TV Review: The Punisher (2017- )

Original Run: November 17th, 2017 – current
Created by: Steve Lightfoot
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: The Punisher by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr., Ross Andru
Music by: Tyler Bates
Cast: Jon Bernthal, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ben Barnes, Amber Rose Revah, Paul Schulze, Jason R. Moore, Michael Nathanson, Daniel Webber, Jaime Ray Newman, Deborah Ann Woll, C. Thomas Howell, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Clancy Brown, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

ABC Studios, Marvel, Bohemian Risk Productions, Netflix, 13 Episodes (so far), 49-58 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

This was the first of Marvel’s television series for Netflix that just didn’t resonate with me. Luke Cage wasn’t on the level of Daredevil or Jessica JonesIron Fist was a big step down and The Defenders was a pretty huge disappointment. Plus, Daredevil season two was nowhere near as good as season one. The Punisher, however, is the worst of the bunch.

The problem, is that I anticipated the Punisher doing what he is most known for, shooting the shit out of everyone and everything. The bigger the guns, the better.

Instead, we get a Punisher that just talks and talks and talks and talks and occasionally finds himself in a firefight. We also have to wait like ten episodes to see him wear the iconic skull logo again. Most of the time, he’s a depressed and brooding, angry brute trying to woo the wife of his partner.

Jigsaw is in this, which I was excited about, but I shouldn’t have been. I mean, he’s in just about every episode but he’s Jigsaw before Jigsaw and his origin isn’t even close to what its supposed to be. In The Punisher, we get Ben Barnes looking all pretty and shit. The show should have followed suit with the Punisher: War Zone movie, which featured Jigsaw and did a fine job with the character, even if they botched his real name.

The first season of this is also capped off with a shootout on a carousel. Wasn’t there a carousel scene with the Punisher in Daredevil already? Also, Bernthal had a massive shootout with the mob in Mob City. If you’ve seen that show, which luckily for Netflix, no one else really has, then this feels like familiar territory. Why wasn’t Bernthal on set going, “Guys, I’ve already done this scene before and it was a lot better!”… why?

The only thing I really liked about the show was Ebon Moss-Bachrach, who played Microchip. He was, by far, the best actor in this thing and his work made his character more interesting than it otherwise would have been. In fact, he was more interesting than the Punisher, who just mumbled and grunted through thirteen boring episodes.

I’ll watch the eventual second season but only if Marvel’s Netflix stuff starts getting back to basics and getting as good as it was in the beginning. Besides, I’m pretty close to cancelling Netflix anyway, as the shows I like are ending or falling off, other content is dwindling away and their price keeps getting higher.

TV Review: Attack On Titan (2013- )

Original Run: April 7th, 2013 – current
Created by: Hajime Isayama
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Attack On Titan manga by Hajime Isayama
Music by: Hiroyuki Sawano

Wit Studio, Production I.G., Dentsu, 37 Episodes, 24 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*written in 2014.

I’m not what you would call a big anime fan. Well, at least not since I was a kid and a teenager in what I now consider to be the golden age of anime, which was the mid 80s through the 90s. As a kid I was captivated by Robotech and Akira. As a teenager, it was Ninja Scroll and Ghost In The Shell and really just about anything I could get my hands on before anime went really mainstream in the United States.

Once it became a big thing, I sort of checked out. At that point, the quality of what was successful paled in comparison to the earlier stuff that I loved. The fanboys who raved about how good everything was, even the shit, just irritated me and I had the attitude of, “Fuck you, I was here when all you knew was Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles.”

Anyway, Attack On Titan is the first anime series that I have seen in years that not only kept my interest but also had me applauding its writing, its characters, its philosophy and its artistic execution. Other than Hellsing, I cannot think of another anime series in the last decade that had me so engaged from beginning to end. In fact, I am assuming that it is resonating with many others and sort of anticipate some English-speaking live-action crappy remake in the next few years – hopefully not starring Sam Worthington.

