The Following Season Two Finale Review/MAJOR SPOILERS: Douche Twins VS the FBI

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW…

God, this show is the worst.  —Me, right before reviewing it

It’s been like three weeks since I’ve last watched the “Following”, like last time this is going to be live watching review/notes, unlike last time there’ll be sound this time.  So Mike’s been taken hostage, there are approximately three women left on the show(Did I call Mandy’s death or what?  It’d be nice if she returned at the beginning of each episode to recap for us like  the very much alive Frank on Shameless or ghost neighbor on “Desperate Housewives”.  Silly Mandy, you explained basic plot points that didn’t have to be explained ).  So the FBI just murdered a fuck-ton of cult members, and Claire’s been taken hostage.  Douche twins are still alive for some reason.

Ryan and Joe are  best buds now, and going to save Claire.  Kevin Bacon just seems like he’s given up.  As horrible as the Douche Twins are, Sam Underwood actually does seem to be having some fun with the role(s), the characters are terrible, but he’s really embracing the camp and it works.  The acting has never really been the issue with this show as I pointed out fifteen or so weeks ago.  The casting is generally pretty good, Natalie Zea, Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Valerie Cruz, and Leslie Bibb to name a few, are all really great casting choices but the material just isn’t there.  James Purefoy is also playing up the camp a bit, that’s when this show is it’s worst/best, when it embraces how silly it is. 

The douche twin’s taste for classical music makes a return appearance, it seems so long ago the first episode of this season premiered.  I remember then, I had such high expectations for this season to be as fun to hate watch as the last.  The problem with hate watching is eventually it stops being fun and starts being sad.  The joke has gotten old, all the classic Poes, James Purefoy’s Winger speeches, his “Hello Ryan”‘s, the stupidity, and the dialogue(one shining gem of quote I missed was “I may have been born at night, but I wasn’t born last night”, like seriously what the literal fuck?).  The show tried to reinvent itself this year, and a lot of the stupid charm of last year was lost with it’s reinvention. 

James Purefoy’s giving a deliciously campy performance, tonight the interview scene was actually a lot of fun to watch.  Shawn Ashmore revealing that he killed the douche twin’s mom was really badly acted.  Luke is dead, Mike’s unconscious, and Mark went…somewhere or died, I don’t know.  They’re all gunning down Joe, but we know Ryan won’t kill him because he can’t just play vigilante anymore.  He doesn’t, they call the police to come take him.  This is partially satisfying, and partially just really stupid.  It’s actual character development for Ryan, so I applaud them for that, but it also just means Joe will break out and repeat the events of Season One next season. 

Ryan and Claire part ways, Mike and Max kiss, and Ryan and Joe have a final goodbye(but really, we know that won’t be the case).  Purefoy has given a great performance tonight, I’ve mentioned before how for a while it seemed he was phoning it in a bit(who wouldn’t though given the source material), but he really killed it tonight.  Ryan returns home, and Mark gets in the car with an unknown person and drives off for Season Three. 

So ends Season Two of the “Following”.  This was actually a lot more fun than what came before it.  Still “The Following” is still “The Following”, I’m unsure whether I’ll continue to hate watch the show next year.  In one way this finale was a return to form for the show, stupid campy fun, but that doesn’t excuse how joyless and uninteresting the rest of this season has been.  I’m not certain what I’ll do with this show next year(next year is official, it got renewed weeks ago), but I’ve got time to think about it.  I’ll at least review the premiere of next year.  This show could be so much more than it is, “Bates Motel”(I’m going to review the finale of that show) and “American Horror Story” prove that camp and crazy can on occasions go well together.  At one point back in Season One I thought the show could potentially turn into something decent, I know better now.  Hey at least “24” is back next week!  The “Following” is graded on a curve…

EPISODE GRADE(CURVED): B-

SEASON GRADE:  D+

 

 

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten #2 “New Rules Part Two” MAJOR SPOILERS/REVIEW: Cleaning House

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW…

Did she just call me old?

So it seems Buffy Summers, so it seems. So far “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s” tenth season is off to a great start, this issue isn’t as exciting as the previous but the brilliant quips and dialogue, and the return of yet another character make this a really fun read. This issue is really a setup issue, and kind of cleans house with the Season Nine characters, this is a new era of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and I say long live it!

