TV Shows

Stranger Things Season 4

Having just finished the 7th episode, I like how everything came together before we get the last two episodes by July 1st. There was emotional satisfaction and payoffs, and we can see where the show will go next. Each episode felt like a movie in its own right, especially that seventh one coming in 1hr40mins long. The production value was top-notch, and it was clear to see that the Duffer Brothers had put long hours of thought into it. The level of care and detail, and overlapping themes while bringing attention to the earlier seasons was nothing short of a masterstroke.

This season parallels the themes and plot of the first, with Eleven having to come into being her own person. And acquiring super powers. The big bad was well established early on, with clues being feed dripped slowly to uncover its true identity. The horror was on point, with both the supernatural and that of a mob mentality – especially that of narrow-minded, religious small towns. It didn’t shy away from showing the brutality of it all; of dead children, traitors in both US and Russia – the torture that accompanies both sides, and the grotesque nature of the monsters.

The acting was excellent as usual from these group of kids… well now, teens or young adults. Some seem to have grown up faster than the rest, like Lucas. Though that’s probably due to him being older than the others playing his friends. I enjoyed David Harbour’s performance the best, as the grizzled American prisoner in a Russian gulag. And I liked the actor playing the guard turned friend, Tom Wlaschiha as Antonov.

The electronic synth soundtrack was a joy to my ears, being a fan of that genre. It added well to the immersion factor of the 80s we’ve come to know for Stranger Things. Costume design was on point as well.

Overall, I quite liked this season. They tuned down the Russians from being the bad guys to merely being the opposition that happens to exist in their world. The bad guys are established this time around as some evil entity from the Upside Down dimension, and the US general hunting down Eleven and the scientists helping her. There is a lot of various political messages I could probably get into, but I’d rather not. I turned off my brain mostly, and enjoyed this fantasy sci-fi horror show. I’m excited for the end.

TV Shows

Moon Knight (ongoing)

Episode Six

Wow, I was right on the money. Creator and lead writer Jeremy Slater doesn’t have the heart or courage to tell a complete story. What a total cop-out of an ending. CGI fest of shitty fight sequences, a near rip off of Wonder Woman 1984’s costume, and the classic trope of “I literally just killed 20+ people but no, I won’t kill the lead bad guy. That’s evil!” Message received Jeremy. Egyptian people’s lives are worthless compared to an older white dude. Oh, but wait random internet critic, there’s a scene after the credits rectifying that! See, I am creative!

We have our first Egyptian superhero! So badass that she can stop bullets, and that her enemies are so braindead that they shoot their AKs point-blank at her wings instead of you know, her legs. See? Jake did make an appearance but only after I once again, director included, chickened out from actually showing his fight scene. Everyone loves getting blue-balled, especially twice.

The real winner here is Ethan Hawke. Man had to do the bare minimum, just walk around and say some lines, and bam, made millions. Oscar Isaac and May Calamawy at least had to actually put some effort into acting to get their paychecks.

You’d think after the abysmal writing that was Fantastic Four, and Umbrella Academy, and Death Note, that people would stop throwing money at hacks but clearly somebody at Marvel enjoys having subpar quality when it comes to their TV shows. No agenda at play here, nope. Russian superhero in Black Widow? Yea, let’s tarnish that so Russian kids don’t have anyone to look up to. But Egyptian superhero? Yea, we’ll make her badass, brave and able to take care of her own shit. Please ignore that we tried to copy WW1984.

Episode Five

Oh hey, I was right. Grade 4 storytelling continues. Oscar Isaac keeps giving one of his best performances. Ethan Hawke is underutilized. Clear example of “we paying for your name on our posters”.

Yea, the ending was satisfying. I have stated several times, I do not like the rendition that they went with for the character of Steven Grant. It feels like they either were too cowardly to make comic book Steven, or too scared of it being too similar to Batman and other rich heroes. Either way, this version of Steven is horrendous.

The episode only showed the creation of Steven, and with how much there is left to resolve, it appears that this show will follow the standard of Marvel. That is, to make a CGI fest for an ending because they didn’t have the heart or courage to tell a complete story. And so the final episode will most likely be a rushed hodge-podge. Wandavision also suffered the same fate. 4-5 episodes of somewhat unique and above average storytelling that unraveled in the final episode because… Who knows?

