Category Archives: TV

Review: Luke Cage Season 1

luke-cage-s1-posterLuke Cage (Season 1) (2016)

Netflix / TVMA

Action / Crime / Drama

Starring: Mike Colter, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi

Creator: Cheo Hodari Coker


He just wanted to be left alone, but the city needed a hero.  That’s one of the things I love about Netflix’s host of Marvel TV shows.  The featured superheroes, or vigilantes as some might say, never revel in the spotlight that is thrust on them.  They never bask in the glow of praise (or hate) that gets thrown their way.  They just do what they feel is necessary.  They get the job down because it’s the right thing to do.  Luke Cage, the star of Marvels’ Luke Cage, was just the neighborhood guy, hanging out at Pop’s barber shop in Harlem.  However, after his name gets tarnished he needs to fight to clear his name and save his neighborhood.

luke-cage-s1-1
via gamers.vg

Some superheroes wear capes; others wear hoodies full of bullet holes.  The one thing that Luke Cage absolutely nails, among other things, is its titular hero.  We got a taste of Mike Colter’s Luke Cage in Netflix’s other series Jessica Jones, but this time around he’s front and center.  He’s an ex-con who literally just wants to be left alone.  He’s the neighborhood guy that everybody loves.  He also has superhuman strength and durability, which comes in handy more times than not.  The show doesn’t waste any time in showing you that Luke’s bulletproof.  I was going to count how many hoodies he lost because of bullet holes…but I quickly lost count.  Colter brings a toughness to the role that I really like.  He also does a good job at portraying a man who has a lot of demons, demons he wrestles with all season.  Luke’s a complex character, one that ever so relatable.  As a white male, I would be lying to you if I told you that I related to Luke Cage, but there is a massive demographic of young black males that will quickly identify with Luke’s character, especially in light of the events in current society.  This isn’t by accident either.

Another aspect that show creator Cheo Hodari Coker nails is the story, full of great supporting characters as well as villains.  Like all of Marvel’s Netflix shows, the story stays grounded in Harlem, a city full of gangbanging and corruption.  One of the neighborhoods’ biggest players is Cornell Stokes (Mahershala Ali) who goes by the name of ‘Cottonmouth.’  I absolutely adored Ali’s performance as the classy gangster hungry for power.  Nothing made me giddier than the show’s iconic scene that has Cottonmouth demonstrating his power in front of a portrait of late rapper Biggie Smalls.  It’s a great example of the show’s fantastic cinematography.  Cottonmouth’s not the only player in Harlem though.  There’s also councilwoman Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) and Herman “Shades” Alvarez (Theo Rossi).  Both give great performances, along with some other villains that I won’t mention in fear of spoilers.

luke-cage-s1-2
via News Times

But who’s on Luke Cage’s side?  At first, Luke’s relationship with Harlem detective Misty Knight (Simone Missick) is a rough, but the two slowly warm up to each other as the season moves on.  They both are in search of justice and want to make sure that it’s found, no matter the cost.  It’s also refreshing to see Rosario Dawson get substantial screen time as Claire Temple, a good friend of Luke’s.  We have seen Dawson in both Daredevil and Jessica Jones as Claire, but only in smaller, more supportive roles.  This time she’s a prime part of the story, helping Luke find answers and seek justice in any way that she can.  She has experience tending to heroes like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, which makes her a qualified sidekick on Luke’s quest for vengeance.

The first couple of episodes chug along at a slower pace, but the story quickly picks up at a faster and more thrilling pace.  Although the main focus is Luke’s quest to avenge Pop’s (Frankie Faison) death, we also see bit and pieces of Luke’s past as an ex-con and how he became the superhuman that he is now.  I think these bits of backstory are neatly framed within the context of the story and they never feel too egregious.  They also play a big part in developing the characters and their motivations in the story.  Even though I enjoyed the show’s story a great deal, it was still lacking a thing that all good stories need: conflict, which might seem silly when you see Luke Cage fighting his way through gangsters and taking bullets like hunting target.  “Of course there’s conflict, what are you talking about!?”  Sure, there’s a surface level conflict, but I never felt like Luke was ever in real danger at any point during the course of the season.  There’s clever ways that the plot tries to build roadblocks in Luke’s mission, but I always knew in the back of my head that Luke was going to be just fine.  That’s the problem when you have a character that is, literally, bulletproof.  There were, of course, an abundance of thrills but these thrills were the byproduct of well-choreographed fight scenes and action moments…never the byproduct of conflict.

luke-cage-s1-3
via Digital Trends

Let’s circle back to a positive aspect of my time with Luke Cage and that is the show’s production and style.  Everything from the imagery to the show’s amazing soundtrack play a big role in putting you in the city streets of Harlem.  I already mentioned it previously, but the scene including Biggie’s portrait is a perfect example of the show really embracing Harlem’s culture.  There’s also the soundtrack, which is heavily influenced by old-school rap.  It even boils down to the show’s episode titles, all of which are references to the classic rap duo Gang Starr.  The show’s creators really understood the culture and setting that they were working with and hit a hole-in-one in terms of Harlem’s look and feel.  It did a great job at placing you in the beating heart of Harlem’s neighborhood.

