TV Review: Game of Thrones (2011- )

Original Run: April 17th, 2011 – present
Created by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Iain Glen, Alfie Allen, John Bradley, Conleth Hill, Aiden Gillen, Gwendoline Christie, Issac Hempstead Wright, Jerome Flynn, Julian Glover, Liam Cunningham, Rory McCann, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ben Crompton, Daniel Portman, Charles Dance, Carice van Houten, Natalie Dormer, Jack Gleeson, Michaelle Fairley, Kristofer Hivju, Ian McElhinney, Jacob Anderson, Stephen Dillane, Kristian Nairn, Hannah Murray, Mark Stanley, Richard Madden, Finn Jones, Iwan Rheon, Diana Rigg, Jonathan Pryce, Jason Momoa, Sean Bean, Mark Addy

Television 360, Grok! Television, Generator Entertainment, Startling Television, Bighead Littlehead, HBO Entertainment, 60 Episodes (so far), 50-69 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Since I was a kid, I have always been a big fan of fantasy fiction. I never got into George R.R. Martin’s massive Game of Thrones books when they started coming out though. They were abnormally massive, had way too many characters with difficult names and although I like reading and I read pretty quickly, it is hard for me to give something so massive and seemingly tedious, that much of my attention.

I did not watch this show in the beginning. In fact, I figured that I’d put it off until after it was over and then just binge the whole thing. Years and seasons have gone by, however, and everyone and their mother and their mother’s mother has talked this show up like it is the second coming of Jesus. The hype and admiration for this show has been absolutely ridiculous. So when I got injured and was trapped in my house for several days with nothing to do, I finally fired up Game of Thrones.

Well, I am definitely in the extreme minority because I think the show is absolute shit.

In fact, I got a little over midway through the third season when I had to stop. I couldn’t suffer through anymore episodes, I had had enough and I didn’t care about a single person or situation on this show. Well, except for Maisie Williams’ Arya Stark. Really, she is the only interesting character out of the 817 that I was introduced to in two and a half seasons. Peter Dinklage, while a great actor and enjoyable on screen, just ran his course quickly. But he was the only other character I was even remotely engaged in. Fuck the Khaleesi and her stupid dragons, I’d rather have Shadowcat and Lockheed from the X-Men comics of the 80s.

The problem with this show is it is just talking and plotting and talking about plotting and then betrayal and more plotting and nothing really happens except a whole bunch of nothing. The fan boys who hated The Phantom Menace for all its long winded talkie bullshit should hate this show even more.

I mean, once in awhile a battle happens but it is always underwhelming and just leads to more talking and plotting and talking about plotting and betrayal and more plotting.

Game of Thrones is a fantasy epic for people who don’t like fantasy epics. It is one of the most boring shows I have ever seen. Occasionally you get a titty or two but the big stars stopped getting naked after season one. And all the fanboy love for Khaleesi is baffling to me. But maybe its because these nerds like girls who look twelve.

I hated Game of Thrones to the point where watching it felt like torture but I kept sticking with it because people kept saying, “Dude, stick with it, it’s the best show of all-time!” No it isn’t. If you even think this is even in the same ballpark as Breaking Bad, probably the actual greatest show of all-time, you’re fucking retarded.

I don’t usually get this frank and vulgar in reviews on Cinespiria but I feel like everyone I know fucking lied to me. Like Game of Thrones was just some big elaborate prank. If it was, you got me. You’re an asshole, but you got me.

Now HBO is planning like a half dozen spin-offs of this show. Why? I guess money talks but I’d rather have to sit through a nurse screwing up a dozen times trying to insert a catheter than to ever sit through another episode of this show.

TV Review: Bloodline (2015-2017)

Original Run: March 20th, 2015 – May 26th, 2017
Created by: Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler, Daniel Zelman
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Tony Morales, Edward Rogers, James S. Levine
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Norbert Leo Butz, Jacinda Barrett, Jamie McShane, Enrique Murciano, Sam Shepard, Sissy Spacek, Katie Finneran, John Leguizamo, Andrea Riseborough, Chloë Sevigny, David Zayas, Beau Bridges, Mario Van Peebles, Mia Kirshner

KZK Productions, Sony Pictures Television, Netflix, 33 Episodes, 48-68 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

This is a show that came highly recommended by several people. I put it off until now but picked it up just in time to binge through it and catch the final season as it debuted.

