Friday, September 26, 2014

Fall Pilot Reviews 2014: Forever, NCIS:New Orleans, Black-ish

More Fall Pilot Reviews!

If you want to check out the ones we've already done, Selfie, Red Band Society, and Madam Secretary can be found here and A to Z, Scorpion, and Gotham can be found here.

Now, Forever, NCIS: New Orleans, and Black-ish!



FOREVER (ABC, premiered 22 Sept 14, airs Tues 10/9c, available on Hulu)

The premise and arc defining mystery both are interesting enough, the cast is good, but the show just doesn't work.  Ioan Gruffudd plays Henry who is over 200 years old, because he can't die.  Every time he dies, he wakes up naked in a nearby body of water.  I'm not sure what happens to his body when this occurs, since the episode doesn't deal with that possible inconsistency.  Ignoring that, there are still some huge plot holes, plot holes you could drive a subway train through (that's how we first see Henry die in the pilot, as a subway train drives through the back of a stationary subway train).  Consider this, Henry died in the crash that is being investigated, which, remember, means he shows up in a nearby body of water, naked, which resulted in him being arrested and spending the night in jail for indecent exposure.  Therefore, there is proof of Henry being arrested shortly after the crash far from the site of the crash.  Yet despite this obvious alibi, the detective spends a fair amount of the episode convinced that Henry somehow was responsible.  And then when she begins to admit maybe he is innocent, he completely is invited along on the investigation.  As a medical examiner.  Why is a ME going anywhere besides the morgue on an investigation?  It would be nice if the show at least tried to offer an explanation.  The show made a big deal about Henry's investigative abilities, they might as well have made him a detective.

There are a couple of good twists at the end of the episode, but the story still was mostly predictable and obviously procedural driven, which is not a big draw for me.  Sure it offers a couple big arc-type mysteries that presumably will occur each week inside of the week to week mysteries, but it still felt entirely like a weekly procedural and didn't do enough to make me overlook that fact.

41%

Interesting Fact:  Ioan Gruffudd was Horatio Hornblower in the series of films based on that iconic character and also one of the best parts of the unfortunate Fox produced Fantastic Four films.  When the next Fantastic Four movie bombs, I'm hoping Fox will allow the property to lapse back into Marvel control and when Marvel gives us the first great Fantastic Four film, here's hoping Ioan Gruffudd is back as Reed.

NCIS: NEW ORLEANS (CBS, premiered 23 Sept 14, airs Tuesdays 9/8c, available on CBS on demand and app)

In case you couldn't tell in the last review, I'm not a big procedural fan, and this is all procedural all the time.  You could pick up any episode of this show and not be lost, because there is little character development or ongoing plot points, it is all mystery of the week.  No thanks.  That by itself was enough to make me dread having to watch this (so you don't have to!), but it was worse than I could have imagined.  I was hoping at least the greatness of Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap and Enterprise) would help mitigate the pain, but his poor attempt at a New Orleans/Cajun accent was grating.  Then there was the odd effect of starting each act with a freeze frame of where the act would end.  I'm not sure what that was about, but it was extremely annoying.  The episode story itself required a huge coincidence to drive the story and the way it was told highlighted that coincidence even more.  The back and forth bickering between the secondary characters (assuming Bakula is the main character) was incredibly forced and had me continually rolling my eyes.  There's a reason I don't like these types of shows, and this one did nothing to change that.

12%

Interesting fact:  In my head, Scott Bakula's character is actually Sam from Quantum Leap and each case could be his chance to finally leap out of this body.  Watching with this idea gave me a little more incentive to make to the end of the episode, but the lack of Al and no jump to a new body at the end of the episode brought me back to reality.  Okay, I didn't care enough to find you an interesting fact on this show.  Sorry.

BLACK-ISH (ABC, premiered 24 Sept 14, airs Wednesdays 9:30/8:30c, available on Hulu)

As I've mentioned many times before, sitcoms have the hardest time finding their groove.  It wasn't until well into season 2 that The Office really worked.  Parks and Rec is one of the best comedies of all time, but its first season isn't that good either.  Black-ish actually has a stronger first episode than many sitcoms have had, but you can tell it hasn't quite got everything down yet.  The episode had many laugh-out-loud moments, and the characters are strong, but the pacing of the episode was off.  The show had a fun, funny, and quite relevant storyline for the first episode, but it spent nearly the entire episode building that storyline up.  The ending was ridiculously rushed, which completely took me out of the story.  I was shocked at how fast everything was wrapped up, and a few of the moments that were part of the build-up were completely dropped at the conclusion.  That was a little frustrating.  However, I've learned not to judge sitcoms too harshly on their pilots.  After I watched the first episode of The Big Bang Theory, I was never going to watch it again, but now I'm glad I've stuck with it.  I see way more potential in this pilot than I did in The Big Bang Theory.  While I had some problems, primarily with pacing, with this episode, the show is definitely one I plan on giving a chance to find its rhythm.

