Series Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 2 (1997 – 1998)

As some of you may know, earlier this year my mother and I started our rewatch of this show. And I promised to document said journey. Episode-by-episode thoughts will be posted to my twitter as soon as an episode is watched. And as each season gets finished, I will (as seen here) write a review of them all. Enough dawdling, review time!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 2!

Summer holiday is over, which means Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) makes her return to Sunnydale after spending some time with her dad in L.A. Which means it’s back to business as usual: Trying to get good grades in school while also working to save the people of Sunnydale from various supernatural threats, including the newly arrived vampires Spike (James Marsters) and Drusilla (Juliet Landau). Season 2 takes the basic setup of the first season, and improves upon it tenfold thanks to increased budget and confidence in the writing. The main arc(s) in this season mesmerizes, creating an emotionally resonant experience that leaves a unique emotionally visceral impact by the end of it all. The highs of this season are even higher than the first one. Yes, there are still a dud or two, such as the much maligned “Go Fish” or the messy “Bad Eggs”. But then you get some truly awesome experiences in exchange, such as the wonderful “Halloween” or the spectacular and gut-wrenching “Passion”. So while there are a few less than stellar episodes, the overall package is a huge leap in quality from the first season, making for a fucking terrific batch of stories.

The characters in the show are still very colorful, fun, and entertaining, but also get a shitload of development, deepening our bond to them even further. Sarah Michelle Gellar of course returns as the titular vampire slayer. She gets to go through a loooot of stuff this season, and whoa, by the end she has developed so much as a character, which is truly compelling. And Gellar is great in the role, really getting to flex her acting muscles even more than in the first season. David Boreanaz returns as Angel, the vampire with a soul… that means he’s not a bitey bastard anymore, for you uninitiated folks out there. And like Buffy, he goes through a lot of stuff this season that is really interesting to see, both in how it affects him as a character, and how it affects his relationship with Buffy. And Boreanaz is great in the role. Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, and Charisma Carpenter return as Buffy’s friends, and they’re all great, both on the character and acting front. Anthony Head is still wonderful as Buffy’s Watcher/mentor Giles. Now let’s talk about some newcomers… namely Spike and Drusilla, the newly arrived vampires. Spike is an anarchic punk, an absolute dick who likes to cause chaos and fear where he goes… and that kind of makes him the best character, because he’s just a blast to watch, especially since James Marsters clearly has a blast with the role. Next is Drusilla, Spike’s girlfriend, and resident crazy person. I don’t wanna say much more, since I find her personality and arc to be more fascinating to experience rather than told. But I’ll say that she’s interesting and Juliet Landau does a good job in the role. And with people like Robia LaMorte, Kristine Sutherland, Armin Shimerman, Seth Green, Danny Strong, and many more filling out the supporting cast, you get a lot of solid performances.

Season 1 composer Walter Murphy did not return for this second go-around, with compsing duties being handed over to Christophe Beck. And just like with the storytelling and character arcs, the music of season 2 is a vast improvement on the first season. Way fewer synthesizers to emulate orchestras are used, with real instruments getting to take center stage. And while there are some big, bombastic pieces for action set pieces, the overall vibe of the score this season is somber, giving off an understated feeling of sadness that still manages to have some hope behind it. Of course this is best shown in the track “Close Your Eyes”, but it does show in a few other pieces too. Beck really brought his A-game here. There’s a few licensed tracks used throughout too, and they’re fine.

As with season 1, Joss Whedon and a bunch of other cool people handled writing and directing for the season, and generally it is all really well handled (yes, even in bad episodes). It’s well shot, fight choreography ranges from alright to really good, the craft is just generally improved from the first time around (wow, saying that is really getting old). You can tell that the creatives behind the show really cared, trying to bring it to 110% each time (with varying results). Even the effects are improved… even though that doesn’t say much, because we’re talking about late 90s tv budget CGI for certain effects. The practical stuff looks fantastic, but hooooo boy, some of them there fancy computer effects aren’t so fancy anymore. It doesn’t ruin the experience for me, but it’s worth pointing out. Generally the craft here is terrific.

