Tag Archives: TV Reviews

Better Call Saul – A Great Show with a Stinky Ending

BQB here.

So, obligatory SPOILER WARNING. If you don’t want to know how BCS ends, look away now. No one else reads this blog anyway so feel free to join the club.

OK.

If you saw it, here’s my list of reasons why the ending stinks:

#1 – While the last few Gene-centric episodes were fun, they aren’t really fitting with the character. Saul was always a contradiction. Very loud, flamboyant and obnoxious but also very devious in his planning and careful in carrying out his plans. TBH, it’s hard to believe a guy on the run with a bag of diamonds and a recognizable face/highly wanted man wouldn’t just lay low in a hole in the wall apartment for a few years before going out into the world as a Cinnabon manager, but they wanted to turn that line from BB about him managing a Cinnabon into something real so, OK.

Fun as the last few episodes were, it’s hard to believe that Saul, when being harassed by a dude from ABQ who recognizes him wouldn’t just call the vacuum cleaner repairman and relocate again.

But OK, I’ll buy that “Gene” was bored, restless, got a taste for scamming, went back to his old ways, got greedy, and got caught.

#2 – One of the central themes of the show is that the legal profession is a very rich and very pedigreed club. If you want a job at a prestigious big city law firm, you might be one of the lucky few who gets there on their own, but more likely you a) need a rich family who can bankroll you through a prestigious undergrad and a prestigious law school as well as the connections to get you in and all the coaching on how to get in i.e. entrance exams, applications, interviews and so on, not to mention all the internships and experiences you’ll need to get to the big time. Ultimately, if you’re a slug like Jimmy McGill, you need not apply and thus, that was the heart of the show. The slug runs circles around the fancy lawyers all the time.

Jimmy’s brother Chuck is the rare top firm lawyer/self-made man so it is tragic when Jimmy bests him. The rest of the fancy lawyers are all country club dimwits who would be working at a drive-thru burger joint without family connections and money. Admittedly though, smarmy pantload that he was, it was still horrible what Jim and Kim did to Howard Hamlin.

Ultimately though, when Saul talks the big time fancy hot shot US attorneys from like, a bazillion years in prison all the way down to 7 in Club Fed, this is like Saul’s masterwork. His entire joy in life was bamboozling top shelf lawyers who view him as pond scum because of his American Samoa degree.

So, I have a very hard time believing that Saul, as in the character who has been built up over the past 14 years, would ever crap on his greatest legal wrangling achievement by copping to the whole enchilada thereby opening the door for him to get slammed with 86 years. I just don’t buy it.

I sort of get what the show was going for. There’s an argument that Saul was such a slippery weasel that the only lawyer who could successfully prosecute Saul was Saul. He wasn’t going to give it to the prosecution. He needed to make them know that he had the power to get up, do a song and dance about how Walt made him afraid and yeah, Walt’s reputation for murdering those who disobeyed him was so well known it is believable that one juror would have bought it and he only needed one.

So he let the fancy lawyers know he could have beat them, and essentially he did, then copped to it. Essentially, he prosecuted himself and put himself away for far longer than a whole slew of fancy US attorneys could have.

This is something that would have only happened on TV. Frankly, the 7 year deal was a stretch. I debate that. He did still make a boatload of money and surely there are money crimes but I suppose he could always argue Walt made him do it.

It’s just very unbelievable that the world’s most slippery weasel would have bailed on such a fabulous deal.

#3 – I do get it is the BB-verse and here, this is a place where crime never pays. Everyone who so much as bites a slice of the forbidden fruit that is the rotten apple of crime pays and pays dearly. So it would not have fit that theme if Saul had won. I think we all wanted to see Saul end with a big legal showdown where he walks scot free and maybe even goes back to practicing but ok. In the end, Jimmy felt bad about how he lived his life, wanted to atone, and saw the only path to pay for his evil deeds was to go to jail forever. In real life, I don’t buy it. Jail is a horrible place. If you can get off in 7 in a quasi resort style jail with golf and ice cream, literally no one will say no please send me to the supermax. Yes, the show was clear to point out that all the inmates love Saul for his defense of crooks everywhere but yeah, not all are going to love and protect him forever. Again, jail is a horrible place.

All in all, if they wanted a Jimmy redeems himself or pays for his crimes ending, another route might have been plausible.

