Series Review: Angel – Season 1 (1999 – 2000)

Hi. So as some of you may be aware of, from 2020 to earlier this year (2022, for future readers) I reviewed every season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as I was rewatching it with my mom. It was a fun experience for me, and at the end of my review of the final season I made a tease that I might cover its spin-off. Well, now it’s happening. So let’s go.

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

Following the end of “Buffy” season 3, the vampire Angel (David Boreanaz) moves away from Sunnydale and finds himself a new home in Los Angeles. And shortly after settling in, he meets friends new and old, which prompts him to become a private investigator, helping the people of L.A. fight the supernatural problems that haunt them. I  generally enjoyed the story/ies here. It’s nowhere near as rough as the first season of its older sister series, which likely comes from the extra experience gained between the two. The overarching elements are solid, further developing this already interesting world and lore, while also giving us some interesting present drama for our characters. That said, the overarching stuff is generally taking a backseat to mostly being monster-of-the-week stories, which is where it falls apart a little bit. Not only because it means there’s little to no central hook, but also because, as with most of these types of shows, not all episodes are created equal. For every “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, you got a “She”. What I will say is that even some of the lesser episodes here are nowhere near the lows of some of the lesser episodes in “Buffy”, so even at its lowest, it’s still decently watchable. And when an episode is good, it is GOOD, just quality TV. So on the whole the storytelling here is pretty solid.

The characters in this are just great, all bring their own unique flavor to the buffet that is the cast, and make for a vital part of the ensemble. First up is of course our titular 90 degree, Angle… I will not apologize for my dumb jokes. Anyhow, Angel, the vampire with a soul, his dreams and conscience haunted by the crimes he committed when he was evil. He’s trying to redeem himself, and he’s an interesting protagonist. At first he might just seem like a moody broody bitch, but we’ll soon see more sides to him, making for quite a fun and dynamic character. And David Boreanaz is really good in the role. Next we have Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia, a former mean girl from Sunnydale that Angel runs into early on. Cordy already saw some interesting development in the other show, and here we see that further fleshed out through some of the shit that happens throughout this season, and I quite like it. Plus, her very blunt personality provides a lot of laughter throughout, which is fun. And Carpenter does a damn good job in the role. Next we have Glenn Quinn (R.I.P) as Doyle, a half demon who gets visions of the future to help Angel in his quest to help people. He’s a bit of a cowardly shyster with a surprising amount of heart, and he’s a fun character, with Quinn giving a really good performance. We also get supporting work from people like Alexis Denisof, Christian Kane, Elisabeth Röhm, Stephanie Romanov, and more, all delivering solid performances.

The score for the season was composed by Robert J. Kral and Christophe Beck, and they did a great job. Big bold brass for action scenes and spooky scares, but also quieter string and piano pieces when they want to be eerie or heart-wrenching. It’s not necessarily the most original score out there, but it’s very well composed and I highly enjoyed listening to it and thought it worked great for the show.

“Angel” was created by David Greenwalt and Joss Whedon. And before we continue, the elephant in the room: We all know by now that the latter person is a turd of a man, just a horrible piece of shit. I am not condoning what he did, and he’s rightfully getting pushed away from Hollywood. I will have positive things to say about the craft here, but I want to be clear that I am not saying it made any of his actions acceptable. Alright? So let’s talk about the craft of this show, which was handled by many different, very talented people.
It’s well made, has a fun noir atmosphere to it in tandem with the darkly whimsical tone that “Buffy” established, making the vibe of this show familiar, yet unique. It sets it apart from its sister show, without straying too far and making it completely separate. And I dig that about it. And generally speaking the direction here is really good. Some fight scenes can be a bit too closely shot and quickly cut, but generally the direction in the show is good. Effects for the time are great too, love seeing a lot of the creature makeup here. But yeah, aside from a few minor snafus, it’s well put together.

This show/season has been generally well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has no critic score, but at least an audience rating of 94%. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 7.9/10.

While its storytelling doesn’t quite reach its potential, season 1 of “Angel” is still a damn good season of TV. It has a good story, great characters, great performances, great music, and really good directing/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Angel” is an 8.88/10. So it’s definitely worth watching.

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

One down, four to go.

