Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hemlock Grove | Netflix Attempts to Cash In On Weird Shit

Netflix has been around for only a few years now, but in that time it has managed to make a name for itself and even has a 200 dollar share price. Business is good for the video streaming service and it was only made better when they released the made-by-Netflix drama House of Cards which starred Kevin Spacey. This show followed the intriguing life of a U.S. senator vying for a higher political office.  House of Cards really showcased what Netflix could do to the world, it was interesting and well-acted, more recently though, Netflix has released the series Hemlock Grove.

So, what was the good, the bad and the ugly about Hemlock Grove?

The Good
Sometimes weird shit is good, it makes you think. The weirder the thing you are confronted with the more you have to think about it in order to make sense of it all. And Hemlock Grove is loaded with weird shit:  banging cousins, face/vagina eating monsters, bacon grease and two former cast members of Battlestar Galactica.

The Bad
The pacing of the show is a bit slow, like The Wire slow, but unlike The Wire Hemlock Grove provides little payoff.  As well, much of the dialogue is hard to listen too, (I’m talking to you Chief Tyrol). If you are going to have a lot of buildup in a series you need to have some payoff and this show does not have any.  Once the last episode is done you as the viewer are left with most of the questions you had about the characters in the series: in other words, the series has no catharsis.   

The Ugly
We could say Shelley, but that would be too easy.  Some might say that you can’t sum up an entire season of television in so few words. With Hemlock Grove you really can and that is pretty god damn ugly.  

In the end, Hemlock Grove is just one big tease, making you think that at least some of the questions that arise in the series will be answered. But in reality, most of the weird shit that pops up throughout the series is left a mystery and only one big answer is revealed in the final episode. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Which Amazon Instant Video Original Series Are Good?


Amazon has released the pilots for their original series for free on Amazon Instant Video and asked the viewers to decide which pilots should go to series. Here are the reviews of their comedy line-up.

Zombieland


This serialized version falls short of its movie counterpart, but is still passable entertainment.

The Good
The opening scene was amazing and done just as well as the movie. The “zombie kills of the week” are still funny. Watching zombies attack and gruesomely kill bystanders is a twisted treat.  It holds true to the theme of the movie.

The Bad
Bad acting and a cast that does not compare to their movie counterparts lessen the experience. The ultra silly feel of the show makes it seem like a parody of the movie. The blatant advertisements written into the story are also very distracting.

Those Who Can’t

This edgy comedy about the antics of three dysfunctional high school teachers is filled with laughs and dark humour.

The Good
The characters have a diversity of extreme personalities which are captivating on their own. Watching full grown men plot revenge against a student by framing him for drug possession is surprisingly satisfying.

The Bad
The remaining faculty members that make up background characters are cliché and will probably become annoying in the long run. Characters like these include the always asleep ageing teacher and the ex soldier who carries flasks disguised as phones and binoculars.

Alpha House

The series follows a group of republican senators who share a house in Washington D.C., and it is the most promising pilot in the Amazon line up.

The Good
John Goodman headlines the show and they even managed to get Bill Murray for a cameo. The dialogue is witty and given nuance by the cast. The lives of these conservative senators provide both interesting and funny material such as campaigning against a sure to win opponent and a gay bashing senator who is constantly pressured to prove his “manliness”.

The Bad
There are not many laughs in the episode. It felt like the episode was hinting at what great things could happen in the show but only gives you a small taste of it.  

Supanatural

This animated series about low class divas who moonlight as adventurers and save the world. It was the most surprising achievement in the Amazon lineup.

The Good
The mix of minimum wage divas who work in mall and supernatural entities bent on destroying the world is an unlikely yet winning combination. The evil crystal skull attempting to commence Armageddon was funny for its inventive trash talk and penchant for melting faces with its laser eyes. The episode is filled with references to Indian Jones and Gremlins. Appearances by a homeless lady are increasingly strange, shocking and funny.

The Bad
The main characters are still very annoying at times and might take some getting used to.