#4 – A lot is left on the table and unanswered or at least I don’t understand it. Is Kim still on the hook for Howard? I feel like Jimmy copping to it only makes her situation worse, not better. Think about it. Kim admitted to a lot of bad stuff in her affidavit. They won’t prosecute because there is no body and neither Jim or Kim know where it is? OK. Not sure but I believe that is true. If there is no body then they could never 100 percent know for sure that a murder took place.

Even so, she did admit to fraudulently painting a prominent attorney as a drug addict, going so far as to even drug him so it looked like he was on drugs, for the purpose of damaging a law firm’s reputation so as to convince its clients to take a settlement offer early rather than continue with the case just so she and Jim could get their pay days early…come on. That’s a prosecutable crime, isn’t it? Doesn’t Jimmy’s confirmation hurt her?

Again, all crooks pay in this universe, so Kim will face a big time civil lawsuit. Still, eh…even without a body I’m pretty sure there’s some stuff that as long as she said she did it, she can be prosecuted for it. Jimmy could be prosecuted too.

Oh, that and they kinda sloughed off the whole forgetting to prosecute Jimmy for drugging and robbing a bunch of rich guys then threatening to strangle an old lady with a telephone cord to keep her from calling the police.

#5- There is a lot of good writing here. The time travel thing comes up again. The first time, Mike says if he could time travel, he’d go back to the first time he took a bribe and not take it, presumably to ensure that he lives a decent, law-abiding life. He regrets the path he took and understands the money isn’t worth all the evil he has done and a life as a regular, middle-class Joe would have been better. He also says he’d go to the future to check on his family. A laudable goal.

Saul says he’d go back in time to when Warren Buffet took over Berkshire Hathaway and invest 1 million so that it would be worth multi-billions today. Jerk. All about the money.

Time travel comes up again with Walt. Walt is his usual dickish self and as usual, blames Gretchen and Elliot rather than conceding he might have been a dick about that whole friendship breakup. Still, he brings himself to admit he should have stuck with the duo for he’d have big legal and legit bucks today. He at least sort of admits that he is a prideful dick.

Saul would go back to a time when he broke his knee in a slip and fall and not slip and fall so hard. Nothing about, oh I don’t know, not slipping and falling altogether.

The third time, Chuck tells Jimmy it’s not too late for Jimmy to change careers. Jimmy scoffs, telling Chuck that Chuck never changes so why should he? Jimmy leaves and Chuck picks up a copy of HG Wells’ Time Machine. Presumably, this is a sign that both brothers dream about time travel and the ability to go back and right their wrongs and fix their mistakes. If only their relationship was better, they could talk to rather than past one another and figure out how to help each other be happier.

So in the end, Jimmy does finally learn that it was wrong for him to be a scumbag and he sets forth in a very unlikely way to pay for his scumbaggery.

There is also great symmetry when Jimmy and Kimmy share a smoke in the end, as they did in the first episode where they first became co-conspirators/love interests. I think here, if they ended it with Kim saying with a smirk, “OK how do we get you out of here?” that would have landed the dismount. In other words, Saul copped to his wrongdoing, went to jail, now can these two tricksters figure out a way to get him out? But I suppose that wouldn’t be Jimmy paying for his crimes.

SIDENOTE: I have a hard time believing that Kim would still have a New Mexico bar card after that affidavit she signed.

IN CLOSING: Thanks Vince Gilligan and co. and cast and crew for the 14 years you spent on creating a very riveting TV show universe. BB had a great ending. This one, I really expected it would but was disappointed. I’m not sure how it could have been better. I suppose we all wanted to see Saul outwit everyone and I suppose an argument can be made that he did, but I just didn’t buy it.

I will give it credit. This is one of those shows that was hard to quantify. It was a legal procedural, but also a comedy about a scumbag who took pride in his scum-baggery and his absurdly humorous scummy methods, a saga about cartel gangsters at war (where many of such episodes rarely even involved Saul), and a show that was part prequel and part sequel, going back and forth to points in time before and after Breaking Bad yet somehow it did it well.

I just don’t buy Saul giving up a 7 year deal. Crime doesn’t pay and that’s one of the things this show gets right, but if they wanted Jimmy to take responsibility for his crimes, they might have found a more believable way. What that way would have been, I’ll admit, I don’t know.

