tv shows

History is More Magical Than You Think (“Harry Potter: A History of Magic book/BBC Documentary REVIEW) 

Harry-Potter-A-History-of-Magic-CoverI’m only a month late in talking about this, but what’s a month or two between friends? Two books, a BBC Two documentary, and an entire museum exhibit. These are the latest developments in the Harry Potter universe (as of October 2017) as the British Library launches its look into the real-life history of magic and how it intercepts J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. As a fan of both the Wizarding World and really great museum exhibits, I have to say that this excited me. I haven’t been able to go to the actual museum exhibit (as it’s in London and I am not), but I have read the official book of the exhibit: Harry Potter: A History of Magic and see the accompanying BBC Two Documentary. And it’s fab. Harry Potter: A History of Magic explores the intersection of history and fantasy. It’s common knowledge that much of J.K. Rowling’s world-building in the Wizarding World series originates from real history and myth, but just how much of it was real? Harry Potter: A History of Magic seeks to answer that question, and answer it, it does – with lots of panache. (more…)

Someone Stop Ryan Murphy From Undermining His Own Stories (American Horror Story: Cult – REVIEW)

dohxigpumaexbpxHas nobody talked to Ryan Murphy about his unfortunate habit of completely undermining the great stories he frequently begins telling? It seems to be the case with every season of American Horror Story that by the time the finale comes around, the season has built itself up to be a pretty good story only for the finale to let it all down. Unfortunately, Ryan Murphy doesn’t break this trend with AHS: Cult. He comes awful close to succeeding, too, though. The finale was nearly a perfect cap to a truly great season – my favorite since Asylum, but then that final shot of the episode happened. In Great Again, written by Tim Minear and directed by Jennifer Lynch, the events of the season come to a breaking point as the mole in the cult is revealed and Kai’s (Evan Peters) kingdom comes crumbling down around him while Ally (Sarah Paulson) makes a bid for Michigan Senatorial race. (Major spoilers ahead!!!)  (more…)

Ghosted Could Be a Truly Good TV Show if Only it Had a Longer Run Time (Ghosted S01E06 – “Sam” REVIEW)

ffghosted_ep106_sc5_0004_f_hires1_fullThere’s a good show somewhere deep inside of Ghosted just waiting to reach the surface. The obstacle in its way: Ghosted‘s runtime. The problem with the show lies in the fact that it doesn’t have enough time to properly explore its case of the week plots and its character development. Tonight’s episode, “Sam“, perfectly demonstrated this. The episode was a perfect example of everything good and everything bad about Ghosted. Written by Ryan Ridley and directed by Jamie Babbit, “Sam” is the sixth episode of the new FOX comedy GhostedWhile Captain Lafrey (Ally Walker) is out, Annie (Amber Stevens West) installs a smooth-talking Artificial Intelligence, “Sam,” (Dax Shepard) to manage the office, but Max (Adam Scott) and Leroy (Craig Robinson) are put to the test when “Sam” turns out to be an evil and powerful force trying to take down the Bureau Underground. All the while, Max is jealous when Leroy makes a new friend. (Mild spoilers follow) (more…)

Disney Just Doesn’t Know When to Stop: A New Star Wars Trilogy from Rian Johnson AND a New Live Action Star Wars TV Series for Disney’s Streaming Service

1200px-star_wars_logo-svgSigh. In case anybody really had hopes that Disney wouldn’t turn Star Wars into an oversaturated MCU-style franchise of movies and TV series, consider those hopes dashed.

Today, Disney announced an all-new trilogy of Star Wars films from Rian Johnson. This new trilogy will be complete unconnected to the Skywalker Saga films (aka the main “Episodes”) and will be in addition to the seemingly endless onslaught of stand-alone Star Wars films (which really didn’t get off to a great start with the utterly mediocre Rogue One and doesn’t look to be getting any better with the utter catastrophe that was the production of Solo, what with the firing of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller as the directors of the film and the reshooting of essentially the entire movie).

And, if that wasn’t enough, it was also announced that Disney would be premiering a live-action Star Wars TV series on their upcoming streaming platform (think along the lines of CBS All Access) in 2019.

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REVIEW: Lore (2017 TV Adaptation)

mv5bmja3odqwnzm0of5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjy5mtczmzi-_v1_Lore does the cool thing where it mixes dramatized accounts of real stories with documentary footage while Aaron Mahnke narrates the background of some aspect of folklore. It surprisingly works, really really well. Lore, based on the podcast created by Aaron Mahnke, is a horror anthology that explores the real-life events that spawned our darkest nightmares. Blending dramatic scenes, animation, archival footage, and narration, Lore reveals how our horror legends – such as vampires, werewolves, and body snatchers – are rooted in truth. The first season runs six episodes and covers topics that range from vampires, werewolves, lobotomies, ghosts, fairies, and creepy dolls. It’s worth noting that Lore is a nonfiction series; it’s not one of those shows that tries to convince the audience that ghosts are real or anything. It presents the real-life history behind some of our most famous folklore. How did the modern image of vampires and werewolves come about? What is the significance of Irish fairies? It’s questions like these that Lore seeks to answer. (Mild spoilers follow) 

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The Art of Adaptation – A Thoroughly Modern Essay

We’ve all seen good adaptations of things we love and we’ve all seen bad ones. But what, exactly, makes an adaptation good? For the past… pretty much forever… Hollywood, in particular, has been adapting anything it could get its hands on. From books, to tv, to theatre, to video games, Hollywood loves adaptations. The problem is that the adaptations are often not very good at all. You see this with books, like Eragon and the Percy Jackson series and TV shows like Dark Shadows and Video Games like Assassin’s Creed and musicals like RENT and even anime like Death Note and Ghost in the Shell.

