Wednesday, June 29, 2011

7th Annual Josh's Choice For Best New Show of the Season

I have to say, for a large part of this television season, I was worried that I might have to forgo the award this year.

While cable has consistently delivered new and fantastic television including Walking Dead and Game of Thrones this year, both of which immediately placed themselves among my favorite television shows of all time, network television has been sorely lacking in great new shows of late.

To be fair, I feel like it is easier to make a more challenging and original television show on cable where you can become a massive hit with the same number of viewers that will get you canceled a couple of episodes into a season on NBC.

That's part of the reason that I give this prestigious (even if only in my mind) award only to network shows.  They are already working at a deficit.  Since the shows that I like are original and higher concept and not the cookie-cutter  procedurals or (God-forbid) the supposed reality shows that don't reflect any version of reality with which I am familiar, it probably isn't surprising that only one of the shows I've awarded in the last seven years is still on the air.  Despite the networks' apparent unwillingness to stick with original and challenging television fare, I, for one, look forward to strong network television shows and will continue to support them and promote them in my own small way.

That isn't to say that I still would have awarded a network television show had one not deserved being recognized, and for the first half of the season I truly thought I would go without awarding a show this year, which is even more sad when you consider that most years I recognize more than just the winner.  This year, only the winner will be recognized.

Before we get to that show, lets take a look at the previous six winners.  The links will take you to the full posts if you want to read more on the reasons for my choices as well as the other shows that I acknowledged that year (this being the first year that only the winner is worth noting).


2nd Annual JCFBNSOTS - Invasion

3rd Annual JCFBNSOTS - Friday Night Lights

4th Annual JCFBNSOTS - Journeyman

5th Annual JCFBNSOTS - Dollhouse

6th Annual JCFBNSOTS - The Good Wife

And now onto the moment you have all been waiting all season for....

Like I said, for a large portion of the season, I thought that this year might not have any show I felt was worthy of being awarded, luckily on February 7th, FOX debuted this year's winner, the fantastic Chicago Code.

Chicago Code, created by Shawn Ryan who is probably best known for his FX hit The Shield but who also served as the showrunner for former JCFBNSOTS runner-up The Unit.

This show, similarly to The Shield, is a cop show that goes beyond the typical overused tropes of a cop show.

While there is a weekly case or mystery in Chicago Code, the overarching story continually stays at the forefront.

The show actually reminded me greatly of what I consider the second best television show of all time, The Wire.  While the cops are ostensibly the stars of the show, we are also shown the villain's side of the story, and the alderman stands up with Stringer Bell as a fantastic character that you love to root against.

The story is brilliant, but it wouldn't work without the great writing and even better performances backing up the strong characters.

The show has a realism that is often absent in cop shows, adding a sense of suspense and a connection to the characters and the outcomes of the episodes week to week that means the viewer is legitimately invested in the outcome.

That is rare in today's network television.

And the episodic nature of the show is sadly becoming less common as well, especially in what is technically a procedural cop show.

It is very sad that Chicago Code didn't gain more of a following and is ending after just one season, luckily the show was able to provide a satisfying conclusion to the show while holding open the possibility of the story continuing.

If you haven't had a chance to check out the show, the entire season is available on Hulu Plus.  If you don't have access to Hulu Plus, I highly recommend purchasing this show on DVD (or BluRay) when it becomes available.

The only regret you will have is that it is such a short run.

Until Next Time, I am glad that there was at least one show worthy of our attention this year, but I hope that next season brings us more shows to celebrate.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Archive Files #5: Less Than Meets the Eye

While many people I know, and sadly many of readers as well, will probably be out this weekend furthering the career of my least favorite director of all time, I will be avoiding the movie theater (at least where Transformers 3 is concerned) so that when Transformers 4 is announced absolutely no blame can be placed on me.

Seeing as though I was a huge fan of the original cartoon, and as a child when the animated movie was released, not only did I see it in theaters, but (SPOILER ALERT) I cried when Optimist Prime died!  Literally cried.  It was all any of us could talk about when school resumed that fall.

I am the primary audience for this type of film, and yet the horrendous job done by Michael Bay previously has made me swear off the franchise until it is in more capable hands.

