Tag Archives: Television

TV Review: Arrow S4E1 Green Arrow

arrowA new enemy lures Oliver Queen back to Starling City and forces him to put on the hood once more.

Arrow kicks off its fourth season with an action packed episode… sort of. Ollie and Felicity have moved on and are living in suburbia together. But is the mundane enough for them? Over in Starling City, there’s a new gang stealing stuff and causing general chaos, though I’m not quite sure why.

Starling City has gone to crap, and Diggle, Speedy, and Black Canary have been doing what they can to keep the city safe, but it looks like a bombed out city. It’s not long before Ollie is back in action.

The gang is back, but there’s lots of distrust since the last season ended. Ollie burnt some bridges, especially with Diggle, and that is what most of the episode is about. Ollie has been a lot of things in the previous three seasons, but it’s clear this season is about who he’s going to be in the future. Welcome to Ollie in a bit of an identity crisis. But, by the end of the episode he has a much better idea….

Forget Arrow…. welcome Green Arrow.

And that was an interesting twist at the end. The episode is an action packed episode, but can’t say it was all that deep. Compared to other comic based television shows Arrow was early, but it also is showing its age a bit.

Overall rating: 7.5

TV Review: The Muppets S1E3 Bear Left Then Bear Write

muppets-tv-show-posterBear Left then Bear Write” – Fozzie takes things a little too far when Kermit offers him advice and Nick Offerman steps in to help the gang. Meanwhile, Christina Applegate guests on “Up Late,” and brings Miss Piggy a sweet surprise that doesn’t go over well and Pepe, Rizzo and Liam Hemsworth try to help Gonzo out with his online dating situation.

So many different storylines mixed together in this episode that blends the world of regular human beings. Nick Offerman is on the staff. Liam Hemsworth helps Gonzo with some dating. It’s all over the top and hilarious as the two actors spoof themselves.

The thing that really had me rolling though was Chip the I.T. guy, who’s so creepy, like many (though not all) of the folks in that position are. That’s mixed together with the fact that no one has a clue who the character is.

The Muppets isn’t the Muppets of the past. It’s paving a new direction mixing in the craziness of the past with some solid observations. It also consistently has “holy shit I can’t believe they said that” moments that get me to actually laugh out loud. It’s one of the few shows on television that’s been consistently doing this.

Another funny episode that melds the absurdity of the Muppets with our every day life.

Overall Rating: 8.25

TV Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S3E2 Purpose in the Machine

Agents_of_SHIELD_logoFitz and the team enlist the aid of an Asgardian to unlock the secrets of the ancient monolith that swallowed Simmons, and Agent May is at a crossroads in her personal and professional life.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. splits its second episode of the third season following three different storylines, and a lot of improvement from the season debut.

The one I’ll give the least amount of time is Grant’s attempt to rebuild Hydra. He recruits a very interesting character who could be a long term player, hopefully he is. Where that goes might work out, but what’s solid is actor Brett Dalton‘s willingness to chew the scenery as Grant and just be a solid bad guy.

The second part of the story is what happened to Melinda May, there’s a plan to go after Grant, and it involves her. It’s nice to see Melinda given a bit more to do other than help Coulson and kick ass. She’s given some more character depth, which is good to see.

The third story is the search for Simmons… and I don’t want to spoil that at all.

What’s really great is the episode bounces back from the cheese of the first episode. The special fx are improved, the acting is better, the action is solid, even when using powers, things don’t look bad visually. I think part of that is due to the fact in that they’re trying to do less here, focusing on the characters, which probably helps the budget some.

This episode is a perfect example that less can be more.

Overall Score: 7.75

TV Review: iZombie S2E1 Grumpy Old Liv

normal_izombietv_s01promo_001-1~0Liv eats a cantankerous old man’s brain to learn the details of his death; Ravi thinks Major is experiencing a side effect of the cure; Liv visits Blaine.

iZombie kicks off its second season without missing a beat and diving into its familiar routine. That’s good because it feels like one big season, and it’s bad in that we’ve seen this before and formulas can become stale.

Folks are dealing with their new status-quo in that Major is dealing what he is, and Blaine is doing the same. There’s hints as to where the season is going, which is nice to see an overarching story to break the formulaic whodunit episodes.

As usual, Rose McIver is what makes the show shine. Seriously, she should be getting some acting nominations for what she does on the show taking the personality on of the brains she eats. She always mixes humor with it all and makes it so entertaining.

The episode feels so familiar, but it also has a nice mix of plotlines to kick off the new season including the threats of more zombies being made. How far that’ll go will be interesting, and there’s a nice twist at the end I wasn’t expecting to see.

