The Lionsgate January 14, 2019 DVD release of "MacGyver" (2016) S3 provides a good chance to catch up on the rebooted exploits of titular highly resourceful spy Angus MacGyver (Lucas Till) ahead of the February 7, 2020 S4 premiere on CBS. As shown below, a primary S3 theme is out with the old and in with the new (sort of).
The season premiere finds MacGyver living in a small Nigerian village with a beard in the wake of resigning from The Phoenix Foundation, where his ability to rapidly think on his feet as to using available items to save both the day and his hide makes him a star. This lifestyle change is attributable to a rough S2 reunion with his estranged father. Ala the central relationship in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," Jim MacGyver (aka "Oversight") has been rough (and secretive) with his boy for what he thought was best for his offspring.
The game-changer is Dad showing up in Africa to get MacGyver to come home to rescue best buddy/co-worker/protector/father figure Jack Dalton (George Eads) from a highly precarious situation involving gun-running with a one-who-got-away nemesis in Eastern Europe. This is ahead of a well-publicized mid-season exit of Eads from the series for "personal reasons."
One of the more notable father-son adventures has them team up to hunt the hitman (Michael Des Barres, who plays Murdoc in the '80s "MacGyver") who is cleverly snuffing key witnesses in an upcoming trial. As our heroes do a couple of times in S3, our boys take a page from "Silence of the Lambs" by visiting super-villain Murdoc at the deep black-ops facility where he is being held, The value of the this consultant is his knowledge that is very helpful as to capturing the predator of the week.
Things really get interesting when Team MacGyver learns the extent to which they expertly have been played. One lesson here is to never trust any psychopath.
MacGyver fully gets to do what he loves best in a couple of episodes that have him save innocents despite facing obstacles that involve extreme prejudice. One outing requires especially intense improvising when a mission to deliver crucially needed oxygen to critically ill hospitalized children.goes horribly awry.
The similarities between the above episode and another in which a car accident diverts MacGyver from his original mission extends beyond an imminent life-or-death situation. He once again for the countless time learns that a seeming innocent may not be so innocent and that people often do the wrong thing for the right reason.
A favorite moment for past and former student at all educational levels occurs in a "Back to School" episode that has the "kids" (sans "Dad") go undercover at a university to bust a terrorist who is radicalizing the best brains there. This highlight has Angus schooling a professor who tries to both shame him and make him look foolish.
The rest of the 22 episodes are just as typically another workweek for a group that is tasked with putting right what once went horribly wrong.
The appeal of this reboot extends beyond Till having the looks and the personality of a farmboy despite always being the smartest guy in the room. There never is a dull moment, and seeing how what is at hand always is enough to "git 'er done" is entertaining.
'City on a Hill' DVD: Damon/Affleck Drama Starring Kevin Bacon Shows Something Rotten in Commonwealth of Mass.
The CBS Home Entertainment December 3, 2019 DVD release of S1 of the 2019 Showtime Boston-based drama series "City on a Hill" follows many grand traditions. The first relates to "Hill" fitting right in with other gritty Showtimes series such as (reviewed) "Ray Donovan" and the (also reviewed) reality-based Ben Stiller prison break joint "Escape at Dannemora."
"Hill," which is the brainchild of working-class Charlestown, MA native Chuck MacLean and Beantown notables Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, is a perfect example of the large number of series and films based on the numerous true-crime scandals in this city that once was known as The Athens (aka The City on the Hill) of America.
An article pointed out years ago that a series of Lifetime movies that premiered within months of each other depicted the Boston-area stories of The Craigslist Killers, the pregnancy pact at a Gloucester, Mass. high school, and the story of stockbroker Neil Entwistle who ran for the border after killing his wife and his young daughter.
The tale of Charles Stuart, a white man who stirred up simmering racial unrest by first claiming in 1989 that a black man killed his pregnant wife and later admitted that he committed the crime is the subject of the 1990 Lifetime movie "Goodnight, Sweetheart: A Murder in Boston." The Stuart case also provides much of the context for the early '90s set "Hill."
On a more humorous note, Rhode Island native Seth MacFarlane provides relevant commentary by having his titular "Family Guy" ponder how Boston has devolved from a city of intellectuals to a community teeming with dirt bags, NOTHING conveys this new normal better than the following episode of the HILARIOUS YouTube series "The Real Housewives of South Boston."
The following clip of a "Hill" trailer highlights the strong performance of Bacon, who plays very footloose with the rules that should apply to him as an FBI agent and a father, includes refraining from exaggerating the Bahstan accent ala his peers who include Dorchastah native Mark Wahlberg. The only other note as to casting is that it seems that gruff Boston-native Denis Leary seems born to play fed Jackie Rohr.
The bonus as to the trailer is introducing the racial and gritty elements of the shot-on-location series.
As mentioned above, "Hill" occurs in the aftermath of the Stuart case. New assistant district attorney Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) is a member of the committee that is addressing the issues related to that crime. He meets Rohr in connection with prosecuting an informant of Rohr on a charge of shooting a cop during a badly botched police raid.
Ward and Rohr each have their own (not entirely honorable) reasons for becoming strange bedfellows to crack the case of an armored car heist in which the guards go missing and are presumed dead. Ward further finds himself between two worlds when a gun fight outside a funeral that he is attending moves into the church; this results in the prey being gunned down in the aisle between the pews. The pastor being a textbook "MeToo" offender further complicate things.
For his part, Rohr finds himself having to deal with two pathetic and unrepentant informants. The teenage dirtbag who arguably already has caused Rohr much more trouble than he is worth faces street justice when he crosses the well-understood line as to robbers dealing with cops.
The personal life of Rohr clearly shows how work and home impact each other. Rohr, his long-suffering wife, and their teenage daughter live in the home of his gleefully evil and toxic mother-in-law. A storyline in which Grandma hilariously sabotages Rohr is a series highlight alongside his getting even more amusing revenge that involves a suggested late-in-life career change that involves the oldest profession in the world.
Team MacLean continues showing Boston Strong instincts by showing that the guys, who have a long history with Rohr, on the other side of the law are not much different that the G-man who is looking to bring them to justice. Adult siblings Frankie and Jimmy Ryan are like the James brothers in that they follow the philosophy that the family that robs together stays together.
Both the standard of living and overall level of marital bliss (or lack thereof ) is comparable at Chezs Ryan and Rohr.
The Ryans are two-thirds of the crew that pulls off the first robbery, follows that up with an even more successful criminal endeavour. and begin planning their third job roughly halfway through the season; anyone familiar with this type of story can predict how that goes.
The aforementioned heist sets the stage for the S1 season-ending climax as Rohr closes in and the Ryans decide that desperate times call for equivalent measures. Both sides learn the truth of the theory that every effort follows the pattern of making a plan, everything going wrong, and improvising in an effort to put right what once went wrong.
The final episode is an S1 epilogue in that all concerned deal with the fallout from their deeds an misdeeds throughout the season; a big part of this is Ward learning both that he should have trusted his instincts as to Rohr and that you cannot fight Boston CIty Hall.
The best part of the season finale (not to mention the entire S1) is that it leaves viewers hungry for more, which likely will hit Showtime in June 2020.
CBS supplements these episodes with a plethora of extras. We get behind-the-scenes looks at the first three episodes, a feature on Kyra Sedgwick (aka Mrs. Bacon) directing, and a documentary in which cast-and-crew discuss filming in Boston.
Mill Creek Entertainment adds to its awesome TV Land catalog, which already includes CS DVD sets of series such as "Coach" and "Mad About You," with a pair of November 19, 2019 releases. MCE couples the (reviewed) CS DVD set of the CBS Monday-night sitcom "The King of Queens" with a single CS Blu-ray set of both "Charlie's Angels" (1976-81) AND the 2011 TNG series from Drew Barrymore. This roughly coincides with the November 15, 2019 release of the latest big-screen adventures of that trio of gorgeous female detectives with mad skills.
The miracle as to this set is how MCE can keep the cost reasonable while remastering in top-quality Blu-ray and having each disc cradled in its own slot on its own "page."
This mother of all sexploitation series more than a decade before "Baywatch" aptly is from '70s lowest-common-denominator producer Aaron Spelling. As the opening narration explains, the titular owner of the Townsend Agency "rescues" the original police academy graduates from demeaning sexist duties. Their salvation has them go undercover as every fantasy known to man.
A bonus element of this pure escapist fun that is tailor-made for our winters of discontent is that these employees never meet their boss, who only communicates via the high-tech. means of a '70s-era telephone with an auxiliary speaker. The free-wheeling sexual innuendo as to the exploits of the boss are a highlight of those scenes and the similar epilogues after the women get their man.
Related fun comes via the numerous times that the angels come very close to seeing their employer.
The broadest (no pun intended) cultural impact of "Angels" is that it arguably is the first fully liberated series on network television, The plots constantly call for Team Charlie to dress in skimpy and tight clothing, such as bathing suits and tennis outfits. A prime early example of this is a case that has them go (barely) undercover at the Playboy Club like Feline Club.
Prominent enduring pop culture contributions begin with the poster of Farrah Fawcett, who leaves early on in search of greater fame and fortune, in a red bathing suit. We also get the classic pose with guns that is a silhouette that serves as a bumper. This is not to mention MASSIVE product placement in the form of Ford Mustangs that extends to promotional material at car showrooms.
The TV-movie that starts it all is a classic Lifetime plot that has Kelly Garrett (Jaclyn Smith) portraying the long-lost daughter of a missing vineyard owner. The mission, which the agency has chosen to accept, is to uncover the truth in time to prevent a gold-digging trophy wife and her partners-in-crime from inheriting the wine before their time.
Smith is notable for being the only original angel to stick it out for all five seasons of a series with regular cast changes. The "new girls" include Cheryl Ladd (who plays the sister of Fawcett's Jill Munroe) and one-season wonders Shelley Hack and Bond girl Tanya Roberts. Fawcett returning in S3 for three episodes is one of many series highlights.
The classic S1 episode "Angels in Chains" is a highlight of that season, Investigating the fate of a young woman who uncharacteristically is convicted of a crime and sentenced to a small-town jail leads to our heroines following her path. A tough and cruel matron in the mold of Hope Emerson of the classic babes-behind-bars movie "Caged" greets the fresh fish with an order to strip before hosing them down. This adventure going from the big house to the cat house is part of what makes it stand out.
Spelling stays very true both to the style of '70s television and to his desire to amass great wealth by creating a cross-over episode between "Angels" and the Spelling classic "The Love Boat." That one has our gumshoes in stilettos board the titular cruise ship to catch a thief. This S4 premiere is the first adventure for Hack.
This wonderful campy fun gets an edgy 21st-century update in the 2011 "Angels" series that MCE includes as an awesome bonus. The action moves from Los Angeles to Miami, and the highly stylized look of every aspect of this incarnation further give the still beautiful OS a world-class makeover.
The behind-the-scenes pedigree of this series includes Drew Barrymore of the "Angels" film franchise as a producer. Her colleagues include OS producer Leonard Goldberg, OS creator Ivan Goff, This is not to mention Alfred Gough and Miles Millar of "Smallville" fame.
Charlie remains unseen, but middle-aged middle-manager uptight handler John Bosley now is a 30-something stud who sees as much action as his girls. An early episode provides the first reveal as to the personal history between this former embezzler/hacker and his current boss.
The theme of redemption extends to the heiress-turned-expert-cat-burglar-turned-angel, the former dirty cop who turns out to be less filthy than generally believed, "and the rest" whom Charlie gives a second chance. The episodes that allow each character to put his or her past to rest shows that the motivations for their career changes include a desire to put right what once went wrong. (Yes, the MCE catalog includes a very strong (reviewed) CS BD set of the Scott Bakula sci-fi series "Quantum Leap.")
Aside from keeping Charlie as a voice on the telephone, the new kids on the block most honor the original by making their own "Angels in Chains" episode. This version has the adventure begin with the angels having cocaine (sadly, not angel dust) planted in their suitcase on arriving at a Havana estate.
