I.R.W.Y.V. (I Review What You View) – Gotham Pilot

This week began the first of four DC shows coming to TV land and here are my impressions of the Gotham pilot. Given that this is the pilot I will be a lot more lenient with the episode’s flaws. The series follows the early days of the then detective James “Jim” Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as he made it his mission to clean up the crime ridden and corrupt city that is Gotham. He is paired with Harvey Bullock (Donal Louge) to solve the high profile murder case of Thomas and Martha Wayne. The murder left a young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) now under the care of Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) grieving for his parents.

The series introduced many familiar Batman villains before they took up the names Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), Catwoman (Camren Bicondova) and Poison Ivy (Clare Foley). I felt that there were way too many villains in one episode but that was addressed by creator, writer and executive producer Bruno Heller and said that they wanted to introduce as many characters as possible in the pilot but promised the upcoming episodes to be more focused in terms of character building. Visually the show looks great. It combines the concrete jungle itself with the Gothic backdrop of Tim Burton’s take on the legendary fictional city. The city feels lived in and alive and it also feels dangerous and exciting. Whether they can replicate the stunning visuals they achieved is yet to be seen the rest of the season will be in a locked in budget.

The dialogue was something I had a bit of trouble with as it seemed to be at times cliché and predictable. There was n though providing exchanges it seemed to basically write itself since it so easy to write when on auto mode. Despite this I have faith in the narrative as I feel that the last twenty minutes of the show was showcase of what the previous thirty minutes could have been but once again this is a pilot and a show never quite reaches its potential until half way through a season. Many of my favorite shows took a while to get started so its normal if the pilot isn’t perfect. A real stand out scene was the meat locker scene as it had double crossing, faithful partner rescue and mob style executions. This was very reminiscent of old noire films as they strong shadow along with the bloody surroundings was a joy to watch. Jada Pinkett Smith’s character Fish Mooney was created for the show was an imposing figure as she set her sights on taking on Gotham’s underworld.

Perhaps the most intriguing character on the show was Oswald Cobblepot aka the Penguin as Robin Lord Taylor’s take was both intriguing and refreshing. You can feel the desperation in his beady eyes as he attempts to take out the completion so he can rise in the mob world. At first he comes across as a timid lap dog for Mooney but can be vicious and ruthless when backed into a corner. The last scene of the show was like a rebirth moment for Cobblepot as he seems to turn into a more sinister figure.

Overall the pilot was flawed as story was sacrificed to establish tone and atmosphere but it has great potential with a great cast. The dialogue can be improved but they might just be trying to find their voice as the characters get more defined as the show goes on.

This brings me to a score of: Comic book fans might be disappointed to some changes to the mythos of the source material but the show looks great and has a great to portray characters that they always wanted to see being played in live action. For the rest of the audience the show could be a great old school noire film packed into a TV show and seems to have a good appeal to most people.

I.R.W.Y.V. (I Review What You View) – The Killing Season 4

The real AMC zombie show returns against all odds but this time on the media streaming giant Netflix. After enduring yet another cancelation The Killing was given new life and a proper final season to conclude the mostly underrated crime drama. Episodes in the fourth season have a longer running time of approximately 55–59 minutes compared to 43 minutes when the series aired on AMC with commercials, and characters are able to use stronger profanity. If you have never seen this show then stop reading and scroll down to the verdict for further instructions.

The show the mood and atmosphere of the show remained the same (dark and depressing) as showrunner Veena Sud and writers and executive producers Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin all returned. The main cast member returned to reprise their roles as well as some new faces. Overall the season was a welcomed return to the gloomy and rainy Seattle where detective Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) and detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) are covering up the murder of James Skinner, while trying to solve the slaughter of the Stansburys. Being limited to six episodes you can’t expect the same twists and turns that the first three seasons offered but it does keep you on your toes. Kinnaman and Enos continued their great on screen chemistry as their partnership was put to the ultimate test when detective Reddick started digging into the disappearance of Skinner.

There was a particular scene that made me feel quite uncomfortable in the sense that it was such a tense and horrifying act. This may have been unable to air the scene on their former network but it didn’t necessarily feel out of place. I also got a kick out of hearing Kinnaman swear. The atmospheric and haunting score continued to add to the bleakness of the scenes as the great writing and the combination of cinematography and acting made this show so emotionally captivating. In a world of detective shows that wrap up a murder in half an hour, this show stands as a remarkably realistic approach to this genre as the characters feel real as they have faults and limitations that lead to conflict with others and themselves. Their lives are consumed with the process of detective work as it shows how they struggle with balancing their professional and personal lives but at the end of the day the most important goal is to solve the case.

