tv shows

REVIEW: “Dumbo” 2019

dumbo posterDisney just keeps remaking their animated movies, huh? It all could be traced back to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland – fittingly directed by Tim Burton, the same director helming this latest live-action remake. From there, Disney just kept on going down the proverbial rabbit hole with remakes. Their latest trip down said rabbit hole – one of no less than three live-action remakes due to be released theatrically this year (with a fourth expected to premiere on the Disney + streaming service by the end of the year), Dumbo is a live-action remake of the classic 1941 Disney cartoon of the same name. This time, helmed by director Tim Burton and screenwriter Ehren Kruger, Dumbo expands that fairly short animated film into a nearly two-hour long Tim Burton extravaganza. The problem is: nobody was really asking for a Dumbo remake. So, is it actually any good, or is it just another mediocre film from Disney, a company that seems to specialize in releasing mediocre films all throughout their various film studios? Answer: it’s the latter.

From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure “Dumbo” expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.

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“The Twilight Zone” Reboot is Every Bit as Inconsistent as the Original Run

mv5bnznknjm0ytety2mwni00otjmlwfhmjatn2m0ztmwotmxoty1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjiwmjy2mzu40._v1_sy1000_cr006861000_al_Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone is widely considered a beloved show from TV’s first golden age. And rightfully so. Serling, famously annoyed at the neutering many of his previous projects had gone through at the hands of network execs, managed to blend the serious subject matter he wanted to discuss with elements of science fiction/fantasy/horror, thus allowing his radical ideas to slip by a bit less noticed by the network brass. It was a genuine work of genius that brought science fiction into the mainstream lives of many Americans who, otherwise, might not have been exposed to the genre in such a sophisticated way. What is often forgotten, however, is how wildly inconsistent the original run of the series could be. For every brilliant, memorable episode, there was at least one episode – if not multiple – that was utterly forgettable. That’s the dice roll you get with anthology shows and The Twilight Zone was no exception. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise to hear that the first two episodes of CBS’ newest reboot of the series are just as inconsistent as the originals were. (There will be spoilers for the first two episodes of The Twilight Zone.)

The original “The Twilight Zone” premiered on Oct. 2, 1959 on CBS. The series took viewers to another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. As the godfather of sci-fi series, the show explored humanity’s hopes, despairs, prides and prejudices in metaphoric ways conventional dramas could not.

In 2019 viewers will enter another dimension with Jordan Peele and Simon Kinberg’s modern re-imagining of the classic. CBS All Access’ THE TWILIGHT ZONE anthology series will bring the original show’s legacy of socially conscious storytelling to modern day audiences, exploring the human condition and holding a lens up to the culture of our times.

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REVIEW: “American Gods” S02E04 – The Greatest Story Ever Told

American Gods Season 2 2019American Gods continues its second season with another very good episode. While last week’s episode moved the plot along at a pretty speedy pace, this week’s episode slowed things down a bit more with a more introspective episode, filled to the brim with conversations about religion and faith, as well as renewal. Like I said, it was a pretty good episode. (There will be spoilers ahead!)

Episode 2×04: The Greatest Story Ever Told (Written by Peter Calloway and Aditi Brennan Kapil, directed by Stacie Passon)
While Shadow (Ricky Whittle) and Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) take a secret meeting in St. Louis, Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) arrives at the funeral home in Cairo, where she engages in a debate with Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) and Mr. Ibis (Demore Barnes). Laura (Emily Browning) rejoins Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber), and Tech Boy (Bruce Langley) pays a visit to his first worshipper (Andrew Koji).

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REVIEW: NBC’s “Abby’s”

Abby's - Season PilotI really enjoy the shows that Michael Schur produces. All of them manage to do this thing where the jokes aren’t coming at the expense of any of the characters, but rather comes at the expensive of whatever ridiculous thing they’ve just done. Any time I watch a Michael Schur show, I always leave the episode feeling happier – even if something sad has happened. That’s the joy of Michael Schur’s shows. So, when NBC announced that another show, produced by Schur, would be premiering, I was over the moon. Add in a starring role for Natalie Morales and I’m even more sold. Created by Josh Malmuth and executive produced by Michael Schur, Abby’s is a delightful throwback sitcom, filmed in front of a live audience on (mainly) a single set, that features great writing, even better characters, and a whole lot of laughs.

