Series Review: We Own This City (2022)

*Ted Hastings voice*. Bent coppers.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “We Own This City”.

Baltimore, Maryland, 2017. Within this city exists the Gun Trace Task Force, a special squad created to try to find illegal guns and drugs. We soon find out however that things aren’t quite so black and white, as the members within it are investigated for corruption. And so we jump back and forth between the main investigation of the present, and the past events that led to it. “We Own This City” is a compelling true crime sort of series, weaving a complex and compelling drama about the corruption within Baltimore’s law enforcement, and how that creates mistrust from and fraught relationships with the public. Now, while the drama in itself is compelling, I do have my issues with the overall structure of the storytelling. This show has to cover A LOT of ground in only six episodes, and when combined with the jumping back and forth within the timeline, it can make it feel a bit choppy and overly bullet-pointy (for lack of a better word). It’s not necessarily bad, as I do still find the situations really interesting and engaging, but I do think the overall structure does remove some of the impact. But despite it being a little let down by that, it’s still a really well written story.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, and overall really interesting, all feeling very believable and natural. There’s this lived-in feel to them, and their interactions and relationships work really well in creating engaging drama, and at times even a little bit of humor. What also helps is the cast, all of which are fucking superb, featuring people like Jon Bernthal, Wunmi Mosaku, Jamie Hector, Josh Charles, McKinley Belcher III, David Corenswet, Delaney Williams, Dagmara Dominczyk, and many more.

The score for the show was composed by Kris Bowers, and it was fine. Nothing stood out as really good or bad, it was just kinda there. A perfectly passable score. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and those work well in their respective scenes.

Based on a book by Justin Fenton, “We Own This City” was developed by George Pelecanos and David Simon, with writing by them and a few other cool people, and directing handled by Reinaldo Marcus Green. And I would like to say that Green’s direction is really good. His directing isn’t very flashy, but he has this uncanny ability of giving scenes this subtly crackling energy, even during more quiet moments, which keeps each moment really engaging. It’s just really well crafted.

This show’s been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.7/10.

While its structure lets down some of its impact, “We Own This City” is still a compelling and engaging drama about the darker side of Baltimore law enforcement. It has a really good story, great characters, fantastic performances, alright music, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “We Own This City” is an 8.56/10. So even if it’s flawed, it’s still definitely worth watching.

My review of “We Own This City” is now completed.

Shoulda sent AC-12

Series Review: StartUp – Season 1 (2016)

Before we get started with the review itself, I just want to take a second to mention that I think crypto seems like complete fucking bogus. Aaaaand that is all, let’s get into the main thing.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “StartUp” season 1.

When they happen to cross paths for various reasons, a timid banker (Adam Brody), a struggling entrepreneur (Otmara Marrero), and a gangster (Edi Gathegi) team up to try to launch a new form of digital currency, all while a corrupt federal agent (Martin Freeman) lurks around, causing trouble. I found the story of “StartUp” to be pretty enjoyable… but seldom did it go beyond that. There’s a few moments where it perked up a bit more, a few dramatic turns where I was like “Hey… a bit of drama!”. Otherwise it’s sort of just another perfectly enjoyable crime-drama featuring good people and bad people crossing paths in various ways. It’s kinda hard to describe how I felt about the storytelling here, because it doesn’t stick out that much. It’s just sort of there, serving up 10 episodes of not-bad-but-also-not-great story. I wasn’t ever bored, but never did I find myself super engaged either. Like I said, it’s roughly seven hours of alright crime-drama storytelling.

