Category Archives: TV Reviews

TV Review – Brooklyn 99 (2013-2021)

It came. It went. I’m sad that it’s over but I’m glad that it happened….title of your sex tape.

BQB here with a review of Andy Samberg’s long running police comedy series.

It’s funny, I watched the first season of this show regularly when in the first season. I enjoyed it and a year later, I meant to stream the next season, then the next…and the next. I always considered myself a fan, but whoops, in the literal blink of an eye, 7 years flew by and finding myself devoid of new stuff to watch during this pandemic, I checked into it and discovered I had a lot of catching up to do.

Timely, because half way through my binge (I started this summer and just finished the last episode this week) I realized the show concluded this month. Amazing how time flies.

For those new to it, SNL alum and wacky funnyman Andy Samberg heads up the cast as Jake Peralta, a goofball detective in a Brooklyn police precinct. If you think too hard, its an odd show as in it takes place in a world where funny rarely happens. Jake and his colleagues solve crimes, catch crooks and murderers and yet somehow, wacky hijinx always transpire. In the real world, these types of shenanigans would probably get people killed and cases thrown out of court, but this is the comedy world, so you must suspend disbelief. To the show’s credit, they do manage to walk that fine line of providing goofball slapstick yet the bad guys are still always caught.

The other thing the show does well is character development. It’s a large ensemble cast, yet somehow each character gets their time in the sun. Jake’s crew includes Sgt. Terry Jeffords (uber strong ex-football player Terry Crews who wows us with his strength and pecs), Jake’s partner Charles Boyle (Jake’s partner, a loser who starts the series dating elderly women and living in his ex-wife’s basement, only to slowly but surely dig himself out of that hole over the course of the show), Amy Santiago (Jake’s love interest who worships organization and drools over file folders), Rosa Diaz (a tough, no nonsense detective with a permanent scowl and a deep voice, a far cry from actress Stephanie Beatriz’s real life bubbly, girlish voiced personality), civilian administrator Gina Linetti who ignores her duties to concentrate on social media and trash talking the rest of the gang, and of course, the glue that keeps the precinct together, Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher of Homicide: Life on the Street fame, a tough police captain, the running joke of the show being that Holt is often forced to say absurd, ridiculous things in his deep, authoritative voice. Somehow, IMO, that joke never gets old even after 8 seasons.)

Last, but not least, Scully and Hitchcock. Do you have an old, washed up person in your office? Someone who probably had a real zest for life when they were young but the years crushed their spirit and now they just loaf away at their desks, eating snacks while they count the days till retirement? Dirk Blocker (yes, the son of Dan Blocker aka Hoss Cartwright from Bonanza and Joel McKinnon Miller) plays these sometimes wastes of spaces and occasional fonts of wisdom whenever one of the younger cops dares to wade past their buckets of chicken wings to seek the rare tidbits of wisdom rolling around in their heads. One episode that gives us a flashback to the 1980s when these two were hunky studs, kicking mafia ass and taking names is equal parts funny and sad, a hilarious yet grim reminder that we all must make the best of our youthful primes, because it all goes downhill at a certain age.

Overall, I enjoyed the show very much, though the show got very real in the last season, reflecting a real world and a difficult time period in recent history that has more realness than a zany comedy can handle. Andy Samberg is great at what he does, but IMO, he is, perhaps, one of the last true funnymen, “true” in that his comedy is just that…comedy. If you watch his sketches or listen to his albums, his repertoire consists of silly voices, silly faces, silly premises, silly songs. He was in it for the laughs, never the type of comic who feels the need to impart political or special messages or take a serious turn. Alas, 2020, between the pandemic and the public outcry over police brutality forced the show to tackle serious issues, a challenge the show tried its best to do, and I’m not knocking it but a show such as this isn’t really equipped to do it. Asking Andy to be serious for a moment is like asking Andre Braugher to be serious for a moment. Somehow, when the very serious Braugher says uncharacteristically funny things, it comes off as funny, yet when the consummately goofy Andy says serious things, we just check our watches and wonder how much longer we have to wade through this attempt at drama until he acts silly again.

Unfortunately, in a climate that saw the cancellation of the Cops reality show where cameras follow the police and even the kids’ show Paw Patrol about police officer puppies, the powers that be behind Brooklyn 99 apparently felt a show about silly cops who bungle their way through saving the day wasn’t going to make it in a world that’s doing a lot of introspection about policing. I do think the show was one of the last of its kind, a silly comedy with a primary goal of making the viewer laugh. So many comedies and comedians now feel the need to make us think, give us a message, or to demand that we pick a political side and it’s just…sure, we live in a free country and comedians can do whatever they want but its unfortunate because the best comedians always realized we turned to them for escape and distraction, to get that laughter that makes us feel good…and truly adept comedians might even be able to sneak in a message or two that makes us laugh and think (not the political rallies that the late night talk shows have become.)