We also get a high-seas adventure in the form of a cruise to the Bahamas that becomes more of an "Island of Dr. Moreau" exploit.
The movies and the new series support the theory that the appeal of the OS is timeless; expertly helping keep this important part of television history in the public consciousness shows that MCE understands (and values) these classics.
Awesomely independent The Film Detective continues to live up to its name and strong reputation by (almost literally) unearthing and expertly restoring the "lost and forgotten" 1959-61 syndicated anthology series "Deadline." This cousin of hit series from that era "Dragnet," which depicts "true crime" stories, uses real news stories and the men (no women at least in the first 9 episodes) as the basis for compelling tales of murder and corruption.
An overall theme is the dedication of the real-life reporters in this period in which these heroes support truth, justice, and the American way. This dedication to "art over commerce" is refreshing in the "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality of the 21st-century and in which most cities have one reputable newspaper and a tabloid-style rag.
The "Dragnet" (and later "The F.B.I.") similarity extends to an epilogue in which the viewer learns "the rest of the story" as to the fates of the principal players and the newshound who always gets his man or woman.
Wonderful context comes via an included booklet that shares series trivia, episode synopses and the fascinating and intriguing real backstory of each episode, and the Society of Professional Journalist Code of Ethics.
Veteran character actor Paul Stewart, whose 114 credits include a guest-role on the newspaper-centric drama "Lou Grant," hosts and occasionally plays a role in these 39 episodes. A melange of his narrator and a depiction of the incidents that lead up the front-page events set the stage for the investigative journalism that follows. One spoiler is that each story has a Code-era Hollywood ending in which the "innocent" obtains the best possible outcome and the malfeasor literally or figuratively ends up in the ground or as a guest of the state.
Copious pre-viewing jokes (complete with mob slang) about gangsters are prophetic as to the pilot episode "The Victor Riesel Story." Riesel is a good union man who loses his livelihood due to standing up to a corrupt takeover of his organization. Riesel continuing to speak out earns him a beatdown and threats of worse directed at both him and his nuclear family. Inadvertent humor relates to the reporter covering the story being emboldened as to a code that protects a journalist against physical harm in doing his or her job.
The aptly titled "State Scandal" further proves that the "Deadline" stories remain highly relevant in 2019. This one involves a whistleblower claim that an attractive and charming Illinois state auditor is embezzling funds via padding the state payroll. The highlights of this one include the discovered facts and the conflicted loyalties of the investigative reporter who wants to provide inquiring minds the truth.
Two other still-timely early episodes, "Mass Murder" and "Charm Boy," have awesome shade of both "Dragnet" and fellow anthology series of the era "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." The common theme here is of an outwardly upstanding citizen committing a heinous crime for a motive as old as time.
"Murder" centers around a family man whose mother is on a flight on which the explosion of a planted bomb kills everyone. The rest of this story is that this man seemingly has a loving relationship with his mother, whose generosity includes providing seed money and sweat equity as to his drive-in restaurant. Like his "Deadline" colleagues, the reporter follows the Sherlock Holmes principle of going where the evidence leads him.
"Charm Boy" is as engaging as the titular newlywed around whom this story is centered. The undisputed facts are that this man, who lives with his mother-law and runs the butcher shop of his deceased father-in-law, and his wife are followed from a movie theater to their home. It also is known that the transient (a.k.a. bum) who follows the wife onto the front porch while the husband tends to the trash cans is armed (but not necessarily dangerous).
Increasing doubt remains to the subsequent events that lead to both the bum and the pretty young spouse ending up dead. Meanwhile, the new widower is the subject of copious sympathy and admiration.
The broadest appeal of this series relates to the human-nature aspects of the stories and the concept that truth often is stranger than fiction. This set also reflects the Unreal TV principle that the best series to own are those that are not heavily syndicated.
Detective supplements all this with a 25-minute DVD special-feature in which broadcast journalism professor Joe Alicastro discusses how the news business has changed in the decades between the airing of "Deadline" and 2019. We also get a series trailer.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.]
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Warner Archive aptly team up to respectively release the first season of the Hulu 2019 "Veronica Mars" reboot of the 2004-07 CW series of the same name on DVD and Blu-ray. WBHE is the home of the latest and greatest Warner Bros programs, and the Archive catalog has the proverbial vast array of home-video releases of the best recent and not-so-recent series from the Warner studios.
The original concept of "Mars" is that the titular middle-class teen helps her private-investigator father with cases that frequently involve the one-percenter residents of their oceanfront resort community of Neptune, California. Much of the OS relates to a crime that transforms our live-action Daria/Buffy hybrid from a member of the in-crowd to an outcast.
The following trailer for the new "Mars" season highlights the wonderfully quirky tone and clever humor of this cult classic; it also reinforces that cast and crew have brought these characters back for enjoyment of the fans, rather than as a "willfully" ego project for the stars.
Our story begins with Veronica (Kristen Bell of "Frozen," "House of Lies," and "The Good Place") proving that you sort of can go home again. Veronica is working a typical case for a divorced real housewife of Neptune, who is being gaslighted by her ex-husband. The hilarious ways that our now 30-something Nancy Drew gets revenge on both her client and the man who dun her wrong reminds old-school fans of the justifiable general contempt that Veronica has for both men and for the rich and often famous.,
Meanwhile, not-so-gracefully aging Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni of "Just Shoot Me") is helping a struggling independent grocer foil a particularly insidious plot to drive away his customers.
The chemistry between Keith and Veronica and the still sharp writing of show creator/runner Rob Thomas alone make another trip to "Mars" well worthwhile.
One of the best scenes in any of the eight episodes establishes in the first offering that Veronica is shacking up with former classmate Logan Echolls, who is much more mature and even buffer than in his younger days. Logan is freshly back (and barely decent) from his latest stint playing Captain America at a global hot spot when Veronica "entices" him in front of drooling girls (and likely some boys) to help her more a large appliance.
The central event of a fatal bombing at a motel during Spring Break both drives most of the action and provides a context for numerous familiar faces to reappear. This group literally and figuratively runs the spectrum from the good, to the bad, to the ugly.
The nature of the crime creates almost endless possibilities regarding both whodunit and whydunit. Conclusions regarding which victim is the intended target, rather than collateral damage, change just as frequently as the certainty regarding the discovery of the smoking gun.
The central casting types include the beleagured motel owner and his daughter, the "hound" fratboy who is not above Cosbying the current object of his something that rhymes with affection, the genius nerd, the rich boy from the nationally prominent family and his "not our type" financee, and the nephew of a Mexican drug lord,
Subsequent attacks further complicate matters.
A strong "snobs v. slobs" element is pure "Mars." The small business owners and their employees heavily rely on Spring Break to pay their bills the rest of the years are actively fighting an organized group headed by one of he aforementioned "old friends" and his new "business acquaintance" that he met during an unfortunate incarceration. The "haves" are trying to rid the city of every undesirable element.
One spoiler is that good old-fashioned detective work drives the pursuit of justice; another spoiler is that great-great-grandfather of all consulting detectives Sherlock Holmes is vindicated in that the solution reflects the principle that once the impossible is fully eliminated the answer must be the (sometime improbable) remaining alternative. All of this ties to the broader reality that there is you story, my story, and the truth.
Investigative team Mystery, Inc. is represented in the form of one or more clues that seem insignificant ultimately lead to the culprit realizing that he would have gotten away with it but for one of our favorite meddling kids.
WBHE and Archive supplement this with a feature on the "Mars" 2019 Comic Con panel that is a sort of a homecoming. Seeing cast and crew express the mutual love that comes across is awesome; attempted humor by interrupting this presentation with reaction clips from the new season is less of a treat.
The CBS Home Entertainment September 4, 2019 DVD release of the 2018-19 S5 of the CBS drama series "Madam Secretary" lets current and new fans alike catch up on this ripped-from-the-headlines series ahead of the October, 6, 2019 premiere of the sixth and final season. That one is set in the not-too-distant future of two years from where S5 ends. A big change is that titular Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni of the tabloid-based sitcom "The Naked Truth") has left her corner office for one that lacks any right angles.
Watching these episodes of this femalecentric series just ahead of diving into the CBSHE DVDs of "Gunsmoke" S15 for a post next week is a good reminder of the cost of judging a series by its cover. Only getting into Westerns in the past five years has prompted regret as to missing out on the compelling storylines that classics like "Gunsmoke" provide for so long. "Secretary" and the (reviewed) "Good Fight" show that soccer moms and cat ladies have good taste in television dramas.
Both "Fight" and "Secretary" present entertaining cerebral tales on topics that should greatly concern all of us. In the case of "Fight," we witness the grimy underbelly of out legal system in the context of "this filthy world" in which dirty politics rule the day. in "Secretary," we see fictional Hillary Clinton (who makes a cameo with two of her real-life predecessors) Elizabeth McCord try to avoid strong-arm diplomacy at the same time that she often must do the right thing for the wrong reason or the wrong thing for the right reason.
The support system of Elizabeth includes spouse/former Marine/former CIA operative/former religious scholar/current presidential advisor Henry McCord (Tim Daly of "Wings"). She also has a diverse quirky staff of wonks who all bring things of value to the table in their own neurotic or otherwise odd ways.
The constant ripped-from-the-headlines vibe begins with a twofer in the season premiere. Elizabeth is trying to get India and Pakistan to enter a treaty at the same time that domestic terrorists that want to make America great again pull off a major attack that creates significant physical and national psyche damage. The international element of this both is not surprising and pops up in other ways throughout the season.
We also see Elizabeth doing her best to be diplomatic regarding overseas sweatshop labor, a magnificent gift that will require hardship-inducing upkeep, a regime change that seems sure to erupt into war, etc. The issue of legalization of marijuana both provides some of the best humor of the season and shows how it can aid good international relations.
A two-episode story that hits almost as close to home as the aforementioned attack is the issue of indefinitely detaining the children of illegal immigrants separate from their parents. This one sees Elizabeth taking an especially strong stand. The bonus is an interesting debate on the issue of states' rights.
"Secretary" creator/writer Barbara Hall skillfully pulls this off by keeping an even keel. No one really gets worked up in even the most tense moments, and we are spared piercing looks and overly dramatic moments.
We merely see people in a world that is otherwise closed off to most of us doing the job for which their natural intelligence, formal education, and extensive on-the-job learning has prepared them. The sad part is that their current real-life counterparts do not follow their example.
The bonus features consist of several deleted scenes.
[Editor's Note: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The Warner Bros. Home Entertainment October 1, 2019 separate Blu-ray and DVD releases of S1 of DC Universe streaming service series "Doom Patrol" nicely reminds us that the range (and legacy) of the DCU extends beyond the broadcast network friendly exploits of the Arrowverse shows, Common executive producer Greg Berlanti clearly lets his inner excitable inner boy out to play in "Patrol."
As an aside, the Warner Brothers section of this site has posts on the recently released WBHE BD sets of the 2018-19 seasons of every Arrowverse series except for "Legends of Tomorrow."
The following DCU trailer for "Patrol" offers a good primer on the lore of the series and nicely conveys its awesomely quirky vibe. It additionally reinforces that spending a few extra dollars to opt for Blu-ray over DVD is well worth it.
The mandatory starting point is that "Patrol" is tailor-made for a streaming platform, which presumably can push the FCC decency standards even further than premium networks such as Showtime and HBO. One of numerous examples is that the f-bomb seems to be weapon of choice of the misfits of science that comprise the titular team.
The central premise is a wonderful mash-up between the Sci-Fi Channel series "Sanctuary," which stars Amanda Tapping of the "Stargate" universe as a woman who looks very good for her age and uses her enormous mansion to shelter and aid all sorts of disfigured and/or meta entities, and "X-Men." The wheelchair-bound men-of-letters scientist/protector is Niles Coulder/Chief (Dalton, Timothy Dalton).
