Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

Christopher Durang – America’s most beloved author of community theater audition monologues – has a new play called Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.  In 2013 it won the Tony Award for Outstanding New Play.  It won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Production, the Drama League Award for Best Production of a Play, the Drama Desk Award for Best Play, the Outer Circle Critics Award for Best Play and the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Play.  Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike prominently features a Magical Negro housekeeper who has the power of Voodoo.

If, after reading that, you think to yourself, “That’s enough.  This is the 21st century and I have no interest in racial caricatures of any kind.  Nothing in this play could possibly make up for this conspicuous, shameful, and easily avoidable failure; I am happy to condemn this play to company with the rest of the detritus of civilization left behind as humanity continues on its long moral arc, without hearing another word about it,” well, then, I agree with you.  You can ignore this play for the rest of your life, and not be one degree the worse for it; go forth, and be not bothered by Christopher Durang.

In criticism, though, as in life, it is important to be thorough.

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BvD1I haven’t done one of these in a while, because honestly, recommendations generally aren’t necessary, at least in extended blog format. The moment you see something you like, either you tweet it or mention it on Facebook, or you text the person you think would like it, or some other site writes a thing on it and all you have to do is share a link.

But guys, Dracula kicked the everliving crap out of Batman in a cartoon made for kids and I feel like not enough of you know that.   (more…)

braak

This fucking show.  Okay, so, let me be clear about one thing right at the front here:  I like all of the actors on this show.  Nicole Beharie, Clancy Brown, that Handsome Guy, John Cho.  Even Orlando Jones!  I didn’t think I’d like to see Orlando Jones, because I think of him as being kind of a silly guy, but no, Orlando Jones is great!  Everyone on this show is great, the diversity of the cast is great, I hope they have long and happy careers.  I even don’t have a problem with them having a long career on THIS show.  I don’t want Sleepy Hollow to get kicked off the air or anything, I am not petitioning for the DESTRUCTION of Sleepy Hollow.

I want Sleepy Hollow to be a better show, that’s all.  All those actors that I like, all that chemistry that’s so great, it deserves a better show behind it.

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Holland

Previously, on REVOLUTION, a show NBC was so proud of that it decided to take a six-month break, then was surprised when everyone kind of forgot about it …

Rev1Billy Burke and The Cape were STILL punching each other and then telling each other they’re brothers; Google Pete wrote a special machine code to get the nanobots floating in the air (yeah, it turned out it was nanobots) to stop suppressing electricity, they killed off one of their two minority characters (the explosion lady), Gus Fring took control of the army, and Colm Fiore revealed himself to be an emissary of the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES before launching nukes at Philly and Atlanta, then killing himself, because he was on 24 once and he knows how it is done.

And Tracy Spiradakos nearly, NEARLY managed to find a third facial expression, which she tried out after watching Fiore shoot himself in the head. It looked kind of, but not entirely, like mild annoyance mixed with being grossed out.

If all this seems unusually fresh in my memory, it’s because I watched the season finale on Netflix just now in anticipation of the season 2 premier. Wait, not anticipation. Cautious curiosity, I suppose?

See, over the summer, Eric Kripke – remember when this show was billed as being the brainchild of Kripke and J.J. Abrams? Well, like most shows with Abrams attached, he seems to no longer be attached – basically sided with the viewers that they had made a series of errors. Minor things like “The story is dumb” and “Who gives a shit about nanobots?” and “Wasn’t the whole point of this show to be a world without power, so why are there fucking helicopters everywhere?” and “Why is everyone so clean-looking?”  (more…)

Holland

Look, I won’t lie: I am exactly the audience for ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (hereafter known as SHIELD before I go nuts typing). The flipping panels and then the big red Marvel logo kicking things off got me giddy despite myself.

SHIELD-castBut that’s not to say I was blindly behind the show, far from it. For one thing, in my mind, if you do a SHIELD show, it should look like the spy-fi Steranko book from the 60’s, by which I mean it should kind of look like The Prisoner. And, well, we knew that wasn’t gonna happen. The closest ABC could ever get to that was Alias, and they’re not going to go ahead and remake Alias.

The long and short of it is, SHIELD feels slightly manufactured, which isn’t a surprising criticism when you consider all the corporate hands on it. It could stand to be a little weirder, a little looser, a little more visually stimulating than, say, your standard episode of Modern Family. It could probably stand about 10% of Joss Whedon’s last TV project, Dollhouse, with all its implausible sci-fi brain-tech and bad behavior, in its DNA.

But that’s also something I quite liked about SHIELD, particularly in contrast to my memories of Dollhouse. Unlike the latter – which is easily Whedon’s most crushingly pessimistic project, a series that went from “Lead goes undercover as back-up for a pop-singer” to “Well, the world’s pretty much been destroyed” in very few steps – SHIELD presents a fairly optimistic worldview, one I’m perfectly willing to tune into for now. (more…)

Holland

There will be spoilers, guys. For this show and a bunch of shows it cribs from.

blacklist 1As I watched the pilot for The Blacklist, I was amazed at how many borrowed elements were going into the makeup of this show. Then the main character straight-up pulled a prop from Revenge up from the floorboards and I was preeetty sure someone was punking me.

I mean, it’s a wooden box with a mysterious brand engraved on the lid – a brand (in this case a scar, rather than a tattoo) also found on the heroine’s wrist. I mean, that is one of the Big Things on Revenge. In the floorboards and everything. That is just nuts.  (more…)

Holland

SLeepy HollowSo…Ichabod Crane chops off a Redcoat’s head during the Revolutionary War, is buried by his witch wife, wakes up 250-odd years later after the Headless Horseman arises in Sleepy Hollow (and chops off a few heads), teams up with a resourceful deputy and together they learn they’re about to enter into a vast conspiracy of biblical prophecies and historical oddities encoded in George Washington’s secret bible.

That’s the in and out of SLEEPY HOLLOW, a show I simply assumed would be too stupid to enjoy as anything other than “Ohh, these pilots keep getting sillier, don’t they?” tongue-clucking. But no. Through an irritating combination of decent-enough acting, competent direction, a solid-enough budget to keep this from looking like a backdoor pilot from an episode of SUPERNATURAL, and dialogue that suggests the showrunners know just how silly all this is – and also the brief  presence of Clancy Brown, who, like sea salt, makes everything just slightly better – this was actually a fairly enjoyable hour of pilot.

Unfortunately, it’s also next to impossible to say what this show will be like on a week-to-week basis.  (more…)