83%

Interesting Fact:  The Great Lawrence Fishburne (who plays Pops, the father of Anthony Anderson's main character) had his first acting role in Apocalypse Now when he was only 14 years old (though he celebrated his 15th and 16th birthdays while filming).  Before his arguably biggest role as Morpheus in the Matrix films, he was probably best known for his role in John Singleton's Boyz N the Hood.  Oddly enough, Fishburne and Singleton met while they were both working on Pee Wee's Playhouse, Fishburne as Cowboy Curtis and Singleton as a PA.


Until Next Time, At the very least, reviews of The Mysteries of Laura and How to Get Away With Murder should be coming very soon!  Enjoy your fall TV!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fall Pilot Reviews 2014: A to Z, Scorpion, and Gotham

The Fall Pilot reviews continue.  So far we've already done Selfie, Red Band Society, and Madam Secretary.  Today we take a look at A to Z, Scorpion, and the first of four new Super Hero Shows this season, Gotham (and remember, the last two winners of Josh's Choice for Best New Show of the Season have been Super Hero Shows, Arrow and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., will there be a run?  We'll have to wait and see!)



A TO Z (NBC, premieres Oct 2, 2014, airs Thurs 9:30/8:30c, pilot is available now on Hulu)



There is a large HIMYM sized hole in my heart.  This show might be able to start to fill it.  While nothing can fully succeed in making me forget what I believe is one of the greatest sitcoms of all time, this show is certainly in the mode of HIMYM and does something HIMYM did, but few other sitcoms do, it excels immediately.  The jokes are spot on, the characters are intriguing, and the concept is top-notch. 


While HIMYM made us wonder who The Mother might be (and interestingly enough, The Mother from that show is the female lead in this one, and more time with Cristin Milioti is certainly welcome), this show makes us wonder what happens in 8 months, 3 weeks, 5 days, and 1 hour.  Will they break up, will they get engaged?  The show is unclear, but it looks like it will be a really fun time finding out.  I'm in.


 91%

Interesting Fact:  Rashida Jones (Karen from The Office and Anne from Parks and Rec) is a producer!  Here's hoping she makes a cameo at some point!

SCORPION (CBS, premiered Sept 22, 2014, airs Mon 9/8c, available on CBS/ondemand and app)

 
Imagine the group from Big Bang Theory solving crimes and having adventures.  Could be a slightly ridiculous premise, but with the right execution...  And Scorpion is definitely the right execution.  It immediately makes you care about the characters, and that's a majority of the battle.  These are characters that have trouble relating to the real world, and for some reason that makes them all the more relatable.  Like Madam Secretary Sunday night, this was a show that I did not expect to like, but absolutely loved.  Fantastic characters, an exciting plot, and an intriguing back story that will hopefully play out throughout the years.  I was tense, totally engaged, and found myself alternatively freaking out and laughing at the tension relieving moments.  Fantastically done.  CBS is on a roll.  My only question is how they keep the waitress involved in the story each week.  If they can pull that off believably, this show is a real winner.

93%

Interesting Fact:  The real life Walter O'Brien on whom the show is based helped catch the Boston Bombers and serves as an executive producer for the show.

GOTHAM (FOX, premiered Sept 22, 2014, airs Mon 8/7c, available on Hulu)


For me, part of the most intriguing thing about the DC characters is the idea that the rise of Superheroes is what brought about the rise of Supervillains.  This is often especially well examined in the work of Batman.  Batman became what he is in order to bring justice and yet sometimes, he wonders if he is bringing about more darkness simply because of how he goes about his pursuit of justice.  This show seems to be actively challenging that interpretation.  That's not necessarily a bad thing.  Although I suppose it could be taking a long view at that very idea.  Showing us these people and putting them on the brink of supervillain-hood without quite pushing them over, allowing the rise of Batman to be what actively turns them into the villains they become.  However, I really wonder how long it can sustain the premise without straying into ridiculousness.  Especially since they can't bring in Batman.  I was also a little annoyed at how many future Batman villains they felt they had to shove into the very first episode (we saw an easily recognizable Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin, and Poison Ivy in the first episode).  That felt a little gimmicky, which worries me about the future of the show, but otherwise the show absolutely worked.  But we aren't here to talk about the sustainability of this show, we're here to talk about the pilot.  And let me tell you, the pilot rocked.  Of course, working with the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne leads to pretty easy storytelling, and it's possible that this story will continue throughout the run of the show.  Seeing how Gordon becomes the Commissioner and father to Batgirl we all know and love while working within such a corrupt and corrupting environment has promise and the pilot certainly made the most of that promise.  Again, however, I'm not sure that seeding all the Batman into the story without ever actually giving us Batman is the smartest move in the long term.  But in the short term, it made for a hell of an entertaining hour of television, and I'll certainly be in for more.