One last criticism of the final season, I get they had a tough challenge to be funny while tackling serious but, and spoiler alert…there were one or two moments that left me scratching my head. Turn away if you haven’t seen it, but for example, Jake has a long running friendship/enemyship? with renowned car thief Doug Judy (Craig Robinson) aka The Pontiac Bandit, constantly trying to bring him in yet he either eludes Jake or he and Jake have to team up to catch a bigger fish. In one of the last season episodes, it is implied that Jake helps him escape prison which…I mean I know its a comedy but the implication of a cop helping a crook escape? Holy shit. I always gave the show credit in that it managed to straddle the line between silly comedy and yet reminded us that cops have hard jobs and are expected to make tough calls…so as much as a cop might think a perp got a raw deal (Judy ends up going to jail over a dumb thing he did as a kid years ago), a cop can’t just assist the bad guy in getting away. They dont come right out and say Jake did it, but it is heavily implied.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Great show that unfortunately was a casualty of its time. From here on out, I guess sitcoms will just be a smorgasbord of millennial navel gazing and ennui.

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TV Review – Sherlock (2010 – 2017)

I’m a high functioning nerd, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of the BBC series, Sherlock.

I heard good things about this over the years, but was never an early convert. It came out in 2010, right around when Hollywood made the Robert Downey Jr. movies and ABC came out with their Elementary TV show.

It just seemed like the entertainment community had gone gaga for Sherlock and had created too much Sherlock supply for not enough Sherlock demand.

But I found myself developing a Sherlock interest as of late and decided to give it a go. And you know what? It’s pretty great.

As a Yank, I had to get over a few things. It’s made by BBC and is, you know, British…and made for a British audience…not like what we’re used to i.e. something filtered down for us Americans to enjoy what with all our fast fun and guns and monster trucks and so on.

Another interesting point is that each episode is roughly an hour and a half long. Thus, there are less episode. It shifts from season to season but you’ll notice seasons that are like three or four episodes long. Each episode is basically like a full length movie, so while you get less episodes, you get stories that are told in better depth.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Sherlock as the self-proclaimed high-functioning sociopath. His friend, roommate and assistant detective, Dr. Watson is played by Martin Freeman.

Cumberbatch and Freeman were in everything in the 2010s. Cumberbatch, most noticeably as Dr. Strange in the Avengers universe. Freeman was The Hobbit, though he also was a SHIELD agent in the Avengers.

Funny thing is as I watched this show, I realized how these two became so big over the past decade.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories are given new breath as the series is set in modern times. Watson keeps a blog on Sherlock’s adventures. Sherlock only puts on his hunting cap to mug for social media photos. Sherlock’s love interest/nemesis Irene Adler is a dominatrix with a phone full of photos of the rich and powerful in compromising positions. The Hound of the Baskervilles is a secret government experiment, and so on.

Overall, I enjoyed it. One thing with TV is I usually turn to it when I need a quick brake, whereas I usually put on a movie when I’m done for the day. You might want to leave the episodes till when you’re done for the day too, unless you don’t mind pausing and watching later.

My main criticism? The show ends rather abruptly as of the 2017 season. I don’t know why other than I assume Cumberbatch and Freeman are busy being in everything now.

My complaint is I thought they handled Sherlock’s longtime nemesis, Moriarty, well in an episode where Moriarty (SPOILER ALERT) frames Sherlock, making it look as if Sherlock is less of a genius and more of a weirdo who fakes crimes so he can solve them and garner media attention. That episode has a lot of thrills and chills and pretty much resolves the Sherlock vs. Moriarty arc.

Watson’s wife Mary comes in later with a whole SPOILER she’s a secret agent storyline and then before you know it she’s out of the picture. Moriarty comes back posthumously, sort of dangling the possibility that Old Jimbo might return from the grave at some point though the series has already used the old bringing a character back from the dead trick already so…I don’t know. Seems like they could have left Moriarty dead and moved on.

The show ends with an episode with a startling reveal that Sherlock and brother Mycroft have a long lost sister who is the world’s foremost psychopath, so evil that she can manipulate anyone, to the point where she apparently turned all the guards and staff at the prison she has been held in to her own personal slaves for years, thus trapping Sherlock and Watson and Mycroft in her own house of horrors.

It was interesting to watch them escape, but then the series just ends on a meh note. Watson finds a DVD left behind by Mary and all that happens is Mary basically says that Sherlock and Watson will keep going on solving crimes.

In other words, it was one of those holy crap we have to end the show but we didn’t have time to end it so we’ll piece it together really quick.

