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thegiantbrain
October 04, 2023
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oliverkinne
October 03, 2023
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October 02, 2023
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Forests of Pangaia Review

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oliverkinne
September 29, 2023
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Bagh Chal Review

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Andi Lennon
September 28, 2023
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thegiantbrain
September 27, 2023
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oliverkinne
September 26, 2023
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September 25, 2023
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Castle Panic Review

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Sagrilarus
September 22, 2023
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thegiantbrain
July 13, 2023
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July 06, 2023
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June 29, 2023
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Cult of the Old - Citadels

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GrantLyon
June 26, 2023
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thegiantbrain
June 22, 2023
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Cult of the Old - Brass

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What TV SHOWS are you watching?

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27 Apr 2023 00:17 - 27 Apr 2023 00:17 #339118 by dysjunct
ROUGH DIAMONDS on Netflix. Hasidic Jewish family in Antwerp, been in the diamond trade for generations, tries to navigate modernity. POV character is the black sheep son who went off the derech (stopped being orthodox, dresses modern, doesn’t keep kosher etc.) but comes back when his brother kills himself over gambling debts. Family wants to be respectable but it’s hard when every aspect of the diamond trade requires shadiness to some degree. Basically Peaky Blinders but with yarmulkes and payos. Compelling, recommended, although if it didn’t have the Jewish angle I doubt anyone would care. Of note is that all the main characters speak Yiddish, Flemish, Hebrew, English, and French. My monolingual ass is appropriately shamed.
Last edit: 27 Apr 2023 00:17 by dysjunct.
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27 Apr 2023 09:29 #339120 by fightcitymayor

Jackwraith wrote: Watched the first two episodes of The English on Amazon. I'm a Western fan to begin with, even if the storyline seems kind of obvious. But the characters are all quite solid and there's good chemistry between the two leads. It's a BBC production, so there are only six episodes. Not sure if there will be any beyond that.

Had high hopes, but ended up disappointed. My issue was it couldn't settle on what it wanted to achieve:

1) BBC-style period piece with lots of character-driven emotional dialogue and dastardly eeevil-doers
2) Tarantino-style ultra-violent torture-p0rn for teens where it's all just a series of hokey, bloody, anime-style violence vignettes
3) understated semi-historical American-style epic where they get all of the names/dates/places right

Instead the tone shifts wildly between the three, so one minute Emily Blunt is waxing love poetry with a Pawnee scout she barely knows, the next she miraculously knows how to ride a horse, shoot a gun, and stab-murder a dude in the span of 30 seconds, before the whole thing pans back to wide-open vista shots of the vast 19th-century American plains. And that's before you get to the plot-holes large enough to drive several trucks through. It annoyed me quite a lot.

But the guy who played Eli (the Pawnee scout) was really good, and it's a shame he's not in more stuff.
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28 Apr 2023 00:33 #339124 by RobertB
Jury Duty - it's reality TV meets Truman Show, where you follow one person who thinks he's a juror filming a documentary that's actually a collection of improv actors, plus James Marsden. It could have gone mean-spirited, but the show has a good heart. You can bingewatch the whole thing in a long evening, and I thought it was an evening well-spent.

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01 May 2023 13:51 #339159 by jason10mm
So I fired up the first two released eps of Amazons latest massive TV show, Citadel from the Russo bothers. VERY pretty show with some nice action, but tonally all over the place and kinda nonsensical from any kind of analytical perspective.

The elevator pitch is two spies from some sort of nebulous global spy agency get burn (noticed) and get (Jason) Bourne'd again with amnesia as regular folks forced to get totally recalled back into the world of high stakes espionage. All quite derivative, really, with a needlessly complex backstory that might pay off down the road or may just be pointless time wasting to add in quirky characters we never see again.

Rob Stark....er Richard Madden is a fine leading man, hampered a bit I think by the bland american accent. Priyanka "Get to da choppa!" Jonas looks great, seems a bit bored (might be the botox) but at least has the right amount of femme fatale physicality to sell her side of the fight choreography. The principle cast is rounded out by Mark Strong rolling outtakes from The KIngsman series...oh wait, that's STANLEY TUCCI doing a dead on Mark Strong from Kingsman impersonation :P

The problem is the show can't decide if it is a gritty spy actioner with tons of bystander deaths of little consequence; if it is a flirty romcom of "will they, won't they"; or the usual snark heavy marvel style kids show. I hope it will settle more for the former because the show is SAVAGELY BRUTAL towards rando civilians, totally not appropriate for kids. Plus they really put Priyanka through the wringer in her fights, kudos for having the choreography take note that a woman taking a right cross straight to the face from a guy 80 pounds heavier is gonna stun her for a bit. Show can be a tough watch for the squeamish.