The central motley crew that struggles with their meta and their human elements evokes thoughts of the castaways on "Gilligan's Island" to the extent that both have a movie star in their midst. The members of both Team Gilligan and Team Coulder all have significant flaws but remain highly loyal to their "family" with whom a series of unfortunate circumstances have thrown them.
Former NASCAR star Cliff Steele/Robotman (Brendan Fraser) can be considered the brains of the organization in that this man whose War of the Roses with his equally toxic wife ultimately leads to his vital organ being implanted into a metallic body. His related angst includes not having been a good father to his young daughter and his effort to re-establish a relationship with her.
Next up is dashing closeted gay test pilot Larry Trainor/Negative Man (Matt Boomer). His "something extra" is a space being who inhabits him but goes solo when his services are needed. Larry still struggles with his love for a male member of his flight crew (insert your own cockpit joke here) and more generally with being restrained from being true to himself.
The aforementioned B-movie actress is Rita Farr/Elasti-Woman (April Bowlby); varying percentages of her body become a disgusting blob.
Last but not least is woman of 64 meta-personalities Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero). Jane often lacks any control when a resident of the "underground" portion of her mind exerts herself. Each of these temporarily dominant personalities comes with a special power that she does not necessarily use for good, rather than for evil.
The new kid on the block who fills the role of DCU star "slumming" with the B team is Vic Stone/Cyborg (Joivan Wade). Cyborg and his Dad/mechanic have a history with Coulder that leds to Cyborg playing the role of nerd who tries to assume leadership of the class when the teacher leaves for an extended period.
As arch-villain Mr. Nobody/Eric Morden (Alan Tudyk) states in his frequent (and witty) narration, he plays the necessary role of bad guy. The exceptional talent of Mr., Nobody to simultaneously gleefully play mind games and wage psychological warfare makes him a formidable foe and a source of intense entertainment for those of us who do regularly relive our worst moments.
This extended discussion of the intriguing lore of "Patrol" leads little time to share the wonderfully surreal S1 events .
The band being assembled leads to an ill-advised field trip to the nearby town; Mr., Nobody subsequently captures old foe Coulder and imprisons him in a form of phantom zone. The search of the gang for their leader includes a (non-sexual) disgusting encounter with a donkey, a visit to an incredibly accepting (but shifting) talking street, the evil research facility known as The Ant Farm. and a visit to what can be considered the Justice League predecessors The Justice Society of America,
Our folks who simply want to avoid their own demises also come up against a wonderfully warped cult that is going to use a (presumably) virgin sacrifice (who presumably reeks of Axe body spray) to bring about end times. They further must go "Magic School Bus" to enter the mind of Jane to return her to a relative state of normalcy.
This is not to mention The Brotherhood of Evil and the Bureau of Normalcy (nee the Bureau of Oddities) creating trauma and drama.
Things really get weird in the final S1 episodes. Our thoughts of suicide squad learn that Chief is the source of much of their discontent and has an "Alice in Wonderland" style ulterior motive for his outward peace, love, and understanding. This leads to a showdown with a true survivor and a sidekick with a "Princess Bride" style vendetta.
Much of the group being in "Wonderland" state at the end of S1 sets the stage for a spectacular S2.
WBHE supplements all this with unaired scenes, a gag reel,m and an entertaining "Come Visit Georgia" PSA that shows how the versatility of the Atlanta area makes it a good place for location filming.
The CBS Home Entertainment Sept. 24, 2019 2-disc Blu-ray release of the epic 1978 NBC mini-series "Holocaust" reminds us of the worst of times at the best of times for that message. Related principles of those who are dedicated to any society not descending so low as Nazi Germany are to preserve materials that document that era and to educate the general population to "never forget" so that we do not have to endure the lesson that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
The numerous accolades of the saga of two families for which the persecution of the Jews is a form of a civil war include the Emmy for Best Limited Series and the one for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series. Michael Moriarty earns the latter for portraying Nazi officer Erik Dorf, who joins the party without fully having the fortitude for his role.
Our story begins at the mildly strained 1935 mixed-marriage wedding of commercial artist Jewish man Karl Weiss (James Woods) to Christian woman Inga Helms (Meryl Streep). Father Dr. Josef Weiss (Fritz Weaver) is a general practitioner, whose patient roster includes the wife of then-unemployed attorney Dorf.
Younger brother Rudi Weiss (Joseph Bottoms) is a typical apolitical young guy; 16 year-old sister Anna (Blanche Baker) is a sweet girl who enjoys playing the piano,
Increasingly restrictive laws reflect heightening tensions between the Hitler government and Jewish Germans during the next several years. The lesson for the Weiss family during this period is that they should have gotten out while the getting was good. For his part, Dorf learns that party membership is critical to gainful employment and that any advancement depends on being a good soldier.
Dorf proves that he is an apt pupil by playing a leading role in Kristallnacht, which is one of a few dates that will live in infamy. This semi-organized rioting against Jewish people, their homes, and their businesses is the wake-up call for members of that group who are not already woke.
This is the period in which Josef is sent to live in the Warsaw ghetto, Carl is arrested and sent to a concentration camp for having married a Jewish woman, and Dorf becomes a fair-haired boy in the eyes of his "superiors." Meanwhile, Rudi is making a run for the border and a horrific experience for Anna leads to an even worse fate that is sadly common in that country during that period,
The importance of having to go along to get along incredibly escalates during the war years. Weiss father and son (not to mention daughter-in-law) pay higher and higher prices for sticking to (and acting on) their beliefs. Meanwhile, Jewish people and others who actively collaborate are rewarded.
The immediate period after the war finds the surviving Weisses (and Dorf) where they should be, The most unrealistic aspect of this is that they are able to move on after enduring what arguably can be considered the closest that we can get to literally Hell on earth.
Of course, this topic requires closing thoughts. The need to recognize that even propaganda that supports your side still is propaganda relates to it being critical to fully think about the bill of good that political leaders on both sides are selling you. Further, PLEASE remember that enough voters writing in "None of the Above" if you do not like either candidate makes more of a statement that not voting at all or writing in a joke candidate.
The first brief example of this is the ample and common sense evidence that "the wall" will not be effective as to stopping Mexican people from illegally entering the US. It is equally obvious that American consumers ultimately will bear the burden of Chinese tariffs.
On the other side of the aisle, a Great Society in which all get free healthcare and have incomes that allow living at least a little large sounds very good. The harsh reality is that the "have-nots" that this facially will benefit the most ultimately will foot the bill; higher taxes inevitably lead to lower employment and/or higher prices.
The quantum of solace as to the CBS Home Entertainment September 17, 2019 DVD release of the seventh and final season of The Tiffany Network procedural "Elementary" is that it seems that incarnations of dynamic duo Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are even more immortal than the fictional Victorian Era pioneering consulting detective and his colleague, It is logical to deduce that another film or television series featuring the exploits of those 19th-century gumshoes will be released in the not-to-distant future.
The highly entertaining and clever "Elementary" can be considered an even more neo-modern version of the Arthur Conan Doyle creations than the excellent BBC series "Sherlock."
The "Elementary" updates include transforming Dr. John Watson into Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu). In addition, this sidekick who traditionally is a roomie turned partner-in-crime solving is now a sober companion turned apprentice turned full-fledged crime-solving partner to recovering addict Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller). For his part, Holmes is outwardly more dark and damaged than his previous versions. Moving the action from London to New York City is another major change in the Holmesian style,
"Elementary" creator Robert Doherty takes similar awesome liberties with other elements of Holmesian lore while staying true to the spirit of the source material.
In typical procedural style, S7 picks up in the wake of the S6 cliffhanger. A "send him back" sentiment results in Watson now being the stranger in a strange land when she and Holmes become neighbors at 221A and 221B Baker Street in London. They also get a sense of new-boss-same-as-the-old-boss on offering Scotland Yard the same consulting detective services that they had been providing the NYPD.
The shooting of NYPD Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) sets the underlying S7 action in motion. This begins with Holmes sneaking back in to the US to solve that crime. Stating that the agreement that Holmes subsequently enters to regain his legal status here is a deal with the devil is not far from the truth.
Discovering whodunit is only the beginning of the story; learning why he dunit ties into the aforementioned larger picture. Holmesphiles easily recognize the significance of Mark Zuckerberg fictional counterpart Odin Reichenbach (James Franin) the arch-nemesis of the final season. Yes, Reichenbach does cause Holmes to take a fall.
This unifying element is that literally evil genius Reichenbach is using his access to the online activity of virtually the entire population of the "civilized" world to (ala the Tom Cruise film "Minority Report") target what Reichenbach considers highly probable imminent killers of innocents. This includes a young guy who is planning to McVeigh a ferry.
The rest of this prologue to our story is that Reichenbach keeps his hands relatively clean by radicalizing traumatized "innocents" to do his dirty work. An example is a teacher who has survived a school shooting.
Holmes soon figuring out the scheme does him limited good; like all foes who have presented our hero with a real challenge for roughly 150 years, Reichenbach is just as much of a chess master as his foe.
This plays a hand in several cases, such as an early one in which the stabbing of a runner leads to uncovering a well-planned plot to take out someone on the blacklist of Reichenbach.
The inevitable showdown (with the predictable outcome) between Reichenbach and Holmes comes in the penultimate episode of the series; those who know the lore best are not ready to declare game over.
The series finale nicely delivers on several levels. We see Little Joan happy at last with a state-of-the-art existence that includes both professional and personal contentment. A blast-from-the-past in the form of Watson getting a gift for Holmes from foe Jamie Moriarity followed by the messenger essentially getting shot sets the stage for the final intrigue and the last chance for those who are left standing whom we have come to know and love over seven years to live happily ever after.
This discussion of the finale sets the stage for one more logical deduction in the form of the showrunners knowing that Hell has no fury like a fan scorned as to an unsatisfactory series conclusion.
The voice of experience requires advising folks who are skeptical about the CBS All Access streaming service "The Good Fight" to check your prejudices regarding "parent" series "The Good Wife" at the door. The wit and wisdom of "Fight" further suggests that those of us guilty of labeling "Wife" as a "scoccer mom series" without ever watching it may pay for judging Amy by her cover.
The draw for many of us doubting Clarence Thomases is '90s CBS sitcom "Cybill" star Christine Baranski (Maryann Thorpe) starring in "Fight." It is almost guaranteed that fans of that absolutely fabulous hard-drinking scorned first wife still revel in chances to spit out "Doctor Dick" more than 20 years after the broadcast of the unresolved "Cybill" series-ending cliffhanger.
The rest of this story is liking, really liking a series that leaves expectations in the dust makes that program even more enjoyable than one that is approached with a more positive 'tude.
The CBS Home Entertainment September 17, 2019 DVD release of "Fight" S3 provides a good chance for the aforementioned enlightenment. The equally good news is that a recap at the start of the season premiere and exposition throughout the series allows legal eaglets to follow the action.
The following Access trailer for "Fight" S3 reinforces that this unique series has a special voice and stylized look. You also will see a few familiar faces in addition to Baranski; those usual suspects are only the tip of the iceberg as to the lives of the "Titanic" passengers whose lives and loves provide ample fodder.
An online description that seems to come from CBS.com provides a good primer on "Fight." That synopsis states the following.
"The CBS All Access series picks up one year after the events in the final episode of 'The Good Wife.' After a financial scam destroys the reputation of young lawyer Maia Rindell and wipes out her mentor and godmother Diane Lockhart's [Baranski] savings, the two are forced out of Lockhart & Lee and join forces with Lucca Quinn at one of Chicago's pre-eminent law firms. At Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad, Diane finds familiar faces, including Colin Morrello, who is a rising star in the state's attorney's office, and Marissa Gold. Though starting at the bottom, Diane and Maia are determined to rebuild their careers and lives at the new firm."
Show runners Robert and Michelle King avoid a single dull moment in any of the 10 S3 episodes. The animated "Schoolhouse Rocks" segments aptly titled "The Good Fight Shorts" enhance the entertainment value. The first one titled "NDA" is a song (but not dance) number about legally binding contracts known as "non-disclosure agreements" that prevent someone from divulging cover information about the person who is paying the hush money.