Last issue’s cliffhanger is brushed off kind of quickly, but we get some really great interactions out of the fallout. The Kennedy/Willow reunion was kind of nice, I’m one of those like two fans who actually likes Kennedy as a character(her relationship with Willow was kind of hit or miss for me, but she was one of the few competent potentials alongside Vi and the one really badass girl from “Freaks and Geeks”), their interaction was pretty amusing. There was also a bit more mild Spike/Faith flirtation which I really like, I’m not sure I’d want to see the two actually go at it, but I really like the way Christos writes their banter. The group’s reunion with Giles was very sweet, and it was nice seeing bitchy Giles again(Rebekah got his bitch face down perfect on the new young Giles)

I don’t think I can fully express my love for the dialogue in words. Christos just gets the characters so much, as far back as the beginning of “Angel & Faith” he’s just mastered everyone’s voice. That combined with Rebekah’s beautiful amazing art gives us the closest experience to watching new episodes of the show we can get. Rebekah’s Xander is particularly great, as is her Anya, the only character she doesn’t completely master is Dawn.

Anya’s return is particularly my favorite addition to the season. The shipper in me is still holding out for a Xanya reunion, they were always my favorite couple on the show, and it’s great that in the afterlife Anya can finally give Xander some well deserved shit over him leaving her at the alter. That’s one of the things the television series that irked me, was that everyone just kind of went “eh, Anya’s a bitch who cares?” when he left her at the alter. No one really called him out on what a dick move that was.

Aside from the amazing character interactions this issue is light on plot, the Vampyr getting re-written with new rules as the world changes is an interesting premise, but aside from that and bringing back Dracula, this issue was very light on plot. That’s excusable though considering this is the second issue, and they’re just starting to set up big things for the series. The return of Dracula was a very exciting development, and I’m really excited to see what that’s leading to. Also, how great was that “…Master.” at the very end?

QUOTES
I’m so glad this new edition kept that fortune-cookie writing style. You don’t mess with the basics.”
“I am Rupert Giles, young man. The last of the watchers’ council. And you, sir are no watcher”
“Gee, that must be horrible, the person you love deciding they don’t want to be with you anymore. And could there be a worse time and place to tell someone than this…? Wait. Yes.”
OVERALL
This was a solid issue, a little uneventful but it sure was a lot of fun.
GRADE: B+ 87%

Arrow “Seeing Red” Review/MAJOR SPOILERS: Mommy Issues

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW…

“Arrow” as of late has been making me feel like a Lucille Bluth in a Gene Parmesan store.  I mean when did this show get so fucking deliciously good?  I feel like “Arrow” season two is in many ways comparable to “Buffy” season two(not as good though), the writers have worked out the slip ups from the first season, turned a beloved character into a raging monster, and has just been really consistently great.  So if “Arrow” season two is “Buffy” season two, then tonight’s episode is “Passion”.  The moment where shit hits the fan, and the writers finally show what they’re capable of(killing a beloved character, which I guess “Arrow” already did with poor Tommy…we miss you Tommy).  

Susana Thompson gives an excellent final performance(though let’s be real she’ll probably be back as a hallucination or something later on), and I have to say she looked damn good doing it(was it me or did she look super hot in those flashbacks?).  I was really satisfied with the way her and Oliver finally reconciled, and then came that gut punch of an ending.  Any chance that Slade might ever be redeemed seems lost, though I suppose I thought the same of Angel back when I watched Buffy and yet I still ship Bangel(hey a review of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten” #2 will be up tomorrow!).  We love you Susana Thompson, you played Moira in so many different ways over the course of the last two seasons and each way you did you killed it(I recently saw the episode of “Law and Order: SVU” she was on and she was great in that too.). 

I also have to give Stephan Amell some props.   I’ll be honest, I’ve always kind of been a bit skeptical of his casting(especially in Season One, where his acting was…well less than good), but damn has he been fucking killing it these last few episodes(yes I say killing it a lot).  That final scene, all of his scenes tonight really, he took what he was given and ran with it.  So good job Stephan Amell you’ve made me a fan.  Poor Laurel though, she got one scene and it was a flashback(I like Katie Cassidy, and I’m a bit of a Laurel sympathizer, though I 100% blame her for the death of Tommy for being a fucking idiot and running into save papers while her office building was on fire and there was an earthquake going on). 