If I had to rank Marvel’s Netflix shows as of right now, I would probably put Luke Cage above Jessica Jones but below Daredevil.  Regardless of its place among its sister shows, Luke Cage still excels on its own.  There’s a few blemishes, specifically with the conflict for a near-invincible vigilante, but the story delivers a wonderful cast of characters placed in the beautifully painted depiction of Harlem.  Ever since I saw Mike Colter’s Luke Cage in Jessica Jones I knew I wanted a full-on show devoted to the character, and Luke Cage delivers and succeeds in its mission.  But seriously, Luke really needs to buy some higher-grade hoodies.  Don’t they sell bullet-proof hoodies?

luke-cage-s1-score

Advertisements

Review: BoJack Horseman Season 3

bojack s3 poster
via iMDB

BoJack Horseman (Season 3) (2016)

Netflix / TVMA

Animation / Comedy / Drama

Starring: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie

Creator: Raphael Bob-Waksberg


I was already in love with Netflix’s BoJack Horseman after its first two seasons, but lo and behold, the show’s third season made me love the show even more.  I didn’t think it was possible.  The show manages to stay fresh while delivering its trademark dark and dry humor.  It’s a show that’s brutally honest and bend over backwards hilarious.  It also isn’t afraid to get real…super real.  (You already got a taste of this towards the latter half of season two) Show creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg has a true bona-fide hit on his hand and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be slowing down any time soon.

bojack s3 1
via Webthieunhi

This season we have the post-Secretariat aftermath that BoJack (Will Arnett) has to maneuver himself through.  If you’ve been keeping track, the show has pretty much taken us through the gauntlet of what it’s like to be an actor in Hollywood.  The show’s first season portrayed the trials and tribulations of being an old washed-up actor while season two dove head first into the world of filming a movie.  This season, we get to watch as BoJack deals with press junkets, award shows, and the brunt of execs who want to throw script after script at him because he’s made it big with Secretariat.  In true BoJack fashion, he seems to be handling everything well (relatively, of course) but then things take a turn for the worse as friendships get tested and tried.  Remember when I said this show isn’t afraid to get real?  Yeah…this show gets pretty sobering in the later episodes.  BoJack might have approached his lowest point yet.  That says something, especially considering the fact that last season he was caught in a yacht with a teenage girl on prom night.  Just watch season two to see for yourself…

All your favorite characters, both big and small, make it back for season three.  BoJack’s feline agent, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), is facing some hard times with her new agency and she starts to question herself as well as others.  She even finds new love.  Diane (Alison Brie), one of BoJack’s best friends, is helping him with his social media outlets, among other things.  Her and Mr. Peanutbutter’s (Paul F. Tompkins) relationship is tested once again as they continue to work out the kinks in their estranged marriage.  Finally, everyone’s favorite lazy roommate Todd (Aaron Paul) is…well, not so lazy this season.  He still has his fair share of wacky off-the-walls adventures, but the main portion of the season focuses on his new tech start-up, which focuses on giving woman a “safe place” in the cab industry.  Although it soon starts to evolve into some crazy directions.

bojack s3 2.jpg

There aren’t too many new characters introduced this season, besides BoJack’s publicist Ana Spanikopita, voiced by Angela Bassett.  Bassett does a great job with the character, who has to put up with BoJack’s crazy shenanigans and bloated persona.  Instead, this season mainly focuses on the character we already know and love and develops them even deeper, giving us some much appreciated backstory in the way of flashbacks.  It felt like I knew the characters even more by the end.  There’s a whole episode that’s totally devoted to each character’s backstory, which happens to be one of the best episodes of the season.

I was constantly amazed by the fresh ideas that were brought to the table over and over again this season.  The same familiar humor is still abundant and healthy, but we get some cleverly written episodes that demonstrate the show’s prowess.  There’s an episode that rewinds time back to the year 2007.  Not only do we get to see all the characters and where they were at during this time, but it’s also chock full of 2007 references.  Everything from the music to the billboards.  I was laughing out loud for the entire episode.  On the other hand, we got an episode in similar vein to the silent films of the Golden Era of Hollywood.  BoJack takes a trip under the sea for an underwater film festival, but things go south as he has to care for a newborn seahorse.  He’s unable to speak (because he’s underwater), which makes for an episode devoid of conversation but full of heart and hilarity.  Despite the lack of words, it might have been the most well-written episode of the season.

bojack s3 3.gif

It’s not often that we get TV shows that consistently nail it out of the park every single episode.  With its third season, BoJack Horseman truly makes the mark.  It’s brilliant up and down the board.  There’s lighthearted episodes mixed with some sobering episodes, all with a heavy dose of clever and relevant humor.  The writing this season is top-notch and almost all the characters elevate in terms of development.  This season’s finale is both sad and optimistic for BoJack, who goes through a whole arsenal of emotions of the course of the season.  It only got me hopeful for what is next in the already confirmed fourth season.  You know your killing it when your fourth season gets green-lit before the premiere even airs.