Seeing as though I have a responsibility, however, to review big films, I feel that I need something posted to mark the occasion of this inevitable trashing of my childhood.

To that, therefore, I offer a new Archive Files, wherein I will repost my most negative review ever (still not as artfully negative as Ebert's review of Battle: Los Angeles, but he's been doing this a lot longer than I have), my review of Transformers 2, the worst movie I have seen in my entire life...

Transformers 2, Less Than Meets the Eye

Growing up, along with Voltron, my favorite cartoon was Transformers.  When the reigns for the inevitable film franchise were handed to Michael Bay, I was worried.  First off, I knew that there would be little chance to have a clue on what was happening in any fight scene due to the camera shaking as if it were being pummeled rather then just trying to document robots pummeling each other.  On that count I was most certainly correct, but overall the first Transformers film was actually enjoyable and it was cool to see the robots I had loved so much as a kid so awesomely recreated on the big screen.

Well, while the first time out he got it mostly right, Michael Bay seemed to prove all the original naysayers right with his second go round.

I really didn't think that I would see a film this year that I disliked more then Terminator, but lo and behold, just a few weeks later, I did.

Transformers 2 is without a doubt one of the worst films ever made.

Look, obviously it isn't supposed to be an Oscar contender, and really it is a film that is probably meant to be enjoyed more by kids then adults.  I understand that.  But it isn't too much to ask a popcorn movie to be, I don't know, enjoyable.  This film is anything but.

Michael Bay makes every fight scene pretty much impossible to comprehend as it is nearly impossible to tell which robots are fighting, much less what they are doing to one another, and really, the giant fighting robots was about all this film really could have hoped to have going for it.

As for everything else, it is really just embarrassing.  There is a somewhat cool idea for a movie hidden amongst all of the extremely juvenile humor, but it is overshadowed and made pretty much moot by the majority of the film.

In just the first thirty minutes we are treated to two dogs having repeated sex in various places and the wonderful comedy cliche of the clueless mother getting stoned unintentionally on pot brownies.  What is funny on an episode of That 70's Show probably doesn't belong in a supposed blockbuster summer action movie.

Throughout the film we are also treated to a giant robot's testicles (seriously) and a tiny robot humping Megan Fox's leg for well over a minute.  I would think that perhaps this film was meant for the 8 year old boy market if not for the fact that it is a hard PG-13.  There are almost as many cuss words in this movie as there are in The Hangover (although Transformers 2 does avoid the F-bomb.  Good for it, I guess?)

Personally, I don't understand how any actress could agree to be in a Michael Bay movie as he is up to his usual misogyny in this film.  Not only are all of the females given short shift, like the poor mother of Shia LaBouf's character, but they are generally treated like objects.  Megan Fox is pretty much only around to look sexy.  (Not that she isn't very good at it, because she is).  But this film even goes so far to blatantly make the comparison of hot co-ed = evil robot.  Literally.

The worst transgression, however, and the one that you are likely to hear the most about is the unbelievably racist stereotypes played out by the Twins, two Autobots that are portrayed as black youth and voiced in tacky hip-hop-esque dialogue.  There sole purpose in the film is to beat each other up and call each other derogatory names for female genitalia.  Also each of them are given a gold tooth and a joke is made at their expense pointing out the fact that they are illiterate.  It is embarrassing and honestly made the movie a painful experience.  There was literally no reason for these characters to exist other then the supposed "comic relief" that they were meant to provide.

And to top it off, Michael Bay actually includes an homage... TO HIMSELF!  Unbelievable.

This movie is not worth your time and definitely not deserving of your money.  Please do yourself a favor and miss it.
Until Next Time, the last line of this review probably encapsulates exactly what I would think of the third installment.  STOP DESTROYING MY CHILDHOOD, MICHAEL BAY! (And learn some respect for women while you're at it)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer Television: Falling Skies

Recent films have taken this supposition, aliens have invaded/are invading and humanities hopes for survival are few and far between.

Skyline and Battle: Los Angeles both quickly come to mind.

But Falling Skies, the new summer series executive produced by Steven Spielberg and airing on TNT, remembers something that neither of those movies did:

It's about character and story, stupid.

