Category: TV Reviews

The Good Place

Discussing and debating what happens after our time in this world has ended will result in a plethora of theories and pontificating statements. Many people standing on every side of every “official” religion (and those without an “official” one) have weighed in on their declarations for thousands of years. No one is absolutely correct. At least, no one can prove whether or not they are 100% correct. In the show “The Good Place,” that very issue is addressed in what I believe to be the most respectful and uproariously funny way possible. It plays out, I believe, not that different from how I would explain the afterlife to a child. Instead of an actual “heaven” or “hell,” the afterlife is organized into “The Good Place” and “The Bad Place” that is shown more to look like a gated community in Disney Land than angels and demons walking around.

The show begins with Eleanor Shellstrop sitting in the waiting room of an office. She is staring at a giant statement painted on the wall that reads, “Welcome! Everything is fine.” She is greeted by Michael, who serves as a sort of liaison helping people adjust into arriving into the afterlife and explaining how and why they have arrived in “The Good Place.” Michael also serves as the architect-or designer-of that particular “Good Place” that was tailor-made for Eleanor and all the others who reside there.

Everyone in “The Good Place” is also assigned a soul mate; a person that is supposedly their perfect spiritual match. For Eleanor, it’s Chidi Anagonye, an ethics professor who dedicated his life to teaching others how to always take the higher ground. “The Good Place” is meant to be the perfect paradise for all its residents. Only there’s one little problem…  (more…)

Stranger Things

ouos14xohz62qr1dydb4“Stranger Things” is the story set in a small town in middle-of-nowhere, Indiana, that just happens to be the perfect setting for all the supernatural and terrifying things that occur there. Set in 1983, this show does a shameless but brilliant nod to the masterpieces of film, literature, and science fiction of its day. Nods to classic films and stories from John Carpenter, Stephen King, and Steven Spielberg are layered on so thick-and yet so brilliantly-it almost suggests that those stories are better suited in the world of “Stranger Things” than from the original source.

This will be a comprehensive review. I’m going to take you deep into the Upside Down and back (without revealing any spoilers) of this eight episode series because every nook and cranny of this show deserves to be discussed.    (more…)

Did We Just Get Introduced To Joker On Gotham?

gotham-the-blind-fortune-teller-preview-promo-feat-imageOn last night’s episode of Gotham, we were introduced to Jerome, the son of a murdered snake handler from the circus that also had “The Flying Grayson’s.” Based on his behavior and appearance, this may have been the introduction to The Joker himself according to the Gotham folklore. If it indeed was The Joker, then it’s kind of a way of the show giving us the finger, right?

Each episode is rumored to contain easter eggs of all the major Batman villains, including The Joker. I haven’t found them all yet, but I thought the most telling was a few weeks ago when there was an episode containing a breakout in Arkham where the patented Joker laugh was heard echoing through the hallway. Now, I’m not sure what to believe.

Jerome is played by Cameron Monaghan, an actor I had never seen or heard of before. Not to say that it’s a problem, my point is that one could argue that he looked the part (wide grin, familiar color scheme in his clothes, and so on) According to IMDB, he will also be in next week’s episode so let’s see what (if any) more clues fans are given to determine if this is truly Gotham’s way of introducing us to the most diabolical nemesis in comics history.

Is Penguin Really The Joker on Gotham???

penguin-gotham-jokerSo we are-as of the date of this post-six episodes into Fox’s new Batman origin series, Gotham. I’ve gotta say that so far I’m really enjoying it. The episodes this first season have been predominantly following the development of Detective James Gordon and Oswald Cobblepot (who we all know is Penguin.) But about two weeks ago I heard about an article posted on reddit with a crackpot theory that Cobblepot is actually none-other than Batman’s greatest nemesis the clown prince himself. I immediately laughed it off but I kept seeing articles and blog posts popping up ever since with everyone stating multiple arguments to that affect. It’s built up so much steam that even the producers and writers themselves have come forward responding to the rumors… in a very compelling way.