The show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists, but with no critics rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

While it does have one or two low points, season 2 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is still a great sophomore outing that takes its simple premise and elevates it to something really special. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing/action/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 2 is a 9,78/10. So yes, that is correct, it does indeed get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

Season 2 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is now completed.

“Go Fish”, more like “Go Fuck Itself”.

Series Review: Peaky Blinders – Season 5 (2019)

Yes, I finally got the opportunity to catch up. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’d know that I’m a big fan of this show. I’ve reviewed every season (*not so subtle nod*), and I’ve loved each and every one of them. So now we got the question: Does the latest outing land on that list, or is it somehow a big pile of disappointment? Let’s have a look.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Peaky Blinders” season 5.

1929. Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) tries to balance his life as a politician with keep tabs on his family business, all the while antagonistic forces, including fellow politician Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin), fight against his every move. More scheming, more violence… more “Peaky Blinders”. And I’ll be up front about my thoughts, I loved the plot this season. There’s a lot going on, making episodes feel very dense, but it’s handled in such a smooth and clever way that you never get lost. The tone also feels darker and more dire than before, partly due to it being set during one of the toughest times in modern history (the depression), but partly also because it focuses so heavily on Tommy’s rapidly deteriorating mental state. There wasn’t ever really a moment in the season where it felt like I could figure out what was gonna happen next, due to clever and subversive drama that was brought to life by the spectacular writing. I was on the edge of my seat for all six episodes, and I adored every minute of it.

The characters of season 5 are just as flawed, nuanced, human, and interesting as they’ve ever been… maybe even more so, due to developments in the previous season and in this one. Seeing Tommy go so far down in the abyss this season was enrapturing, and Cillian Murphy is once again fucking amazing in the role. Arthur has possibly had the biggest arc in the entire show, and it’s interesting to see him at this point in his life, wonderfully portrayed once again by Paul Anderson. Helen McCrory is still an absolute badass as Aunt Polly. Sophie Rundle, Finn Cole, and Harry Kirton all kill it once again in their roles. Aidan Gillen was once again great as Aberama Gold. Let’s talk newcomers. First up we have Sam Claflin as Oswald Mosley, who apparently was a very real person. Now, I can’t speak to how accurate Claflin’s portrayal was to the real deal, as I am neither old nor British. I can however talk about his role in the show. He’s a level-headed, scheming, and highly intelligent conservative politician, clashing with Tommy’s ideology and work at multiple points, making him a most dangerous opponent, even without guns or violence. And Claflin is great in the role. Then we got Anya Taylor-Joy as Gina, the recent wife of Finn Cole’s character Michael. It’s not clear at first what purpose she’ll serve within the show’s dramatic developments, but soon enough you’ll find out, and she’s made an intriguing part of the cast. And Taylor-Joy does a good job in the role. The entire cast is fucking great, yo.

As with previous seasons of “Peaky Blinders”, season 5 relies on a lot of licensed music to add to its storytelling, mainly within the hard rock and blues-rock genres. When I first heard it back in the day, I was very much taken aback by it. But now it’s so ingrained in the show’s identity for me that I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are also a few tracks made for the show, brought to us by Anna Calvi, and those are good too.

Series creator Steven Knight handled writing for all the episodes, with Anthony Byrne handling direction on all six episodes, and Si Bell doing the cinematography. And the craft is the best the show has ever given us. Plenty of impressive camera movements suck us further into the character drama, with some gorgeous wide shots on occasion to make us go “Wow!”. The show’s always been impressive from a craft standpoint, but they’ve truly stepped up their game this time around.

The show/season has of course been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it… exists. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.8/10 and is ranked #54 on the “Top 250” tv list.

I think it comes as a surprise to absolutely fucking no one when I say that I loved season 5 of “Peaky Blinders”. It’s a darker season that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout all of it, furthering my investment in the characters. It has a great plot, fantastic characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Peaky Blinders” season 5 is a 10/10 (fuck yeah). So of course it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Peaky Blinders” season 5 is now completed.

