Posts Tagged ‘TV’

As the residents of Deadwood commemorate Dakota’s statehood in 1889, saloon owner Al Swearengen and Sheriff Seth Bullock must face a corrupt senator head on when the conflict of a past event resurfaces.

Directed by Daniel Minahan the TV film is a solid continuation, even if condensed, shoehorned into an hour and fifty minute run time. Deadwood’s creator and awarding winning writer David Milch gives some much needed closure to a series which was cut short.

The cast including the likes of Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, the excellent Dayton Callie (as Charlie Utter), Kim Dickens, Brad Dourif and Paula Malcomson to name a few are on form with excellent performances all round.

As the residents of a now mature Deadwood, complete with railway station gather, the cast past and present do great work on the backdrop of some immersive sets and Reinhold Heil and
Johnny Klimek’s music. Sadly without a few of the cast members who have since passed away in real life (notably Powers Boothe) during the hiatus.

Dan Dority (W. Earl Brown) is slightly under utilised, but given there so much to include in the short running time this is understandable. There’s big hit emotional story beats and after many years, the characters have fittingly slightly altered, notably McShane’s Al Swearengen, now far softer (echoing Al Pacino in Godfather part 3).

In keeping with the series it moves along at the same pace, only it feels bigger production wise. In contrast, Milch’s offering is subtle in some story/character aspects and square on the nose in others. There’s plenty of closure, also refreshingly some ambiguity also remains.

Overall, it’s a mighty fine TV Western movie which ties up story threads nicely. Recommend especially for Deadwood fans.

With the FBI hot on his heels international thief Simon Templar goes about helping a man get his kidnapped daughter back.

Sadly this incarnation of Leslie Charteris The Saint has all the trappings of feeling like a TV pilot made in the 90s despite being made in 2013 (with extra shots filmed in 2015) and left on the shelf until 2017. Even though directed by Hollywood director Simon West (Expendables 2, The Mechanic) it’s a shame The Saint wasn’t given the same film treatment that was given to The Man from U.N.C.L.E (2015) or the budget of the poorly received 1997 film.

For fans Ian Ogilvy returns in a main role but not as Templar and also former Templar Roger Moore cameos. We also have reworked snippets of Edwin Astley’s theme pop up. The cast is full of talented movie actors including Eliza Dushku, James Remar and Thomas Kretschmann. With some action littered throughout there’s also interestingly flashbacks (an origin-like story of sorts) of Simons youth. With some good one liners Adam Rayner has a good stab at the main role Simon Templar. Rayner has the voice, look and suaveness especially after he loses his beard in the first act but like the whole production feels constrained.

As a TV film or pilot, even with some good actors and talent on board with a budget that appears to be less than an episode of 1980’s Miami Vice West just can’t pull the rabbit out of the hat. In a TV sea with Lethal Weapon, West World, White Collar to name a few it’s watchable but feels clunky when compared to the slickness of TV shows in recent years and lacks the nostalgic charm given its present day setting.

It’s a pity that makers didn’t make it stand out by placing it in the 1960s original or 70s Return of the Saint time period akin to a Life on Mars or the aforementioned Man from U.N.C.L.E film.

The Exorcist Movie Poster*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The exorcism of Casey Rance has finally arrived and all those involved must make a choice that will change their future forever.

Chapter Five retains the series gritty dark feel and The Exorcist continues to exceed expectations in ‘Through My Most Grievous Fault’. It’s partly a mile stone turning point for the characters, Alfonso Herrera’s Father Tomas Ortega is tricked and later finally gives into temptation. With dramatic range the excellent Ben Daniels as Marcus Keane tackles the demon and his own inner demons head on. As an outsider looking in and believing it is a medical issue not a possession, underrated Brianne Howey as Katherine Rance former ballet dancer logically calls the police and has Marcus arrested.

Director Jason Ensler balances the real and supernatural world elements with finesse. Hannah Kasulka’s Casey Rance (in almost a duel role is on form) the surreal inner demon fight with Robert Emmet Lunney’s evil Salesman is developed further with creep execution. While the practical effects and makeup are welcomed debatably other effects are unnecessary, The Exorcist seems to work best when its focused on the characters and subtler moments rather than spectacle.

