Series Review: Fargo – Season 4 (2020)

How I’ve waited for this season to drop. I am a huge fan of this show, loving every season so far. So I was of course anxiously waiting for this one to start airing. It was even supposed to air this spring, but then it got delayed. But it finally started this Autumn, and now it has wrapped up. So let’s talk about it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Fargo” season 4!

Kansas City, 1950. We follow two crime syndicates, one an African-American group led by Loy Cannon (Chris Rock), and the other an Italian gangster family led by Josto Fadda (Jason Schwartzman). And as we follow their struggle against each other, a bunch of other interesting figures get involved in both their own dealings, and the antics of the syndicates. From a nurse (Jessie Buckley) with some shady secrets, to a policeman with PTSD and OCD (Jack Huston), to a devoutly Mormon U.S. marshal (Timothy Olyphant), all kinds of colorful figures occupy this season of “Fargo”. The story in this is a lot more straightforward than some of the previous ones, being less strange than some of the previous outings. But with this said, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a lot going on. Because this season has more threads going on than one might at first assume. And while I am more often than not interested and entertained by everything going on, I do feel like the storytelling here is the weakest of all the seasons. That said, this season has a bunch of great parts, and when this season is on top, it’s fantastic. But then there’s a fair amount of times, especially towards the middle of the season, where it loses a bit of steam for me. It does lose some of its momentum in those parts, but never enough to be considered outright bad. The overall package here is till solid.

Where the storytelling falters at points, the characters remain the best part of this show. All are colorful and nuanced and really fascinating. And the cast is fantastic too, featuring top tier work from people like Chris Rock, Jessie Buckley, Jason Schwartzman, Ben Whishaw, Timothy Olyphant, Jack Huston, Salvatore Esposito, E’myri Crutchfield, Andrew Bird, Jeremie Harris, and many more.

As with previous seasons, the score was composed by Jeff Russo, and as per usual he did a fantastic job. It’s a little eclectic in its instrumentation, creating a lot of different sounds for different scenes, and I love it, it works so well within the colorful canvas of this show. And the handful of licensed tracks used throughout work quite well too.

All episodes of “Fargo” season 4 were co-written by series creator Noah Hawley, with direction by a whole batch of cool people. And the craft here is just as stellar as before. There’s a lot of energy within the directing, crackling in a way that feels wholly unique to this show. All of it wrapped up wonderfully in some really beautiful cinematography.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.9/10 and is ranked #36 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

While it’s my least favorite iteration of the show so far, season 4 of “Fargo” is still a damn fine season of tv. It has a good story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Fargo” season 4 is an 8.78/10. So while it is pretty flawed, it is still definitely worth watching.

My review of “Fargo” season 4 is now completed

Is Olyphant gonna get typecast as a marshal for the rest of his career?

Series Review: Yellowstone – Season 3 (2020)

This show is fascinating to me. It’s never been one of my favorites, but I always feel compelled to come back to it when a new season airs. It’s like Al Pacino says in “Godfather Part 3”: Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. So let’s see if this third season is any good.

Ladies and gents… “Yellowstone” season 3.

It’s summer in the valley, and everyone of the Dutton clan is slowly settling back into their lives after the tumultuous events of season 2. But just when the characters think they might be able to take a breather, a seemingly friendly, yet cunning businessman (Josh Holloway) starts making moves to get hold of the Yellowstone ranch for his own businesses. And as per the norm with this show, things start escalating from there, both for the Duttons themselves, and for the people around them. When this season started, something fascinating happened. I felt fully invested in what was going on. In previous seasons that was a little hard at times, either due to weird pacing or overbearing melodrama. But for the first few episodes there was no real sign of that. It felt like new life had been breathed into the show. But then towards the middle the show fell back into that aforementioned pit for a bit. But towards the end it really swung up to greatness again. But I do think the story on the whole this season is really strong. While the things I didn’t enjoy in previous seasons occur, there’s certainly less of them this time around. And when this season isn’t wallowing in some of that melodrama, then it is fucking fantastic. The dark moments are truly dark, the stakes feel truly high, and when a moment wants to leave a visceral impact, then it really does. Again, it’s still not a perfect line, but it’s damn close to getting there.

