To the extent that I ever get some time to do so, I do intend to write up reviews of a variety of recent things I’ve read and watched. Chief among them are the Game of Thrones books and the HBO series adaptation, which I find to be the best new thing on television in at least a couple of years. HBO just released their new trailer for the second season.
I’m a bit torn on whether or not I should be looking forward to “Falling Skies” on TNT. I got all jazzed up to relive one of my favorite childhood series in “V” on ABC, which series has been a damning failure in its efforts to recapture that cult series’ feel — even after bringing back the actress who played Diana and the Beastmaster himself, Marc Singer. Then again, “Battlestar Galactica” far exceeded everyone’s expectations with, perhaps, the most intelligent show not named “The Wire” to air in the last decade (sorry my fellow “LOST” comrades, BSG actually was better).
In any respect, “Falling Skies” seems to be a second effort at getting “V” right. Perhaps inspired by Stephen Hawking and his statements regarding the wisdom of attempting to contact alien species (which statements were made on the good, but not great “Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking” documentary series on Discovery Channel), Executive Producer Steven Spielberg adds his considerable heft to this project, making one think that it will at least have a higher production quality than the sometimes lacking ABC venture. The basic premise appears to be jumping from a quick invasion to the development of a resistance, several months after the alien invaders have shock-and-awed the world into relative submission.
It also marks Spielberg’s second Executive Producer jaunt into the alien-horror landscape in 2011. He’s also teamed up with JJ Abrams (of Cloverfield and Star Trek) for Super 8, an unrelated follow-up to Cloverfield. The movie is largely under wraps, but I believe it is shot, like Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project as a “found footage” movie, involving the escape of an alien being transported through the heartland on a train that derails in rural Ohio.
Click through for the trailers to both. Read more…
As the first decade of the new millennium formally comes to a close, I thought I’d post this tribute video I came across of what I thought was a top five TV series of the decade. Alongside The Wire, LOST, The West Wing and Mad Men, Battlestar Galactica played a huge role in defining my small screen viewing experience for the decade.
There was also reasonably big news in that SyFy has announced early plans and art for a proposed new Battlestar Galactica-themed series entitled BSG: Blood and Chrome, following a young William Adama in the first Cylon war. The first prequel series, Caprica, was well received critically, but was somewhat of a bore, in my opinion.
This Sunday, AMC will debut their brand new series The Walking Dead, based on the Robert Kirkman comic book series of the same name. I don’t actually know if you’re supposed to call them graphic novels or comics. It is more sophisticated that the cartoon books of my youth and it is easily closer to literature than one would associate with an Archie or X-Men book, so I’ll go with graphic novels.
I don’t quite recall what drove me to pick up TWD for the first time. It may have been on a recommendation from G4TV’s Blair Butler or some interweb publicity, but I’m darn glad I did. I’ve had a long-time fascination with the zombie genre of film-making that has extended beyond the George Romero staple to be highlighted by recent movies (be they comedies such as Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland, or action thrillers such as 28 Days Later) and even the under-exposed Max Brooks tome World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.
The Walking Dead is a tale that starts off a bit like your typical zombie fare, but it evolving rather quickly into something more akin to literature. That is not a knock on any of the movies in the genre (particularly 28 Days Later, which film’s beginning is quite aped by Kirkman in Book 1), nor is it a hack at World War Z, which very much so is a piece of unique literature, trading the oral history motif from the documentary to the sci fi. The key, distinguishing element of TWD is that it doesn’t focus on the zombies. The story is, instead, about the humans in their endeavor to survive.
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It’s Pilot season in America. There certainly seems to be more shows that at least have the potential to be intriguing. There’s the can’t miss in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, the LOST clone in NBC’s The Event, the waiting-to-see-if-it-can-deliver in AMC’s The Walking Dead and a host of other intriguing new shows. I may not drop thoughts on all of them, but I will try to give my initial thoughts on some of those that catch my eye. After some work related delays, I’m getting back into it with HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.
- Monday: The Event (NBC)
- Wednesday: Undercovers (NBC)
- Thursday: My Generation (ABC), Outsourced (NBC)
- Sunday: Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
So of all the shows that were hotly anticipated, perhaps there was none more so than the HBO Steve Buscemi vehicle Boardwalk Empire. Promising production values that rivaled Band of Brothers, a cast of very solid character actors and a storyline and period setting that reeked of promise, it was hard not to be excited for Sunday nights with Boardwalk Empire and AMC’s Rubicon (my Quick Hits reviews thereof) and Mad Men.