The firm partners trying to get a secretary with a dirty little secret to not ruin the posthumous reputation of her boss/civil rights icon prompts the short, Meanwhile back at the ranch, an NDA drives a wedge between highly liberal Diane and her conservative husband Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole). A Dick Cheney element of this makes it highly entertaining.
A second element that drives much of the S3 action enters in the second episode in the form of rude, crude, and not-at-all socially acceptable sole practitioner Roland Blum (Michael Sheen), who makes Al Pacino seem like Shirley Temple. This legal lizard gets his foot in the door by representing the co-defendant of a man who is being jointly tried with a man whom Maia is defending against a murder charge.
This emboldens Blum to make himself an odd (and highly unwelcome) bedfellow of the partners in a multi-million-dollar class-action lawsuit. This leads to an offer that is too good to refuse that requires bringing Blum a temporary full-time fixture at the firm.
Maia making the mistake of f**king with Blum, who has attended several rodeos, sets off a chain of events that derails her career. This, in turn, teaches the "suits" that Hell hath no fury like an attorney scorned.
Meanwhile, a promotion and a leaked salary list ignite smoldering fires as to perceptions of racial and gender inequities at the firm. Hilarity is the best thing that ensues from resulting efforts at sensitivity training and other "reforms."
We also an extreme effort to convince new head of the matrimonial department/new single mother Lucca Quinn (Cush Gumbo) that Melania Trump is consulting her as a prelude to getting a divorce, The truth awesomely reflects a desperate measure in a desperate time even before the recent initiation of a proceeding to divorce the country from the president.
When not having a hand to a varying extent in all this (as well as other firm-related) trauma and drama, Diane divides her time between throwing axes in a bar and plotting with a secret group of fellow female executives who are fighting covertly planted fake news with more of the same. This is not to mention an effort to hack a voting machine to offset election interference.
Aside from this "hobby" often overlapping in not good ways with the work of Diane, the S3 cliffhanger suggests that she and Kurt are going to be on the receiving end of poetic justice.
CBS supplements this with deleted scenes and a gag reel.
This opening argument for adding "Fight" to you DVD library warrants a summary judgment without allowing the "cons" their day in court.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The Warner Bros. Home Entertainment September 17, 2019 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Supergirl" S4 brings us 3/4 of the way toward completing these releases of the 2018-19 seasons of the CW Arrowverse series ahead of their (mostly) October 2019 season premieres. "Supergirl" S4 follows the (reviewed) sets of "The Flash" S5 and (reviewed) "Arrow" S7. The September 24, 2019 releases of "Legends of Tomorrow" S4 completes this run.
The reasons for springing for the BD sets extend (except as to "Legends") beyond those versions including the epic three-part "Elseworlds" episode that introduces Batwoman to the Arrowverse ahead of her 2019-20 series. Past lack of buyer's remorse validates that spending a few extra bucks to get the deeper and richer color and sound of BD is well worth it; this is not to mention BD being less prone to the ravages of time and repeated viewings than DVD.
"Supergirl" always has been more closely aligned in lore and tone with "Flash." On-screen, this relates to Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) of the latter introducing Superman cousin/reporter/covert government operative Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) to the Arrowverse. Further, both series skew younger in cast and target demographic than "Arrow." Off-screen, Gustin and Benoist (who have sung separately and together in their current series) are former Gleeks,
Further, "Flash" and "Supergirl" both revolve around boys and girls with something extra on both sides of the law. These problems and solutions mostly are aliens on "Supergirl," and mostly Spider-man style meta-humans who accidentally acquire special abilities on "Flash."
Conversely, most of Team Arrow and their foes are more like Batman in that they use advanced tech. in their efforts to put their well-honed skills to good (or bad) use.
The underlying debate on whether aliens, most of whom can easily send us muggles crying home to our mommies, in "Supergirl" S4 parallels the underlying theme in "Flash" S5 regarding how to handle a "cure" that makes a meta like other boys, The options there are to completely suppress the cure, make it mandatory, or give metas the freedom of choice.
As a side note, both "Supergirl" and "Flash" also have an annoyingly cartoonish "Scrappy-Doo" style/outcast character who fails in his mission to provide comic relief, "Flash" compounds the error as to acrebic scientist Harrsion Wells by making the current incarnation of him stereotypically French,
"Supergirl" has a kinder and gentler version of Brainiac, whose voice and misunderstanding of life on that alternate earth are inconsistent with his supposed intelligence, The writers mercifully limit a quirk as to referring to classic films to a few episodes To expand on a reference to the game of three in the "Flash" post, neither Wells nor "Brainy" would fare well regarding that diversion.
A real-world analogy in these series by openly homosexual executive-producer Greg Berlanti is gay rights. One aspect of this real-world non-issue is the "threat" that LGBTQ folks pose to "normal" people. An element of this in the entire Arrowverse and our reality is that most of the "villains" can "pass" for "normal."
Everything regarding this in "Supergirl" S4 ties to the Children of Liberty, lead by Agent Liberty (a.k.a. former US history professor Ben Lockwood) which loosely can be described of as a human-rights organization. The analogy as to this group that aggressively supports a "send her back" policy is to the related issues of immigration and refugees. This encompasses "them" coming to "our" country where they take jobs from "real" Americans and cause extensive physical destruction. We further see how these negative experiences can radicalize folks who previously largely avoid the maddening crowd.
The Children's campaign to repeal the federal Alien Amnesty Act does mirror a theme in "Arrow" S7. The legislative effort there is to outlaw vigilante activities of Team Arrow that supplement formal law-enforcement work.
An early "Supergirl" S4 episode begins to eliminate confusion as to that season seemingly not addressing the S3 cliffhanger. The final scene in the season finale has our heroine landing in what seems to be eastern Europe. The additional S4 exposition is that this individual can be considered a version of a bizarro Supergirl.
More exposition regarding all this comes roughly 3/4 into S4 with the heavily anticipated first appearance of Jon Cryer as "Super" nemesis Lex Luthor, Fanboys will remember Cryer as gonzo Lex Luthor nephew Lenny in "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace."
Aside from this introduction of a major DCU character into the Arrowverse series, the coolest thing about having Lex Luthor join the party is seeing late in the game how he orchestrates so much from the sidelines throughout the season. His "great escape" is another highlight.
All of this leads to season finale that includes an extended thrill-a-minute climax. The cliffhanger hits a high note by (ala "Arrow") bringing back a central "Elseworlds" element and keeping fanboys on the edge of their futons until the October 6, 2019 S5 season premiere.
The bigger picture is that S4 arguably is the best "Supergirl" season. It has streamlined characters, made Kara far less awkward and geeky "Ugly Betty" like, and has stronger story arcs.
The biggest picture is that the latest batch of Arrowverse seasons supports what fanboys have known for decades; comic books are about much more than men (and women) flying around in Spandex.
The plethora of S4 extras include a presentation of highlights from 2018 Comic-Con panels of Arrowverse series, a (Blu-ray exclusive) feature on "Elseworlds," a look at DCU super villains, deleted scenes, and a gag reel. The deleted scenes run from the sublime to the ridiculous, and the gag reel shows which cast member is most prone to cursing.
Mill Creek Entertainment once more proves itself to be the champion of sofa spuds everywhere as to the August 13, 2019 DVD release of "Hart to Hart: Movies and Murder Collection." This four-disc set includes all 8 1993-96 made-for-TV reunion movies of the 1979-84 ABC light-hearted mystery series.
Having a handful of "B-listers" guest in each movie provides a wonderful hybrid vibe of "Murder, She Wrote," which gets its own set of made-for-TV reunions, and "The Love Boat." These celebrities include Joan Collins, George Hamilton, Alan Young, Mike Farrell, and Jason Bateman. The roster truly goes on and on and on from there.
MCE follows this up with a Halloween treat in the form of an October 2019 Blu-ray complete-series release of "Charlie's Angels."
The titular couple is an '80riffic "lifestyles of the rich and famous" version of one-percenter silver-screen amateur sleuths Nick and Nora Desmond of "The Thin Man" fame.
As the voice-over narration in the "Hart" series and movies reminds us, Jonathan Hart (Robert Wagner) is a self-made millionaire. This exposition includes that "it was murder" when Jonathan met "gorgeous" spouse/free-lance journalist Jennifer Hart (Stefanie Powers). The rest of this part of the story is that gruff but loving live-in servant Max (Lionel Stander) "takes care of them, which ain't easy."
A typical "Hart" episode finds a series of unfortunate circumstances embroiling the soulmates in a crime that often involves murder. It is just as likely that someone embezzling funds from a charity for which Jennifer is organizing a fashion show kills an assistant who discovers that crime as it is that Jonathan must clear his name as to Hart Industries being accused of nefarious business dealings.
The aptly titled first movie in the series is "Hart to Hart Returns." This one stays the closest to the spirit of the series while including a notable development that is too momentous to the lore to even remotely spoil. The central plot involves a pending business deal of Jonathan with an old friend prompting the corporate villains of the week to take desperate measures in response to the desperate times as to the aforementioned pursuit of profit.
The next one, "Home is Where the Hart is" arguably is the best one in that it virtually is a live-action "Scooby-Doo" mystery. The death of the mentor/first boss of then cub-reporter Jennifer brings our heroes to the small town where Mrs. H. begins her career.
The list of usual suspects and the spooky subterfuge that is concealing covert activity make one long to see family pet Freeway, Jr. speak English and Jonathan to pull a rubber mask off the villain. An "I would have gotten away with it except for you meddling millionaires" would have made this one purely sublime.
"Old Friends Never Die" is another memorable one due to both its campy fun and its homage to another genre; this time Agatha Christie books are taken to Hart. A publisher tells the couple that wanting to add Jennifer to his stable of writers is why he is inviting them to a weekend party at his lavish estate. The rest of the guests are eccentric scribes.
The plot thickens on Jennifer overhearing a detailed murder plot; the explanation that the conversation relates to a novel concept wears thin on life imitating alleged art. This culminates in the truth ultimately coming out, and the Harts finding themselves playing the most dangerous game.
More of the same occurs in the other films, which culminate in the aptly titled "Til Death Do Us Part." An early scene in this one indicates that Jonathan may be dyslexic in that Dog is his co-pilot.
The rest of this story is that the Harts travel to Germany so that Jennifer can donate bone marrow to a young cancer patient. The intrigue this time relates to our dynamic duo encountering a French woman who is a doppelganger of Jennifer. Of course, Powers plays this crazy pair.
"Death" ends on the same concept as the last several films in the series in that the epilogue involves the Harts in a fantastic or fantasy situation. These include this pair magically transforming into a couple performing a song-and-dance number on a stage or being transformed into lovers in a cuckoo clock.
Old and new fans should take all this to hart; the series and the movies are good cheesy fun that show that entertainment need not be edgy.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The WBHE September 10, 2019 separate DVD & BD releases of "Supernatural" S14 help keep the CW joy going strong ahead of the October 2019 season premieres of these fun-for-all-ages series. This run begins with the August 2019 releases of (reviewed) "Arrow" S7 and (reviewed) "Flash" S5.
The September 17, 2019 releases of "Supergirl" S4, and the September 24, 2019 releases of "Legends of Tomorrow" round out this run,
The blessing and the curse related to "Supernatural" S14 is that premature rumors of the death of this series result in episodes that awesomely cover all bases and leave fanboys wanting more but being content about where things stands in the season finale. The same is true as "Arrow" and "Flash." It is known that S15 will be the end for "Supernatural" and that Team Arrow has decided that eight is enough.
The following trailer for S14 shows that "Supernatural" has not lost any of its creepy edge in its adolescence. This promo being in perfectly clear standard def. reinforces that spending a few more bucks for the enhanced images and sound of Blu-ray is WELL worth that extra cost.
