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.
'Rescue Me: The Complete Series' Blu-ray: Hilarious Rude & Crude Dramedy About Lives and Loves of the Men of NYFD
The Mill Creek Entertainment October 23, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 2004-11 Denis Leary dramedy "Rescue Me" continues the solid Creek track record of producing complete-series sets of 21st-century cult classic television series on Blu-ray in time for the holidays. These collector's editions are notable proof of the "you've come a long way, Baby" evolution of Creek from producing basic DVD releases of public-domain content to becoming a first-class distributor of the best fare from this Streaming Age of Television.
The vivid colors and crystal-clear audio of the Blu-ray release does American Film Institute "TV Program of the Year" for 2006 "Rescue" very proud; the serial format, entertaining candidness, and lack of a single dull moment call for a marathon (rather than binge) viewing during the holidays.
The aforementioned cult classics included the (reviewed) release of the edgy Showtime docudrama "Masters of Sex" and the (also reviewed) criminally under-rated ABC neo-modern "Friends" sitcom "Happy Endings." A review of the complete series of the Daddy of all cult-classic sitcoms "Community" is scheduled for the not-too-distant future. Creek is releasing a deluxe Blu-ray complete series set of "The Shield" on December 11, 2018.
Anyone who wants to seem cool is encouraged to give the special offbeat Millennial or Gen Xer in his or her life one or more of these sets this holiday season.
Leary puts his textbook caustic wit and love/hate feelings regarding his Irish heritage to good use in playing veteran New York firefighter Tommy Gavin. An amusing related aspect of this is that Worcester, Massachusetts native/graduate of Emerson College in Boston Leary regularly inserts subtle and not-subtle references to his home turf in this Gotham-based series,
Fellow Massachusetts native Peter Tolan reunites with Leary after their work on the HILARIOUS shorter-run series "The Job," which stars Leary as an NYPD detective who essentially is Gavin with authority to have a gun. Tolan writes all 93 "Rescue" scripts. "Job" star Lenny Clarke also transitions to this series.
Giving the equally witty and compelling "Rescue" a portion of its due is well beyond the scope of a review that strives to remain below novella length; the series is a genuine original that most likely will never have an equal. This is ENTIRELY due to the genius-level dark humor and other quirks that make Leary a god.
The best mainstream comparison is to think of "Rescue" as a working-class version of "Seinfeld" that has the edge associated with being a 10:00 p.m. basic cable show. Thinking of Jerry as a foul-mouthed chain-smoking alcoholic with a fraction of his already limited morals is a good start. A ripped from "Rescue" example would be purposefully setting up George with a transvestite despite that good friend not knowing that she is the girl with something extra.
Centering "Rescue" around a fire station without glamorizing that profession provides insight into a world that is foreign to the general population; setting it in the post-911 era in which life is back-to-normal for most of us provides rich material for an ideal blend of humor and drama. This relates to Gavin and his crew seeing that indisputably tragic event as a figurative get out of jail free card and payment for anything that they desire for a seeming endless period perfectly illustrates this.
A hate-hate relationship with the NYPD is another entertaining theme. Watching Gavin wrangle with the boys in blue until he has a compelling reason to play nice is must-see TV.
The "Rescue" crew is populated with every working-class stereotype; the skill of Leary and Tolan avoids them becoming caricatures.
We have middle-aged Irish middle-manager Jerry Reilly; he is just as profane and dark as the younger guys. His at-home drama includes a gambling addiction and a wife suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.
We also get young dim-witted stud Sean Garrity; he shines early in the season regarding a waxing of his naughty bits going hysterically wrong. It also is recalled that his is the firefighter who gets caught in a compromising situation regarding a cancer scare related to his pride and joy.
One of the more interesting characters is female firefighter Laura, who must endure more than her share of abuse from her peers. Watching her evolve from showing that she can take anything that they can dish out and is not afraid to assert her rights when necessary, to showing that she can dish it out as well, and finally becoming one of the boys is awesome.
Sweet and naive Mike Silletti is a personal fave. His joining the crew at the beginning of the series earns him the name "Probie" and requires that he do all the grunt work. His early shining moments including having to build a deck and provide the beer as his co-workers sit around and give him intense grief. His asserting his rights nicely illustrates how this puppy becomes a full-grown Dalmatian.
The aforementioned naivete also lands Silletti in the most amusing and/or interesting sexual situations. These begin with his initially being clueless about the motive of a man who is strongly pressuring him to go to dinner and even gets him to move in with him after unwanted sexual contact. Our boy then deals with dating an overweight woman with bulimia. A later relationship confirms the thoughts of some viewers and fulfills a fantasy of a subgroup of those fans.
The incestuous home life of Gavin is just as darkly amusing as his work life. His oft on-again-off-again relationship with wife Janet seems to perfectly reflect the lives of literal and figurative firefighter widows, who struggle to maintain the same level of intimacy that their men share with their co-workers.