The characters in this are flawed, colorful, fascinating, and quite entertaining. The returning main cast of Kevin Costner, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Luke Grimes, and Kelsey Asbille all give great performances, and we get to see their characters develop in some really great ways. Returning supporting cast of people like Jefferson White, Brecken Merrill, Cole Hauser, Forrie J. Smith, Gil Birmingham, Denim Richards, Ian Bohen, and Mo Brings Plenty are all great too. Let’s talk about newcomer Josh Holloway, who plays Roarke, a well spoken, outwardly friendly businessman who creates some tension for the Dutton empire. At first he seems like a breath of fresh air, compared to the sliminess of Danny Huston’s Jenkins or the intensity of Neal McDonough’s Beck. But then he barely has any real presence within the narrative. Roarke’s shareholders and attorneys and such take up more space than him, and it almost makes him feel like he has little place within the story. Holloway does a good job with his performance, but the characters just kinda fizzles out in interest over time. So main antagonist aside, the characters here are great.

The score for this season was composed by Brian Tyler and Breton Vivian, and I think they did a really good job with it. The score retains that pseudo-western vibe that we’ve come to expect, and uses it to create a compelling soundscape that works really well for the show. There’s also a bunch of licensed songs used throughout, and they work pretty well too.

As with the previous two seasons, all episode of “Yellowstone” season 3 were written by Taylor Sheridan, with some other cool people directing. And the craft on display here is of course top notch, they’ve really come into their own in this department. The direction is confident and bold, really capturing the sweeping scale of the setting, all without sacrificing the intimacy to the characters. And this helps keep every scene feel somewhat interesting, even if the writing may dip a little bit. And the cinematography by Jim Denault and William Wages is terrific. It’s just well crafted, yo.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.5/10.

While not perfect, season 3 of “Yellowstone” is still a massive step in the right direction for the show, giving us the best season so far. It has a really good story, great characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Yellowstone” season 3 is an 8.88/10. So it’s definitely worth watching.

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

Yeehaw.

Series Review: Castlevania – Season 3 (2020)

Took me a bit longer to get around to this than I originally wanted. But now we’re finally here. So let’s talk about this show for a bit. Oh, and there will be some spoilers for season 2… so you have been warned.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Castlevania” season 3!

A few months have passed since Dracula’s demise, and everyone’s kind of gone their separate ways. The peace isn’t kept for long however, as the various characters all run into their own share of problems. Trying to break down the narrative of this season in a well-written and concise way without getting into too many spoilers is difficult, as there are about as many threads as a season of “Game of Thrones”. But I’ll do my best. First off we have Trevor (Richard Armitage) and Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso) who find themselves visiting a mysterious village that seemingly holds more secrets than they at first let on. Then you have Alucard (James Callis) adjusting to the solitude of living in Dracula’s castle. Then there’s Carmilla (Jaime Murray) and her fellow vampires scheming to take over the world. And then there’s Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack), building his army of night creatures and traveling across the world. But then there’s also the mysterious newcomer Saint Germain (Bill Nighy) and his schemes. Like I said, there’s a lot, and I didn’t even touch on all of them, either due to spoilers or fear of overextending this section. But believe me when I say that the ten episodes of this season cover A LOT of shit. But despite covering so much, it never gets confusing. This doesn’t mean that all aspects get treated with an equal amount of care and devotion, which at times can make this feel like a little bit of a middle chapter, but I do still find the narrative very engrossing. You get this epic fantasy tale, which also mixes in clever mystery, some gruesomely dark horror, a lot of heart and humor, and even a bit of enjoyable human drama. It’s great stuff, yo.