The characters in this are all decently interesting. Not necessarily the deepest ever, but they had enough going on to the point where I found them quite engaging. First off is Nick Talman, a kind-hearted banker who decides to help another one of our leads with her project. He’s arguably one of the blander characters in our cast, but he works as a good buffer to balance out the cast. Plus, Adam Brody gives a really nuanced performance, which does add another layer of depth. Next we have Ronald Dacey, a family man and gangster. He is my favorite character in the show, because he shows a lot of interesting layers, all while having one of the more substantial arcs of the season. And Edi Gathegi is absolutely fantastic in the role. Next we have Izzy Morales, the entrepreneur and hacker who sort of gets the ball rolling on that new digital currency thing. She’s driven, she’s flawed, she’s layered, and she’s just generally a really interesting character, with Otmara Marrero giving a damn good performance. And then we have Phil Rask, our resident bent federal agent. He’s an interesting fella, works really well in terms of writing… so let’s talk performance. Rask is played by Martin Freeman, an actor I like a lot. And when he has to be a little quiet, friendly, vulnerable, that sort of stuff, Freeman’s good, that’s the type of stuff he works for. But he also has a good amount of moments where he has to be menacing and a bit of tough guy, aaaaaand I just don’t believe Freeman in those moments. He is acting his heart out in those moments, which I do have to give kudos to. But he really feels a bit miscast in this role. Like I said, I like Freeman a lot, and he has his moments in this, but on the whole he feels a little off for the part. As for supporting cast, we got people like Tony Plana, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Jared Wofford, Aarony Yoo, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the season was composed by Chris Hajian, and I think he did a good job with it. The score’s mostly based in an electronic, synthesized sound to sort of fit with the whole tech, start-up type setting/story we got, and while it doesn’t necessarily stick out in my mind, I did think it worked well enough for the show. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout the season, and they all work well for their respective scenes.

“StartUp” was created by Ben Ketai, with writing and directing over the season being done by him and various other people. And I think the direction on display here is alright. It does everything it’s supposed to, but never sticks out that much in my mind. Shots are well done and well paced, action beats are handled just fine, it’s just fairly solid craft on the crew’s part. Again, much like the story, it’s well done, but also doesn’t go above and beyond. It’s good.

This show/season has gotten a mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has a 36% positive rating.  On Metacritic the season has a score of 52/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 7.8/10.

While it does stumble a little bit in some regards, season 1 of “StartUp” is still a solid enough crime-drama. It has a pretty good story, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “StartUp” is a 7.66/10. So I’d say it’s worth watching.

My review of “StartUp” season 1 is now completed.

“The future of currency”, my ass.

Series Review: Luther – Season 5 (2019)

My friends, we are finally here. My final review in this little series of mine. So let’s just get the phrase said one last time and then get into the review itself… Beware the Ides of Elba.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Luther” season 5.

DCI Luther (Idris Elba) is back for his hardest challenge yet, having to solve a complex and violent series of murders, all while having to deal with people from his past coming in and causing a lot of trouble for him. And I am happy to report that this season of “Luther” feels way better structured than the way too short season 4. Going back to the four episode structure of previous entries, it gives the story time to breathe, keeping it from feeling so crammed and overstuffed. As for the writing itself, it’s good. It doesn’t *quite* have the same terror and suspense of some of the previous seasons, and its relentless, actiony pace doesn’t always work to the show’s benefit, but generally it’s still solid. It still dabbles a lot with morals, the darkness of the human condition, and how one’s actions might affect your life. And it does all of that very well. But what I also really find interesting about the storytelling here is the sense of inevitability and finality, you can tell that this was the end of the show, with how it escalated and the overall tone of everything. And I think it makes the drama feel even more engaging. So yeah, I liked the story here.

In terms of characters, there’s not much I can say here that I haven’t touched on before. Both recurring characters and newcomers are interesting and have some interesting development in this story. And the performances are of course off the charts great again. Idris Elba, Dermot Crowley, Michael Smiley, Wunmi Mosaku, Paul McGann, Michael Obiora, Patrick Malahide, and Ruth Wilson, they’re all brilliant.

As per usual, Paul Englishby did the music, and he did a damn good job with it. Strings, brass, some electronics, the man has established a high quality soundscape for the show, and he keeps it going this go around as well. It’s just damn good stuff, y’all. The licensed songs used throughout work pretty well too.