Neither Skyline nor Battle: Los Angeles focused on character and story, they were both all about the spectacle.

It is certainly early, but it appears that Falling Skies won't be making the same mistake.

While Skyline and Battle: LA began before their respective invasions and then showed us the resulting entanglements, Falling Skies starts months after the battle is lost.

Humanity is in dire straits.

Adults are being killed by the aliens, known as skitters and mechs, but for some reason, children are being fitted with a "harness" and kept alive, although in a hypnotized state.

Our hero, played by ER's Noah Wyle, is a former history professor with three sons, two of whom are with him, but his middle son is missing, presumed taken by the aliens.

By beginning where it did, character and story take center stage, but the spectacle is good as well.

At the end of the first episode there is a particular potent look at one of the skitters.  Despite being on television, I think that Falling Skies actually has better effects than either of the two films previously mentioned.

Cable shows of late have been fantastic, much better than the recent slate of network shows, and Falling Skies seems to continue that trend.

Until Next Time, If you are a fan of sci-fi, this is a show worth checking out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Where Has This Woody Allen Been?

Midnight in Paris is simply magical.

Over the last week and a half I have seen three fantastic movies, and each one has rated above the last for me.

To be fair, if it weren't for the lens flares, I probably would have kept Super 8 above Green Lantern, but the lens flares were there and they were super (no pun intended) annoying.

Tonight I saw Woody Allen's latest film, Midnight in Paris, starring Owen Wilson as neurotic writer Gil Pender.

My friend Caitlin (who I would have to describe as relevant, revelatory, and paradoxically juxtaposed) and I went to see the film, not at all sure what to expect, and honestly, that is the way to view this film.

The less you know going in, the more magical and delightful the film will be, so I'm not going to say too much.

I will say this, however.

I loved Super 8, and part of the reason was that it inspired a sense of nostalgia for film-making that we don't see as often anymore, particularly the innocence and wonder that Spielberg's films used to inspire.

Woody Allen was a similar filmmaker once upon a time.

His movies were imbibed with a magic and realism (another paradoxical juxtaposition I suppose) that could transport you into the film you were watching, and that experience is rare in films these days.

And, honestly, it has been rare in a Woody Allen movie in quite some time.

This movie, however, brings back that feeling, and recaptures a magic that Woody Allen hasn't, in my opinion, provided in quite some time.

Both this film, Midnight in Paris, and Super 8 provide a nostalgia for the way that movies used to be, both center on an idea of a time period passed that we long to revisit and want to try to connect with in some way.

If anything negative can be said about Super 8 (besides the annoying lens flares), it would be that while that nostalgia is present and magical, there isn't really anything that original beyond it.  It hearkens back beautifully to films and themes of the past, without having anything new or original to say, which is saying something in and of itself, and I really don't mean to disparage Super 8 in anyway.  What it did worked for me and I truly loved the film.

Midnight in Paris, on the other hand, embraces the nostalgia, and recalls the feeling of the golden ages of the past and makes you remember the way film (and Woody Allen films in particular) used to be, but at the same time it is a completely original movie that feels like something new and refreshing.

If you categorize it as romantic comedy (and I'm not really sure that is the classification I would use, I would rather refuse to try to box it in to any one genre) then it is unquestionably the best romantic comedy I have ever seen.

Ultimately, I think it will be placed amongst my favorite films of all time, and I find it hard to imagine that it will be topped by any other film this year as it is the best film that I have seen since 2006 when The Fountain and The Children of Men came out.

Interestingly enough, Woody Allen apparently tried to get this film made in 2006, but was unable to do it cost effectively.

Until Next Time, I believe it was worth the wait, as it makes the present more pleasant while acknowledging the nostalgia of the past.

Monday, June 20, 2011

In Brightest Day, my review of Green Lantern

First of all, Ryan Reynolds is Hal Jordan.  I really wanted his old "Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place" co-star, Nathan Fillion (Captain Mal on Firefly, Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible, and Frank Castle, not a Captain, in Castle) to be Hal Jordan, but Ryan Reynolds encapsulated the character quite succinctly in my opinion.

The acting and characterization was one of the (many) strengths of this film.