The ending was a fitting conclusion to one of the most intriguing and dark TV shows that I personally ever watched. The final episode is a combination of grief (something that is very common in the show) and joy (something that was very rare) as it’s sad they the adventures of detectives Holder and Linden are coming to an end (never will hear 1 900 Linden again) but it manages to sum up their time together in triumphant end which sees both get an ending they so deserve. I was hooked since the first episode back in 2011 and it’s a shame that it never quite rose to the popularity to keep it going for longer, I am however thankful that the show was given a chance to tell its final story, something that many great shows never got a chance to do.

This brings me to a score of a: MUST WATCH. This show might be too dark for some but if you are a fan on a good detective show then this should be on the top of your list so start from season one and make you way up to four.

I.R.W.Y.V. (I Review What You View) – The 100 Pilot

There seems to be a dull few weeks of Television before the end of September and start October when our screens get chocked full of new and returning shows. Personally I am most looking forward to all the DC comics shows. So with this in mind I had a look around and stumbled upon the take three CW show The 100 (pronounced the Hundred not the one Hundred because insert reason). Now this is the first show I reviewed that I did not actively look for so I knew very little about the show beforehand.

Now the premise of the show is that 97 years have passed from a nuclear apocalypse, a future most futuristic sci-fi writers predict, they seem like a delightful group. Anyway all the survivors are in this combined space station from twelve international ones to from the ‘Ark’. Since recourses are scarce they think it’s a good idea to send 100 (see the link to the title) young beautiful prisoners back to earth as guinea pigs to see if the earth is habitable again. Already I have a few problems with the plot which is actually based on the book of the same name by Kass Morgan, and developed by Jason Rothenberg. The town of Chernobyl home of the worst nuclear disaster to date isn’t inhabitable for between 180 and 320 years. I am only assuming that even Chernobyl wouldn’t be match for a nuclear apocalypse, why would it take less time for the earth to recover? Also why would they send young prisoners wouldn’t it make more sense so send much older prisoners. All these teens are attractive and fertile, if humanity is to survive they kinda need to rely on them to procreate.

Maybe it’s a bit unfair that I’m looking into the science and logic of the show, after all it is sci-fi. I was actually impressed on how good it looks. The CGI is actually pretty good, especially the space station, that is a fine lookin’ space station. As for the characters I don’t care for them. There was an instance when a presumably main character was in peril and I was actually rooting for the thing delivering the harm. They all just seem really unlikeable, maybe it’s because they remind me of a bunch of unpleasant high school students. Maybe they will grow on me when they add some dept to their otherwise one dimensional personality. They did present a mystery as to the environmental status of earth, its mutated wildlife which hardly a surprise. Look the CW actually shelled out money for this show because they have faith in it and it did get renewed for a second season. I guess they need to take the teen drama genre that the network is known for and take to space and back to earth since sci-fi is quite popular these days. I might watch the second episode just to see where they take it from there since it was just the pilot, so I’m not shooting the show down just yet.

This brings me to a score of a: if you overlook logic and science which the genre tends to sometimes as well as they teen relationship drama this can actually be a promising show so soldier on.

I.R.W.Y.V. (I Review What You View) – Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 1

Now to expand to the realm of network TV, where in recent years had suffered due to the rise and popularization of cable and streaming television. Fox is one of the ‘big four’ is the most popular broadcast network in the last couple of years and that is where Brooklyn Nine-Nine comes in.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a single camera cop comedy show that revolves around the team of detectives and newly prompted captain in the fictional 99th precinct in Brooklyn, New York. This show is actually funny and I love the fact that there isn’t a laughing track because I’m not so dumb that I need to be told when to laugh dammit. Andy Samberg plays the appropriately annoying Detective Jacob “Jake” Peralta who is paired with the uptight Detective Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero). There is also the tragically pathetic Detective Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) and his futile attempt to court the intimidating Detective Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz). Also part of the team is Terry Crews in all his buff glory where he plays the cautious Detective Sergeant Terence “Terry” Jeffords and the insane Administrator Gina Linetti played by Chelsea Peretti. Perhaps the best and most original character on the show is the openly tough and homosexual Captain Raymond “Ray” Holt, played by Andre Braugher.

The show works on an episodic narrative format do there is no overarching stories but it doesn’t necessarily need it since its character comedy that drives the narrative. Being a comedy this is perhaps the most important question “Is it funny?” Well to that I say “yes”. This is a cleverly written show with a lot of comedic twists. The different character dynamic is a clear highlight of the show and it just feels that the actors are really having a good time on set which helps giving their performances a bit of an edge. This show is genuinely funny and which is sometimes hard since there are so many censors that a joke has to go through in network TV. Because of this I was especially pleased that the show was renewed for a second season.

This brings me to a score of a: Watch because unlike last week’s comedy this is appropriate for everyone expect the ones that don’t like to laugh, I don’t much care for them.