Bloodline is a show that is really up and down. It starts out a bit slow but builds towards something strong, compelling and powerful as the first season comes to an end.

The second season isn’t as good as the first and it is tough to sit through some of it, as it loses its pacing and doesn’t really seem all that interesting in resolving anything or bringing any sort of balance to the characters’ situations or them spiraling crazily out of control.

The third season suffers from multiple personality disorder. A big portion of the season deals with a trial where you expect there to be some real closure but there is none. Then the season ends and the show ends with still… no friggin’ closure.

Bloodline had the tagline of “We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing.” In reality, they are all horrible people. There are a few good and innocent characters but they are all dragged down into the murky shit that is the lives and personalities of the main characters. The Rayburns are an awful family of awful people who are willing to do anything to anyone in an effort to play up appearances because the Rayburn name is apparently the equivalent to royalty in the Florida Keys.

The only really good character is the only one that actually starts out as a criminal. Danny, played by Ben Mendelsohn (most famous for being the baddie in Star Wars: Rogue One), is a great and dynamic character. You are never sure of what his motivations are but there is something redeeming about him, even if he does despicable things. By the end of the show, however, he is the least despicable member of his shitty family of fuck ups.

The big problem with the show is that you don’t like anyone and it makes it hard to care about any of them. Truthfully, I wanted to see justice for everything that they did but it never comes. The show ends in the most unsatisfying way and all the innocent people effected by these self-important assholes are left with nothing.

The show also ends on a cliffhanger but it is a weak cliffhanger because even though you are left guessing, after three seasons you know that truth and justice won’t prevail. With the Rayburns, self-preservation is their disease, even though all their attempts at it have disastrous results that ultimately ruin their lives anyway. This is a long drawn out story where no one learns anything or really evolves other than getting worse and worse.

To be fair, the acting is stellar and the cinematography is amazing as hell. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make a show all on its own. The writing dissolves as this show rolls on past its first season. Frankly, its a story that seems to be designed to torture the viewer, unless the viewer doesn’t have a moral compass or a burning desire to see justice prevail in the end.

It sounds like I’m coming down hard on the show but I didn’t hate it. I was mostly just annoyed by it and in the end, it all seemed pointless.

TV Review: Gotham (2014- )

Original Run: September 22nd, 2014 – ????
Created by: Bruno Heller, Danny Cannon
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Graeme Revell
Cast: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Zabryna Guevara, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Erin Richards, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith, Victoria Cartagena, Andrew Stewart-Jones, John Doman, Jada Pinkett Smith, Morena Baccarin, James Frain, Jessica Lucas, Chris Chalk, Drew Powell, Nicholas D’Agosto, Michael Chiklis, Maggie Geha, Benedict Samuel, David Zayas, Cameron Monaghan

Primrose Hill Productions, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television, 66 Episodes (thus far), 42 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*originally written in 2015, near the end of season 1, plus additional updates written later.

I was going to wait until the end of the first season before reviewing this show, as I do with most new shows. I just can’t get that far and don’t think that waiting till the season ends will change my assessment. I’ve tried desperately to get this to work for me. I’ve tried a hell of a lot harder than most of my friends and Batman fans, who all gave up on this a long time ago. I saw some promise here and there but this show fails in just about every way. In short: it is pretty goddamned awful (*note: I no longer feel this way as revealed in the final update).

There are actually only a few things that this show has going for it but I’ll get to those shortly.

If you barely know anything about the Batman mythos and you find pleasure in watching mediocre cookie cutter detective shows, I can see where you might find this watchable. However, if you are a Batman fan and love and respect the franchise, this is a very painful experience.

On one hand, the producers are trying to spoon feed the audience with fan service in every episode but it is forced, poorly executed and unnecessary. In fact, it feels as if the producers read a couple Wikipedia articles about Batman and thought they had an intimate grasp. And the way they handle certain characters, goes to show that they don’t understand them at all.  At times it just feels like a cruel joke and it is Fox trolling the shit out of their audience.

