Favorite Television Shows

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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sat Sep 17, 2016 3:16 pm

Watched The Man in the High Castle, adapted from Philip K. Dick's alternate history book. Premise: The allies lost WW2, Germany dropping Atomic Bomb and US is now split in three parts, West now the Japanese Pacific States, Greater Nazi Reich in the east and the Neutral Zone in the centre. Now in 1962 with Hitler (Wolf Muser) ageing and tensions mounting, all sides (including the resistance) chase mysterious film footage.

Even if you don't watch the series and have no interest in this type of program, it is worth looking for the opening title sequence with Jeanette Olsson's haunting rendition of Edelweiss. For those intending to watch it, heads up that second episode is over an hour.

People either love it or find it really slow and it certainly has a very slow pace. At the start I didn't enjoy it as the series concentrated on the resistance, using Juliana Crane (Alexa Davalos) and Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) as the ground level human interest pieces. It made sense to do that, it allowed them to show how USA is different (though the first episode was so unsubtle one expected each scene to start with a marching band singing "WE ARE NAZI'S") which it usually did well with the little and big changes bar said first episode. It gave human, American faces to this new world but in the early episodes, I would enjoy around 30 minutes and then get bored as though good individual characters and some good scenes, by themselves they lacked the ability to hold the fascinating for forty minutes.

It was when the likes of the Japanese Trade Minister (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), Obergruppenführer Smith (Rufus Sewell), Chief Inspector Kido (Joel de la Fuente) come not only into play but become involved in their lives, when it is less about the Crane's and Blake's. The plans at the top are intresting but also the top characters are the most intresting, nearly all the best scenes are with the top figures then the guys on the ground. There are some great scenes with the people on the ground
Frank Field's family being gassed and the reaction to that though it kind of got dropped, Robert Childan's desperation to fit in with his masters
but the ones that hit and time again are the ones around the likes of Kido and Smith, as we learn about their personal lives.

Overall I would say it is an intresting show and I look forward to seeing season two but I hope it remembers the need to keep the top guys in and doesn't try to make it too much about the Crane's, Field's and Blakes
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Sep 22, 2016 4:12 pm

Watched mystery show American Gothic. Premise: Leading Boston family, the Hawthorne-Price, seem to have everything, even has eldest daughter Alison (Juliet Rylance) running for mayor. However when the old murder mystery of the Silver Bells killer is revived, it begins to cause problems for the family...

It creates a good core set of characters with the family and a good dynamics though a few side characters like Alison's husband Tom (Dylan Bruce) are badly underdone. Mystery is slightly overdone at start but it calms down and has good pace, enjoyable twists and turns, is fairly good at giving the characters a fair kicking when deserved bar one thing
major spoiler
Cam (Justin Chatwin) history of drugs despite having child is fine when it comes to his kid but his wife's Sophie (Stephanie Leonidas) history is suddenly the big no no? What Sophie did was wrong but Cam is not much better.
. On the mystery end
major spoilers
Had Sophie been revealed with the same sense of character as the first half, it would have really worked. There was that sense of intelligence, drive and a ruthlessness that could easily be murder, the second half she became a weaker, more passive character so when the mystery is revealed and she becomes hard again... it doesn't quite fully work.
. Cast do a good job, nice romances, I thoroughly enjoyed the darker characters as they unfolded.

It was a nice show but if it returns (as I understand it with different set of characters and mystery), one thing it needs to do is sort an issue every 4 or so episodes where the whole episode would be shot in a really weird fashion that undermined whatever was going on screen.
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sat Sep 24, 2016 3:41 pm

Watched the final season of Devious Maids. Was the usual fun mystery, lots of humour, romances a bit mixed, had flair and sense of not taking itself too seriously. One new character feels like the type of character it has done several times before and it got away with it but with sense "if they do that one more time..."
who
Fiona (Kate Beahan)
. Pacing seemed off by end, felt going into the finale that it was still a few episodes off from being able to wrap up properly and it did hamper the finale. So did two bad finale decisions
ending spoilers
1) the choice of the killer was... a side character who was fun comedy but never more then that, let alone a sign of ruthless killer, left the reveal rather flat. 2) a man is cheated on so he is unhappy with the lady=he is a git who should apologize to the nice lady? WTH?


The show overall? It was an inferior version of Desperate Housewives, it had the flair, the humour, tended not to have the slow starts thankfully, it had a seasonal murder mystery and to it's boost, the wicked Powell's and the flair of Genevieve. Pacing could be a problem and it lacked Desperate Housewives ability for really strong characters and emotional power it was a lightly, fluffier show.
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Oct 12, 2016 4:19 pm

Watched season 2 of Daredevil. Changed show-runner, they had the good idea of advertising two of daredevils more recognisable foes: The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) and Electra (Élodie Yung), the latter like Daredevil now hoping to escape the infamy of bad films.