The last hurrah elements of S14 begins with grim brothers/expert monster hunters Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester back in our world after an S13 adventure in an alternate universe known as "Apocalypse World." One change is that their core group of the siblings and long-term literal angel Castiel (Misha Collins) now includes "Little Nicky"/"Cousin Oliver" Jack (Alexander Calvert). This new kid on the block is the two year-old son of Lucifer in the body of a late-teens boy.
"Mom" Mary Winchester and mentor/father figure Bobby Singer also are back with the band after extended death-related absences from the series.
Everything old is new again in that S14 commences with the "surviving" sibling dealing with the sacrifice of his brother at the end of the prior season. In this case, Sam has the aforementioned inner circle and his army of hunters desperately seeking Dean, who is the new meat suit for archangel Michael. This brings things back to the primary S5 story arc in which Michael and Lucifer want to respectively possess Dean and Sam in order to hold a death match.
S5 further rears its ugly head as to former Lucifer vessel Nick also being on Team Winchester. Subsequent events indicate that that former tenant has a lingering effect on his prior landlord.
The standard murder and mayhem result as to Michael having Dean do his bidding, Sam and Dean teaming up to evict that squatter, and the standard demons and numerous other creatures of the night preying on innocent and not-so-innocent humans. All of this occurs in the background of the latest plan of Michael to turn earth into his idea of paradise.
Meanwhile at the fortified bunker that the Winchesters call home, Jack faces his own personal crises. S13 events have robbed him of his grace that makes him different than other boys. He also faces a comparable crisis to one in which "cousin" Sam struggles in S6.
Staying alive requires that Jack sacrifice a portion of his soul; a few subsequent desperate times require that he resort to the desperate measure of giving up a little more of his soul to defeat a foe with extreme prejudice,
Team "Supernatural" does the series proud as to the milestone 300th episode "Lebanon" (a.k.a. "Winchester Family Reunion.") This one starts strong with our boys on a scavenger hunt that goes awry when a trio of slacker teens who at least suspect what goes on in the bunker temporarily (and hilariously) gets the better of their elders.
After dealing with the meddling kids, the Winchesters try black magic that does not work as intended. The compensation for not getting the desired wish fulfillment is the return of deceased family patriarch John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). This resurrection allows the Winchester clan to once again be a relatively happy nuclear family. This also arguably is the happiest periods for the boys in the entire series.
The writers remain true to the entertainingly cynical nature of the series by not allowing the bros to be happy for long and by showing that magic has its price. Learning of the negative consequences of Dad coming back forces the boy to once again try to find a quick fix while contemplating a major sacrifice for the greater good.
"Leabanon" also is notable for providing INARGUABLY the best fodder for the gag reel that is a special feature. The Winchesters are having a very serious moment when a prop malfunction has Padalecki and Ackles literally rolling on the floor in laughter.
The aptly named "Mint Condition" Halloween episode is another season highlight; often angry and/or morose Dean is ecstatic as to a Shocker network marathon of classic slasher films and a real "job" that involves action figures and other memorabilia coming to life to attack a comic-book store employee. Usually more cheerful Sam is experiencing annual depression regarding this holiday.
This outing perfectly blends the well-produced horror and the dark humor that contributes to "Supernatural" being able to celebrate its Quincenera.
Humor fully takes center stage in a "Pleasantville" style outing in which a "job" brings Sam and Castiel to a real-life town that is straight out of a TV Land sitcom. All of us living through our current dystopian times can relate to the desire of the power-that-be behind this Utopia to want a more cheerful existence than our winter (and spring, summer, and fall) of discontent,
All of this culminates in a truly epic season-finale story-arc that involves the end of the world as we know it, Jack becoming an especially excitable boy leads to teen angst that leads to a "we need to talk about Jack" moment.
The inability of the Winchesters to properly parent their jinx of a ward leads to the "Dad" coming downstairs to put the kids in line. The climax to all this proves that the boss may not always be right but always is the boss. The other moral is that Hell literally has no fury like a powerful entity scorned; suffice to say that our existence is chucked.
Although the gag reel shows that boys just wanna have fun, the other special features demonstrate the love of the game that comes through in each episode. You will not believe in angels, demons, and the stuff of "Scooby-doo" episodes but will believe that the folks in front of and behind the camera do believe in spooks.
All involved share their perspectives and devotion in "Exploring Episode 300," the even more series-encompassing "The Choices We Make," and the 2018 Comic-Con panel that will make you mourn the 2019 panel likely being the end times for that event at that Con.
[EDITOR' NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The Warner Bros. Home Entertainment separate August 27, 2019 DVD and Blu-ray releases of "The Flash" S5 keeps the fun coming after the August 20. 2019 (reviewed) parallel releases of S7 of fellow DCU Arrowverse series "The Arrow." CW reverses this order by having "Flash" S6 premiere on October 8, 2019 and "Arrow" S7 premiere exactly one week later.
The first aside is that the high production values and bright comic look of"Flash" is behind buying S1-3 on Blu-ray; buying S4 on DVD still provided hours of enjoyment but reinforced the belief that saving $5 was not worth losing the enhanced BD experience.
The second aside is that this 'verse helps keep comic-book characters fresh decades after their births. This contribution to pop culture is important in an era in which virtually no one 25 or younger knows about Lucy Ricardo and even fewer have heard of Ralph Kramden or Dobie Gillis.
The third aside is that adorkable Team Flash both provides good fodder for the marry, "mate," or kill game and earns their series the distinction of being the most highly rated one on CW. One note regarding the game is that each of the almost infinite variations of brilliant scientist Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanauhgh) is most likely to suffer the most unpleasant fate.
On a more positive note, the odds are forever in the favor of quirky emo tech. whiz Cisco Ramon/Vibe (Carlos Valdes) as to the game of three.
The numerous tie-ins between "Arrow" and "Flash" extend well beyond titular hero/CSI forensics expert Barry Allen in the latter first appearing in an episode of the former. They even surpass the (always-awesome) cross-over episode this time centering around a "Freaky Friday" body switch between our masked avengers (if you pardon the expression).
The fourth and final aside is that a full presentation of the cross-over is an exclusive feature of the BD sets of each series. Both the DVD and Blu-ray sets of those shows includes a bonus feature on that epic that is a backdoor pilot for the new Arrowverse "Batwoman" series. That one premieres on October 6, 2019 and is part of an upcoming 5-EPISODE cross-over.
The recently completed seasons of "Flash" and "Arrow" also include MUST-SEE milestone episodes. It is number 150 for "Arrow" and 100 for "Flash." The latter involves a grand mission that has our hero (adorkable Grant Gustin) and his fellow speedster/adult daughter Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) go on a time-travelling scavenger hunt that has them revisit some of the many critical battle royales of the past four seasons; that is not to mention going back to the big bang that starts everything.
Further, natural progression and the nature of both seasons suggest that they are produced with a thought that both may be the final ones in each series. The "seven-year-itch" often triggers the end of a sci-fi series; moreover, the nature of the Arowverse allows members of Team Arrow to pop up on the spin-offs that "Arrow" spawns.
"Flash" reaching 100 episodes gives it enough for syndication; going out on top and freeing up Team Berlanti resources for younger "siblings" (including newborn "Batwoman") arguably makes sense. Additionally, members of Team Flash can always visit Seattle.
The indications of end times in both series include copious appearances from old friends, foes, and folks who fall in the middle of that bell curve. We also get heavy doses of soul searching in these already heavily emo programs. It seems that real men get into at least two violent fights a week and CONSTANTLY share their feelings.
In typical "Flash" style, S5 revolves around the arch-nemesis du season who triggers related personal dramas. In this case, Nora travelling back more than 20 years to join Team Flash relates to super-villain Cicada executing (pun intended) his crusade to rid the world of both good and evil meta-humans; this encompasses virtually every member of Team Flash.
The personal side of this is that Nora wants to bond with her dad and has epic mommy issues as to Barry spouse/journalist/former speedster Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton). The challenge regarding Iris is that she is being treated like Mommie Dearest years before engaging in the reported behavior that prompts the 'tude in our present day. The desire for quality time with Daddy is even more complicated.
For her part, Dr. Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) is getting an icy blast from her past that extends well beyond her massive split personality issues.
All of this leads to a development straight out of MCU; the most recent desperate times lead to the desperate measure of creating a "cure" for meta-humans that reverts them back to "normal;" the challenge this time extends beyond a Jekyll-and-Hyde side effect.
The debate that is especially emotional for the boys and the girls with something extra on Team Flash is whether the existence of the "cure" is ethical and if metas should have a pro-choice option. Another perspective is the debatable merits of this conversion therapy that makes those living an alternative lifestyle "normal."
Meanwhile, the current incarnation of Wells being a mash-up between Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Clousseau is designed to provide comic relief. The harsh reality is that this makes him even more of the Scrappy-Doo of Team Flash then ever before.
Of course, all worlds collide in the events that lead to the epic showdown with very high stakes. The ensuing new normal achieves the desired objective of working equally well as a season or a series finale.
One semi-spoiler is that the been-there-overcame-that nature of the cliffhanger leaves very little doubt other than that at least most of the kids will be alright. This relates to the primary S5 lesson that even casual "Flashphiles" know; the timeline is malleable,
WBHE provides fanboy even more joy by cramming both the DVD and BD sets with numerous extras in addition to the look at the cross-over. These include extended highlights of the 2018 ComicCon panels of the Arrowverse shows, the self-explanatory "Villains: Modes of Persuasion," deleted scenes, and a gleeful all-dancing, all-(bleeped) cursing gag reel.
The CBS Home Entertainment August 20, 2019 DVD releases of "NCIS: New Orleans" S5 shows that that entry in that 16-year franchise is going strong. This release coming one month after the (reviewed) CBSHE DVD release of S15 of the still equally strong series "Criminal Minds" provides procedurals fans plenty to watch before the season premieres of each series in a few weeks,
The press materials for "New Orleans" S15 describe the twist in this one as that the close-knit group of quirky law-enforcement experts operate a"field office that investigates criminal cases involving military personnel" in the titular city. That city, which is one of the most unique (and has experienced one of the worst natural disasters) in America literally and figuratively adds wonderful color to this shot-on-location series.
"Quantum Leap" and "Star Trek: Enterprise" veteran (and real-life righteous dude) Scott Bakula is perfectly cast as soft-spoken all-American boy team leader Dwayne Pride. The always off-beat CCH Pounder does equally well in her role as coroner/mother hen Dr. Loretta Wade. We also get real-life spinal-cord injury survivor Darryl "Chill" Mitchell adding good energy as wheelchair-bound Patton Plame, whom the press materials aptly describe as "an animated and talented hacker."
The casting of Mitchell provides a good opening to mention "Cosby Show" veteran Geoffrey Owens having a cameo as a Naval doctor. This casting follows a real-life attempt to shame Owens by posting a photo of him working at Trader Joe's on the Internet. Rather than making Owens a national laughing stock, it revitalizes his acting career.
A variation of the "Cousin Oliver" tactic comes in the form of drafting Pride, who finds copious justifications to remain active in the field, for a desk job, This promotion leads to bringing in Hannah Zoury (Necar Zadeghan). She adds diversity that extends beyond bringing what hilariously tough-and-gruff Tammy Gregorio (Vanessa Ferlito) describes as balancing the boy girl ratio on the team.
The action picks up in the immediate wake of what should have been a fatal shooting of Pride by a highly skilled (and equally determined) assassin. Our heroes split up to simultaneously try to capture that armed and dangerous foe and pull off the trick of keeping the boss out of her hands while still giving him desperately needed medical care. These outings in any series in which the prey is just as skilled and tough as the hunters are always fan favorites.
For his part, Pride is having an outer-body experience that is reminiscent of "Leap" and "Enterprise." A woman from his past is urging him to go toward the light, while he rages, rages against doing so. In the end, he decides that his time on earth is not over.
