Tag Archives: tv

Community Table Read

Hey 3.5 readers.

Remember Community? Such a funny show.

Late 2000s/early 2010s, Big Bang Theory and Community vied to be the big nerd shows that celebrate nerdery. Big Bang was formulaic while Community was edgier.

I enjoyed it and can’t believe how time has passed since. Anyway, the cast got together for a YouTube table read of the episode Cooperative Polygraphy.

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Movie Review – Enola Holmes (2020)

Add a dash of girl power, a pinch of adventure and sprinkle a heaping helping of fourth wall breaking and you have a new Netflix film based on the popular young adult novels about Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister.

When her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) goes missing, Enola (Millie Bobbie Brown) turns to brothers Sherlock and Mycroft for help. Sherlock (Henry Cavil as a Sherlock who looks like he’d prefer to bench press clues rather than search for them) is sympathetic to his younger sister’s tom boyish nature, while Mycroft (Sam Claflin) is the patriarchy personified in that he just wants to ship Enola off to a finishing school for girls where Enola will learn how to be a wife and a mother and never ever ever do anything fun ever again.

Yeah, not gonna lie. This film is all about hearing women roar in numbers too loud too ignore.

Finding her older bros useless, Enola sets out to London on her own in search of her mother, only to find a young lord on the run as well. A murderous villain is hot on the lord’s trail and together…yadda yadda yadda, just watch it.

The movie does run a bit long and there are the occasional acts of violence that seem out of place for a young adult movie. It does meander between plots and at times it seems the writers weren’t sure if Enola should be searching for her mother or helping the young lord escape but all in all, it’s fun, though it does run a bit long.

Ultimately, this movie might be Millie Bobbie Brown’s ticket to bigger, better things. She has wowed us as Eleven in Netflix’s runaway hit, Stranger Things and appeared in the latest Godzilla movie, but this movie gives her a chance to display a wide array of emotions. I dare say it looks like she might be one of those lucky child actors who gets to go on to stardom as an adult, if this movie is any indication.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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TV Review – 11.22.63

What if you could change a terrible tragedy? Would you?

In this Hulu produced miniseries based on Stephen King’s book, James Franco stars as Jake Epping, a high school English teacher thrust into a time traveling mission filled with twists and turns.

After discovering that there’s a time portal in the back room of his friend Al’s burger joint that leads to the early 1960s, and that Al (Chris Cooper) has been diagnosed with cancer, thus rendering him unable to complete his plan to save JFK from assassination, Jake takes on the plan himself, finding friendship, love, and peril along the way.

You know, the one thing I’ll give to this series is that it educated me on a lot of things that I never knew. I always assume that Lee Harvey Oswald was a random nut who acted alone. I’m still not entirely convinced he wasn’t. However, when you consider that Oswald defected from America to Russia (its usually the other way around) and came back to America and befriended a wealthy Russian businessman with connections to the Russian government, plus a whole host of other irregularities, it does make you wonder if this might not have been the greatest conspiracy followed by the greatest coverup of all time.

I won’t bog you down by going into other issues surrounding the case. King does that well, in a fictional format that is thrilling to watch.

I wonder if this isn’t a book that King had in mind for a long time and perhaps published it later than he would have liked. Epping is a HS teacher, as King once was. King would have been a kid when national hero JFK was assassinated, ushering in a sad era for the country. Perhaps King always harbored a fantasy of being able to save him and this book brings that notion to life.

Anyway, it’s a fun series and the disparities between times are interesting. We see little differences throughout. Food wasn’t bogged down with preservatives back then, so Jake enjoys a good piece of fresh pie (in the book, it’s root beer). Then again, no one cared about the environment in the 1960s, so everything from factories to cars belched smoked with reckless abandon. Cars have gotten better. Factories? Could be better. At least people don’t whip trash out of their car windows anymore. I remember people doing that when I was a kid in the 1980s.

The series isn’t without its plotholes. Jake takes the mission on rather haphazardly without thinking. The typical “should we be messing with time” question of all time travel movies seems to go largely ignored until the end.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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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 – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend (Interactive Special)

3.5 readers, if you need a cure for the corona blues, this is it.

Note that I said a cure for the corona blues, not the corona itself.

Anyway, I was feeling pretty blue myself yesterday morning when I made my new normal commute from the bedroom to the couch, only to be instantly cheered up by the surprise of an interactive Kimmy Schmidt special.

I love this show because I feel like it was one of the last true examples of good comedy out there. Jokes that fly at you at a rapid clip, so much so you have the watch the series at least twice to catch them all.  They pull no punches and they aren’t afraid to poke fun at both sides of a topic, no easy feat in this day and age when the masses demand that comedians pick a side.

Naturally, I was bummed when the show ended rather abruptly. Though we were given an ending, it felt like everyone found love but Kimmy.  Indeed, Kimmy did find success as the author of a children’s book series, but love eluded her. I suppose there’s a larger debate about whether she needed love and while yes, anyone can achieve success on their own, finding that special relationship is, well special.