Episode Four

My favorite moment was at 11:56 because their rendition of Steven Grant is still terrible. Most enjoyable scene so far, followed closely by the next bit as he falls down into the hole. The horror reminded me of my grade 4-6 short stories where I read up on ancient Egyptians, and thought how best to gross out my classmates. Mummification, and taking out the organs into urns worked best. They were always grossed out.

Oscar Isaac is doing his best, and so is May Calamawy as Egyptian Tomb Raider. Even got neglected by a father who is a renowned archeologist that happened to disappear/get murdered under mysterious circumstances. She’s badass, and can take care of herself. Never fear when mummies get her, she’ll Brendan Fraser them on her own.

And that ending is a nice bit to the whole being judged by your memories for the afterlife. Except there’s multiple versions of you because of DID. I expect he’ll reach that hall of the Gods again and do what needs to be done. Only two episodes left to find out.

Episode Three

Yup, the more I watch, the more episode one feels like a huge waste of time and character development. Should have cut all the Steven Grant stuff out, that character is a terrible adaptation from the comics. I actually would have preferred the insane millionaire over broke whiny Steven that disjoints the action. Anyways, this third episode featured the late Gaspard Ulliel who was unfortunately under-utilized here.

There was a very cool scene towards with the manipulation of the night sky but such an event would have global consequences, and would surely reach the eyes and ears of every other superhero. I fully expect them to show up next episode otherwise we gotta confirm that the writer, is once again, an idiot that doesn’t think about such things. Painfully going in on that Tropic Thunder quote.

Fight scenes were plain laughable after watching Russian Raid. This is tier B movie fighting, not a Marvel production.

Episode Two

Pretty much disliked it until the last 13 minutes when Steven finally got rid of, and the character that I actually care about, Marc Spector, finally came to play. I learned online that the one scene that I absolutely hated in the first episode was actually the fault of the director. Goes to show that the executives do know their stuff. If that scene was cut, the whole mood would change. I wouldn’t see him as an inept mongoloid but rather a man facing a crisis of the mind. Where’s Kevin Feige when you need him.

What was up with that Mandarin spoken by Ethan Hawke? Was the point that he only pretends to care about learning languages because that was some next level butchering… well according to online forums, that is. When the suit came out, a small sliver of what could be shone bright. Maybe the last two episodes will be good.

Episode One

To quote a favorite comedy, Tropic Thunder, “Everyone knows you never go full retard.” Clearly Oscar Isaac, lead role of the show, and Jeremy Slater, writer and creator, never got that message. Seeing Oscar Isaac stumbling about, mumbling his words gives the opposite effect than they intended: his performance infuriates rather than giving the air of a man troubled in his mind by supposed delusions, and hallucinations. His accent is downright atrocious and laughable – stop saying random British sayings, yes, please say ‘innit’ some more. It’s not his fault though, he can only work with what he’s given. Too bad all Jeremy Slater can ever give is shiny golden turds (Fantastic Four, Death Note, The Umbrella Academy). Newsflash, if I was waking up from blackouts, the FIRST thing I’d do is check my phone for the time and date. The fact the character didn’t do that once until after a blunder on his part, was insulting to the audience.

40 minutes of my life wasted on useless filler. Only the opening two minutes establishing the villain and the final two minutes establishing our actual hero were worthwhile. Everything else was an exercise in terrible writing, piss-poor decisions and a character creating every single problem that befalls him. Moon Knight would be better portrayed in a movie.

Maybe the next five episodes can improve, but it seems to be following the Marvel TV formula of incredibly mediocre writing masked by shiny production values and effects. Time will tell.