If you haven’t (for whatever reason) watched this show, THEN BY ORDER OF THE PEAKY FOOKIN’ BLINDERS, YOU WILL.

Series Review: The Outsider (2020)

Alright, first review of an actual 2020 release. We’re finally getting into the new year properly.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Outsider”.

When a young boy is found having been raped and murdered, the evidence points to local baseball coach Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman) having done it. But as Detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) looks further into it, there seems to be more to the case than meets the eye, leading Ralph down a dark and complicated path. So now we have our dark mystery series. And I would say the story here is a really intriguing one. The way this case evolves the further we get into the show is fascinating, making for some really interesting and often suspenseful television. It’s often also quite disturbing, but in a way that serves the story and doesn’t feel like cheap exploitative crap. Now, there are parts of the show where not much happens, and that drags it down ever so slightly. I don’t mind a slow burn (hell, most of this show is a slow burn), but there’s a difference between slowly burning drama and no real development. That said, it doesn’t full on ruin the show for me… it’s still a great and chilling story.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and overall quite interesting. First up we have Ben Mendelsohn as Ralph Anderson, an aging police Detective who’s the lead on this case. He’s a determined man, ready for action at any point, while also dealing with some personal demons. And Mendelsohn is great in the role. Next we have Cynthia Erivo as Holly Gibney, a private investigator who gets brought in to help out with the case at a point in the story. She’s a bit eccentric, but also absolutely brilliant at what she does, making her a very valuable part of the cast. And Erivo is great in the role. Jason Bateman is good as disgraced baseball coach Terry Maitland. Bill Camp is great as defense attorney Howard Salomon. Yul Vazquez is great as fellow detective Yunis Sablo. Julianna Nicholson is good as Terry’s wife Glory. We also get supporting work from people like Paddy Considine, Jeremy Bobb, Mare Winningham, Derek Cecil, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans (two names we haven’t seen on this blog in quite a while). And I think they did a great job in creating an eerie and chilling score that perfectly encapsulates the dark and creepy vibe that the rest of the creative team were going for. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout the show, and they work well enough in their respective scenes.

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, “The Outsider” was developed for HBO by Richard Price, with writing by him and a bunch of other cool people (including my favorite author, Dennis Lehane), and directing by a few other cool people (including Jason Bateman and Karyn Kusama). And this is where the show is at its best. The craft is fucking immaculate. The slow burn of the story is very much part of the directing too, and I like that, as it gives the show this cold and almost otherworldly vibe that constantly kept me on my edge to some degree. And the cinematography, split over the ten episodes between Kevin McKnight, Zak Mulligan, Rasmus Heise, and Igor Martinovic… it’s stunning. Each shot is meticulously planned, making for quite an engaging visual experience.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 69/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.6/10 and is ranked #192 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

While it does drag a little in parts, “The Outsider” is still a damn good show that I highly recommend. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Outsider ” is a 9/10. So it’s definitely worth watching.

My review of “The Outsider” is now completed.

I need to read more Stephen King.

Series Review: Transformers Prime – Season 1 (2010 – 2011)

Hello. My name is Markus. I’m 22 (soon 23) years old, and I watch kids cartoons. And you can’t fucking stop me.

Ladies and gents… “Transformers Prime” season 1.

