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.

Movie Review: The Changin’ Times of Ike White (2020)

Howdy. Back in January, in my “Last Breath” review, I kind of alluded to the fact that I’d try to cover more documentaries this year. Well, I better try to keep that promise, I guess. So here’s such a review for y’all.

Ladies and gents… “The Changin’ Times of Ike White”.

This movie documents the life of Ike White, a young man sent to prison for life for killing someone. During his tenure in prison, he gets the opportunity of a lifetime… to record an album while still incarcerated. An album which would help change his life forever. And if you don’t know the story of this man, which I certainly didn’t before watching this, then I won’t say much more about his life. But let me just say that finding out about White’s life was fucking fascinating, but that says more about White than it does about the way the documentary presents it all. Something about the execution just feels quite standard, which does affect the pacing at times. White is a fascinating subject, which is what kept me somewhat engaged throughout. But there’s something about the delivery of the entire thing that just feels a bit too dry for such a colorful individual. He’s an interesting person, and I did like hearing about him and all his shenanigans, but I wish there was something more to the storytelling than just him. The second half does pick up a bit more, and changes direction ever so slightly, but it still has slight drag in the pacing.

There is a little bit of music throughout composed by Andrew Phillips, and it’s fine, nothing you’ll remember after hearing it. Now, let’s talk about the other songs used in the movie… that being the songs written and recorded by White. They’re a sort of soul-funk-R’n’B-psychedelia hybrid that I found myself quite fascinated by. It’s clear that White was a talented musician, as shown by his tunes that were featured in this. It’s good stuff.

“The Changin’ Times of Ike White” was directed by British TV/documentary filmmaker Daniel Vernon, who did an okay job with it. There’s some nice energy given to the shots of the people getting interviewed. You can tell that he’s competent, and knows how to put together a solid product. Now, it’s not just interviews and such, as there’s also recreations of stories told, using minimalistic animations that are really interesting to look at, giving the movie a bit of much needed extra style. The occasional use of found footage and home videos also adds a bit to the film’s presentation.

This movie doesn’t have a lot of data on my usual sites, but here’s what I got. On Rotten Tomatoes it exists without a rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

While it does feel slightly lacking in parts, “The Changin’ Times of Ike White” is still a watchable documentary about a fascinating man. It has an interesting tale to tell, with some good music and direction to boot. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Changin’ Times of Ike White” is a 7,02/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth a watch.

My review of “The Changin’ Times of Ike White” is now completed.

Part “Searching For Sugar Man”, part something else…

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: 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: Yellowstone – Season 2 (2019)

Earlier this year, I reviewed the first season of this show. And now the second one has come to an end over here. So I guess that means I should talk about it. So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Yellowstone” season 2.

We once again follow rancher John Dutton (Kevin Costner) as he tries to protect his land from opposing forces, new and old. All the while his three kids (Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley) deal with a lot of personal issues of their own, while there’s also stuff going on with the people working for John. So now we have a more “Yellowstone”… in all the ways that entails. On one hand you do get a lot of that epic crime-drama that the show mostly sells itself on, and that shit is insanely compelling, always riding a line of grey morality perfectly, giving us some truly great tv at times. Buuuuuut then it also wallows a bit in family melodrama. At times that stuff doesn’t bother me, as there are points when it’s decently well handled. But then there are times when it sort of just drags the show down, and makes it kinda boring at times. I don’t need the crime-drama stuff all the time, but the family drama here isn’t always that great. So overall the story is pretty good. Flawed, but solid.

The characters here are flawed, layered, and quite interesting. Kevin Costner returns as John Dutton, the aging patriarch of this family. He has to come to terms with his own age a bit this season, at the same time as all this crazy shit happens around him, and it’s pretty interesting. And Costner is once again really good in the role. Luke Grimes returns as John’s son Kayce, a father who has to deal with some issues with his wife and son, while also having to manage his new role at his father’s ranch. And while I had slightly mixed feelings about him last season, he kinda grew to become my favorite this time around. And Grimes is really good in the role. Kelly Reilly returns as Beth, John’s take-no-nonsense daughter who often acts as a bit of a wild card, even if she is a bit more restrained this time around due to development from last season. And once again, she’s an interesting character, with Reilly giving a great performance. Wes Bentley plays Jamie, John’s lawyer son, and holy shit, he gets some actual development this season. They made Jamie interesting! And Bentley is great in the role, even if he still constantly scowls like someone shat in his backyard. Cole Hauser returns as Rip, the ranch hand/resident tough guy, and he’s once again great in the role. The stuff with returning antagonists Danny Huston and Gil Birminham is still solid. And new antagonist Neal McDonough, he’s pretty good. We of course also get supporting performances from people like Kelsey Asbille, Brecken Merrill, Jefferson White, Forrie J. Smith, Hugh Dillon, Ryan Bingham, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with season 1, the score for season 2 of “Yellowstone” was composed by Brian Tyler. And it was once again good. Tense, emotional, and fitting of the semi-western tone that the show goes for. It’s solid stuff that fits the various scenes it’s used in.  There’s of course also a lot of licensed music used throughout (especially from the band Whiskey Myers). And that music works well enough for the respective scenes they get used in.