Series Review: Guilt – Season 2 (2021)

Hiya. So almost a year ago (September 2nd, so very close) I reviewed the first season of this show. It was flawed, but on the whole I was quite fond of it. And recently season 2 arrived on our shores, and I’m ready to talk about it. Oh, and beware of spoilers for season 1, as the end of that does tie into the start of this. So yeah, can’t say I didn’t warn ya.

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

Two years after ending up in prison, Max McCall (Mark Bonnar) gets released and immediately starts working to trying to get his shit back on track. Meanwhile on the other side of town, two people die in the basement of a woman named Erin (Sara Vickers). And over the course of the series how these two seemingly unrelated events slowly converge, leading to a complex web of backstabs, betrayals, and other forms of sneaky shit. Season 2 of “Guilt” continues the twist-filled storytelling of the first outing, weaving a complex set of threads that cross in all sorts of intriguing ways. I liked the story here, it builds a good bit of intrigue and has its share of good dramatic beats. It’s also kind of the inverse of the first season, where the first two episodes were the best, and the latter two were still good, but not *as* good. But here the first two episodes are pretty good, but then the latter two are where it really woke me up and had me more or less glued to the screen. And yeah, I enjoyed where the narrative went, it’s a fun crime-thriller with some decent suspense and a few dashes of dark humor to give it that extra flavor. Admittedly the highest highs of season 2 never gets to the level of season 1’s highest points, but it also doesn’t quite get to the lowest lows either, making for a slightly more consistent experience. So on the whole it’s a solid story.

The characters here are all flawed, colorful, and very interesting to watch. Even when the story doesn’t reach as far as it might want, the characters still end up being fun to follow. First up is of course Max, our returning… hero? Villain? Occasionally decent twat? Anyhow, Max is back, still  complex, scheming, self-centered dude who is an absolute delight to follow. And once again, Mark Bonnar knocks it out of the park, he’s simply fantastic in the role. Next up we have newcomer to the show Erin, a young woman with a troubled past and shady family members. To see her arc here in this is quite fascinating, as she’s trying to lead a normal life, but gets dragged into shady dealing by what happens on that fateful night. And Sara Vickers does a damn good job in the role. We then see the return of Emun Elliott as Kenny, the private investigator once used by Max for shady means, now sober and trying to be a good boy. He has a few arcs this season, all of which are really fun to watch unravel, but what I like most about his presence this season is his dynamic with Max. Back in season 1 he was this sad puppet of Max’s, manipulated through his weakness to alcohol. But here he’s a bit clear in the head, and they do a lot of fun stuff with him and Max that ended up being my favorite parts of the season. Anyhow, Kenny’s great, and Emun Elliott does a great job in the role. Then we also get supporting work from people like Henry Pettigrew, Rochelle Neil, Stuart Bowman, Phyllis Logan, Greg McHugh, Ian Pirie, and more, all delivering really solid performances.

Arthur Sharpe returned to compose the music once again, and I think he did a damn good job with it. Some fun jazzy instrumentation, some panicky strings, bit of piano, there’s just a good variety of instrumentation from Sharpe to create an interesting and engaging soundscape for the show. There’s also a fair bit of licensed songs used throughout the soundtrack, and they all fit quite well too.

Season 2 of “Guilt” was completely written by series creator Neil Forsyth, with Patrick Harkins handling the directing duties. And the craft here is just good stuff. Nicely shot, every scene has a nice flow in its direction and editing, and especially comes alive during some of the more tense scenes, where Harkins really shows what to do and not to do in order to build the suspense. It’s just a well made show.

While the season itself doesn’t have many actual ratings on my usual sites, I’ll still put them here just to keep with my habits. So here’s Rotten Tomatoes. Here comes Metacritic. And on imdb.com the show overall has a score of 7.3/10.

So yeah, season 2 of “Guilt” is another solid crime romp. It has a good story, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Guilt” is an 8.44/10. So while not perfect, it’s still definitely worth watching!

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

Mark Bonnar is a treasure.

Movie Review: Kiss of Death (1995)

The 90s were a fascinating time for crime movies/thrillers. Something about any movies in those genres made ’em infinitely watchable, even if they were fairly subpar as movies. So let’s see how this one fares.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Kiss of Death”.