The premise of this tale is pretty compelling and is what initially hooked me. Essentially, it has been a hundred years since humanity has been decimated by a race of giants called “Titans”. In that time, they have built a wall around themselves in an effort to keep the Titans out. As the story starts, the Titans bring down the wall and our main hero sees his mother eaten by one of them – spurring his rage and his quest for vengeance.

What follows, one would assume would be pretty predictable: kid wants revenge for dead mother, kid becomes badass, kid kills evil, revenge accomplished. What you get however, is a story that is anything but predictable and in fact, takes several crazy turns throughout the series, always giving you something fresh and new. Roadblocks seemingly come from everywhere and no one ever feels like they’re safe.

Yes, it is a dark and intense show. While that seems to be a trend in entertainment lately, Attack On Titan doesn’t just use it in a generic typical way, they use it to motivate the characters and the plot in a pretty dynamic way. The characters constantly find themselves at odds with the awful cruel world that they live in and even though they must fight to survive in it, at the core, they strive for something better and refuse to accept their doomed apocalypse of a life.

The show presents a lot of questions and by the time you get to the end, many of those questions are left unanswered. This leaves me thinking that there is more to come. The show is over, at least this initial series but there are companion films being released and I anticipate a proper conclusion to the main protagonists story at some point.

Again, this is an amazing series and I’d recommend it to anyone wanting something different and refreshing to watch. I binged watched it in two sessions of about five-to-six hours each, so you can get through it fairly quickly. Check it out on Netflix. Also, it is not dubbed, it is subtitled. I really enjoyed being able to hear the traditional Japanese dialogue.

Documentary Review: American Cinema: Film Noir (1995)

Release Date: 1995
Directed by: Jeffrey Schon
Music by: Thomas Wagner
Narrated by: Richard Widmark
Hosted by: John Lithgow

PBS, 54 Minutes

Review:

I have been casually watching episodes of PBS’ documentary television series American Cinema. Since I have been watching a ton of film-noir movies for Noirvember, one of my favorite cinematic celebration months, I had to dig up the episode Film Noir. Luckily, it is streaming on YouTube, as many old PBS documentaries are.

What makes this cool when compared to other film-noir documentaries is that it doesn’t explain away the style or the elements that make noir. It focuses more on talking head interviews of actors, directors and scholars who simply just discuss film-noir. While the interviewees are alone, it still plays more like an open forum of ideas and thoughts on the noir style and its importance in American filmmaking.

It was a really nice touch that Richard Widmark, my choice for a 1950s Joker if ever there was a serious Batman movie made back then, got to narrate this short documentary. I also enjoyed seeing John Lithgow host the episode, even though he is way too young to have been in classic film-noir. But Lithgow is certainly a guy that understands film and the important things in the long history of the art.

Film Noir is one of my favorite episodes of the American Cinema series but then again, I have a strong bias in favor of noir. Ultimately, though, this is a really good educational piece on the style and its significance.

TV Review: The Killing (2011-2014)

Original Run: April 3rd, 2011 – August 1st, 2014
Created by: Veena Sud
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Forbrydelsen by Søren Sveistrup
Music by: Frans Bak, We Fell to Earth (theme)
Cast: Mireille Enos, Billy Campbell, Joel Kinnaman, Michelle Forbes, Elias Koteas, Peter Sarsgaard

Fox Television, Fuse Entertainment, KMF Films, Fabrik Entertainment, AMC, Netflix, 44 Episodes, 42-59 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

The Killing is interesting as it started on AMC, got cancelled twice and renewed twice. The second renewal did not come from AMC however, it came from Netflix, who picked up the show for its final season.

As interesting as the story of the show’s turbulent history is, the show itself falls flat.

I really wanted to like The Killing. I gave it a real shot, as I stuck around for the duration, even though I wanted to shut it off after just a few episodes.