The show was created by Taylor Sheridan and John Linson, with Sheridan staying on as writer for all the episodes, but let a bunch of other cool people handle directing. And the craft on display here is generally good. A lot of nice looking shots of the sweeping vistas, some decent looking shots for smaller moments. The directing often elevates the material here, which is what makes some of those melodramatic scenes I mentioned earlier a bit more tolerable. And the direction also helps make some scenes quite suspenseful when needed. ’tis a solidly crafted show.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists, but has no overall score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,4/10.

Season 2 of “Yellowstone” reaches some great heights, but wallows enough in some melodramatic lows to still bring it down overall. It has a pretty good plot, really good characters, great performances, good music, and really good writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Yellowstone” is an 8,52/10. So while not perfect, it’s still certainly worth a watch.

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

Cooooooostneeeeeer.

Series Review: The Strain – Season 1 (2014)

Hey, finally a tv show in the Month of Spooks.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Strain” season 1.

After a plane filled with dead people lands in New York, a mysterious viral outbreak begins, turning people into savage, vampiric creatures. And it’s up to Doctor Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) to find out what the hell is going on. So now we have our horror story. And it’s a good one. Sure, it does lean into some classic vampire tropes, but it also plays around with others to create something that feels fresh and unique in television. Admittedly the first few episodes are a bit on the slow side. They’re not bad, they carry a fair bit of intrigue, but they feel a bit like a drag at times. But when you get past them, and the plot truly gets going, it is an utterly compelling and quite entertaining vampire thriller.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and quite interesting. Corey Stoll plays Ephraim Goodweather, a CDC scientist who has to investigate this mysterious viral outbreak. Eph (as he’s called by so many) has a lot of personal flaws and demons in his past, and seeing him have to deal with those in tandem with this intense outbreak makes him an interesting character. And Stoll is great in the roll. Yes, pun intended. Next we have David Bradly as Abraham Setrakian, a mysterious old man who seems to know a lot about what’s going on with this whole situation. We learn a lot about him as the show goes along, and I don’t wanna ruin it (’cause it’s good and should be experienced rather than told). And Bradley is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Mia Maestro, Kevin Durand, Miguel Gomez, Richard Sammel, Sean Astin, Jonathan Hyde, Ben Hyland, Ruta Gedmintas, Robin Atkin Downes, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the show/season was composed by Ramin Djawadi (oh sweet), and it’s pretty good (what do you mean “pretty”?). It’s not among Djawadi’s best work, but he still did a really solid job, giving us some decently tense pieces when needed, and some more emotional tracks in others. It’s pretty good.

Based on a series of novels by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, the show was created by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, with writing and directing by them and some other cool people. And the craft in this show is pretty spectacular. The direction creates a fair bit of tension, while still making us feel intimate with the characters. And fuck me sideways, the use of colored lighting in this show is fucking magnificent. Reds, greens, blues, yellows, it is stunning to look at. And the visual effects are pretty great too. Since it is a Del Toro production, there’s a lot of disgusting-looking practical creature effects, with some CG mixed in at times. And god damn, it is so cool to see that here, since it makes everything going on feel more real. It also kind of adds to the horror, as it doesn’t make the scary creatures look all shiny and fake. It’s some creepy stuff.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

Season 1 of “The Strain” may drag a bit at the start, but it ultimately ends up being an effective and highly entertaining vampire thriller. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, and great writing/directing/effects/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “The Strain” is an 8,67/10. So while flawed, I still think it’s definitely worth watching.

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

David Bradley’s a bit of a badass. Honestly never expected that.

Series Review: Mayans M.C. – Season 1 (2018)

In 2008, a show called “Sons of Anarchy” started airing. It was created by Kurt Sutter, and ran for seven seasons, ending in 2014. I loved that show. And in 2018 we got a spin-off. And in 2019 I finally watched it. So let’s talk about it.

Damas y caballeros… “Mayans M.C.” season 1.