Jimmy Kilmartin (David Caruso) is a convict trying to better himself after taking the fall for a crime he was kinda part of. And after a few years in prison he agrees to go undercover for the police in order to take down the psychopath gangster (Nicolas Cage) who led the job. The narrative in this is kinda hard to talk about. Not because it’s particularly complex (it’s not), not because it’s nuanced (it really ain’t), but because it’s so bog standard that it’s hard to muster any major explanation or analysis. It’s a fairly standard crime-drama narrative that doesn’t do anything exceptionally bad or great. Its biggest flaw is that the narrative never has any real momentum after the inciting incident, it’s scene to scene, no engaging escalation or natural flow. But aside from that weird snafu, there’s nothing here that sticks out much in either direction. The story is neither good nor bad, it just… is.

The characters in this are… that’s it, they just are. They’re not egregiously hollow, but they’re also not really engaging. They’re… fine. What I can full on praise here though is the cast. David Caruso may not change facial expression much, but he can deliver his lines quite well, and while not exactly super engaging as a leading man, I think he works pretty well here. Samuel L. Jackson’s here too, playing a very angry cop that Caruso works with, and he’s really good (which no one’s surprised by). Then there’s the living legend Nicolas Cage as “Little” Junior Brown, the main antagonist of the movie. A crazed, violent, unpredictable gangster. The character himself is fairly whatever, but is elevated by the performance of Cage, who gives 140%. He goes big, and he isn’t afraid if it looks a little silly, and it makes the character super entertaining to watch, becoming the highlight of the movie. Supporting cast is pretty good too, containing people like Stanley Tucci, Michael Rapaport, Ving Rhames, Helen Hunt, Kathryn Erbe, Philip Baker Hall, and more, all delivering solid work.

The score for the movie was composed by Trevor Jones, and it was alright. I really like the main theme, which is a track that blends traditional orchestration with guitar in  way that isn’t super original, but sounds really nice nonetheless. The rest of the movie has a fairly bland orchestral score that works just fine for the movie. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work fine too.

Loosely based on a movie of the same name from 1947, “Kiss of Death” was directed by one Barbet Schroeder, and I think he did an alright (that seems to be the word of the day, huh?) job with it. There’s nothing really wrong with the direction, but there’s also never really anything too great either, no unique flair. Just perfectly passable direction.

This movie’s gotten some mixed to positive reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 68% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.9/10.

So yeah, “Kiss of Death” is just fine, a perfectly passable thriller to put on in the background on a rainy afternoon. The story is fine, the characters are fine, the performances are really good, the music’s pretty good, and direction is fine. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Kiss of Death” is a 6.11/10. So I’d say it could be worth a rental.

My review of “Kiss of Death” is now completed.

Come for the Nicolas Cage, stay for the… Nicolas Cage.

Movie Review: Spiderhead (2022)

Spiderhead, Spiderhead, is a head on a Spider’s neck. Though it is, also a, brand new film, on Netflix. Look ooouuuut… it is a Spiderheeeeeaaaad.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Spiderhead”.

The near future, convicts are given the opportunity to reduce their sentences by taking part in some medical experiments involving emotion-altering drugs. One such convict is Jeff (Miles Teller), who soon starts to question these experiments, and their charismatic creator (Chris Hemsworth). I love this premise, it’s open to so much interesting shit. It sets itself up to be a really intriguing suspense thriller and potential mindbender. And while I didn’t hate the execution of the narrative in the movie, I did feel that it was a little undercooked. What we get works just fine, even though it never reaches the heights of its potential. I wasn’t bored, I didn’t dislike any of it, but it plays things a bit too safe to fully engage.

The characters in this are alright. Again, the script is a little undercooked and plays things safe, so they never reach the depths that they potentially could. But I also didn’t find them utterly uninteresting, just underdeveloped. But what really saves them from being walking flatlines are the actors, all of whom do a solid job here. Miles Teller is really good in the lead role. Jurnee Smollett is great as Teller’s friend inside this odd facility. And then there’s Chris Hemsworth, who is by far the best part of the movie. He is clearly having a ball playing this shady, yet highly charismatic and outwardly friendly dude. He plays it really well, and he clearly has that glint in his eye that says “I am having so much fun right now!”, which makes his performance even more enjoyable for me. The supporting cast is solid too, containing people like Nathan Jones, Tess Haubrich, Mark Paguio, Angie Milliken, Charles Parnell, and more, all delivering solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Joseph Trapanese, and it was fine. It’s this low-key, synth-based score that works fine within its respective scenes. It doesn’t really stick out that much, but it also doesn’t ruin any scene. It’s fine. There’s also a good amount of licensed songs used throughout, and I think they work really well for their respective scenes, they feel well integrated into the storytelling.