89%

Interesting Fact:  Alfred Pennyworth is played by Sean Pertwee, whose father was none other than 3rd Doctor Jon Pertwee.  Now if only we could somehow get Alfred to say, "Reverse the polarity of the nutron flow, Master Bruce" my life might be complete.


Until Next Time, this is the 300th post of the blog!  Pretty exciting.  And there's more to come.  Forever is on the DVR and ready to be watched along with even more pilots to air in the next few days.  Come back for more reviews, and good luck finding the new shows you plan to stick with throughout the season while I search for what show will win the coveted 10th Annual Josh's Choice For Best New Show of the Season Award!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pilot Reviews Fall 2014: Selfie, Red Band Society, Madam Secretary

Ten years ago today, the television world changed forever with the advent of a pilot that blew our minds and would continue to challenge and thrill us for six seasons.  That show that aired for the first time ten years ago was, of course, LOST.


LOST would go on to win the first annual coveted Josh's Choice for the Best New Show of the Season.  As we enter the television season ten years later, what show will go on to win the award this year, following in the footsteps of LOST, Invasion, Friday Night Lights, Journeyman, Dollhouse, Good Wife, Chicago Code, Once Upon a Time, Arrow, and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

There is only one way to find out, and that's watching some television.  We will start by reviewing each of the new shows this fall.

SELFIE (ABC, premieres Sept 30, airs Tues 8/7c, available on Hulu)

I really wanted to like this, because I love Karen Gillan (aka Amy Pond from Doctor Who).  I actually rooted for Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy.  Alas, this My Fair Lady remake (her character's name is Eliza Doolie) is not very good.  Karen Gillan (who is outstanding throughout her Doctor Who run and making a name for herself with her great performance in Oculus and the aforementioned part in the best film of the summer, Guardians of the Galaxy) does as good a job as anyone could, but the premise and writing leave a lot to be desired.  I highly doubt this show gets another viewing from me, and that's a shame, because I do love Amy Pond, but maybe its quick demise will allow her to get back to playing some roles that will make her the star she deserves to be.

There are a few interesting costars as well (including John Cho of Harold and Kumar fame), but like Gillan, there is no rising above this material.  I don't foresee this show lasting too long.  In fact, if we were having a poll for the show most likely to get cancelled first, Selfie would be getting some great odds.

31%

Interesting Fact:  David Harewood, who plays Eliza and Henry's boss, also appeared on Doctor Who in the two episodes proceeding Karen Gillan's turn as Amy Pond.


RED BAND SOCIETY (FOX, premiered Sept 17, airs Wed 9/8c, available on Hulu)

Narrated by a kid in a coma, yes, seriously, its a dramedy about a bunch of sick kids living in a hospital.  I think its going for a Glee-vibe.  We've got an over-achieving girl who has an eating disorder, a super bitchy cheerleader (who, shocker!, has a lesson to learn), the cool kid in a wheelchair, the black dude who "always knows where the party is" and who has graffitied his name throughout the hospital (I wish I was making that up), the kid that talks his way into the hospital because he doesn't think his doctors are as competent as the one in the hospital (who otherwise is exactly like the kid in the wheelchair, they even made that joke in the show), and then the nurses and doctors who take care of the kids (who seem more interesting to be honest, at least to this point they're better actors).

If it weren't for the ridiculous coma narration and all the cliches, there could be some promise; unfortunately, every character is a cliche and the lack of originality makes banal anything that might be fresh about the show.  And this might be the first time I've ever seen a show have a "Jump the Shark" moment in the pilot episode (and yes, it involves Coma Boy).

48%

Interesting Fact:  Octavia Spencer from The Help (the best part of that movie) is the best part of this show as well.  Although, the rich, eccentric hypochondriac who has a wing in the hospital named after him (the wing he lives in despite being totally healthy) seems interesting, but it seems like he's only in the pilot as of now, so that's disappointing.

MADAM SECRETARY (CBS, premiered Sept 21, airs Sun 8/7c, available on CBS/ondemand and app)

Primarily comedic actors Tea Leoni (although best known as the real life wife of Mulder, and as a joke on that fact, she played Skully in an episode of the X-Files where they were making a movie on Mulder and Skully), Tim Daly (Joe from Wings), and Bebe Neuwirth (Lilith from Cheers) in a smart drama that looks like there's going to be a pretty interesting subplot running through involving Tea Leoni's characters past in the CIA.  But now, she's thrust from life as a civilian to being the new Secretary of State.  And it is immediately engaging.  The episodes main plot is interesting and evokes a touch of West Wing (which coincidentally premiered today 15 years ago), never a bad thing.  While mostly serious and exceedingly well written and acted, there are few laugh out loud moments as well.  I especially loved how at one point the Secretary used media's obsession with fashion for powerful females to keep the main plot story from reaching large media attention.  Smart and funny.  This show has potential.  As I said to a friend as I was watching this is CBS at its finest, more Person of Interest and The Good Wife - CBS than NCIS and CSI - CBS.