The incest extends beyond the merging of work and home life via Gavin not allowing his desire to reconnect with Janet stopping him from "dating" Sheila, who is the actual widow of Cousin Jimmy. This intercourse provides the main context for informing the audience of a Bro Code that prohibits a relationship with the woman of a fellow firefighter.
For her part, Sheila alternates between man and women; her personal drama includes an emotionally and physically abusive relationship.
Teen Gavin daughter Colleen seems to take a cue from Sheila; she also has both boy and girl trouble.
Clarke steals the show as "Uncle Teddy," who provides Gavin plenty of angst. This three-hundred pound senior citizen with the mentality and the energy of a 12 year-old boy has no sense of moderation. Dragging his brother Michael (Charles Durning) (a.k.a. Dad) into his misadventures only fuels the fire from the perspective of Gavin.
Tatum O'Neal adds star power as quasi-estranged Gavin sister Maggie; many of us can relate to this sibling only showing up when she believes that doing so is in her best interest.
The copious special features provide additional reasons to buy the set; the blooper reels are predictably hysterical. We also get behind-the-scenes looks and hear from actual New York firefighters. All of this wraps up with "The Creators' Last Call."
The apt final note to this lengthy discussion of this once-in-a-lifetime (if not longer) series is that is from the last days of the American public having some form of sense of humor. It is very sad that scenes such as one in which dumb Mick Gavin and his crew gleefully hurl rapid-fire ethnic insults at each other to show that it does not mean anything likely would not even be allowed on premium channel series. The best way to put this in context is to predict that the current attitude of Denis Leary is to say get a fucking sense of humor assholes.
The November 13, 2018 Lionsgate DVD release of the 2017 Investigation Discovery docudrama "Dating Game Killer" offers awesomely nostalgic not-so-guilty-pleasure fun. The titular murderer/excitable boy Rodney Alcala (Guillermo Diaz) interrupts his at least decade-long killing spree to compete on the titular game show in the late '70s. It is estimated that his total body count is approximately 130.
Diaz ("Scandal") does such a good job playing a seducer/lurer of girls and women who range roughly from 8 through mid-20s that the audience gets a strong sense of watching Alcala himself. The impact of this performance includes Alcala fitting the pattern of being quirky but not not so outwardly creepy to raise suspicions.
The victim who changes everything for Alcala is a young girl in the late '60s. Police detective Jim Hamell (Robert Knepper of "Prison Break") is at the right place at the right time in that he sees Alcala zero in on the girl when Hamell stops to use a pay phone. The spidey sense of Hamell results in hot pursuit that still is too late to save the girl.
The narrative shifts ahead 10 years; photographer Alcala (of course) lives with his blissfully ignorant mother and is fresh off his national television debut. This also coincides with Alcala perving on two teen girls at the beach.
The audience (and a not-so-good Samaritan) know that Alcala is keeping one of the teens at a wilderness area; we also know that the girl suffers her inevitable fate. The rest of the world only knows that the girl is missing and that a sketch of the man at the beach is a good likeness of that individual.
This incident ties "Killer" together, The circumstances of the case adequately mirror the modus operandi of Alcala to prompt Hamell to come on the scene and impose his services on investigating officer Detective Ryan (Matt Barr). Hamell briefing his new partner-in-crime-solving on the activities of Alcala in the interim between the cold case and the warm one is an effective exposition tool. A primary aspect of this is the legal system repeatedly setting Alcala free to keep preying on women. A '70s element is the clear message that you do not want to get Alcala angry (or scorned).
A really creepy period between the two crimes around which "Killer" centers around is a WTF stint as a photographer at girls' camp in New York state. The shock and awe commences with learning that an adult male manages to use a fake name to obtain a job that allows him largely unfettered access to underage girls. The disbelief continues with Alcala keeping that job after figuratively triggering enough red flags to be visible from space,
"Killer" provides the additional perspective of Carol Jensen (Carrie Preston of "True Blood"), who is the mother of the missing girl. Having a child suddenly vanish without a trace is adequately traumatic; not knowing the fate of that offspring greatly compounds the issue; being certain of the identity of the perpetrator but the proof being insufficient to even bring him in for questioning seems unbearable.
Hamell and Ryan subsequently and literally keep their distance as they watch Alcala to the legally allowed extent. This results in Ryan increasingly embracing the cause of making his suspect a guest of the state.
"Killer" literally saves the best for last in focusing on the legal proceedings that ultimately determine the fate of Alcala. The awesomeness of this includes virtually every entertaining aspect of the Hollywood depictions of trials, This further demonstrates that context is everything regarding whether such developments are amusing, pathetic, or tragic,
The effectiveness of "Killer" relates to the story sadly being one with which the viewing public is very aware; the distinguishing elements are the quality of the people in front of and behind the camera.
The Lionsgate October 9, 2018 DVD release of the 2018 Lifetime Movie Network film "Her Stolen Past" shows that the spirit of these films live on; the ONLY disappointment regarding this thoroughly modern melodrama is that it does not star an '80com actress or a lead in a procedural.