TV Shows

Fate: The Winx Saga

Winx is alright. Co-created by a writer from Vampire Diaries (Brian Young) and it shows. Edgy teenage high-school drama, with a petty jealous ex-girlfriend, delinquent stoner and bully, token bisexual who happens to be black. Newcomer with insidious purpose serving some mysterious dude only named as “he”. Token fat girl who grows to be much better than initially led on. Slightly emo girl that turns out to be an empath. Cool, smooth and charismatic guy that is essentially a jock. Main character with a mysterious hidden past and special powers much stronger than any other character. The show is chock full of TV tropes stretched to their limits. The plot follows standard young adult fantasy shows, your main character doesn’t know her past, she rebels against the adult authority figures who may or may not have been lying to her, turns to the enemies or bad guys of the show for help, realizes the friends she made along the way are better than the enemies she’s been unwittingly helping with their nefarious plans, being hunted by CGI monsters/creatures. You know, standard stuff.

The six episode format helped move things speedily along but it sacrificed proper character development, world building, and overall felt more like an origin story for the girls. It completely feels like the second season is where the meat and bones of the story will be. The first season was mere filler. The main character is Bloom played by Abigail Cowen, a 16 year old girl with fire powers. We have Aisha played by Precious Mustapha, an athlete, morning person, and a water fairy. There’s Terra (Eliot Salt), with a spot on the nose character name, as an earth fairy. Musa (Elisha Applebaum) as a mind fairy and empath. Hannah van der Westhuysen as Stella, a light fairy and princess of a land called Solaria. Sadie Soverall as Beatrix, an air fairy that can summon electricity, and our minor villain. Danny Griffin as the token jock, Sky, a specialist student aka non-magic user trained to use swords and other weapons as a soldier for the school. Other mentions are Freddy Thorp as Riven, another specialist and the token stoner/delinquent. Theo Graham as Dane, specialist and the aforementioned token bisexual as Netflix demands of its shows. And six more actors and actresses that have a bit more screen time as the love interest of Musa, the headmistress, the tough father figure of Sky and weapons master of the specialist students, Bloom’s parents, and the father of Terra and love interest of Musa.

It was well acted as far as these kinds of young adult shows go. The young actors and actresses were clearly in the ranges of 22-25 so it was a little unbelievable that they were supposed to be playing teenagers except for Sadie Soverall, she was clearly much younger than the rest (19). The chemistry between the friends was good, and between all love interests. The adult authority figures were standard fare, not much to write home about there. The antagonist that was eventually revealed wasn’t necessarily evil, more like heavily misguided and thinks their way is the only correct way.

As I stated at the beginning, it was alright. Definitely a guilty pleasure show for me. Soundtrack was mostly alternative or indie music, whatever the kids are listening to these days. Cinematography was beautiful; English countryside and spooky trees. With it being 6 episodes long, I recommend giving it a watch if you were an old time fan of the original kids cartoon or if you’re looking for a young adult fantasy binge watch.

TV Shows

Dirty John Season 2: The Betty Broderick Story

This season is about the case of Betty Broderick, and it’s supposed to explore how this woman ended up shooting and killing her ex-husband and his new wife. Well not even 15 minutes into the first episode, it’s more than obvious in every sense of the word that this woman is a bitch. There’s no mincing words here, she is undoubtedly mentally insane and no wonder her ex-husband divorced her. There’s no leap here to see how she snapped, she’s already certified nuts. Which speaks volumes to Amanda Peet’s acting, cause she’s nailing the role. Her character is so stubborn and naive, and incredibly selfish. It’s truly a wonder this woman even existed. She’s like an ostrich burying her head in the sand and refuses to accept reality. Her ex-husband, played by Christian Slater, is a testament to willpower and patience. Did he know she was always this way? Her own kids have to go to therapy because she’s crazy and she can’t even realize it. And anytime anyone even mentions this to her, she snaps and buries her head and turns into a child, a petulant, insolent child. She thinks if she ignores the courts then she’ll never get divorced, and it would be hilarious if she wasn’t so aggravating.

It is fundamentally clear to me that this first episode was designed to be as “click bait” as possible, in an attempt to lure in as many viewers as possible by painting Betty in the light which I’ve described her as. The writers and directors and everyone involved made her appear a bitch and crazy because then you want to see what led to that. If they had started off with the second episode and showcasing their relationship, then my mind would not have been tainted against her. I would have been against the husband because he clearly uses her and when he’s reached the point of power that he’s got, he tosses her aside. I completely understand her decision to kill him, and I would not condemn it. My problem is she killed the other woman, his new wife. To me, the other person is innocent. Sure, they may have manipulated their odds to be with your significant other but at the end of the day, the blame lies solely on your significant other. They made the choice. They alone should suffer the consequences.