The characters in this, both old and new are colorful, flawed, layered, fascinating, and highly entertaining. The older ones get a little development, and newer ones do too. All of them are highly interesting and I loved seeing them. And the voice cast is fucking phenomenal, featuring such talented folks as Richard Armitage, Alejandra Reynoso, James Callis, Jaime Murray, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Theo James, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jason Isaacs, Navid Negahban, Ivana Milisevic, Rila Fukushima, Toro Uchikado, Bill god damn Nighy, and more.

As with the previous two seasons, the score here was composed by Trevor Morris. And he absolutely knocked it out of the god damn park. He manages to cover so much ground with the various tracks in the show. From big bombastic brass, to more subtle strings, to even a bit of really intense synth, the dude did a fantastic job.

All episodes of “Castlevania” season 3 were written by Warren Ellis, with direction being handled by brother Sam and Adam Deats. And not that previous seasons were slouches in the animation department, but fuckin’ hell, the animation this season is the best it’s ever been. In quieter moments it looks really good, but it’s really in action scenes where it shines. Really captures the intensity and insanity that would happen from these battles. The final two episodes especially show this, as they have some of the best battles I’ve seen in animation. It’s one of the most well animated shows I’ve ever watched.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has an audience score of 7.2/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

Season 3 is another winning batch of episodes for “Castlevania”, giving us more of what I’ve come to love from the show. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Castlevania” season 3 is a 9.92/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Castlevania” season 3 is now completed

This remains the best video game adaptation.

Series Review: The Good Lord Bird (2020)

We all agree that slavery was one of the worst things in human history, right? Alright, good. At least we’re on the same page on that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Good Lord Bird”.

The story follows Henry “Onion” Shackleford (Joshua Caleb Johnson), a young slave who gets freed by abolitionist John Brown (Ethan Hawke) and then joins his merry band of freedom fighters. And we follow Onion as he follows along on Brown’s crusade to free the slaves. What I found fascinating about “The Good Lord Bird” is the interesting use of of tonal shifts to tell its story. While at its core it’s a serious drama about the liberation of shackled people, the writers use a surprising amount of comedy throughout, which adds quite a bit of nuance to proceedings. But it’s not just a tonally unique slavery drama, but it’s also largely a coming of age story, since we get to see how this young boy gets to evolve while following along with Brown’s crusade. And while this sounds like it could be quite messy, it really isn’t. I found the story here to be utterly engrossing and entertaining, having me utterly engaged throughout the seven episodes.

The characters in this are colorful, flawed, surprisingly layered (like an onion, HA!), and really entertaining. Joshua Caleb Johnson plays Onion, the young slave who becomes part of Brown’s gang. He has quite an interesting and highly enjoyable personal arc in this, while also serving as the audience in this story, being our look at Brown and his antics. And I think Onion is a really fun protagonist, with Johnson giving a great performance. Next we have Ethan Hawke as John Brown, preacher and abolitionist. He is a fascinating individual, being really passionate about the emancipation of the slaves. And when I say passionate, I mean PASSIONATE, borderline fanatic. His heart is of course in the right place, it’s just that he’s maybe also a bit gung ho about it all, making his methods seem a little insane at times. But that’s what makes him such a fascinating character. And Ethan Hawke is terrific in the role, selling every bit of Brown’s eccentric personality wonderfully. We also get supporting work from people like Beau Knapp, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Ellar Coltrane, Mo Brings Plenty, Nick Eversman Daveed Diggs, and many more, all giving top notch performances.

The score for the show was composed by Jamison Hollister, and I thought it was really good. If you’ve heard a western score in the lat 30 years, you probably know what you’re getting. A fair bit of strings, high energy, and just a vibe that says “this is a fun western”. There’s also a fair amount of licensed songs used throughout, and they work surprisingly well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this show has good music.