By the way, for those new to the show, it is about a woman who, as a teenager, was kidnapped (I forget the actual year but I want to say late 90s or early 2000s) by the insane Reverend Wayne Garywayne (Jon Hamm in a role that blows Don Draper out of the water) and forced to live in a bunker as one of Garywayne’s many sister wives.

Lied to by the Reverend and told that he has saved them because the apocalypse has broken out on the earth up above, Kimmy and friends are shocked when they are rescued decades later by the police and find that the world is still here.

This does not sound like fodder for a comedy at all but the crux of the humor surrounds Kimmy having a child like naivete, trying to make it big in New York City while learning thing we all take for granted. Her “teachers” on this journey are wannabe actor Titus and crazy landlady Lillian.

So, not to belabor the show’s history, in this special, Kimmy is three days away from marrying an actual prince played by Daniel Radcliffe when she discovers that the Reverend, now in prison, had been keeping a second bunker full of sister wives the entire time.  It’s up to Kimmy to save the day on a cross country trip and free the Reverend’s hostages while making it back to the wedding on time.

You, the viewer, get to make choices for Kimmy and friends, and often your choices have unexpected and hysterical results. They also do have consequences, as your decisions lead to happy, mediocre and or bad endings – just like life!

In fact, as I watched the show, I couldn’t help but wish that I had a remote control that would let me go back and make better decisions.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Look away for a spoiler – Making choices that are out of Kimmy’s character tend to be funnier, but making choices that Kimmy would make tend to keep her on the straight and narrow path.

PS: As a fan of the show, I think this does provide better closure as it ties up the loose end about whether Kimmy would find her soulmate, while leaving the door open if they want to ever make another special or more episodes. Further, it is amazing what tech can do with interactive storytelling and Netflix is leading the way on that.

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TV Review – Tiger King (2020)

3.5 readers, this will be short, but I have to recommend the new docu-series Tiger King on Netflix.

Heck, if you’re huddled inside, trying to stave off the corona, what better time than now to check out this little gem?

The long story short is that there is a crazy, wacky, world that you have likely never heard of before.  That world is the world of privately owned (as in by a person rather than by a professional company) tiger zoos.  Shoddily run by dudes with tremendous egos who act like their ownership of giant kitties is a super power, these joints are teaming with tabloid fodder and this series brings it all to your screen.

The most wacky of all tiger zoo owners is Joe Exotic, a gay country singing bigamist cowboy from Oklahoma who is addicted to social media and putting content on the web.  He loves the limelight, putting some of the silliest videos of himself imaginable out there, acting as though he is some sort of larger than life cartoon character.

Over time, he gets into a public feud with Carol Baskin, the owner of Big Cat Rescue, a preserve that gives a home to big cats once owned by zoos such as Exotic’s.  Baskin says Exotic is mistreating his kitties.  Exotic says she’s just trying to steal his cats for herself.

Ultimately, the feud takes a gruesome turn when Exotic moves from clown to criminal, getting arrested for his part in a hit for hire plot against Baskin.

Some of the things you’ll see in this series just defies belief.  Dudes who play with giant tigers without a care that they could easily become lunch.  Hangers on who work for next to nothing because they either have nowhere else to go or they just love the lifestyle.  Women turned big cat owner groupies.  Young men enamored by Joe’s money to the point they marry him even though they are straight.  Money thrown away on zoos that essentially become money pits and expired Walmart leftover meats that are fed to kitties.

This is one to watch, 3.5 readers.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

 

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I’m Enjoying The Masked Singer

I usually don’t like reality tv shows, singing contest shows, etc. but I think they have a winner here.

The judges are cheesy as they throw out guesses that seem like they are pre-rehearsed, just to push the audience in a direction but ultimately, its a lot of fun.

If you haven’t seen it yet, celebrities put on masks and elaborate costumes and sing away.  There is usually a pre-packaged bit where the masked celebrity in a squeaky altered voice drops a few clues, but the clues are often vague and hard to pin down.

Currently, I’m trying to figure out who The Skeleton is.  I’m thinking either Dan Akroyd or Paul Schaeffer.

Who do you think the masked singers are, 3.5?

 

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TV Review – Stranger Things Season 3 (1980)

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

It took me awhile but I finally got through Season 3 of Stranger Things.

These are probably bland observations but I’ll make them all the same.

#1 – The nostalgia factor for someone who grew up in the 80s is fun.  From the music choices to the overall feel, the Duffer brothers know that decade which is odd because I don’t think they spent a lot of time in it.

#2 – Often in movies about kids who save the day, the kids are usually presented as geniuses and the adults as bumbling idiots who get in the way  Here, not so much.  Hopper and Joyce are integral to the plot and aren’t treated like dummies getting in the kids’ way.  Also, the kids are kids.  They make kid mistakes and they need, or rather even seek out parental help because they know their limits whereas other films would show a kid genius who is just being slowed down by the adults.

#3 – Look away if you don’t want spoilers, but the final mall battle where the kids throw fireworks bombs at the monster is visually stunning and fun to watch.

#4 – Russians are the villains and kids and adults alike really dump on them throughout the season, calling them commies and deriding communism as evil and corrupt.  I didn’t think that was allowed anymore in today’s PC world, even in a period piece.