bojack s3 score

Review: Stranger Things

stranger things poster
via Following the Nerd

Stranger Things (2016)

Netflix / TV14

Drama / Horror / Mystery

Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard

Creators: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer


Netflix’s Stranger Things just screams 80’s nostalgia.  Literally every single corner of the show is just dripping with love for the era.  The show merges psychological thrills with horror, something that would fit perfectly in the 80s.  There’s even influence from guy like John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, and Stephen King…in more ways than one.  In its concise eight-episode season, Stranger Things manages to layer on depth with every episode, delivering one of the most intriguing and mysterious stories of the year.

stranger things 1
via Dread Central

Mystery begins upon the disappearance of a boy named Will (Noah Schnapp) after a night of Dungeon and Dragons with his friends.  His friends, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) are a group of AV-club misfits that gave me strong Goonies vibes.  After the disappearance of her son Will, Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) starts to go mad, calling upon the help of town sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour) to help investigate the strange disappearance.  It’s only a matter of time before shady government agencies and supernatural events start to make an appearance, cementing the fact that something deeper and more nefarious is taking ahold of the peaceful town.

Making matters more interesting, the boys stumble upon a peculiar girl, simply named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), who seems to be the answer to everything that has been occurring.  She’s scared and keeps to herself, but her powers go beyond all understanding.  Her background is something of an enigma.  Over the course of the show we get flashbacks to her past which involves a lot of lab experiments and a dark past.

stranger things 2
via IGN

The best part about Stranger Things is the layered story that it piles on every step of the way.  The premiere episode is crazy by itself, but things take a plunge with each episode, whether it’s a new reveal or element key to the events taking place.  The show goes places, for better or worse.  Overall, the show does a good job at delivering a thrilling story but some of the supernatural elements are left out to dry with little explanation.  The various characters give some convoluted clarifications towards the latter half of the story, but they don’t always feel satisfying.  When I say the show goes places, it goes places.  Sometimes you just have to suspend disbelief in order to fully enjoy the story.  Despite this, the events wrap up brilliantly, yielding a satisfying conclusion, albeit a little predictable.

Winona Ryder is by far the stand out performance here.  She plays a distressed mom that is crazy about finding her lost son.  She starts off just like any other worried mom but as time goes on she plunges down a dark road of hysteria that involves talking to Christmas lights and putting holes through walls.  It’s not a good look, but Ryder does a fantastic job at portraying all of these emotions.  There’s also David Harbour’s performance as Sheriff Hopper.  At first I wasn’t sold as he seemed like he didn’t really want to apart of what was happening, but when we discover his backstory, things start to fall into place his performance gets better with time.  Even the child actors did a good job with their roles.  With child actors, their performances can be hit or miss, but Bobby Brown, Wolfhard, Matarazzo, McLaughlin, and even Schnapp did really well.  It’s also worth mentioning that Mike’s sister Nancy (Natalia Dyer), her boyfriend Steve (Joe Keery), and Will’s brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) all did fine jobs as well.

stranger things 3
via Dread Central

The presentation elements of the show are what make Stranger Things so appealing.  As I mentioned before, there’s a lot of nostalgia elements that give the show 80’s flair.  The title screen is an obvious callback to Steven King’s novels, mimicking the same font and look of any of his titles.  Jaws movie posters adorn the walls and songs like Toto’s “Africa” play in the background.  Speaking of music, the show’s soundtrack is on point, all the time.  The music is super synthy and the unnerving audio cues amp up the thrills.  Stranger Things is an example of perfect sound design.  Even the visual effects feel like they’re fresh out of the 80’s, which is good and bad.  The monster animations are cheesy and strobe lights apparently mask some of the effects-heavy scenes.  Perhaps it adds to the show’s character, but the effects feel out of place and kind of lazy in 2016.

What we have with Stranger Things is a love letter to shows of its ilk.  The 80’s influence is real and ever present.  The Duffer Brothers, directors of the show, have a great piece of television on their hands.  There’s already been a lot of talk surrounding the show, which makes a second season a good possibility.  I’m all for another trip back into Stranger Things but I don’t want the show to carry on past three seasons at most.  There’s value to shorter and more concise TV shows that tell one-off stories.  Stranger Things, which might be my favorite show of the year so far, has me dying to see more.

stranger things score

Review: Love Season 1

love season 1
via Melty

Love (Season 1) (2016)

Netflix / TVMA

Comedy / Romance

Starring: Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Claudia O’Doherty

Creators: Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Paul Rust


Your telling me there’s another show about love?  Another show about the trials and tribulations that relationships bring with them?  I guess it’s not that surprising when you think about it.  The topic of love is a subject that has been tackled time and time again.  It’s certainly not an original theme.  Teaming up with Netflix, Judd Apatow has put out a new comedic show about the journey of love, appropriately titled Love.  So far nothing about this show sounds original…but Apatow finds another angle that makes the show a little refreshing.

love s1 1
via Beauty Slides

Love is the story of two star-crossed lovers who seem like the unlikely couple at the onset.  Mickey, played by Gillian Jacobs, is a rambunctious and loud girl who works for a radio show.  She’s an alcoholic and a sex addict who has her fair share of boy problems.  On the other hand, we have the timid and geeky Gus, played by Paul Rust, who works as a tutor at a big name television studio.  The two couldn’t be any more different but after a chance acquaintance at a gas station convenience store, the two being the long road to love.