93%

Interesting Fact:  Tim Daly is also the voice of Superman in the DC Animated Universe, which the way things are looking might be the only DC universe on our screens ever worth watching unless you count Arrow and Flash.


Until Next Time, Madam Secretary wasn't a show I had any interest in before watching it, but now, I can't wait to see where it goes.  It has thrust itself into contention for JCFBNSOTS.  Of course, there are four new super hero shows airing this year (Gotham, Flash, Constantine, and Agent Carter), so competition figures to be tight.  See you soon with some more pilot reviews!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Thoughts on the Summer Movie Schedule 2014 Part Four: August

The fourth and final installment of my thoughts on the Summer Movie Schedule.

I have to be honest, there hasn't been a film that I've been incredibly, can't wait for it, counting down the days excited for up to this point in the summer.  That changes on day one of August

aug

1st

Guardians of the Galaxy



When Marvel announced this would be an upcoming film I thought Marvel was making the first large mistake of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but ever since I have only gotten more and more excited.  It looks like they have knocked this out of the park.  Marvel continues to excel while the DC movie universe continues to do everything it can to make Marvel look better.  This is by far the film I'm most excited for out of the entire summer movie schedule.

Get on Up

A biography film on the life of James Brown, the musical one, not the football one.

aug

8th

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Honestly, as much as I love the Turtles, I will probably wait to hear some word of mouth before I make a decision to see this or not.  Michael Bay's involvement really turns me off.  I don't know if I can watch another of my childhood loves destroyed by Bay after the travesty that is the Transformers.

Into the Storm

Yeah, I'll probably just rewatch Twister.  Now that was an awesome movie.

The Hundred Foot Journey

An art film from Spielberg and Oprah.  It'll probably score Helen Mirren an Oscar Nom.  Not sure why this is getting a summer opening though.

aug

13th

Let's Be Cops

Be warned, this is the Red Band trailer, so there is some language



What would happen if Nick and Coach from New Girl pretended to be cops?  This movie.  I'm in.

aug

15th

Expendables 3

This was an intriguing idea for one film.  I think they might have expended (see what I did there?) all of the originality in that one film though.  Of course they're still making Rocky movies, so what do I know?

The Giver

Outstanding young adult novels sometimes make amazing movies.  This does star Jeff Bridges, and the Dude is definitely a plus in its favor.

aug

22nd

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

I hated the first one.  No heart, really just relied on a "cool look" as the entire conceit of the film.  This looks like more of the same.  Plus, I'm never a fan of violence simply for the sake of violence.  No thanks.

If I Stay

When the Game Stands Tall

It looks like it might be a pretty good sports movie in the vein of Miracle and Remember the Titans.

aug

27th

The November Man



Pierce Brosnan as a spy returns for one last mission and has to face off against his former pupil.

aug

29th

As Above So Below

A found footage horror film set in the catacombs underneath Paris.  I really wish the "found footage" phenomenon would die.

Jessabelle



While the previous horror film just causes me to roll my eyes, this looks a little better.  It might just be a sufficiently creepy way to end August!

Until Next Time, there you have it, the films of the summer.  Hope you find some enjoyable ones to watch!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thoughts on the Summer Movie Schedule 2014 Part Three: July


Continued from Part One - May and Part Two - June

What will July bring us?

As with the last posts, the titles will link to the movie's IMDb page for more info

Opening Today:

july

2nd

Deliver Us From Evil

A cop/exorcism movie, because those two genres have been screaming out for a mash-up.

Earth to Echo



I'm a little intrigued.  I like the ET feel this has going for it, but I really wish that it weren't a "discovered footage" film.  Those are starting to get on my nerves.  Blair Witch Project was interesting, but it really shouldn't have started such a trend.

Tammy

Melissa McCarthy causing more trouble on the big screen.

july

11th

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes



A prequel sequel!  Hopes are raised after the first film.

Boyhood

I think it is a little strange that this film is getting a summer release date, as Richard Linklater (Before Sunset, Waking Life) movies are not your typical summer movie fare.  However, I am a big Linklater fan and am looking forward to this film.

july

18th

Wish I Was Here



Zach Braff returns to writing and directing which brought us Garden State.  This might be the film I'm second most excited for this summer.

Sex Tape

Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz reteam with the director of Bad Teacher.  What might make this a little better is the script from Segal and Stollar, who also brought us Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Muppets (this is probably closer to the former...)

The Purge: Anarchy

I haven't seen the first one, so...

Planes: Fire and Rescue

The fourth (4th!) film from the Cars universe and we still are waiting on Incredibles 2.  (Thankfully, Incredibles 2 is actually, finally coming!  Now that will be worth seeing.  This?  Not so much).