Based on the novel of the same name by James McBride, “The Good Lord Bird” was developed for Showtime by Mark Richard and Ethan Hawke, with writing and directing by a whole load of cool people. And the craft on display here is superb. Usually when I watched a tv show, even ones on high budgets with super talented crews, I can still usually tell by how it’s shot that it’s a tv project. But I don’t really get that feel here. They’ve taken careful steps to make sure it blurs the line between cinema and television with their shots and camera movements here. This comes partly from Peter Deming’s beautiful cinematography, and partly from the directing which crackles with energy and feels so lively. This doesn’t mean that anything feels rushed, because the crew really know when to slow down and let moments simmer, creating a perfect balance between the fun, the emotionally charged, and the exciting.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.2/10.

“The Good Lord Bird” is a highly entertaining, fascinating, and unique take on slavery-themed drama, and is one of the best shows of 2020. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Good Lord Bird” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Good Lord Bird” is now completed.

Ethan Hawke has two modes in this show: Low grumbly growling and PASSIONATE, THROAT-RUINING SCREAMING.

Series Review: Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun – Season 1 (2020)

It’s quite inspiring to see internet people gain some level of mainstream attention. Not like through some kind of controversy or douchebaggery that we’ve seen from some over the past few years. No, we’re talking about those who just worked hard at their craft and then found themselves getting bigger projects. This is such an occasion.

Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all… to “Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun”!

While I usually explain some sort of overarching narrative in this section of my reviews, this one is going to be a little different. Because this show isn’t some typical story-driven thing. It’s a sketch series with each episode having some weird theme (or “Word of the Day” as they call it) that each sketch is mildly connected to. But with this being Aunty Donna, you can never really expect where they’ll go with it. It’s basically just the boys doing their usual shit, on a slightly bigger budget. And since they have a brand of humor that is very much their own, then this isn’t really for everyone. They’re weird, unpredictable, goofy, absurd, and even slightly surreal. And being an Aunty Donna fan, I am so glad that they’re unique style is retained here. I’m not gonna say that all the sketches here caused huge laughter, but I can happily say that I was always smiling at least. Then there of course were huge laughs throughout. Basically if you’re already a fan of the Aunty Donna crew and their weird style of humor, then you’re definitely gonna enjoy this, as it’s 100% that. As for any other people who aren’t familiar with them… then I don’t know if you’ll enjoy it. Give it a try, I guess? Maybe you’ll enjoy some of the wordplay? Or one of the song numbers? Or a performance? Who knows. Either way, I enjoyed it all a lot.

There’s a lot of different characters in this, all very colorful, most a ton of fun. And since I don’t wanna spoil those, I’ll just move on. But I will however say that the cast is on top as per usual, with our main trio of Broden Kelly, Mark Bonanno, and Zachary Ruane are as great and energetic as ever. We even see a few of their regular collaborators throughout, such as Michelle Brasier and Ben Russell. There’s even a few surprising guest appearances at a few points…
But yeah, this cast is great.

This show is well shot and edited. Yeah, not much else I can say there. It’s familiar territory for the boys in terms of overall craft, just slightly better looking thanks to that Netflix money. So you know, that’s pretty cool. Kudos to the production crew.

At the time of writing, it doesn’t have many scores on my usual sites. But here’s the Rotten Tomatoes link for future reference. And here’s the Metacritic one. And then we have imdb.com, where it (AT TIME OF WRITING) has a score of 9.1/10.

So yeah, season 1 of “Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun” is indeed a big ol’ house of fun. I found it to be hilarious, charming, and very well performed. So time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun” season 1 is a 9.76/10. So while it ain’t for everyone, I still give it a “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun” season 1 is now completed.

I watch Aunty Donna and it makes me chuffed…

Series Review: Primal – Season 1 (2019 – 2020)

I’ve made it clear a bunch of times that I am a big fan of animation. Western, Japanese, you name it. I often even think animation has an edge over live action, thanks to not having as many limitations since all the images are completely drawn up, and not shot with some camera. They’re not bound quite to the same rules as an actor on a set. So anyhow, let’s talk about a cartoon.