From Michael Schur and Josh Malmuth comes a hilarious new comedy about the best neighborhood bar in San Diego –– home to low prices, good company and, of course, Abby (Natalie Morales). This unlicensed, makeshift establishment in Abby’s backyard is the perfect gathering place for locals to find camaraderie and sanctuary. To maintain the perfect bar ecosystem, all patrons must abide by a specific set of rules. This includes no cell phones (not even to look something up), understanding that earning a seat at the bar takes time to rise through the hierarchy and knowing that losing a challenge may have some unpleasant and unpalatable drink-related repercussions.

As bar owner, Abby has found her true calling, hosting friends and newcomers alike. No nonsense, Abby is ex-military, having served two tours as a Staff Sergeant in the Marines. Her world is shaken when new landlord Bill (Nelson Franklin), who recently inherited the house from his deceased aunt, unexpectedly shows up citing all kinds of reasons why the whole venture is illegal. Newly divorced, he is a cautious worrier and definite non-risk-taker who eventually warms to the place and agrees to let the bar remain open, provided Abby makes some changes.

The cast of regulars also includes Fred (Neil Flynn), a fixture at the bar who is grateful for a place to enjoy a beer and conversation – and refuses to allow some bureaucratic busybody to disrupt his perfect refuge; Beth (Jessica Chaffin), a harried mom living next door who can escape the madness of her home life while still keeping an eye on things from her perch atop a bar stool; Rosie (Kimia Behpoornia), the bar manager who prides herself on having memorized all 162 rules and regulations; and James (Leonard Ouzts), the gentle scaredy-cat of a bouncer who crumbles in the face of confrontation.

As any regular patron of Abby’s will attest to, hanging out there is a coveted honor. And once you’re in, you’re family.

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“Miracle Workers” Ends its First Season With a Satisfying Conclusion

107CSo, I really dug the first three episodes of Miracle Workers and I really dug the book, What in God’s Name, that the show was based on. With all that said, I was immensely curious as to whether or not the show would stick the landing with its final four episodes. Would it end in a satisfying way or would it just sort of fizzle out? Thankfully, it managed the former, with each of the four final episodes being better than the last, all culminating in a finale that brought all of the plot threads to a nice, satisfying close while also concluding many of the character arcs that had been set up. While different from how the book ended, the finale of Miracle Workers worked perfectly for what the TV series had set up.

Episode 104 – “6 Days” – Written by Heather Anne Campbell, directed by Ryan Case
Craig (Daniel Radcliffe) helps God (Steve Buscemi) recruit a prophet while Sanjay (Karan Soni) heads to the basement to help save Earth.

Episode 105 – “3 Days” – Written by Mitra Jouhari & Gary Richardson, directed by Maruice Marable
Rosie (Lolly Adefope) meets with a competitor while Craig, Eliza (Geraldine Viswanathan), and Sanjay try to dupe God.

Episode 106 – “1 Day” – Written by Lucas Gardner, directed by Dan Schimpf
God meets with potential investors for his groundbreaking new restaurant.

Episode 107 – “1 Hour” – Written by Dan Mirk, directed by Maruice Marable
Craig risks it all in a desperate attempt to save Earth and all of mankind.

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REVIEW: “American Gods” S02E03 – Muninn

American Gods Season 2 2019Man, this episode is exactly what I wanted to see coming out of last week’s episode. While, on the whole, I liked last week’s episode quite a bit, I did feel like it didn’t progress the overall plot forward enough, instead focusing most of its time developing Shadow’s backstory some. Muninn, thankfully, does the exact opposite; quite a lot happens in this episode and much of it is really exciting. We’re introduced to New Media, Sam Blackcrow, and Argus and a whole lot of pieces are moved around the metaphorical chess board as the season continues down its current path. I really, really, really dug this episode. A lot. (NOTE: THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR THE EPISODE WITHIN THIS REVIEW!)

Episode 2×03: Muninn (Written by Heather Bellson, directed by Deborah Chow)
As he is tracked by Mr. World (Crispin Glover), Shadow (Ricky Whittle) makes his way to Cairo, thanks to a ride from Sam Black Crow (Devery Jacobs). Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) slyly gains Laura’s (Emily Browning) help in forging an alliance with a powerful god. Mr. World introduces Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) to New Media (Kahyun Kim) and assigns them a very important task.