Writer David Grimm delivers a note worthy twist which connects it to the novel and subsequently the film. Alan Ruck’s Henry Rance get more too do here and is key in revealing Geena Davis’ Angela to be Regan MacNeil, also Sharon Gless appears briefly as Chris MacNeil. Its a chilling and dramatically weighty episode, there’s nothing worse than gnarly demon feet on your chest, recommend.

Ash vs Evil Dead*** This review may contain we’re going to get you spoilers ***

After picking up a woman at a bar and banging her from behind Ash gets a warning reminding him of an evil he encountered 30 years ago. With the book of dead in his possession he realises he may have to face up to a little mistake and save his town.

In terms of cult horror nostalgia Ash versus the Evil Dead captures the tone of the films perfectly thanks to Sam Raimi’s foundation setting direction of the debut episode El Jefe.

Raimi offers floating P.O.V forest shots, blood, gore, twisted heads and demonic voices within the first 12 minutes. Later there’s Vaule Stop stockroom action with a maniac toy doll and flashback exposition using the first two films. Raimi throws in more floating P.O.V shots this time in a car park, there’s creepy demon faces in a diner, a Lucio Fulci eye tribute and Lucy Lawless for good measure. To top the episode off a cop investigates the odd occurrences and Ash teams up with two co- workers to take on a demon in an action packed caravan showdown.

Bruce Campbell is outstanding and intriguingly expands the character of aged Ash Williams. Written by Raimi, Ivan Raimi and Tom Spezialy the first episode’s production values are high, many of the effects are first rate, the horror delivers scares and the comedy is on sleazy point.

As one of newest batch of film properties becoming TV shows this encapsulates the essence of the Evil Dead, basically it’s a chainsaw-handed, reluctant demon hunter fan’s dream.

narcosA chronicled look at the criminal activity and many sides of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Intriguing, like watching the 2005 documentary Cocaine episodes 1,2 and 3 Viva la Coca, An Honest Citizen, Leo and Ze respectively mixed with Scarface. With some genuine photos and footage of the day briefly inserted into episodes you get reminded that what you’re watching is a good rendition of what happened. As the story unfolds you get a sense of the many viewpoints and different levels of both the government and Narcos. The series depicts the Colombian drug cartels power and gives a sense of its reach across the globe.

There are great performances from a relatively unknown but stellar cast including Wagner Moura (Elite Squad) as Pablo Escobar. Boyd Holbrook (Run All Night) whose resemblance to the real Steve Murphy is uncanny and Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) Narcos exceed expectations.

On the backdrop of the finely recreated late 70s, 80s and 90s it’s violent, tension filled and fuelled with emotion. While Miami Vice was fiction and ripping stories from the headlines it showed the effects of the drugs on the streets. This shows semi-factually to an extent through dramatisation how they got there and just how characters are a shade of grey. While the accents may not be perfect each fast paced episode is well written, has great production values and with a shot on location feel it gives the proceedings weight.

It’s certainly one to watch driven by its true life subject matter and an inevitable second series.

The second season, spends much more time with Escobar, is more of a manhunt as Pablo’s empire falls apart and there is less of Murphy’s narration and the DEA. You see the effect on the families and anyone involved. It has the same on location feel and production values remain as it remains 90’s setting to a predestined conclusion.

The third series follows the Cali cartel and is of the same high quality set on the backdrop of the 90’s Clinton administration. Violence, corruption aplenty as two new DEA agents are assisted by the Cali family head of security. Emotional at times season 3 ticks all the boxes. By default Pablo is not present and actor Boyd Holbrook doesn’t return however Pedro Pascal does (in a fictional hybrid of real life people) as Pena once again. Packed with faces from season 1 and 2 the acting and production is first rate, notable are Pepe Rapazote in an intense small role as Jose and Edward James Olmos cameos. The season closes opening the way for a Mexican set 4th season. Highly recommend.

From Dusk Till Dawn season 2Three months after freeing Santanico from the Titty Twister, the Gecko Brothers are separately on the run; Seth and Kate are in Mexico; Richie and Santanico plot vengeance on the Culebra.

Opening Night, the first episode of the second season, continues with the spirit of the first season and encapsulates some of the DNA of the film. While some of the CGI effects fall short Greg Nicotero’s (Day of the Dead, The Walking Dead) practical makeup effects still are outstanding. Directed by Robert Rodriguez this series is no longer chained to the narrative of the film like the first season adaption, episode 1 is in fresh uncharted territory.

