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All reviews - Movies (31) - TV Shows (42) - Books (2)

A More "Realistic" Sci-Fi Series

Posted : 1 week, 3 days ago on 16 June 2017 12:46 (A review of The Expanse)

First, ignore the reviews calling The Expanse "The Game of Thrones in Space." Any decent, multiple-plot show that's written well and keeps the characters in check will draw that comparison.  Watch The Expanse and drill a little deeper.  Why? I'm a die-hard sci-fi fan, but as we advance further into the 21st Century, many of the old standby sci-fi tropes are fast becoming sci-realty. True, The Expanse isn't populated with alien races, phasers and space travel at speeds greater than light.  What drew my eye was the attention to details: the humans raised on Mars, with its different size and relation to the sun, have difficulty orienting themselves in Earth's environment, with our stronger level of sunlight and those raised on "The Belt," with its lower gravity, cannot survive on Earth without being crushed by what we consider "normal" gravity.  All-in-all, this series is on the right track.  The metagenome, the show's "Holy Grail" has the potential to be the show's undoing.  Let's hope not.


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Unique Police Procedural

Posted : 9 months ago on 28 September 2016 01:58 (A review of Motive)

So, the final episode of Motive just aired this week on US television and I was saddened to find out that it wouldn't be renewed for a 5th season (it's big financial backer and carrier, the USA Network, declined to pick up the airing rights for another season, essentially leaving CTV alone to pay for a season with limited, in-Canada only viewership). 

As police procedurals went, this one was unique: the killer and victim were both identified in the opening act.  As the show's name tells, the motive for the crime is what played out over the next hour.  The police investigation moved forward, while the relationship and circumstances of the killer and victim were shown in flashbacks.

The show was a great vehicle for it;s stars as well: Kristin Lehman, a ubiquitous presence on Canadian TV, brought charm, wit and pathos to the "gutsy, rebellious single-mom cop" trope. Louis Ferreira, long an actor known for playing heavies and psychotics, was "criminally" understated as Kristin's partner. And American ex-pat actress Lauren Holly, who's career was waning, shined as quirky, sexy Dr. Betty Rogers.


Sadly, only the ION channel is currently airing made-in-Canada TV series (all in reruns and not always a good thing, but I digress)  and they don't appear to have the financial power to support producing another season or two of Motive.






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Memories

Posted : 1 year ago on 25 June 2016 05:22 (A review of Mozzarella)

As a child, growing up in a mostly-Italian neighborhood, many of the local grocery stores catered to people like my parents, who emigrated to the US from Italy.  One of my favorite memories was going to one such store every Sunday after attending church and loading up on a week's worth of Italian delicacies and fresh Italian bread!  And best of all?  Getting to pick out the best, soft, round ball of mozzarella from a huge tub of brine in the back of the store!  


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Slash The Writers!

Posted : 1 year, 1 month ago on 8 May 2016 03:15 (A review of Slasher)

So, as with most made-in-Canada TV productions, Slasher takes someone else's original premise, in this case the "Scream movie" franchise,  and drives it straight into its own ultimate level of banality.  

Where do I start?

 - Katie McGrath, late of <i>Merlin</i> and the quickly-cancelled <i>"Dracula"</i> reboot, seemed to have a hard time controlling her native Irish accent (probably not an issue in Anglophone Canadian, especially the Maritimes, but I noticed it.)

 - Hitting on all the pointless Canadianism tropes: a mixed-race marriage, prominent gay couple (hell, one of the victims was discovered by a lesbian couple on a hike!).  Not that there's anything wrong with that,...

 - The villain's ID was telegraphed in Episode 1 - I knew it was either <spoiler>the Anglican reverend</spoiler> or <spoiler>his police officer son</spoiler> in the first 30 minutes!

 - I don't live in Canada, but I would think after the second or third murder would have resulted in the intervention of the O.P.P. (the show was clearly based in Ontario) or the RCMP, instead of a lot of shoe-gazing and existential worry!

- The appearance of every member of <a href="http://www.listal.com/list/the-canadian-ten">The Canadian 10</a> actor.  Even DeGrassi stars Lauren Collins and Paula Brancati got 5 minutes' of pointless face time. 

In all, it was a dozen hours of prime DVR time that could have been better used viewing another series!



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Slash The Writers!

Posted : 1 year, 1 month ago on 8 May 2016 03:15 (A review of Slasher)

So, as with most made-in-Canada TV productions, Slasher takes someone else's original premise, in this case the "Scream" movie franchise,  and drives it straight into its own ultimate level of banality.  

Where do I start?

 - Katie McGrath, late of "Merlin" and the quickly-cancelled "Dracula" reboot, seemed to have a hard time controlling her native Irish accent (probably not an issue in Anglophone Canadian, especially the Maritimes, but I noticed it.)