Betas


This series about beta testers trying to sell their product seems like a winner, but in the end was humourless and empty.

The Good
The shows concept is original with a group of programmers competing to become the next Mark Zucherberg.

The Bad
Poor dialogue and a not so interesting cast make it a bore. The language of the mobile app generation over shadows the comedy and makes it feel like a routine comedy disguised as something new and improved. Whatever was supposed to be funny about the show did not shine through in the pilot episode.   

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Defiance Pilot Review


Defiance plays out like a sci-fi series from the 90s. That is not to say it is like Star Trek. Defiance hails more from Babylon 5, Star Trek’s sloppy cousin. Defiance is bringing back the old ways: prosthetics, flashy aliens ranging from all the colors of the rainbow, cheesy dialogue, and horrendous special effects. It is not one of those Battlestar Galactica type series that the networks have been spewing out since it aired. The series has high aspirations, but the pilot episode stumbles in its efforts.

Defiance is set in the future where the planet has been terraformed following the arrival of various alien races. The story is centered on the inner workings of the town of Defiance and an emerging plot to destroy it. The main characters of interest are the war hero Jeb Nolan, who becomes the new sheriff in town, and his adopted alien daughter Irisa. However, there is a supporting cast that takes up most of the spotlight, the McCawley and Tarr families (one is alien, you know which one).  They have a War of the Roses vibe, and they are vying for control of the town.  There is a lot going on in the show, but the manner in which it is done leaves it feeling flat. No effort is made to make the alien races seem interesting besides their looks, their blue glowing laser knives, and their annoying music. So far they seem all too human. The story itself was not half bad, a bit formulaic, but that is what pilots are like. It had action, mystery, and it moved at a good pace.

It is nice that they brought back practical effects for some old fashioned aliens with bumpy foreheads. On the other hand, the CGI effects are distractingly bad and sometimes poorly integrated with reality. In one car chase, the vehicle switches between a real one and a poorly rendered one. There is a battle with a computer generated alien force which looked like a cut scene from a video game. Maybe they wanted the graphics to match with the coinciding video game. Defiance is not the next advancement in sci-fi television. It is an old school sci-fi series, and the question is if people are still going to want to watch that.         

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloweek: 7 Days, 7 Scary Movies


Halloween is upon us, and October 25rd to October 31st is the seven day period that makes up Halloweek. Every day of this week will have a scary movie. We have here the full list of scary movies for this occasion. The essential genres are there: the cult movie, classic zombie, slasher, modern zombie, vampire, ghost, and parody. These films can be arranged any way and are frequently shown on cable.

Evil Dead II
This cult classic stars Bruce Campbell as Ash, the cowardly vacationer who must fight off body possessing demons at a cabin in the woods.

Day of the Dead
This zombie film from the Romero era follows a military group, post-zombie apocalypse, as they attempt to survive in an underground bunker.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (original)
The original is still favored over the disappointing remake of this classic horror film about killer who stalks a group of teenagers in their dreams. 

28 Weeks Later
In this sequel to 28 Days Later, months after a rage virus ravaged Great Britain the US Army helps the survivors reorganize in London.

Near Dark
A modern day cowboy is taken in by a group of nomadic vampires when he is turned by a girl in the group.

The Shining
This classic horror film by Stanley Kubrick follows a family isolated in a hotel for the winter as the husband is driven mad by a spiritual presence.

Shaun of the Dead
This parody of zombie movies stars Simon Pegg as a man trying to survive a zombie apocalypse and reconcile with his girlfriend.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Workaholics Cast: Their Best Web Videos

Many people know Adam, Blake, and Anders as the cast of the comedy central series Workaholics. These three have been showcasing their own brand of stoner comedy over the span of three seasons of Workaholics. Before that, they got their start making YouTube comedy sketches on their channel/production company Mail Order Comedy, as well as making a few web series, one of which became the pitch for Workaholics. Here is a list of some of their best videos from the early days.