It started slowly for me, the action was still superb and I even applauded one scene, there was still strong exchanges between team Daredevil, a nice romance, some fun new characters
like
the district attorney
but 1) it felt smaller scale, 2) the writing didn't quite seem as sharp in a few moments, 3) it took a few episodes for the costume to feel right 4) the Punisher. I can see on paper how well the Punisher works, the differing codes, the comparisons and contrasts to Daredevil, the way it allows for great action scenes. The latter certainly happened but I felt Bernthal was flat during some key early scenes, what should have felt like exciting and major confrontations just fell flat.

As series went on, it found it's old strength, the writing felt sharper and the way Punisher was used seemed to help mitigate the problem. Themes built up, relationships continued to evolve, it built up wider world, some nice nods to the other shows, action was still awesome and Electra helped, Yung giving a charismatic, fun performance but also living up to the character's darker side, I enjoyed her scenes. Some great twists and turns, finale didn't quite land but the episodes leading up to it very much did.

-The Irish gang killings, the gunshop owner were great early scenes, the episode three brawl all early examples of great fights and it continued with great action scene after great action scene. From a guy who gets bored easily during action scenes

-I like Melvin

-Reyes made a good lawyer opponent and a threat to Nelson and Murdoch

-The Electra flashback to her love of Matt was really good, the love was there but also were they divided, the dark side of her. Glad she will likely to be ressecurated by the Hand

-The Karen-Matt romance was sweetly awkward but fell apart a bit quickly. Ditto the Nelson-Murdoch friendship and it will be intresting to see how Foggy is used now the duo have been broken up. Sadly but rightly. Also hope to see more of Foggy's girlfriend Marci, their scenes tend to be amusing

-The trial was good and when Frank was with Karen, he clicked more then he did with Daredevil

-Fisk is still awesome as is Madam Gao

-Grew to like Stick's presence having hated him in season 1

-Claire was well used, was also nice to see Jeri Hogarth.

-The children were creepy

-I like the editor and helped move Karen to a wider role
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Oct 17, 2016 4:51 pm

Watched AMC's adaptation of the DC Comic Preacher with a cast full of people who worked on comic shows before or Misfits. Premise: In small town in Texas, Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper aka Howard Stark) is a struggling preacher in his father's church with the only the help of Emily (Lucy Griffiths, Constantine pilot). A strange power enters Custer that gives him powers... meanwhile the vampire Cassidy (Joe Gilgun, Misfits) and Custer's ex-girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga. Agents of Shield and Misfits) come to town.

From what I gather, the comic is well regarded but very adult in terms of violence, humour (there is a character called Arseface) and goes into intresting religious areas. So naturally Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen and Sam Catlin had difficult getting it launched. From what I gather, it has been toned down for mainstream TV and they carefully advance on the religious front but from looking around, the comic book fans think they got the balance right between that need+staying true to the comics.

It started slowly for me, some great individual moments, a strong cast with charisma but it wasn't quite knitting and I struggled to warm or care for or be interested in Jesse for awhile. The shining moments would be the pair of Anatol Yusef and Tom Brooke in those early days though Cassidy and Tulip had some great moments. As things start knitting together, I got more and more into it: it's (with a deliberate dark comedy edge) slant on small town Texas is intresting about what it says about people. It creates a world, not just the characters mentioned or the powerful Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley) who make their mark but smaller figures like Eugene (Ian Colletti) and his father Sheriff (W. Earl Brown) with their struggles to cope with the "arse face" (visually works well actually and the theme is well done) issue being quite sad, Donnie (Derek Wilson), the mascots, the mayor (Ricky Mabe), all get time, all get fleshed out in some way.

The show picks it's moments of humour to be carefully done in unexpected ways from, for example, it's timing for place names or speeches going in ways utterly unexpected. Has some nice southern music, good visual effects when needed, the show masters the art of the surprise, a slight of hand here, the unexpected. The ability to make you feel or think one thing then turn everything you were expecting on it's head in a scene or in a little moment later on. It gets round the "can't go Daredevil top quality brutal action" by making a virtue of it's problems, when it can it does good action but rather then give you half-baked one, the writers think on their feet. Well inserted humour, doing something that will make the scene different from usual action scenes, make them memorable.