Black Canary has realized that she’s a killer and goes to have a meeting with an old friend(who is most definitely Nyssa, who’s supposed to show up again this season).  I really like Caity Lotz, and I fear for why she isn’t a series regular.  The whole Roy plot fell a little flat, it just wasn’t all that interesting when it just kind of felt like a retread of the Helena story a few episodes, but I totally see why it was necessary because of the Slade parallel.  The show also needs some more Sin, I really like her and her relationship with Thea is more interesting than her relationship with Roy. 

Overall, this was a great episode.  Moira’s death hurt bad, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here.  The Roy plot may have felt a bit like a retread but I see why it was necessary.  The next two episodes look epic, long live “Arrow”!

GRADE:  A 94%

 

The Walking Dead Issue 126 “All Out War Finale” Review/MAJOR SPOILERS: Kirkman Stumbles Over the Finish Line

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW

“All Out War” is finally over.  The heroes have won, Negan’s been imprisoned by Rick, and Dwight has taken control over Negan’s group and promises to make things better.  I’m actually pretty happy that there were no major deaths, and it’s nice that Negan is still out there, but unfortunately that doesn’t excuse the sloppy writing and poor dialogue.  The ultimate conclusion of the war was extremely rushed and awkward, and it just overall wasn’t a very satisfying conclusion to a generally pretty entertaining story arc.

The finale of “All Out War” had me flashing back to the finale of Season Three of the television show, I feel like the ideas were all there to make it a good ending, but the execution itself was just very sloppy(Oh Andrea, she has staring contests with Milton in heaven now, that stupid, stupid girl).  The final fight between Rick and Negan is superbly conveyed by Charlie Adlard, who has been killing it issue by issue despite the limited time he has to do the work with the bi-weekly schedule.  He does a great job of conveying that “Oh fuck” look on Negan’s face, and I also enjoyed the way he drew Rick’s face in that panel where he’s telling that one dude to save Negan’s life. 

The dialogue is really bad, it’s all just very stiff and robotic, which is surprising because even with the most absurd storylines Kirkman usually still manages to show off some great dialogue.  That scene where Carl goes to kill Negan and Rick persuades him against it was ridiculous, it takes about half a panel till Carl’s just says “Okay.” and decides not to do it.  I was getting a very Andrew Lincoln-y vibe off of Rick in this issue, one has to wonder if this is intentional and Lincoln has inspired the way Kirkman’s writing Rick here. 

There isn’t enough Ninja Jesus in here either, I hope that he starts to get some more focus because he really is my favorite character, no doubt.  Maggie has a nice little scene where she agrees that Glenn would like keeping Negan alive, even if it did feel a bit convenient.  Rick’s final “You’re fucked” to Negan was one of the few satisfying parts of the issue, it was a perfect way to end the issue. 

Overall, the finale was incredibly disappointing.  Kirkman’s heart was in the right place, but the issue itself was poorly done, and felt rushed.  Still I’m excited to see what next issue has in store, as there seems to be some sort of time jump taking place.  So yeah.

ISSUE GRADE:  C 75%

STORY ARC GRADE:  B- 83%

+NEGAN LIVES

+ JESUS LIVES

+ CHARLIE ADLARD

+ SOME OF THE IDEAS WEREN’T HORRIBLE BUT…

CONS

-…MOST OF THE EXECUTION WAS

 

The Neighbors Season Two Finale Review: Wonderfully Meta and Hopeful Send Off For One of TV’s Most Underrated Comedies

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW…

Quick catch up those two Tim Allen fans who accidentally tuned in.

So Season Two is over, there is no official renewal news yet, and the chances of renewal are looking bleak, but the finale provides a lot of hope that the quirky family comedy will return for a third season(“I’ve heard whispers of ABC Family”).  If this is the series end, it was a perfectly executed fitting end, but it also plants some seeds for a third season(and even cuts the budgets by sending off all of the other aliens on a bus…err space ship).  I’ve made my love for this series pretty clear, and I will probably be stuck in a pit of despair if ABC decides to cancel it.  C’mon ABC renew “The Neighbors” you know you want to!

The show continues it self referential meta-humor, and it really works.  Jami Gertz’s “The things that have come out of my mouth this season”, the whole final scene, the show sprinkles just enough of the humor to make it funny but not overdo it.  The episode is a lot of fun with talking Ginger Bread Men, male alien pregnancies, and some excellent sass by George Takei(“What hole will it even come out of?”).  Amber killed it this week when she was confronted by her parents about the pregnancy test(“The farthest I’ve ever gone is…”  “NO!  NO!  WE DON’T WANNA KNOW!”). 