A heroic group of alien robots known as the Autobots secretly reside on planet Earth as they try to fight off the villainous Decepticons. The setup is basically the same as any other “Transformers” adaptation, Autobots fighting Decepticons, Autobots having some human friends, yada yada yada. No need to dwell on the setup stuff, as it’s basically the same in most shows. However, “Transformers Prime” transcends its well-trodden premise in its execution, which is pretty damn good. While it’s still a kid-friendly action cartoon, it sports a fairly serious tone that isn’t afraid to go to some surprisingly dark places at times, making for a show that can give kids the colorful action fix they might want, while also featuring some surprising nuance for any potential adults (AKA me) watching. Even the filler episodes help further develop the world and characters, while still retaining a relatively closed off plot for those specific episodes. Am I saying this is the deepest plot for a show ever? Of course not. But it’s still way more compelling than I actually expected, leading me to be genuinely invested in what was going on without solely relying on my nostalgia for this franchise.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, and surprisingly nuanced (kinda like the plot). The cast is a bit too big to go into detail for, so here’s just a quick rundown (starting with the core Autobot team). You got Peter Cullen back as the ever inspiring Optimus Prime, you got Kevin Michael Richardson as the strong but not too smart Bulkhead, you got Sumalee Montano as the fierce and loyal Arcee, and you got Jeffrey Combs as the ever cranky but lovable Ratchet. Among the bad guys you got Frank Welker (fuck yeah) back as the menacing Megatron, you got Steve Blum as the ever scheming Starscream, you got Daran Norris (who possibly gives my favorite performance in the show) as the sassy and clever Knock Out, and you got Gina Torres as the sinister Airachnid. As for human characters, you got Josh Keaton as aspiring cool guy Jack, you got Tania Gunadi as the almost annoying, but luckily endearing Miko, you get Andy Pessoa as the young but bright Rafael, and you get Ernie god damn Hudson as Special Agent Fowler. Sorry I won’t go into more detail on each character, but I don’t have the time or willingness to ruin some interesting developments that occur.

The score for the season was composed by Brian Tyler and Matthew Margeson, and I think they did a good job with it. For the most part it is of course the cool action brass one might expect, but it does get a little more somber when needed. There is also frequent use of the main theme as well, but I’m fine with that, because it’s great. Really, this score is solid.

“Transformers Prime” was developed for the Hub Network by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Duane Capizzi, and Jeff Kline, with writing/directing by a whole load of cool people. And I have to say, this show is way more well crafted than I expected… those last three words seem to be coming up a lot in this review. The first time I saw the art style, I wasn’t really a fan. But when I watched it in action, I grew to really like it, with only a few minor niggles regarding some of the human designs. But the overall animation here is great, showing plenty of detail without sacrificing good movements and such. Usually I tend to lean towards preferring drawn 2D animation, but here I think the animation team made great use of 3D animation to create a lot of fun angles and camera movements, making for some spectacular action scenes.

The show doesn’t really exist on my sites I use for this “other ratings” section. But on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

Season 1 of “Transformers Prime” surprised the hell out of me, it’s one of the best action cartoons I’ve seen in recent years. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Transformers Prime” is a 9,62/10. So it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Transformers Prime” season 1 is now completed.

Roll out…

Series Review: Invisible Heroes (2019)

History is full of interesting situations. Some get adapted, some remain untouched. So let’s talk about one I hadn’t heard about before.

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 and gentlemen… “Invisible Heroes”.

1973. Finnish diplomats Tapani Brotherus (Pelle Heikkilä) and Ilkka Jaamala (Ilkka Villi) find themselves located in Chile, trying to save the lives of many people during a massive coup started by the anti-socialist military. As we go through the series, we see all kinds of parties that are involved in this situation, from the diplomats, to resistance fighters, to international politicians, and how all their actions affect not only the overall plot… but each other’s plans too. And it is absolutely riveting. I have a soft spot for political dramas/thrillers, so this already had my attention during the first few minutes. Luckily for me, it managed to hold that for all six episodes. It’s less of a “Jack Ryan” type of thriller where it’s all about actions, but more about the people involved, making decisions to do something. And the way that all their various schemes intersect makes for some really compelling tv.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and overall just really interesting. Pelle Heikkilä (hey-key-leh, if you need help with pronunciation) plays Tapani Brotherus, a Finnish diplomat and family man/our main-main character. He’s generally a good man, wanting to always help everyone and be a decent dude, do what’s right. But what makes that even more interesting is seeing his ideology get clashed with at every turn due to the intentions of other parties. And Heikkilä is great in the role. Next we have Ilkka Villi as Ilkka Jaamala, Brotherus’ colleague. He’s a bit more skeptical to some of Brotherus’ actions, looking at things a bit more practically, while still generally wanting the same things as his colleague. And Villi is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Sophia Heikkilä, Aksa Korttila, Mikael Persbrandt, Juan Cano, Sönke Möhring, Néstor Cantillana, Cristián Carvajal, Paola Lattus, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Timo Hietala, and I thought he did a good job with it. It does a good job fitting the Chilean setting while also creating the right emotions for the politically driven drama. ’tis good.

