, and a particularly interesting one was Death Note. Death Note followed the story of Light Yagami, and brilliant young man of […]

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One of my favorite short story authors is Larry Niven. I’ve discussed some of his work before, but one of my favorite books by him, entitled All the Myriad Ways has several short stories and essays. The titular short story of this book and its accompanying essay discuss Niven’s problem with the implications of the […]

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Today I’m not just reviewing one thing, I’m reviewing Two Things! You get a bonus thing for the price of one thing! Aren’t you excited? Okay, confession time, they are closely related because today I wanted to discuss Lev Grossman’s book, The Magicians and the recent ScyFy show of the same name based on that […]

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By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link If you listen to Andrew Klavan’s podcast, you’ll know he has recommend this several times and for good reason: this show is nothing short of brilliant. I’ve heard many comparisons to Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror is indeed in that vein – short stories that ask questions that are frequently […]

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In the winter months, there tends to be a lull in most of my favorite shows. Except for Shark Tank. You tell ‘em, Mr. Wonderful! Haha! Anyways, while this lull was going on, I ran across a few streaming options. One of them, Chance, I reviewed earlier, but the other I haven’t gotten to yet, […]

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Small Screen Reviews: Luke Cage

 
Punching crime with the might of the Seventies!

Luke Cage: Punching crime with the might of the Seventies!

So let me say this up front: Marvel and Netflix are a match made in Heaven. They should stick together and have many superhero drama-children as long as they both shall live until death do they part. Okay, now my review is getting confusing, and it’s not even the end of the first paragraph. But I think that’s a decent summary already. It’s just one service I provide. Okay, it’s the only one. This time.

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So after my disastrous experience with the Minority Report television series and my spotty impressions of Agents of SHIELD, I’ve been a bit cautious approaching television series based off of movies I happened to like. But hey, it’s still summer, the new seasons are not quite out yet, and I have a lot of time […]

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I make no secret of the fact that I was a child of the eighties, mostly because once one’s birthday is public – well people can generally put two and two together. In any case as much as other generations like to look down at that time (I’m not sure which do, just some I’m […]

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Small Screen Reviews: The Do-Over

 
awful

This isn’t a promotion. That’s Adam Sandler taking aim at Netflix audiences so foolish as to watch this movie.

A couple years back, Adam Sandler signed a deal with Netflix to produce four movies. The first of these, The Ridiculous 6, got a big ol’ goose egg on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s right: It got a zero rating. On the bright side, that means Sandler can only go up, right? Enter this year’s offering, The Do-Over, starring Sandler and David Spade. How does this movie fare? Well … let’s just say that, occasionally, your television and streaming reviewer here watches things so that you don’t have to watch them. In this case, you owe me. Owe you me big time.

Small Screen Reviews: Daredevil Season 2

 

ddI used to joke that I have no more than one or two readers to my running series of TV reviews. Well imagine my surprise when I get multiple messages asking me, “Hey, when are you going to review Daredevil?” I suspect they don’t read my work or they’d not be asking so much. Maybe they just like seeing that I’m keeping busy. Anyways, as my lovely wife Amanda doesn’t care as much for some the violence in this series – and oooh, boy is there violence – I stuck to watching it after she’d gone to sleep; hence, the delay. Sounds simple, save when I’m so tired from work and fatherhood that I sleep through half the episode. But rejoice, Ricochetti! Here it is!

With any successful series, the question always remains after the first season: Can they be as good or better? That’s no trivial matter. I remember watching the original season of Heroes and being thrilled there would be more, only to watch as the creators admitted they didn’t have the slightest clue as to where to go next. I’d also be more  than willing to excise most of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s sixth season (save for the wonderful musical episode “Once More, With Feeling”) if given the opportunity. But have no fear: Daredevil’s second outing is strong.

In part it’s due to some excellent casting: Charlie Cox, Elden Henson, and Deborah Ann Woll are all back in the roles of fresh-faced legal team Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil), Foggy Nelson, and Karen Page, and all three are comfortable and confident in their roles. Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle (aka the Punisher) and Elodie Yung as Elektra are great additions, as well. About the only thing this season lacks is sufficient Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, the main antagonist of the first season. Okay, he shows up, but he is such a great character that I just want more. D’Onofrio’s performance is so good that I expect he’ll be the standard that future versions of the character will be measured against.

Small Screen Reviews: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

 
Also-rans in a Lague of their Own

These guys are legen — wait for it … … — dary. Sorta.

If you’re as nerdy like me – and I know I am – you’ll have been watching DC’s offerings on the television. Though DC’s big screen offerings have been mixed, their small screen shows have remained strong. I’m including Constantine in this mix because I think it was a great show, but its premise was fresher back when it was released and, nowadays, it’s nothing new. So with Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and yes I’m including Gotham, things have remained strong. Well, until now.

Small Screen Reviews: Lucifer

 

luciTake an unusual person with social traits and mannerisms which would normally make him/her someone you’d never want near a police investigation. Then, finagle it so that person is partnered-up with a detective and accompanies the latter on regular homicide investigations. What do get? About half the shows on television at the moment. Apparently, kooky lead and detective sidekick/love interest are all the rage these days. The latest, as you probably figured out from my title and illustration, is Fox’s Lucifer.

Yes, that Lucifer. Unlike most supernatural shows where the super tries to hide its true nature from the rest of the world, Lucifer — played by Tom Ellis — wants everyone he meets to know exactly who he is. In fact his one thorn in his side is the fact his detective partner just never seems to believe him entirely. The story is that Lucifer, who rebelled against God and was banished from Heaven is now … rebelling and hanging out in Los Angeles. Better to run a nightclub than serve in Heaven. In your face, Milton!