The delightfully campy premise this time is straight out of the Harlequin novel of the same name. The suspense, drama, and romance begins when newbie medical resident Sonya Daniels (Shanice Banton of "Degrassi: The Next Generation") comes home to attend the funeral of her murdered mother. What happens next is pure Lifetime and Harlequin. An observation regarding this is that it is a shame that Sonya finding true love requires a relatively high body count.
The facts that Sonya is orphaned and that her beloved mother was murdered in an underground parking lot seem to not unduly phase her. Finding a mysterious diaper bag while cleaning out the home of her mother does trigger a relatively strong response that amplifies on finding a birth certificate in a pocket of the bag.
Romance enters the picture on Sonya hiring dreamy former cop/current private detective Brandon Hayes (Michael Xavier of "Bitten") to investigate the decades-old kidnapping of the baby to whom the certificate relates. The rest of the story is that the mystery infant is the birth child of a local wealthy couple that owns a corporation that is on the verge of a major event. Of course, all this ultimately ties together,
The dual sleuthing of Sonya and Brandon reveals that her mother is up to her elbows in the whole mess Discovering the circumstances of the kidnapping and the reasons for wanting to silence both Sonya and her mother are more surprising than learning the current identity of the child,
An amusing aspect of "Past" involves Brandon spending the night at the inherited house of Sonya after a home invasion. Having Brandon fold the sheets on the couch the next morning clearly is included ONLY to show that nothing happened, This scene is despite the house having at least two bedrooms.
All of this leads to a wonderful pulp fiction climax in which the blameless and the partially innocent are at the mercy of the villain and are about to meet their maker until the dashing hero crashes in and saves the day. The epilogue does include a nice twist.
The primary appeal of all this is the ongoing guilty pleasure fun of Lifetime movies. The producers play it smart by figuratively keeping to the script, The production team further plays it smart by preventing "Past" from looking dated. The clothing and house styles are traditional but still look modern, and the use of tech. is limited. Further, there are not any era-specific references.
The Warner Archive August 28, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Lucifer" S3 is part of the recent embarrassment of riches regarding such releases of the most recent seasons of procedurals ahead of the upcoming new seasons. Lukewarm off the presses examples include a review of the Archive BD release of "Riverdale" S2 and a post on this week's Warner Prime BD release of "Supergirl" S3.
In the case of the Jerry Bruckheimer series "Lucifer," Netflix is resurrecting this Fox cancelled show. A downside of this bonanza is that it requires basing this review on 23 of the 26 S3 episodes. Things really heating up toward the season (and anticipated series) finale is prompting watching the final three during the next several weeks. All signs point to complete reveals and a satisfying climax that is worthy of The Prince of Darkness.
The underlying "Lucifer" premise of the titular literal handsome devil/night club owner (Tom Ellis) teaming with L.A. detective/former T & A actress Chloe Decker (Lauren German) to solve the murder of the week makes the S3 episode "The Angel of San Bernardino" especially awesome. This one is notable for the somewhat similar long-running Fox procedural series "Bones" playing an integral part in solving this "Lucifer" case involving a TFB who is found DOA.
Having a civilian with a unique expertise and a law-enforcement officer of the opposite sex and temperament join forces (and ultimately naughty bits) is an increasingly common basis for shows such as "Bones." Lucifer seeing the similarities between that fiction and his reality leads to an "Angel" solution that demonstares that there are not any coincidences.
The review of the S1 "Lucifer" BD release provides a good primer on this show that has the King of Hell come to Los Angeles for a vacation five years ago and decide to stick around. The series starts with a combination of our hero wanting to punish the guilty and having some form of Hell hound in the race. The post on the S2 BD shows how the lore expands.
S3 opens in the immediate aftermath of the S2 cliffhanger that finds Lucifer half-naked, alone, and as afraid as the devil can get. The means by which he execrates himself from his immediate predicament sets the stage for the S3 theme of old foes, friends, and characters with elements of both reappearing in the lives of our main ensemble. Another throwback element is an episode that shows the early days of Lucifer on earth and proves that when he met Decker it was murder.
The element of unwanted seeming divine intervention adds fuel to the hellfire in the form of the daddy issues that Lucifer has with God.
S3E1 also marks (hilarious pun for those familiar with these episodes) the addition of "Smallville" Clark Kent Tom Welling to the cast. He plays tough new police lieutenant Marcus Pierce, Although Welling portrays Pierce well, a mid-season reveal regarding Pierce suggests that "Lois and Clark" Clark Kent Dean Cain may have been a better choice.
The first few S3 episodes revolve around the hunt for the Sinnerman, who is a person of interest regarding a mission from God. This introduces a villain who gives truly bedevils our hero.