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The Book of Boba Fett – Episode 6

Dun dun da dun dun dun…hah!

Why does it always sound like the guy singing that “hah!” in the theme song is having a hernia?

BQB here with a review.

I can’t help but notice the two best episodes of The Book of Boba Fett had very little to do with this new fangled “I want out of bounty hunting” version of Boba Fett. They transferred all of his bad ass stoicism to The Mandalorian and now Mando gets all the cool episodes.

BTW, these past two episodes were visually stunning, filled with gratuitous fan service (cameos by R2, CGI Luke, Cad Bane and Ahsoka from the cartoons) but more importantly, graced by plotlines that make me think Disney might finally be getting the hang of building a post-Empire universe…maybe. We’re not there quite yet but it’s looking good.

Here, Mando tries to visit his teensy weensy BFF Grogu or the Artist Formerly Known as Baby Yodo. G-Spot is knee deep into his Jedi training from a CGI’d up Young Master Luke, and as Ahsoka warns Mando, Jedis can be badass space monks or they can be part of a family but they can’t be both. (Sidenote – why did this scene make me wish I’d abandoned my extended family and become my own personal version of a kickass space monk years ago? Is this orange tentacled babe (Rosario Dawson) right? You can be awesome or you can have a family but you can’t have both? Hmm.

Moving on, CGI Luke was cool yet not overly convincing last season. They have it done better this time around though I noticed much of the action occurs with the camera zoomed out of Luke so perhaps a body double did the far away action scenes?

SIDENOTE: As CGI rendering continues to make old actors young, or rather, rebuilds their youthful bodies anew, are actors/actresses getting worried? As this tech improves, what’s to stop the studios from just giving all the human talent the boot and creating movies featuring CGI humans rendered entirely from scratch? Maybe someday some zit faced teenager will render an entire Oscar worthy film on his laptop. (Come to think of it, most of today’s “Oscar worthy” films look like they were rendered on a zit faced teenager’s laptop but I don’t mean that in a good way.

Cameo from Timothy Olyphant was fun.

Finally, the plot centers around Mando and others coming together to help Boba Fett fight off the Pikes, i.e. a syndicate of alien spice runners. Double sidenote – In Star Wars, “spice” is totes code for drugs, but since it’s a kids show, if your kids ask you what spice is, you can tell them all the aliens are just fighting over a yummy food topping. (Honestly, you adults who want to retain your innocence can feel free to assume they are fighting over a yummy food topping and what? You already thought they were fighting over a yummy food topping? Oh um…hey! What’s that over there? Squirrel!)

My main question is if The Fettmeister is against the drug (er yummy topping) trade…but he also wants to solidify his position as Tatooine’s top crime boss, um…what other crimes will he be ok with? Because seriously, if he wants to be a crime boss and he’s not cool with spice (oregano or otherwise) then what crimes will he support? Murder? Extortion? Space whores? I knew it. He’s totally pimping out space whores.

Or maybe not. It is a Disney Plus show, after all, so don’t think about the space crime lord’s space crime too much. (It’s space whores.)

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BQB Watches Seinfeld – Season 2, Episode 11 – The Chinese Restaurant

Hey 3.5 readers.

What’s the deal with bloggers reviewing old episodes of Seinfeld?

It’s been on Netflix for awhile now and I finally dove in. It was a rerun staple for years but it has been a long time since I watched them.

I think the funny/scary thing is it’s been so long since I watched them that Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer all seem so young to me now. Like I watch and say, “When will those young people ever get their act together?”

Anyway, this installment of the show about nothing is one of its most memorable. Jerry, George and Elaine go to a Chinese restaurant, only to end up in limbo as they wait and wait and wait only for their table to never come. Bribes, trickery, even begging are tried to no avail and like a wacky metaphor for life, the trio has to decide whether to continue investing time in the hopes waiting will pay off or if it’s better to give up and go somewhere else.

Jerry is hoisted on his own petard when an acquaintance of his uncle who he ditched to go out to eat and see Plan 9 From Outer Space spots him. Elaine debates whether to take a bet to swipe an eggroll from a customer’s table. George has a hot babe on the line but can’t get anyone off the pay phone to call her.