In the first episode, a young woman is killed outside Lucifer’s nightclub. As it’s someone whose career he helped along, he takes it personally and takes it upon himself to find the killer. Enter Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) who believes there’s more to the crime than is being let on. Of course, the two of them end up working together. Actually, it takes several episodes for the show to establish just why he is allowed to accompany Decker. He’s disruptive, he fouls up crime scenes and investigations, he doesn’t seem to help as much as get in the way, but it takes several episodes before Decker’s boss officially teams the two together. If Lucifer started to write mystery novels and looked more like Nathan Fillion, the circle would be complete.

Small Screen Reviews: Master of None

 

monSo maybe someone here can help me. Aziz Ansari is an up-and-coming comedian. Even if you don’t know his name, you might have seen him on Parks & Recreation as the young go-getter saddled with layabout ne’er-do-well best friend and girlfriend (of sorts). He’s had a stand-up performance on Netflix, and most recently has a Netflix series called “Master of None“.

For the life of me I just don’t find him funny.

Maybe I’m missing something, or he’s just not my type of humor. “Master of None” must be full of it because I find I watch this show waiting for the laugh. And occasionally it comes. Occasionally there’s that one line that makes me guffaw … and then we’re back to boring. In fact, I had hoped to write this review long ago, after I finished all 10 episodes of season one on Netflix. However I’ve found that I am stuck on episode five. Whenever I’m looking for something to watch, I circle around it like a fish examining bait, but decide it’s not for me and opt for something better.

Small Screen Review: “Jessica Jones”

 

jjIn a comparison between the two giants of comic book entertainment, I’ve seen it stated that DC presents stories of gods and demigods – myths for modern time – while Marvel presents stories of human beings who happen to have powers. If any recent storyline presents that latter concept well it has to be the Netflix series, “Jessica Jones.”

In fact, “Jessica Jones” is a very human story. Super-powered beings are integral to the tale, but initially the powers seem to be incidental to the characters. It takes some time for any powers to be used in earnest and in all honesty I think it does the series well. By using a slow burn, we get time to learn about the players in this tale. The powers don’t distract us from who these people are and what’s going on at the first.

Krysten Ritter plays the title character. She is a private investigator working in Hell’s Kitchen (a familiar location for those who saw “Daredevil”) in a dingy little office that is also her apartment. Ritter is a waif of a person, which contrasts well with her character’s super strength and attitude. Occasionally she does a job or two for attorney Jeri Hogarth (played by Carrie-Anne Moss). A nice, wholesome Midwestern couple approaches Jones in the first episode. She was recommended to them and they need Jones to help them find their missing daughter, Hope.

Small Screen Reviews: Minority Report

 

minorityYou might recall a little Tom Cruise film from 2002 entitled Minority Report. The movie, based on a Philip K. Dick story, posited a world where three “precognitive” children — i.e., teenagers who lay in a bath of goo and have a limited ability to see into the future — are used to predict murders so that the police can stop them before they happened. This being a Philip K. Dick story, things of course go overboard and the police arrest and imprison people for future murders. The tale gets complicated when the protagonist is accused of future murder. Since this is a Cruise film, this involves serious chase scenes and action sequences before he’s finally caught. In the finale, we see how he was set up and it’s revealed that he’s been falsely accused. He’s released, the precogs are set free and they all live happily ever after on a secluded island without murder or chase sequences. But this being a Philip K. Dick story, the ending suggests that the finale isn’t real and that our protagonist is dreaming an all-too perfect end to his predicament while imprisoned in forced hibernation.

It was a solid movie, one of the earlier science fiction films that Cruise has made that I’ve enjoyed. But that’s another topic because, hey, Hollywood has decided to take that overly happy ending that could actually be a sucker punch and turn it into the basis for an uninspired television series of the same name. I’m being harsh: the show isn’t bad so much as uninspired. Thus, it tends to lessen the effect of the source material. As I’m fond of the source material, my judgment on the present tends to be a bit more pointed.

The series begins a several years after the events of the movie, which brings us to its first flaw. Remember that hint of ambiguity I wrote about earlier? Well, it’s gone out the window and the most surface telling of the movie is the show’s unambiguous truth. If you like safe, I guess this is alright, but then why turn to Philip K. Dick when you want safe storytelling?

Small Screen Review: Supergirl

 

supergirlI frequently admit that I’m a sucker for superheroes. I love comic books, I love superhero movies, cartoons, and television shows. In fact, I consider myself fortunate as we seem to be in something of a golden age of superheroes on screen. Marvel has pretty much owned the big screen so far, coming up with at least one or two hits a year (though every year there are a couple of sour notes for them as well it seems). DC Comics, however, has quickly overtaken the small screen with good to great offerings like Arrow, Flash, Gotham, Constantine (now cancelled, cuss mah luck), and now, Supergirl.

If you’re going to do a comic book pilot right, I believe from now on I’m going to point people to Supergirl. Though it stumbles a bit like many pilots seem to, it never falters at all and even gets a couple great notes that if you’re a particular enthusiastic viewer will make you stand up and cheer.

The first great thing: Supergirl doesn’t drag you through the origin story. Oh, it’s there, but it doesn’t take up a lot of time. In fact, this is a full season television show, and they spent far less time on her origin story than the time spent on Superman’s origin in Man of Steel. Mostly because they assume you know Superman’s origin story and, seriously, who doesn’t? Superman is one of the most recognizable characters on the planet (and not just The Daily Planet). Even if you are vaguely interested, you know his story. So Supergirl has that advantage. And then they go, “I’m his cousin. I was sent to protect him, but I got waylaid and arrived later.” Tada! There’s her backstory. To the writers I say “Thank you.” Overwrought origins can bore the audience away from the screen.