Lucifer being an especially tortured soul during S3 provides entertaining irony. He struggles with showing his father essentially that he is not Little Nicky and will not eat his vegetables if he does not want to do so. He also has special and undisclosed reasons for objecting to Pierce and Decker dating.
The efforts of Lucifer to impose his version of what is right on what he considers wrong drives his involvement in several S3 cases. A prime example of this is his frustrating inability to find an effective solution for a problem has him investigating the murder of the author of a successful YA book series so that he can learn the approach of the deceased to writer's block. Another case has him unsuccessfully presenting a facade of focusing on the needs of Decker for an allegedly altruistic purpose.
A very clever standout S3 episode has a star newspaper reporter/ex-husband of group confidante therapist Linda Martin pursue a vendetta against Lucifer. The narrative technique and awesomely unexpected surprise ending earn this one its 9.4 rating on IMDb.
The prime time broadcast network version of edge (and the related elan of Ellis regarding his devilish role) is what makes "Lucifer" must-see TV. A hilarious sequence begins with Lucifer misinterpreting the purpose of the swear jar of the young daughter of Decker and ends with his showing the girl a loophole. Another episode has a demonic influence responsible for the elderly teacher of the daughter unwittingly eating pot brownies. This is on top of roughly one-half of the cast gleefully running with the Satanic concept of the series.
"Lucifer" does equally well skewering the absurd L.A. lifestyle. Plot points include a company that kidnaps a "victim" for fun and profit, another business that allows hiring failed actors to play the real-life role of a friend or a family member, and a dating app. that only allows beautiful people to join. On a related note, the bright lights and the big city look fabulous in Blu-ray.
The special features include the Comic-Con panel that Archive faithfully provides in every set of a show that participates in such events. There also is a "Tom and Tom" extra with Ellis and Welling, a Gag Reel, and deleted scenes.
Owning "Lucifer" S3 on Blu-ray may not be your deepest desire but does merit a place on the Top 100 list of such wants.
Including ALL FOUR episodes of the EPIC "Crisis on Earth-X" crossover of the CW Arrowverse series is the most notable of countless highlights regarding the Warner Brothers Home Entertainment (WBHE) September 18, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Supergirl" S3. A former castaway on a tropic island nest tells us that the next crossover will center around Batwoman and Gotham City ahead of Greg Berlanti and his soccer stud spouse Robbie Rogers giving her a series.
Watching ALL 26 episodes this past weekend to prepare for this review proves that "Supergirl" is marathon (rather than binge) worthy. These well produced tales looking vibrant and crystal clear and sounding just as good in Blu-ray (and comparing them with DVD versions of S1 episodes) proves that shelling out the extra $5 to get it in that format is well worth it.
The bigger picture is that buying an S3 set provides a chance to get caught up before the October 14, 2018 S4 premiere of this series starring 2017 Teen Choice TV Actress: Action winner Melissa Benoist ("Glee").
The following statement by a WB suit nicely conveys the "Supergirl" spirit. WBHE Senior Vice-President of Television Marketing Rosemary Markson notes that "the series incorporates diversity, fairness and empowerment, and our fearless female Super Hero is a perfect role model in today's time. Primetime examples of some of these elements in S3 are a kick-ass engaged lesbian couple. an openly gay superhero (and his "reformed" supervillain boyfriend), a black James "Jimmy" Olsen, a black man/brother from another planet director of the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO), and two high-powered female executives who clearly show the boys that this is not their first rodeo and that they had better not fuck with them, etc.
Bringing "Carrie" star and '70s TV mom/CONCURRENT 2010s star of stage, screen, and television Betty Buckley on as a tough but loving mother (whose best scene ends up on the cutting room floor) further reflects the strong spirit of empowerment in "Supergirl."
Doing the S3 release justice (pun intended) is beyond the scope of a single online review. The combination of independent lore, connections with the DCU in general and Superman specifically, and the action-packed events is of a grand scale. This article will touch on each point and highly recommends folks whom this overviews entice to learn more by buying the Blu-rays.
S1E1 establishes the girl power aspect of "Supergirl" right from the start. 20-something Kara Danvers (nee Kara Zor-El) explains that her parents spend the final moments before their home world of Krypton goes boom blasting tween Kara off in an earth-bound pod. Her mission is to protect and guide her baby cousin Clark Kent (nee Kal-El) on this planet far from Krypton. Things quickly going awry for Kara literally changes everything and helps set the stage for the primary S1 action.
The beginning of S3 finds Kara nursing a broken heart of her own making. Adopted sister/DEO colleague Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh of "Grey's Anatomy") is doing a little better in the romance department in that she is planning her wedding with fiancee Maggie. The boys also are doing well, Former Catco tech. guy/current Kara close friend/boy with a dark past Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan of "Smash") is a full-fledged DEO agent/lab nerd. Former sidekick/current corporate ladder climber Olsen (Mehcad Brooks of "Desperate Housewives") is a full-fledged superhero in his own right and only starts sleeping with boss Lena Luthor after scoring a corner office.
