FAVORITE (and least) Netflix and Amazon Shows Discovered or Watched in 2015!!

GREAT

 

  1. DAREDEVIL
  2. RIPPER STREET Season 1,2
  3. AGENTS OF SHIELD Seasons 1, 2
  4. HOUSE OF CARDS Season 1,2,3
  5. STRIKEBACK Seasons 1,2
  6. WALLANDER
  7. ARROW
  8. FLASH
  9. CHOPPED
  10. IRON CHEF AMERICA
  11. TOP GEAR
  12. LONGMIRE
  13. PENNY DREADFUL
  14. HEMLOCK GROVE
  15. AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM (Season 2 of the series works in a way that Season 1 and 3 does not)
  16. PERSON OF INTEREST SEASONS 1-3 (The mid season break, episodes 9 to 11 of Season 3 are great television, with the preamble to Episode 11 being one of the great moments of tv I saw this year. On Par with BABYLON 5’s NO HIDING PLACE and HELL AND BACK’s )
  17. GRIMM SEASONS 1-4
  18. JESSICA JONES
  19. ROSEWOOD
  20. THE PLAYER
  21. BLACK LIST
  22. THE GOOD WIFE
  23. ALONE (This History Channel story is one of the few ‘Reality’ shows that I considered must watch TV in 2015)
  24. KEY AND PEELE
  25. CLONE WARS
  26. SMALL SPACE BIG STYLE
  27. MARON
  28. SHARK TANK

GOOD

 

  1. SUPERNATURAL SEASONS 1-10 (Seasons 6 -onward, lose steam and are in the solidly Don’t Care for Pile)
  2. ZOO
  3. TRANSPORTER Season 1 -2
  4. BANSHEE
  5. MARY JANE
  6. HELL ON WHEELS (1ST 3 seasons are great, 4th season isnt)
  7. DOOMSDAY PREPPERS
  8. STAN LEE’S SUPER HUMANS
  9. RECTIFY
  10. AMERICA’S GOT TALENT

 

DIDNT CARE FOR

 

  1. SENSE8
  2. BITTEN
  3. CONTINUUM
  4. PARALLELS
  5. JUSTIFIED – I have tried to like this show, but it just fails to captivate in any way

    A painting is always quite moral when it is tragic and it gives the horror of the things it depicts.

    – Barbey d’Aurevilly, opening caption, Les Diaboliques

  6. VIKINGS– The above quote sums up my moralistic  issue with shows like VIKINGS and HANNIBAL and DEXTER that want to retrofit horrendous monsters as heroes. The VIKINGS  sent drugged to the gills raiding parties to rape and pillage and impale and enslave anything they found. They would bash childrens heads againt walls, so they were very not nice people.  So to have a show that white washes this and paints the vikings as in touch with their feelings, profeminist superteam good guys, is an issue for me.  Akin to having a show called NAZIS, that paints them as a band of people you should root for. The filmmaker in doing this thing, this prettifying of monsters, fail’s the test of Barbey’s definition of morality… they fail to give the horror of the things it depicts.
  7. HANNIBAL – I love Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER, it is the first and best of the many cinematic Thomas Harris adaptations, and the rare movie that transcends the book.  SILENCE OF THE LAMBS was a worthy follow-up, but the films went down hill from there. And now we have the TV show. Like Vikings it is visually stunning, but like Vikings it is morally untenable.

 

Shows in GREEN I watched via Netflix, in Orange AMAZON PRIME and in Purple via Free Digital Antenna or applicable free Roku Channel!

 

 

CLASSIC TV reviews: DOCTOR WHO! STORY 13 – THE WEB PLANET !!!

This installment of IT WILL NOT BE TELEVISED we take the way back machine to the swinging and bloody early days of 1965, and look at a serial from season 2 of a little known (at the time) Brit show called Doctor Who! And the serial, the 13th Who Serial, is called THE WEB PLANET.

Onto the review:

SERIAL 13 THE WEB PLANET
Original Airdate Weekly from 13 Feb 1965- 20 Mar 1965
Doctor Who: The Web Planet (Story 13) (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)


First let’s start with a bit of back-story. What was happening in the world over the six weeks, six Fridays, this serial went out on? Well The News during this Time is… all too human:

-The first US combat troops arrive in Vietnam. By the end of the year, 190,000 American soldiers are in Vietnam.

