Series Review: The Righteous Gemstones – Season 1 (2019)

Quick anecdote before we get into this sermon… I mean review. I actually started watching this as it aired last year, but forgot to keep up with it. So I decided to finally remedy that recently. So now that it has been done, l can at last talk about the show.

Ladies and gents… “The Righteous Gemstones” season 1.

The story follows the Gemstones, a family of devout televangelists delivering the word of god to huge amounts of people on a regular basis. And we follow them in a peculiar period in their lives when a lot of their dirty laundry and hypocrisies start bubbling towards the surface. Now, looking at that setup might make one expect this show to be purely “Fuck Christianity, fuck religion”, that’s at least what I thought  going into it. But surprisingly, it doesn’t go for that low hanging fruit. Now, it does poke fun at organized religion and mega churches at times, but it does it in a way that still is respectful towards those who believe in the Christian beliefs. The characters in the show aren’t shysters and con artists, they genuinely believe in god and want to spread his love and teachings… they just also happen to be a little tempted by the less than savory sides of life sometimes. And I must say that I generally enjoyed the story here. It’s a darkly comical family tale with a surprising amount of nuance… however, I do have some issues with the storytelling here. It does feel a little unfocused and scatterbrained at a few points. It doesn’t always feel like they have all their priorities straight for what they wanna do with the narrative. If they had trimmed down some sub-plots a bit, maybe it could’ve felt less messy. But despite being a little less focused than it could’ve been, it’s still an enjoyable story.

The characters here are all flawed, colorful, and surprisingly nuanced, and to see how their personalities at the start clash with various developments in the show is pretty intriguing and entertaining. Danny McBride, Edi Patterson, Adam Devine, and John Goodman are all terrific as the main four Gemstones. And in supporting roles we see people like Walton Goggins (the absolute fucking standout), Tony Cavalero, Tim Baltz, Cassidy Freeman, Skyler Gisondo, Scott MacArthur, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The music for the show was composed by Joseph Stephens, and it was alright. Fairly standard stuff that never really stands out. The only original music track that stands out is a sung song we experience in a flashback, and it’s absolutely wonderful. As for licensed tracks, there’s a handful throughout the season, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“The Righteous Gemstones” was created by Danny McBride for HBO, with writing and directing by him and a bunch of other awesome people (including David Gordon Green). And I must say that the craft behind the show is pretty damn good, featuring a lot of visually pleasing shots and clever camera movements. It’s not often that a comedy makes this much of an effort to captivate in terms of directing, editing, and such, but “Righteous Gemstones” certainly did, and I appreciate that. Now, let’s talk about the humor in this. It’s an intriguing mix of dirty and crass jokes that stoners and teenagers can laugh at, with some decently clever stuff within dialogue at times. Now, some of it lands and some of it don’t. Sometimes I laugh hard and sometimes I sit with a blank stare. It all really goes up and down at times. But overall I’d say it’s pretty funny.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.0/10.

While it does have some flaws within its narrative, season 1 of “The Righteous Gemstones” is still a highly enjoyable batch of episodes that I can still recommend. It has a pretty good story, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, great directing/cinematography, and decently funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “The Righteous Gemstones” is a 7,89/10. So while it is quite flawed, I’d still say it’s worth watching.

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

Flintstone, Gemstone, John Goodman plays ’em all. Yabba-dabba-Amen.

Series Review: Brotherhood – Season 1 (2002)

What, you thought Summer of the Swedes was only about movies? Ahahaha, well to be honest, so did I at first. But hey, shit changes sometimes, you know. So anyhow, shall we get into the review?

Ladies and gentlemen… “Brotherhood” (original title: Tusenbröder) season 1.

Jan “Hoffa” Lenhoff (Ola Rapace) is a young family man who decides to open up a painting business with his friends (Shanti Roney, Danilo Bejarano). However, when things start going less than stellar for the business, the gang will have to resort to less legal methods to make ends meet. Generally speaking, this is a drama about family and the bond between the main trio (hence the show’s title), that just happens to feature some crime elements to help push the drama along. And I must say, I found myself quite compelled by the narrative here. I’m not saying that it’s one of the best stories out there, but I was definitely surprised at all the little nuances that the show presented. It’s not just “Oh, some good dudes falling on hard times, everything that happens can be somewhat justified”. The story here makes you question everything going on, makes you think about events from multiple angles, creating some really engaging tension and conflict throughout the five episodes.