I Origins

From the director of Another Earth, an interesting film a few years ago, a philosophical film about the soul.  It was at Sundance earlier this year.  Not sure how wide an opening this will get, but if its in your area it might be worth a look.

july

25th

Lucy



Luc Besson (Fifth Element, Leon the Professional) brings us Scarlett Johansson as a super hero.  Considering that Cap 2 has proven (to me at least) that the Black Widow is the most interesting hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, if this does well, perhaps Marvel will give us a Black Widow solo film.  But it's Luc Besson.  I'm in regardless.

Hercules

The Rock stars.  I'll probably see it.  It will probably suck.

The Fluffy Movie

A comedy concert film on Gabriel Iglesias.  I figure if you wanted to see this, you probably don't need me to tell you about it.

Step Up:  All In

Yeah, no.

Until Next Time, I'll try and have August up before it's actually August!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Thoughts on the Summer Movie Schedule 2014 Part Two: June


Continued from Part One: May...

I think June, you will agree, is mainly about the sequels, including some of which I wonder about the need...

As with the last post, the links will take you to the IMDb page of the film.

Without further ado...

june

6th

Edge of Tomorrow

Formally titled All You Need is Kill (and I'm not really in love with either title, but what can you do), the story looks somewhat intriguing.  Tom Cruise is in a war and has to keep living the same moments over and over in an attempt to save the world.  I'm keeping an open mind.

The Fault in Our Stars

A tear-jerker romance based on a teen book as far as I can tell.

june

13th

How to Train Your Dragon 2



Loved the first one, hope the second one doesn't disappoint.  Of course, as we saw recently with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, often times you just wish they left well enough alone and didn't tarnish the greatness of the first with the second.  Hopefully this will be more along the lines of Despicable Me, Shrek, or Toy Story though and actually win you over all over again.

22 Jump Street

Okay, I admit.  I had ulterior motive when bringing up Cloudy with a Chance of MeatballsThat movie was terrific (which made the sequel that much more painful).  It was surprisingly funny and way smarter than I was anticipating, and it had quite a lot of heart.  I've heard similar things about 21 Jump Street, to which this is a sequel.  The point of all of this rambling is that Cloudy and Jump Street were both directed by (and Cloudy 1 written by) Phil Lord and Chris Miller (they did not, however, write or direct the terrible Cloudy 2).  They also wrote and directed the fantabulously awesome (although, Everything is Awesome) The Lego Movie.  Therefore, whereas when the first film came out I really had no desire to see it, due to loving Cloudy and The Lego Movie, I kind of want to see this as well as the first one.

 The Rover

I'm hesitant mainly because of Robert Pattinson.

The Signal


june

20th

Jersey Boys

One of the best plays I have ever seen (the Broadway adaptation of the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is simply phenomenal), I have wanted a movie version for years.  However, if I had my dream, it would be Scorsese directing and not Eastwood.  That being said, I'm definitely looking forward to this.  There isn't a trailer for this yet, so part of me wonders if they're a little behind schedule and whether we'll actually get this in June.

Think Like a Man Too

I honestly have no memory of the first one, but if you do and liked it, apparently everyone is back for the sequel.

june

27th

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Sure, the cast has changed, but until Michael Bay has nothing to do with this franchise, I will have nothing to do with the destruction of my childhood.


Until Next Time, I have to admit, through two months of the Summer schedule, I'm a little disappointed.  There's a few films to look forward to, but it doesn't feel like we're getting bombarded with spectacles, to say the least.  Maybe July will give us more hope?  Come back soon to find out!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Thoughts on the Summer Movie Schedule 2014 Part One: May


Over the next few days/weeks, I'll be taking a look at what movies are coming out in that bastion of Hollywood Hype known as the Summer Movie Season!  Some, I'll comment on, some I'll just post.  Each will link to the IMDb page for the film.  If I'm really looking forward to it (and the trailer is available), I'll post the trailer.

Remember, Hollywood can't be trusted, and therefore, all dates are subject to change.

may

2nd

The Amazing Spider-Man 2



Spidey is my all-time favorite superhero.  The first (rebooted) film followed a little closer to the Ulitmate universe than the standard 616 universe (which is the main Marvel universe), but I'm holding out hope that the Gwen Stacy storyline from the comics will be presented on screen in this series somewhere.  That is the best comic book storyline in history, in my opinion (although I have to admit, the recent Superior Spider-Man story gives it a run for its money).  Andrew Garfield is pretty good, if a little too good looking, as Peter.  There were parts of the original trilogy that I liked better than the things they're doing here, but they haven't screwed the fans royally ala Spider-Man 3 yet in this iteration either, so at this point, I'll be there for each film in the trilogy, although my love for all things Spider-Man (with the notable exception of the current cartoon Ultimate Spider-Man, which is horrendous) pretty much guaranteed that anyway.