-In the Audubon Ballroom in New york City on 21 Feb 1965 El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (perhaps better known as Malcolm X) was assassinated before a crowd of hundreds including his pregnant wife, and 3 of his 4 children.

-18th March, 1965: A Soviet cosmonaut known as Lt. Col. Alexei Leonov exited the spacecraft Voskshod II for a short “spin”. He completed a somersault, and then proceeded to take pictures of space. This took place just days before the U.S. planned to launch its first two-man spaceship and becomes the first man to walk in space.

-18th February, 1965 : An avalanche and Glacial Slide caused the deaths of 26 miners who were removing copper ore from underneath a glacier in British Columbia.

-15th February, 1965 : It was proclaimed by Queen Elizabeth II of England that the Maple leaf would become Canada’s new national flag symbol.

-20th February, 1965 : The Ranger 8 spacecraft crashed on the moon after sending back thousands of pictures of the lunar surface

-2nd March : The Sound of Music Premier 1965

-7th March, 1965 : Troopers with night sticks, shotguns and tear-gas grenades violently confronted 600 civil rights marchers during an attempted 50-mile march from Selma to the Alabama state capitol Montgomery.

-Optical Disk —– 1965 USA by James Russell – now Compact Disk CD / DVD

-The Supremes, “Stop! In The Name Of Love” rises to the top of the charts

So that’s a look at the world 46 years ago. And for a bigger kick to put that world in perspective, here are what things cost then (US prices):

Cost of a new home: $21,500.00
Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.05
Cost of a gallon of regular gas: $0.31
Cost of a dozen eggs: $0.53
Cost of a gallon of Milk: $0.95
Federal debt: $322.3 billion

Average Income per year $6,450.00 (Needless to say this average income bought you a lot more more back then, than today’s average income of $39,423.00 is going to buy you. For one thing far more of today’s money is eaten up in taxes upon taxes, and most things have multiplied faster than income… ie stamps and petrol and the price of a house are nearly 10 times 1965 levels, while income is barely 6 times 1965 levels. So income is trailing inflation by nearly 50% overtime, and that’s not even accounting for various new forms of taxation. And just think, you thought this was just a Doctor Who review! 🙂 )

While the Brits may have been watching Doctor Who (and let’s be honest, very few of them were doing that), In the States the airwaves were packed with shows eating up the ratings from THE FUGITIVE to BEWITCHED to MAN FROM UNCLE to VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA to BONANZA to ED SULLIVAN to JONNY QUEST to popular music shows such as SHINGDIG. And 1965 would only provide more programs to keep Americans occupied.

It wouldn’t be till the late 70s, and Public Broadcasting’s increased efforts going across the pond for programming… that would introduce the States to this thing called Doctor Who. And indeed give the show the added funding to keep it running, when other BBC shows of the period had given up the ghost.

And being one of the few shows of the fantastic, Doctor Who offered a cross cultural appeal that continues to… stand the test of time. So to speak. 🙂

So without further ado the review of the 13th Doctor Who story, starring William Hartnell and written by Bill Strutton, produced by Verity Lambert, and directed by Richard Martin:

    EPISODE 1 OF 6

THE WEB PLANET- by Bill Strutton. More shockingly bad alien costumes. Dennis Spooner graduates to script editor. This is a mysterious but not particularly satisfying series opener. Unimpressively directed by Richard Martin. C.

    EPISODE 2 OF 6

THE ZARBI- Strange premise with more shockingly inept alien costumes. Here’s the thing, if you don’t have the budget to do something convincingly… then don’t do it. Not without interest, but those sets and costumes… uggh. C-.

    EPISODE 3 OF 6

ESCAPE TO DANGER- I do like how the Menoptra move. Very elegant. It was Richard Martin’s idea to have dancers play the Menoptra, and a great idea it was. Lacking their… grace, and performances, and strangeness I would not be writing this review. Roslyn de Winter, an Australian mime, was hired to choreograph the Menoptra’s movements and speech, and also plays the central Menoptra… Vrestin. For the actress to act through all that makeup is impressive… for all the actors actually. With this episode I became interested in the serial, in spite of its constraints. B-.