Topics like first dates, ex-lovers, awkward parties, and sex are all covered over the course of the ten-episode series.  As I’ve mentioned before, there is nothing original about Love’s subject matter, not even the name.  Series creator Judd Apatow, the guy behind other hit comedies like Bridesmaids, Knocked Up, and Girls, manages to change things up and gives the concept of love a different perspective.  Mickey and Gus have different views on the subject of love and their outlooks on the crazy rollercoaster of romance are what make the series interesting and different from the rest.  Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely moments where I was like, “okay, this has been done before,” but the show managed to stay fresh a lot more than I initially thought.

love s1 2

The first half of the season acts as a character study, examining Mickey and Gus and the type of people that they are.  These kinds of episodes happen a lot over the course of the season.  There’s even an episode that revolves around the two’s days at work and the kind of madness surrounding their respective workplaces.  Weird creepy bosses and dramatic Hollywood actresses, you know, normal fare.  Admittedly the show gets off to a slow start but begins to pick up when the two start to get into a more serious relationship.  As things intensify between the two, things get a lot more interesting.  The last couple of episodes were not only full of hilarious situations, but serious drama as well.  I wasn’t expecting the show to get as serious as it got…but there’s an interesting story to tell behind Love’s comedic exterior.

Judd Apatow has put out a show that gives a funny view of love, but also a sobering one.  Love isn’t perfect in its execution but it’s a fun show with some really likable characters.  I haven’t even mentioned Mickey’s roommate Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty) who was actually one of my favorite parts of the show.  The show gives us a stunningly accurate depiction of love, one that is instantly relatable to anyone who has had a bout with love.  Love is a fun little show, one that I was not expecting to enjoy.  The show has already been renewed for another season, so we’ll see where Apatow goes with this comedy.  Also, how many times have I said “love” during this review.  It almost sounds silly at this point.  Love love love.  By the way…..love.  Okay, I’m done now.

love s1 score

Review: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 2

unbreakable kimmy s2 poster
via Christian Post

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 2) (2016)

Netflix / TV-14

Comedy

Starring: Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski, Tituss Burgess

Creators: Tina Fey, Robert Carlock


Kimmy Schmidt is finally starting to get adjusted to her new life above ground in the big apple.  She overcame all of life challenges that it threw at her with a cheery smile and a witty 90’s reference or two.  She even managed to win the trial against the Reverend, the man who kept her contained underground as part of his cult.  The “mole-woman” tag is starting to fade away as she starts to put those days behind her.  However, life is full of obstacles and there is still a lot that Kimmy has to learn.  This is where season two of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix’s hit comedy show from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, picks up.

unbreakable kimmy s2 1
via Splitsider

Last season, Ellie Kemper brought the bright and quirky character of Kimmy Schmidt to life and she returns with another knockout performance.  Think of her as an eccentric 90’s girl-meets-world.  She’s getting adjusted to her new life quite well but there is still a lot that she has to tackle.  In fact, each episode is still framed in a way that signifies what challenge she has to overcome.  Sometimes these tasks range from the mundane (giving up and driving a car) to the serious (finding her mom and meeting a celebrity), while some are just plain ridiculous. When Kimmy goes to a hotel with her Vietnamese love interest Dong (Ki Hong Lee), she learns a whole lot about what two lovers “do in a hotel.”

Kimmy Schmidt still centers around its titular character, but the returning cast is what brings the show together.  Everybody’s favorite from last season, the loud Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), is back and he’s better than ever.  His pinnacle moment last season was his brilliant ode to Pinot Noir and this season he returns with more song and dance.  He is also in a new relationship with a construction worker named Mikey, which brings its fair share of ups and downs as well.  We also see the return of the rich and glitzy Jacqueline Voorhees, played by Jane Krakowski.  She fresh off her divorce from her rich husband and back from her Native American vision quest, which means she’s back in New York City with the mission of getting her life back in order.  She definitely can’t do it alone so she entrusts the help of Kimmy as her personal life assistant.

unbreakable kimmy s2 2
via IB Times

Perhaps one of the best parts about this season is the emergence of a returning character and the introduction of a new one.  People probably remember Kimmy and Titus’ landlord Lillian (Carol Kane) from last season.  She was off her rocker and was never afraid to do her own thing.  We didn’t see enough of her crazy antics last season.  She’s back this season and she gets a lot more screen time as she aims to fight gentrification in the rough neighborhood that her and the gang live in.  We also get introduced to Andrea Bayden, played by Tina Fey, a psychologist who meets up with Kimmy during a drunk Uber call.  (Yep, Kimmy now moonlights as an Uber driver this season) We saw Tina Fey in a minor role last season but she plays a bigger part this season, one that brings along its fair share of hilarious moments.  Nothing can possibly go wrong when Kimmy takes advice from a drunk psychologist, right?