Based on a true story, “Invisible Heroes” was written by Mika Kurvinen, Tarja Kylmä, and Manuela Infante, with directing handled by Mika Kurvinen & Alicia Scherson. And the craft in this show is stellar. The creators manage to create a show that can put the viewer on the edge of their seat with very few actual means, because they zero in on the importance of these people and how they act in this overwhelming situation. Yes, there are violent situations in this show (all of which are tense and unsettling), but they are never the sole focus of the show, and come in at just the right times. And to complement the great directing, we have some really good looking cinematography done by Harri Halonen.

This show doesn’t exist on most of the sites I use. But on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“Invisible Heroes” is one of the better Scandinavian productions I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/writing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Invisible Heroes” is a 9,72/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Invisible Heroes” is now completed.

These guys aren’t invisible, I can see them right there, on my screen. False advertising, 0/10.

Series Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 1 (1997)

Oh hello there. So you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about this show. Well, frankly, it’s because I’ve been a fan of it for quite a while, but it’s been years since I actually properly watched it. So my mother and I recently sat ourselves down with the DVD box set and started a rewatch. And that made me think “Hey, maybe I could talk about each season on my blog as we get through them”. So that’s what we’re gonna do for however many months this’ll take. I’ve been looking for a long-term thing to do on this blog (like the Mangoldathon I did in 2017), so this might be a decent one for now. Anyhow, let’s get on with it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 1.

After she gets kicked out of her old school, Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) moves to a small town called Sunnydale to start over. However, things aren’t just classes, boys, and parties, as the town lies upon an ancient secret called the Hellmouth, which brings all kinds of demonic bullshit to the area. And since Buffy is the Slayer, a young woman chosen to fight off demons, it is up to her, with the help of her new mentor (Anthony Head) and friends (Nichols Brendon, Alyson Hannigan) to deal with any demonic threats terrorizing Sunnydale, including the sinister vampire lord known as the Master (Mark Metcalf). The story here is a weird roller coaster. When it focuses on main stuff regarding Buffy’s development as a Slayer, and the Master’s plan to take over the world, it can be quite interesting, as the creators put their own unique spin on vampire mythology that still honors the traditions set by older adaptations. But then there’s also a fair bit of filler throughout, which is very hit-and-miss. From the really dumb “I, Robot, You, Jane” to the surprisingly high concept “Nightmares”, you can feel that they hadn’t quite found their footing/voice yet. This does not dismiss the entire season as outright bad though, despite its tonal and stylistic inconsistencies. It just means the road is rocky, but is filled with enjoyable and sometimes even compelling highlights (see the aforementioned “Nightmares”). So overall the story stuff here is… fine.

Where the plot may falter at times, the characters make up for it thanks to being interesting and entertaining. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays Buffy, the titular teenage vampire slayer. Like every girl her age, she doesn’t want all this responsibility of having to save the world, but is of course begrudgingly drawn into it because it’s the right thing to do, and she’s a good person and all that. And seeing her duty vs. desire sides clash creates some interesting dynamics for her. And Gellar is really good in the role. Nicholas Brendon plays Xander, one of Buffy’s new friends. He’s a bit of a dork, but also knows when to stand up for those that need it. He gets a tiny bit of development this season, but not enough to make him as good as he could be, though he is still an enjoyable presence who I wouldn’t trade for anything. And Brendon is really good in the role. Next we have Alyson Hannigan as Willow, Buffy’s other friend. A shy, slightly timid nerd, she’s the brains of the main trio, but it’s also clear that she has a tougher side to her somewhere deep down. And Hannigan is really good in the role. Anthony Head as Giles, the mentor/Watcher is great, bringing a sort of father figure presence to the group. Charisma Carpenter plays a mean girl at the school, and she kills it in that role. Mark Metcalf is deliciously villainous and campy as the evil Master. And there’s a lot of other supporting characters/actors I could talk about, but I won’t, but they’re all good.