Episode two starts to shine some light on how Betty ended up the way she is. Turns out her husband is a product of his times, and has her do everything in her power to make sure he succeeds at the cost of her own success. He is a man who refuses to use contraception, and naturally, she ends up having 4 children – 2 girls and 2 boys. There is a certain disconnect here between what was presented in the first episode and the second, perhaps the second episode is crafted from her viewpoint and therefore that’s why there’s this sympathetic view towards her. There is a clear viewpoint of a burgeoning dislike or even hatred towards her husband, Dan. He’s painted in unsympathetic light.

Episode three establishes that Dan pretty much used her all throughout his law school, as a scribe, or study group or whatever he needed to succeed. Again, product of the times. Wife helps husband. And you can see, that she is far more educated than she lets on. She is in fact, a feminist, fighting for equal rights. This third episode shows that she has no love for a man who cheats, divorces and then has a new marriage. That she won’t even go with her husband, as a friend to the wedding. Whereas he states that it isn’t any of his business what his friend does. So far, completely understandable. However; towards the end of the episode, even a blind man could see that Dan no longer cares for her like he used to. It’s plain to see Dan has eyes for another. And naturally, it’s the young, blond receptionist in his building. So he clearly has a type. He even goes so far as to hire her as his personal assistant, despite her lack of any qualifications, to the chagrin of Betty, who poses him an ultimatum: fire her or leave the house. Problem I find here is that Betty has forgotten her station. Dan makes all the money and therefore he has all the power. And to quote Eddie Murphy who was a little crude, but not wrong, “pussy has all the power” and if Dan ain’t getting it from her, well, here comes the pretty little assistant. It’s a classic tale of older married man meets pretty young thing and suddenly he feels like his life has been a waste and goodbye wife. Now I don’t condone that kind of behavior or support, but the truth here is, that Dan is a coward, liar and cheater. He has been emotionally cheating on his wife long before he physically did. At the end of the episode, whatya know? Dan does what I said she’d forgotten earlier. He tells her about her station, about her position, that he has all the power because he makes all the money. And folks, this is why you get a prenup.

Episode four starts off with a very telling beginning. It’s going to be about Linda and how Dan met her. And off the bat, Linda remarks how amazing his office looks, and that she loves whoever decorated it, and the sheer audacity of Dan is mind boggling. He just says “that’s lovely of you to say.” Yo, champ, what you’re supposed to say is “thanks, my WIFE decorated it”. The fact he doesn’t, tell us viewers that he’s moved on mentally from his wife. He’s already begun to emotionally cheat. And it appears that after Betty confronts him, after her ultimatum, after she asks if he’s sleeping with her, that he decides to do so. Was it out of spite? Or has he always felt like he hates Betty? As the episode moves on, there’s a psychologist at her trial speaking about gaslighting. And everything Dan does is exactly that. It’s that emotional manipulation that led to his death, he created the monster that Betty became. At the end of the episode, he finally reveals that she was right and not crazy. There was another woman all along.