Based on a short story by George Saunders, “Spiderhead” was written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, with Joseph Kosinski handling directing duties. And I will say, Kosinski does a damn good job directing this. His direction is slick, but never feels too perfect or glossy. One thing I really like about his directing is his usage of space. He gives the actors plenty of space to work in, while still making it feel confined and intimate, really benefitting the thriller vibes the story goes for. Really, Kosinski’s style really helps elevate this and make it a bit more watchable. And on a sidenote, the dude’s certainly having one hell of a summer ain’t he? He’s got this out on Netflix right now, but he’s also got the new “Top Gun” out in cinemas, which people seem to really like. So you know… good for him for finding work!

This movie just came out, so exact numbers can and will change somewhat. But at the time of writing it’s gotten quite a mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 52% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 55/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.7/10.

While it admittedly doesn’t live up to its potential, I still found “Spiderhead” to be a decently enjoyable little thriller. It has an okay story, okay characters, great performances, good music, and really good direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Spiderhead” is a 6.32/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth watching.

My review of “Spiderhead” is now completed.

Can’t wait for the sequel, Scorpionbutt.

Series Review: We Own This City (2022)

*Ted Hastings voice*. Bent coppers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shoulda sent AC-12

Series Review: StartUp – Season 1 (2016)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The future of currency”, my ass.

Series Review: Luther – Season 4 (2015)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Series Review: The Journalist – Season 1 (2022)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Series Review: Vigil (2021)

I’ve talked about my fair share of British tv shows over the years. And now it’s time to talk about yet another one, let’s gooooo!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Vigil”.

Following a death on board the submarine HMS Vigil, DSI Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) gets sent aboard to investigate it. But what starts out as a somewhat death investigation soon turns into a much larger conspiracy involving the Royal Navy and potentially various other, high level sectors. So it’s part mystery, part conspiracy thriller, and then also part melodrama. So let’s break things down a little, starting with the mystery and conspiracy angle. At the off-set it feels fairly grounded, just a standard Beeb cop drama of a death being investigated, and as it goes on it becomes more complex, more improbable, and even a bit silly… and I liked that. It’s a conspiracy thriller right out of Robert Ludlum or or Tom Clancy’s typewriter, and there’s something about those kinds of stories I find quite compelling. It keeps it fun and engaging. Now let’s talk about the third part I alluded to earlier… the melodrama. Interspersed throughout is a backstory involving Amy and her relationship to fellow policewoman Kirsten Longacre (Rose Leslie). And while a bit of personal drama can add some nice weight to a show like this, it didn’t feel super well implemented in this. There are a few moments involving the two that I don’t mind, but a lot of these scenes of romantic melodrama just don’t feel as naturally baked into the show as they could be. So yeah, the story here is a little bit mixed. Mostly good, but has some things that let it down.

The characters in this are all decently interesting, sporting interesting personalities and mostly having interesting dynamics between each other. But what really makes them stand out is the cast. Every actor in this cast is at the top of their game, bringing the characters to life beautifully. Suranne Jones, Rose Leslie, Shaun Evans (my personal standout), Paterson Joseph, Stephen Dillane, Daniel Portman, Martin Compston, Adam James, Anjili Mohindra, and more, are all fantastic in this show.

The score for the show was composed by Berenice Scott and Glenn Gregory, and I think it was pretty good. It’s a mostly ambient affair, taking a low-key and almost sneaky approach  to build creeping tension or have you more invested in the personal drama. And I think it works fine, it’s a decent score that works well for the show.

“Vigil” was created for the BBC by Tom Edge, with writing by him, Chandni Lakhani, and Ed Macdonald, and with directing duties split between Isabelle Sieb and James Strong. And I think this show has some strong direction. While the submarine seems waaaay bigger than an actual sub, they still find good ways of making it feel claustrophobic, which adds a little to the suspense in the scenes set down there. But even the ones set on the surface, following the investigations up there are really well helmed with good shots and editing. It’s just a well crafted show.

This show has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

While its melodramatic bits drag it down at times, “Vigil” is still a highly enjoyable, if ludicrous, conspiratorial police thriller. It has a fun plot, good characters, fantastic performances, pretty good music, and great directing/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Vigil” is a 7.98/10. So while it’s far from perfect, I’d still say it’s worth watching.

My review of “Vigil” is now completed.

We all live in a Vigil submarine…