As with its previous seasons, all episodes of “Luther” S5 were written by series creator Neil Cross, with Jamie Payne stepping in as director. And as with the other seasons, the craft here is impeccable. Nice shot composition, a really good flow to action scenes, a lot of decently length shots that let moments simmer and allow us to get really invested in what’s going on. I don’t know what to say, really. If you liked the way the show was shot, edited, and crafted before, and you’re willing to accept a faster pace and a bigger focus on action, then you’ll likely enjoy this too.

The show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has an 85% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic the season has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.5/10 and is ranked #249 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

While not the show’s best entry, season 5 of “Luther” is still a major return to form and a good ending for the show. It has a really good story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Luther” season 5 is a 9.45/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Luther” season 5 is completed.

And it’s finally over… *ring ring, ring ring* Hello? Yes? WAIT, THERE’S A MOVIE COMING!?

Series Review: Luther – Season 4 (2015)

BEWARE! THE IDES OF ELBA! Um… yeah, that’s all I got, let’s get into the review itself.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Luther” season 4.

Following the traumatic events at the end of season 3, Luther (Idris Elba) has put himself into a self-imposed leave of absence. He’ll have to end this isolation however when a cannibalistic serial killer emerges, all while dealing with his own personal demons. I have mixed feelings on the storytelling this season. The procedural element is good in itself, there’s nothing inherently wrong done with it. It’s still dark, suspenseful, and really interesting, and it works well. Where the season struggles is with the character and overarching plot developments. The ideas in those departments are in themselves not bad, and they’re generally done pretty well. BUT, this season, compared to the other ones, is only two episodes, so they have to cram a full season’s worth of it into these two episodes, and it makes them feel a bit stuffed, which makes them really draining and wonkily paced. It’s still generally well written, but it does ultimately hurt the storytelling a little bit.

The characters in this are good. Any returning ones are once again well written and interesting, but now with an extra bit of world-weariness that adds a nice extra layer to them. As for newer ones, they work pretty well too. And in terms of acting, I got no real complaints here. Elba is once again fantastic, Dermot Crowley is great, Michael Smiley gets more to work with and is great, and new comers Patrick Malahide, Darren Boyd, Laura Haddock, John Heffernan, and Rose Leslie are all great too. It’s just a solid cast playing interesting characters.

As always, Paul Englishby composed the score for this season, and once again he did a really solid job with it. There’s really not much I can say that I haven’t covered in my other “Luther” reviews. It’s brooding, intense, emotional, and just generally good. The few licensed songs used this season also work pretty well.

Season 4 of “Luther” was, just like previous outings, completely written by series creator Neil Cross, with regular Sam Miller returning to direct. And while I did explain before that the writing within the story is a bit too much dough in too small a baking pan (which apparently was due to scheduling constraints), I can at least say that the craft once again is absolutely terrific. Scenes flow pretty nicely, more action-packed scenes have a great intensity to them, and they manage to wring so much suspense out of the season. I also want to take a second to compliment John Conroy’s cinematography, because it looks terrific and really adds a lot to the show. Once again, it’s just technically stellar.

This season/show has been generally well received. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has a 79% positive rating. On Metacritic the season has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.5/10 and is ranked #249 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

While it’s bogged down by trying to put A LOT of plot into just two episodes, season 4 of “Luther” is still another really enjoyable season of tv. It has a pretty good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Luther” season 4 is an 8.95/10. So while flawed, it still is worth watching.

My review of “Luther” season 4 is now completed.

Only one more of these left… dread it, or look forward to it, it kind of depends if you’ve enjoyed seeing me ramble about this show.

Series Review: Luther – Season 3 (2013)

Beware the Ides of Elba, because they’re here… again… but not for the final time. Anyhow, let’s once again delve into this show.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Luther” season 3!

DCI Luther (Idris Elba) is once again back to solve a series of dark and violent murders, all while some other officers are trying to dig up enough dirt on him to take him down. I loved the storytelling here in season 3, it’s arguably the strongest in the show so far. Starting with the overarching element, it actually broadens its scope a bit, not just focusing on John himself, but also goes wider to explore how other people, in particular his colleague Justin (Warren Brown), sees him, and what effect Luther’s actions have on people. And I found those elements of the story utterly compelling. And as far as the procedural elements go, those are amazing as well. Much like with season 2, not only are there only four episodes, but it’s also only two cases getting two episodes each, and it really helps them flourish and feel way more tense and nuanced. They also delve into even darker, more unsettling waters than before, even going full-blown horror at a point. And it helps make for some really intense and kinda scary storytelling that I absolutely loved.