I thought it may improve or that it was building towards something fantastic. Well, it never really quite got there and the build up was so slow and dragged out that I often times found myself either daydreaming or huffing markers to pass the time. It is rare that I am this bored watching a show but I’d rather watch gnats procreate than see another episode of The Killing.

The acting isn’t good or bad, it is just there. It is about as exciting as the show itself and I felt like the actors were asleep half the time, bored off of their asses because it took two full seasons to solve one crime when Jeff Goldblum on one of those Law & Order shows solves a different crime each week. Maybe these cops are just shitty at being detectives and they should’ve consulted with Jeff Goldblum.

There’s nothing really more to say because frankly, I am even bored talking about the show.

But hey, great cinematography and and technical prowess from a visual standpoint, if I have to throw in something positive.

Ranking Every Episode of Batman: The Animated Series

*Written in 2014.

I recently reviewed Batman: The Animated Series. So I figured that I would rank every single episode of the series, as I just got done revisiting it and took a shit load of notes.

In this list I am including Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman & Robin and The New Batman Adventures, as all three were really the same show with just some slight changes. Additionally, the creative teams on all of these variants of the show were comprised of the same primary people.

I will list these by episode name with the season number, episode number and the villain featured. Two-parters are ranked as one episode.

If you disagree or are puzzled with my picks, feel free to discuss in the comments.