    EPISODE 4 OF 6

CRATER OF NEEDLES- You have to give this serial points for sheer imagination. So much creativity. If I was a kid, the target audience, I would have loved this serial. It is very well written, and passionately performed. And the flying scenes, and battles are quite lovingly staged. While as an adult I could ask for better costumes, effects, sets, what they pull off is still quite impressive. The strength of Doctor Who, being the same strength of The Simpsons or any good Pixar movie, it is layered, smart writing to appeal to both adults and kids. B+.

    EPISODE 5 OF 6

INVASION- From a serial I almost did not finish, when I saw the first one, this has really grown on me. Beyond the questionable budget it is quite a lovely fable, and also at times quite touching, and quite dire.

    EPISODE 6 OF 6


THE CENTRE- All routes lead to the center, as the Doctor and his Crew and the butterfly like Menoptra battle the Animus, an eater of worlds, at the center of all things. A strong denouement, for a surprisingly good serial. B/B+.

So in summation this six part series is not, when recalled, fondly remembered by most. That said its first episode, THE WEB PLANET, originally brought in 13.5 million viewers, the most of any Doctor Who broadcast of the 60s.

Doctor Who never brought in great numbers, but it managed to be consistent, and have a passionate fan-base. Which accounts for the longevity of both the original series, and the success of the new series. If you can get past the questionable first couple episodes, and go along with the conceits, I think you’ll find a serial that is surprisingly… fun. Overall grade: B/B+.

You can pick up the DVD using the link below AND support this blog at the same time! Say it ain’t so, Joe! 🙂 ! But seriously I only recommend things I myself own, and I appreciate any purchasing you do via this blog. Thanks!

Doctor Who: The Web Planet (Story 13) (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)

Sources:

http://www.shannonsullivan.com/- Offers background info on this episode
http://www.listzblog.com- Nice overview of popular shows by period
http://www.tvparty.com/- More great overview of what’s hot in tv by year
http://oldies.about.com/od/60srockers/tp/topten1965.htm- A great overview of popular music by year
http://www.1960sflashback.com/- Helped with research on prices in 1965
http://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/AWI.html- more prices over time data
http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/- another great tool for prices over time
http://doctorwhoreviews.co.uk/N.htm- for a helpful scan, plus see it for another take on this serial. Good stuff.

Doctor Who Season 5 Review: Steven Moffat’s Reign?

Steven Moffat, on the strength of some stellar self-contained DR. WHO stories in the first four seasons of the revamped WHO series (see my Best of Doctor Who posting), was rewarded in the fifth season by being promoted to lead writer/show runner, replacing Russell T. Davies.

Russell T. Davies the heart of this new WHO, was clearly running out of things to say with the character by the 4th season, so Moffat would seem to be the perfect choice to replace him (the episode BLINK written by Moffat and directed by Hettie MacDonald being arguably the finest hour of Dr. Who done to date).

Particularly when you consider between season 4 and season 5, (specials not counted) was an almost 2 year delay, you would have thought Season 5 would have had all the kinks worked out and been a solid season… ready to… wow.

Unfortunately that is not the case.

Season 5 sporting a new Doctor, a new companion, a new look and a new lead writer, is a season I was rooting for to be great, but it just isn’t. It’s not even good.

I mean the first two episodes show promise, THE ELEVENTH HOUR is a good into to the new Doctor, though almost immediately the character of Amy begins to annoy me. Still overall an okay B- episode.

Next is THE BEAST BELOW which was a good episode, and was one of the only times all season I thought the character of Amy was remotely helpful/interesting. It’s solid writing by Moffat that elevates this episode to a B/B+.

However, after this episode from the VICTORY OF THE DALEKS on, Amy and her boyfriend, and their whole angsty issues just like the Mickey/Rose subplot, annoyed. And the shows felt like chores to get through rather than entertainment, all the way up to the mess of a two part season finale.