Set a few years after “Sons of Anarchy” ended, we follow EZ Reyes (J.D. Pardo), a prospect within the Mayans motorcycle club. And throughout the show we get to see him take part in the club’s various dealings with various criminal elements, as well as the law. So now we have our biker crime-drama. Early on it’s easy to tell that it’s a bit more focused than it’s big brother, “Sons of Anarchy”, at least in terms of first season stuff. There is more of a central through-line here that makes it a bit more compelling in parts. But it’s not free of faults, as there’s a lot going on here. They set up a few face-to-face conflicts early on (cool), but they also then have a lot of sneaking around going on, making it a little convoluted at first. I did settle into it after a few episodes, but I feel like dumping that many separate plot threads early on is a bit much at the start, ease people into your world, then expand. Though like I said, I did settle into it soon enough, and I did find the overall plot quite compelling, especially when things started ramping up towards the end of the season.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, colorful, and overall quite interesting. J.D. Pardo plays Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes, the show’s main protagonist. A smart young man acting as a prospect for the Mayans M.C. He’s a good guy involved in some complicated, sometimes illegal shit, which makes it interesting to see his inner turmoil throughout the season. And Pardo is really good in the role. We then get Sarah Bolger as Emily Galindo, a woman EZ once had a relationship with, but is now married to a cartel boss. She has an interesting arc throughout the season that I won’t spoil, but it does make her quite a fascinating character. And Bolger is great in the role. We then get Danny Pino as Miguel Galindo, the cartel boss that Emily married. He’s ruthless when people make him angry, but can be a reasonable man when shit isn’t hitting the fan too hard. He has a few more sides than other, similar kinds of characters, which makes him quite interesting. And Pino is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Clayton Cardenas, Michael Irby, Edward James Olmos, Carla Baratta, Richard Cabral, Maurice Compte, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show/season was composed by Bob Thiele Jr. And I think he did a good job with it, using a fair bit of acoustic guitars that helps brings the biker side and the drama side into one. There are also a good amount of licensed tracks used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this show has some damn good music.

“Mayans M.C.” was created by Kurt Sutter & Elgin James, with writing and directing by them and a whole bunch of other cool people. And the craft here is pretty tight, building decent suspense when needed, and having a good flow between the various storylines going on in each episode. They also find a way to really get intimate with the characters through the direction, really making me feel like I’m there with them. As for the few action scenes throughout the show, they’re pretty good. Kinda standard, but still serviceable enough.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 72% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 57/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

While starting off with a few too many balls in the air, season 1 of “Mayans M.C.” is still a highly compelling biker drama. It has a good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and really good writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mayans M.C.” season 1 is an 8,99/10. So I’d say that it’s definitely worth a watch.

My review of “Mayans M.C.” season 1 is now completed.

At first I was worried about a “Sons of Anarchy” spin-off. But you guys proved me wrong. Bien hecho. 

Series Review: City on a Hill – Season 1 (2019)

Crime. Don’t do it. It’s bad. I was gonna do a more clever intro, but couldn’t come up with one. So I guess we should just jump into the review.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s discuss the first season of… “City on a Hill”.

Boston, the 1990s. A group of criminals commit a big robbery. So an attorney (Aldis Hodge) has to team up with a crooked FBI agent (Kevin Bacon) to try to solve this case, which leads them down a spiral that shows us the depths of Boston’s corruption. So now we have our crime-drama. And it’s a good one. The core plot is interesting, even if the writing can be a tiny bit sloppy at times. There are also a few plot threads that, while somewhat interesting, don’t serve a bigger purpose in the story than to fill out the runtime. But when it focuses on the main story, “City on a Hill” is a compelling crime drama that entertains and intrigues.

The characters here are layered, flawed, and overall pretty interesting. Kevin Bacon plays Jackie Rohr, a crooked FBI agent that works to solve the case at the center of the story, while also trying to serve his own ego. He’s an absolute scumbag, but you can also tell that there’s some goodness left in him, somewhere, hidden beneath the booze, coke, and jackassery.  And Kevin Bacon chews the scenery quite hard, which makes for a really enjoyable performance. Aldis Hodge plays Decourcy Ward, the assistant district attorney that Rohr works with to try to solve the core case. Unlike Rohr, Decourcy is straight as an arrow, wanting to do things by the book… but starts showing cracks the more he works with Rohr. So it’s interesting to see him work the case. And while Hodge sometimes seems like he’s half asleep, Hodge generally does a good job in the role. Next we have Jonathan Tucker as Frankie Ryan, one of the people involved in the robbery that helps spark the main plot. He’s a family man, trying to steer clear of trouble, but often gets dragged into shit partly due to previous action or because of his fuck-up of a brother (Mark O’Brien). And he’s certainly one of the more compelling characters in the main cast. And Tucker is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Mark O’Brien, Lauren E. Banks, Amanda Clayton, Jill Hennessy, Jere Shea, Kevin Chapman, Kevin Dunn, Sarah Shahi, Rory Culkin, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the series was composed by Kevin Kiner, and I think he did an okay job with it. It’s a bit bland, fitting snuggly in with most crime dramas, but with enough little Celtic elements to make it fit into the Boston setting a bit more. It’s not bad, and it works well enough in the various scenes it can be heard. There are also a fair bit of licensed songs used throughout the season, and they work decently in their respective scenes.