The main characters Seth (D.J. Cotrona) and Kate (Madison Davenport) hiding in Mexico and Richie (Zane Holtz) and Santanico (Eiza González) planning an assault on the Nine Lords starting with a robbery told with a flash forward and flashback. Rodriguez’s direction is as sharp as ever and the atmosphere is dark and rich with reds. Freddie’s (Jesse Garcia) turns up in latter half and Wilmer Valderrama’s Carlos appears briefly. There is also an expanded Santánico Pandemonium back-story with flashbacks that now include a new character Malvado who sports a long-coat made of human faces played by Esai Morales.

Actor Danny Trejo from the film returns as a new character, Razor Charlie, with an introduction reminiscent of Creepshow 2’s Old Chief Wooden head story, his appearance topping this episode off for fans.

Fear-the-Walking-Dead-posterA divorced male teacher, with his new partner a female guidance counsellor and her children find themselves in the opening stages of a zombie apocalypse.

AMC’s original series Fear the Walking Dead takes us back prior to the outbreak that began with award winning Walking Dead. After an excellently executed bloody and gnarly opening in a crack house church where a drug addict (the son of Madison Clark) escapes a zombie attack. It then moves to everyday life slowly unravelling reminiscent of the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake and Diary of the Dead’s news footage of the reanimating dead.

There’s plenty of suspense and atmosphere in the first episode, the pacing is spot on with a thought out introduction to the dysfunctional and estranged family. The family drama feel natural and unforced thanks to some attention to detail, effective writing by Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson, Adam Davidson’s direction and solid acting. Cliff Curtis as Travis Manawa and Kim Dickens as Madison Clark are particularly notable. With a drug hit subplot, murder, shootings, a hit and run and undead attacks there’s plenty going on but not at the expense of the characterisations.

The first pilot episode attempts to avoid the tropes/clichés but given the subject matter its unavoidable, hopefully going forward it doesn’t recycle too many elements of its predecessor nor follow its meandering footsteps.

The Los Angeles setting gives it scope, a fresh feel and like its predecessor it benefits from an on location shoot. Hopefully it’ll retain its grounded feel. Those wanting a fast paced ride or running zombies maybe disappointed. However for the old-school zombie fans it’s creepy, suspenseful, moody and engrossing.

twin-peaks-posterAn F.B.I Agent is tasked with solving a young girls murder that appears to be linked to his previous case.

There’s not much to add. Over the last 25 years or more, Twin Peaks has shoehorned a place in cult TV history, there are countless reviews, blogs and websites out there that give in-depth analysis and no doubt with season 3 on the way it’ll find more fans along the way.

Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls, Alan Parker’s Angel Heart, Ray Bradbury’s anthology shows, The Fugitive, Outer Limits, The Twilight Light Zone, to name a few all touched on the themes contained in Mark Frost and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. In 1990 for TV it was ahead of its time, its atmosphere mixed with mystery and symbolism hadn’t been merged in quite the same way. The horror and ‘who is the killer?’ plot was stretched over two seasons, even popping in an abundance of subplots including a who shot J.R-like story – it was also followed by Fire Walk with Me a prequel, part sequel film.

In retrospect it was ground breaking cult TV. It’s unorthodox, somewhat non linear storytelling with a supernatural element is now mainstream, common place and has been tuned and honed since. That said, it’s quirky, operatic, coffee, log and stool humour, maniacal creepy moments, red suited dwarf, a giant and retro 50s style has not been equaled since.

It’s slow paced and off beat. Nevertheless, to its credit it’s impact undoubtedly still resonates right through into the likes of Bates Motel and Hannibal. It’s difficult to judge performances given its nature and script style, but it’s a show that contained some of the prettiest and most wonderfully odd looking characters to grace the tubes of television. Coffee drinking FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper was Kyle MacLachlan’s defining role, dual role Sheryl Lee played homecoming queen Laura Palmer and Madeleine Ferguson who featured briefly throughout. The excellent supporting casting included the likes of Ray Wise, Sherilyn Fenn,Lara Flynn Boyle and Mädchen Amick to name just a few.