-1881 scene very well done with Graham McTavish an imposing figure. The later scene with his revenge was great... then they repeated the whole thing to death

-I liked the lullaby for Genesis

-The Tom Cruise thing was quietly done and amusing

-Tulip and Cassidy had great opening scenes

-I enjoyed the twist about the women hunt in episode 4

-DonnyxBessie4eva. They were an example of how it fleshes out characters quickly, but also how it lures you one way: "Donnie the wife beater" and turns it on it's head. Bessie likes it rough.

-Food Court will be one of the great battle cries of history and Quincannon's rallying speech was great fun

-The feeding the vampire scenes were well done becuase of the way they built up the things that would be sacrificed

-The 1881 revenge scene or the angels fight through the keyhole perfect examples of how they do action

-God of Meat!

-Loved the ending as everyone discovers God is missing then the accident but does that mean the end for Emily, Donnie, Bessie and others? The Sheriff? I fear it will have lost something great without the town as good as Tulip, Angles and Cassidy are.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Oct 24, 2016 7:09 pm

Watched spin off Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Premise: Alice (Sophie Lowe) is locked up in an asylum as she struggles with memories of Wonderland and her love of genie Cyrus (Peter Gadiot). Just as she is prepared to give up, she is rescued by the Knave (Michael Socha) and White Rabbit (John Lithgow) who need help against the Red Queen (Emma Rigby).

Do you need to have seen Once Upon A Time for this? No, a few nice nods but kept very separate.

With the popularity of Once Upon A Time, the plan had been for it to be shown in the gaps between the seasons which would have helped it keep Once Upon A Time audience. Alas ABC decided to change it to fill a Thursday slot that had been struggling and that idea failed. Got decent but not great reviews, a small but passionate fanbase but not the numbers and was cancelled after first season. Thankfully it had been set up so first season told a contained story at least.

It started badly. Once Upon A Time has always had awful CGI so having a show that heavily relied on it was a bizarre call and it never looks good while it leads to problems with voiced characters, the Caterpillar (Iggy Pop) never feels more then Iggy Pop voice and it takes a long while for the White Rabbit to escape that. Sophie Lowe is an actress who can play some characters very well and there are some things, like the damaged side of Alice, she does well at but in the opening episodes it relies on her romance to have chemistry and easy banter with the knave. The romance is alright but lacks a bit of sizzle at the start and though Socha provides humour, Lowe can not provide the easy bantering charm (though she can be amusing) needed for the lead. It might have been better to swap her and Rigby around.

Yet when the showed finished, we were gutted. Some of the reasons for that were already there at the start, some good humour, good use of one-off characters, an entertaining villain. The show moved away from relying heavily on it's main two characters to involve more characters which helped, there were some great backstories particularly of the villains
I really enjoyed Jafar's (Naveen Andrews) particularly. Credit to Peta Sergeant as Jabbarwock, really used her body well
, good adventures, lots of intresting characters, a good overall story. There was one misstep about a character we were supposed to see as a goody
Jaffar's father (Brian George) tried to murder his own son and greatly damaged him emotionally but we are supposed to back his refusal to love his evil son years later?


We would look forward to it each week and even though we knew it was one season only, we couldn't help but be disappointed to say goodbye to Alice, Knave and all the others
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:35 pm

Watched 2nd half of season 2 of Fear the Walking Dead with the show needing to recover from a first half that was bookended by dreadful parts. It opened with some different for first episode which helped, could be a little erratic for first few episodes but got stronger and stronger. It got back to what it did well in the past, concentrating on the characters, got the logic right bar one thing
late in season
The anger of mass murderers to someone else killing was extremely rich
off the top of my head, storylines were intresting
one I particularly liked
Travis and Chris
, some nice twists. Finale underwhelmed a little but it was far more like one would expect a Walking Dead show at it's best.

There where issues, one character might as well not have bothered to turn up
Ophelia
, one introduced immediately screamed "main character love interest"
who
Luciana (Danay García) and Nick
, said character does get fleshed out but it never quite shakes that issue. Then there is Alicia, a character I have always liked and whose actress (Alycia Debnam-Carey) the show was delighted to get. Yet the show seemed to decide to turn here into a kick-ass action figure and that never clicked, it felt flat and unnatural. Then they dropped that which was great and came up with a clever idea but blew it by retconning season 1
Alicia's anger at the favouring of Nick from mother was fair enough. Acting as if she was never shielding when her mother was doing it in season 1 and first half of season 2, and the mother agrees that this is the case, is factually incorrect.
.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Oct 27, 2016 6:54 pm

Caught up with the animated spy comedy Archer, was a time it flagged a bit in the middle and the change of scenery is more then welcome, Pam and Cheryl become miss and the odd brilliant hit but even when it was lagging, I still looked forward to Archer. Good guest characters, the unhealthy relationships, the ridiculous and at times brilliant adventures, the humour, I particularly loved when Sterling would suddenly show expert knowledge.