Perhaps there’s the rub. Each episode mainly focuses on a case, thus bits of the characters’ personal lives are worked in. The cases can’t necessarily go on forever and I suppose cases don’t always tie in together in a neat little ark.

(Except usually in Sherlockian lore, the underlying idea is that Moriarty is behind it all, so the big Sherlock vs. Moriarty showdown might have been better off left for the end.)

Overall, I enjoyed it and I’m hoping for further episodes down the line. Since the episodes are basically movies, they could always make another movie.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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TV Review – Russian Doll (2019)

Everlasting snark…day after day after day.

BQB here with a review of the Netflix series Russian Doll. (SPOILERS ABOUND)

I have to say it, 3.5 readers.  When I was a kid, there were a ton of TV shows and movies were single adults partied hard and lived fabulous, interesting, adventurous lives well into their forties.

Lies.  All lies, I say!  This lifestyle may work for a handful of ultra rich, ridiculously good looking people but for the rest of us normals, your best bet is to find someone you can stand being in the same room with before you hit 30, maybe 35 at the latest.

At first, from the opening scenes I thought this show was celebrating that lifestyle but in reality, it is far from it.  I’m not saying that 30 plus single people should be dumped on, I’m just saying there’s a certain point in time when you’re just too long in the tooth for the jet set crowd.

Natasha Lyonne’s Nadia has just turned 36 and her BFF, Maxine (Greta Lee) has thrown her a much undesired birthday party.  Now over 35, Nadia must come to terms with a fact that she has long been avoiding – she isn’t going to live forever.  She must find her happiness and yet, how does a misanthropic cynic who, with a dry wit and dark sense of humor, manages to openly mock everything and anything in life with great gusto find some sort of meaningful purpose in life?

Long story short,  Nadia dies.  Again and again and again.  Sometimes in scary ways.  Sometimes in hilarious ways.  To put a chill in your shorts, many of the deaths (falling down a flight of stairs, accidental electrocution, gas leak) are all things that could easily happen to any of us at any time if we aren’t careful.  When you think about it, it’s amazing that we all don’t croak again and again, what with our bodies being so fragile and all.

My early assessment was wrong.  This isn’t a show that glorifies the post 35 single life.  It doesn’t dump on it either.  Equal time is given to the fact that people who act like posers and social climbers after 35 are lame, but also, to the fact that not everyone finds love easily and sometimes love and/or happiness doesn’t come easily for everyone and that doesn’t make those people bad either.

This is Natasha Lyonne’s magnum opus, her Mona Lisa and her piece de resistance all wrapped up into one.  From the time she hit it big as Jessica, one of the funnier yet more street smart teens in 1999’s American Pie, audiences have gotten the sense that Natasha excels at playing jaded ball breakers whose fast talking, cynical facades mask deeper pain that few could handle, yet manage to joke about…all with a dose of Jewish guilt mixed in.

In recent years, her character on Orange is the New Black has cemented her status as this archetype and in Russian Doll, I get the impression, at least IMO, that Natasha is trying to say, “This is me.  This is who I am.  I’m troubled.  I carry around a lot of pain but I deal with it by tossing out a snappy one-liner that will kick you in the nuts.  You’ll get mad for a second until you realize that my assessment of you is correct and then you’ll laugh as you nurse your nuts back to health.  Oddly, you’ll find me so charming that you’ll come back for more, which is confusing, because I’m as cuddly as feral cat yet strangely, someone you can lean on, like a loyal puppy.  Although, I will bark at you.”

Was she trying to say all that?  I don’t know.  That’s what I got out of it anyway.

The repeated loop genre seems like it has been done to death, with Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day being, to the best of my knowledge, the first to tackle the idea of someone who has to repeat a day over and over.  Other films and shows have put their own spin on it.  Hell, this week, “Happy Death Day” releases the second in a series of films about a girl who gets murdered again and again only to wake up and get murdered again.

Creative?  Sure.  Overdone? Yes.

So why should you watch this addition to an overdone premise?  Well, it’s different.  Easy to say but it really is.

First, much of the series is devoted to the what of it all.  I.E. most of these films focus on something the looped character must do to make the loop stop.  This series spends a lot of time trying to figure out the why of it all…or better yet, the how of it all.  How the heck is this happening?  Nadia plays junior detective, investigating a number of theories – for example, maybe it’s spiritual energy in Maxine’s apartment caused by it being located on a former Yeshiva school, drawing her back to the same place at the same time after each untimely demise.  Hallucinations brought upon by a ketamine laced joint are another possibility.

Other theories are researched and personally, I’m torn as to whether or not the ending gives justice to the how of it.  I can see an argument for and against vis a vis whether it explained the how, but at any rate, the show does eventually make a shift from the how to the what, as in, what does Nadia need to do to make all this craziness stop?