Pop culture references of the 90s variety are still as prominent as ever this season, which was one of the best parts about the show.  Kimmy is still stuck in her 90s world and she never lets you forget that.  Everything from the Ninja Turtles (who Kimmy still can’t believe are a thing) to Seinfeld to Nickelodeon make appearances through the many different references sprinkled throughout.  The show still remains super quotable as well, especially when a character like Titus is on the show. (“I’m not the one who assumed all gay people know how to arrange flowers. Why don’t you do some prop comedy, Carrot Top?” Titus says to Kimmy during a party set-up)

unbreakable kimmy s2 3
via Dork Shelf

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s second season goes places and still retains its status as one of Netflix’s biggest crowd-pleasers.  It’s a show that will make you smile in more ways than one.  (The show’s addicting theme song returns, which is a reason to smile in itself) The minor problems from last season, like the abundance of blatant stereotypes, still linger but they are getting better.  The show’s sophomore season is just as good, if not better, than last season.  All the episodes are on Netflix right now, available to binge, so what are you waiting for?

unbreakable kimmy s2 score

Review: Daredevil Season 2

daredevil s2 posterDaredevil (Season 2) (2016)

Netflix / TVMA

Action / Crime / Drama

Starring: Charlie Cox, Jon Bernthal, Deborah Ann Woll

Creator: Drew Goddard


Morality seems to be a hot button topic in superhero movies and TV these days.  This weekend was the debut of Batman v Superman, which focuses heavily on the actions of Superman and whether they are warranted or not.  We also have the impending release of Captain America: Civil War, which looks to put the Avengers in check for their destruction that they construct around them.  The intentions are always good behind a superhero’s actions, but you have to consider the innocent that get caught in the crossfire.  A different type of morality is at the center of Marvel and Netflix’s second season of Daredevil.  This time we have another strong season that raises the question as to whether killing is warranted or not.  It’s not the most original idea, but the season shines nonetheless with a strong story and amazing cinematography.

daredevil s2 1
via Slate

Charlie Cox reprises his role as Matt Murdock, a lawyer by day and the devil of Hell’s Kitchen by night.  The other two employees of Nelson & Murdock and good friends of Matt are Foggy Nelson and Karen Page, played once again by Elden Henson and Deborah Ann Woll respectively.  The group dynamic between the three is tested this season, unlike last season.  Last season there was tension here and there but this season we have a heightened sense of mistrust and stress, thanks in part to one of the biggest cases they have ever had as a law firm.  This big case involves Frank Castle, also known as the Punisher.

The Punisher, played brilliantly by Jon Bernthal, is a cold-blooded vigilante that isn’t afraid to take the law into his own hands…by any means necessary.  He’s a killer, with the mindset that taking the bad guys off the street for good is much better than Daredevil’s methods of putting them in jail.  After things go bad for Castle, he is put on trial for his actions.  New York and Hell’s Kitchen are tired of this vigilantism that has been taking over the city.  The public wants him out of the picture, as well as Daredevil.  Morality is a key idea that is brought up time and time again as the season goes on.  The Punisher’s character is kind of boring at the beginning of the season, but he starts to become a more multi-faceted character when we start to learn about his true motives and how he got to be the person that he is.  Even though he’s dirty in his ways, he started to become a lot more likable as time went on.  His relationship with Karen is fascinating as well and makes for some tense moments.

daredevil s2 2
via Digital Trends

One new character that was consistently interesting throughout the season was Elektra, played by newcomer Elodie Yung.  As an old love interest of Murdock’s she comes back into his life and literally flips things head over heels for Murdock.  She’s equal parts elusive, sexy, and fiery, making her one of my favorite characters this season.  She also tests Murdock’s ability to balance his normal work life and vigilante life, another big theme this season.  Between the massive court case and a gang of sinister thugs posing a threat to Hell’s Kitchen, Murdock really has his work cut out for him.

One of the things that hurts the season a bit is the lack of a strong villain.  The show’s debut season had The Kingpin, who was a fantastic and dynamic villain that proved to be a true menace.  Unfortunately, we don’t get a villain like the Kingpin this season.  The first half of the season makes it seem like the Punisher is the real enemy, but then the focus switches to the people that murdered the Punisher’s family.  Then there’s a mythical group that comes into play as well.  As the season drove towards the end, it started to become confusing as to which group of bad guys posed the biggest threat.  The last couple of episodes were pretty strong with a huge dose of intensity, but I never really understood who was the primary target of Murdock.

daredevil s2 3
via Yahoo

Just like the previous season, Daredevil continues to have some of the grittiest and heart-pulsing fights that we have seen.  Last season’s “hallway fight” took the internet by storm and we get a couple more “hallway fight” scenes this season, paying homage to the original in a way that will surely please fans.  The fights are well cut and put together, graceful with a touch of style.  They were always super fun to watch and they never became boring or too thin.