The effects were more than adequate; sure, you could tell they were cg effects, but that's almost always the case, and they didn't get in the way at all, but did assist in the story.  As cg continues to improve, the Green Lantern franchise will no doubt benefit.

The action and story were stellar, and the movie overall is engaging and a hell of a lot of fun.

The only negative thing I have to say about the film is that it flies by far to fast.  Seriously, the story and action are heading at speeds unknown to all by Green Lanterns flying from far flung sectors back to Oa at the center of the universe.  I wish that the film had been longer and taken a little more time to breathe, but even that complaint really didn't hinder my enjoyment of the film at all.

In fact, and I recognize my incredible love of the characters of the Green Lantern Corp might have some play in this reaction, but it was instantly among my favorite comic book movies of all time, and is currently at the top of the list for 2011 films so far.

Sorry, Super 8, your run as top film of the year was pretty short.

If you have any love of the character, I can guarantee that you will love this movie.  If you don't know anything about the Green Lantern Corp or Hal Jordan, I still think you will be in for an enjoyable ride.

I honestly don't understand why the film is getting the negative reviews that it is getting, because other than the fact that it was over way too fast, I can't say a single negative thing about it.

Until Next Time, In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight.  Let those who worship evil's might beware my power, Green Lantern's light!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Doctor Who, A Good Man Goes to War, first thoughts

So, SPOILERS and all that...


My exact words for the pertinent point...

Here's an interesting thought, considering that Amy's last name is Pond, a body of water, what if River (also water related, hmmm) is actually the daughter of Amy Pond?

I don't know.  Seems plausible though, doesn't it?  There is clearly something hugely (no pun intended this time) important about the baby in Amy's belly.
 I expanded on it the next week, with more theory I know really believe to be likely since the first part was confirmed...

What if the little Time Lord is the daughter of River and the Doctor.  And, as I postulated last week, River is the daughter of Amy and Rory.  Meaning that the picture Amy saw was a picture of the little Time Lord's mother as a baby.  River Song, as an infant, in the arms of her mother (the Little Time Lord's Grandmother), Amy Pond.
I do so like to look smart.

For those believing that the girl in the Impossible Astronaut suit/ the little Time Lord is actually River, that doesn't work at all, because then River would have known what was going on in the first two episodes, and certainly wouldn't have shot at herself as she walked away after killing the Doctor.  Go back and watch that scene, River had no idea that was about to happen.  River is not the girl in the astronaut suit.

It can, however, be River's daughter, since River never saw the face of the girl, and wouldn't think to mention that she and the Doctor have a daughter, since that would be "Spoilers, sweetie."

What a fantastic finale (of sorts).  Very big feeling episode, even if I did guess at the reveal long before it happened.

The second Amy's daughter was said to be "Melody Pond," I knew it was River.  After all, River=Pond and Song=Melody.

I still think that there is more to "The only water in a forest is a River."  Sure, it explains how to get from Pond to River, but I think it also harkens back to River being in the computer at the Library, also known as the Forest.

Now that the Doctor knows exactly who she is, don't you think he'll find someway to save her?  I do.

This eye-patch lady is clearly bad news, and I look forward to the Doctor giving her what for at some point in the future.

What is scary is that while the first try for a weapon to fight the Doctor, Melody Pond/River Song, is unsuccessful, it appears to me that they try again with the daughter of River and the Doctor, our little Time Lord from Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon.

That kind of behavior simply cannot stand.

The other thing that I loved about this episode was the payoff on the depth and development of Rory.  He is a full and awesome companion in his own right, and probably the best male companion since Jamie from way back with the Second Doctor.

Good stuff.

Well, quite some time until the next episode.  Autumn is after summer, huh?

Until Next Time, here are some BBC videos on the big reveal...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thursday Night Madness

It is common knowledge the love I have for one Justin Tiemeyer of Cavemen Go, but sometimes I have to respectfully disagree with his opinions.

This is one of those times.

Currently, Justin is working on trying to discover the best show that aired on the over populated Thursday night.

Pretty fun little idea, right?

Sure.  The problem, however, comes from the fact that there are two clear choices for the funniest shows to air on Thursday this last season


(Breathe, breathe, it will be okay, Josh Man)

Okay, sorry about that.  I'm better now, I swear.