The question becomes, why are there so many lousy adaptations? Especially when most of them are based on properties that are really well made in their original mediums? Where is the disconnect?

Contrary to popular belief, there really is an art to adaptation. There are four key things that a good adaptation must adhere to. Respect for the source material and characters, not being a slave to the source material, knowing what to change and what to keep, and telling a story in the most cohesive and interesting way that utilizes the best of what the specific medium has to offer.

Bad adaptations, usually get at least one of those key things wrong, if not more than one of them. So, let’s explore them more in depth and see if we can’t figure out how to go about making a good adaptation.  (more…)

REVIEW: People of Earth (Seasons 1 and 2)

mv5bmtuzmtcxnzg0nl5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdiwnzczmdi-_v1_sy1000_cr006671000_al_Who’d have thought that one of the funniest, most consistently well-written shows on TV would be a comedy series about a support group for alien abductees? Well, People of Earth is just that. Created by David Jenkins, People of Earth follows journalist Ozzie Graham (Wyatt Cenac) as he is assigned to investigate a local support group for alien abductees, Starstruck. The deeper his investigation goes, the more seduced by the idea he becomes until he slowly discovers that he, himself, was abducted by aliens as a child. Everything Ozzie ever knew was a lie as his life unravels before his eyes and everything becomes a lot weirder than he’d ever imagined they could be. Meanwhile, on a ship orbiting the Earth, a group of aliens, Jeff, Don, and Kurt, continue making preparations for the upcoming invasion of Earth by their respective races. Little do they know that their plans may be about to be revealed to Ozzie by a traitor from their own ranks… (Mild spoilers ahead).  (more…)

REVIEW: FOX’s Ghosted, S01E01 – Pilot

ghosted-1x01-16You know how there always ends up being that one show that has a premise that you’re super into and a trailer that really gets you pumped and it ends up being disappointing as all get out? Yeah, Ghosted was that show for me. Created by Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten, Ghosted is basically what you’d get if you made The X-Files into a sitcom, executed it as a buddy-cop story, and had it star two men. In the pilot episode of Ghosted, a key member of The Bureau Underground – a top-secret government agency – goes missing. Subsequently, Leroy (Craig Robinson), a cynical former detective, and Max (Adam Scott), a genius “true believer” in the paranormal, are recruited to find him. The two polar opposites must work together to find the agent while uncovering possible alien activity and chilling “unexplained” paranormal events in their own city of Los Angeles. (Mild spoilers follow)  (more…)

REVIEW: Strike – The Silkworm (BBC Adaptation)

The SilkwormThe Silkworm is stronger than The Cuckoo’s Calling in nearly every way. This is the case for the book and it’s the case for BBC’s TV adaptation, as well. Based on the novel by Robert Galbraith (a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling), The Silkworm continues the story of Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke) and his assistant, Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger) a number of months after the end of The Cuckoo’s Calling. Adapted by Tom Edge and directed by Kieron Hawkes, The Silkworm follows Cormoran and Robin as they investigate the mysterious disappearance of Owen Quine (Jeremy Swift) at the behest of his wife, Leonora (Monica Dolan). Owen is a provocative and somewhat famous author known for writing odd and often vulgar novels. At the time of his disappearance, Owen has just sent off the manuscript for his latest novel, Bombyx Mori, which features a “thinly veiled” slandering of many people he knows. When his body turns up dead and mutilated in exactly the same way the protagonist of Bombyx Mori’s protagonist’s death scene, the race is on to find out who, out of all those who have read Bombyx Mori, could have killed Owen Quine. (Mild Spoilers ahead)  (more…)

REVIEW: Strike – The Cuckoo’s Calling (2017 BBC Adaptation) 

Strike (1226724)Like the novel it’s based on, BBC’s adaptation of The Cuckoo’s Calling isn’t anything revolutionary, but it sure is a lot of fun. Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling is the first installment of BBC’s series of adaptations of Robert Galbraith’s (a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling) Cormoran Strike novels. Written by Ben Richards and directed by Michael Keillor, The Cuckoo’s Calling tells the story of Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke) and Robin Ellacott’s (Holliday Grainger) investigation into the death of Lula Landry (Elarica Johnson). After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Comormoran Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow (Leo Bill) walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man. (As always, spoilers follow)  (more…)