Episode five is when Betty starts to give in to her anger and everything Dan does, she responds with actions that paint her in a worse light. Actions that have legal consequences. And the result is divorce with no visitation without the approval of a psychiatric facility that she has gone to, to evaluate her mental state. Even her friends during their usual dinner meets try to dissuade her from constantly calling and harassing Dan, but as I said at the beginning, she buries her head in the sand and refuses to listen. Dan has his secretary transcribing all her calls, and even she starts to think Betty is evil and insane. Even compares her laugh to the demon child in The Exorcist. It’s not until she spends time in a police cell block and has to borrow money from a friend, that she finally sorta calms down and starts using a journal for her thoughts. She also gets herself a lawyer through her friend that lent her money, and goes to that court ordered psych evaluation, yet while there, she has the audacity to say “I threaten him all the time”. She seems to revert to a state of normalcy when her lawyer informs her she can have her kids for Easter, yet when Easter rolls around, Dan changes his mind and she doesn’t get them. It feels like Dan is the biggest villain here, and such a mastermind at painting her as a horrible mother. And well, he’s not wrong. Why? She calls again despite all the numerous people telling her otherwise and her son, Ryan, answers, and that conversation is the icing on the cake; “Why can’t you grow up and start acting like a woman?” Everything the kid says is true, and classic Betty, head goes in sand, and refuses to listen. It’s not even being stubborn anymore, it’s pure unadulterated mental sickness. And then again at the psychiatrist, she gets asked if she’s ever spoken to Linda about anything, and her response? That’s right, you guessed it! Head in the sand! Tells the doctor off and leaves. At the court hearing, thankfully she gets sent to jail for six days. Maybe we’ll see that this gets her to understand the depth of her actions. As the episode comes to a close, Dan explains to his son Ryan that his mom was always this way and she’s always acted like a child when she didn’t get things her way. Remember how I wondered if he knew that she was always like that? Now we know. It’s nobodies fault but her own. She could have acted with dignity and respect, and obeyed the rule of law, and she might have turned out much better. But she didn’t.

Episode six sees her freed from jail and a reporter wants to tell her story. Later on, she goes to her oldest daughter’s graduation and again, the sheer audacity of her is truly mind boggling! Instead of making the day about her daughter, she keeps bringing in Linda (calls her a whore) and just trying to railroad what should be a day of celebration. I can totally understand why her eldest daughter would hate her and refuse to ever see her again. Betty sees an organization called HALT (help against legal tyranny) and speaks to them and gets support from them and their leader. At her court proceedings, she decides to represent herself, and learns that since the day they got married, that Dan wanted divorce. While waiting for the judge’s decision, she tries talking to the reporter who clarifies what we all know: she can’t let go. Her friend reveals to her that rumours surrounding the closed court is that she’s a child molester, which is unfounded. The judge’s decision is Dan gets sole custody and she gets a $26k payment and $16k a month. She doesn’t even work and gets that much a month? Dan sure has some tolerance. I just can’t comprehend in what world she’d want more. The episode ends on an ominous note with her buying a revolver.

Episode seven begins with Linda and her friends essentially bad mouthing Betty and making fun of her. Dan is giving a lecture on how you have to seek the truth for your client. Honestly that’s some twisted philosophy he teaches given what he’s done to Betty emotionally and at court. Betty drops the kids off back at Dan’s and while there, she steals a shirt, a dress and Dan and Linda’s wedding invitation list. In return, Linda breaks into Betty’s home and steals her private diary. This escalation causes Betty to have what might be called a nervous breakdown. Least now I understand that Betty’s accusations of Linda were not unfounded. Dan deserves someone like Linda, both are horrible human beings – sorry, were horrible. Dan has his wedding day at his home, and hires security due to Betty’s chatter about owning a gun and how well she can shoot. During this time, one of Betty’s friends comes over to keep her company. It almost feels normal. That is until she surprises her friends who are having brunch and immediately launches into a tirade of “bastard this” and “whore that” and at this point, it’s just like, pardon my language, “why the fuck can’t you let go?” Further, she has lunch with her eldest daughter and instead of caring about her, again tirade against Dan and Linda. There’s nothing more to be said about her. At this point, the picture can’t get any clearer. The episode ends with her calling everyone about what she’s done, and getting arraigned.

Episode eight, the final episode. In court, the prosecutor tells her that if Dan really wanted to be a jerk then he wouldn’t have voluntarily paid her support checks. He would have given her nothing. Meanwhile, while in prison, she gets letters from various women that were in similar positions against their ex-husbands. Her first trial ends when the jury is hung on their decision. So she gets a second trial. Before it can start, she prank calls all her former friends and gives out interviews to whatever reporters she can much to the chagrin of her lawyer. During the trial, the prosecutor questions her former friends and they all confirm everything I’ve written about her: that she’s boring and dead stuck on talking about hating Dan and Linda. While on the stand, her position is she wanted to kill herself in front of Dan and that she doesn’t remember doing any shooting. That she automatically tensed and it fired. She used a revolver. Her defense is such a load of nonsense. The prosecutor manages to successfully catch her in a lie because she corrected a news reporter about what was said in the room by Dan prior to dying despite her defense of not remembering what happened in the room. In a different scene, her lawyer tells the leader of HALT that he doesn’t think she can better even after mental help, that only thing she can do is get old. The trial ends with her being convicted on both counts of murder in the second degree, getting a lengthy life sentence. The episode concludes with her remembering events differently than they were presented to us.