The S3 season premiere awesomely hearkens back to the pilot. The current threat to National City where Team Kara resides requires that the girl with something extra wrangle a submarine ala her bringing a plummeting jet under control in her first outing as Supergirl. (A later episode reveals potential global annihilation stemming from that first heroic act.) This S3 salvo also prompts a literal awakening that is a blessing and a curse for our heroine.
The "Midvale" episode is a fanboy dream that provides a break from the season-long worldkillers story arc that is central to the aforementioned pending apocalypse at the hands of Pestilence, Purity, and Reign. The title of this offering refers to a heartbreak prompting the Danvers sisters to visit mom Eliza Danvers (Helen Slater of the '84 "Supergirl" film). A alcohol-influenced spar prompts Alex and Kara to go to bed angry, which sets the stage for a tale set in the high school days of those then rival siblings. One spoiler is that this flashback is directly relevant in a future episode,
The fanboy element enters the picture in the form of the CW Superman coming-of-age series "Smallville." The most direct homage is having "Smallville" Lois Lane actress Erica Durance (who also takes over the role of birth mother Alura Zo-El on "Supergirl") makes a cameo appearance. Further, the same building from exterior shots of Smallville High provides the facade for the high school of our girls. Additional goodness comes in the form of Cousin Clark friend Chloe of "The Wall of Weird" fame helping the sisters The true valentine is in the form of following the "no flights, no tights" policy of the earlier series.
Kara also is the at the true heart of the aforementioned epic crossover. The stated premise of this television event is that the wedding of Barry "The Flash" Allen and Iris West is bringing Kara and her "plus one," Team Queen from "The Arrow," and some of "The Legends of Tomorrow" to Central City for a joyous event turned Moldavian Massacre. Team Berlanti staging numerous battles in which many of the best DCU residents face off against super-powered alien Nazi doppelgangers gives the fanboys what they want, The interaction among this seeming cast of 1,000s is equally special. A request to the good folks at WBHE is to please offer the aforementioned "Batwoman" crossover as a seamless movie format in the next round of Arrowverse releases.
All of the above provides a sense of the futility of giving "Supergirl" its due. An effort to keep this post to manageable length requires skipping ahead to discussing the S3 season finale. This one successfully juggles a multi-front battle against the worldkillers and wrapping up the season-long story involving The Legion of Super Heroes who travel from the past and the future to help team Kara. It also sets up the premise for the planned "Legion" CW series, makes changes that set the stage for "Supergirl" S4, and provides a cliffhanger that may require outfitting Benoist with a goatee. This is not to mention an awesome nod to the Christopher Reeve '78 "Superman" film.
The special features extend WELL beyond copious deleted scenes that will make fanboys weep regarding their exclusions. We also get a gag reel and a features on the crossover and on the wonderfully conflicted worldkiller Reign.
The bonus highlight is a full hour of clips from 2017 Comic-Con panels for the Arrowverse series. The elan and love of cast and crew alike both validates that all love his or her role and shows how they can make plots such as the aforementioned Super Nazis and a rampaging super landshark seem plausible. PLEASE keep it up Gregbie and company; we need this "unreal" entertainment in these highly toxic times.
The Lionsgate September 18 2018 DVD release of the second season of the CBS 2016 reboot of the classic ABC '80s action-adventure series "MacGyver" allows catching up with the adventures of the titular resourceful do-gooder covert operative ahead of the September 28 2018 S3 season premiere. The Unreal TV review of the Lionsgate DVD release of S1 of this series provides s good sense of the lore.
The literal opening gambit finds late-20s blond stud/quick-thinking brainiac Angus MacGyver (Lucas Till of the "X-Men" film franchise) and older brother figure/muscle/bodyguard Jack Dalton (George Eads of "CSI") in bright sunny Cuba. A hot pursuit requires "Mac" to literally think on his feet even more quickly and frequently than usual in this fast-paced series. A fun bonus feature about this segment points out the the Cuban people are MacGyver in that limited and outdated resources require that ingenuity regarding enjoying modern conveniences that include functional vehicles.
Things quickly move to the primary mission of the episode, which is rescuing a Navy Seal being held captive in the Mid-East. This outing also introduces sexy interrogation expert Samantha Cage. He mad skills include both creative (and not always pleasant) ways of getting you to talk. She further can tell when you are lying ala Dr. Cal Lightman of the 2009-11 procedural "Lie to Me."
Fan favorite from the original and the reboot madman Murdoc shows up a couple of times and does not disappoint; the first one finds him getting the drop on "Mac" and providing a good twist at the end. His return is a fanboy dream in the form of having real-life rocker/original Murdoc portrayor Michael Des Barres appear in a key role. Another episode has Eads coming face-to-face with original Jack Dalton portrayor Bruce McGill. One can only hope that Mrs. Superman/"Supergirl" villain/Desperate Housewife/original Penny Parker on "MacGyver" Teri Hatcher shows up in S3.
