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.


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.  


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.


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.