Ladies and gents… “Primal” season 1!

The story of “Primal” tells the tale of a caveman (Aaron LaPlante) who recently suffered a terrible tragedy, which leads to him teaming up with a carnivorous dinosaur. And we follow this unlikely duo as they learn to work together to survive a dangerous and insanely violent prehistoric world. The narrative in “Primal” is interesting because it’s not really one overarching narrative. It’s really more a series of events in the lives of our two protagonists, a sort of “day in the life” kind of deal. Except instead of being a mundane life, their days involve running from or fighting off hostile creatures. And while this sounds like it could be a little samey, the writers manage to find new and creative and frankly fucked up ways for our heroes to struggle for survival. On top of that, this show has no dialogue. This shouldn’t be too surprising, given who the creator is, but it’s still interesting to see. And I must say that it’s masterfully handled. Even with zero spoken words, everything that needs to be said is beautifully shown purely through visual storytelling of the highest caliber. And the way they use this for the various little stories throughout this season is fantastic. Not a single episode went by where I wasn’t completely invested.

While this doesn’t really have a huge cast of fleshed out character, the few we do get are still great. These are namely the caveman and the dinosaur (credited as Spear and Fang respectively), our main characters. Both stubborn, both tough, but both also capable of being vulnerable and surprisingly complex. Seeing how their bond evolves over the course of the ten episodes is really cool, and I loved every second of that. And while there is no real dialogue, I will still say that Aaron LaPlante’s many shouts and grunts as Spear are terrific. Truly ape-like and cavemanish.

The score for the show was composed by Tyler Bates & Joanne Higginbottom, and I think they did a terrific job with it. They use a lot of familiar brass, percussion, and woodwind stings in ways that really capture the intensity of the prehistoric carnage of this show. However, they do know when to pull it back as well for some decently emotional tracks. It’s just solid stuff.

“Primal” was great for Adult Swim by Genndy Tartakovsky. And if that name doesn’t quite ring a bell, it should be known that he also created “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Samurai Jack”. So yeah, he’s a bit of an animation legend. Speaking of which, how is the animation here? Breathtakingly fantastic. There’s a lot of creative color uses throughout, which when combined with different angles and dynamic movements, makes for one of the most well animated shows I’ve ever seen. This of course also translates into action scenes, which are amazingly well done and also insanely brutal. If you’re in any way squeamish, don’t watch this show, at all. It’s one of the bloodiest, most violent, and least fuck-giving cartoons out there. It even brings some of that nastiness up from a 10 to a 40 in episodes five and seven, the latter of which being one of the most disturbing things I’ve watched in a long time. Hell, even episode 1 is quite upsetting and unforgiving. But yeah, the craft on display here is spectacular… and insanely uncompromising.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.7/10.

While the uncompromising brutality of “Primal” season 1 may put some people off, I for one find it to be one of the best shows I’ve seen in recent years. It has a great story, good characters, good grunts and screams, great music, and fantastic directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Primal” a 9.95/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

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

Man, when Genndy was let loose from the shackles of family friendly content, he really went all out.

Series Review: Blood of Zeus – Season 1 (2020)

I love Greek mythology, have been since I was a kid. Okay, I love mythology in general, but Greek has always been at the top of the list for me. And now we have an animated Greek mythology series from the studio who gave us “Castlevania”? Sign me up!

Ladies and gents… “Blood of Zeus” season 1.

Ancient Greece. A young man named Heron (Derek Phillips) lives a fairly mundane life as a peasant. This however gets turned on its head when he learns that he is in fact the spawn of Zeus himself (Jason O’Mara), and that he now has a duty to stop a demon (Elias Toufexis) from taking over the world. So yeah, for as colorful and weird as Greek myths can be, this is a fairly standard narrative. If you can predict a part of Heron’s arc, it most definitely happens. That said, it’s still a fun story, with decent stakes and plenty of spectacle. A big, epic tale of betrayal, family, finding oneself, and ol’ thundercrack not being able to keep it in his toga. They don’t try to do anything too weird or unique with the narrative, but what we do get here is still an enjoyable, if slightly shallow, piece of Greek spectacle.