Anyhoo, it has all the polish of a high dollar production, so there is value just in that, but I fear the fundamental story flaw already evident in the first 2 eps will just be compounded as the show goes on. I'll spoil it just for those who want to discover it for themselves:

Warning: Spoiler!
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01 May 2023 14:53 #339164 by Virabhadra

jason10mm wrote: All quite derivative, really, with a needlessly complex backstory that might pay off down the road or may just be pointless time wasting to add in quirky characters we never see again.


I read a pretty damning review of the show from Rolling Stone that explained that it's supposed to be the seed of an entire Citadel Cinematic Universe a la the MCU. Feels like putting the cart ahead of the horse - I haven't seen a single person who's watched Citadel actually recommend it.

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01 May 2023 15:16 #339166 by hotseatgames
Now that Netflix has the final season of Better Call Saul, I tore through that. Wow, what a series. While not as much of a rollercoaster as Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul is the more consistently good series. Hand in hand they are really something.
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01 May 2023 16:07 #339167 by jason10mm
I binged BB a few years back and while I enjoyed it, I fear the intervening years of similar stories/character beats may have forever spoilt the impact for me. How much value is the novelty of the story?

The Saul character never resonated with me much either, but I enjoy the actor, will have to put BCS on the watch list.

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01 May 2023 16:12 #339168 by jason10mm

Virabhadra wrote:

jason10mm wrote: All quite derivative, really, with a needlessly complex backstory that might pay off down the road or may just be pointless time wasting to add in quirky characters we never see again.


I read a pretty damning review of the show from Rolling Stone that explained that it's supposed to be the seed of an entire Citadel Cinematic Universe a la the MCU. Feels like putting the cart ahead of the horse - I haven't seen a single person who's watched Citadel actually recommend it.


Ugh, that would be a tragic sabotage of the initial show. I used to really dig these connected series or semi-pilots of spin-off shows embedded within the OG show but these days I feel like I've developed a profound allergic reaction to "here are a bunch of things thrown around for the spin-off", it's really infected the Mandalorian and is killing that show for me.

Citadel has value, the fight choreography of them tossing a shotgun back and forth to each other while delivering buckshot point blank to the face of bad guys is ALWAYS gonna get my attention. But without a good story it will leave little mark (and the pilot ep always has the most $$$/time spent on it, so we'll see if they can maintain the action.

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01 May 2023 16:21 #339169 by Shellhead
Friends, I am here to make a painful confession today: I have been watching Friends. Yes, the sitcom Friends that aired from 1994 to 2004. I am so ashamed to be associated with such a common and basic show, the tv equivalent of white bread. I have nearly finished the second season, and it's possible that I will keep watching through at least the sixth season, as the fourth through sixth seasons are considered to be the best of the show.

In my defense, I am one of the original members of Generation X, the 15 years worth of Americans born after the post-WWII baby boom ended, and Friends was squarely aimed at Gen X. The irony and sarcasm, the name-dropping of brands, the cultural references, the career struggles, the coed friend group, the angst over divorce. It started airing just a couple of months after the debut of my favorite ccg Jyhad (aka Vampire: the Eternal Struggle), and my weekly Jyhad group got in the habit of playing on Friends night with the show on in the background. As I reach the end of the second season, so far every single episode has been a re-watch, so it seems that I must have had perfect attendance at the Jyhad games.

The show quickly became a cultural phenomenon, with major actors showing up for single-episode guest appearances. All of the main characters went on to make money at other projects, especially movies. I didn't watch the reunion show in 2021, but it was apparently a big ratings success. At point back in the '90s, I remember seeing a local personal ad where some poor young woman was hoping to recruit her own personal coed group of Friends, just like the show.

Friends had multiple strengths: a young and attractive cast, good writing, and six stars who all had decent comedic timing. Certain elements have not aged well, like the low-key mockery of gay characters or Monica wearing a fat suit in flashback episodes. Season ('95-'96) happened to be the year when the major networks all decided to boost their diversity, but Friends just brought in an Asian character and a Latino character, and both were gone after a few episodes each. To make matters worse, the Latino character was mocked for his mental illness. However, the show seemed to overall have good intentions, and occasionally did a decent job of addressing topics. I really enjoyed the episode where the three financially-struggling characters became resentful that the three more affluent characters kept roping them into expensive meals and events, because that was an actual issue I encountered with my own friends in the '90s.

So, at risk of having my geek card revoked, I will continue to watch Friends for now. I don't think I watched it all after the first few seasons, so I expect there will come a time when the show becomes more serious than funny, which often happens to successful sitcoms. If that point comes, I will be happy to cut my losses and move on.
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01 May 2023 21:11 - 01 May 2023 21:12 #339175 by Disgustipater

Virabhadra wrote: I read a pretty damning review of the show from Rolling Stone that explained that it's supposed to be the seed of an entire Citadel Cinematic Universe a la the MCU. Feels like putting the cart ahead of the horse - I haven't seen a single person who's watched Citadel actually recommend it.