Almost like an early 90s version of Waiting for Godot, the three buddies are trapped in a veritable purgatory of their own design. Should they stay? Should they go? If they wait a little longer, they might get a reward. If they go now, they might find something better. And why the hell is everyone else getting a table before them? What did they do right? What are Jerry and Co. doing wrong?

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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 – 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 – Escape at Dannemora (2018)

We’re all living in our own personal prison, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora.”

FYI – This TV show was based on real life events that were all over the news in the summer of 2015.  To that end, it’s hard to say there are SPOILERS ahead but there are, because even if you watched the stories, there’s still a lot in the show you may never heard of.

At any rate, if you haven’t watched this show yet and want to, I’d recommend looking away and coming back after you’ve seen it.  Otherwise, come on in.

Yes, 3.5 readers.  We’re all stuck in our own personal prison.  We all have our hopes, our dreams, our wants and our desires and yet, we also carry around with us our only personal set of bars comprised of our own circumstances and our own preconceived notions that keep us from attaining what we want.

That’s what I took away from this show and I must say, while I assumed it was going to be a piece of slapped together “ripped from the headlines” trash going into it, it really is a great work of storytelling and I hope it gets many awards.

The hard part of writing a story is that to retain the audience’s attention, the main characters must be presented as likable or at the very least, sympathetic.  Otherwise, it’s too easy for a viewer to say, “I hope that piece of shit rots” and change the channel.

How does one make these characters sympathetic?  After all, you’ve got two heinous killers who deserve every second of their sentence and then some and their illicit lover/accomplice, i.e. someone who was trusted to work with prison inmates and teach them how to sew in a tailor shop only to betray that trust by having sex with them and smuggling in their escape tools. Throw the book at them and call it a day.

Ironically, Ben Stiller, long known for his wacky, zany comedies, breaks out of his own comedy prison to provide a serious crime drama and excels, perhaps letting us know that his “Simple Jack” days are behind him and he now has his eyes on Oscar gold.

In a masterful use of “show don’t tell,” Stiller manages to find a little kernel of in this gruesome trio and ultimately the show becomes a morality tale about how dangerous and destructive it is to hope for outcomes that are far beyond your abilities to achieve them.

The best example comes early in the series when prison seamstress Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell (Patricia Arquette), a 51-year old wife and mother, gets dragged by her dopey husband and co-worker, Lyle (Eric Lange) on the worst date ever, a small town history museum in upstate New York.  As Tilly heads outside, she looks across to a bar, where a man with a flashy car is getting doted on by two hot, young babes.  Stiller doesn’t spell anything out.  The expression on Tilly’s face tells us everything.  She smiles.  She gets lost in her mind.  She wishes she was one of those hot young babes getting squired around town by a man with a lot of money.

Alas, Tilly’s frown turns upside down.  Darn it.  She remembers.  She’s not a hot young babe.  She never will be.  She’s a chubby 51-year old woman with a closet full of novelty sweatshirts and a small house and two dogs and a dumb husband and a set of bad teeth and bad hair and she has no money and well, the list goes on and on and on.

Ironic, isn’t it?  We constantly hear in the news about the struggles of men who believe that they are women or vice versa.  What about people who, on the inside, believe they are awesome despite an exterior that looks anything but?  Where’s the civil rights march for dumpy old ladies who truly believe they are worthy of being treated as a rich man’s latest conquest?

It’s a great scene and anyone interested in TV writing should study it.  Arquette’s facial expressions tell us more than any narrator could.  By the way, speaking of breaking out of our personal prisons, this is a role that is totally unlike anything I’ve ever seen Patricia Arquette in.

I’ve always thought Arquette was a decent enough actress but I’ve never been a huge fan because she tends to be one of those celebrities that gets extra political and also she tends to play school marmish characters.  To her credit, she’s long been a strong woman who plays strong women, but she breaks the mold here by playing a woman who is the very definition of weak, if not stupid and naïve.

Arquette gets uglied up and then some for the camera.  Make-up artists worked their magic to crap up her hair, skin and teeth but Arquette brings it home.  As Tilly, she has a look on her face of constant confusion, torn every which way.  You’ve heard of the man child that never grows up?  Tilly is the woman child, unable to accept her limits, her circumstances, her inability to realize that being arm candy for a rich stud is not in the cards for her and that perhaps she should try to make the best of it with her husband who may be a complete doofus but at least he’s a loyal and loving doofus.