The show was created by Chuck MacLean, with writing by a whole bunch of different people (MacLean included) and direction by other people. And overall I’d say the show is well crafted, creating some decent tension throughout, while also keeping the viewer engaged with some pretty good camerawork. And I rarely mention this, but I have to kind of mention the dialogue, because it sometimes sounds like someone on the crew read a bunch of Dennis Lehane novels and thought “I’ll make my own version of this… ON TV!”. Not complaining, it’s just something I picked up on.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 74% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

While not perfect, the first season of “City on a Hill” is still a really solid crime-drama. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and really good directing/writing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “City on a Hill” season 1 is an 8,66/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth watching.

My review of “City on a Hill” season 1 is now completed.

Boston might have one of the funniest accents around.

Series Review: Yellowstone – Season 1 (2018)

Kevin Costner. What an interesting career this man has had. From being one of the biggest stars of the late 80s/early 90s, to kinda going into obscurity for a while, and then kinda making a comeback in the 2010s. And now he stars on a tv show. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Yellowstone” season 1.

The story follows John Dutton (Kevin Costner), an aging rancher, as he tries to keep his family in check while also dealing with various parties trying to encroach on his land. So now we have our neo-western-drama-thingamabob. And while it does dip a bit much into melodrama at times, I find the story here to be quite interesting, taking some really colorful characters and having them scheming around for the sake of their own or someone else’s success. The pacing does suffer a bit at times, and like I said, there’s a strong stench of melodrama at times. But overall it’s still a highly entertaining plot with some solid drama sprinkled throughout.

The characters in this are flawed, entertaining, surprisingly layered, and overall interesting. Kevin Costner plays John Dutton, the aging patriarch of the Dutton family and owner of the Yellowstone cattle ranch. He has demons of his past he has to deal with while also trying to keep his entire livelihood going with everything going against him at once, making him pretty interesting even though he can be a bit of an ass at times. And Costner is great in the role. Next we have Kelly Reilly as Beth, John’s daughter. She has a lot of issues that she at the start of the series hasn’t gone through, making her kind of a fucking mess. But she also has one of the best arcs in the series. And Reilly is great in the role. Next we have Luke Grimes as Kayce (Kay-see), one of John’s sons. A former Marine, he tries to balance being a Dutton with trying to be a good father and husband, which is quite complicated. And Grimes is really good in the role. Wes Bentley plays Jamie, John’s other son, who also happens to his lawyer. Yes, he’s a little smarmy, but mostly he’s probably the outlier of the family in a sense. And Bentley is good in the role. We also have Cole Hauser as Rip, John’s second hand man, who has to keep the ranch going in the events when John is unavailable. And while I won’t say too much more about Rip, I’ll just say that he’s my favorite character on the show. And Hauser is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Danny Huston, Gil Birmingham, Kelsey Absille, Jefferson White, Ian Bohen, Brecken Merrill, Ryan Bingham, Josh Lucas, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the season was composed by Brian Tyler, and I think he did a great job with it. Obviously taking influence from various westerns, he creates an ambient score that works very well within the show to create a certain mood. The theme he composed for the show is also pretty damn solid. There’s also some licensed tracks used throughout, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

Created by John Linson and Taylor Sheridan, all episodes this season were written and directed by Sheridan. And the craft here is really solid. Well shot, at times tense, Sheridan does a damn fine job in keeping my eyes stuck to the screen. Ben Richardson’s cinematography is also good.

This show/season has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 51% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 54/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10.

While season 1 of “Yellowstone” misses the shot in some parts, it’s still a really solid season of television. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and really good writing/directing/cinematography. Where it falters (as previously mentioned) is in its occasionally dodgy pacing and unnecessarily frequent dips into melodrama. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Yellowstone” is an 8,61/10. So while flawed, I’d still say that it’s definitely worth watching.

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

Movie megastar Kevin Costner doing long-form tv. Still blows my mind.