There’s a lot of powerful moments in this season of Daredevil that will please fans all around.  When it comes down to the thick of it, I liked the first season just a tad more than this season, but both seasons are special in their own way.  The second season has a nice share of callbacks to the first season while taking the show in a new direction.  The season suffers a little from a sluggish start and a lack of a clear villain, but don’t let that sway you from watching the latest iteration from one of Netflix’s best shows.

daredevil s2 score

The Ups and Downs of The Passion Live

Whether your religious or not, the story of Jesus and his crucifixion on Good Friday is a story that you have probably heard at one point or another.  It’s an important story, one full of love, sacrifice, and strength.  It’s a story still relevant to us today, even though it took place almost hundreds of years ago.  As important as the story may be, there is still a large demographic of people that are not too familiar with the story of Jesus.  This was the motivation behind actor and director Tyler Perry’s live telecast, The Passion Live.  The live “musical” telecast was broadcasted Sunday night on Fox and is a more modern and contemporary retelling of the story of Jesus and his crucifixion.

the passion live 1
via The Inqusitr

Live musicals have started to become very popular in the past couple of years.  NBC was the originator of the live musical format, debuting musicals like The Sound of Music Live! and Peter Pan Live!  Fox soon followed in their footsteps with January’s Grease: Live.  The shows have attracted a large audience and their “rain or shine” live production fascinate audiences.  The decision to bring the story of Jesus to this live format has its pros and cons.  The show debuted primetime on Sunday night, which is a pretty good way of getting the story to the most amount of people.  Unfortunately, this meant that it had to compete with popular shows like The Walking Dead.  It seemed doomed from the start.  However, the telecast’s biggest draw was the feeling of curiosity.  How were they going to tell the story of Jesus in a modern fashion?  What angle where they going to take?  What kind of show is this going to be?

The Passion Live swaps out the robes and religious locations for jeans and the popular locales of New Orleans.  A large live stage was set up along the Mississippi river at Woldenburg Park.  This is where the event’s narrator, Tyler Perry, and the rest of the musicians set up shop.  There was also a number of pre-recorded segments that followed Jesus and his disciples, shot all around New Orleans.  There was also a large-scale procession carrying an illuminated cross through the streets of New Orleans, starting at Champion Square outside the Superdome and making its way to the live stage at Woldenburg Park.  They went all out in terms of production, which kind of detracted from the whole story that the show was supposed to be centered on.

the passion live 2
via The Christian Post

The big man himself, Jesus, was played by Jencarlos Canela from TV show Telenovela.  Jesus’ mother Mary was played by Trisha Yearwood, who didn’t really do too much besides sing on the main stage.  The two most important disciples in the story were Peter and Judas, played by Prince Royce and Chris Daughtry respectively.  Finally, Pontius Pilate was played by singer Seal, who had some of the most notable musical performances of the night.  The cast all in all was pretty good.  They hammed it up during their musical numbers and there wasn’t too much acting during the short pre-recorded sequences, but they tackled their roles nicely.

The musical performances were…well, the interesting part of the night.  If you were expecting gospel and church music, then you definitely did not get what you expected.  Contemporary music was the theme of the night.  Songs like Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally” and Evanescence’s “Wake Me Up” are examples of what you heard during the course of the night, because you know, Katy Perry and Evanescence are the first two artists I think about when I think of the Bible.  Seal impressed the most with performances of “We Don’t Need Another Hero” from Mad Max as well as “Mad World.”  He didn’t have too much involvement in the story up till the end, but he pretty much killed it with his two performances.  Chris Daughtry also gave some of the better performances of the night.

the passion live 3
via IB Times

If The Passion Live focused on just the performances and the actual story of Jesus and the Passion, then all would have been dandy.  Instead, there was a bunch of needless distractions muddying the waters.  Tyler Perry’s narration was a bit excessive and kind of made the show about him.  He just kept talking and talking, introducing scenes as they came about.  It’s a bad sign if the show’s scenes needed that much narration and set-up.  The scenes and the musical performances should have done the talking.  The cross walk, although good in intentions, didn’t really fit in to what the show was about.  There were pre-screened interviews along the way, with families and war veterans.  These segments were okay, but once again, it took the attention away from the main story at hand.

The Passion Live was a weird, and interesting, idea that dropped the ball in execution.  The music was top notch but the handling of the event was not.  Unlike the other live musicals that have come to TV, the story was not the main focus.  All of the outside stuff took the spotlight.  If Tyler Perry would have just centered the production on the story of Jesus, then we might have had a unique production on our hands.  Instead we got a telecast that felt like a Super Bowl halftime show instead.

the passion live 4
via IB Times

Review: Agent Carter Season 2

agent carter s2 poster
via Hey U Guys

Agent Carter (Season 2) (2016)

ABC / TV PG

Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi

Starring: Hayley Atwell, James D’Arcy, Enver Gjokaj

Creators: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely


The kick ass and take names female agent Peggy Carter takes a trip to the sunshine drenched Hollywood for the second season of Marvel’s Agent Carter.  The ABC show was an under-the-radar fan favorite during its premiere season.  The shows first outing was a short eight episode “mini” season that told a compelling story in a fun era and setting.  The show’s sophomore season, a longer ten-episode season, takes the setting to gorgeous Los Angeles where a strange and slightly terrifying case awaits the SSR agent.