Belle



This looks intriguing.  I love the trailer, and the cast is phenomenal (although I wonder if poor Draco Malfoy will ever get to play a good guy.  I probably won't see it on opening weekend (especially since it is going against Spidey), but I will definitely check it out at some point.

Walk of Shame

Not really sure on this one.  A comedy from the director of some of the later (read: not as good) Adam Sandler films and D2, the second Mighty Ducks movies.  Take of that what you will.

may

9th

Chef

Jon Favreau (Swingers, Iron Man, Iron Man 2) writes, directs, and stars in this comedy alongside his Iron Man 2 costars Robert Downey Jr and Scarlett Johansson.  I reserve the right to get more excited about this film.

Legends of Oz: Dorthy's Return

Following the 75th anniversary of the movie, prepare yourself for an inundation of Oz related things.  This will probably not be the best of them.  (Oz: The Great and Powerful, on the other hand, was actually pretty decent.)

Mom's Night Out

Neighbors

Of these two outrageous (think Hangover/Bridesmaids-esque) comedies Neighbors looks to me to be the better bet if only because of the better names attached.  Nick Stoller after all brought us Forgetting Sarah Marshall (as well as the two latest Muppet movies.)


may

16th

Godzilla



The second "official Summer spectacle movie" (unless you count Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier as among the official summer spectacle's which on its surface it appears to be, but I'm just not prepared to count the summer movie season as starting April 4th).  This will either be AMAZING or really, really bad.  I don't see much middle ground for this film.  I'll definitely see it though.

Million Dollar Arm

Maybe on redbox.

may

23rd

X-Men: Days of Future Past



Although I recognize that I probably shouldn't... I have high hopes for this film.  Especially since it seems to be ignoring much of X-Men 3 and Wolverine: Origins, which were terrible.  X-Men: First Class and The Wolverine, the two films that preceed this one were much better than expected.  Hopefully this film can finally reach the heights of X-Men and X-Men 2, or even eclipse them as so many other recent comic book films have done.

Blended

Speaking of Adam Sandler movies... Here, he and Drew Barrymore try once again to recapture the magic of The Wedding SingerI'm not holding my breath.

may

30th

Maleficent



A take on the Sleeping Beauty tale through the eyes of the villain.  Consider me intrigued.

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Seth MacFarlane.  If you are, you'll probably love this.


Until Next Time, the Summer season gets off to a bit of a slow start as Spidey, the X-Men, and Godzilla are the only huge draws.  Will things get a little more interesting in June?  You'll have to come find out if a Tom Cruise time-bending thriller, quite a few sequels, and a Clint Eastwood directed musical that I really wish had been directed by Martin Scorsese instead will really get our summer going.  See you soon for more details.

Monday, March 31, 2014

A Yellow Umbrella and a Blue French Horn: My Spoiler Filled Review of the HIMYM Finale

Way back in the beginning of this very blog (although it was hosted at a much different place, and I was very different myself!), a new comedy premiered: How I Met Your Mother.

Usually, sitcoms take some time to find their stride.  That wasn't the case with HIMYM.  The pilot was perfect.  It introduced the five characters that we would fall in love with over the next nine years, and set up a perfect couple that it then took away from us: Ted Mosby and Robin Scherbatsky.  At the end of that pilot, Ted, who is telling his kids the story of how he met their mother, tells his children, "And that's the story of how I met your Aunt Robin."

Through the years, people tried to come up with ways that the mother would somehow actually be Robin, but no, the creators had taken that off the table right at the beginning.

It was kind of brilliant, when you think about it.  The beauty of sexual tension for television is that wanting the couple to get together is so much more enjoyable to watch than the couple actually getting together.

The show, especially in its early years, did an outstanding job of making you want Ted and Robin to get together, and yet we knew it couldn't happen.

There came a time, however, when the show couldn't really play that card anymore, because even sexual tension, the will they won't they (especially when we know that they won't) just can't carry a show anymore.  (Smallville worked with this through Clark and Lana for a long time, but ultimately, they had to bring in Lois.)  You can only keep the couple apart in a "will they or won't they" state for so long before they either do or don't!

HIMYM hit a bit of a lull when they reached that point.

And like Friends before it, the show was in danger of becoming more of a soap opera than the genius comedy that it had been.

Enter the Robin and Barney relationship, which seemed way out of place when it first happened.

I thought for a bit there that the show I loved so much was in danger of losing everything which made it so great.

But then Marshall's dad died.

That moment recharged the show.  (It was also around this time that the show finally was off the year in/year out bubble.  Nearly every year in the beginning, the creators were writing possible series finales, which incidentally would have ended in much the same way that the show would ultimately end.  Now, however, they knew they were going to be able to end on their own terms)  With the death of Marshall's dad, the show pointed itself towards its end, and in my opinion has been  phenomenal ever since.