I Hate Zombies

This sketch, which is possibly the most offensive, stars Anders as a zombie game fanatic who causes some trouble when picking up his girlfriend from work.

Religious Dad

This is brief sketch with Adam DeVine that most likely parodies his memories of Sundays in a religious family.

I’m Kind of a Nasty Dude

A truly strange music video that explains their use of nipple jokes in Workaholics.

Cool Dads


Arm Wrestling Champ


This sketch has Adam playing a man with an unhealthy drive to defeat a frat house jerk in arm wrestling.


The Promotion


The guys fight over a promotion at their call center.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Last Resort Pilot Review: Just Crazy Enough


The crew of an American nuclear submarine are forced to occupy a tropical island and threaten nuclear retaliation when their country turns against them. At the start of the episode, Last Resort showed some strain with some shoddy dialogue, but picked up the pace with a condensed variety of crazy moves by the main characters, mainly Capt. Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) and XO Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman). After questioning an order to nuke Pakistan, the captain is relieved of command, which is given to XO Kendal, who then questions the order himself, which leads to them being attacked by the American Navy. Without much deliberation, Capt. Chaplin took command of the ship again, without much protest, and decided to take over an island and threaten to nuke Washington D.C. to stop their government’s attempts to kill them. The crew is supposed to seem heroic under insane circumstances, but all evidence to the contrary suggests the captain is unhinged and the crew is surprisingly quick to follow. None of this makes any sense, there are plot holes everywhere, the characters’ actions are too quick and extreme to believe, but it is all entertaining.

Last Resort does not intend on making sense if it interferes with the pacing. The show is tailor made to move quickly and be fun. There was enough happening in the pilot episode to hold your attention, and the characters, although a bit stereotypical and without real world logic, are actually likable. The set up for the ongoing story is the mystery surrounding the apparent government conspiracy behind the misfortunes of the Colorado crew, and be something to look forward to in future episode. However, the pilot was so packed with great scenes that there may not be much left over for the future. Don’t be surprised if the second episode is less fun. That being said, Last Resort got off to a great start that makes us look forward to what is coming next in the series.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

I Hate Your Face: Nate, Revolution


The I Hate Your Face Segment

Welcome to the ongoing I Hate Your Face segment, where we at Strange Broadcasts partake in venting about characters on television that bring out a rage that could only on be described, humbly, as righteous rage. Some characters are simply destructive to a series overall health with their incredibly boring, useless, or annoying existence. The actor is not necessarily the issue, just the character.

“I Hate Your Face Segment” Nate, Revolution

Revolution is the new sci-fi/mystery series about a sister trying to rescue her brother with the help of her estranged uncle and a few other misfits in a future where all technology and power mysteriously shut down. From the beginning, the series had its fair share of problems, but the most unforgivable mistake is Nate. Nate is the bow carrying militia member pursuing our heroes in an attempt to capture uncle Matheson and bring him back to his evil leader. In reality, Nate is actually a ridiculously annoying character who is completely unnecessary and only exists to pander to a broader audience. Nate is the pretty boy love interest of the main character (Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Matheson) and that is all he is. All attempts to reconcile this fact with the development of the show have failed so far.


Nate’s scenes are out of place and confused, to the point where they make the entire episode less watchable. He is an empty character with no conceivable emotional range, and every time this empty stereotype walks into a scene and makes Charlie Matheson swoon, and you can’t miss it because they fixate on it for what feels like forever, Nate takes that character right down with him. Nate, you are a relic of 90s television and a terrible by-product of Twilight/The Hunger Games fandom. You are a sad creation of pop-culture that must be snuffed out for the benefit of storytelling. Everything you say makes no sense. You have the complexity of five year old boy. You are an obstruction to the series, and everyone despises your vacant stare. Every moment you are on screen is agony. Nate, do everyone a favor and befall a tragic death by falling into the nearest wood chipper, or since there is no power in Revolution, some sort of manual grinder.