Anyway, as I was saying... well, let's take a look at his bracket, shall we?

As you can see, the only shows in contention are Big Bang Theory, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Community, The Office, and 30 Rock.

His seeding system is based on ratings, which is severely unfair to It's Always Sunny, considering that FX doesn't get near the same number of homes as do the network shows.  I'm not sure how to fix this issue, other than perhaps using some sort of rating system such as on IMDb or

But that isn't my main issue.

The funniest show on NBC (and Thursday night, if not television in general right now) is without question Parks and Recreation.

While the show took a little time in its shortened first season to find a foothold, it has quickly become by far the most consistently funny
comedy currently on television.

With the same awkward type of humor that Seinfeld and Ricky Gervais pioneered (and for which The Office is currently known), Parks and Rec also builds far superior stories and humor out of the strong characters, which it refuses to sacrifice for an easy joke (unlike The Office and far more regularly 30 Rock).  There is the outrageous situational humor that you find on The Office, 30 Rock, and It's Always Sunny for that matter, but the characters are  far more real and therefore the situations are that much more hilarious.  And, as I said, it is at a consistent high level unlike any other show on the night.  Since hitting its stride very early in season 2 (and considering that Season 1 was only 6 episodes long, that as far into its run as it sounds), there has not been a single episode of Parks and Rec that wasn't fantastic.  The same cannot be said for any of the shows in Justin's bracket.

On FX, all the attention is given to It's Always Sunny, and it deserves that attention, but the last couple of years, it has actually been outshone by the show that it is paired with, The League.

While you might get a little more enjoyment out of the show if you are an avid Fantasy Football fanatic, the show is hilarious even if you can't tell the difference between a corner back and a half back.  Again, it is the characters that make The League so hilarious.

If you do play Fantasy Football, you will recognize all of the different types of characters on the show in how they obsess over their lineup and dish out their trash talk, but if you don't you will still recognize your friends (or acquaintances, because like It's Always Sunny and the show that clearly inspired it and this, Seinfeld, as recognizable as these characters are, you don't really want to be that close to them as to call them friends) in the banter and situations that they get themselves involved in.

So, while I recognize the intent for what Justin is attempting to accomplish with his little bracket, when he's leaving out the two funniest shows of the night, I'm not sure that I can officially condone his findings.

If on the other hand you are wanting to discover what the 3rd best show on Thursday night is, then by all means, check out the tournament in progress at Cavemen Go.

Until Next Time, for my money, I'll place it on the shows that featured Lil' Sebastian and introduced us to the genius of the Bathroom Cubby.

With Production Value and Story, My Review of Super 8

I admit to being a big fan of J.J. Abrams.

I loved the new Star Trek.

You know how I feel about LOST.

I watched Felicity up until she cut her hair, was obsessed with Alias, and am currently loving every second of Fringe.

Spielberg, especially the Spielberg that this movie evokes, also holds a special place in my heart.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that I was a big fan of this movie.

I wish that J.J. would lay off of the lens flares a little, but other than that there isn't really anything negative that I can say about this movie.

Even in this summer of sequels (Hangover 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, Fast Five, Harry Potter 8, Transformers 3, etc.) and prequels (X-Men:First Class, Pirates of the Caribbean, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Puss in Boots, etc.) I can't really claim that this movie is all that original.

Because it definitely does evoke Spielberg from the 80's, ET, Close Encounters Spielberg.

But it also evokes Stand By Me.

And Judd Apatow's Freaks and Geeks came to mind a lot as well as I watched the middle school protagonists.

No, there is a lot that we've seen before in this movie, but it is the fantastic melding of Spielbergian concepts and themes with the coming of age/adolescence adventure of Stand By Me and the realistic 80's aura and reality of the teenagers that Apatow had captured so brilliantly that helps make Super 8 as fantastic as it is.

And it is a very good story as well.

It is a tad predictable, but it works, on an emotional level and with the pulse pounding excitement of a good monster movie as well.

It isn't original, per se, but it is original in the fact that we don't get this type of film, as full of heart as it is thrills, as often as we used to when Spielberg made them regularly.