In terms of characters, season 3 of “Luther” succeeds greatly in further developing ones from previous seasons, and then also giving us some compelling new ones too. Luther remains a really engaging lead, with Elba still giving us some truly powerhouse acting. And then there’s Justin, Luther’s colleague, who is given a lot more space and opportunities to shine here, developing him further into a truly interesting character, with Warren Brown giving a great performance in the role. The rest of the supporting cast is great too, featuring people like Michael Smiley, Dermot Crowley, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Sienna Guillory, David O’Hara, Kevin Fuller, Lucian Msamati, and more. It’s a very well-rounded cast playing some really interesting characters.

Paul Englishby returned to once again do the music, and once again its great. Low, brooding hums, dramatic brass, some emotional piano, some eerie strings… it’s just a brilliant escalation of the kind of sound Englishby made for the first two seasons, and it really adds so much to the episodes. The few licensed songs used throughout also work really well.

“Luther” season 3 was written by series creator Neil Cross, with direction split between Sam Miller and Farren Blackburn. And the craft here is on another level. It feels more grandiose, while still managing to remain intimate with the characters, and even claustrophobic and incredibly tense at times. The directing, editing, and cinematography just feels way more cinematic than in previous outings, which makes it stand out and feel even stronger.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic the season has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.5/10 and is ranked #249 on the “Top 20 TV” list.

Season 3 of “Luther” is my favorite one so far, giving us an intense, scary, and thematically rich experience that I enjoyed from start to end. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great directing/editing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score fro “Luther” season 3 is a 9.92/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Luther” season 3 is now completed.

I am having such a good time going through this show.

Series Review: Luther – Season 2 (2011)

Beware the Ides of Elba, for they resume… funnily enough smack dab in the middle of the month, I’ll be damned. Anyhow, let’s continue talking about this British crime show. Oh, and there will be a few spoilers for the end of season 1, as that leads into this… so you’ve been warned.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Luther” season 2.

Still reeling from the death of his ex-wife, DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) finds himself going back to work, once again having to solve a series of violent cases. His life gets even more complicated when he finds himself having to look after and protect a young woman from the darkness of her past. What’s interesting about season 2 of “Luther” is that it somehow manages to have this almost over-the-top/silly popcorn feeling to its crime stories, while still managing to retain a sense of suspense that somehow feels even darker and even more grim than what we got in season 1. And then we got John’s personal arc over the season, which delves into even more morally grey territories than the first season, which I found utterly compelling. And it all comes together in a really interesting set of episodes that I found absolutely riveting from start to end. Even the reduced episode count (going from 6 to 4) holds up, as it never feels like they’re actually skimping out on plot or character development, despite that being a very real risk when lowering the amount of episodes you produce. It’s fun, it’s dark, it’s emotionally charged, it’s tense… yeah, season 2 of “Luther” has some great fucking storytelling.

The characters this season remain utterly compelling this season, with no one feeling like a weak link at any point. All of them have this nuanced to them that makes them deeply fascinating, and they all get some really interesting development. What also helps is the cast, who once again are all superb. Idris Elba is still amazing as our lead and Ruth Wilson is still electrifying as Alice Morgan. The rest of the supporting cast, containing people like Warren Brown, Dermot Crowley, Paul McGann, Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Lee Ingleby, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Michael Smiley, Steven Robertson, and more, are all great. Just superb acting all around.

The score was once again composed by Paul Englishby, and I feel he really stepped up his game this time around. His score is a bit bigger, more grandiose, more emotional, while still being able to retain the brooding quality that was established in the first season, making for a dynamic and engaging score that just elevates each scene so much. The few licensed songs used throughout the season also work pretty well in their respective scenes.