 - Hitting on all the pointless Canadianism tropes: a mixed-race marriage, prominent gay couple (hell, one of the victims was discovered by a lesbian couple on a hike!).  Not that there's anything wrong with that,...

 - The villain's ID was telegraphed in Episode 1 - I knew it was either (SPOILER ALERT!!)  the Anglican reverend or his police officer son in the first 30 minutes!

 - I don't live in Canada, but I would think after the second or third murder would have resulted in the intervention of the O.P.P. (the show was clearly based in Ontario) or the RCMP, instead of a lot of shoe-gazing and existential worry!

- The appearance of every member of[Link removed - login to see]0 actor.  Even DeGrassi stars Lauren Collins and Paula Brancati got 5 minutes' of pointless face time. 

In all, it was a dozen hours of prime DVR time that could have been better used viewing another series!



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Based On a Real Murder

Posted : 1 year, 4 months ago on 29 January 2016 06:36 (A review of Death Scream)

I remember seeing this when it first came out in the 70s and seeing a disclaimer that it was "based on real events." The "real event" enacted in the movie was gruesome murder of Kitty Genovese in the early 1960s in New York City.  The fact that more than a dozen people witnessed the murder, either visually seeing it or hearing Genovese's cries for help, but did not summon for help or assist the police in her investigation, became a stark picture of big-city indifference, the divide between Manhattan and the Outer Boroughs and even, a picture of homophobia (Genovese was reportedly a lesbian).

Sadly, because this was a made-for-TV movie, it rarely pops up anymore.  This is one I need to see again.



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Black Cherry Soda - A Philadelphia Staple!

Posted : 1 year, 6 months ago on 26 December 2015 06:16 (A review of Canada Dry Black Cherry Wishniak)

n Philadelphia, we fight over great food - Pat's vs Geno's for cheesesteaks (D'Allesandro's in Roxborough for me!), ANY local pizza shoppe from YOUR neighborhood vs. some other neighborhood's pizza place (or Neapolitan vs. Sicilian vs. Greek "Boston-style" pizza).  Pork roll vs scrapple for breakfast. We even fought over the best way to wash down all this gastronomy: the late, great Frank's vs Canada Dry's Black Cherry Wishniak.  The term "wishniak" refers to an Eastern European cherry liqueur and, since Philadelphia had a large Polish and Ukrainian population, it was an instant hit.  For me, Canada Dry was always a poor substitute fro Frank's, but its all that's out there these days.


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A Mash-Up That Works!

Posted : 1 year, 8 months ago on 18 October 2015 03:58 (A review of Blunt Talk)

Imagine crossing the insane nihilism of FX's "Archer" with the sublime acting of HBO's "The Newsroom" and you've got "Blunt Talk!"  Patrick Stewart, well-regarded for his serious, Shakespearean-based acting career, completely stomps on his suave persona with the messy, neurotic character of Walter Blunt.  And adding the recurring appearance of Brent Spiner is a quick nod to the TV series that marks Stewart's American career!


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Quiet, Subtle, but Powerful

Posted : 1 year, 11 months ago on 9 July 2015 12:27 (A review of The Best Years of Our Lives)

For anyone thinking this is yet another WWII-era movie full of hardened dough-boys bravely fighting the Nazis or Japs, you're about to be surprised or disappointed, depending on your preconceived notions. It's not too difficult to view this movie in the present day, and realize how forward-thinking the screenplay was. While the movie was played out in 1946 post-war America and subject to the same sensitivities and self-censorship, it wouldn't be hard to re-make it for our current times. As was in 1946, men are returning from battle, scarred (both physically and mentally), possessing few useful civilian skills and difficulty adjusting to an America that has changed from when they left it. Back then it was "shell-shock," today we call it PTSD. No wonder it was awarded the Oscar!


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Not Very Healthy To Watch

Posted : 2 years ago on 25 June 2015 04:41 (A review of Police Surgeon)

This show just started airing on the Retro TV channel in the US. I vaguely remember this as a child, airing on a local TV station on Saturday afternoons. Looking at it now, as a adult, I'm in a constant state of wincing and cringing! In comparison to EMS icon "Emergency," which spurred many of my generation to enter the world of firefighting and the burgeoning pre-hospital care service, it looks like this dreck was foisted upon many poor souls in that "Metro" city with the big tower (what, were Canadians THAT embarrassed by the show to associate it with "Toronto?")

Even worse, the show originally started as "Dr. Simon Locke," a Canadian version of Marcus Welby (the producers' pedigree did include involvement in an earlier medical procedural, Ben Casey), but quickly collapsed due to poor production standards (well-respected star actor Jack Albertson walked off the show and laughed off breach-of-contract threats, using the show as his own defense!)

If this show pops up ion one of your syndicated or "classic" TV stations, here's an all-points bulletin: avoid it at all costs!


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