To conclude, this is a masterpiece in storytelling and acting. The main character is a heinous woman who got to be where she is due to the emotional manipulation of her ex husband and ultimately due to her own inability to let go. Amanda Peet’s acting deserves numerous accolades and rewards. Also in turn, Christian Slater did a phenomenal job at portraying a man at his wit’s end and just emotionally exhausted at his ex-wife’s inability to let go. The supported cast were all also well casted, they provided that sense of realism because you know it’s been dramatised for viewers, and they helped cement the feeling of the time period. Her “friends” were excellent at being two faced. I found that I enjoyed the entire cast. I definitely recommend this for Amanda Peet’s acting alone. 10/10 watch.

TV Shows

V Wars

Ian Somerhalder as a human in a fight against vampires? Count me in were my initial thoughts. After seeing him as a vampire for 8 seasons of The Vampire Diaries, I was hoping for a decent show. I was proven wrong. This show is a muddled mess of different ideas put forth into a melting pot and hoping one of them sticks. Its first season is 10 episodes long and it premiered on December 5th on Netflix. It starts off incredibly rocky and just filled with mistakes. For example, Ian Somerhalder’s character, Luther Swann, is supposed to be a renowned scientist working on infectious diseases. Yet, when Luther goes to the Arctic to check what happened to his research team which were working on supposed long dead viruses contained underground, he doesn’t even wear any sorta quarantine materials. He and the other lead, Adrian Holmes, just waltz right on in and get exposed to an unknown biological sample.

From there the show slowly escalates demonstrating how the virus spreads and how the country reacts. It’s set in the United States. Several continuity errors arise. Such as, how are there serial murders while Adrian Holmes’ character is under quarantine, how does one character name the vampires as bloods and literally in the next scene, everyone is now calling them bloods? Did she magically telepathically tell everyone? Also said character is pretty much the reason that everything goes wrong for the vampires under the leadership of Adrian Holmes’ character, Michael. Due to her being jealous. Supposedly her character is 19 years old. And Michael thinks it’d be a great idea to make her his second in command. Then he thinks it’s an even better idea to let an old lover become his main girl. A blind man could smell the jealousy on the young girl.

The entire time I spent watching it, it felt like I was watching a half-baked idea. The effects look good but the story and plot is just flat and boring. You have random subplots that demonstrate very little other than “here’s a new character, he can shoot a gun and he’s FBI” and “she doesn’t like that she’s a vampire and won’t feed on a live human”. See how easily that was surmised? Well the show spends 5 or 4 episodes for each character respectively to establish that. It could have been done in one episode, and then we could have some juicier plot to help fill in the blandness. Oh and the sheer amount of times a character has racked an empty shotgun is hilarious. Has nobody been taught that racking a shotgun ejects the round, and if no round comes out then you’ve clearly got an empty gun.

I’d avoid watching this mess. Hard to believe the lead actor put “15 months of heart and hard work” into it. To the point that he even had to go to the ER for being overworked. It’s a dumpster fire of propaganda. Climate change melts the ice and releases a virus? No, an idiot scientist walks into a sterile lab without any quarantine and infects the world. Internment camp for potential vampires? Something something Nazis, something something US border camps, something something China. Free government handouts of medicine turn out to be poisoned? I won’t even go into that mess. It’s one thing to tell a story about vampires, but it’s another thing entirely to force world politics and problems and mold the vampire story around that. It’s just lazy propaganda with no substance.

So do yourself a favor, and never watch this. Let it die on Netflix and join the other mass of season one only shows.