DJ Jazzy Jeff leads the aliens back into space, leaving a pregnant Larry Byrd feeling alone.  Luckily it’s then that the family(including the Weavers) decide to come together, Reggie would go bald and poop for Amber but the two decide that’s not the best route to go down, and Dick doesn’t need to go to Harvard just to become some “Simpsons” writer(though according to Larry Byrd and Jackie his spec script is excellent, which made me crack up quite a bit).  Larry Byrd isn’t sure what next year will look like, but the writers of the show place a lot of hope that the show will return for a third season(I’ve read the ABC CEO or whatever is a big fan of the show, so cross your fingers). 

Overall, this was a perfect finale.  Whether it be a season finale or a series finale, it was excellent.  I hope to God “The Neighbors” returns next year.  The writers and cast wrapped up the season beautifully, and one can only hope that we can see more of these strange quirky families(and DJ and Steve from “Full House”?) next year.  

GRADE:  A+++ 100%

Let’s Watch “Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated” Season Two Episodes 1-3 Review/MAJOR SPOILERS: Dark, Funny, and Surprisingly Suspenseful

MAJOR SPOILERS

I love Scooby Doo, always have, always will.  The original series will always have a place in my heart, but when Cartoon Network rebooted the series in 2012, I fell absolutely in love.  The series added a serial element to the show having overarching storylines and mysteries, the humor was much smarter than typical cartoons these days, and it got really, really dark.  The first season had one of the darkest endings of a cartoon season I’ve ever seen, but when the show returned for it’s second season I missed out.  Cartoon Network came up with the brilliant idea to air two episodes of the show each night for like two weeks, and ultimately I couldn’t keep up and fell off the show.  While looking for something to watch on Netflix today after losing “24” and growing incredibly bored with “United States of Tara” I came upon the show once again.  I then binge watched four of the episodes, and realized that it might be interesting to blog about it. 

Season Two, Episode One “The Night the Clown Cried”

Who were you expecting?  Rorschach?

The second season opens with the reformation of the gang following the breakup at the end of Season One.  Freddie’s become a hermit, Scooby’s been imprisoned within a prison like farm, Daphne’s moved on from the gang, while Velma finds herself unable to move on from her days of mystery solving. The scene where Scooby escapes from the farm and get’s chased by the gun toting red neck farmer had me flashing back to “Hannibal”.

The Crybaby Clown is an absurdly awesome foe and Mark Hamill does a kickass job. The idea of a giant robot baby clown riding on a motorcycle destroying everything in his path probably sounds ridiculous, and that’s because it totally is. The show’s villains are a ton of fun to watch, you can tell the writers have a lot of fun brainstorming the “monsters”. One of the best moments of the episode is the final one, when despite flawless planning by Fred, the trap falls apart and the gang realizes without Daphne they can’t properly function as a team. It was just such a strange end to an episode, there is a massive explosion, the town is flooded with lava, and the monster is free. The storyline itself doesn’t even get resolved till a few episodes later, this show is incredibly fun, but it really shines when it showcases how bleak the town of Crystal Cove is.
GRADE: A- 93%
THE HOUSE OF THE NIGHTMARE WITCH

The episode has a really fun opener with Velma and Marcy/Hot Dog Water in robot suites going on a mission for Mr. E(yes, there is a character named Mr. E. and he’s really badass). Marcy(Linda Cardellini! I’ll be honest I loved the original live action “Scooby Doo” movie, it’s been years since I last saw it so maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I remember this lovely deleted scene on VHS where Linda Cardellini sang a seemingly drunk rendition of “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” to either Fred or Daphne(or both? It was a bit vague). It’s a really fun scene, it’s on Youtube you should look it up. Anyways I love Linda Cardellini(Freaks and Geeks RIP) and it’s great to have her here) is an excellent addition to the cast. It took me approximately five seconds to get the whole lesbian subtext feel. I really love the Velma/Marcy dynamic and I hope that as the season goes on she’ll get more focus.

The overall plot of this episode is a bit weak though aside from the epic Mr. E subplot. The whole walking house plus evil Russians plot could have been a lot of fun, but it’s kind of really rushed through. The episode was a good one, but the reveal that the Russian guy himself was the one behind the house felt a bit rushed.
GRADE: B 85%
THE NIGHT THE CLOWN CRIED PART II

“The Night the Clown Cried Part II” added some closure to the premiere’s cliffhanger with the Crybaby Clown mystery, and brings the gang back together…sort of. The episode was perfect, it was funny(Baylor’s extremely convoluted reasoning behind the kidnappings made he chuckle a bit), dark, and ends on a crazy cliffhanger. The reveal that Baylor was the Crybaby Clown may have been a bit silly and convenient but that didn’t make it any less hilarious.