For instance, Edward Nygma doesn’t need to speak in riddles every scene, Harvey Dent doesn’t need to display a split personality every other appearance, you don’t need to have constant Joker teases across multiple unrelated scenarios, you don’t need to show a little ginger girl playing with plants every time she’s on screen and Selina Kyle doesn’t need to parkour off of every object whenever she makes an entrance. I also don’t need to be reminded every five minutes about how Jim Gordon is a good cop and every other cop on the force is tainted by something. It is fucking overkill.

The acting is questionable, the writing is more often than not atrocious and despite the over abundance of horribly executed fan service, the show is just plain stupid on its own. It is an obvious attempt at being a cash cow and a ratings grabber and somehow it has worked in that regard, as it is coming back for a second season.

The whole premise of the show makes it a failure from the get-go.

To start, the worst part about most live-action superhero adaptations is the origin. The audience usually finds themselves roughing it through the early bits in an effort to get to the comic book action. Also, how many times has Batman’s origin been told? Now we are given a show that is an overly extended version of the lamest part of Batman’s tale. Who knows how long this could stretch: ten seasons, maybe? Hell, one has been enough.

The other main part of the show, is Jim Gordon trying to “save the city” and destroy corruption. Well, he’s doomed to fail because if he were to succeed, why would Gotham City need the Batman?

As far as characters, Bruce Wayne is okay and I like him being a little shit challenging authority and taking on the evil adults of his world but it isn’t enough to anchor a need for him on this show. Selina Kyle is awful and pretty much a caricature that just happens to look like a young Michelle Pfeiffer. The Poison Ivy character is unimportant and so far useless. All the villains who show up are poorly done and easily defeated. Barbara Kean is the worst character on television. Where did Renee Montoya go? Fish Mooney is sometimes great but mostly terrible. However, I don’t blame these actors, I blame the atrocious writing.

When it comes to positives, Robin Lord Taylor is amazing as the Penguin. In fact, at first, I hated that he was way too skinny to be the Penguin but he’s so good in the role that I don’t care. He is by far, the most interesting part of the show. Almost as good as Taylor is Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock. Then again, when isn’t Logue anything short of great? Ben McKenzie does a solid job as Jim Gordon and I do like Cory Michael Smith as Nygma, the man who will become the Riddler – even though the writers force riddles into every situation he finds himself in. Lastly, Sean Pertwee makes a fine Alfred Pennyworth and is my favorite live action incarnation of the character. Pertwee also looks a lot like his father in his older age and seeing him in action reminds me of the Third Doctor from the classic Doctor Who series.

The show is often times too distracted by its own mess and diverts away from characters with potential to focus on too many small parts in a machine that is too large for its own good. When the show is at its strongest is when the Penguin is on screen, Alfred is kicking ass or when it focuses more heavily on the crime families of Gotham City. The episodes pitting Sal Maroni against Carmine Falcone with a little Fish Mooney and the Penguin mixed in are the best that this series has offered up so far.

I still watch this show because I want to buy into it, I just can’t. The good parts keep me engaged but they are too far and few between. I don’t believe that the show will get better but there is enough good stuff to expand on and save it from being the generally uninteresting mess it is currently. But I probably won’t watch the second season on a weekly basis, as I do now. I’ll wait a year for it to be over with and then binge watch it over a weekend. If it picks up steam and corrects itself, consider me reinvested. If not, I’ll find better ways to spend my time.

Update:

Season 2 of Gotham has been infinitely better than the first. The shows is finding its footing and it now knows what it is trying to be. I like that it is creating its own world and veering away from being trapped by the expectations from an already established Batman mythos. The show is doing its own thing and honestly, at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bruce Wayne is killed off before even becoming Batman.

Update 2:

At the end of Season 3, the show has corrected a lot of its early mistakes.

Cameron Monaghan, who plays Jerome Valeska, who may or may not be the Joker but is probably the Joker, is the best version of Batman’s greatest villain I have ever seen in a live-action story. The kid is magnificent and really captures the magic of the comic book version of the legendary character better than anyone I have ever seen. Yes, he’s better than Heath Ledger and he has the same spirit as Mark Hamill who has voiced the character for decades.

Additionally, the show just becomes more interesting as it rolls on, even though it has some dumb plot threads. But when you don’t take this show seriously and just embrace its insanity, it works.