Some of the arguments from fans are petty and based on pure aesthetics. Actor Robin Lord Taylor is a tall, lanky dude and Penguin has always been short and fat (at least since the early 1990s after Danny DeVito brilliantly played the roll.) But to that I say two things: one is that in the pilot episode, Cobblepot had his knee crushed has been limping very Penguin-esque ever since. Secondly is that stories get re-imagined and given new visual interpretation all the time. I’ve argued both sides of this coin tirelessly for a number of different reasons. Plus, who’s to say that over the years Cobblepot can’t fatten up as he ages like I have? Even though Penguin has been more of a thief and gang leader than cold-blooded killer as the show so far has made him out to be, remember that this is an origin story for everyone, not just Bruce Wayne. Maybe these characters started out attempting one aspect of a life of crime (or even a normal life,) but then transition/fall into another.

The primary conspiracy theory among fans is that Cobblepot actually hires a kid/someone else to be him (Penguin) while the real Cobblepot disappears from Gotham to transform into what we all know and love as The Joker when he returns. Showrunner Bruno Heller said, “We’re not going to skimp on giving people the characters they want and expect from Gotham. But when and how they’re going to show up is half the fun.”

j8-600x336My opinion is that it’s all smoke and mirrors for nothing. I think Cobblepot is really Penguin and  more time has to go by for him to solidify himself to that role in what he is known for in the Batman universe. I’m also still trying to find a pattern or blatant clues over who The Joker is and how he will be introduced. Let’s not forget that the pilot episode had a stand-up comedian character who easily fits the physical description to all the purists out there. Could that have been The Joker?

 

Over the years of my writing about these topics, I find myself in an interesting position as half purist and half open to the idea of creative originality when it comes to a topic that has such a cult following and history. If… IF it turns out that Oswald Cobblepot is actually The Joker, the purist in me would be furious but at the same time, I’d salute the writers and developers for taking the ballsy and completely outside the box approach. Supposedly each episode gives us a chaos theory/Occam’s razor paradigm narrative to not only the introduction of Joker, but also the more obvious multi-layered development in what eventually transforms young Bruce Wayne into The Dark Knight.

 

I see myself continuing to write about this show as the series goes on when major plot points, rumors, and cliffhangers occur. What say all of you? Do you think Penguin is really The Joker?

Gotham

gotham-logo-foxGotham-wovow.org-00Gotham is essentially the Smallville of the Batman folklore. The series tells the story of Bruce Wayne as a child right after his parents are killed. The pilot episode focussed primarily, though, around rookie detective, Jim Gordon, (Ben McKenzie) who is an ambitious and honest cop stuck with a partner-and an entire police force for that matter-that are lazy and corrupt. The story goes that several years ago Warner Bros. was finalizing negotiations to do something like Gotham right after Smallville ended. It would have been a unique and imaginative DC origin-story programming juggernaut. Alas, it fell through because someone named Christopher Nolan convinced Warner Bros. execs to let him make something called Batman Begins instead… and we all know how I feel about that.

 

 

 

GothamCamren_Bicondova_as_SelinaKyletrailerscreenshotLSTheCWThe episode had a very film noir appeal to it throughout the episode with several establishing shots at night overlooking the Gotham skyline. I saw similar framing that coincided with Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One masterpiece. A teenage Selina Kyle (Carmen Bicondova) masterfully navigating Gotham rooftops and fire escapes, but is still trying to figure out how to be an inconspicuous pickpocket. A learning curve must be granted, right? I gotta give it to the producers who cast a girl who looks like if Michelle Pfieffer had gone back in time 40 years. If that was their intention, they nailed it! Anyway, she witnesses Bruce Wayne’s parents being gunned down in front of young Bruce (David Mazouz.)

We were also sparsely introduced to other main characters in the Batman mythology such as: Alfred Pennyworth, (Sean Pertwee) Poison Ivy, (Clare Foley) and Edward Nigma (Cory Michael Smith) who surprisingly worked as the forensics expert for the Gotham PD. This was a creative initiative that the producers took, which honestly didn’t bother me that much.

robin-lord-taylor-oswald-cobblepotBut the two villains I wanted to focus on were Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Oswald Cobbelpot (Robin Lord Taylor.) Fish is a newcomer to the Batman mythology as a crime boss losing grips on her turf to Carmine Falcone. Cobblepot serves as Fish’s lackey and errand boy. The other thugs call him “Penguin…” and he doesn’t like it. Taylor is another casting that I felt was very remnant of what I’ve seen in movies and comics for years… he just needs to gain about a hundred pounds.