The characters in this range widely in terms of how interesting they are. Let’s start with Heron, our protagonist, a kind, heroic young man whose world gets changed after learning about his heritage as another bastard son of King Lightning dick. And I found Heron to be fairly bland. If you’ve seen a kind, heroic, skilled protagonist in a thing before, then you know what you’re getting, especially if those previous ones had some sort of destiny they weren’t too sure of at first. Anyhow, I guess he works fine, even though he’s not the most engaging character. At least Derek Phillips does a solid job with his voice work. Next, let’s talk about Electric dong himself, Zeus. A father figure who loves his son and wants him to fulfill his destiny, even if he’s not always the best at expressing some of that. He makes for an interesting character here, and Jason O’Mara is great in the role. And then we have Seraphim, our main villain for the show. He actually has kind of a fascinating arc that I don’t wanna spoil here, but I do think he is quite an interesting and compelling character. And Elias Toufexis is great in that role. We also get performances from people like Jessica Henwick, Claudia Christian, Chris Diamantopoulos, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Matthew Mercer, Adam Croasdell, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Paul Edward-Francis (triple first name, hell yeah), and I think he did a great job. His score is big, bombastic, dramatic, and badass. If you’ve played a “God of War” game, you know exactly what kind of sound we’ve got in this score. And if not, you can probably figure it out if you’ve seen some big, epic movies with heavy brass and epic choirs and such. But just because it’s familiar doesn’t mean it’s bad, because like I said up front, it’s great!

“Blood of Zeus” was written and created for Netflix by Vlas and Charley Parlapanides, with Shaunt Nigoghossian handling all the directing. And I think they, along with everyone at Powerhouse Animation did an excellent job crafting this show. This show is incredibly well animated, giving us some beautifully handled action scenes that flow marvelously well. And even in slower, less action-packed scenes it looks beautiful. The eyes of the characters took a little getting used to, but overall I have no complaints about the visual style of the show.

This show/season has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.0/10.

Season 1 of “Blood of Zeus” may be a little generic in some of its characterization and drama, but overall it’s still a highly entertaining show that I recommend. It has a pretty good story, good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Blood of Zeus” is an 8.65/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth watching.

My review of “Blood of Zeus” season 1 is now completed.

FYI, Norse is a close second in terms of the mythology rankings.

Series Review: Dracula (2020)

Look, I know that the Month of Spooks is over, so I should logically take a break from horror stuff for a bit. But I’ve been watching this recently, and I have some shit I have to say about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Dracula”, the Netflix/BBC adaptation.

Transylvania, the late 1800s. Jonathan Harker (John Heffernan) finds himself recounting his less than pleasant stay with Count Dracula (Claes Bang) to a kindly, if sassy nun (Dolly Wells). As we go through the three episodes of this show, we get to see what happened before, during, and after Jonathan’s meeting with this nun. And the narrative in this show is quite fascinating, because it fluctuates wildly in quality… sort of. Episode 1 is honestly fantastic, a scary, fun, and emotionally engaging way to bring us into this new take on a classic tale. Episode 2 isn’t as fantastic, but it’s still a really solid episode of television. Then episode 3 completely shits the bed. There are good ideas within that episode, but the drop in quality is still ridiculously vertical. How do you go from one of the most exciting and electrifying new horror-dramas around to that mess, that quickly? I don’t know. But while that last episode can be classified as bad, what came before is good enough that I can’t give the show/story too much grief. Two thirds being this good has to count for something. And it does. I can still say I liked a lot of the story on display, even if there’s still that one final chunk that tarnished the overall package.