Like the story before them, the characters of this show come with a surprising amount of nuance. Ola Rapace (credited in the show as Ola Norell) plays Hoffa, a man who loves his family, his friends, and wants to make sure his life goes smoothly. And over the course of the season we get to see his various conflicts, from his tense relationship with his dad, to the bond he has with his friends getting tested, to his inner turmoil around the illegal stuff he has to take part in. It’s all good stuff, and Rapace is really good in the role. Next we have Shanti Roney as Niklas, one of Hoffa’s best friends. At the start he just seems like the generally meek one of the group, and over the show we get to see him evolve in some really intriguing ways that make him a really fascinating character. And Roney is great in the role. Next we have Danilo Bejarano as Hamid, the third member of the main trio. He’s probably the one in the group with the least bit of development, while still being an interesting an vital part of the group when it comes to the drama. And Bejarano is good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Anja Lundqvist, Sofia Helin, Lisa Lindgren, Tomas Pontén, Krister Henriksson, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Martin Hansen and Mikael Nord Andersson. And I thought it was great. It’s generally speaking based around a blues-inspired acoustic guitar, which I think works in elevating the already solid drama on display here. As far as the licensed music goes, some of it works fine, and some songs don’t. There’s one or two tracks that actually took me out of the scene because of how it didn’t completely fit with the intended tone. So yeah, score’s great, licensed music can be hit or miss.

The show was created by Lars Lundström, with Erik Leijonborg directing all five episodes this season. And I must say that while the show looks like it was shot on a Sony Potato™, I can’t fault the overall direction. Leijonborg’s direction may not be flashy or even necessarily visually appealing, but I do think that works to the show’s advantage, seeing that it kinda fits the blue collar perspective the characters come from. With this said, some of the editing in a few scenes felt a little… janky. For the most part it’s fine, fairly standard stuff, but there’s a few scenes where it could be a little bit off. It’s nothing totally game breaking, but I felt that it’s worth pointing out.

On imdb.com, the show has a score of 8.2/10.

While it does have a few flaws in the technical department, season 1 of “Brotherhood” is a surprisingly great little drama series. It has a really good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Brotherhood” is an 8,82/10. So while slightly flawed, it’s still definitely worth watching.

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

Most good Swedish shows I’ve watched have been comedies, so it’s nice finding a quality drama.

Series Review: We Got This – Season 1 (2020)

For anyone unaware, I’m from Sweden. However, despite this, it is quite rare for me to talk about shows and movies made in my own country. But today I’m actually doing that. Yay?

Mina damer och herrar… “We Got This” season 1.

American ex-pat George (Schiaffino Musarra) has been living in Sweden for some time. However, he has recently acquired quite a huge tax debt. However, he soon finds out that there’s a 50 million SEK reward for solving the assassination of former prime minister Olof Palme. So George teams up with a colorful group of people to try to solve this nearly 40-year old case. But as they investigate, George and his team find themselves delving into a way deeper conspiracy than they probably expected. This concept is a bit on the absurd side of things, and the writing is fully aware of that, taking full advantage of said knowledge to give the storytelling a self-aware and charming tone that gives it a surprising edge over other conspiracy stories. Now, that’s not to say that “We Got This” doesn’t have any serious moments, because it does. But often it leans into a more comedic tone, almost reminding me of stuff from the Coen brothers at times. And I must say that I was thoroughly entertained by the storytelling here.

The characters in this are colorful, a bit weird, and all highly entertaining. Schiaffino Musarra plays George English, American expat trying to fix his financial situation. He’s a kind, smart, but also slightly impatient fella who’s fallen on hard times. And seeing his determination through the series to try to solve this case is quite entertaining. And Musarra is really good in the role. Next we have Alexander Karim as Alex, an old school journalist in a changing landscape. He’s also a friend of George, and the one who’s often the voice of reason (until proven wrong). He has an interesting dynamic within the show that I find quite fun. And Karim is great in the role. Next we have Olle Sarri as Björn. Björn is a bit special. He’s one tinfoil hat away from total kook, but his madness does make him and entertaining and surprisingly valuable part of the cast. And Sarri is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Anki Larsson, Hans Mosesson, Sandra Andreis, Christian Svensson, Johanna Wilson, Lennart Jähkel, Ida Hedlund-Stenmarck, and more, all doing really well in their respective roles.