And while a lot of this is the writing, a lot is the casting (There are exceptions such as the character of River Song, played by the brilliant Alex Kingston [of ER fame] , who was fantastic last season, and is even better this season. And I also quite like the character of the Bloody Queen played wonderfully by Sophie Okenedo).

The new Doctor is okay, Matt Smith is likeable enough, but his companion and her boyfriend are “turn the channel people”. When I see them on the screen, I want to change the channel. That’s harsh I know, unfortunately… it’s not untrue.

We’ll get back to that in a bit, but all this adds up to not good omens for the 5th season, because Matt Smith is filling big, and overwhelmingly liked and respected shoes in David Tennant’s Doctor, and Matt won’t fill those shoes on his personality/performance alone. He’ll need everything working with him in this season, including the cast, the scripts the direction, all working at full steam… and unfortunately for the most part it doesn’t.

And as stated one of the big hangups this season is the casting. One of the weaknesses of RTD ‘s reign was the horrendous writing of the character Mickey, however this was made up for by the great character of Rose and a stellar, endearing, effervescent performance by Billie Piper, and the great dynamic between her and the great actors that played the Doctor, Eccleston and Tennant. Martha, played by the wonderful Freema Agyeman was likewise a fantastically written and performed character (In fact my personal favorite of the companions).

Unfortunately the character of Amy is no Rose or Martha, she is as annoying as those characters were charming. She and her boyfriend/fiance are this season’s Mickey, largely annoying characters.

Evidently BBC is skewing younger for this season of Doctor Who, a British Dawson’s Creek feel, and I think that is to this season’s detriment.

And on top of the irritating characters, this season suffers largely un-compelling scripts and tired plot-lines.

Example: Daleks AGAIN!??

Really???

Are you going to use them every other episode?? Come on, really?!

The Daleks have built up fleets and been destroyed seemingly half a dozen times in the last couple of seasons. It cheapens and weakens the “ultimate’ enemy, for it be pulled out and dispatched like a parlor trick every other episode.

And the season seemed replete with such retreading of RTD plotlines, and “ultimate enemy” storylines. Moffet seemingly trying to outdo RTD in the universe shaking event, and for my money fails. Universe destroying event after event, becomes meaningless and boring when not used sparingly. Moffat forgetting that the intimate smaller stories is what got him the job as lead writer, that’s his strength, and in this season he completely fails to play to those strengths. Epic is what RTD does, trying to follow him up with more epic, to out epic him,… was not a wise decision.

Watching the season, it was hard to believe the innovative writer behind BLINK could helm a season so lacking in innovation or interest. It felt like a redo of other/better seasons.

Season 5 did the one thing a Dr. Who season should never do… it bored me.

MASTERS OF HORROR: DVD Season 1 Season 2 Collection Review!

For two seasons, fall of 2005-winter of 2007, a most unusual series landed on fine cable channels everywhere. Grandly titled MASTERS OF HORROR the show was the brain-child of Mick Garris, known mostly for two Stephen King Adaptations.

Being not a cable guy, I didn’t catch the show on first airing, so catching up with it on DVDs, as is my way with all television these days.

So out of the 26 episodes, here’s my take on the ones I’ve seen:

Season 1, Episode 1: Incident on and Off a Mountain Road
Original Air Date—28 October 2005- An interesting episode to open the series on. Mixing Survivalist Drama, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Abusive Husband, Racist Militia, and Female Empowerment. Lot of ideas in less than an hours running time, helmed by Phantasm director Don Coscarelli. But I felt the parts didn’t mesh together for a decent whole. The mutant antagonist, ala WRONG TURN, just struck me as uninteresting. So not an episode I’ll watch again.

Season 1, Episode 2: Dreams in the Witch-House
Original Air Date—4 November 2005- Now this Stuart Gordan episode based loosely on HP Lovecraft, about a house and what lives behind the walls, is more like it. Stuart Gordon of REANIMATOR fame, helming a disturbing, Gothic, and sexy tale… of the diabolic. I re-watch this one often, Strongly Recommended. One of my favorite episodes.B+/A-.