Most of the villains have evolved solidly, especially the Penguin and the Riddler. I also really liked the Mad Hatter story, as well as the plots that focus on Hugo Strange.

Gotham is far from a perfect show but it bounced back, in my opinion. It also works if you just take it for what it is and don’t try to force it into the box that is the already established comic book mythos. I see it now as an Elseworlds Tale, which is a title DC Comics gives to their stories that take place in different realities.

I’m glad I stuck with it as long as I did. For others who have, their dedication has paid off.

TV Review: Ultraman Mebius (2006-2007)

Original Run: April 8th, 2006 – March 31st, 2007 (Japan)
Created by: Tsuburaya Productions
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Toshihiko Sahashi, Toru Fuyuki
Cast: Shunji Igarashi, Masaki Nishina, Ai Saikawa, Daisuke Watanabe, Kenta Uchino, Misato Hirata, Minoru Tanaka

Tsuburaya Productions, 50 Episodes, 24 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Ultraman Mebius is one of my all-time favorite Ultraman series. It is also the one modern series that really reinvigorated my love of the franchise.

The great thing about this show is that it is truly a throwback to the old classic series from the Shōwa Era. This Ultraman looks a lot like the original with a few modern style flourishes added into the suit. It also featured a lot of classic monsters and revisited some classic concepts like using the ally capsule monsters to help in battle. Plus, I am a huge fan of the good kaiju Miclas and he has a big presence in the show.

Additionally, the cast was fantastic. Everyone fit their part and added a lot of character diversity to the group as far as contrasting personalities. Everyone just meshed so well and they all looked like they were having the time of their life making this series, which transcends the viewing experience and rubs off on the viewer.

The really cool thing about Ultraman Mebius is that it is the first show since Ultraman 80 to exist in the Shōwa Era universe. It is an actual continuation of those shows where the shows between 80 and Mebius kind of exist on their own in parallel universes without direct ties to the earlier series.

The cool thing about this existing in the Shōwa Era franchise, is that it opened the door for all the mega team-ups that would come later, featuring several Ultra Brothers fighting alongside each other. It also paved the way for lots of theatrical releases.

Ultraman Mebius is a fan favorite Ultraman series and it deserves its recognition. It took a formula that was getting stale and re-energized it for a new generation while earning the respect and admiration from the older generations who grew up loving these shows.

 

TV Review: Ultraman Max (2005-2006)

Original Run: July 2nd, 2005 – April 1st, 2006 (Japan)
Created by: Tsuburaya Productions
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Kuniaki Haishima, Toru Fuyuki
Cast: Sota Aoyama, Hitomi Hasebe, Kai Shishido, Hikari Mitsushima

Tsuburaya Productions, 40 Episodes, 24 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Following the adult oriented and scarier Ultraman Nexus, Tsuburaya went back to their roots and gave us Ultraman Max. While it isn’t considered a great Ultraman series, it is one of my favorites.

Ultraman Max gave us a series that was much more like the formula of the earlier shows. We had a hero that worked for a bad ass defense force that also featured a lot of cool characters. The show also gave us a lot of the cooler old school Ultraman kaiju while introducing some new ones. It also had a couple really good stories featuring Pigmon, my favorite Ultraman kaiju of all-time.

The show was well-produced and the effects were a step up from what was seen before it. Visually, it was more refined and had a lighter and cleaner look than its predecessor Ultraman Nexus.

I’m not a huge fan of how Ultraman Max, as an Ultra Warrior looks. His suit was a bit too chunky and overly ornate but it at least didn’t hinder the action.

I really liked the Android character Elly. She was played by Hikari Mitsushima and she would go on to be in the live action Death Note televisions series and became the most well-known star to come out of this series. As a young girl, she was in Rebirth of Mothra II. She also crossed over into Kamen Rider territory with a brief role in Kamen Rider Den-O.

The defense force, in this series called DASH, had the coolest outfits in the Ultraman franchise. In fact, their jackets are some of the coolest ever.

Ultraman Max isn’t most fans’ favorites and it isn’t my favorite either but it is much better than a lot of Ultraman series. It moved the franchise back in the right direction, leading into the superior Ultraman Mebius.