This turn-of-events leads to a Pride becoming the boy with something extra in that having premonitions and reliving memories helps him put right what once went wrong. This also ties into the voodoo aspect of New Orleans culture. The icing on the cake is Pride conversing with a colleague who essentially is a hologram.
As the charming DVD special feature "King Cake" states regarding the 100th episode, the new talent of Pride comes in particularly handy in that outing. We also share the frustration of Bakula as to his reminding us that "Leap" and "Enterprise" fall just short of the century mark.
This aptly titled adventure "In the Blood" goes even further than the usual ones that are personal, The tie-in of a meet gone fatally wrong is that the crime-scene evidence includes a Hardy Boys novel from the library of a young Pride ala a possession of "Johnny Archer" showing up in an "Enterprise" episode.
This quickly leads to a reunion with ex-con and largely estranged father Cassius Pride ("New Orleans" semi-regular Stacy Keach). This turn shifts the focus to a frigid cold case involving a casino robbery. Another twist introduces a new character who becomes a reoccurring addition to the series.
Hannah shines in the especially clever "Sheepdog" episode. She is pitted against an extreme student activist who is anything but radical. This one reunites Pride with an old friend who is a college professor whose message of peaceful protest does not sit well with the primary villain of the week. The old ticking time bomb aspect adds more drama and prompts an awesomely creative solution.
A lighter and more fun "The Spy Who May Have Loved Me" episode gives awkward genius Sebastian Lund (Rob Kerkovich) a chance to shine. He bonds with a clever and deadly MI6 agent, who may simply see him as an adorkable means to an end. Their cat-and-mouse game that continues right to the end provides plenty of solid entertainment.
All of this culminates in an epic two-part season finale with shades of the S4 season finale. This centers around Team Pride that somehow forms a family taking their variation of a trip to Hawaii. They go far overseas to try to rescue a kidnapped FBI agent and of course find themselves in grave danger.
CBS builds on the fun of "King Cake" with a plethora of other special features. We get the cast and crew discussing S5 and a few similar treats. The icing on these pecan rolls are the pilots of "SEAL: Team" and even more aptly of "Star Trek: Discovery."
The debriefing regarding this release that does well by this strong addition to the "NCIS" franchise, which in turn does "father" "JAG" proud, is that cast and crew know what people who like quality procedurals with a "hook" want and deliver it. I garontee it.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The Warner Brothers Home Entertainment August 20, 2019 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 22-episode penultimate season of the daddy of all Arrowverse series "Arrow" provides plenty of time to either catch up on or review the series before the October 15, 2019 premiere of the 10-episode 8th season on your local CW channel.
It is clear early on that this action and lore-packed season is intended to be the last. We check all of the boxes as to the unmasking of the titular hero, an unjust imprisonment of that savior, old friends and foes showing up, and an epic finale that provides closure that leaves you wanting more. Team Berlanti provides more in the form of frequent flash-forwards 20 years in a storyline that very validly can be titled ""Arrow: The Next Generation."
The following 2018 ComicCon trailer for "Arrow" S7 provides teasers galore (including toned-down "Ozesque" scenes of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) in the prison shower) about the thrills and chills to come. On a related note, both the DVD and the Blu-ray have a feature containing the highlights of the DC TV panels at that Comic Con. This kicks off with Team Supergirl discussing their adventures.
As indicated above, the blessing and the curse of S7 is that the well-orchestrated developments are much to plentiful to properly present here. Two primary and heavily related themes are that the events are a continuum, and that virtually every character is trying to come to terms with his or her past.
Our story begins with an unmasked Oliver out of the closet and in the big house as part of a deal related to revenge-obsessed nemesis Ricardo Diaz, Wife/Overwatch Felicity is in hiding with Oliver's teen son William Clayton. The rest of disbanded Team Arrow is trying (not always so well) to work within the system to do good in ways that include capturing Diaz for reasons that include an essential prisoner exchange of Oliver for him.
Urgency regarding this extends beyond Oliver being a fellow guest of the state who would not have that distinction but for him. A disgraced psychiatrist is giving Oliver an insidious form of electo-shock with impending dire consequences.
Meanwhile, a new Arrow is taking over the role of illegal vigilante. Rene Ramirez (a.k.a. Wilddog of Team Arow) switch-hitting is only the tip of the iceberg. Oliver and company learning the reason for these most sincere form of flattery dredges up fairly ancient history and creates textbook conflicting emotions.
All of this begets super-villain Dante and his previously covert centuries-old society known as the Ninth Circle, This requires borrowing from another corner of the DCU by having Diaz and his version of the Legion of Doom (complete with an evil version of MCU hero Captain America) form a "Suicide Squad" clone known as The Ghost Initiative. The similarities extend to these desperate measures having bombs implanted in their heads.
The 150th episode "Emerald Archer" centers around a documentary about this character and his not so merry men and women. Of course, reality (and associated conflict) intrude on this project.
The aptly titled episode "Confessions" is more of a traditional procedural than a super-hero action-adventure show. Team Arrow (plus an old friend) are persons of intense interest as to the killing of two innocents during a violent mission that is par for the course as to this group, The message as to this one follows the sci-fi principle that death is not always permanent; we also get a heavy dose of the aforementioned element of atonement.
In true Arrowverse style, all this leads to a story arc that leads to a climatic showdown in which inner and outer demons both face battles.
The aforementioned essentially game-ender nicely ties in with the epic three-episode cross-over "Elseworlds" in which our reality is repeatedly altered for much more fun than profit but still involving global consequences.
This always fanboy delight, which only is fully presented on the Blu-ray sets of the relevant "Arrowverse" series, is particularly awesome this time. It BOTH introduces Bruce Wayne cousin/Batwoman Kate Kane (who gets her own series this year) and drives significant action later in "Arrow" S7.
The special features extend well beyond the Comic-Con panel and the full presentation of "Elseworlds." The DVD and Blu-ray sets have the special feature "Villains: Modes of Persuasion" on DC super-villains, a feature on "Elseworlds," and a gag reel,
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.]
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releasing the first season of #1 NBC show "Manifest" from film god Robert Zemeckis ("Back to the Future," "Forrest Gump," etc) on July 23, 2019 is notable for a couple of reasons.
First, this is the beginning of a SLEW of awesome WBHE home-video releases of Arrowverse and other series that demonstrate that broadcast networks have plenty of life in them. Second, this release-date of this traditional-season serialized drama evokes thoughts of sublime-to-ridiculous summer fare, such as "Under the Dome" and "Zoo," that networks broadcast during the extended school vacation. Fortunately, "Manifest" falls on the "sublime" end of the curve on the Paley Scale.
"Manifest" centering around the passengers of otherwise-routine Flight 828 from Jamaica to New York taking off in 2013 and landing 5.5 years later also evokes thoughts of the JJ Abrams series "Lost" and the lesser-known program "FlashForward." The latter centers around a mysterious global incident in which virtually everyone on earth loses consciousness for just over two minutes.
The following clip of the official trailer for "Manifest" S1 provides a solid overview of the concept of this series that easily passes the "one more" test while watching episodes on DVD.
The abundant feast of food for thought commences with unmarried NYPD cop Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh of "Valor" and "Supernatural") waiting for her flight in Jamaica. She is with her parents, her brother Ben Stone (Josh Dallas of "Once Upon A Time"), his 10 year-old twins Cal and Olive, and his wife Grace.
A "Sliding Doors" moment occurs when a desire for a break from her mother motivates Michaela to accept an offer to be bumped from her original flight and put on 828. Ben and Cal join her.
Although sudden extreme turbulence disrupts 828, the rest of the flight goes smoothly. The first sign of trouble is the New York flight tower seeming to be surprised to hear from the flight and diverting it to a regional airport.
These not-so-weary travelers soon learn that their roughly three-hour tour lasted much longer. None of them look or feel any older than when they boarded in Jamaica. This leads to a mix of reunions with loved one who gave them up for dead long ago and/or finding the things have radically changed.
The first aside this time is that this gap evokes strong thoughts of the MCU Thanos storyline as to that villain sending 1/2 of the global population into oblivion for a five-year period known as "The Blip." Like the 828 passengers, no time has passed for the MCU folks who return to earth.
The second aside relates more closely to the "Sliding Doors" aspect of choosing one path over another sometimes having immense consequences. The "what if" factor as to relinquishing a sure thing in the form of a booked seat on a flight in exchange for the more speculative promise of taking a future flight precludes many of us of from taking that chance.
Michaela discovering that she no longer has an apartment prompts her to temporarily move in with Ben and his family. Her other trauma relates to her best friend's husband used to being her beau. The lesson here is if you love it, quickly put a ring on it,
The rest of S1 follows a theme of connectivity that pervades the series to varying degrees. The broadest aspect of this is that it seems that at least some of the passengers are telepathically linked.
The less broad aspect of this is God or a reasonably facsimile of Him sends the adult Stone siblings and some fellow passengers on missions by putting voices, images, and other clues in their heads. Staying true to this concept in other fiction, the minion typically initially does not know how to respond to the message and first gets it wrong once or twice before putting things right.
Meanwhile, the feds are dividing their time between trying to figure out what caused the longest flight delay in history and using vulnerable passengers to fulfill an evil purpose. Along a similar line, the Stones and the other interested parties soon learn that they cannot trust anyone.
All of this culminates in an action-packed season finale with high stakes and a sense that the mystery extends beyond the passengers. We all learn of an assumed five-year plan that would produce enough episodes to syndicate "Manifest." Those of us invested in this show will only need to wait until at least January 2021 for more immediate closure as to the classic cliffhanger in S1.
The Dekkoo Films March 12, 2019 DVD of the 2017 S1 of the Dekko network series "Woke" (nee "Les Engages") is highly relatable both to LGBT folks and anyone who has ever worked with a community organization. The broader perspective regarding this show about the lives. loves, and politics of the volunteers of the Lyon-based Point G gay-rights group is that it can be considered the French version of either the British or the American version of the gay-themed dramedy series "Queer As Folk.'
The 16 European and American awards for the aptly titled "Woke" further reflect the international appeal of the series. It really is about the men and the women in your office and your neighborhood.
The following YouTube clip of a "Woke" trailer emphasizes many of the international elements of the series. We see gayby Hicham poorly respond to a confrontation by "Mom" and get glimpses of the Kinsey Scale of lust-to-love that reflects the range of gay relationships.
The focus of "Woke" initially is divided between our leads. Closeted Muslm student Hicham (Justin) is living a life of quiet desperation with his sister Hadjet. The love and support of this well-meaning mother figure includes encouraging him to contact a presumed female object of his affection. Hadjet subsequently showing up unannounced at the quasi love shack of Hicham also strikes a chord with roughly 10-percent of the global population.
Meanwhile, Point G leader/bookshop owner/gay slut Thibaut (Brian) is pursuing all his passions in Lyon. The crisis du jour is that the mayor is basing denying a permit for a Gay Pride festival on the argument that gay people already have enough rights. Of course, hypocrisy soon enters the picture.
A later Point G campaign to locate witnesses to the beating of a volunteer who keeps his apartment by being a rent boy reflects the positive spirit of "Queer." An aspect of this is that discovering a strong gay community often fills the void left regarding lifestyle-based estrangement from blood relatives,
The rest of the story is that Hicham and Thibaut have a history that apparently is comparable to frequent (also aptly named) camp-out behavior that a lack of official approval by the Boy Scouts does not deter. The results of a personal survey is that every gay man who was a scout had his first sexual encounter with another guy during a scout event,
The past of Hicham and Thibaut involves the former hitting the latter in response to a request for a kiss during a non-scout camping trip. This is relatable to the many gay men whose early days of repression and/or ignorance manifest in cruelty toward teen friends who already know and accept that they like other boys "in that way."
The prior encounter and being increasingly woke in the present prompt Hicham to run away from home to join the gay circus. His rude awakening includes a relatable moment in which calf dyke lesbian Murielle berates this guy whom she has never met before for his inadvertent intrusion into ladies' night at the Point G headquarters. The outrage of Murielle relates to male intrusion on the one night of the week that the boys let the girls use the clubhouse.