The music for the show was composed by Goran Kajfes, and I think he did an alright job with it. It’s often a fairly jazzy affair, helping sell the lighthearted, working class absurdism of the premise. My main problem is that there aren’t really enough tracks. It makes the few in here (which generally are good) feel slightly repetitive due to some overuse. Again, the music’s pretty good… there just isn’t quite enough unique tracks.

“We Got This” was created by Schiaffino Musarra, who wrote all episodes along with Santiago Gil and Patrik Eklund, with Eklund directing all the episodes. And from that standpoint, the show is quite good too. There’s a lot of fun blocking and camera movements in the show that show how much they actually cared about the actual craft behind the show. And my god, the editing is marvelous. I did not expect to get a show with editing this snappy and energetic and fun. Reminds me a little of Edgar Wright at times. And since the show is a comedy, how’d the humor? I found it quite funny. Now, a lot of it can get lost in translation, unfortunately. But as far as I’m concerned, I laughed.

This show isn’t exactly a big, international thing, so there isn’t much review data on it on most sites I use for this section. But on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

I’ll be honest, I did not expect much from “We Got This”… but boy, am I glad I was proven wrong. It’s an absolute blast from start to finish. It has a really fun plot, great characters, great performances, pretty good music, and great directing/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “We Got This” season 1 is a 9,51/10. So it most certainly gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “We Got This” is now completed.

Maybe the title was to make me feel secure with watching the show. “You want a good show? Well don’t worry, We Got This!”.

Series Review: Run – Season 1 (2020)

Love… is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring. Wait, Johnny Cash has nothing to do with this. Um… Love is complicated? Sure, let’s go with that. Nice save, Markus… idiot.

Ladies and gents… “Run” season 1.

Years ago, Ruby (Merritt Wever) and Billy (Domhnall Gleeson) were romantically involved, but then sort of lost touch. But not before they made a pact: If one of them text the word “RUN” to the other, and that other person texts back, they would hop on a train and run away together. And now in present day… that’s what happens. So we follow these two ex-lovers as they try to reconnect while also dealing with the personal fallout of past and present actions. “Run” is at its surface a rom-com, but does throughout also show that it has elements of a fast-paced thriller. And I thought it was a fun journey. There were several times where I didn’t see what was coming, and I enjoyed a lot of those moments. Though, the story here isn’t perfect. It often buckles under the pressure of it’s fast-pace, which can make parts of it feel a bit rushed. And without spoiling specifically what happens, I felt that the season finale was underwhelming. I get that they might want a season 2, and that they might want some bigger payoffs further down the line (if they get renewed)… but the finale here still felt like such a whimper compared to what the show felt like it was building to. Again, it’s a fine journey, and I hope that a second season could rectify that underwhelming season finale… but overall the story here is alright.

The characters in this are fun, colorful, flawed, and overall pretty interesting. Merritt Wever plays Ruby, a wife and mother and the person we meet first in this show. She’s a charming woman with some emotional baggage that creeps up at times for a bit of drama. And her arc here is mostly interesting. And Wever is great in the role. Next we have Domhnall Gleeson as Billy, Ruby’s ex-lover, and our male lead. And I won’t say what he’s like, since there’s a few details better revealed through the plot. But he also has an interesting arc that they do some fun stuff with. And Gleeson is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Rich Sommer, Archie Panjabi, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The music for the show was composed by Dickon Hinchliffe (haven’t seen his name in a while, wow). And I think he did a good job with it. His music is fun and frantic, very much befitting of the nature of this show. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work pretty well too.

“Run” was created for HBO by Vicky Jones, with writing and directing by a whole bunch of people. And the craft here is generally good. The direction is energetic and engaging, really bringing us into the scene in interesting ways. And the cinematography, which was split between Matthew Clark and Kristin Fieldhouse, is really good, giving us a lot of fun and visually arresting shots.

This show/season has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,4/10.

Season 1 of “Run” may be a flawed experienced, brought down by a sometimes overly frenetic pace and an underwhelming finale, but overall it’s still an enjoyable season of television that subverts rom-com cliches in some really fun ways. It has an okay plot, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and good directing and cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Run” is a 7,10/10. So while flawed, I’d still say it can be worth watching.

My review of season of “Run” is now completed.

This might be the horniest show I’ve seen in a while.

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”.