The characters in this are fascinating, because some of them are really fascinating and engaging, and some of them are in episode 3 (I’m being a salty bitch, aren’t I?). Let’s start with the Count himself, played by Danish actor Claes Bang. He is one charismatic motherfucker, manipulating people with his charm, wits, and general presence. And Bang is absolutely amazing in the role. Next is Dolly Wells as Agatha, the nun I mentioned earlier. She has quite a fascinating presence within the narrative that I won’t spoil, because it’s genuinely interesting. But what I can say is that Dolly Wells is great in the role, and has some excellent chemistry with Bang when they get to verbally spar. John Heffernan is great as Jonathan Harker, Morfydd Clark does an okay job as Mina. And we get some great supporting work from people like Sacha Dhawan, Mark Gatiss, Jonathan Aris, and more. Many actors do a really good job, and some aren’t great (guess where they were).

The score for the show was composed by David Arnold and Michael Price, and I think they did a fantastic job with it. That’s right, no shade thrown here, just admiration for good compositions. Their music here is creepy, intense, emotionally charged, and just overall helps add to a lot of scenes throughout the three episodes.

Based on the classic Bram Stoker novel, “Dracula” is a Netflix/BBC collaboration written and created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat (who also gave us “Sherlock”). And as discussed before, the writing takes a bit of a dive in that final episode. But leading up to that, this is a well written show. And the directing, split up between Paul McGuigan, Damon Thomas, and Jonny Campbell, is generally great. There’s a good sense of pacing to the directing, no shot or moment lingers too long or too briefly. And when paired with the beautiful cinematography, set design, and visual effects, you get one of the most visually arresting tv shows I’ve had the pleasure of looking at. Speaking of visual stuff: There’s some really brutal and grisly body horror going on throughout this show, and it is awesome. Kudos to the crew for going all out on that.

This show has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 70% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.8/10.

While it does end on a sour note, “Dracula” still has enough good stuff to warrant a recommendation. It has a mixed plot, mixed characters, great performances, great music, and excellent directing/cinematography/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Dracula” is a 7.12/10. So while it is heavily tarnished by that final episode, I can still say that it’s worth watching.

My review of “Dracula” is now completed.

One, two, three episodes. Ah-ah-ah!

Series Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 4 (1999 – 2000)

Disclaimer: This is not an official Month of Spooks post. I know it could easily slot into that, but it’s not. Mom and I simply got to this point in our rewatch of the show, and I might as well review the season now before I forget. So anyhow, let’s go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 4.

With high school behind them, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her friends can finally move on to something new and exciting… College! But just because they’re attending a new school it doesn’t mean they’ll get away from the vampires, demons, and a shadowy military organization… Yeah, this season gets a little different. Season 4 is a very ambitious one. Sure, that could be said about seasons 2 and 3 as well, but at least that ambition felt somewhat reasonable. However, the ambitious nature of the fourth season doesn’t always yield great results. There are a lot of problems with the overarching narrative this season, especially in the second half of the season, where a particular narrative choice happens. And even some of the one-offs aren’t great. Sure, this season does have the terrifyingly fantastic “Hush”, and the gut-wrenching “Wild at Heart”. But then there are some less than stellar ones too. Do I hate the story/stories here? No. I do kind of enjoy it, but it does feel slightly off overall.

As per usual, the characters of this season are what make it… for the most part. The main cast of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, Anthony Head, and Seth Green are all great and all get some good development. Some recurring guest stars such as James Marsters, Kristine Sutherland, and Emma Caulfield are also great. Now, let’s talk about newcomers… or at least one. Marc Blucas plays Riley, a teacher’s assistant who Buffy meets at college, and he serves as a bit of a new love interest. And while his character development is fairly whatever, I do think Blucas does a damn fine job with his performance.