Season 2 of “Luther” was written by series creator Neil Cross, with Sam Miller directing all four episodes. And once again, the craft here is absolutely superb. In slower, more character-driven scenes, the direction finds nice ways of feeling intimate, yet distant, giving us a surprisingly objective, yet really engaging look at the characters. And when things need to get intense, it does that insanely well too, keeping me on the edge of my seat for the entire scene(s). Basically it takes what was good about season 1’s craft and improves upon it.

This show/season has been really well received. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic the season has a score of 78/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.5/10 and is ranked #248 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Season 2 of “Luther” takes what made season 1 great and further improves upon it, giving us four episodes of dark, morally complex police drama. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, great music, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Luther” is a 9.77/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Luther” season 2 is now completed.

Two down, three to go

Series Review: Luther – Season 1 (2010)

This is a show I’ve only seen an episode or two of over the years. So when I saw that it was leaving Netflix at the end of the month, I felt that it was the perfect time to catch up on the entirety of it over the next few weeks. So look forward to more reviews coming in this little project I’ve decided to call “The Ides of Elba”.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Luther” season 1.

John Luther (Idris Elba) is a brilliant but rough-around-the-edges police detective as he’s reinstated after an extended absence following a horrible and traumatic case. And we follow him as he works to solve various dark and horrific crimes, all while struggling to keep his personal life together, along with developing an uncomfortable kinship with a deranged young woman (Ruth Wilson). At first glance, “Luther” might have the air of a typical police drama, it manages to stand out partly thanks to a gritty and dark tone, exploring much darker and heavier crime stories. But it also works thanks to the overarching storylines, involving Luther’s past, his tense relationship with his estranged wife (Indira Varma), and his newfound “friendship” with the aforementioned deranged young woman. Yes, there is a lot going on, and it can make the episodes feel slightly long in the tooth at times, but it’s all written with so much nuance and suspense that I can forgive some of the slower and more feet-draggy (that is now a word, shut up) moments. So yeah, the story here’s good.

What I love about the characters of Luther is that none of them are really written in a perfect black and white manner. Everyone’s written with a lot of ambiguity and nuance. Be they “hero”, support, or villain, all of them have many layers to them that make them deeply fascinating. Even our main character, while a policeman who tries to do good and save the day, is written incredibly grey, and it makes him an incredibly compelling character to follow. It also helps that Idris Elba is fucking incredible in the role. The supporting cast is great too. Ruth Wilson, Indira Varma, Steven Mackintosh, Warren Brown, Saskia Reeves, Paul McGann, there’s not a weak link in this cast.

The score was composed by Paul Englishby, and I think he did a really good job with it. Very brooding, very eerie, really helps maintain the gritty vibe that the writing goes for, often elevating the suspense of certain scenes. They also use licensed songs on occasion, and they work really well in their respective scenes. Overall, there’s good music here.

“Luther” was created and written for the BBC by Neil Cross, with direction by various cool people. And I think the craft here is superb. The scenes have a very deliberate pace to them, shots willing to linger for a while, slowly building this creeping suspense that often culminates in really intense and at times even brutal payoffs. It helps bring the material to life in a fresh and exciting way that wasn’t seen that much on tv back in 2010.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic the season has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.5/10 and is ranked #247 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Season 1 of “Luther” makes one hell of a first impression, giving us a dark and captivating six episodes that had me (mostly) enraptured from start to end. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Luther” is a 9.44/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Luther” season 1 is now completed.

Beware the Ides of Elba, for there’s more coming your way…

Series Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 7 (2002 – 2003)

My friends, after roughly two years, we’ve finally arrived. The end of my mom and I’s rewatch of this show is over. Which means that this will be the final review in this series. For some, that is a relief. For some, they’re neutral. And there may even be one or two goobers who are a little sad that they got no more Buffy reviews to look forward to from me. Well, either way… let’s get into it.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… the final season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.