Although I have been a bit delinquent in previewing the show, Boardwalk Empire is undoubtedly the best new pilot so far this season. It lives up to the billing of a Martin Scorsese production. Scorsese directed the pilot and serves as executive producer on the series. The pilot, in particular, was shot brilliantly with a heavy dollop of film cinematography. In particular, the initial boardwalk scene, traversing the Atlantic City shore with a single shot, had a tremendous, almost epic feel to it.
Click through for more. Read more…
So Rubicon has finally started to pick up, putting a little umph into the faith I’ve had that the show has what it takes to grow into a real winner and a hit. To read prior Quick Hits for the show, click here on my posts tagged #Rubicon. Here are my Quick Hits for Episode 1.12, “Wayward Sons.”
This episode was a bit unique in how it was shot. Unlike the dark, stuffy character of most of the Rubicon episodes, we were treated to more wide shots showing off views or airy spaces. Even in Katherine’s safe house, it was a light atmosphere. And the shots from the Harbor High, New Jersey field command were sweeping in nature, both in the windowed cafeteria and looking over the gym headquarters. The technology, too, was eye popping, something that had been missing from the old-research library feel of API.
That style of cinema played through to the plot, as well. This was the most ambitious episode since the premiere, with legitimate action and endpoints reached in advance of the finale. True, much of the action remained off-screen, but it was a bit thrilling nonetheless. You had confrontation, an active chase of conspiracy on two fronts, and the great reveal of at least two key elements to the seasons plot arcs.
The scene with Kale and Katherine in the safe house (accompanied by a still useless Maggie) was well done and reflective of the grander vision of the episode. In the first interaction between Kale and Katherine, they played well off each other, particularly as Kale spoke of the show’s namesake. He told the story of Cato the Younger, an opponent of Julius Caesar who, upon Caesar’s legion crossing the Rubicon and with defeat inevitable, took his own life so as to permit his family’s reconcile with Caesar. The parallel, of course, is that Rhumor took his own life as a way out that permitted the escape of his wife Katherine from the consequences of his sins. That’s all well and nice, of course, but the historical accuracy is somewhat dubious. Cato killed himself while on the run in Africa after repeated stands and defeats at the Thirteenth Legion’s hands. The historical record hardly seems to look too kindly on his act, indicating that Cato chose to kill himself rather than to seek mercy and a pardon because of his pride. Historical accuracy aside, there’s a nice element of literary ties therein. And I’m not going to beg accuracy from a show that loves its Mercator Projection Maps.
The style of the episode wasn’t always more poetic, though. In many ways it was simply more cinematic. The way it was shot and the action therein reminded me immediately of two terror-related movies: The Siege, in which Islamic fundamentalists hold New York hostage in fear, and The Jackal, in which the criminal justice and intelligence communities track an assassin across the country. I liked both movies and I loved this episode.
Dang, Rubicon is finishing strong. Click on through for my quick hits. Read more…
So Rubicon has finally started to pick up, putting a little umph into the faith I’ve had that the show has what it takes to grow into a real winner and a hit. To read prior Quick Hits for the show, click here on my posts tagged #Rubicon. Here are my Quick Hits for Episode 1.11, “A Good Day’s Work.”
Alas, twelve episodes in, Rubicon realizes its potential. Good grief, that was good television. In a season dominated by the best episodes Mad Men has to deliver, finally Rubicon held it’s own on a Sunday night. You had outstanding acting, particularly from Miranda Richardson. You had legitimate action, even if not always of the traditional sort, until the episode’s end. You had the piecing together of the conspiracy, deftly done so that the audience is permitted to follow along, neither ahead nor behind the API team. Heck, you even had a near “Sheeeeeeeet” moment from Clay Davis, himself, Isiah Whitlock, Jr.