The show is also different in that Nadia has a partner in crime.  While Nadia keeps returning to her birthday party, Alan (Charlie Barnett) gets it much worse.  He must continually return to the most unwanted of situations, reliving a scene where his girlfriend reveals that she has been cheating on him.

Eventually, Nadia and Alan meet and they must solve this mystery together.  Nadia might be cynical but at least she has somewhat of a can-do spirit.  Alan is deeply morose, ready to curl up in a corner and cry over the slightest of obstacles.  One’s a fighter and the other’s a sad sack.  Somehow they balance each other out and whether or not they resolve this never ending loop is a question I’ll let you answer when you watch it.

Stop by sometime and discuss the ending with me.  Those who haven’t watched it yet, just avoid that discussion until you do.  I think it is a great ending, not what I expected and it is rather complicated.  The show trusts you to use your brain to figure it out and doesn’t spoon feed it to you, that’s for sure.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Not sure I see it lasting more than one season.  It’s binge-worthy but I think to do a second season would be to spoil it.  Sometimes all a show needs to say can be summed up in one outing and this show is that.  Kudos to Lyonne for baring her soul for us Looky Lou’s to pick over and analyze, and for Netflix for letting her do it.  This isn’t the traditional kind of show that network TV would go for, and probably wouldn’t exist at any time other than this streaming golden age.  Also, to producer Amy Poehler.  She doesn’t star in this but by backing it, she steps out of her usual comfort zone of upbeat, silly comedy and into the world of dry, dark comedy.  Just don’t get sucked in too far, Amy.  The world still needs plenty of kindhearted Leslie Knopes, just as it needs Nadias to dump on them.

 

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TV Review – Pushing Daisies (2007-2009)

This is the best show that you probably never saw.

Dead revival powers + lighthearted mysteries + awkward (and dangerous) romance = Pushing Daisies.

BQB here with yet another TV review.

It often astounds me what the network suits decide should be cancelled and what should stay on.  It was truly a “grave” (ha, puns!) injustice that this show didn’t get more seasons.

How to explain it?

As a child, Ned learns he has a mysterious, supernatural power – he can bring the dead back to life with his touch.

Of course, nothing is that simple and there are some catches:

  • If he brings a dead someone or some thing back to life, a live someone or some thing in the surrounding area will die to balance things out.
  • If he touches the revived dead again, he/she/it will die again, this time permanently, and the touch will not work on that subject again.

As an adult, Ned (Lee Pace) has opened up his own pie show, “The Pie Hole” but it is failing financially.

So, he teams up with private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride).  Ned touches murdered people, he and Emerson ask them how they died and (hopefully if they know, who killed them).  They only have sixty seconds to make their inquiries and then Ned must touch the person before someone else in the area dies in the revived dead person’s place.

Emerson then passes it all off as though he solved the crime through his masterful detective skills and splits any ensuing reward money with Ned.

The situation becomes complicated when his childhood friend Charlotte aka “Chuck” (Anna Friel) returns to her hometown, but not as Ned would have hoped.

Chuck has been murdered, but when her body is shipped home for burial, Ned brings her back to life.

Chuck is grateful and joins in Ned and Emerson’s crime solving routine.  Alas, Ned and Chuck must figure out a way to keep their romance alive despite Ned not being able to touch Chuck ever again because if he does…she’ll die.

Without giving too much away, it involves a lot of plastic wrap.

I’m not sure where you’ll be able to watch it, 3.5 readers. At the time of this writing, I wasn’t able to find it on Netflix.  I’m sure it must be around somewhere and I suppose if you have the dough and love the show enough you could buy it but if you know where it can be streamed let my 3.5 readers and I know.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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TV Review – Weeds (2005-2012)

“Little houses, little houses, and they’re all made of ticky tacky…”

What the hell is ticky tacky?

Oh well.  Hot mom + marijuana = Showtime’s Weeds.

BQB here with another TV review.

This is another show I never watched when it was on for the first few years, then I got into it once streaming media came around in a big way.

Uber MILF Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise-Parker) has her life turned upside when her husband dies from a heart attack unexpectedly at age forty.

She’s been a suburban housewife forever, but with two kids to raise and bills to pay, she turns to a life of crime i.e. marijuana dealing.  Her product comes to be known as “MILF weed” due to her Milfyness as well as a chance encounter with Snoop Dogg (playing himself)

The first few seasons are the best of the series.  Here, the story isn’t so much about the marijuana as it is about hum drum suburban life, how Nancy is able to make tons of money selling to her neighbors who, on the surface, are stuck up yuppies but given the chance to spark a doob and party, they do – often in funny, sometimes in tragic ways.

Kevin Nealon as family friend Doug Wilson helps Nancy in her illegal endeavors.  His role in this show as a degenerate scumbag is his best work since SNL.