Following the traumatic events at the end of season 6, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her friends seem to be finding themselves working through it, trying to heal and get by. This relative calm is about to get ruined however when a great evil, more powerful than anything they’ve faced before, starts emerging and causing carnage, forcing the gang to have to gather strength and allies in order to hopefully have a chance at stopping it. While the final season isn’t the highest point in the show’s run, I would still say the story is mostly successful at what it sets out to do. It escalates decently, and it has some nice, engaging bits of drama and payoff. And even some of the more one-off episodes are solid too. It doesn’t always succeed, as I do find the big bad of the season to be a bit underwhelming in the end, and there are times throughout the 22 episodes that just don’t *quite* hit the mark. But there’s still plenty of fun to be had, some decent mini-arcs, and a relatively satisfying conclusion to the show.

The characters in this are mostly interesting. Returning cast members (bar one) get some great arcs, and I do like how they sort of evolve over the season. And Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, Michelle Trachtenberg, James Marsters, Anthony Head, and Emma Caulfield all deliver top notch work. As for newcomers, we got people like D.B. Woodside (MVP), Iyari Lemon, Sarah Hagan, Nathan Fillion, Indigo, Felicia Day, and more, all delivering really good performances in their respective roles.

The score this season was partly composed by Robert Duncan and partly by Douglas Romayne, and I think the music here’s good. Some more subtle, emotional beats, as well as big, bold, brass for the more action-packed moments. Really, it sort of takes what’s come before and just continues doing it well. There’s also a bunch of licensed songs used throughout, and they work well too. Overall, the music’s good, there’s not much I can say that I haven’t touched on in previous seasons.

Season 7 of “Buffy” was written and directed by a whole bunch of different people (including one horrible man), and the craft here is generally good. Makeup and prosthetics are great as usual, some of the CG is a bit jank (but in a charming, forgiveable way), and generally direction is as solid as ever. The only thing that can feel slightly off at times is cinematography. Certain episodes have this weird, blurry quality, odd lighting… it just distracts in those few episodes. It isn’t super often it happens however, so it doesn’t completely fuck up the overall craft of the season for me. For the most part, the crew did a damn good job.

This show/season has been decently well received, with a few mixed reactions thrown in there. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a user score of 4.8/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

While it is a little rocky throughout, the final season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is still another really enjoyable batch of episodes that I think sticks the landing for the show pretty well. It has a good story, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing/craft. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 7 of “Buffy” is an 8.56/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth watching.

My review of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 7 is now completed.

And that’s it, no more Buffy for this blog… until I inevitably cover the spin-off show, that is.

Series Review: The Journalist – Season 1 (2022)

Journalism! I got nothing else, I thought that excited expression might inspire a more nuanced intro on the importance of journalism, but I got jack shit. So I guess we should just get into the review itself.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Journalist” season 1.

Japan, 2019. We follow journalist Anna Matsuda (Ryoko Yonekura) as she doggedly investigates suspicions of government corruption. At the same time, we follow a few of the people working within said government, seeing their personal conflicts as they deal with covering of said corruption. I found the story here to be kind of a mixed bag. It’s a slow burn investigative drama, happily showing you the tedium that comes with both the journalism and the governmental bureaucracy. And at times I do like that, for a good chunk of the show (mainly episodes 2-5) it is decently engaging. Even the melodrama in those episodes can be pretty enjoyable. First and final episodes however feel like they drag a bit, and even the better middle episodes never do anything particularly outstanding. It’s one of those narratives that shows great potential, and even does engage for a fair bit of the runtime, but never quite hits the heights it reaches for. So for the most part I enjoyed the story here, despite some of its flaws.

The characters in this are all decently interesting, working well to make the show a little more engaging. I think some of my favorite ones here are the ones who work within the government, as the show actually does an alright job of exploring their inner conflict with having to deal with some shady shit. I can also happily say that the cast in this are all great, featuring people like Ryoko Yonekura, Go Ayano, Ren Hanami, Keisuke Hoashi, Ryusei Yokohama, Shinobu Terajima, and more, all delivering damn good performances.