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REVIEW: “Doctor Who: The Eighth of March”

DWSP8MARCH_slipcase_1417SQI enjoy stories about the Doctor’s companions. The Doctor is always great and all, but they frequently pick up some pretty stellar companions, too. And some great friends in general. This year, on International Women’s Day, Big Finish Productions released a box set featuring four stories celebrating the ingenuity and all-around wonderfulness of the Doctor’s friends and companions and, I gotta say, it’s another home-run for the studio. This box set is great, featuring a variety of stories all showing off the power and brilliance of the women of the Doctor Who universe.

Scattered through all of space and time, there are many women whose paths have crossed that of the Doctor.

Some were once fellow TARDIS travellers, some staunch allies defending the Earth, and one was the Doctor’s wife…

From Victorian London, to an intergalactic convention, from the offices of UNIT, to an impossible university library – on the 8th of March, four very different adventures will unfold.

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REVIEW: “Stranger Things: The Other Side”

Stranger Things - The Other SideStranger Things is massively successful. It’s probably Netflix’s biggest hit in the past five years, or so. So, it was only a matter of time before it started branching out into other mediums. Earlier last month, the first official novel – Gwenda Bond’s Suspicious Minds (my review of it here) – was released, but prior to that, Dark Horse Comics released a limited series – written by Jody Houser and illustrated by Stefano Martino – telling the unseen story of Will Byers during the events of season 1. It’s a great idea for a tie-in comic, but is the execution as good as the concept? Mostly, yeah.

When Will Byers finds himself in the Upside Down, an impossible dark parody of his own world, he’s understandably frightened. But that’s nothing compared with the fear that takes hold when he realizes what’s in that world with him!

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REVIEW: “American Gods” S02E02 – The Beguiling Man

American Gods Season 2 2019I’d say this episode pretty much confirms those rumors about Gaiman being unhappy that season one of American Gods departed a bit from the events of the book as nearly half of this episode is stuff that didn’t happen in the book. This isn’t a bad thing at all; in fact, I like that the show is continuing to branch out from the source material. There is so much stuff in American Gods that wasn’t explored in the novel but can be explored in the TV show, so I am very happy with the show taking the occasional detour from the book. That being said, is this detour worth the time spent on it? Yeah, I’d say so. (Spoilers for episode 2×02!)

Episode 2×02: The Beguiling Man (written by Tyler Dinucci & Andres Fischer-Centeno, directed by Frederick E.O. Toye)
Promising vengeance for the death of a beloved old god, Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) begins preparation for a great battle. Meanwhile Laura (Emily Browning) and Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) chase Shadow’s (Ricky Whittle) diminishing light after his disappears. The Jinn (Mousa Kraish) and Salim (Omid Abtahi) set out to retrieve the Gungnir spear, and Shadow encounters an associate, Mr. Town (Dean Winters), of Mr. World (Crispin Glover).

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REVIEW: Dark Horse Comics’ “American Gods”, Volumes 1 & 2

Buffalo ManFirst, American Gods was an award-winning novel by Neil Gaiman. Then, it lingered in development hell for a decade – first as a film, then as a TV series – only to finally be picked up by Starz and given its first season in 2017 (and currently airing its second). Lastly, it was adapted by Dark Horse Comics – and P. Craig Russell and Scott Hampton – as a comic book. American Gods is a story that lends itself very well to the medium of comics as it’s a very visual book, with characters and locales that are large than life. It’s an adaptation that many fans have desired for a long time – given Gaiman’s beginnings in the world of comics with The Sandman – so, with two (of three) volumes of the American Gods comic now complete, how is this adaptation holding up? Answer: very well.

American Gods: Shadows
Shadow Moon gets out of jail only to discover his wife is dead. Defeated, broke, and uncertain where to go from here, he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, who employs him to serve as his bodyguard–thrusting Shadow into a deadly world where ghosts of the past come back from the dead, and a god war is imminent.

American Gods: My Ainsel
The bizarre road trip across America continues as our heroes gather reinforcements for the imminent god war! Shadow and Wednesday leave the House on the Rock and continue their journey across the country where they set up aliases, meet new gods, and prepare for war.

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