The modern incarnation of the Colton family of bounty hunters come in the form of their quest for "commerce" competing with the desire of Team MacGyver for "art" in the form of preventing a tech. expert from unleashing an especially lethal computer virus. The hilariously incompetent dirtbag is a nice bonus.
The two holiday episodes provide great "MacGyver" fun. The gang spends the Halloween season tracking both a modern Ninja and her captives on a deserted island in the Bermuda Triangle. A "very special" Christmas episode revolves around trying to spring "Mac" from jail after his arrest for alleged fallout from one of his desperate measures. Although not a holiday outing, an episode involving Area 51 and possible alien tech. is another occasion on which the writers give the fans a valentine.
A season-long story arc has "Mac" searching for his father; related bases for intrigue are the clever clues that MacGyver senior leaves for his son and the figurative smoking gun that Phoenix Foundation director/Macyver handler Matty Webber (Meredith Eaton of "Boston Legal") knows the score but ain't talkin'. All this comes to a head in the cliffhnaging S2 season finale.
Best buddy/roomie/disguise expert/rookie operative/comic relief Wilt Bozer literally gets sent to school in S2. He spends several weeks in a training program that massively tests his endurance. The fun regarding this arc is a spy who loved me element.
These episodes fully embrace the "Miami Vice," "The Rockford Files, "Knight Rider," etc vibe of "unreal" escapist Friday night fare that dates back at least to the '70s. Watching attractive guys who only do the wrong thing for the right reason is tailor-made for the end of a grueling work week. "MacGyver" keeping that spirit alive AND providing new adventures of a hero who proves that one man's trash is another man's world-saving device is a true public service.
The DVD extras extend well beyond the segment on Cuba. We get two seasons worth of demonstrates on how to MacGyver devices; this one comes with a "don't try this at home" warning. We also get a look at the speciel effects, a gag reel, and deleted scenes.
'Once Upon a Time' S7 DVD & Blu-ray: New Realms in Final Season for Fairy Tale Heroes, Villains, and Those In-Between
The ABC Studios separate August 28, 2018 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2017-18 seventh and final season of the ABC prime time serial fantasydram "Once Upon a Time" provides a good chance to escape into multiple fantasy worlds before fully facing the cruel cruel end of summer.
The first good news for folks (such as your not-so- humble reviewer) who have not watched "Time" for a few years is that the new directions for the final season of this series about Disneyfied fairy tale folks living in our reality and a few others make it easy to follow even if you have never watched the show. Other good news is that a Pacific Northwest retailer that shall remain shameless is selling an S1-S6 Blu-ray set for a tempting price.
Speaking of Blu-ray, spending a few extra dollars to get sets in that enhanced format is well worth it, The elaborate fantasy worlds and copious effects are only part of the story. Like any Disney-oriented project, the behind-the-scene folks are Disneyiacs (if not collectors) with moderate to high obsession levels regarding accurately depicting these versions of favorite childhood characters. Further, seeing the cast make us believe that Snow White lives down the street and that Jiminy Cricket is a psychologist is great fun that deserves the full Monty.
The other big picture is that perceived similarities between "Time" and the equally lore-laden, reality and time-shifting 2004-10 ABC drama "Lost" is not your imagination. Both series are from the same production company, and the credits of "Time" showrunners Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis include writing for "Lost." Further many "Lost" stars go on to do "Time." The only disappointing absence is not having Josh Holloway being a "Time" character with a habit of assigning nicknames ala calling a clad-in-green Peter Pan Kermit.
This shared epic aspect of "Lost" and "Time" results in more creativity and payoff regarding the well-crafted lore of each series in in one episode than in a handful of most 60-minute dramas. "Time" does especially well making delightfully surprising connections.
The basic lore of "Time" is that the evil queen of "Snow White" fame imposes a curse that transports virtually every character from well-known Disneyfied fairy tales from the old country to the small town of Storybrooke, Maine. Part of the curse is that these princesses, princes, dwarves, etc. lack any knowledge of their true selves and live the same as the rest of us.
Ten year-old everykid/non-fairy-tale character Henry Mills is virtually the only one who knows the truth; the efforts of this boy who cries Big Bad Wolf to get the adults to take him seriously is a common theme of literature that is very relatable to current and past children.
Ala "Lost," the "Time" story greatly expands beyond the series of "operations" that Henry undertakes to put things right in manners that include getting the real-life versions of fairy-tale characters to wake up and smell the porridge. It ultimately seems that any fur or face that one can see at a Disney Park (or on the stage in "Wicked") shows up.
S7 starts with exposition that sets the stage for the aforementioned retooling. Recent Storybrooke High graduate Henry is setting out to literally and figuratively find his own story after writing the one of those of his fabled family, friends, and "others." His stating that every fairy tale has numerous variations sets the stage for things to come. Our boy then rides into the sunset via a portal to another realm.