The score for the show was composed by Taro Iwashiro, and I think he did a really good job with it. For the most part it relies on a melancholic piano to create this serious and emotional tone that I think works really well for the show. There are also occasional strings, guitars, and percussion used for extra impact in certain scenes, and I think that works pretty well too.

Based on a movie of the same name, “The Journalist” was written and directed for Netflix by Michihito Fujii, who I think did a really solid job here. His direction has this cold, slow burn feel to it, which complements the story quite well, and even adds a surprising amount of suspense to it at times. Even in the moments where the writing doesn’t fully engage, Fujii’s direction has a way of keeping me at least somewhat interested in the scene. So yeah, he did a good job with that.

The show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic the general consensus seems to be a 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.1/10.

While it never quite reaches the heights of its ambition, and even drags at times, season 1 of “The Journalist” is still a pretty solid political/investigative drama. It has a pretty good story, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “The Journalist” is a 7.21/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth watching.

My review of “The Journalist” season 1 is now completed.

Come for Go Ayano, stay for… I don’t know, stuff being pretty good, I guess.

Series Review: Demon Slayer – Season 1 (2019)

I really don’t talk enough about anime on this blog, which is kinda funny, because some of my first (and worst) reviews I did way back in 2014 were anime-related. But since then I haven’t really done much in that realm of entertainment. So maybe it’s time to try to remedy that.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Demon Slayer” season 1.

After most of his family gets killed by demons, Tanjiro Kamado (Natsuki Hanae) vows to become a demon slayer in order to avenge his dead family, while also trying to cure his sister (Akari Kito) who’s been turned into a demon. And thus we follow Tanjiro as he goes on this journey, training to get stronger, attempting to save people, and meeting all sorts of colorful characters along the way. At first glance, it may seem like typical action-fantasy anime fare, and in a lot of ways, that is what it is. But then we also get a lot of moments that show something deeper, something… humane. For all the magic and monsters and over the top comedy, the show’s story grounds itself by often taking the time to let dramatic beats breathe and simmer, giving a very humane and emotionally charged perspective to the predicaments and stories that Tanjiro finds himself involved in throughout the 26 episode season. And this gives the show a weight that really makes the story of “Demon Slayer” something special. Admittedly I wouldn’t call myself “hooked” by the first few episodes. They’re still quite entertaining, but since they consist of a lot of setup, they do suffer from a tiny bit of good ol’ premiere sickness. Again, they’re still really solid, so it’s not a dealbreaker, just a slight hiccup in what is otherwise a great story.

The characters in this are all fun, colorful, entertaining, and overall just insanely compelling. Much like the story, at first glance they might all cover the typical archetypes found within this kind of anime, but given a bit of time, they start to show more depth, while still being able to embrace some of those classic tropes when needed. I also think the performances in here are spectacular. The cast consists of people like Natsuki Hanae, Akari Kito, Hiro Shimono, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (who plays my favorite character), Takahiro Sakurai, Takumi Yamazaki, and many more, all doing amazingly well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Yuki Kajiura and Go Shiina, and my god, they did an amazing job with it. Sweeping orchestrations, moody strings and pianos, some horror stings, even a bit of rock and techno-infused stuff slips in, and it’s all terrific, adding so much to the show. The opening and ending themes by LiSA (god, that stage name really hates SEO) are also really solid. The music in this show’s just all round great.

Based on the hit manga by Koyoharu Gotouge, “Demon Slayer” was brought to us by the studio Ufotable, and they just knocked it out of the fucking park here. The art pops beautifully, the movement is smooth, the colors look super crisp, and everything just has an insane level of polish that is an absolute joy to behold from start to end. The animation especially comes alive during the action scenes, all of which are dynamic, breathtaking, and very creative. Long story short: This show looks fucking amazing.

This show/season’s been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.7/10, and is ranked #128 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Season 1 of “Demon Slayer” is a wonderful fantasy-action anime with plenty of heart. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, great music, and amazing animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Demon Slayer” is a 9.65/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Demon Slayer” season 1 is now completed.

I should try to cover more anime in the future. Get the original intentions back on track… albeit with less terrible writing.