How did Arquette master Tilly’s face and mannerisms?  Beats me.  She has this look like she just smelled a fart while sucking on a lemon.  She can go from utterly befuddled loser to cunning duplicitous backstabber and back again.  Occasionally throughout the series, she is confronted by her co-workers and husband who see reasons to be suspicious and she reacts in the classic mode of a child throwing a temper tantrum after being caught with her hand in the cookie jar.  It’s not my fault that I did something bad.  It’s your fault for catching me doing something bad.

Honestly, I can’t praise Arquette enough here.  She deserves an Emmy.  In fact, all of her co-stars do because they all seem to be breaking out of their traditional roles.

Benicio del Toro has built a career on playing strong, swarthy, stoic Hispanic men of little words.  At first, it seems like he’s cast to type as Richard Matt, the convicted killer who bosses and bullies her fellow prisoners around and turns them into his subordinate underlings with little more than an angry glare.

Like Tilly, Matt has a dream that is beyond his means.  He wants to be free.  He keeps closing his eyes and envisions himself riding on a horse on the countryside.  He keeps hoping this despite the fact that he’s stuck in a cell that’s a glorified closet.

SPOILER ALERT:  Does hope get these characters anywhere?  Nope.  Del Toro retains his stoic, ultra-macho façade for most of the series until the last episode, where the reality of being on the run from the law doesn’t match up with his dreams. He dreamed of being a cowboy on a horse.  He got walking all day and night through the forest, sleeping in ditches, drinking germ infested stream water that makes him puke and it all culminates in him cracking under pressure, drinking himself into a stupor until he chases away his accomplice who was practically carrying him.  The emotion and weakness is unusual for a del Toro character, but he does it well.

Even Paul Dano as convicted cop killer David Sweat goes against type.  He’s usually plays youthful, baby faced dimwits but here he plays well, a youthful, baby faced young man who is getting run through the ringer of prison’s school of hard knocks.  No doubt he deserves to be there, but each knock makes him tougher and harder, much more so than any previous Dano character.

Long story short, Matt is the con man that secures the illicit escape tools.  Dano is the brawn that stays up into the wee hours sneaking into a catwalk and cutting and breaking through various barriers until an outside manhole in a suburban neighborhood is found.  Meanwhile, Tilly is the dope who somehow believes that a life where she becomes the plaything of two dangerous criminals on the run in a lavish lifestyle on a Mexican beach is actually attainable and/or something that would work out and be fun to do.

Stiller plays with us throughout.  There’s a scene where Tilly brings a twenty dollar bill to a hardware store purchase cutting tools for her boy toys.  She looks at the receipt, sees the total is 21-something, looks at the impulse bag of chips that she’s already begun stuffing her face with, then shrugs her shoulders and uses a traceable credit car to buy the illegal contraband, showing us that a master criminal she is not.

He also pays attention to details in the setting.  The area surrounding the prison is presented as a real life Hoth, any icy American Siberia where it is bone chillingly cold throughout the year and people have to bundle up well into the summer.  Prisoners freeze their asses off.  Residents are stuck in their houses because it is oppressively cold to go out and do anything else.

On top of that, the soundtrack is a playlist of 2015’s top songs.  Tilly constantly listens to pop songs – Nicki Minaj, Meghan Trainor, Bruno Mars et. al, another sign she has a childish brain in an aging body.

Well, if I say much more I’ll give away the whole story but one more credit to Stiller.  He focuses most of the show on the planning of the escape itself, giving us the details of all the evil doings that happened, followed by an episode that begins with a long shot where Dano does a trial run through the long path he has cleared through the bowels of the prison.

Then, just in case you had a little bit in you that said, “Wow!  Amazing that they managed to escape!” Stiller gives us the second to last episode where he reviews in detail the heinous crimes these men did, the lives they destroyed and ultimately reminds us that as remarkable as it is that these men managed to escape, they still deserve to rot in jail for they are examples of true evil.  I won’t get too far into it, but it is made clear that both men did despicable crimes that can’t be forgiven or explained away or written off as the byproduct of a bad upbringing or something.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Awards deserved for the cast and director all around.

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TV Review – The Conners (2018)

 

Roseanne epically shot herself in the foot.  There’s no doubt about it.  She had a major comeback only to throw it all away by making a stupid racist comment.