The score for the season was composed by Walter Murphy, and I know the show at this point ran on a ham sandwich budget, but jeez Louise, it sounds bad. Not like “Resident Evil” director’s cut bad, but it’s not great. They have fun ideas for some action/horror tunes throughout, but due to its weird synth-pretending-to-be-orchestra sound, it often falters. But then we also get a few piano-based pieces throughout, and those sound great. So I’m weirdly split on it, because parts sound less than stellar, and others sound really good. Oh, and the main theme by rock band Nerf Herder is pretty good too.

Based on the movie of the same name, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was created for the WB network by Joss Whedon, who also wrote and directed some of the episodes, with some help on other episodes by other cool people. And here’s where I have a lot of praise for the show. It’s pretty well known that season 1 of “Buffy” was running on a ham sandwich budget, which can often break a lot of shows. But the crew really push every penny to its absolute god damn limit. Yes, some of the effects look a bit… not great, but for the most part the crew does wonders with the few means they have of creating monsters, eerie sets, and vampire slaying tools. There’s even some decent shot composition every now and then.

The show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

While it’s a little rocky throughout, season 1 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is still a solid start to the show. It has an okay plot, really good characters, great performances, meh music, and good writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a 7,80/10. So while flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth watching.

My review of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 1 is now completed.

Nice to have another blog series going.

Series Review: Second Chance (2016)

Do you ever think about what happens after we die? I mean, sure, our bodies stop functioning and there’s just a lifeless husk. But if you allow yourself to add the idea of a soul to the human equation, it becomes way more intriguing. Does it stay in the same space, experiencing everlasting darkness, or will it move on to a new host? I’m just intrigued by this kind of stuff.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Second Chance”.

When ex-sheriff Jimmy Pritchard (Philip Baker Hall) gets killed when trying to stop a break-in, he is brought back from death by twins Mary (Dilshad Vadsaria) and Otto (Adhir Kalyan), this time as a much younger and more powerful man (Rob Kazinsky). And Pritchard uses this second chance to try to reconnect with his son (Tim DeKay) and help him solve crimes. That’s right, they have a clever setup for a sci-fi/drama, and they force in a procedural element. And the case each week isn’t even sci-fi related (bar like one), but instead tends to be more regular affairs. And while it could get away with this with clever writing, á la “Lucifer”, it doesn’t really have that going for it. I wouldn’t call the story of this show bad. The individual cases are fine distractions, and the few times they introduce a more overarching plot to it all it is pretty fun. And the occasional bit of family drama works pretty well too. So overall… this stuff is okay.

The characters in this have good setups, and are on occasion pretty interesting. In our leading role we have Rob Kazinsky as the recently resurrected Jimmy Pritchard. A rough-around-the-edges ex-sheriff with a rocky past, trying to do good in his newly given second chance, even if it isn’t always easy. And that makes him a fun character to watch, with Kazisnky bringing a rugged charisma that makes him even more fun to watch. Dilshad Vadsaria and Adhir Kalyan as the two twins have an interesting dynamic since they’re such opposites in various regards, and I thought they both were good in their roles. Tim DeKay as the disgruntled son is a bit of fun, and makes for some good scenes between him and Kazinsky. And I can’t complain about the occasional bits we get with Philip Baker Hall, because he’s just great. Really, it’s a mostly solid cast.

The score for “Second Chance” was composed by John Paesano, and this is the weakest work I’ve ever heard from him. Now, that’s not saying Paesano’s a bad composer, because he’s fantastic. It’s just that his score here is so bland and unmemorable that if I tried remembering and humming it right now, a singularity of blandness would erupt in my room, causing everything in here to turn grey and brown. Again, Peasano is great, but I get the feeling he wasn’t allowed to flex his composing muscles here.

The show was created for the FOX network by Rand Ravich, with writing by him and other cool people, and direction by various people. And the craft here is fine. Most of the time it’s standard single cam setups, with little thought to much else. On occasion we get a decent shot, and sometimes we get some decently enjoyable action. But the overall craft here doesn’t go much further beyond pretty good, probably because of the limitations of the procedural format.