agent carter s2 1
via Hit Fix

Played once again by Hayley Atwell, Peggy Carter has made a name for herself as one of the SSR’s elite agents.  After her heroics in the first season, she is a hot commodity.  After moving to the SSR’s offices in California, agent Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) gets involved in a case involving dark matter, a mysterious substance that has scary and dangerous side-effects if it comes into contact with humans.  After arriving in LA, we quickly see the effects of this substance when Roxxon scientist Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin) and Hollywood actress Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) break the container holding the substance, spilling it on themselves and causing a major chemical reaction.  The substance has differing effects on the two individuals, with Whitney receiving a deadly power that allows her to absorb any human that she comes into contact with.  This power makes her, well, power-hungry, quickly turning her into a dangerous adversary to Carter and the SSR.

Agent Carter isn’t alone in her fight however, with some familiar friends joining her side.  Everybody’s favorite, and one of the reasons why the show shines, is Howard Stark’s butler Jarvis, played brilliantly by James D’Arcy.  The show has a healthy amount of humor, with D’Arcy’s Jarvis being the main source.  He was great last season but you can tell that he has slipped into the role with ease and he rocks it.  There’s also the aforementioned Stark (Dominic Cooper), but we don’t see him too often this season.  We do however see a good bit of agent Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray), a familiar face from last season.  He’s one of the more intriguing characters, changing sides like it’s no one’s business.  He kind of throws you through a loop and you never seem to know which side he is on at a given time, which makes him fascinating.

agent carter s2 2
via Days of a Domesticated Dad

When dealing with a substance like dark matter, the story gets inheritably stupid at times, and by stupid I mean a little out of whack.  The plot lines in the first season seemed grounded and believable, but there’s a lot of science and mystical wonders that rear their head this season that make you scoff a little.  Nonetheless, the story was entertaining and kept me entertained during the course of the season, with only a few sluggish moments here and there.  That’s one of the perks of having a shorter more serialized season.  Most shows of this nature have around 22 episodes, which often translates to a couple filler episodes.  You can’t say the same for Agent Carter.  It’s consistent and it’s entertaining.

I’m having trouble picking which season of Agent Carter I enjoyed the most.  They were both great and each had their memorable moments, but I have to give the edge to the first season.  This season’s story was entertaining, sure, but the first season was a more compelling affair, with seemingly a lot more at stake.  The new sun-soaked Hollywood locales provide a nice backdrop for a fun and action-packed show that deserves more attention than it is given.  With Hayley Atwell signing onto a pilot for another ABC show, the future of Agent Carter seems a little uncertain at the moment.  However, with the way things wrapped up this season as well as the reaction from the show’s dedicated fan base, all fingers point to another season in this show’s future.  Let’s hope.

WYNN EVERETT

Review: Fuller House Season 1

fuller house poster
via Ruck Makers

Fuller House (Season 1) (2016)

Netflix / NR

Comedy / Family

Starring: Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber

Producer: Kelly Sandefur


Oh Mylanta! That’s what the internet shouted upon the announcement that the original cast of 90’s sitcom Full House would be reprising their roles in the new Netflix comedy Fuller House.  The sitcom, which cemented itself as a cultural mainstay, holds a special place in a lot of 90’s kids hearts, so when the reboot was announced (with the original cast), I was pretty excited to return to everybody’s favorite San Francisco townhouse.

fuller house 1
via Pop Shifter

Let’s first break down the cast.  Almost everyone from the original makes it on to the show, including Danny (Bob Saget), Joey (Dave Coulier), Jesse (John Stamos), Becky (Lori Loughlin), D.J. Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), Kimmy (Andrea Barber), and even Steve Hale (Scott Weinger).  Notice how the Olsen twins aren’t present on the billing?  Yep, unfortunately these two were the only main cast members to not make an appearance.  (Don’t worry, the show does a pretty good job of reminding you about that.)  There’s also some new additions in terms of the kids.  D.J. Tanner’s kids, Jackson and Max, are played by Michael Campion and Elias Harger (a big ball of energy) respectively.  Twins Dashiell and Fox Messitt play D.J.’s youngest, Tommy Fuller Jr.  Finally, the other primary character we see is Kimmy’s daughter Ramona, played (pretty well) by Soni Bringas.

If you’re from the outside looking in, you would probably expect that Danny, Joey, and Jessie would be present throughout the entirety of the series, but that doesn’t hold true.  Instead, Fuller House centers around the story of D.J., Stephanie, and Kimmy who end up inheriting the house from Danny who, along with the older crew, are moving out and doing their own things.  (Don’t worry, the likes of Danny, Joey, Jesse, and Becky make sprinkled appearances here and there!) The majority of the story focuses on that fact that the girls are now older, living more adult lives.  Relationships, parenting, and other adult things tend to be the new focus.  Also…a lot more boob and sex jokes, furthering the show from its predecessor’s squeaky clean image.

fuller house 2
via IB Times

Longtime and fervent fans of Full House should find bundles of things to love about Fuller House.  The show’s producers and directors did a pretty bang-up job of recreating the look and feel of the original series.  The interior of the house (albeit some minor changes) looks like a carbon copy of the house we have come to love and the actors fit right back into their characters with ease.  The new theme song, sung by Carly Rae Jepson, is pretty amazing and the show provides a good bit of flashbacks to the original.  Not an episode went by without some reference to the old show.  It made Fuller House fun to watch.