Meanwhile, Nancy ruins her chances at being nominated mother of the year by bringing her young sons into the business. (Hunter Parrish as Silas and Alexander Gould aka the voice of Nemo in 2003’s Finding Nemo as Shane.)

What really makes the show early on is the love/hate relationship between Nancy and her frenemy Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins).  Celia is that super perfect/judgmental mom who serves as Nancy’s foil, first by trying to ruin her and later as joining her in the drug game.

While the first few seasons in suburbia are the best, the show eventually moves on and the Botwins find themselves in crazy situations every season.  Often, it seems like series creator Jenji Kohan (now the creator of Orange is the New Black) was trying to outdo herself in each season with the wacky, borderline but not quite shark jumping predicaments the Botwins get into (Nancy marrying a Mexican drug kingpin, the Botwins going on the run being two big examples that stand out in my mind.)

Overall it is funny, and there are some interesting cliffhangers and plot twists.  Not to repeat myself, but IMO, the suburbia seasons were the best and then it gets a little goofy from thereon.

I credit this series with giving us more of Mary Louise Parker.  Though she’d been an actress for years (she had a role in 2002’s Red Dragon that springs to mind) this was the show that really put her over the top and now I get to see her in more stuff.

Works for me because she is fabulous.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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TV Review – It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

“Dayman!  Uh ahh ahh!  Fighter of the Nightman! Uh ahh ahh!  Champion of the Sun!  You’re a master of karate and friendship for everyone…Dayman!”

I can’t believe this show has been on the air for ten going on eleven damn years.

BQB here with a review of FX’s long running comedy series, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

I can’t quite put my finger on the exact date but at some point in the early to mid 2000s, the traditional sitcom format died.

Don’t get me wrong.  Surf the channels enough and you can still find that sappy “the dad is so dumb and the kids are so smart and mom’s the best” show somewhere, but by and large, people started gravitating towards non-traditional sitcoms.

Always Sunny does involve a situation – four friends and their elderly friend/step-father (depending on the character) own and operate a dive bar in Philadelphia.

In their spare time, which they have oodles of because they avoid hard work and contributing to society at all costs, they undertake a series of schemes, scams, and cons in a never ending quest to get rich overnight without having to do anything for it.

Situation? Check. Comedy? Check. Traditional? No.

Our characters are:

  • Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day) – the bar’s janitor and rat killer, naive dummy, epically disgusting dumpster diver, eternally obsessed with a woman we are only introduced to as “the waitress.”
  • Ronald “Mac” McDonald (Rob McElhenney) – Obsessed with 1980s action films, physical fitness and martial arts.  Always wears sleeveless shirts to show off his guns.  He’s not really that cut but believes himself to be.  Constantly checking out other men’s physiques, claiming purely as an appreciator of muscles but the running joke is he is clearly gay and overcompensates to avoid admitting it.
  • Dennis Reynolds (Glenn Howerton) – Narcissistic sociopath.  Obsessed with himself, literally no lie he isn’t willing to tell or bad act he isn’t willing to carry out to get himself ahead or to get into a woman’s pants.  Inventor of the D.E.N.N.I.S. system to pick up chicks.
  • Deandra “Sweet Dee” Reynolds – Dennis’ twin sister.  Good looking woman but suffers low self esteem due to constantly being called a “bird” but her brother and dumb friends.  Dreams of becoming an actress.  Has no talent and sadly, unable to recognize this fact.
  • Frank Reynolds (Danny DeVito) – Dennis and Dee’s step-father.  Has amassed great wealth due to a variety of illegal activity over the years.  Could live in style but prefers to slum it as Charlie’s roommate. Big time scumbag who teaches the youngsters how to be scumbags.

I’ve watched this show since the beginning and wow has the time flew.

I’ll say this – there are times where I have laughed hysterically, times when I thought it was pretty creative and yes, even a few times where I thought, “well, they might being going a tad too far there.”

How they have remained friends so long, I don’t know. Its nothing but a sea of them calling each other names, backstabbing and trash talking one another and so on.

Every week, they try a new scheme or get themselves into a bind.

Here are some of the most memorable off the top of my head, in no particular order:

  • Dayman/Nightman Song aka “The Nightman Cometh” – Charlie writes a musical and is too stupid to realize that it is filled with sexually explicit innuendo.
  • Kitten Mittens – Just how it sounds. Charlie puts mittens on kittens.
  • “World Series Defense” – the gang explains to a judge a terrible ordeal they had while trying to attend the World Series. Charlie dawns his “green man costume” and a generation of drunk frat boys running around in face-less green suits is born.
  • “Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare” – and to convince the welfare office they’re destitute and hopeless, they acquire and smoke crack….and become hooked. You wouldn’t think crack is a funny subject but darned if they didn’t find a way.
  • “Who Pooped the Bed?” – a poop is found in a bad. The gang, in classic whodunnit mystery style, becomes determined to solve the crime.
  • “Storm of the Century” – a massive storm heads Philly’s way.  Dennis becomes obsessed a well endowed TV weather girl, so much so much so that whenever he spots her ample bosom, he hears the lyrics to the 1980s hit song “Alone” by Heart.  He spots the boobs, he hears and apparently thinks, “Till know…I always got by own my own…” Priceless.