This show has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 30% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 47/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

While it doesn’t do much to stand out from the pack, “Second Chance” is still a decent Sunday afternoon distraction. It has an okay plot, good characters, really good performances, mediocre music, and decent writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Second Chance” is a 6,57/10. So while heavily flawed, it can still be worth a watch.

My review of “Second Chance” is now completed.

It seems FOX isn’t gonna give this show a… second chance.

Series Review: A Christmas Carol (2019)

I guess we gotta cover something christmas-related since the holidays are upon us. And lucky for me, we just got a new christmas mini-series to talk about. Yay.

Ladies and gentlemen… “A Christmas Carol”.

Ebenezer Scrooge (Guy Pearce) is an anti-social, greedy businessman who’s made his success on the misery of others for years. But one night right before christmas day, three spirits come to visit him to try to make him realize the fault of his ways. Everybody knows the setup for this story, question with each adaptation tends to instead come down to execution. And the execution in this series is not great. It’s a really dark, bleak, and edgy take on the classic story that is honestly stretched way too long. Sure, three episodes don’t sound like much. But when each episode is just under 60 minutes long and tries to then stretch a 110 page book out to that runtime, it just feels like it drags its ass. Plus, while the darker take sounds interesting on paper, it just doesn’t work, often taking me out of it. Even the supposedly heartwarming bits leave me feeling cold. The story’s just off for me.

The characters in this you know the basic dynamics of. But they also get given a somewhat darker edge to them that just makes things feel a little off at times. Guy Pearce of course plays the ultimate douchebag that is Ebenezer Scrooge. Anti-social, greedy, douchey… he’s just the worst. And Pearce is great in the role. You get Stephen Graham as Jacob Marley, and he’s of course great. Joe Alwyn does an admirable job as Bob Cratchit. Lenny Rush who plays Tiny Tim does a really good job. Andy Serkis as the ghost of christmas past rides the line between intimidating and hammy wonderfully. Really, all actors here brought their A-game, even if the material isn’t always up to snuff.

The score for the series was composed by Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran. It was okay. Nothing too memorable, nothing that ruined the series, but also didn’t improve it. It’s just kinda there. Moving on.

Based on the classic book by Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” was brought to us by Steven Knight, with Nick Murphy serving as director. And while the show felt a bit lackluster in the story and character departments, it excels in the production parts. The sets are immaculate, the costumes neat, and the cinematography by Si Bell was gorgeous. You can tell that so much love and care was put into how the world was crafted.

This show hasn’t been too well received so far. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 60% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 39/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

Despite having some things strewn throughout, 2019’s “A Christmas Carol” is ultimately not a great adaptation. The story isn’t very good, the characters are meh, the performances are great, the music is meh, and the directing, cinematography, and sets are great. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “A Christmas Carol” is a 4,65/10. So despite some good stuff, I’d still recommend skipping it.

My review of “A Christmas Carol” is now completed.

If someone disagrees with me, they better use “humbug”.

Series Review: His Dark Materials – Season 1 (2019)

Adapting books is difficult. There’s a risk of alienating old fans if you fuck it up, and there’s a chance of alienating new ones if you just adapt word for word, with no regard for the viewing experience. We’ve covered some good ones, and some bad ones on the blog before… so let’s see where this falls into the spectrum

Ladies and gentlemen… “His Dark Materials” season 1.

