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All reviews - Movies (33) - TV Shows (43) - Books (2)

Slash The Writers!

Posted : 1 year, 10 months 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 : 2 years, 1 month 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 : 2 years, 2 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 : 2 years, 5 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 : 2 years, 8 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, 8 months 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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Posted : 2 years, 11 months ago on 22 April 2015 02:48 (A review of Olympus)

Take the BBC's Atlantis, which is at least doesn't take itself too seriously, add incredibly bad acting from Canada's usual suspects (and a bunch of Euro C-listers), add excessive and pointless violence, a predictable plot and green-screen or possibly CGI SFX and you have SyFy's latest visual diarrhea. I forced myself to complete the first episode just to see how bad it could get. My worst fears were realized and now I want that hour back!

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Not A Comedy,...and My Eyes Are STILL Bleeding!

Posted : 3 years, 1 month ago on 30 January 2015 03:52 (A review of Man Seeking Woman)

Gutter-level "comedy" that was painful to watch. When you bring in an elderly Adolf Hitler and try to milk some laughs as he interacts with the show's Jewish protagonist, you didn't jump the shark, you landed square in its jaws!
I honestly can't believe the FOX Group (FX/FXX) dropped Wilfred for this kind of dreck!

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Been There and Done That? Maybe,...

Posted : 3 years, 2 months ago on 7 January 2015 10:10 (A review of Run for Your Life)

I'm a big fan of classic TV and eagerly awaited its airing on one of the currently-in-vogue "retro" cable channels.
But now that I'm watching it, I'm feeling a bit conflicted about Run For Your Life.
On the one hand, it has an excellent pedigree with Ben Gazzara as the lead and the entire cream of the 60s character actor set appearing throughout the series' 4-year run.
On the other hand is this vague feeling that I've already seen this show before. It seems like its a mash-up of Route 66, The Fugitive, and The Kraft Suspense Theatre anthology show. Heck, one of Run's 3rd season episodes, "Beware My Love," is a re-telling of the Kraft episode "The Deep End" (which starred a young and attractive Ellen Burstyn early in her career)!
It isn't helping matters that the episodes aren't been shown in order, so I can't appreciate any of Gazzara as Paul Bryan's character development.
I'll have to come back to this and rate it when I get a few more episodes under my belt.

As of April 30th, I've watched the majority of the episodes from the show's 3-year run (my DVR has a mind of its own!).

I can tell you this:
The good - it's a classic 60s omnibus show, full of every popular character actor of the era and a nice peek and bit players who would go on to great TV and movie careers.

The bad - after awhile, the existentialism got redundant. One of the best of the last season's bunch - "Cry Hard, Cry Fast," which was based on a John MacDonald novel.

After that, it appeared Ben Gazzara was just phoning in the character.

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The Librarians review

Posted : 3 years, 2 months ago on 1 January 2015 06:03 (A review of The Librarians)

Taken from the series of successful TV movie. Dean Devlin, TNT and a stable of contemporary characters actors, mix in some standard sci-fi/fantasy tropes and you have a pleasant hour of television that doesn't tax your brain but, if you pay just enough attention, you might learn a few facts!

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