I don’t know. I could go on forever with my favorite episodes. If I do, I’ll ruin them. You should just go on Netflix and watch them.

Above all else, what I love about this show is that it was created by a group of friends who were trying to make a go of it in Hollywood and after struggling for years, got together, made their show, sold it to FX and were even able to get a well-known star like Danny DeVito to not only sign on in the second season but to be willing to completely debase himself over and over again for a decade.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, 3.5 readers.  If things aren’t working out, take a page from the Always Sunny crew and make things happen (but uh, try to not be so alcoholic…or gross…or engage in any of their 9 million bad habits.)

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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TV Review – Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)

“All of this has happened before and will happen again.”

Umm…except no matter what, my site will only have 3.5 readers before and again.

Seriously, it’s like shouting into the deepest reaches of space here!

I just hope if a Cylon gets me its the Tricia Helfer model.  Awooga!

BQB here with a review of Battlestar Galactica.

Just so that we’re all on the same page here, I’m talking about BSG that aired on the SyFy channel in the 2000s, not the 1970s original where the actors wore capes and the cylons looked like tin cans and shit.

This show was a real coup for sci-fi nerds.  After all, it isn’t like anyone was really clamoring for a remake of the cheesy 70s version, but series rebooter Ronald Moore delivered and delivered big time.

Twelve colonies, all named after the astrological signs, are filled with humans who work together under one government.

Alas, the cylons (robots run amuck) blow shit up big time.

In a surprise turn of events, Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) becomes the president as every other head of state above her dies.

Thereafter, Admiral William Adama (Edward James Olmos), at the command of Battlestar Galactica, leads a convoy of ships filled with humans on an epic search for the mythical lost planet known as “Earth.”

You might have heard of it. You’re sitting on it, dummy.

Along the way, there’s political intrigue, backstabbing, sex, violence, and the constant fear that someone in the ranks might in secret, be a damn traitorous cylon as, what a twist, Cylons are able to take human form now.

Did I mention that the Cylons chase the humans all over space? Cy-douches if you ask me.

Over the years, SyFy has given us such wondrous films as Sharknado and Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf.

In other words, you sort of get the impression that they phone most of their shit in, but somehow, everyone involved with this show was firing on all cylinders. Why they haven’t been able to recreate this success before or after is beyond me.

Add to the mix the exploits of space fighter pilots Lee “Apollo” Adama aka the admiral’s son (Jamie Bamber) and super hot nerd fantasy girl Katee Sackhoff as Kara “Starbuck” Thrace and you’ve got a great show.

Honestly, the show could have introduce Katee Sackhoff to the world and stopped there. She’s built a career on starring in sci-fi nerd movies/shows ever since and I hope she never stops.

Oh, and there’s James Callis as the duplicitous scheming super weenie Dr. Gaius Baltar who, we learn early on, basically helped the Cylons destroy humanity through his douchebaggery and then somehow he must hide this info from his human compatriots throughout the series or be thrown out the airlock.

Yup.  Somebody was always getting thrown out that airlock, often at the behest of grumpy Cylon hater Colonel Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan.)

I hate to say it, 3.5 readers, but this isn’t available on Netflix at present.

However, you can check it out on Hulu and if you’re a sci-fi space geek, it is worth the subscription fee, even if you just decide to subscribe until you’ve binge watched the whole thing.

And it is binge worthy. There are many cliff hangers and ongoing arcs, plot points you can’t help but want to see resolved.

And Moore and co. are creative in taking pieces of our earthly world and implanting them in the BSG world with the suggestion that the culture we experience now has its roots in this ancient space faring group of explorers.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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TV Review – Burn Notice (2007-2013)

“Being a spy means having to do things you don’t want to do…like sitting through another one of BQB’s television reviews…”

Burnt spy + hot Irish babe/demolitions expert + hard drinking, wise cracking buddy + spy’s mom = a funny action series you should have paid more attention to when it was on the air.

But that’s ok. You can still catch it on Netflix.

BQB here with a review of Burn Notice.

The show begins with government super spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) being “burned.”

As he explains during the show’s title sequence, his agency, without explaining why,  disavows him, writes him off, leaves him without any money or references and seeing as how Mike doesn’t have any job experience he can publicly admit, little in the way of skills he can use to make a legit living.