So I get why they cancelled her show…but I think it was stupid to bring it back without her.

Roseanne was that show and even without her, she’s still there.  All the characters do now is talk about her.  Who needs to watch a sad show that’s supposed to be a comedy even though the family is grieving about their dead mother?

I think they could have come up with something funnier.  Roseanne loses her mind and goes on a wild, cross-country crime spree.  Maybe Roseanne gets kicked out of Lanford for being a racist.  Maybe she posts a racist tweet.  Maybe offends the entire town for being racist and her family has to put up with her hiding in the basement from everyone who wants to rip her a new one.  Once in awhile, the family tosses some food down the basement and someone doing a Roseanne impression cackles.

I just think that she’s dead is so dark for a comedy.  I get that ABC and all the actors were riding on this comeback and Roseanne screwed it up so they should at least get another season but man, I don’t know…I just think they could have thought of a funnier explanation as to why Roseanne isn’t around anymore.

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BQB’s Twilight Zone Reviews – S3, Ep. 25 – “The Fugitive”

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I did not like this episode at all.  It was stupid, weird, dumb…especially to the eyes of a person in 2018 but honestly, even though values were different back then, I’m not sure how this episode didn’t leave a few 1960s people scratching their heads either.

OK.  So here goes.  And SPOILER ALERT because I can’t complain about it unless I lay it all out there.

J. Pat O’Malley plays Ben, an elderly man who spends a suspiciously large amount of time playing with the neighborhood children.  That’s weird but OK, initially it’s like…fine, it was the 1960s and adults were more “adultier.”  Maybe adults were more trustworthy or maybe child abuse claims were swept under the rug more back in those days I don’t know, but it was a common staple of old black and white television shows to see old people just hanging out and having fun with little kids that just lived near them that they were not related to whatsoever and the impression wasn’t that these adults were pervs or anything but rather were just nice old people who were nice to kids.

SIDENOTE:  Please don’t let your kids hang out with random neighborhood adults.  Honestly, don’t trust people you know or are related to either.  You know what?  Just keep your kid next to you at all times.

Back to the review.  Ben has a special power -he can turn into any living thing.  He plays a space game with the kids where the kids pretend to be space travelers and he turns himself into a scary martian.

The old man’s best friend is eight year old Jenny and surely this sentence is creepy even by 1960s standards.  Oddly enough, Jenny’s aunt/guardian, played by Nancy Kulp of Miss Hathaway from “The Beverly Hillbillies” fame is portrayed as the villain, yelling at the little girl to stay away from the old man and yelling at the old man to stay away from the girl.  She’s portrayed as an evil battle-axe trying to keep two friends apart but you know, 2018 me is like, “The aunt is the voice of reason!  If that kid was my niece I’d tell that old bastard to stay away from the kid too!”

Moving on, there are a couple of mysterious dudes chasing after Ben.  He ditches them by turning into a mouse (which makes me think Michael Jackson might have been inspired here with his song about Ben the rat).

Blah, blah, blah – the ending.  The dudes are Ben’s subjects. Ben is the king of a faraway planet.  He didn’t want to be the king anymore so he ran.  The subjects like him and want to bring him back.

Ben and Jenny pull the old switcheroo  – they both turn into Jenny and so, the subjects must take both Jennies to the planet if they want the King.  I couldn’t help but think that it will be hard for the aunt to lose her niece, but I guess the writers felt she had to be punished for the crime of thinking that her eight year old niece shouldn’t be spending all her free time with a sixty something year old man.  Go figure.

The twist?  Rod Serling, as he was known to do, pops out of the woodwork holding a picture of a little boy.  Turns out that Ben was a little boy all along and…I guess…what…we’re supposed to think it’s ok that Ben and Jenny run away together?  I mean, you really need to suspend disbelief because Jenny is eight whereas we were told earlier that Ben is over 1,000 years old so I mean, come on, even if he’s a boy he’s like an adult in a boy’s body, unless boys live for a thousand years on that planet before they become adults and ugh…I just went cross eyed.

It’s weird.  It’s creepy.  It’s insane.  I have no idea if the writers intended this, maybe they were just lazy and wrote themselves out of a corner but I mean, yeah, there’s just no circumstance in which it’s cool for this kid to be running away with aliens…especially one that’s over 1,000, who has taken the form of an old human man.