As with the previous two seasons, the music was composed by Christophe Beck, and once again he did a damn good job. It was bombastic, it was subtle, it was emotional, it was fun… Beck is just a great composer. And as per usual, there was a fair bit of licensed music throughout, and all the songs worked well for their respective scenes.

As with the other seasons, writing and directing for season 4 of “Buffy” was handled by a whole bunch of people. And while some of the writing could be less than stellar (as alluded to earlier), the directing generally kept a decent level of quality. Of course this is highlighted the best in the season’s best episode “Hush”, which is just fucking masterful. But most other episodes are really well handled too. Even the effects are for the most part quite good. You can tell that they had found a rhythm with the craft of the show.

This season has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has an audience score of 7.3/10. And while there’s no season average, on imdb.com the show sits firmly on an 8.2/10.

Season 4 of “Buffy” is a bit of a mixed bag, but overall I do still enjoy it (maybe my bias for these characters is showing). It has okay story, great characters, great performances, great music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Buffy” season 4 is a 7.23/10. So while quite flawed, it’s still worth watching.

My review of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 4 is now completed.

I guess college does ruin things… I’m joking, stay in school, kids.

Series Review: Fortitude – Season 3 (2018)

For the past two years, I’ve covered one season of this show for the Month of Spooks. And today we reach the third and final season. It’s been an interesting journey. So let’s travel to this frozen town one last time.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Fortitude” season 3.

With the remaining survivors in the town of Fortitude still reeling from the traumatic events of season 2, one would think things would calm down a bit. But it doesn’t take long for new people to show up, stirring up new horrors, all while the local Sheriff (Richard Dormer) seems to be going a bit mad. The story has a lot of potential for greatness here. But it sadly doesn’t reach that potential. As a matter of fact, it’s nowhere even close to succeeding. What was one a slowly burning, off-kilter, and creepy narrative that engaged for most of the runtime, season 3 is bafflingly insane. It’s four episodes of eyebrow raising, gasping, and exclaiming “What in the actual fuck just happened!?”. It’s one insane and nonsensical event after the other, and I find myself constantly baffled at what is going on before my eyes. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

The characters in this are a mixed bag. On one hand, I know who they are because I watched the other seasons. But on the other, their arcs this season are so bizarre and poorly written that I just can’t find myself that engaged with it. The only one I can kind of care about is Dan Anderssen, Fortitude’s currently mad Sheriff, and that’s mainly because Richard Dormer gives us a wonderfully hammy performance. The rest of the cast give it their all, even if they don’t get to be quite as… delightfully expressive. But the returning actors like Dennis Quaid, Luke Treadaway, Darren Boyd, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Sienna Guillory, Mia Jexen, and more, all do the best they can with the material. And the newcomers are… fine, they don’t get much to chew on here.

As with previous seasons, the score for season 3 was composed by Ben Frost, and it was a strange downstep. Sometimes it was close to the dramatic and emotionally resonant stuff we’ve heard before… but then there are songs that use a smooth lounge trumpet… and I don’t know what they’re trying to convey, but it just feels really fucking off.

Season 3 of “Fortitude” was written by series creator Simon Donald, with Kieron Hawkes handling direction on all episodes. And as you may have expected from the previous sections, this stuff is a bit of a mixed bag. The writing is insane and nonsensical, whereas the direction tries to fix everything… keyword being “tries”. You can tell that Hawkes does his best in trying to make all the madness work. Not even Gary Shaw’s great cinematography can help make it work.

This show/season has had some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% critics rating, but a 52% rating from audiences. On Metacritic it exists with no rating at all. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.4/10.

Season 3 of “Fortitude” is an absolute trainwreck, and not even Richard Dormer’s delightfully hammy performance can save the season. The story is a strange mess, the characters have no compelling arcs, the performances are fine, the music is meh, and the directing/cinematography is alright. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 3 of “Fortitude” is a 3.22/10. So I’d recommend skipping it.

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

Were they on drugs? It feels like they were on drugs.