Overall Rating: 8

The Leftovers – Axis Mundi – Review: “Welcome To Miracle”

Leftovers“Everybody’s wonderin’ what and where
They all came from
Everybody’s worryin’ ’bout where they’re gonna go
When the whole thing’s done
But no one knows for certain and so it’s all the same to me
I think I’ll just let the mystery be”

The Leftovers, one of my all-time favorite shows, premiered last year and the long awaited second season this past Sunday on HBO after a longer than usual hiatus. Created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, and based on Perrotta’s novel of the same name, The Leftovers tells the story of a global event, in which many people disappeared, called the “Sudden Departure”. On the day of the “Sudden Departure” 140 million people, 2% of the world’s population, inexplicably disappeared. The story then jumps ahead three years and focuses on the Garvey family and their acquaintances living in the fictional small town of Mapleton, New York. While we may never know what happened to the town of Mapleton and it’s citizens after the final moments of the season one finale, I am happy with how the writers brought our favorite characters into a new setting and a new town.

The new location of the story is Jarden, Texas, a small town much like Mapleton. However, unlike any other town, Jarden experienced zero ‘departures’. Thinking this is some sort miracle, people of the world come in droves, likening this town to a gateway to Heaven or a chosen sanctuary for those who remained or as the title of the episode implies, an axis mundi or center of the world. As a fan of TV series LOST, I always likened the island to an ‘axis mundi’. It, like the town of Jarden, act as sort of a bridge between Heaven and Earth. Well, I should say that after one episode the citizens of the world think Jarden is the bridge between Heaven and Earth, hence the title of the episode. This is one of the reason’s that Jarden has been renamed “Miracle” by the locals as well as people all over the world, it is a magnet for people/tourists that think it can keep them safe. And one person who desperately wants to be kept safe is Nora. Fans of season one can understand why Nora would want to come to this little town.

The Leftovers new family to focus the story on is the Murphy’s, whose matriarch, Erika Murphy, is played by the lovely and talented Regina King. Her husband, John Murphy, has a suspicious background, which I am sure will clash with Kevin’s ideals sometime this season. This is even more certain when we see the Garvey family, with new baby Lily in tow, move in right next door. The Murphys have two teenage children, Michael, who has already caught the eye of Jill, and Evie, who was sort of the focus of the premiere.

The Murphys are somewhat like the Garveys and we can already see the parallels (and opposites) being drawn between the two families. John is in civil service, just like Kevin, and like his opposite is an ex-con, who went for attempted murder. The attempted murder part of John’s story is another similarity he and Kevin share – remember, Kevin almost killed Patti last season.

John, so far, is the driving part of the story. He is a Jarden fireman and seems like the type of man who takes charge and doesn’t let things get to him. Unless, of course, Isaac tells him that something bad is going to happen. The literal meaning of the name Isaac is ‘He laughs/will laugh’. Isaac definitely had the last laugh as his prophecy came true. What I loved about Isaac’s prophecy to John was how much it got to John. John thinking the Apple Pie was poisoned was funny to watch fold back in on him. He tried to pawn it off onto the Garvey’s, but then Evie has an epileptic seizure and drops the birthday cake. This forces Kevin to get the Pie and bring it back to John. In the end, however, Isaac was right and ‘something bad’ did happen to John – Where did Evie disappear too?

The message I took from the first episode this season is that “life goes on”. From the cavewoman picking up the baby from the deceased mother to the relentless grasshopper John just couldn’t get to and take care of, the message was that life will find a way. Perhaps, as we learned in season one, that people disappear and leave us, season two will be about life and rebirth?

Just as season one had many mysteries for us to try and decipher, season two, through one episode, has already provided us with enough to keep us speculating until we get some more clues or some answers. Sunday’s episode was filled with questions such as why the town places glass enclosures around oddly shaped cracks in the ground, or why there was a wizard living on top of a pillar (and why he wanted a letter sent to Australia) to why that woman was wearing her wedding dress as she watered her lawn, to how that bird survived being buried alive inside that box or what was the gift Evie gave her dad before she went off with her friends. Oh, and the biggest mystery of the entire episode, where did Evie and her friends disappear to?

These questions, and the search for the clues to their answers, is what I love about The Leftovers. Season one may not have provided us with the ultimate answer to ‘where did the departured disappear to?’, but the journey to get to the end was fun, exciting and most importantly engaging. I am sure anyone who enjoyed the first season will love the second season premiere. The mystery that is set up for this season is intriguing and I’m looking forward to each and every episode. Welcome to Miracle.

Music from the Episode

– “Let The Mystery Be” – Iris DeMent
Title Card

– “La Traviata: Prelude to Act 1” – Bonn Classical Philharmonic and Herbert Beissel
‘Cavewoman’ gives birth

– “Don’t Worry” – Justine Skye
Evie and her friends swim in the pond

– “Rockin’ In the Same Old Boat” – Bobby “Blue” Bland
When the Garveys + Nora pull up in front of their new house

– “Let Tomorrow Be” – Fern Jones
End Credits

Thoughts and Discussion

– The ‘cavewoman’ from the beginning of the episode, that picks up the baby from the deceased mother, resembles the story of Nora picking up Lily at the end of last season.