In sum, this was the first real time where so many of the pieces with potential in the show all came together and made the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
I’m a couple weeks late in getting this review up, so I’m going to keep it concise and shoot it right through with the Quick Hits. Click through to read. Read more…
It’s Pilot season in America. There certainly seems to be more shows that at least have the potential to be intriguing. There’s the can’t miss in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, the LOST clone in NBC’s The Event, the waiting-to-see-if-it-can-deliver in AMC’s The Walking Dead and a host of other intriguing new shows. I may not drop thoughts on all of them, but I will try to give my initial thoughts on some of those that catch my eye. On Tuesday, I reviewed NBC’s The Event. Today is NBC’s Indian sitcom, Outsourced.
- Monday: The Event (NBC)
- Wednesday: Undercovers (NBC)
- Thursday: My Generation (ABC)
- Thursday: Outsourced (NBC)
This will be nice, short and sweet. Despite knowing there would be a high likelihood that I would find the show Outsourced offensive, I bit the bullet and watched NBC’s latest addition to its Thursday sitcom, fest. The basic premise is a remake of the Josh Hamilton movie of the same name. The difference is that, for all the manners in which the film Outsourced was, at times, charming and lighthearted, the television series is stale and almost purely offensive.
Click on through for more. Read more…
Although I’m apprehensive about its somewhat slow pace, I still think Rubicon has what it takes to grow into a real winner and a hit. As such, I’m putting some faith in it and am anointing it with instant recap status. To read prior Quick Hits for the show, click here on my posts tagged #Rubicon. Here are my Quick Hits for Episode 1.10, “In Whom We Trust.”
I stated in my review of episode 9 that the addition of Annie Parisse was a genius stroke and really worked. I hadn’t really wondered as to the probability of Andy being a spy or anything other than what she says she is/was. A friend expressed that he thought she was suspect and a little too perfect / trusting. I think that there are certain characteristics which don’t really add up about her reaction to Will’s activities – in fact, it wasn’t really until this episode’s sister call fallout that you had her acting in any way normal – e.g., her expression that she was happy he had a gun, instead of being weirded out by the paranoid guy she assumes is lying about being a spy and even his name… and who shows up with a concealed firearm.
In this episode, we see a more honest character in Andy. She chats with her sister about Will and playfully owns up to that. She also gets peeved when he withdraws and then tries to steal her phone to see who she’s been calling. The only unnatural thing about it was the fact that she didn’t throw him out. And the only real bullshit comment she made was the suggestion that she had three-way calling in high school.
Anyways, I’ve been swamped at work, so I’m going to jump right into the quick hits, after the check. Read more…
It’s Pilot season in America. There certainly seems to be more shows that at least have the potential to be intriguing. There’s the can’t miss in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, the LOST clone in NBC’s The Event, the waiting-to-see-if-it-can-deliver in AMC’s The Walking Dead and a host of other intriguing new shows. I may not drop thoughts on all of them, but I will try to give my initial thoughts on some of those that catch my eye. On Tuesday, I reviewed NBC’s The Event. Today is NBC’s spy series, Undercovers.
- Monday Nights: The Event (NBC)
- Wednesday Nights: Undercovers (NBC)
- Thursday Nights: My Generation (ABC)
Sometimes it’s hard to project the performance of a show out from its pilot. Often this is because a pilot is produced with significantly more elbow grease and attention to detail than a standard episode will receive in its normal course. Other times it is because you’re not sure how characters will play out over the course of a series run, as opposed to in the short term.
ABC’s My Generation is a bit different from either of those two scenarios. Getting out of the way immediately that I thought the pilot was great, I think competent writing and production will allow the characters to work long term and that there’s no immediate concern regarding production value and attention. The one point of caution is whether or not it is a series concept that can function over the long haul. Perhaps it is aspirational to think long haul on a pilot that was panned by more critics than it was hailed by, but like the New York Times, I found My Generation to be a unique spin on a familiar concept and I found it to be the pilot with the best potential so far this season.
I do wonder whether or not it’s going to last and be able to fulfill that potential. It’s the type of show that probably won’t find a Network audience and therefore belongs on cable. It’s not fast moving, action packed or sexy. It’s about people, their expectations and their failures. In other words, it chronicles life.
I’ve stated before that the four core concepts that I look for in a show are a) a solid score, b) production value, c) a solid cast and d) a plot with something to draw you in. That formula works in the context of a big production. That’s not what My Generation is all about. This show is a bit different in that it will be entirely character driven, but will rely on the side items in important, but secondary, ways.
More thoughts and my quick hits, after the bounce. Read more…