The one thing that annoyed me was that the show still wouldn't give up on Robin and Ted even though it was obvious that they weren't going to end up together.

Even though we still didn't know who the mother was, there was no way it was Robin, and we had enough clues to let us know that she was going to be perfect for him (much as Robin, in many ways, was, although Robin had a lot of issues to work through to get her there.  Robin's parents really messed her up.)

Plus, as much as I didn't like the idea of Robin and Barney at first, I thought that there actually was something there, and continuing to hint at the lingering feelings between Ted and Robin just weakened the Barney and Robin relationship!

In fact, it pointed out to me all the reasons that Barney and Robin would really never work.

If the show wanted me to buy Robin and Barney together, the show needed to quit with the underlying Ted and Robin stuff!

But they never did, and finally as the last season was in process, I understood why.

No Robin wasn't the mother, but everyone who wanted them to be together after their perfect first date and the awesome moment of Ted stealing the Blue French Horn, were ultimately going to get their wish.



We started to get clues that the mother wasn't long for the world a month or so ago.  They were celebrating a weekend together away from the kids at the hotel and retelling stories that each had heard way too many times, when Ted tells the story of Robin's mom showing up for the wedding.

He says, "What kind of mother wouldn't be there for her daughter's wedding?"  Then he and the mother both tear up (Ted a little more, of course, he's "a certain delicate flower" as Marshall would later describe himself to Ted in the finale).  Immediately it became clear that the mother was sick, probably dying.

Then I understood.

Why is Ted telling this story?  That part never really made sense.  Unless, of course, the mother was gone and had been for a while.

And, as we've seen throughout the entirety of the show, Ted tells stories in a way that usually ends up with him telling a story about something other than what he says he is telling a story about.

He said he was telling the kids a story about how he met their mother, but that was never what he was actually telling a story about.

Yes, Ted loved their mother.  It was a great love at first sight story that almost seemed like destiny, keeping them apart until the moment that they could actually be together.  But that wasn't really the story that he was telling.

It was in there, for sure, but only as support for the story that he was really telling.

The story about the other great love of his life, the one that seemed to get away.

The kids understood.  The story was really about the fact that no matter how great their mother was, and how perfect their time together had been, Ted was in love with Robin.

And Robin was in love with Ted.

And even though it seemed like any chance of Ted and Robin ending up together was past, it is never too late for true love.

"It's been six years, it's time to move on, Dad," his kids say to him.

The story, from the beginning, was about Ted and Robin.  It just took them a really long time to realize it.

Ted needed to meet the mother and have kids.  That was something Ted needed that Robin couldn't provide him.

Robin needed to have an amazing career and prove to herself that she was a capable person that could survive without someone else.  She'd always said it, but I don't think she believed it until she realized that she and Barney wouldn't work, and that life on her own really would be a fulfilling one.  She didn't need a man or kids to fulfill her dreams.  And traveling the world, becoming the face of World Wide News, was something that she couldn't have done if she was with Ted.

Ted and Robin, in order to live the lives they wanted, couldn't live them together when they were pursuing those dreams.

At the same time, they were in love with one another, and they never stopped loving one another.  And once they had each achieved their dreams, Robin's face on a bus and Ted's Yellow Umbrella,






it was time for the two of them to finally realize what we all saw way back in the beginning.  And there was really only one way that Ted could let Robin know he was ready.

By stealing a blue french horn.

From the beginning, the show knew how it would end.

It wasn't a story about the mother.  She was barely in it.

Ted was telling the story about how he came to realize that he was in love still with Robin Scherbatsky and that Robin Scherbatsky knew she was always supposed to end up with Ted.

Until Next Time, there is a large hole in my heart where a perfect television show used to be.  Thank you, How I Met Your Mother.  Thank you for everything.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Marshmellow's Rejoice: My Spoiler Free Review of Veronica Mars, the Movie

A Long Time Ago, We Used to Be Friends...

Truer words for this film couldn't have been spoken.

Everytime I think I'm out, they pull me back in... - Veronica Mars

Picking up 9 years after the series finale, Veronica has quit the private eye biz cold turkey and been snoop free for the last 9 years, but old flame Logan Echolls finds himself in trouble once more and there's only one person to call.

The film manages to fit in almost everyone you want to see from the show, and does it in a completely natural way that fits the story.  There are also a couple other classic cameos, the best being Dax Shephard, the real life husband of star Kristen Bell.

The movie works essentially as a new pilot, setting up for further adventures of Veronica Mars, and I truly believe that we're going to get more, either through further films or if we're really lucky as a shortened season on Amazon or Netflix.