A series of events that clearly establish both that we are not in Storybrooke anymore and that the events in the lives of the fairy-tale characters are not your daddy's bedtime stories. This is not to mention that some old friends who join Henry in his new reality have evil twins with various origins.
A particularly Upside Down aspect of S7 is that we get a late-20s author/Seattle resident Henry, who is a one-book wonder and a young widower, being under a curse that prevents remembering any aspect of his past. The annoyingly persistent child this time is Lucy, who claims that she is the daughter of Cinderella and that Henry is her baby daddy.
The numerous notable aspects of adult Henry are his separately bringing a pen to a knife fight and showing that he really does not know Jack.
Wonderfully dark themes that run through the S7 realms include sacrificing a "virgin" to save a loved one, the use of a curse to get revenge, an evil stepmother, revenge-driven blood lust, etc,
Horowitz and company go full-on "Lost" for roughly the final 3/4th of this 22-episode season, We get a big surprise regarding the central curse, learn that being woke is not desirable for evryone, and see prime examples of someone being his or her worst enemy. All this leads to a build up to a climax and an epilogue that is worthy of such an epic series.
The highlight of the numerous special features is "And They Lived Happily Ever After." This 22-minute Valentine has cast and crew reliving memories accompanied by clips from every season and express their appreciation to the fans. We also get bloopers, deleted scenes, and a look at cast member directing an episode.
'Masters of Sex' Blu-ray and DVD: 'Ripped From the History Books' Saga of Mad Men Style Sex Researchers
The Mill Creek Entertainment separate August 21, 2018 DVD and Blu-ray complete series releases of the 2013-16 Showtime docudrama "Masters of Sex" coinciding with the (reviewed) Creek CS releases of the ABC sitcom "Happy Endings" provides Telephiles plenty of viewing pleasure while waiting for the new TV season.
Candor in the spirit of "Masters" is a factor in confessing that August being a particularly busy month for home-video releases and other factors are reasons for pulling out before completion in that this review is based on the first two of the of the four seasons in this series about real-life pioneer sex researchers Dr. Bill Masters and (twice-divorced) Mrs. Virginia Johnson. A desire to see what comes next is the excuse for not reading ahead, The real-life Masters and Johnson will agree that not providing complete satisfaction is a valid basis for complaint.
The fact that "Masters" gets 52 nominations and only 6 wins also reflects the spirit of this program about a highly passionate Masters striving to educate the public about physical aspects of sex and every factor that make it either satisfying or anti-climatic. The excuse this time is that the 100s of networks and overall good quality of television dramas the past few years make the competition much more stiff than back in the days of only three commercial broadcast options and PBS.
The majority of the wins deservedly go to future Oscar winner Allison Janney for her portrayal of Margaret Scully. The highly stressful marriage of Margaret to university official Barton Scully (Beau Bridges) makes that woman a '50s housewife a rebel with a very righteous cause.
Cursory on-line research shows that the series predictably stretches the truth regarding the main characters and their work but remains relatively true to the source material. An assumption is that the incidents in the lives of the supporting characters mostly are designed to entertain and to provide a context for depicting social issues of the day.
The pilot episode of "Masters" provides a strong sense of the direction of the show right from the beginning. The opening images are of inter-titles that state that Dr. Williams Masters (Michael Sheen) and former night-club singer Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) team up to publish a ground-breaking sex study in 1966. The next image is of an inter-title that establishes the year as 1956.
We first meet Masters working solo as a peeping Tom with a scientific purpose in a very basic version of his research. This leads to his using his clout (and a touch of blackmail) to move his work to Washington University Hospital where his literal day job includes star status. He initially hires Johnson as a secretary but more fully integrates her into the work and his life as the season progresses.
The S1 season finale predictably is climatic as an oblivious Masters presents his preliminary findings accompanied with intimate footage of study participants to his peers in 1957. Although not touched on very strongly, the perception of the film as lewd rather than as a valid element of scientific research relates to the issue of what is pornographic; part of the answer is that the determination must reflect the intent behind the making and the showing of the images. One spoiler is that this controversial production is not very erotic.
S2 begins with the fallout from the aforementioned presentation. Masters understandably considering the unwarranted outrage further enhances his inability to work and play well with others. This leads to the same conclusion that often applies regarding exceptionally intelligent and talented people that they do better working for themselves than being a wage slave.
The more unsettled nature of the study coincides both with a patient-of-the-week format and episodes with sometimes unduly preachy social issues. The first featured patient is a 20-something genuine nymphomaniac facing surgical sterilization. Many of the social issues revolve around race in the context of Masters working in a black hospital and his wife Libby having a young black woman help her around the house.
The season ends with CBS making a documentary about Masters and Johnson; related interesting aspects of this are dumbing down the material and the issue of the seven words that George Carlin informs the American public that cannot be said on television in any context. Modern relevancy is at "SNL" and "South Park" separately running with the concept when at least two of those words get approval for use over the air,
It is assumed that Season 3 addresses both the increased fame (or notoriety) associated with the documentary. We further can expect to see the personal relationship of our researchers evolve in the wake of Master showing Johnson great vulnerability in the second season. For her part, Mrs. Masters becoming a more liberated woman likely will impact the home front.