1. “Heart of Ice” (Season 1, Episode 14 – Mr Freeze & Ferris Boyle)
2. “Mad As a Hatter” (Season 1, Episode 27 – The Mad Hatter)
3. “House & Garden” (Season 2, Episode 5 – Poison Ivy)
4. “Mad Love” (Season 3, Episode 21 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
5. “Growing Pains” (Season 3, Episode 8 – Clayface)
6. “Sideshow” (Season 2, Episode 1 – Killer Croc)
7. “What Is Reality?” (Season 1, Episode 48 – The Riddler)
8. “Sins of the Father” (Season 3, Episode 2 – Two-Face)
9. “Never Fear” (Season 3, Episode 6 – The Scarecrow)
10. “Batgirl Returns” (Season 2, Episode 20 – Catwoman & Roland Daggett)
11. “Deep Freeze” (Season 2, Episode 19 – Mr. Freeze & Grant Walker)
12.  “Feat of Clay: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 20 & 21 – Clayface & Ronald Daggett)
13. “Heart of Steel: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 38 & 39 – H.A.R.D.A.C.)
14. “Birds of a Feather” (Season 1, Episode 47 – The Penguin)
15. “The Demon Within” (Season 3, Episode 18 – Klarion the Witch Boy)
16. “Cold Comfort” (Season 3, Episode 3 – Mr. Freeze)
17. “Two-Face: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 10 & 11 – Two-Face & Rupert Thorne)
18. “Beware the Gray Ghost” (Season 1, Episode 18 – The Mad Bomber)
19. “Old Wounds” (Season 3, Episode 17 – The Joker)
20. “On Leather Wings” (Season 1, Episode 1 – Man-Bat)
21. “Over the Edge” (Season 3, Episode 12 – The Scarecrow & Bane)
22. “Double Talk” (Season 3, Episode 4 – The Ventriloquist)
23. “Judgment Day” (Season 3, Episode 24 – The Judge, Two-Face, Killer Croc, The Riddler & The Penguin)
24. “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?” (Season 1, Episode 40 – The Riddler & Daniel Mockridge)
25. “Harlequinade” (Season 2, Episode 7 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
26. “The Demon’s Quest: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 60 & 61 – Ra’s al Ghul)
27. “Beware the Creeper” (Season 3, Episode 23 – The Creeper, The Joker & Harley Quinn)
28. “Joker’s Favor” (Season 1, Episode 22 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
29. “Robin’s Reckoning: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 32 & 33 – Tony Zucco)
30. “Avatar” (Season 2, Episode 4 – Ra’s al Ghul)
31. “Tyger, Tyger” (Season 1, Episode 42 – Emile Dorian)
32. “Harley and Ivy” (Season 1, Episode 56 – The Joker, Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy)
33. “Legends of the Dark Knight” (Season 3, Episode 19 – The Joker, the Mutants & Firefly)
34. “Torch Song” (Season 3, Episode 10 – Firefly)
35. “Read My Lips” (Season 1, Episode 64 – The Ventriloquist)
36. “Time Out of Joint” (Season 2, Episode 8 – The Clock King)
37. “Mean Seasons” (Season 3, Episode 13 – Calendar Girl)
38. “Harley’s Holiday” (Season 2, Episode 16 – Harley Quinn & Boxy Bennett)
39. “Shadow of the Bat: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 57 & 58 – Two-Face, Rupert Thorne & Gil Mason)
40. “The Last Laugh” (Season 1, Episode 4 – The Joker)
41. “Catwalk” (Season 2, Episode 9 – Catwoman & The Ventriloquist)
42. “Baby-Doll” (Season 2, Episode 11 – Baby-Doll)
43. “Vendetta” (Season 1, Episode 23 – Killer Croc)
44. “The Laughing Fish” (Season 1, Episode 34 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
45. “Pretty Poison” (Season 1, Episode 5 – Poison Ivy)
46. “The Man Who Killed Batman” (Season 1, Episode 51 – The Joker, Harley Quinn & Rupert Thorne)
47. “Cult of the Cat” (Season 3, Episode 15 – Catwoman & Thomas Blake)
48. “The Worry Men” (Season 1, Episode 65 – The Mad Hatter)
49. “Joker’s Millions” (Season 3, Episode 7 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Penguin & Poison Ivy)
50. “Animal Act” (Season 3, Episode 16 – The Mad Hatter)
51. “Showdown” (Season 2, Episode 13 – Ra’s al Ghul)
52. “Almost Got ‘Im” (Season 1, Episode 46 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc and The Penguin)
53. “Terror In the Sky” (Season 1, Episode 45 – She-Bat)
54. “Trial” (Season 2, Episode 3 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, The Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, The Scarecrow, Two-Face & The Ventriloquist)
55. “A Bullet for Bullock” (Season 2, Episode 2 – Vinnie the Shark)
56. “Love is a Croc” (Season 3, Episode 9 – Baby-Doll & Killer Croc)
57. “Riddler’s Reform” (Season 2, Episode 14 – The Riddler)
58. “His Silicon Soul” (Season 1, Episode 62 – H.A.R.D.A.C. & Duplicate Batman)
59. “Joker’s Wild” (Season 1, Episode 41 – The Joker & Cameron Kaiser)
60. “Mudslide” (Season 1, Episode 52 – Clayface)
61. “Be A Clown” (Season 1, Episode 9 – The Joker)
62. “Christmas With the Joker” (Season 1, Episode 2 – The Joker)
63. “Perchance to Dream” (Season 1, Episode 30 – The Mad Hatter)
64. “The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne” (Season 1, Episode 37 – Hugo Strange, The Joker, Two-Face & The Penguin)
65. “The Mechanic” (Season 1, Episode 55 – The Penguin)
66. “Holiday Knights” (Season 3, Episode 1 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, Clayface and Poison Ivy)
67. “Dreams In Darkness” (Season 1, Episode 28 – The Scarecrow)
68. “The Clock King” (Season 1, Episode 25 – The Clock King)
69. “Blind As a Bat” (Season 1, Episode 59 – The Penguin)
70. “Bane” (Season 2, Episode 10 – Bane, Killer Croc & Rupert Thorne)
71. “Girls Night Out” (Season 3, Episode 20 – Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Livewire & The Penguin)
72. “Zatanna” (Season 1, Episode 54 – Montague Kane)
73. “I’ve Got My Batman in My Basement” (Season 1, Episode 13 – The Penguin)
74. “Fear of Victory” (Season 1, Episode 24 – The Scarecrow)
75. “See No Evil” (Season 1, Episode 17 – Lloyd Ventrix)
76. “Nothing to Fear” (Season 1, Episode 3 – The Scarecrow)
77. “Eternal Youth” (Season 1, Episode 29 – Poison Ivy)
78. “You Scratch My Back” (Season 3, Episode 5 – Catwoman)
79. “Off Balance” (Season 1, Episode 50 – Count Vertigo)
80. “Make ‘Em Laugh” (Season 2, Episode 18 – The Joker & The Mad Hatter)
81. The Ultimate Thrill” (Season 3, Episode 11 – The Penguin & Roxy Rocket)
82. “Appointment In Crime Alley” (Season 1, Episode 26 – Roland Daggett)
83. “Cat Scratch Fever” (Season 1, Episode 36 – Catwoman, Roland Daggett & Professor Milo)
84. “The Cape and the Cowl Conspiracy” (Season 1, Episode 31 – Josiah Wormwood)
85. “Lock-Up” (Season 2, Episode 17 – Lock-Up)
86. “Second Chance” (Season 2, Episode 15 – Two-Face, The Penguin & Rupert Thorne)
87. “Chemistry” (Season 3, Episode 22 – Poison Ivy)
88. “The Cat and the Claw: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 15 & 16 – Catwoman & Red Claw)
89. “Night of the Ninja” (Season 1, Episode 35 – Kyodai Ken)
90. “I Am the Night” (Season 1, Episode 49 – The Jazzman)
91. “Moon of the Wolf” (Season 1, Episode 43 – Professor Milo & The Werewolf)
92. “Paging the Crime Doctor” (Season 1, Episode 53 – Rupert Thorne)
93. “It’s Never Too Late” (Season 1, Episode 12 – Rupert Thorne & Arnold Stromwell)
94. “The Terrible Trio” (Season 2, Episode 6 – The Terrible Trio)
95. “Day of the Samurai” (Season 1, Episode 44 – Kyodai Ken)
96. “The Lion and the Unicorn” (Season 2, Episode 12 – Red Claw)
97. “Prophecy of Doom” (Season 1, Episode 19 – Nostromos)
98. “P.O.V.” (Season 1, Episode 7 – A drug lord)
99. “Fire From Olympus” (Season 1, Episode 63 – Maxie Zeus)
100. “The Underdwellers” (Season 1, Episode 6 – Sewer King)
101. “Critters” (Season 3, Episode 14 – Farmer Brown)
102. “The Forgotten” (Season 1, Episode 8 – Boss Biggis)