Hicham soon thereafter has an uneasy reunion with Thibaut. What we know about our troubled activist and what we soon learn both show why he allows his former assailant to share his space, but not his bed.
The aforementioned organizational conflict (not to mention a form of theft that also is not unheard of in the Boy Scouts) leads to politics that turn very dirty. The end result is that charismatic and compassionate Thibaut becomes president/puppet. He has not-so-charismatic or compassionate board member/drag queen/puppetmaster Claude to thank for the rise to power.
On a more positive note, Hicham largely is a poster-child for the modern gay man. The aforementioned victories in the hearts and minds of the hoi polloi allow this nice young man to hold out for a loving and mutual relationship. The facts that he is seeking Mr. Right, rather than Mr. Right Now, and is not looking for love in all the wrong places or in too many faces show that we've come a long way, Baby. It further proves that gay men have achieved the worst nightmare of Brian Kinney of the U.S. "Queer As Folk" that fags have become boring suburban couples.
This perfect storm (including a chance encounter with the one who got away) prompts season-ending soul-searching for Thibaut. The best perspective this time comes from a real-life publicist for a major US studio who states that he understands why artistic temperamental people are artistic and temperamental.
All of this has fans of quality gay-themed dramedy eager for the Dekko DVD release of "Woke" S2.
The Warner Archive complete-series DVD release of the 1962-63 NBC legal drama "Sam Benedict" shows the value of good source material. Although the cases are fictional, the titular celebrity San Francisco attorney is based on real-life legal eagle/series consultant Jacob W. Ehrlich. The recommended companion release this time is the (reviewed) Archive complete-series DVD set of the 1963-65 drama "Mr. Novak." That fellow quasi-anthology series revolves around the titular rookie teacher typically trying to have a positive impact on a different student in each episode.
A particularly special aspect of this series is an early episode being in color. The best speculation is that this is part of an NBC promotion to encourage viewers to purchase color sets.
That guy who was in that thing Edmond O'Brien stars as essentially sole practitioner Benedict. Secretary extraordinaire Trudy Wagner is his Della Street. Rookie attorney Hank Tambor is more of a tenant than an associate.
The "Benedict" pilot perfectly reflects the spirit of the series. The first challenge facing Benedict is defending a client in a murder trial in which 12 angry men are a hung jury. This provides context for the presiding judge to lecture the "peers" and the audience about the nature of jury deliberations.
On a personal note, the sudden death of a friend presents our hero with a moral predicament. The spendthrift brother of the deceased wants his payoff before the dearly departed is put to rest. On top of that, this sibling is fighting the legal right of the adopted daughter of the dead man to get a piece of the estate. The well-know lesson regarding this is that death brings out the worst in people; the rest of the story is that procrastinating about keeping a will up-to-date can haunt your heirs.
Another early episode is especially Hitchcockian. Benedict is defending the daughter of a long-time family friend in a trial for the murder of her husband. The debate between client and attorney regarding whether to present an insanity defense provides context for discussing when a mental incapacity is a mitigating factor in a legal proceeding. The dramatic climax shows the consequences of repression.
Mental capacity also is an issue when a young widowed Japanese immigrant battles the parents of her late husband for custody of her unborn child. A primary issue here is the extent to which an apparent mental incapacity is attributable to limited English skills. Getting to the root of the problem is one of many instances of social commentary in this cerebral series that equally entertains and provokes thought.
We additionally get a case of a cop killing the college-age son of a one-percenter. The issue extends beyond the validity of lethal force to a more basic dilemma. This career cop must decide whether invoking his Fifth Amendment right to keep his doughnut hole shut is worth the price of definitely losing his job. We also get a taste of the perfect storm that can result when a hair-trigger cop on the verge of burnout conflicts with an arrogant young punk.
This opening statement on the merits of "Benedict" shows that the presented issues remain just as relevant and compelling more than 55 years later. The bigger lesson is that morons who do not learn from history are doomed to shell out big bucks to relive it in court.
The Mill Creek Entertainment separate April 16, 2019 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2010-13 Showtime dramedy "The Big C" is just what the oncologist ordered. This Emmy and Golden Globe winning series about middle-aged high-school history teacher Cathy Tolkey Jamison (Laura Linney) getting schooled in the realities of stage four (stage five is death) melanoma shows that even the worst of times can provide the best of humor.
The most subtle humor relates to setting "C" in a Minneapolis suburb. Although Cathy lives in a typical TV Land attractive middle-class home, her life is a far cry from that of pioneering working girl Mary Richards of Twin Cities based "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
"C" is one of three unrelated recent Showtime series that have strong actresses playing courageous middle-aged suburban women in crisis. "The United States of Tara" has Toni Collette playing a woman with a severe case of split personalities. "Weeds" centers around Mary Louise Parker playing a housewife who must resort to selling the titular substance to keep her boys in designer duds.
"C" also is one of the latest additions to well-produced DVD and Blu-ray CS sets of off-beat shows that put art over commerce in the MCE catalog. Recent examples include a reviewed set of "Rescue Me," and a phenomenal award-winning release of "The Shield." The especially strong praise for the latter in a post on that release does not do it justice.
The accolades for "C" include Emmy and Golden Globe Best Actress awards for Linney and an AFI "TV Program of the Year" win.
Our story commences at the beginning of the summer. Cathy is at the final stage of acceptance regarding her grief; a spoiler is that she and her friends and family rotate through all five stages throughout the series.
Cathy is throwing money at the "rich people" problem of wanting a pool in her backyard and wanting it now. The rest of the story is that she wants to enjoy what she believes is a very limited time before her death. One of many rubs is that middle-manager husband Paul Jamison (Oliver Platt) and generally good 14 year-old son Adam do not know why the woman in their life suddenly is acting weird.
For that matter, Paul cannot understand why one display of juvenile behavior in two decades of such antics gets him ousted from the marital home. For his part, Adam is upset that he literally is pulled off the bus to soccer camp and that Mom is very clingy. A hilarious scene has Cathy interrupting a private moment and adding injury to injury by immediately using that moment for a highly embarrassing lesson about how to properly stimulate a woman.
The overall change is that Cathy is putting herself first much more than she ever has and is deciding to stop being polite and to start being real.
Like many cancer patients, Cathy is trying traditional and alternative treatments. Her refusal to undergo chemo. is very reasonable considering that the benefits of that procedure come at the cost of many ill effects. Early examples of alternative medicine include travelling to Canada to be repeatedly stung by bees and staying closer to home for a clinical trial.
The progression of the disease occurs in the context of reel and real-life situations that are exasperating even without piling them on top of a presumably fatal disease.
Cathy must contend with helicopter parents at school, her manic bipolar brother Sean, Adam having a very active puberty complete with a sexual encounter that leads to the entire family getting crabs, and Paul losing his job and being unrealistic about his prospects for new professional employment. This is not to mention the already feisty elderly neighbor lady with Alzheimer's and the self-absorbed former college classmate who re-enters the life of Cathy at both the best and the worst of times.
The bigger picture regarding all this in this era in which virtually all those who practice medicine are in it for the money is the frustration that even those of us with what should be decent health insurance experience getting anything beyond basic medical care. Just in the first two seasons, we see Cathy dealing with a doctor not returning her calls and with being denied approved treatment because of a problem related to notice of coverage. This is not to mention health insurance prompting Paul to take a job that he otherwise would not have accepted.
"C" further tackles the issue of the fine line between compassion and annoying levels of charity. Cathy wants people to be nice to her but does not want to be treated like a porcelain doll. Similarly, Adam quickly tires of being the kid at school with the mother who has cancer.
The nice thing about "C" lasting four seasons is that quality writing and a strong cast draw the audience into the lives of the Jamisons and the people with whom they interact. We come to share their joy and feel their pain right up to the series finale.
The CBS Home Entertainment April 16, 2019 DVD release of the seven-episode Showtime limited-series "Escape at Dannemora" can be considered the real-life equivalent of the Fox drama "Prison Break." The release coming a week after the CBS (reviewed) release of the sixth season of the "Sopranos" like drama "Ray Donovan" indicates the talent of the Showtime suits for knowing a good dramatic story when they see it.
This joint by executive producer/director Ben Stiller chronicles every stage of convicted murderers Richard Matt (Benicio Del Toro) and David Sweat (Paul Dano) going from stir crazy to busting loose from the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility in the titular upstate New York town.
An intriguing aspect of "Dannemora" is the prominent role of prison employee Joyce "Tilly" Mitchell in the 2015 break. Patricia Arquette goes from a medium to a large to play this simple-minded Canadian, who pays a heavy price "to get a nut." The superb job of Arquette scores her a Golden Globe, a SAG Award, and a Critics' Choice Award.
The following clip of "Dannemora" trailer highlights the talent of Arquette and the chops of her company. It also provides a taste of the extensive soundtrack that indicates that Stiller has good taste in music.
Our story fully gets underway in the aftermath of Matt and Sweat making a run for the northern border. NY Inspector General Catherine Scott (Bonnie Hunt) is grilling Mitchell, who now is a guest of the state, about her role in the event. Much of the entertainment relates to clearly seeing both that Mitchell is her own worst enemy and that she is not the mastermind of the plot.
We then flashback to Mitchell working as the supervisor of the prison tailor shop; Sweat is her shop foreman/not-so-secret lover. Clearly equally dim-witted second husband/fellow employee Lyle Mitchell stands by his woman despite multiple credible reports of her frequent working-hours coitus with Sweat in a side room of the shop.
Sweat losing his sweet job and experiencing the prison equivalent of downsizing regarding his housing sets things in motion. Matt COMPLETELY fills the void in the shop and puts the escape plan in motion. The manner in which he does both shows who';s the boss.
The plot thickens as Matt seduces Mitchell into initially inadvertently and subsequently knowingly aiding and abetting the great escape. This begins with tricking her into providing a necessary tool and escalates to recruiting her to he a full-fledged moll. Much of the entertainment of this is watching Del Toro expertly playing a master manipulator. His persuasion includes painting an image of a paradise in which Mitchell has both Matt and Sweat essentially as her love slaves.
The next portion of "Dannemora" involves Sweat aptly contributing sweat equity to the venture. Matt is doing his part by ensuring that Mitchell is remaining with the program by filling her head with images of her prisoners of love making her life a paradise on earth.
One of the final episodes is a flashback that shows how our members of the devil's love triangle come to be in their current states of literal or figurative incarceration. We witness the crimes for which Matt and Sweat are doing the time and see how history is repeating itself in the case of Mitchell.
This leads to the lukewarm pursuit of the boys as their not-so-Bonnie accomplice deals with being left behind and with facing contending with the possible consequences of her actions. Suffice it to say that being a band on the run takes individual and group tolls on our fugitives.
Stiller nicely wraps things up by depicting the results of the manhunt and providing the standard "where are they now" updates at the end of the final episode. Putting very human faces on these members of "America's Most Wanted" adds an interesting perspective and makes the audience both wanting to learn more and to to see an "after Dannemora" series.
CBS bats .500 regarding the desire for more. A DVD extra is a combination "making of" and real-story special feature. We get footage related to the source material and see interviews with some of the real life cops and cons whom Stiller hires to ensures that his story is authentic. A particularly amusing story by a former Clinton guard is finding himself filming scenes with ex-cons whom he guarded back in the day. A "bygones" attitude by everyone helps maintain the peace.
The other feature is more like a page out of the Fox "Break." This extend anatomy of a scene shows all of the work and the multiple locations associated with the epic scene of the extended escape route. One spoiler is that this does not rise to the level of foulness in the "Shawshank" escape.
The bottom line is there is something about the Focker that makes "Dannemora" that easily passes the "one more" test of this movie that shows the extent to which reality bites for our central trio.