The MCU part is there are related shows airing in different countries in those local languages, with occasional overlap in characters. Seems like an interesting idea. Though I wonder if Amazon will just collect them all on Prime, which feels like it would defeat the purpose.
Last edit: 01 May 2023 21:12 by Disgustipater.

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02 May 2023 13:05 #339182 by jason10mm

Disgustipater wrote:

Virabhadra wrote: I read a pretty damning review of the show from Rolling Stone that explained that it's supposed to be the seed of an entire Citadel Cinematic Universe a la the MCU. Feels like putting the cart ahead of the horse - I haven't seen a single person who's watched Citadel actually recommend it.

The MCU part is there are related shows airing in different countries in those local languages, with occasional overlap in characters. Seems like an interesting idea. Though I wonder if Amazon will just collect them all on Prime, which feels like it would defeat the purpose.


Huh, that's pretty high concept (wasn't Sens8 kind of that already?) and workable within the concept of the show
Warning: Spoiler!
but damned if they expect me to watch the same basic show in different languages to get it all. Unless they are radically different in tone, but I just don't see that working well. Who knew the Berlantiverse on CW was leading the way with embedding spin-offs within the shows, arraigning for massive crossover episodes, and interlinking stories to a high degree. I thought it had peaked with Baywatch Nights but guess not :P

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04 May 2023 23:48 #339213 by DarthJoJo
Poker Face on Peacock. It’s a Rian Johnson production and very much in the mode of his Benoit Blanc movies but with a plucky, affable trailer trash lead rather than Foghorn Leghorn. Natasha Lynne is on the run and solving crimes along the way.

I really like the performances and low-rent settings that are too far from New York and L.A. to get much exposure in your typical network show, but I’ve found the mysteries too easy. Each episode begins with the crime. You know who did it and why. It’s finding the clues before our lead which should be the joy, but either my wife or I have found them first each episode so far.

Maybe I’d be complaining that the writers were too clever if I wasn’t finding the clues first. It’s definitely not bad, and I’m not aware of anything quite like it. I just wish it was a little harder.

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05 May 2023 08:57 #339217 by Jackwraith
I thought it was atrocious and insipid (and a lot of other negative adjectives): dichotomouspurity.blogspot.com/2023/02/t...hink-youre-mark.html

I'm one of those people you have to sell- hard -on the first episode. I tend to compare everything with the first episode of Breaking Bad. If you can't even approach the majesty of an opening scene of a guy in his tighty-whities and a gas mask driving a runaway Winnebago down a desert road with two corpses in the back, then why am I wasting my time? Give me an interesting character. Give me a weird situation. Give me some dialogue that at least makes me chuckle or think that I should swipe it for something I'm writing. Poker Face had absolutely none of that for me.
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06 May 2023 20:09 #339241 by jason10mm

Jackwraith wrote: I thought it was atrocious and insipid (and a lot of other negative adjectives): dichotomouspurity.blogspot.com/2023/02/t...hink-youre-mark.html

I'm one of those people you have to sell- hard -on the first episode. I tend to compare everything with the first episode of Breaking Bad. If you can't even approach the majesty of an opening scene of a guy in his tighty-whities and a gas mask driving a runaway Winnebago down a desert road with two corpses in the back, then why am I wasting my time? Give me an interesting character. Give me a weird situation. Give me some dialogue that at least makes me chuckle or think that I should swipe it for something I'm writing. Poker Face had absolutely none of that for me.


while I agree with you in principle, I find the "hot open" (in media res? whatever the term for this is) of a chaotic, bizarre, exciting scene followed by "XXX time earlier" to be soooo lazy most of the time, a way to try to hook the audience because the first act is otherwise a slow, tedious slog. Like any narrative trick, it must be used judiciously and with skill.
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07 May 2023 07:58 #339244 by Jackwraith
Totally fair. (It's actually a "cold open" because there's no "warming you up" with credits, basic premise, etc.) You're right in that not every story needs to start that way. I just need there to be something compelling. You can't just give me Basic Premise A or Basic Premise B and not expect me to think "Oh, this is just Basic Premise A again-!" and change the channel (Can we still use that phrase?) or turn it off. I mean, obviously, said Basic Premises still work for a LOT of people, so I'm just out here on the fringes, shouting "Be better!" when producers/networks clearly don't have to. But a cold open usually reassures me that you at least have a story in mind, rather than just a Basic Premise that you're going to try to drape a story over. Tell me that you've got something going from point A to point B and not just something that you can get X number of episodes out of that involve your actors doing the same thing, over and over.
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