Season 1, Episode 4: Jenifer
Original Air Date—18 November 2005- Dario Argento is one of the most influential horror directors, making his name on genre defining films of the 70s such as BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, SUSPIRIA, DEEP RED. But it is clear his films of the last three decades, are not of the same quality as his early work. To be blunt they are not very good. So I was very happy to find JENIFER an extreme, but well crafted, and well performed, and engrossingly written tale.

A lot of the credit to this has to go to star and writer Steven Weber, who adapts the source material, a short Bruce Jones comic story, into a very engrossing and powerful tale of eros and thanos. Steven Weber’s strong writing reigning in Argento’s tendency to go off the rails when left to his own writing/devices. Huge kudos to Carrie Flemming who is immortalized as both the beauty and the beast. Another favorite episode. B+.

Season 1, Episode 5: Chocolate
Original Air Date—25 November 2005- A Mick Garris written and directed episode. Based on other Mick Garris properties I’ve sat through, and feedback on this episode from sources I trust I have no interest in seeing this episode. Mick Garris is to be applauded for putting the show together, and getting this talent under one roof, and by all reports is one of the nicest guys, and universally liked by juist about everyone, he’s a great networking guy/producer, but I think he really needs to leave the writing/directing to others based on the following:

Season 2, Episode 8: Valerie on the Stairs
Original Air Date—21 October 2006- I went into this episode thinking people were unfairly giving Mick Garris a hard time.

I mean an episode based on a Clive Barker story, and starring Tony Todd and Christopher Lloyd how can you go wrong? And the major complaint I could garner was people didn’t like the female nudity. So I went in with an open mind.

The episode starts off with good camera angles, nice dolly movements, nicely shot. The beginning is creepily effective, and I’m thinking.. “What the hell are people complaing about?” and then we get into the meat of the story, and it goes off the rails quickly.

Uggh where to start.

Stupid dialog, annoying protagonists, stupid plot contrivances, and an antagonist, Tony Todd, that rather than look frightening, looks pathetic. Poor, poor makeup job. I like Tony Todd, but seriously, do some pushups before you take a role where you are going to be sans shirt. The whole sagging man boobs, uhhh… not good. And the sex scenes, and I have no problem with sex scenes, are not sexy, they are just disgusting and pathetic. And the plot, I say that loosely, is just abyssmal.

The only saving grace of this episode is Christpher LLoyd, bringing real acting chops, to what amounts to a thankless role, and almost salvaging the poor dialog. An hour long episode that felt twice that length. And the final ending…just atrocious. Mick Garris may be the nicest guy in Hollywood, but he really needs to leave the writing and directing to others. You would need to pay me to watch this again. Awful.

Season 2, Episode 6: Pelts- Now sticking with Dario Argento, we jump to his 2nd and final MOH episode… PELTS. Now this shows Dario Argento when he doesn’t have a great writer to reign him in, or give heart to his splatter. Starring Meatloaf this episode is quite frankly just a mess. Cursed pelts, ya, ya, ya. It is just awful. Written by Mick Garris, it’s a preview of what can be expected in Mick’s own episodes. Just awful.

Season 1, Episode 8: John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns
Original Air Date—November 2005- I’m a huge John Carpenter fan. but was strongly underwhelmed. While this one has a lot of hype surrounding it, I found it to be a haphazadly designed and poorly written episode, that unfortunately Carpenter couldn’t save. Not recommended.

Season 1, Episode 9: The Fair Haired Child
Original Air Date—6 January 2006- William Malone is a director whose features tend to underwhelm, so imagine my surprise when this episode turned out to be one of the creepiest, most disturbing and visually inventive of the first season. Great performances by a cast that includes Lori Petty. B+.

Season 1, Episode 10: Sick Girl
Original Air Date—13 January 2006- A praised episode by some. I found this Lucky McGee episode very by the numbers, unengaging, and almost immediately forgettable.

Season 1, Episode 12: Haeckel’s Tale
Original Air Date—27 January 2006- By the numbers episode with not an engrossing bone in its body. Forgettable.

Given the above hit and miss nature of the series, I can see why it only lasted two seasons. But the ones that work, are definitely worth your time.

Well, wrapping this up, that’s all the episodes of MOH I’ve seen to date. Come back often as I’ll be adding to this review post periodically. Till then… be well. 🙂 .