Some critic’s and fans have since grumbled it ended on an unforgiving cliffhanger. Personally I never thought that, and liked the bleak ending, you know who killed Laura Palmer and that Agent Cooper is trapped in the Red Room having been replaced by Bob. Yes it does leave loose ends, what happens to this character? What happened to that character? And so on, but none pressing to the main story thread. If you like, Fire Walk with Me gives Cooper’s character hope of escape in the clues that lay in Laura’s foresight laced diary.

Twin Peaks is not as polished as the likes of Mullholland Drive (what originally was intended as another spin off film) and neither should it be coming 11 years later. If there is a crime it’s that it didn’t conclude sooner, rather meandering through a drawn out second season which alienated new viewers and those who wanted focus on the killer plot, not the subplots of minor characters.

The thing is with Lynch’s work, and Twin Peaks with its rural population is no exception – you either buy into it or you don’t.

Recommended slice of TV history for its intended type of viewer only.

After a spate of disappearances and child killings in the 60s a group of kids confront the malevolent unearthly cause of the murders, later as adults they reunite to stop the evil once and for all.

Without drawing comparisons to Stephen King’s novel of the same name, Tim Curry’s creepy and unnerving performance as Pennywise the Clown is still the the main reason to watch IT. Another is for the child actors excellent performances in the 1960s segments – reminiscent of 1959 set Stand by Me (1986) another adaptation of King’s works.

Director Tommy Lee Wallace captures the dreamy small American Derry, Maine setting admirably and Richard Bellis’ score is fitting an eerie when required. The cast include Richard Masur in a small vital part, Richard Thomas of “John-Boy”” Walton fame, John Ritter and Annette O’Toole are adequate but notable are the outstanding Emily Perkins as the young Beverly Marsh, Seth Green as Richie and Brandon Crane as Ben Hanscom.

Yes, It suffers for some TV trappings and as many have pointed out the second half is less effective with many of the children’s adult counterparts delivering soap opera performances and Curry appearing less. Some of the effects are dated and the second half drags like many other TV attempts of King’s work. Nevertheless, the werewolf, the photo book and the Pennywise makeup to name a few still hold up 23 year later. Thankfully It predates the influx usage of DTV CGI.

Overall, It still retains its creepy value especially for a TV miniseries.

It on IMDB

When a synthetic enemy, the Cylons resurface and obliterate a planet a handful of survivors set out to find the mythical planet of Earth in the far reaches of space.

Slated in some circles as having too many deus ex machina (I hate that usage) moments, not enough sci-fi and/or too much supernatural facets, I can safely say much of the criticism is unfounded and Battlestar Galactica deserves its acclaimed credit.
What was born from a 70s Star Wars knockoff (and sued for it) TV-series, some bright spark decided to bring it back, with a re-imagining which retains some of the fundamental elements of the original.
Viewing the mini-series and its series’ throughout I personally like this incarnation of Battlestar Galactica, it’s grim, it’s dark, it’s gritty. While essentially science fiction it is more drama and character driven, littered with religious connotation. Thanks to series’ main writers Glen A. Larson and Ronald D. Moore when I feared the shenanigans would fall into a redundant political web plot or Christian fable on loop the writers successfully rein it in, restoring an equal balance of themes, creating a vast and immiscible universe as vast, dare I say it – as the other two infamous sci-fi franchises.
The heroes and villains aren’t the stereotypes we’re used to seeing, most characters are flawed and multi layered with plenty of grey to be discovered. They feel credible thanks to some good acting from familiar faces including Edward James Olmos, Lucy Lawless and Dean Stockwell. Notable is Jamie Bamber, Tricia Helfer and James Callis who do a great job. Both Helfer and Callis are exceptional in places.
While some of the set ups are familiar the plots are usually unpredictable and try hard to go against conventions and formulas of genre retaining a realistic familiarity. Sometimes using flashbacks, visions, dreams and parallel storytelling there’s never a dull moment. Admittedly there are lengthy story arc’s and bravely very few singular episodes but to Battlestar’s credit the story ends with the series in retrospect being one long movie ride which makes it stand shoulders above other formatted TV shows. There’s certainly enough surprises and twists to satisfy the most hardened thrill seeker if you stick with it.
Battlestar Galactica is not scared to take chances, even when limited in some parts due to TV confines, it does the best with its budget and tries to push the envelope with it themes which debatably allowed the doors to be opened for the likes of Games of Thrones, True Blood and The Walking Dead to name a few.
Overall, an interesting fulfilling ride to say the least.