I thought Gotham was a good show that was true to the origin story where it counted and I felt indifferent when it didn’t. They were really ambitious introducing so many characters in the pilot episode, but what I’m most looking forward to is seeing how and when they will introduce Joker in the show. I wonder if they’ll hint him during the season finale just like they did with the last few minutes in Batman Begins. Here’s hoping.

Futurama “Meanwhile” Review (Series Finale)

futurama-finale-imgWARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!

After thirteen long years and two cancellations and resurrections, Futurama finally bid a fond farewell last night on Comedy Central.  And it was an appropriate, emotional, and fitting end.  One has to wonder whether or not this means that creator Matt Groening is also contemplating his ending for “The Simpsons” but I digress.  Even though the Planet Express crew will make an appearance in Springfield next year, last night was the last time we will ever see them on their own show.

When I was in film school, I was taught that one of the biggest differences between writing characters for television from film is that television characters and character dynamics don’t change or evolve.  Over the last thirteen years, this show really broke that mold especially between the complicated romance arc between Fry and Leela.   (more…)

The Simpsons and Futurama Crossover Episode Announced!!

simpsons-futurama-crossover-postJust a few days ago we hear that The Simpsons will have a crossover episode with Family Guy, the god-like panel made up of Al Jean and Matt Groening at Comic-Con just revealed that The Simpsons will do a crossover episode with Futurama!!  How freaking sweet is that?  The Groening-created characters will crossover either during the season finale of The Simpsons 25th season (which is this coming season) in May 2014 or the season premiere of season 26 in Fall of 2014 (around the same time as the Family Guy crossover is scheduled to air.)  

I recently read a great article posted by IGN about The 25 Greatest Animated Shows for Adults and the three shows placed in the top ten.  Check out the article to see the full list and where they placed.  Time will tell which crossover episode will be better-received by the audience and critics.  I can’t decide which show I’m more interested in seeing.  I am very curious to see how the humor and writing style will transition on the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover but I can’t help but be tremendously excited to see two unique and genius universes created by Groening be forged together.  How will this episode play out?  Will the Planet Express Ship crew from NNY get caught in a black hole that transforms them into Springfield?  Will Bart consider Fry to be his future self?  I want Barney and Hermes to fight to the death.  Will Grandpa Simpsons argue with the Professor over which was the best World War?  2 or 5?  Will Bender make Moe a billionaire?  What do you think?  What ideas would you have for a storyline for the crossover episode? 

The Simpsons VS. The Griffins

slideshow_simpsonsfeudIT’S FINALLY HAPPENING!!  Every Simpsons fan has waited for this day.  Every Family Guy fan has waited for this day.  I bet you even every Simpsons and Family Guy hater has waited for this day.  The day when the inevitable is announced that Evergreen Terrace will collide with Spooner Street in a crossover episode on a Sunday Night Animation Domination Block on Fox.  The episode won’t air until (more…)

House Series Finale “Everybody Dies”

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOLERS!!

Back in 2004, Fox released this TV show that everyone thought would be a crapshoot at best.  It was about a disgruntled, genius, but Vicodin-addict doctor named Gregory House who had a bedside manner that made a drill sergeant look like the sweetest of pre-school teachers.  He would go on to lead a team of three to four doctors, each with their own quips and personal demons to confront (from infidelity to terminal diseases.)  Eight amazing years later, the series came to an end.  The end for the show about a doctor who is obsessed with puzzles came to a not-so-puzzling end.

Hugh Laurie (who plays Dr. House) has been nominated for a plethora of Emmy’s and Golden Globes.  (6 of each in which he won 2 of the Golden Globes but not an Emmy.  This year would be his last chance for him to win one for the role since the series is obviously over.)  One of the most pivotal characters on television in the last decade.  A character we all loved to root for and hate at the same time.  A character we worried and wondered about even in-between episodes.  But now it was time for House to  finally face his choices and the consequences of those choices.

The episode opens with House, having been missing for two days, waking up in a burning building next to a dead drug dealer (his last patient.)

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