#5 – They do tend to work 80s era actors into the series.  Winona Ryder, aka Joyce was a popular kid actor in the 80s.  Sean Astin of Goonies fame has a brief role as her love interest in Season 2.  In Season 3, Cary Elwes of Princess Bride fame plays a villainous mayor.  Comedian Paul Reiser plays a scientist that experiments on the evil monsters.

#6 – I think the challenge for the show was trying to keep reinvent itself after an initial plotline that was cool at first but over time became somewhat limiting.  For example, after two seasons of battling evil monsters that inhabit the “upside-down” version of their town (basically, an evil parallel universe) one wonders why anyone still chooses to continue to live in Hawkins, Indiana.  Season 3 upped the game by bringing Russians conducting an evil experiment in the bowels of that 1980s staple, the shopping mall and it looks like (spoiler alert) Season 4 will likely involve a plot to rescue Hopper from the upside-down.

#7 – I’ve run out of observations but if you have any, leave them in the comments.  In the meantime, don’t click on the video below if you don’t want a spoiler.  Otherwise, enjoy the kids’ rendition of “The Neverending Story” theme song.

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Lingering Game of Thrones Questions

In no particular order:

#1 – If Sam becomes Archmaester, what happens to Gilly and his adopted son and the son on the way?  Are Gilly and the kids always going to be Sam’s taboo secret family, hiding in the shadows?  There should have either been a line like, “Oh good, it was just decided that maesters can get pussy now” or Sam should have left the maesterhood and just become another kind of wise adviser – Master of Laws or what have you.

#2 – If Bran can see the future, then didn’t he know Daeny was going to burn everyone in King’s Landing and let her do it anyway?

#3 – Did Ellaria Sand get crushed in her cell during the dragon attack?

#4 – Is Daeny really dead?  Keep in mind people come back to life on this show all the time.

#5 – Wouldn’t it have been better for Arya to become an assassin for good, using her faceless man skills to strike down the wicked?  Or maybe she has learned the ills of revenge and is now using her family fortune to explore.

That’s all I have for now but feel free to pose your own in the comments, 3.5 readers.

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Game of Thrones Series Finale Review – The Iron Throne

Hey 3.5 readers.

SPOILERS!

Alas, it’s over.  This show that was a Super Bowl for nerds lo these many years has come to an end.  Despite all the criticism it is taking, it’s over and I’m grateful HBO made it.  I do think the last two seasons were a bit rushed and some plot points were forced but overall, it gave us a real ending.  It didn’t cop out or give us a do it yourself ending.  Choices were made and an actual resolution was given.

Jon Snow takes out his boo and Daeny croaks, effectively stopping her from become fantasy world she-Hitler.  Drogon is so pissed and just as you think he’s going to burn up Jon, he burns up the Iron Throne instead, pissed that his mother died over a lousy chair.

He then grabs Daeny and swoops off and frankly, if you ask me, Jon Snow was too honest for his own damn good.  Instead of admitting to the deed he should have just been all like, “Dudes.  Check it out.  I was all trying to get up in my girlfriend’s snootch with my iron bone when that damn dragon went crazy and burned up everything and flew off with Daeny so…oh well that sucks but I guess if y’all want me to be king now, I’ll do it.”

Meanwhile, it does seem out of left field that Bran would become king.  It was sad that the lords and ladies laughed at Sam’s suggestion of pure democracy, but at least there will be a little bit of thought put into picking the leadership from now on.

While Bran does seem like the least douchiest character and the least likely to use the throne for ill, they spent the last couple of seasons pointing out to us that Bran had become a supernatural being, the mystical three-eyed raven who is above all titles of nobility.  He refused to become the Lord of Winterfell for this very reason.  There’s sort of a nod to the fact that apparently Bran saw all this coming and was ready to be named king all along and it looks like the realm will be in good hands but still, I don’t know.  You can’t just say the kid is a god for several seasons and then suddenly say oh yeah and he can be king too.

I thought the romance between Brienne and Jaime was forced.  Those two seemed like, at best, they had a respectful friendship.

It seemed unlikely that the Unsullied would have accepted anything less than Jon Snow’s head on a pike.  They wouldn’t have been ok with him just going to the Wall.

What happened to the Dothraki?  I don’t recall an answer.  Those berserkers are just roaming the countryside, raping and looting I assume.  Sorry.  Maybe that’s dothraki profiling.

Snow has a better than expected ending.  The Watch doesn’t interfere as he leaves and joins the Wildlings.  His life won’t be fabulous but at least he’ll be free…free in the cold barren north but free.

Arya will become an explorer.  Sansa is Queen of the North.  The Stark children really clean up and make out like bandits in the end, all except Jon.

To my surprise, it was actually a happy ending when I expected that everyone would just be totally dead or someone terrible would end up ruling.

Jon and Daeny’s talk about power and Daeny talking about how people who disagree with her are evil is a bit scary and has some echoes to the world we live in today as we have all become so politically divided.

Anyway, I know the show is taking a lot of heat but hey, that means people love it enough to have strong feelings about it.  I think it ended well, though again, it does strike me as odd that Bran could be a three eyed raven and king at the same time.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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