Reviewing television and movies?

Okay,  I’d like to say I get some wacky ideas in my head sometimes and I go off and get all Bukowski-like when I’m writing. I’m referring to the past two entries from last year that got a little weird and free-versey. Hey, that’s fine. These things happen.

In any case, I’ll attempt to rein it in, in the future. (Yes, rein it in.)

What to do with all the TV watching?

One of the reasons I entered into that free-verse “lowercase reviews” as I was calling them is because I was trying to find a new form of movie and TV review. I love thinking and talking and writing about TV and movies, but it’s something that gets done everywhere. And the more I write about all of that stuff, the more I realize that I’m just sort of mediocre at it. I really enjoy recording podcasts about entertainment, but that’s me talking to another person and hashing things out. Usually I listen to those types of podcasts when I’m bored as hell and have 3 hours on the road or more ahead of me.

But still, can we do anything with all that TV watching that a lot of us do? I would like for that time spent, where I am ingesting the latest Netflix whatever it is, to profit me in some way. But I think the writing of reviews is sort of dull and adds up to not much of a hill of beans.

A new way of TV watching? 

I watched the beginning mini series of Battlestar Galactica again, while I played this really simple and really addicting tower defense game on the iPhone – Kingdom Rush. Well, it gave me the suggestion of watching some terrible Kevin Sorbo show called Andromeda right after.

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Kevin Sorbo shakes hand with a blonde lady. Hologram Jen, Pink Raver Girl, Bill S. Preston, Rat Face, and Capoeira watch with serious faces. 

I’m trying to be a bit more intentional with what I’m doing lately. I bemoan the fact that my apartment isn’t clean even though I haven’t cleaned it. I say I want to write and read more, and yet I don’t spend time doing that stuff. So anyway, here we are and I’m about to watch this Andromeda show. I decide I can split the difference between my desire to glance up and watch some stuff happening on the TV, and reading a chapter in this book – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – by just having the TV on, but with no sound, and listening to Charles Mingus instead. – All of that said, Andromeda looks terrible.

I don’t have an answer to how or what to do about the watching of series and TV. It seems like our cultural language  (and in some ways, how smart you are, and  success, maybe?) trades in what shows you watch. “Oh my god, you haven’t seen ALL of Black Mirror? What’s WRONG with you?”

There are some great narratives on TV out there, but there are not enough hours in the day to watch all of the things and still get stuff done.

So, I’ll just end with a question: How do you feel about all the TV watching you do? How do you feel about all the reviewing of TV?

 

 

 

 

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Preacher – S2 Ep 12 – On Your Knees

Review: This was a “getting from point A to point B” episode. Only worth your time if you’re a completist.

Spoilers ahoy:

This episode was basically a return of the plot device that could control Jesse – the Saint of Killers. I’m pretty un-enamored with this episode as a whole. Again, the most interesting part was watching Eugene in Hell try to escape from his own Hell and stand up to the girl who killed herself and blamed Eugene for it.

The Saint of Killers made an agreement with the Grail dude from Better Off Ted, and got himself out of the lake. Jesse and Tulip almost get killed by the Saint of Killers but that lady from Hell who’s like the jailer saves them both by telling the Saint of Killers that she’ll put his wife and kid in there now that God’s gone. As a Deus ex Machina moment, it’s pretty good in that it serves to combine the two storylines together.

The fight scenes in this episode weren’t as cool or painful as in the first episode of the entire series. Remember that fight on the plane with Cassidy? Or the fight with Tulip in the corn field fighting off 3 guys? The series just lacks the punch (pun) of the first season.

At the end of the episode, Jesse talks about taking the place of the Messiah on Earth and Tulip and Cassidy are not on board with it. The Saint is back in Hell.

Watch this episode only if you’re super into seeing things through to completion.

Preacher Season 2 Episode 11 – Backdoors

Review: Worth your time more so than previous episodes, if you like moral puzzles and butt jokes.