The more-than-three-hours of bonus material include behind-the-scenes features, deleted scenes, and "The History of Sex."
The Lionsgate July 31, 2018 separate DVD and enhanced Blu-ray releases of the first season of the Starz original series "Counterpart" provides a good chance to see the best current show that you have never seen. An initial endorsement is planning to subscribe to Starz when S2 episodes premiere in early 2019; an initial note is that the Dolby HD Blu-ray looks spectacular using a 4K player to watch it on a Sony 4K set.
The exceptional special features include a video for each of the 10 S1 episodes in which creator/writer/producer Justin Marks ("The Jungle Book") shares his insider perspective on that offering. His enthusiasm and insight prove his great love and regard for his creation.
The following YouTube clip of the official "Counterpart" S1 trailer introduces the lore of the show and awesomely proves that sadistic Schillinger of the 1997 - 2003 HBO prison drama "Oz" still lives in J.K. Simmons. A different fanbase knows Simmons from numerous roles that include his Oscar-winning performance in "Whiplash."
"Counterpart pulls off the neat trick of combining quality Cold War drama, the 1963-66 sitcom "The Patty Duke Show" in which the eponymous young star plays an everyteen all-American girl and more worldly English cousin, and the 2008-13 Fox scifi drama "Fringe" that shifts the action between our reality and a more totalitarian version of our world.
The "Counterpart" and "Fringe" parallel (pun intended) is especially close. Having equivalents of Walternate and Fauxlivia from the Fox series is the tip of the iceberg.
In both cases, the link to the Bizarro world is the result of a science experiment gone awry. The alternate dimension this time is the product of Cold War research in Berlin that creates a separate but equal reality. Restricted access between what can be considered East and West Berlin is via a heavily guarded subterranean tunnel.
The other primary element of the lore is that the general populace on both sides of the tunnel is completely oblivious to even the existence of the tunnel. The extensive symbolism begins with the lore that only person at a time can walk through the tunnel.
The larger (and more fascinating) theme is that the responses of our counterparts to the same incidents that we experience here shapes the personalities of both persons. An example is the differences between a woman who embraces a highly violent lifestyle and her other who better blends into society.
The rare occasions on which one encounters his or her mirror image are series highlights. They often make both persons wonder what might have been and prompt introspection by viewers.
Our story begins with the balance between action and introductory exposition that marks good series. The idea is that modern ADD audiences want to know what is going on but have little patience for being introduced to the setting.
The aforementioned opening scenes show the police in our reality in hot pursuit of Baldwin, an assassin from the other side. The manner in which this hired gun escapes sets a good (and sustained) precedence for the series.
We then move on to a day in the life of mild-mannered middle-aged UN spy agency desk jockey Howard Silk (Simmons). Boss (and personal fave) Peter Quayle (Harry LLoyd) has just passed him over for a promotion. On finishing his really boring job as an office clerk, Silk follows his evening routine of bringing his comatose wife Emily and the nurses at her hospital flowers and then reading to his spouse.
The proverbial game-changer comes on Silk arriving at work one morning to have Quayle let him in on the secret and introduce him to the titular Silk Prime (Simmons). Of course, the mousy wimp Silk disgusts the tough and stoic Prime. The only disappointment is that "evil" Silk does not have a goatee.
The rest of the story is that Prime is here because the Emily on this side is a target of Baldwin. The bigger picture is that a covert group on the other side is planning a coup.
The related efforts to save Emily and to capture Baldwin are the beginning of collaboration and a beautiful unlikely friendship between Silk and Prime. Seeing this pair interact and Prime slowly but surely mellow while Silk learns to man up provides great entertainment. A poker game between these studs arguably is the best scene in the entire season.
For his part, Quayle is the son-in-law of the big boss but is not a model husband. The rude awakening of this spy-master-in-training wonderfully reflects the themes of "Counterpart." Suffice it to say that Lloyd plays his role particularly well.
Additional entertainment comes as we learn more about the specific basis for the other side resenting us; this relates to a wonderfully complex conspiracy in which virtually everyone becomes a suspect. The manner in which people with whom a character has a close bond often does not hesitate to throw that person under a bus is awesome vicarious fun.
The Cold War elements also include prisoner exchange negotiations, such swaps going horribly wrong, the luxury on our side seducing tunnel commuters, the other side brainwashing children and preparing them to serve the cause, moles, etc.
All of this culminates in a season finale that wraps up the S1 drama and sets the stage for S2. The tightening of the noose prompts drastic action by infiltrators, friends getting trapped in hostile territory, and diplomacy failing. In other words, just like the real Cold War era Berlin.
Lionsgate also gives us the bonus feature "Season Outlook" in which cast and crew discuss the series and favorite moments.