TV Review: WWE Legends’ House (2014)

Original Run: April 17th, 2014 – June 19th, 2014
Created by: WWE, Bunim-Murray Productions
Directed by: Kevin Dunn
Cast: Roddy Piper, Tony Atlas, Gene Okerlund, Pat Patterson, Hillbilly Jim Morris, Howard Finkel, Jim Duggan, Jimmy Hart, Ashley Roberts

Bunim-Murray Productions, Knucklehead Television, WWE, 10 Episodes, 60 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I’ve had the WWE Network since the day it debuted. For $9.99 a month, a price tag that includes live streaming pay-per-views, which are normally priced at over $40 per month, for a fan, the price tag is well worth it.

Additionally, as an old school wrestling fan that grew up in that comic book 80s era of larger-than-life gimmicks and matches that felt bigger than the Superbowl, the 24/7 streaming access to the WWE’s back catalog of pay-per-views and events was a huge bonus. One thing that I was anticipating from day one however, was the debut of WWE Network’s initial flagship show, Legends’ House.

Waiting over a month from the Network’s launch, I grew antsy. All I knew was there was going to be a show that had “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Tony Atlas, Hillbilly Jim, Pat Patterson, Howard Finkel and “Mean” Gene Okerlund living together under one roof. As an old school fan, I thought this was awesome for a multitude of reasons.

The first being, my love and respect for the business and to see these guys, as themselves, brought back into a situation with their familiar peers three decades after their heyday. Secondly, I wanted to hear the stories and experiences they might share from those old glory days. Lastly, I just wanted to see these guys again and not just used sparingly on a Monday Night Raw here and there.

Now I’m not a reality television fan and find the medium to be boring as hell and horribly acted – yes, acted. Being that I’ve been involved in a reality show pilot, I’ve experienced the background side of it and understand how it’s done and how stories can be manufactured or blown up out of nothing. That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed Legends’ House.

This show, for all it’s reality TV forced scenarios and drama, still does a pretty good job of peering into these guys’ lives and true personalities enough to make it interesting despite the extra emphasis on tension.

In regards to overblown reality show drama, I didn’t need to see Duggan and Atlas resort to fisticuffs out of their apparent beef on the show. In fact, I’d rather them be bigger men and work it out. Fights just to have fights to draw reality television ratings just aren’t my thing – I hate that shit. As far as I’m concerned, save that crap for The Surreal Life and let these Legends maintain their dignity.

However, for the most part, I think the show handles showcasing its stars fairly well. The Legends mostly seem to be respected by the producers regardless of their Chippendales challenges and having to play with plastic flamingos on the lawn. It’s all in good fun and it isn’t presented in a way that undermines who these guys are. In the end, they aren’t compromising their very being for a quick 15 minute injection of rebound fame.

I think that WWE did a pretty good job with this show and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes and which Legends they attract after Season 1 concludes. Hopefully they follow the same course and they don’t find themselves in the business of creating predictable ten cent faux drama schlock. But then again, it’s been three years and there still isn’t a second season.

TV Review: Ultraman Nexus (2004-2005)

Original Run: October 2nd, 2004 – June 25th, 2005 (Japan)
Created by: Tsuburaya Productions
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Kenji Kawai
Cast: Takuji Kawakubo, Yusuke Kirishima

Tsuburaya Productions, 37 Episodes, 24 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Ultraman Nexus was the first Ultraman series that I wasn’t wholeheartedly in love with. I guess that makes me the odd one out, as most people seem to really enjoy this series. Reason being, it is different than all the Ultraman series before it. This one was made to be more adult and it was the first really dark Ultraman show. At times, it had strong horror elements to it.

While I can understand Tsuburaya wanting to try something different, after the show had been around for almost 40 years but it just doesn’t feel right to me.

The special effects were unusually weird in some of the episodes. The big slime monster creature in the first few episodes was made up of bad CGI and not the standard rubber suit look that is customary with Ultraman monsters. It just felt out of place and there are other areas of the series where things just don’t seem to fit.

Nexus had a cool outfit though and he also fought a series of evil Ultramen that would pop up throughout the series. I will say, that as the series rolls on, it does improve. The battles between Nexus and whichever evil Ultraman he was pitted against were the biggest highlights of Ultraman Nexus.

The show is worth checking out if you are a hardcore Ultraman fan. While it is my least favorite that I have seen, many consider it the best. You can be the tie breaker.