Spoilers as usual.

Tulip and Cassidy react to Jesse lying to them about the Saint of Killers being in hell. We learn more about Jesse’s backstory. Starr tries to recruit Jesse. At the end of the episode, it appears the Saint of Killers is back. Meanwhile, in Hell, Arseface is conspiring with Hitler to get free. We learn some of Hitler’s back story.

For me, the most interesting part of this episode was watching Eugene in Hell with Hitler. They do a very good job of making (I can’t believe I’m going to write this) Hitler a sympathetic character. The Preacher version of Hitler turns out to be a struggling artist, that we see in a flashback, who was fearful and bullied and his girlfriend left him for another man and he didn’t get the last piece of plum cake. Somehow that amounts to Hitler being sympathetic in the moment. When Eugene asks Hitler why that was his worst moment in life, Hitler responds with: “That was the last time I was good.” (Or words to that effect.) The asshole bully in hell seems to me to be the Internet incarnate. And in Hitler vs Internet comments, well, I don’t want to choose sides on which I like better. Definitely not the historical Hitler, that’s for sure.

Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy get mad at each other and Jesse runs out to find God who he’s pretty sure actually IS the pervert in the dog costume. In the process, Jesse makes his way back to Starr, and we hear his prayers. That’s where another piece of the Jesse Custer history is revealed: either before or after his death, someone who identified herself as his grandmother makes Jesse renounce his name and thank god for killing his father. Starr thinks this will break Jesse, but it just serves to piss Jesse off and the “Starr taking things up his butt” jokes continue.

I like that both characters – Hitler and Jesse – are looking for redemption (or at least that’s what they’d like us to believe in this episode). I imagine the writers are leading us down the path to sympathy for Adolph, and then they’ll reveal that he’s the evil sonofabitch that we know he is. There was already a glimmer of this in Hell when he switches from the meek to Hitler the orator and rouses his fellow Hell-mates into creating a diversion.

But the other theme that this show brings us is being absorbed and haunted by our past. I suppose that’s what redemption is all about- feeling guilty for moments of weakness, or evilness, or failure, and then wanting to make amends. And making amends or redemption – it all amounts to time travel in one sense or another. Doing something now to somehow rectify your past actions. The more I think about guilt and feeling sorry for your actions, the more I think it’s not that great of a motivation to live by. (TV- and plot-wise seeking redemption and feeling guilty are great character motivations.) Creativity and moving forward seem to produce better results than wallowing in mistakes and looking for a DeLorean to go into the past and change things for the better.

Anyway- this episode was much stronger. Definitely worth watching. The weakest part of the episode, in my opinion, is the Tulip-what’shername storyline. Tulip’s smarter than that and I don’t buy the whole thing.

 

TV stuff: Marc Maron – Too Real (Netflix)

Rating: Worth your time. Watch it or listen to it while you’re doing something else and you’ll still get a lot out of it.

I think I liked this special more than any of Marc’s other specials. It felt, as the title suggests, pretty real. I’m sure he wrote this whole hour plus up and performed it based on what he wrote, but it felt like him just getting up there and saying things off the cuff, but in a good way.

He recorded this special right here at the Pantages in Minneapolis, but I didn’t get a chance to go see it. He kind of nailed the reason why I didn’t go- he joked about it in the midst of his set. I’m in my late 30s. I hate dealing with parking, and I figured I’d get as much or more enjoyment watching it at home on Netflix than paying $35 and sitting WAYYYY up in the rafters of the Pantages. (That’s what I did when I saw him the first time, here in Minneapolis.)

Was his shirt weird? I kept getting distracted by his shirt.

The bit about the Stones was pretty great. And I totally agree with his assessment of Dave Matthews fans. You’ve got an uphill battle on your hands, friends. (I also made a Dave Matthews joke later in the day. Sorry man, didn’t mean to steal your joke when I was at Midtown Global Market getting burritos.)

Talking about a standup special is more difficult than talking about a piece of scripted TV, I think.