Thus, Mike moves back home to Florida to be closer to his elderly mother, Madeline (Sharon Gless of Cagney and Lacey fame.)

Mike forms a crew with:

  • His girlfriend, Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar), a demolitions expert who, often to hilarious effect, wants to blow up everything first and ask questions later.
  • Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), a fast talking degenerate/con artist/former Navy seal.

I love this show because to me, it felt like a modern day A-Team.  Just as the A-Team used their soldier skills to help people in need, Mike, Fiona and Sam form their own team and use their skills to help various residents of Florida save themselves from all manner of criminals and reprobates.

Now, keep in mind the show aired on USA, and not to cast aspersions, but USA is most likely your grandma’s favorite channel.

Ergo, USA shows tend to be simple (though I hear that might be changing with Mr. Robot as of late.)

Thus, the Burn Notice formula:

  • Beginning and end of the episode is about Mike’s ongoing quest to figure out who burned him and why he was burned.
  • In the middle, Mike, Sam or Fiona meet someone, often a nice civilian who has run afoul of some criminal.
  • Mike and the gang use their skills to help the person in need. Mike uses his spy skills. Fiona blows shit up. Sam uses his well worn alias “Chuck Finley” to sweet talk someone into giving up some information.
  • In fact, the trio often dust off their acting skills, using terrible accents and poorly crafted back stories to worm their way into the confidence of various criminal organizations before making their move.  If you suspend disbelief, its fun.

On top of all that, the Florida scenery is beautiful.

Mike even recruits his mom to help from time to time and there are a number of series regulars who come in and out.  Towards the end of the series, Coby Bell joins the group as Jesse Porter, a spy who, ironically, Michael burns.

I loved this show.  I looked forward to it when it was on every week as an escape. And it was one of few shows I was able to start when it was already on the air for a couple of years and understand what was going on before I eventually went back and watched the episodes I missed.

Somehow, the writers were able to balance the need for USA viewers to be able to understand what is happening if they just happen to start watching an episode at random with the audience’s desire to have interesting, compelling story lines.

I ended up caring about all of these characters and moreover, from start to finish, the writers make it clear that they care about you, the viewer.

Michael narrates each episode and explains his gadgets, strategies, plans, etc., usually with “Being a spy means…”

As Michael explains what he is up to, sometimes it is fun to watch to see if he can actually pull it off.

And everyone needs a girlfriend like Fiona and a buddy like Sam.

IMO, Donovan and Anwar are both underutilized by Hollywood and deserve more movie roles.

Bruce Campbell is a laugh riot and this role breathed much deserved life into his career.

Check it out, 3.5 readers.

Don’t forget to grab a yogurt. Mike loves his yogurt.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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TV Review – Archer (2009 – )

Bawk bawk.

I have no idea how this show was ever made or how it has lasted as long as it has.

Mind you, that’s not because it is bad, but because it defies any kind of usual TV show parameters, rules, guidelines or what have you and is therefore laugh out loud funny.

BQB here with a review of FX’s Archer, which has just wrapped up its seventh season with no end in sight.

In this adult cartoon (or should I say cartoon for adults?) H. Jon Benjamin voices Sterling Archer who is essentially a walking personification of the word “douche.” He is a world class spy so he has the skills and looks to back up his cocky demeanor, but he generally treats everyone like crap and gets away with it because his mother, Malory (Jessica Walterowns the independent contractor spy agency (originally dubbed the International Secret Intelligence Service or I.S.I.S which obviously, due to current events, had to be changed a couple years ago.)

  • FYI Jessica Walter played Charlie Sheen’s snooty rich mother on Two and a Half Men as well as the snooty rich mother on Arrested Development and therefore she has a lock on all snooty rich mother roles in the comedy world.  She deserves it as she knocks the snooty rich mother role out of the park.

Archer has an on again/off again romance with fellow agent Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) who suffers the burden of being the only responsible adult in a crew full of dummies.

Those dummies include:

  • Cheryl Tunt  (Judy Greer) – the agency’s insane, oddball fetish having secretary.C
  • Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell) – Total nerd who serves as the agency’s comptroller/bean counter who also has the hots for Lana.
  • Pam Poovey (Amber Nash) – Chubby potty mouthed HR rep with impulse control problems, known for her pearls and occasional dolphin hand puppet.
  • Doctor Krieger (Lucky Yates) – Mad scientist. Clone of Adolf Hitler though looks nothing like Hitler. In love with an anime hologram.
  • Ray Gillette (Adam Reed, who is the creator of the series) – Openly gay pilot/agent.  In fairness, Ray has it more together than the rest of the crew, though their incompetence regularly causes him to lose a limb or a body part as a running gag.