Lionsgate boldly goes where no man has gone before regarding separate DVD and Blu-ray April 9, 2019 releases of the recently concluded first season of the History Channel sci-fact docudrama series "Project Blue Book." The accolades for this Robert Zemeckis ("Back to the Future," "Forest Gump," "Contact") program about the real-life X-Files of Air Force Captain Michael Quinn and astrophysicist college professor Dr. J. Allen Hynek include Forbes magazine naming it one of the 10 most anticipated series of 2019.
The following YouTube clip of a "Project" trailer provides an excellent sense of the theme of this program that revolves around investigating reports of visitors from other planets. It also illustrates the strong production values that leave the laughably badly made recreation specials of the '90s in the dust. This high-quality video and audio call for buying the Blu-ray set, which looks very good when watched on a Sony 4K set and using a 4K player.
The broadest appeal of this series relates to it being a melange of two cult classics. The most obvious comparison is to the still-going-strong '90s Fox series "The X Files" that begins with true-believer FBI agent Fox Mulder teaming up with civilian medical doctor Dana Scully. Their investigations of initially (and sometimes permanently) unexplained occurrences generally parallel those of Quinn and Hynek. Additionally, both sets of odd couple partners come to like and respect each other.
The second cult classic is the Showtime series "Masters of Sex." The comparison regarding that one begins with both it and "Project" being set in the '50s. The similarities continues with the odd couple being based on a true-life team. "Masters" is a docudrama of the professional and the personal relationships of human sexuality researchers Masters and Johnson, and "Project" is based on the actual investigations of Hynek.
Also akin to "Masters," we get both a detailed look at the home life of a lead and a sense of the period. Hynek spouse Mimi is a stay-at-home wife and mother. Her son Joel is a young boy, who is obsessed with Flash Gordon and other sci-fi of the day.
Like Mrs. Masters, Mimi is dealing with the new normal of her husband being away more than he is home and becoming proportionately emotionally distant. On a grander scale, Mimi must contend with the fallout (pun) intended associated with the escalating Cold War. These new aspects of her life converge in ways that include her hands-on approach to building a bomb shelter.
We get a touch of both the beginning of the women's liberation movement and the FX series "The Americans" in the form of modern-woman neighbor Susie Miller. Susie is strong, independent, and ruthless. She also successfully manipulates Mimi in the course of covertly keeping tabs on Allen,
Other nefarious types include Army officers both with a horse in the race and a desire to keep the truth from getting out there. These include a secret missile program and experimentation on Army rangers. Related Soviet activities and a nefarious cigarette-smoking man provide additional intrigue.
If the dynamic between Quinn and Hynek evolves to the sexual element of the relationships between Master and Johnson and Mulder and Scully, one can image that it will be the most highly rated episode of the entire series.
Many of the 10 S1 episodes will seem very familiar to Xphiles., The pilot (no pun intended) revolves around an Air Force top gun who learns of the futility of engaging a U.F.O. in a dogfight. We also get separate incidents in which small-town folks experience seeing lights in the sky over the woods at night and having close encounters with the pilots of those craft. One of these incidents being a literally cruel hoax also reflects "Files." This is not to mention the Foo Fighters showing up.
All of this culminates in sightings over Washington, D.C. of which Hynek receives advance notice, Plausible Soviet denial helps the plot thicken ahead of a 2020 S2 premiere.
OThe CBS Home Entertainment April 9, 2019 S6 DVD release of the Showtime drama series "Ray Donovan" provides a relatively seamless good chance to catch up on all action (not to mention the trauma and drama) before the S7 premiere this year.
The following YouTube clip of the SPOILER-LADEN trailer for the sixth season of this premium-cable show about titular fixer/blue-collar Boston native (Liev Schreiber) illustrates how dramatically the themes and the tones of this series have changed. What begins as a fairly light-hearted drama set in Hollywood now is gritty noir in New York. The symbolism of the descent (with a touch of redemption) into Hell is on the surface.
The incident that drives much of the S6 action occurs very early in the season premiere. A highly despondent Ray takes what he considers a leap-of-faith and that the rest of the world deems a desperate act. This leads to the start of a beautiful friendship with NYPD cop Sean "Mac" McGrath.
This pair first bond over having the same reasons to despair and soon learn of the mutual benefits that each can provide the other. This relationship ultimately requires that Mac make hard choices regarding his divided loyalty between his brothers-in-blue and his brother from another mother.
Ray largely is out of the game when ruthless media mogul Sam Winslow (Susan Sarandon) pulls him back in. A promised large return on her investment is prompting Sam to put the power-of-her-press behind mayoral candidate Anita Novak.
Anita putting her trust in the wrong man prompts Sam to recruit Ray to avoid "Gigologate" derailing the campaign. This escalates into a situation that Ray has putting his "cleaning" skills to use. This development also allows for a "two birds, one stone" opportunity to help Mac out of a tight spot.
Meanwhile, Ray's 20 year-old daughter Bridget is a New York college student shacking up with handsome and charming Jake Smith. The drama here begins with Bridget striving to break free from continuing to feel the impact of the fallout from the take no prisoners approach of the business of her father. Her subsequently becoming a bargaining chip in a high-stakes standoff proves that her instincts are correct.
Meanwhile, initially naive younger child Connor now is all grown up. This rookie Marine spends a few days in New York before headed to the Germany assignment that makes him a real-live jarhead. This is despite a Donovan curse that affects the men of the family who enlist in the military.
Father Mickey Donovan (Jon Voight) initially is not an active concern for his son, who otherwise must watch his back in this regard. The "Donovan" pilot finds Mickey ending a 20-year unfortunate incarceration only to immediately commence a campaign of revenge. This pattern continues in S6 regarding another form of early release from a stay as a guest of the state.
We also see Ray once again disregarding the lesson that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Our anti-hero hires a contractor to take care of family business only to get another reminder that doing something right requires doing it yourself. He further is once more schooled regarding the concept that Hell hath no fury like a parent scorned.
The reason that all this (and even more) seems familiar is that it is very reminiscent of "The Sopranos" on fellow premium network HBO. Mobster Tony Soprano spends most of the series struggling to keep his work and home life separate. He, like Ray, additionally is trying to overcome a traumatic childhood and an incredibly toxic parent. This is not to mention both men becoming so tortured that they seek psychiatric counseling despite having spent their whole lives in a "boys don't cry" environment.
The similarities also extend to the S6 setting of "Donovan" essentially being the home turf of "Sopranos." The homage continues with the ambiguous "Donovan" season finale evoking strong thoughts of the "Sopranos" season finale.
The good folks at CBS Home Entertainment go even more old-school regarding one DVD special-feature. "Ray Donovan: Inside New York City" is variation of a pop-up video. We get looks at some of the on-screen locations with pop-ups that provide information about those New York locales.
The press materials for "Donovan" do a great job describing the other special feature. This synopsis of "Rise, Rebuild, Reclamation" states "sit down with showrunner David Hollander as he discusses rebuilding Ray's emotional and physical self in a new city with new relationships and new complications with his family." We also hear from the mouth of the equine and get several clips regarding this,
Mill Creek Entertainment shows good instincts regarding adding a DVD of the aptly epic 1997 mini-series "The Odyssey" to the MCE "Mini-Series Masterpieces" catalog on February 19, 2019. This month traditionally is a "sweeps period" in which networks broadcast their best productions in an effort to boost ratings. One very nice thing about this production is that it adapts the titular classic narrative in a manner that is not Greek to folks who are unfamiliar with the source material.
The accolades for this adaptation of the epic poem by the other Homer include a 1997 Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Mini-Series or a Special.
Armand Assante stars as brave and noble Greek warrior Odysseus. The star power behind the camera includes executive-producer Francis Ford Coppola.
We meet Odysseus on a day that is both one of the best and the worst in his life. He is racing to the side of wife Penelope (Greta Scacchi), who is in labor with their son Telemachus. The buzzkill is a development that requires that Odysseus travel to Troy to battle the Trojans over there so that he does not have to fight them "over here."
The Poseidion adventure begins with that god of the sea facilitating the ruse that gives birth to the expression to beware of men from the other Ithaca bearing gifts. The fabled Trojan horse meets its object of giving Odysseus and his men a huge strategic edge; the rub is that our hero also learns that Hades has no fury like a fellow god scorned.
Poseidion has such a massive hissy fit regarding Odysseus not thanking that deity for his assistance that The Man From Atlantis violates the principle of demonstrating great responsibility regarding great power. This man with a porpoise pulls the dick move of using his power to prevent the foolish mortal from returning to his wife and infant son.
This leads to our fearless crew om their greatly extended three-hour tour encountering strange new worlds and new civilizations on their far more than five-year mission. Another way of considering this journey is to think of it in terms of what a long strange trip its been. A related theme is that encountered perils reinforce the idea that dames ain't nothin' but trouble.
The first adventure does not involve women; the crew is near death when they think that they have found salvation in the form of a land teeming with food; their glee is short-lived when they learn that they are in the land of the giants (a.k.a. a cyclops clan). A sibling in this family developing a fondness for Greek food and wine is another mixed blessing on the road to Ithaca.
Our boys next become the guests of the sirens; Odysseus (with a little help from the goddess Athena (Isabella Rossellini)) once again uses a combination of brain and brawn to turn things to his advantage.
Odysseus subsequently feels the sting of being caught between the deep-sea threats of the Scylla and Charibdes. One spoiler is that his later adventure with the goddess Calypso (Vanessa Williams) has him hypnotized by her when he lingers.
We also see the crew snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Penelope is fending off potential suitors who are desirous of the woman and the other treasures of the long-absent lord of the manor. The frustrations of a now-teen Telemachus include his inability to oust this band of guests who have long overstayed their welcome. This almost literally is a wolves at the bedchamber door situation.
All of this culminates in a gloriously gory battle that once again involves paying the price for disobeying the rules of etiquette.
The appeal of this production extends beyond telling a tale that is as old time in a manner that caters to the American viewing public. Shooting on location, having a good cast, and including solid humor makes this release a good way to celebrate sweeps month.
CBS Home Entertainment honors the spirit of "sweeps" with the February 12, 2019 DVD release of the 1985 mini-series "The Key to Rebecca." Another awesome aspect of this one is that CBS seamlessly edits it into a movie without deleting any story footage.
A fascinating aspect of "Key" is the attitude of some Egyptians toward their British occupiers in WWII. The sense of the enemy of my enemy is my friend extends to choosing Nazis over the British Empire.
"Key" is a well-produced adaptation of a novel by acclaimed mystery/thriller/historical author Ken Follett. It occurs in WWII-era Egypt and largely centers around widowed American-born British intelligence officer Vandam, William Vandam. Cliff Robertson plays Vandam in this era of "Falcon Cresr" fame for Robertson
David Soul of the original "Starsky and Hutch" stars as Nazi spy Alex Wolff. He comes on the radar of Vandam after killing a soldier as part of his effort to maintain the covert nature of his activities.
The titular novel enters the picture (pun intended) as the basis for the titular cipher that Wolff uses to send messages to Rommel (Robert Culp). The related missions of Vandam are to apprehend Wolff and to obtain the aforementioned code.
Part of the intrigue relate to the central foes enlisting their own Mata Haris to further their goals; Vandam uses the desperate times of kept woman temporarily without a keeper Elene Fontana to coerce her into the desperate measure of befriending Wolff for the purpose of locating his lair.
Wolff is more insidious regarding his female partner. He enlists dancer Sonja El Aram to seduce a British officer; this provides Wolff a source of the material that he feeds Rommel,
This well-plotted cat-and-mouse game leads to a proverbial thrilling conclusion. Vandam already is highly frustrated regarding Wolff having barely slipped the noose several times and causing collateral damage on each occasion. Wolff making it very personal when the stakes are especially high further fuels the fire.
The "Key" appeal extends beyond a well-combined mix of elements; they simply do not make 'em like this anymore. As a starting point, WWII seems like irrelevant ancient history to many people. Second, it seems that the good story would not be enough to offset the minimal blood, gore, and sex to modern audiences.