I don’t know.  There were a lot of episodes and they all can’t be winners I suppose. This one was a big time stinkburger.

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The Walking Dead – Season So Far

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.  I don’t have time for an in-depth review, but wanted to know what you all think about this season of “The Walking Dead” thus far.

I think it is one of the better seasons, I especially love the recent tension with Eugene.  I will say though the show has a tough decision.  The goal seems to be to kill Negan, the worst, most dastardly villain the show has ever seen and yet, he’s also the most interesting character the show has seen in a long time.

What say you, 3.5?

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Glow – More In-Depth (After Watching Full Season) Review (2017)

Hey 3.5 readers.

So, I ate these episodes up like popcorn over the weekend and I have to say that yes, it’s worth watching.

I especially like the overall theme that this is a bunch of failures who are tired of failing and want a win.

Pretty much all of the women are failed actresses, babes who moved to LA seeking stardom but got crap instead.  GLOW is their last chance for TV notoriety.

Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron) is a B horror movie director, addicted to booze and coke.  GLOW is his last chance to do something that people might like, plus producer Sebastian has promised to fund his next movie, as no one else in Hollywood seems interested in doing so.

Sebastian aka “Bash” is a rich young man who has everything and access to a ton of his wealthy mother’s funds.  He could do anything but he has essentially taken all of the opportunities his mother could give him and squandered them.  He wants to be a big time Hollywood big shot and sees GLOW as his ability to buy his way into the big time.

Most of the girls have their own “I’m trying to make a comeback” story but the two main wrestling gals in particular are Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) and Debbie Eagan (the amazing big breasted Betty Gilpin.)

SIDENOTE:  You get to see Brie’s boobs but Gilpin’s big ripe casaba melons are never unleashed.  What a ripoff.  Maybe Netflix can offer her some more dough to go topless in season 2.

Anyway, Ruth takes acting very seriously, going to all sorts of acting classes, appearing plays – she treats acting like any other job.  “You should hire me because I have the credentials.”  But no one is hiring her, and GLOW is her last shot at stardom.

And not to give it away, but Debbie’s husband, Mark (Rich Sommer) is a dick cheeseburger with extra buttwipe fries.  Seems lame because if Debbie were my wife, I’d worship her and those magnificent mammaries and do whatever she required of me to maintain her everlasting happiness.

But that’s me.  I feel bad for Sommer.  He’s been typecast as a dick.  He’s a dick in GLOW and he was a dick in “Mad Men.”  Mad Men was in the 1960s.  GLOW is in the 1980s.  Casting agents must be all like, “We need an actor to play a dick in a period piece!  Oh, I know!  Call Rich Sommer!”

Returning to the main point, yes, even Debbie seeks a comeback, becoming a pro-wrestler to get back some of the control she lost at home.

SPOILER ALERT:

I particularly enjoyed the USA vs. Russia i.e. Debbie as Liberty Bell vs. Ruth as Zoya the Destroyer.  People think of the Cold War as a 1950s/1960s thing but it was even happening in the 1980s, though Reagan and Gorbachev did a lot of work to cool it down by 1990.  Ironically, it seems to be heating up again today.

At times, the show also looks at past issues through present eyes.  All of the characters played by the girls are stereotypes.  One wrestler is a black woman called “Welfare Queen” who laughs at the audience about how they all have to work while she stays home and lives off their tax dollars.  She even pulls food stamps out of her bra and throws them at downed opponents.

Meanwhile, an Indian woman plays a Middle Eastern terrorist character, reminding people that terrorism (and related stereotypes) were alive in the 1980s.  9/11 had not happened yet, but as the show points out, terrorist airplane hijackings were constantly in the news.

Interesting to note though you do get to see the dark side of these stereotypes.  At times, the girls object, then they get roped into thinking it’s ok and will help them on the road to stardom, then they see how ugly and obnoxious the crowd gets, hating on the wrestlers because some in the crowd are too dumb to realize that characters like “Welfare Queen” and “Beirut” are real people underneath the costumes and are not the characters they are portraying.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Come for Brie’s cheez-its.  Stay for (we can only hope) the great unleashing Gilpin’s sweater cannons in season two.  Let me know in advance if that’s going to happen, Netflix.  I want to take a day off just to watch.

 

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