However, if you take away the nostalgia and present the show as it is…there isn’t that much there unfortunately.  The show leans a little too heavily on the nostalgia factor, sacrificing good writing in the process.  A lot of the humor is a little too on-the-nose for my tastes.  A good bit of the jokes fell flat as well.  There were some genuinely funny moments (D.J. Tanner and her plumber, the whole SF Giants episode) but a lot of the humor just wasn’t working for me.  There’s also a love triangle that develops between D.J. and two other guys that has its moments, but just comes off as cheesy and predictable in the end.  I’m not going to spoil the final episode, but let’s just say I predicted it from a couple of miles away.  It wasn’t the payoff that I was expecting.

fuller house 3
via Hypable

I enjoyed my time with Fuller House best when I just forgot about the parts that make it an average sitcom and instead enjoyed the heavy doses of nostalgia that it shovels at viewers.  I’m willing to bet that most people who will watch the show are coming for the nostalgia, so it should bode pretty well with fans.  However, if you take off the nostalgia-goggles and view the final product as a whole, it’s a show that has some issues.  Did I enjoy Fuller House?  Sure, for the most part.  Is it a good comedy?  No way, Jose! (Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh…but it’s not good) To no surprise, the show was just renewed today for a second season, so this gives them another chance to right their wrongs and put out a second season better than the first.

fuller house score
Fuller House

Review: Master of None (Season 1)

master of none s1 poster
via 7Stream TV

Master of None (Season 1) (2015)

Netflix / TVMA

Comedy

Starring: Aziz Ansari, Noel Wells, Lena Waithe

Creators: Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang


Netflix has been killing it with their exclusives…it’s actually quite surprising.  Every show (not all of them, but most of them) has been great and different from what you find on traditional TV.  This time, it’s comedian Aziz Ansari’s turn to throw his hat in the ring with his newest comedy Master of None, exclusive to Netflix.

master of none s1 1
via TV Show Stream

The show was meant to be a personal project, helping bring him and his parents closer among other things, and it instantly shows.  The show is deeply personal, but super relatable at the same time.  Master of None covers a lot of ground and you just can’t help but laugh at the source material…because they pretty much nail the wide variety of topics with honest hilarity.

Dev (Aziz Ansari) is a thirty-something actor living in the jungle that is New York City.  We get a glimpse at the maturing actor as he takes on things like jobs, relationships, parents, and sexual offenders on the subway.  Yeah, life’s hard for a man who still hasn’t quite reached peak maturity.  That’s what the show is about.  It’s about a man’s growth through the different events and obstacles that life throws at him.  As I mentioned before, the show is painfully funny but isn’t afraid to take it down to a more serious note at times.  The show is quick to poke fun at life’s hilarious scenarios…but it’s honest as well.  I’m not quite sure if this show is based off any aspects of Ansari’s life, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

master of none s1 2
via TV Show Stream

There is an overarching story that strings the ten episodes together, which primarily focuses on Dev’s relationship with Rachel (Noel Wells), a tour manager who he initially meets at a bar under some drunk circumstances.  We’re quickly introduced to their relationship in the show’s first episode, simply titled “Plan B,” where they…well you can probably piece the rest together…it’s pretty amusing.  What makes Master of None so appealing however is the fact that every episode could stand on its own two feet.  Each episode has a central topic, with topics ranging from immigrant parents to feminism to stereotypes on TV.  The episodes also benefit from some witty writing, with Ansari taking a good portion of the writing credits as well.  “Mornings” is probably one of the strongest episodes in the mix, aside from the finale, dealing with the joys and tribulations of your significant other moving in to your place.

The acting might be the one thing about the show that rubbed me the wrong way at certain points.  Eric Wareheim and Lena Waithe play Arnold and Denise respectively, two of Dev’s best friends.  There’s also some guest appearances from H. Jon Benjamin and Busta Rhymes, who was a pretty cool addition to the show.  For the most part everybody did a good job with their roles, but the acting seemed a little to forced and on the nose at times.  This wasn’t super prevalent but when it did rear its head, I couldn’t tell if the forced acting was part of the character’s personality or if it was the actor.

master of none s1 3
via TV Show Stream

Master of None might be some of Azis Ansari’s best work yet.  It’s a charmingly funny show that pretty much nails the random parts of life that a New Yorker has to come in contact with.  The show has been getting critical praise as well, including a Golden Globe nomination and a win at the Critic’s Choice Awards for best Comedy show.  Give the show a try and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.  You’ll be laughing at how true and accurate the show is with its subject matter.

master of none s1 score