Like the first two seasons of the show (and the first season is one of the best seasons of any show ever and came in second to LOST in the very first Josh's Choice for the Best New Series of the Season award all the way back in 2005, look, here's the post to prove it), the film follows one major mystery with a few other cases popping up, although on a much more truncated schedule than even the third season (which had two overarching mysteries each taking up half the season).  Although part of what I loved about the show was the way the mystery was stretched out over the season, giving us a huge cast of suspects, a ton of red herrings, and at least a couple huge twists along the way.  The movie tries to do the same thing on a much smaller scale time wise (as there is under two hours as opposed to over 20 episodes of 40+ minutes each), while at the same time feeling bigger than most of the episodes due to its big screen presence.

The time and budget constraints, however, don't hinder the film's ability to produce a great mystery in the time allotted (that still has a few different suspects, a few perfect red herrings, and at least one great twist that you don't see coming), and what is most amazing is that it totally feels like Veronica Mars.

Everyone, despite being away from the show for nearly 8 years, steps right back into their characters.

Sometimes, you just have those friends in your life that even when you haven't seen them in forever, you just fit right back into your old roles and it seems like your friendship hasn't missed a beat.

That's just how it is with Veronica Mars.  A long time ago, we used to be friends...  It's good to have you back.

Long story short, if you loved the show, you'll love the movie.  It's perfect.

Until Next Time, Go see Veronica Mars! In Theaters! And buy it on your favorite digital device through your favorite digital medium! I'm watching it again as I write this!  We have a legitimate shot at more movies or episodes! Let's make that happen (after all, it worked once, it could work again!)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Omnirumour: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Believe Completely



I talked about recently (read it here) the fact that there are many (97) missing episodes of Doctor Who from the first few years and first two Doctors of the show.

I also talked about how there was a rumor (or in British terms, rumour) that many, many more episodes had been found as well.

At the time, I didn't consider those reports to be credible.

I did, however, feel that Marco Polo had also been found and that perhaps its return was imminent.

I still feel that way about Marco Polo (and there have been a few rumblings that perhaps that return is very, very imminent, perhaps even this weekend imminent, we'll have to wait and see on that).

However, I know also believe that there are in fact many, many more returns to look forward to.

Yes, even perhaps all of them.

In that previous post on missing episodes I talked about how Feast for Steven (the seventh episode in the epic twelve part The Dalek's Master Plan) would never be found since it was never copied for an overseas sell.  Well, now I am even convinced that its return is possible.

You see, there were copies made of each of these stories, and many of them instead of being destroyed the way they were supposed to be found their way into the hands of private collectors.

When Phillip Morris (not the tobacco one, the one who returned Enemy of the World and Web of Fear) went in search of lost episodes throughout Africa, there are records that tens of thousands of film canisters were shipped by him back to England.  And the rumors were (by many of the same people who then told us that Web of Fear and Enemy of the World would be released via iTunes before the 50th Anniversary even amidst the BBC's denials that anything at all had been found, in other words, people who have been proven correct in the recent past on these very subjects) that over 90 missing episodes were amongst the missing.  This rumor has come to be known as the Omnirumour.  Counting the nine we have already received, this meant that only 16 episodes were still missing.

Those 90 episodes recovered (if recovered they indeed were, because remember this is all just rumor, if rumor with some pretty strong credence to it) were the result of over five years searching and working towards recovery throughout Africa by Phil Morris, which included some truly scary moments such as being held hostage at gunpoint.

Five years of searching, however, apparently was rewarded with 90 of the 106 missing episodes.

Is it so hard to believe then that in the year since this discovery (because that shipment occurred over a year ago now) that Morris has been able to recover the final 16 as well?

I don't think that it is.

And the reason that I believe this is because the private collectors, who held episodes that no one else had, were now in danger of holding onto episodes that might be amongst Morris's finds.  In other words, the value of those episodes would never be higher than they were at that very moment.

Once the find was officially announced, they might be holding onto something that anyone with an iTunes account could have.

It isn't that hard to believe that the BBC World Wide and Phil Morris were able to approach these private collectors (and there are channels that know who a lot of these people are, and others have come forward trying to make the best of the situation when they've heard that many if not most of the episodes have already been found) and broker deals to return the episodes that they have.

There are a lot of things that need to happen before we actually start seeing a lot of these episodes.  Restoration work needs to occur on even the best quality film canisters.

There are probably a lot of reasons why we haven't heard definitively that every episode is returned, but if the Omnirumour is true, we will be hearing at some point in the not too distant future.  Many sources are reporting that a late April announcement is in the works if all parties can get together for that announcement.

The main thing to take away is that sources that were correct about Enemy of the World and Web of Fear also seem confident that many if not all of the episodes are in safe hands, and having read up extensively on the Omnirumour since my last post, I for one believe.

And as Phil Morris said to an audience at a British Film Institute event recently, "Expect the Unexpected!"  All 97 episodes returned would be quite the unexpected pleasure!

For now, all we can do is wait.

Until Next Time, Hopefully a new version of the 50 year old story Marco Polo will soon be a reward for our patience.