– I love the connection between the beginning of the episode, Evie and her friends, swimming in the pond, and the end, Evie and her friends disappearing in the same pond.

– What was Dr. Goodheart gathering the water of the pond for? Does the water in Jarden hold some sort of special power? Why is there criminal prosecution for anyone who takes the water?

– Did you notice…some of the books the family stacked on John were ‘Mandela’, ‘Lenin’ and ‘Road To Terror’. The ‘Road to Terror’ deals with the hidden secrets of Communism and the dark inhumanity of the purge process.
Another book is also stacked there titled ‘The Stranger’ by Albert Camus. Tom is seen reading this book in the first episode of season one. The key sentence of the book is “I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe”.

– The score by Max Richter and the song selection was outstanding.

– Who is Mr. David Burton and why is the wizard-looking man sending a letter to him in Australia?

– To all of the LOST fans watching – the second bus coming into town was numbered 108.

– What was with the cracks in the ground enclosed in fiberglass? The one Michael rode his bike by was numbered ‘7’. So, we know there is at least seven of them. Also, when Michael was riding his bike, he rode past a woman wearing a wedding dress watering a lawn, what was that about? My guess is that the citizens of Jarden somehow combine what they did on the day of the Sudden Departure to bring themselves luck. Maybe? Anyways, I think it has to do with luck.

– Did you notice…Isaac shares his name with the antagonistic “seer” in Stephen King’s ‘Children of the Corn’ as well as the Australian healer from LOST.

– What was in the gift that Evie gave her dad before she disappeared? She said it was the best gift he will ever get. I loved the foreshadowing also when she says, “Don’t open it until I’m gone”.

– What was the noise John heard inside the Garvey house when he was giving Nora the Apple Pie and inviting them to the Birthday Party? Was it related to Kevin telling John he ‘fell’ in the following scene?

– Did you notice…The high school team is called the ‘Bridgemen’ (a play on ‘axis mundi’ which is the ‘bridge’ between Heaven and Earth). A sign on the bleachers reads “Bridge the Gap”. The school song’s last line is “That God had spared our town”.

– What were the numbers John and his firemen friends calling off before they went to Isaac’s home? My guess is that they all knew where they were going and the numbers represented the amount of damage they were going to inflict.

– How did that bird survive that Erika dug up out of the ground during her run?

– Did you notice…John was watching the Perfect Strangers just like Kevin’s dad was last season in the mental hospital. I thought it was funny when they showed the Perfect Strangers start fake his own departure and skipped town.

– What was with the Jarden Police tasering that woman for not having a bracelet on? They mean business if you are an outsider.

– What was with the man cutting the animal’s throat in the middle of that restaurant?

– Who brought John the Apple Pie?

– What is the connection between the quakes the cavewoman heard before the cave collapsed and the quakes in the present day, specifically the one just prior to the disappearance of Evie.

– Did you notice…when the Garvey’s arrive Kevin does not have a a band-aid on his forehead when he says hi to John from the walkway. What happened to Kevin? How did he get hurt?

– Did you notice…at the end of the episode, John and his son, Michael, are standing at the edge of the empty pond. It appears as though there is a ‘scar’ on the ground as if now the town of Miracle is scarred because something bad has happened. Is it just a coincidence that the Garvey’s show up in the Murphy’s life and within a few hours something like this happens?

– Why did Evie and her friends disappear? I realize this is not what the show is about and an answer we may never get, but it’s still fun to speculate. Was it because she took water from the pond and it’s forbidden? Did Dr. Goodheart disappear as well?

Some say once gone you’re gone forever
And some say you’re gonna come back
Some say you rest in the arms of the Savior
If in sinful ways you lack
Some say that they’re comin’ back in a garden
Bunch of carrots and little sweet peas
I think I’ll just let the mystery be”
– “Let The Mystery Be” – Iris DeMent

TV Review: Gotham S2E3 The Last Laugh

Gotham Season 2Gordon and Bullock hunt a nemesis from the past, which leads to a standoff between Jerome and Gordon; and a magic show at a Gotham Children’s Hospital gala results in a hostage situation.

Gotham‘s second season is so uneven this season and this episode continues the mix of campy and serious. The series can’t figure out what tone to keep, with this episode shifting more towards the serious.

The big bad has decided to hold a fundraiser hostage, and he uses Jerome to do so. That at least gets us a shocking moment, but the overall play and big picture makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

There’s some decent moments such as Alfred hitting on Dr. Thompkins, but the episode is uneven, and making absolutely no sense at all. And that confusion and weirdness isn’t helped by acting that feels generally phoned in.