Until Next Time, Take some time out of your busy summer to catch this movie and remember the way that summer blockbusters used to be made, before Michael Bay blew them up.

If you can get past the lens flares (J.J. Abrams weakness, much as a shaky camera and lack of story haunt Bay) you won't regret it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Big number.

250 posts on this here blog.  Due to Archive Files, you don't have to go back and read them all, the interesting ones will get featured again with new thoughts or commentary.

But if you want to go back and read them all, I won't stop you.

More interesting, in my opinion at least, is what we have to look forward to.

There is still one episode of Doctor Who before the hiatus, which will bring up some interesting topics of discussion, Torchwood is returning to our televisions this summer as is Eureka and Warehouse 13 and I will be talking a lot about each of those shows, very soon I will highlight the latest award winner of the coveted Josh's Choice for Best New Show of the Season, and there are many movies about to be released that I will review here, not to mention that before too long it will be Oscar time again and long time followers of the blog know what that means.

So there is a lot to look forward to.

Thanks for joining us whenever you did among the last 250 posts...

Until Next Time, Here's to 250 more!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Doctor Who, The Almost People, first thoughts

SPOILERS (if you haven't watched through episode 6 of season 6, and yes, we know, those of you in the UK have already seen episode 7.)

This was a great second-parter leading into the mid-season finale, where apparently, we will finally find out the truth about River Song, (my theory being that she is the daughter of Amy and Rory and subsequently the mother of the little Time-Lord we saw in Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon, whether that is correct or not we shall soon know).

The beginning was fantastic as the ganger Doctor adjusted to all of his previous incarnations.

"One day we will get back, yes, one day."  The First Doctor and his desire to return home.

"Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow."  The Third Doctor's famous saying.

"Would you like a Jelly Baby?"  The Fourth Doctor, in the Fourth Doctor's voice, offering his favorite snack.

Then, the Doctor (ganger version) seems obsessed with Cyber-Mats.  Seems like an odd choice, but perhaps the ganger version of the Doctor has some idea about what's to come.

After he gets himself situated, we are treated to some fun multiple Doctor stuff, last seen in the end of Season 4.

 I really enjoyed seeing Matt Smith work with Matt Smith as the Doctors each finished the other's sentences and immediately began working towards a shared goal, part of which was come to verbally, saving as many of both the humans and gangers as possible (it turned out to be an exact equal number of each, although far more of each were lost in the end than saved), and part of which was kept silent, convincing themselves of the difference between flesh and human and in particular Amy's ability to tell the difference.

That, of course, was because, as I surmised after the last episode, the Doctor's reason for coming here at all was to test a theory that he had concerning Amy and her maybe/maybe not pregnancy.

It turns out that Amy herself is made of flesh, and while her ganger is not pregnant, the real Amy situated in a small pregnancy bed and presumably hooked up to a harness similar to the ones the humans at this factory used prior to their gangers gaining sentience.

Therefore, the creepy one-eyed lady Amy kept seeing was from her human situation bleeding into her awareness in the ganger.

Pretty shocking end and answer to that particular question, setting up the sure to be heart-stopping finale.

Meanwhile, another big question might have been provided an answer as well.

The ganger Doctor was in every way the Doctor.

The flesh were used by the factory workers because of the dangerous environment in which they worked.  When they lost one of the gangers due to the acid, they just had the flesh make them a new ganger.

While the ganger Doctor sacrificed himself to stop the monster that Jen had become, the flesh is presumably still unharmed and active, and it still has the genetic memory that it used to create the first ganger Doctor, meaning that it can do so again, meaning that the ganger Doctor can again sacrifice himself for the Doctor, being the one who sends out the invitations and allows himself to be killed in front of the Silence.

At least, that is one possibility.

As I said, I really enjoyed the multiple Doctor stuff, so I would recommend for your rewatch this week to go back and watch The Stolen Earth/Journey's End for some multiple Doctor (and Doctor Donna) action.  Also, on Netflix you can watch the first multiple Doctor story The Three Doctors which brought together the first three Doctors to stop the threat of Omega, the Time Lord who made time travel possible.

Until Next Time, I can't wait to find out the truth of River Song, because I'm sure that will only be the beginning.