Speaking of running gags, the show is full of them. “Phrasing” is the best one that comes to mind. Say something that sounds remotely dirty and Archer will hit you with “phrasing” as in “you could have phrased that better.”

Archer loves 1970s action movies and is a devotee of Burt Reynolds.  Burt and many other stars have made cameos as either themselves or other characters. Being cartoonized as an Archer character has sort of become a sign than an actor/actress has made it in Hollywood (or at the very least, they have a good sense of humor.)

Animation has definitely allowed the show runners to get away with things that would never fly in live action. Somehow drawings of butts make it to TV but real butts are a no no. Oh well. I’m not a prude or anything I’m just wondering how the censors make this distinction.

Six seasons are available on Netflix.  They’re short, roughly twenty minutes long, so a good show to check out if you need a quick distraction.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy

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TV Review – Mad Men (2007-2015)

Dun dun…dun dun…dun dun….dun dun…cartoon silhouette of a man falling out of a window combined with violin music.

Hard drinking, chain smoking 1960s advertising men and Christina Hendricks’s jumbotrons = a compelling historical drama.

BQB here with a review of Mad Men.

3.5 readers, I like to consider myself an educated person. I read books and shit after all.

But few shows brought to life for me the women’s rights struggles as this show did.

Ironically, that’s not what the show is about but it is what I’ll probably always remember it for.

The set-up – Don Draper (Jon Hamm) lives the life of a free wheeling, perpetually fornicating Madison Avenue advertising executive (aka he is a “Mad Man.”)

Because its the 1960s, he’s pretty much free to boink any babe he wants and just tell his wife he had to stay late at work if she asks any questions.

In fact, his comrades at the firm pretty much do the same thing.  His boss, Roger Sterling (John Slattery) and his underling Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) rival Don in their hard drinking, smoking, and extramarital affairs.

We often look to the past as simpler, more innocent times yet this show does put on display things that were commonplace in the past that would turn a head today, the most glaring example that everyone at the firm has their own fully stocked bar in their office and walking around the office with a cocktail in one hand and a smoke in the other happened all the time.

Good luck trying that today.

The formula is pretty standard:

  • Don cheats on his wife because he was once a poor bum who never thought he’d amount to anything and now that he is on top and the world is his oyster he feels this driving need to drink, smoke and boink as much as possible before his life is over.
  • Extramarital boinking is fun for five minutes but then he realizes family is the real deal, that one night stands will never bring him the long lasting happiness that being a family man will.
  • Don decides to straighten up only to start boinking again. In his defense, women just throw themselves at him so it is hard to avoid the boinking. It is easy for me to say that I’m not an evil boinker since no one is offering to boink me.
  • Don’s colleagues at the firm all experience the “be faithful to your spouse vs. boink while you can” conundrum.
  • Along the way, we learn a lot about the history of commercial advertising, how some of the advertising campaigns that fool us into buying crap we don’t need got started and continue today.

There are times when the show seems tedious, like it is going nowhere.  I get the main premise, i.e. love the one that’s loyal to you because the side action will never be as loyal.

If I didn’t bear a striking resemblance to a gargoyle, I would take this to heart and tell the side action to take a hike. Alas, I am too hideous to attract side action.

But maybe I’m the lucky one. Maybe Don would have been better off if he weren’t so damn handsome and having so many women throwing themselves at him, demanding that he be unfaithful.

I mentioned the women’s rights movement earlier.  So, what I noticed is that Betty (January Jones) who is super hot and frankly, would be enough for me (I’d be racing home from the office to get all up in that) basically has to put up with Don’s bullshit.

She’s a housewife. No money. No career. No job prospects. If you’re a 1960s housewife and your husband cheats on you, your choices are a) put up with it and lose your dignity or b) leave and be poor because the best job you’ll be able to find is waitressing if you’re lucky and also you’ll lose the kids because your husband has the money to hire a lawyer and you don’t.

So thanks a lot, Don, you big time douche. Dudes like you who had no idea how good you had it created a world where women had to take charge and alas, I don’t have January Jones waiting for me when I come home now.

Aside from the man drama, you also have Joan (Hendricks) and her enormous sweater cannons, which are basically characters in and of themselves and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) paving the way for women in business, showing what working women had to go through.

Throughout the series, we see Peggy go from mousey secretary to female Don Draper while Joan must navigate her way through a sea of perverts who want access to her sweater cannons on her quest to be taken seriously as a businesswoman.

All seven seasons available on Netflix. Set your TV to widescreen mode so you can take in Joan’s chest rockets in their entirety.

Seriously, its like watching a movie when you the theater is packed and you have to sit in that damn row that’s right up against the screen.  You have to look to the left to see the left boob then crane your neck to the right just to see the right boob.

Very stressful.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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