I.R.W.Y.V. (I Review What You View) – The League Season 1 – 5

Now The League has been around since 2009 and it’s pretty much a household name amongst cable viewing Americans, in Australia though it’s still pretty much an unknown. This still baffles me as it is one of the funniest comedies in the last decade.

The originally FX now FXX show revolves around six best friends and their own Fantasy Football league and that is pretty much plot in its entirety. Being a show about American Football, Australians might think that they won’t be able to understand the jokes but the show being about this sport is purely incidental as the humor comes from the extreme level of competitiveness and rivalry. The show is semi improvised meaning that all the madness that is set up is all made up on the spot, which is credit to the comedians in the show. Speaking of comedians the show has some real comedy cred with Nick Kroll and Paul Scheer playing as two of the six main characters.

Now this show is clearly not for everyone since it can get quite crude and offensive. I however feel that the jokes are done tastefully enough since they aren’t rude for the sake of being rude, that is just the brand of humor that fits this show. Since its going onto its sixth season I feel that Australia should tune in to the show as it is genuinely funny with loads of guest appearances from comedic legends such as Seth Rogan, Tom Lennon, Sarah Silverman, J B Smoove , T J Miller and many more.

This brings me to a score of a: Watch unless easily shocked or offended otherwise its great fun.

Now have a listen to the origins of the trophy name and the term ‘Eskimo brothers’.

I.R.W.Y.V. (I Review What You View) – Broad City Season 1

This new Comedy Central series from creators Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson is a like a breath of fresh air. The series follows two young best friends struggling though a life of low income in New York City. Broad City was actually developed from their web series of the same name that was produced from 2009 to 2011.

The show has a feminist bend on a traditionally male skewing network that actually is funny. The chemistry between Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson is great to watch but perhaps the best aspect of the show is the outrageous supporting cast. A personal favorite of mine is Ilana’s booty call Lincoln Rice DDS, played by Hannibal Buress. The character is pretty much modeled after the Hannibal I love that. He is a softly spoken dentist who wants to take their relationship to the next level, but continuously fails to do so. He comes across as the most stable character on the show which is even more intriguing as he is paired with the most unstable one. On top of that he is a comic fountain of jokes, just listen to this guy.

Overall the show delivers actual laughs although most jokes tend to be subtle which makes the show funnier if you watch it more than just once. Sometimes it suffer from the trying too hard to come across as a dirty show but it has more clever set up than those types of jokes and they fade out as the show progresses.

This brings me to a score of a: Watch if you are a general comedy fan and/or love Hannibal Buress.

Now here is a clip that pretty much sums up why I love the character of Lincoln.

I.R.W.Y.V. (I Review What You View) – The Strain Pilot

I recently watched the first episode of The Strain from Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro’s novel of the same name. In this review I’ll tell you if The Strain is Strainuous to watch. Now that I got the obligatory pun out of the way let’s get down to business.
The series debuted on July 13 on FX and began airing in Australia on FOX 8 a few weeks later. The appropriately named first episode “Night Zero” was actually directed by Guillermo Del Toro himself which is a testament to how close he is to the series. From the opening shot I could see that the series has a great cinematic value as the aesthetics were beautiful. You can tell that FX has faith in the show as everything seemed so expensive to shoot from a logistical point of view (Wait until I get to the CGI) as the plane inspection scene is a great example. Today no one can film in an airport so they build these sets to look like an airport. That seems expensive already well on top of that they had a bloody massive plane there. From the premise alone I wasn’t a 100% sold because I saw the word “vampire” and since those novels turned films that shall remain nameless killed my love for vampires, I was sceptical. Now that I’ve gotten a sense of what the show’s tone and mythology is, I can say that I will definitely be watch the second episode. These are the vampires I love, they are grotesque and evil, and even the way vampirism is spread is a fresh and more original take on an act that has been beaten to death.
The protagonist of the series, Ephraim Goodweather played by Corey Stoll is undergoing the classic struggle of balancing his job (CDC) and his family. It’s kind of the show’s way of grounding the character and they also seem to suggest that there is a history with his college, Dr. Nora Martinez played by Mia Maestro, which I don’t personally care about. I did however get a kick out of seeing Stoll with hair, but my favorite part was Professor Abraham Setrakian played by David Bradley. This character is such as bad ass, he even has a sword in his cane. The CGI was actually quite good as the creature look realistic and creepy which can’t be said of many other supernatural themed shows. It is reported that FX spent $500,000 on creature CGI alone so I can literally see where the money went. There are a few goofs that took me out of the moment a bit but I won’t get into too much detail (this is a spoiler free review after all). That being said, what the show did right far outweighed the bad.
Overall the show shows a lot of promise and I am curious in the direction it’s heading. The cinematic value is quite impressive for a TV show and with all the supernatural themed shows all over the air waves, The Strain manages to keep its head above water thanks to some real star power (It’s Guillermo). This brings me to a score of a: Watch if looking for a new show.

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