Marc’s one of my favorite comedians and personalities. I listen to his podcast a bit, so I feel like I’ve heard some of these jokes in different forms as he tries them out on his show, it seems.

Anyway. Great special. Go watch it. It’s worth your time.

Preacher – Season 3 Episode 10: Dirty Little Secret

Spoilers spoilers spoilers-

The introduction of the Jesus having sons storyline. The directors decided to forego making the historical part feel real and instead gave Jesus and all of the other characters a modern surfer-dude dialect. It felt different than the first season with the flashbacks for the Saint of Killers. The show, overall, is taking on more of a comedic vibe than a horror / intense vibe that the first season had.

Denis continues more down his evil vampire path. Tulip and the Grail lady are playing Rock Band and becoming better friends (meaning she’s manipulating Tulip). Herr Starr shows Jesse Humperdoo the Messiah. I’m not thrilled with that portion of the storyline. I mean I get showing the Messiah as the inbred son of 20 centuries of incest, but there was something that felt kind of like picking on the disabled for a laugh. It felt wrong not in a funny or shocking way, just in a cheap privileged kind of way.

Tulip finds the guns and the sword underneath the floorboard and the episode ends. Still not that thrilled with this season.

Oh but I do love the addition of Malcolm Barrett into the show. He was great on Better Off Ted. He doesn’t have much to do but that guy is just super charismatic, in my opinion.

Preacher – Season 2, Episode 9 : Puzzle Piece

(Spoilers ahead!)

This season had gotten bogged down so much that I stopped keeping up with it as the episodes were airing. This episode introduced a few more elements that kept it more interesting, though: The FPS – video game style scene was cool and fun. The mystery of who B.R.A.D. was was pretty good. (Although I kind of wish it was the big crazy ogre-looking dude.) Jesse’s power of The Word and using Genesis is getting very boring to me. A Deus Ex Machina is only good for like one or two uses at best. Jesse can tell Tulip to fall asleep, can tell cops to obey his orders, can have one of the crazy Grail officers kill his friends? I mean if he’s having the cops work for him in a protective capacity, why not just order all of the Grail guys to be on his side and help him find God? I’m trying to suspend my disbelief, but it’s wearing kinda thin on me.

I can’t stand New Orleans anyway. Can we move on from this city, please?

I loved the comic book series, but it’s been years since I’ve read it so I can’t remember how they kept things fresh. I do remember that it didn’t feel as stale as this does.

The Americans – End of Season 2 and S3 E1

(Spoilers ahead for Season 2 of The Americans, and S3 Episode 1 of The Americans.)

The Americans season 2:

This season was a bit confusing for me, but got a lot better at the finale. The idea about recruiting Paige into the Russian spy network made things really interesting. Best part in the last episode of Season 2 was when Philip says about Paige: “If she didn’t shut up about passive resistance, I was going to punch her in the face.” I replayed and listened to that line and guffawed out loud to myself each time.

The big reveal about the other spies’ killer being their son was chilling as hell. I didn’t see it coming at all. It kind of retroactively explains the weird acting job of that kid. I thought he was too cardboard-y in the previous episodes. A recap I read on Vulture said that the kid had a tough job of explaining everything that happened while bleeding out from a gunshot wound to the jugular. Very true.

The Americans Season 3, Episode 1:

They upped their game as far as interesting camera shots go. The opening scene was great, too. I had to replay it to make sure that it was indeed Agent Gad that Elizabeth punched in the face, and it sure was! The removal of Nina is proving to be a good ominous motivator for Oleg. Again, this series makes the killing of a character – this time Annalise – feel really impacting. I had the death of Annalise spoiled for me through a random internet search earlier in the week. I knew it was going to happen but I didn’t know HOW. And of course Philip will use the death to manipulate Yousaf.

I’m also happy to move on to season 3 because it looked like there were some quality recap podcasts to listen to once season 3 rolled around.