It’s sad to see Marcy depart the gang though(do they really have that strict of a six person membership limit? I mean what about Scrappy). I really love Cassidy and it’s great to see her back, and that cliffhanger with Fred’s parents returning to town, oh shit. I’m happy they aren’t throwing Fred and Daphne right back into a relationship, as to be completely honest I don’t really ship Fraphne that much(I can’t believe I’m talking about shipping on a Cartoon Network show).
GRADE: A 95%

So folks that’s the first three episodes of Season Two. Depending on the reaction to this post I hope to review the rest of the season. You should definitely check the show out if you haven’t yet, I promise you it won’t disappoint. It’s what cartoons should be, it’s entertaining for everyone, and it isn’t just dumbed down action to sell action figures. The idea of these reviews is to get people to watch or rewatch and discuss the episodes.

FX’s Fargo Premiere Review/MAJOR SPOILERS: There Are No Rules

MAJOR SPOILERS…

Here’s a fun game idea, pick a celebrity(any will do, but they can’t be on this show), now go through the cast of “Fargo” and see how long it takes to get to that celebrity through IMDB or Wikipedia.  Like the Wikipedia game or the TV Tropes game.  Seriously though, the cast for this show is just f*cking fantastic.  Billy Bob Thorton, Bob Odenkirk, Keith Carradine(finally his name is attached to a show that’s actually good, I’m looking at you “Following”), Martin Freeman, and a brand new find in Allison Tolman(we’ll talk about her in a little bit, but in short she was fantastic).  “The Crocodile’s Dilemma” is an absurdly dark, visually striking, and fun opener, that juggles these aspects perfectly. 

“Fargo” is a gorgeous show, right up there with “Hannibal” in terms of ambitious visual and directorial risks.  The setting gives the show a unique feel that most crime/mystery/cop shows don’t have, the  Midwestern rural setting sets it apart from the majority of cop dramas out there.  The sets and town landscape are a visual masterpiece, and it’s great to see someplace other than Los Angeles or Vancouver on TV.  “Fargo” is a very visual show, much of the show’s humor comes from visual comedy, and it really works.  Visual comedy is a hard thing to do, because it can be very easy to miss, or worse just not that funny.  This show does an excellent job with it, the scene where the guy gets stabbed while having sex with the stripper was hilarious(also the deer scene at the beginning got a chuckle out of me). 

The cast as mentioned before is great.  Allison Tolman’s character doesn’t get a whole lot to do in this premiere, but what she does, she goes all out on.  The scene at the very end with her bringing the paint buckets to her partners wife was wonderful, and I’m excited to see more of her as the series progresses.  Oh and Billy Bob Thorton, Jesus can that man act.  He’s f*cking excellent here, his dry wit, and edginess makes him a very compelling anti-villain(he’s pretty strictly evil, but he’s just so darn likable doing it).  I’m unfamiliar with Martin Freeman’s work for the most part as I haven’t watched “Sherlock”, but his facial expressions are wonderful, and that “Aww Jeez” after he hammers his wife to death was great(just writing that made me chuckle a bit, he killed that scene).  It’s always nice to see Bob Odenkirk(how weird is it seeing him play such a scaredy cat?  I’ve been rewatching “Weeds” and he shows up in that too playing a very Saul-esque character.  He’s great at playing skeezball characters, but it’s nice to see him playing something different)

The episode hits all the right marks.  It makes you feel something, it makes you laugh, and it occasionally makes you a bit uncomfortable(the scene where the wife has her face smashed in with a hammer).  “The Crocodiles Dilemma” is an excellent opener.  I have to say at once point I was starting to think that Billy Bob Thorton might be a hallucination, but that final scene with Colin Hanks seems to rule that out(though he’s been known to hallucinate at times, WHORE!  Tableaus, tableaus, tableaus, mother*cking tableaus whores.  Sorry I couldn’t help but make a “Dexter” season six joke, Season Eight was bad but Six…oh man). 

Overall, this was a lovely premiere.  There isn’t a weak link in the cast(Season Six of “Dexter” wasn’t Colin Hanks fault), and if the series continues on this route it could be a real gem. 

GRADE:  A- 92%