====

Saw second half of season 5 of Once Upon A Time which had the old strengths of humour (and brought the innuendo back), characters, some nice backstories, fun one liners and insults, romance. They had a really clever setting idea that allowed them to shake things up
going to Hades and thus meeting some old characters like the great Cruella
, provided a decent but not great as great a villain as we first hoped
Hades (Greg Germann) started really well but his performance dipped to fine. CGI hair didn't help
. Ends the main story early so it can transition to season 6 which by itself is entertaining but doesn't quite segue well. One disappointment is they had the chance to do something brave and flunked it.

-Megara kind of disappointing

-I hope they find some way to bring Cruella into the show more, her humour is a lot of fun

-I liked they managed to fit in Camelot and give Arthur a moment of redemption. Also I like the HenryxVictoria (Olivia Steele Falconer) even if Henry and his anti-magic strop was annoying. Would have been hilaroius if he had to live with the consequences of his own actions

-Hyde (Sam Witwer) is an intimidating figure, not sure about the two Regina's thing.

-HoodxDorothy felt forced

-I liked the flashback about Regina and Zelina meeting as sisters, Zelina meeting and being wooed by Hades and how Emma got her coat.

-Robin Hood had been pushed increasingly to the side, Zelina had taken his spot, but was sorry to see his character killed. I thought Hook's "death" was extremely well done, felt appropriate after all the effort and could have had a big impact on a few characters so was rather annoyed when they magicked him back
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Nov 03, 2016 4:24 pm

Watched FOX Tv show Lucifer, apparently based on a character from the comic Sandman. Premise: Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) is bored of Hell so, taking bodyguard Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt) with him, he goes to LA and becomes a nightclub owner. After a murder, Lucifer attaches himself to Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) to help punish the killer.

Like a lot of cop shows nowadays, the case of the week isn't about a great mystery trying to solve, it is more a route into wider storylines and themes and perhaps a mystery of the season. So what about the devil angle? It does feel like the writers have thought about it. The character is charming, can see the ability to manipulate and plan on people, can see how Lucifer woos people into his bed, one moment he feels like the charming gentlemen... then the crude side of his lust, the petulance, the ruthless side will suddenly appear. I'm not sure how the route it goes down about Lucifer fits with theology but I did find the way they set out Lucifer's past and relationship with God to be intresting. It is not a deep intellectual show though as intresting as I find the idea's.

Some decent action, show has a sense of humour, characters get fleshed out well enough like Decker, the psychiatrist (Rachael Harris) is used well, nice mix of the earthly and the hell, it goes at a nice pace, the overall mystery is pretty good. Generally the episodes are fun, mixing things up well, exploring a few idea's, keeping Lucifer from being too loveable, the main detective-Lucifer relationship good to watch.

The cast aren't great. Tom Ellis is a good Lucifer and has charisma+ability to manipulate but I have seen actors who I have felt could be even better, the other cast members can have moments where the performance goes clunky with German in particular prone to bad moments.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Nov 11, 2016 5:35 pm

Sky created adventure show Hooten and the Lady: Lady Alex (Ophelia Lovibond) persuades the British Museum to let her search for the lost camp of Victorian explorer Percy Fawcett in the Amazon and bumps into American treasure hunter Hooten (Michael Landes), both having very different goals as they end up hunting for histories great treasures...

There is logic behind Sky doing this, adventures like Relic Hunter were popular and there isn't a modern equivalent that I'm aware of so why not try to exploit the gap? Problem is starts badly. Early episodes have clunky exposition, waste the historical period/artefacts they are discussing to the point where they might as well be hunting a frying pan at my house for all it matters and the adventures drag badly. It also has a really bad tendency to stereotype cultures they visit, in some cases Boris Johnson level offensively bad.

The stereotypes remain an issue throughout but there were signs of what it became. The two leads had a good chemistry, there were moments of humour, the episodic villains were decent and support characters like Ella (Jessica Hynes) were fun. As the show went on, it improved on the good points so it got funnier, played well with the leaders, stronger villains but it also fixed the problems (bar the said stereotypes). End to clunky exposition, the history and location feel important and lead to some good adventures. It isn't a great show but it went along nicely enough by the end.

=====

Decided to stop watching Big Bang Theory part way through series 10. It wasn't bad or anything, it still had a bit of humour, characters I remember fondly but it just been lacking something to keep me intrested.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
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