The highlight of the episode is Jerome who does his best Joker impersonation, and maybe gets the last laugh? That’s about the one good thing of the episode. We’ll see where that goes.

Overall, the episode feels unfocused, confusing, and a plot that is so over the top confusing and pointless that it makes no sense at all. At least over the top plans are over the top lunacy, this just seems idiotic. It’s better than last week, but not by much.

Overall Rating: 5

TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead S1E6 The Good Man

fear-the-walking-dead-posterAs civil unrest grows, and the dead take over, Travis and Madison try to devise ways to protect their families.

Fear the Walking Dead’s sixth and final episode of the season sees all hell breaking loose as the Salazars/Manawas/Clarks decide to assault the military base to free their family.

The episode is an interesting one in that it was both predictable and the directing wasn’t all that great. There was a big battle, the hoard of zombies was used, people were freed, some people were hurt… predictable.

And the directing for most part was odd too. Usually we can expect lots of action, but in this case we see lots of choppiness, and the lights going on and off, obscuring what we see going on. It’s lazy in a way, and we’ve seen so much better for the series.

From all of that action we get this reflection in a way as well, a quick deceleration that was a bit too abrupt and calm considering what they went through.

The choppiness I described also applies to the story itself, which had weird cuts, weird time shifts, and some movement of the characters that didn’t make sense at all, creating a flowing episode whose flow had strange jumps. That jump also applies to the previous episodes as well. Why was Strand being held for instance?

Overall, the episode was rather predictable and attempted to wrap up too many plot points, many foreshadowed. Its result is a rather weak ending that should have had much more emotional punch.

Overall Rating: 6.75

TV Review: The Strain: S2E13 Night Train

the strain s2 imageIn the finale of the second season of The Strain, Setrakian and Fet battle for possession of the Occido Lumen, and gain a surprising new ally.  A massive attack imperils Eph, Nora, and Zack’s escape from New York.

This is it, the end of the second season, and it’s one hell of an ending. This will be a non-spoiler filled review, as I want individuals to go into this expecting as little as possible, so things come off as huge as they are.

Other than the small blurb at the beginning, I had no idea what to expect from the second season finale. I’ve read the comics, but don’t really know the books very well, and the television series has been different enough from the comics to keep me on my toes. This ending though sets up what should be an impressive third season (has that been given the greenlight?).

We know the Occido Lumen will be fought over, and it’s as stressful and exciting as you’d think. The show actually makes an auction exciting. We know Eph along with Zack and Nora are getting the hell out of dodge. That’s the focus of the episode, squarely the focus and it all has the episode and season go out on a high note.

While I’m unsure if a third season is a go, the end of the episode sets up what would be an exciting one as things ramp up even more, it also could act as an ending too, though an open ended one.

There’s been action filled episodes, there have been stress filled episodes, and there’s been some touching episodes, and the second half of the season has been much stronger than the first. This shows all of that off, and really shakes things up in mostly good ways.

A solid season finale full of excitement, it had me wanting a third season, and hopefully we’ll be obliged with one.

Overall rating: 8.5

The Flash Gives us a look at Zoom

The Flash returns to The CW on October 6.

TV Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S3E1 Laws of Nature

Agents_of_SHIELD_logoDirector Phil Coulson and Agent Daisy Johnson leading the charge as S.H.I.E.L.D. searches the world for more powered people in the aftermath of their epic battle with Jiaying and her army of Inhumans. However, Coulson and the team soon find out that they are not the only group looking for these new Inhumans.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. kicks off the third season diving right into the Inhuman world with a new direction for the org, now containing (in a positive and negative way) the Inhuman growth. Terrigen Mist is loose, so new Inhumans are spouting up, and SHIELD is there to deal with it all.

The first 10 minutes of the show set up the rest of the episode in both tone… and look. The episode continues an issue with the series where it’s clear the budget doesn’t match the ambition. Horrible special FX and mashed with good FX, and great set design also goes along with sets that look straight out of the lot on the studio grounds. And Lash? Holy crap did he look bad. There’s a reason it was filmed in the dark, and even that didn’t help.

What really stands out is the need for new editors for the show, with horrible cuts breaking in to and coming out of commercials. Not sure where I’d put that budget, better FX, or this.

The episode does move along the story, a hell of a lot. The President address not just Inhumans but the events of Age of Ultron, the first Avengers, and more. His speech seems to lay the ground for next year’s Captain America: Civil War. Hell they even reference Ant-Man! In this way, plus movement on Bobbi’s story, are actually really good. The series should focus away from the spectacle and on these smaller stories instead. To say the strongest part of the episode wasn’t Fitz and Coulson’s talk about Gemma is just factually wrong.

When the series goes big, it trips, and trips a lot. But, it also shows a solid direction for where it should be going. So, it’s exactly like we’ve seen before, a series that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be.

Overall Score: 7.25

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