Set in an alternate universe England, the story follows Lyra (Dafne Keen), a girl looking to find a way to get out of her boring scholastic existence and into some adventure. Well she soon finds her wish coming true when she gets dragged into a big, magical adventure through this mysterious, alternate world. I really enjoyed following the story here. It’s a fresh take on the familiar “child hero” fantasy formula. And unlike so many other such adaptations it manages to balance a generally family friendly approach with a lot of darker moments that dare to challenge younger viewers a bit. It reminds me of the “Harry Potter” movies a bit in that sense. There’s also enough interesting twists in the story to keep me on my toes. The pacing does feel like it slightly drags at times due to how dense with content each episode is, but generally it never full on breaks the show for me. It’s still a really engaging and entertaining story.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, and overall just interesting. Dafne Keen plays Lyra, our protagonist. She’s clever, crafty, adventurous, and just a really entertaining protagonist that I loved following throughout. And Keen is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Ruth Wilson, Kit Connor, Amir Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ariyon Bakare, James Cosmo, and James McAvoy, among many others. And they all do very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show/season was composed by Lorne Balfe, and it is absolutely fantastic. From the beyond catchy main theme, to many of the quieter pieces, to some of the bigger tracks, it is all fantastic. What I also like is that as we switch between a few different settings within the show, Balfe actually plays around a bit with his instrumentation, not only relying on the typical orchestral stuff. So yeah, this show has some great music.

Based on the beloved novels by Philip Pullman, “His Dark Materials” is a co-production between BBC and HBO, written by Jack Thorne, and directed by a bunch of cool people. And the craft here is seriously fantastic. The direction manages to capture the sweeping nature of the epic fantasy story it sets up, while still staying intimate with the characters, bringing us further into the world in a wonderful way. And this show is also proof why HBO should be allowed to help out with the financing of a show, because in terms of sets, effects, props, puppetry, and all such production values, this is one of the most well crafted and expensive-looking shows I have ever witnessed. It is stunning what they’ve made here.

This season/show has generally been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

It’s of course not flawless, but I still kinda loved season of “His Dark Materials”. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing, cinematography, and effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “His Dark Materials” is a 9,55/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “His Dark Materials” season 1 is now completed.

I’ve had a weird void in my life since the “Harry Potter movies ended. And this show has kinda filled it for the past two months.

Series Review: Watchmen – Season 1 (2019)

That’s right, it’s not just christmas contrivances you’ll get. Regular reviews will show up too, I ain’t forgettin’ my roots. So, let’s talk about a comic book thing.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Watchmen” season 1!

Set in an alternate version of 2019, “Watchmen” follows a whole bunch of people, as they try to navigate the strange and intense happenings of this world they live in. And that’s pretty much all I’ll say in regards to explaining the core plot, because it’s such a weird and unique experience that if explained further, it would risk kinda ruining it. But I’ll say that the ways it ties into the classic comic book are really neat, and even looking at it without really knowing much (if anything) about the comic, it’s still a highly entertaining and unique journey that has a satisfying beginning, middle, and end.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, colorful, and just really interesting. Regina King plays Angela Abar, an undercover police officer who more or less serves as the main protagonist of the story. She’s tough, but she does also have a vulnerable side that makes her feel more human and relatable. And King is great in the role. And that’s all the cast I’ll go into, as some reveals are better left experienced (kinda like the plot). But I can say that the cast is filled out with people like Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Sara Vickers, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Louis Gossett Jr, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Tom Mison, James Wolk, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, and good god damn, they did a phenomenal job with it. They do some tracks that are quite exciting and cool-sounding, while also providing some tracks that are a bit more dramatic and emotional. They have created a score that not only covers every emotion one needs created for a show like this, but also fits the weird and unique style of everything else in the show. There’s also some licensed tracks used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes too. So yeah, this show has good music.

Based on the classic DC Comic by Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore, “Watchmen” was developed for HBO by Damon Lindelof, who also served as lead writer, while giving directing duties to a whole bunch of other people. And the craft on display here is absolutely superb, creating a world that is familiar (thanks to it technically still being earth), and yet a bit alien, thanks to its awesomely off-kilter tone. The directing is energetic, but also suspenseful, fun, and engaging. The cinematography too is stunning, giving us some great lighting and framing. And with all this said, episode 6… some of the best craft in a tv episode this year, from the shots, to the editing, to the directing… it’s fucking spectacular.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Watchmen” is one of the best new shows of 2019. It has a great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great writing, directing, cinematography, and editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Watchmen” is a 9,90/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

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

I know I called this season 1, but I sincerely hope there are no more seasons. This is a perfectly contained package.