TV Review: Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995, 1997-1999)

Also known as: The Adventures of Batman & Robin, The New Batman Adventures (relaunched direct sequel series)
Original Run: September 5th, 1992 – September 15th, 1995 (original series run), September 13th, 1997 – January 16th, 1999 (sequel series run)
Created by: Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski
Directed by: Kevin Altieri, Kent Butterworth, Boyd Kirkland, Frank Paur, Eric Radomski, Dan Riba, Dick Sebast, Bruce Timm
Written by: Laren Bright, Alan Burnett, Sean Catherine Derek, Paul Dini, Steve Perry, Michael Reaves, Randy Rogel, Brynne Stephens
Based on: Batman by Bob Kane
Music by: Danny Elfman (theme), various
Cast: Kevin Conroy, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Bob Hastings, Robert Costanzo, Loren Lester, Mark Hamill, Arleen Sorkin

DC Comics, Warner Bros., Fox, 109 Episodes, 22 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*Written in 2014. Also covers the sequel series, which is more or less now considered the final season of the show.

I’ve been revisiting this series lately, as it has been a long time since I’ve watched it in its entirety. Also, I wanted to do a list for this site that counts down the top fifty episodes of the series. That post will come in the near future.

In my estimation, this is probably the greatest animated series of all-time. Many will argue against that but I can’t think of any other that was as entertaining, epic, stylish, consistent, engaging or that had the quality of this series. There were a few hiccups with episodes drawn by lesser quality animation studios but those houses were quickly let go, as the show’s producers felt a necessity to maintain the show’s otherwise impeccable quality.

Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski created a unique world for Batman to play in and Paul Dini (who later went on to write amazing Batman comics) created some amazing scripts. In fact, their legacy and the influence of this show will live on forever, as many of the characters and situations created for the show, went on to live in the comic books.

Without this show, we would not have Harley Quinn, Renee Montoya and the awesome origin of Mr. Freeze, which was so awesome that it propelled him to being the greatest villain in this series and lead to him being featured as the main protagonist in the second animated film based off of this series.

Batman: The Animated Series was also innovative in the way that they produced it visually. As opposed to the industry standard of designing large set pieces and landscapes by coloring in white paper, they instead used light colors painted over black backgrounds. It provided this show with a dark atmosphere but not in a dreary way; it was more of an inviting film-noir style with very complimentary and carefully chosen colors added in.

The voice actors in this series were top notch. Mark Hamill, who was typecast after playing the iconic Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy, was given a second life when he was cast to voice the Joker. Kevin Conroy was equally as good as Batman. Both men actually continued to voice these characters for years after this show went off the air. In fact, both voiced these characters as recently as the Arkham video game series and some of the animated movies.

For an American produced animated series, this show is about as perfect as you can get. There are very few shows that can maintain a level of quality this high for over 100 episodes.

TV Review: Mob City (2013)

Original Run: December 4th, 2013 – December 18th, 2013
Created by: Frank Darabont
Directed by: Frank Darabont, Guy Ferland
Written by: Frank Darabont, Michael Sloane, David J. Schow, David Leslie Johnson
Based on: L.A. Noir by John Buntin
Music by: Mark Isham
Cast: Jon Bernthal, Milo Ventimiglia, Neal McDonough, Alexa Davalos, Jeffrey DeMunn, Robert Knepper, Jeremy Luke, Gregory Itzin, Edward Burns, Dana Gould, Simon Pegg, Ernie Hudson, Patrick Fischler

Darkwoods Productions, Swiftly Productions, Michael DeLuca Productions, TNT, 6 Episodes, 45 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Frank Darabont was the man that brought The Walking Dead to the small screen back in 2010. Unfortunately, he was the showrunner for only a short time. AMC fired him after two seasons and it actually angered some of the cast members who were close to Darabont. He took two of those actors with him to this show, which became his big project after being let go by AMC.

Darabont went to TNT with the idea of adapting the book L.A. Noir for television. He cast Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead‘s Shane) as the lead and also got Jeffrey DeMunn (Dale from The Walking Dead) to play a pivotal role. Sadly, this would not become the runaway success that TNT had hoped for after Darabont smashed cable records with The Walking Dead.

Mob City is much better than decent but it also didn’t exist long enough to truly find its footing. The way in which it was released also probably hurt it. It came out in the middle of the Christmas holiday television season with episodes played back-to-back like two hour movies over the course of three weeks. It was treated more like a miniseries than a show and this may have confused people and just got lost in the holiday shuffle.

The real problem with Mob City, however, is that six episodes just aren’t enough to really get invested in it. I didn’t feel invested in The Walking Dead after its very short first season, either. Imagine if all you ever knew was season one of The Walking Dead. It has evolved into a much different show over time. Even though a small sample size created a long lasting legacy for AMC, a small sample size is just a small sample size and it didn’t work the same way for TNT’s Mob City.

Mob City told a quick story over its six episodes but it was just enough to get you interested on what this show could be over the long haul. It even ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, as you know that there is a bigger story just on the horizon. Unfortunately, we’ll never get that.

It is hard to give a show a fair look with only six episodes. Mob City was intriguing and offered up some really cool bits in its short run. The shootout on the carousel in episode three was magnificent. The end of the season was also great. But ultimately, there just wasn’t enough time to really get to know these characters or to be able to sink your teeth into a show that felt like it had riches to bestow on its audience. But kudos to the writers, because these characters left you wanting to get to know them much more intimately.