Archive for the ‘T.V.’ Category

To The Couch!

Posted: October 4, 2013 in T.V.
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Simpsons CouchAside from the fact that The Simpsons has been one of the most iconic television shows of the past 20 years (seriously, there are guys now playing professional hockey who have grown up with The Simpsons producing a new episode every week!), one of the things that has really stood out has been “The Couch Gag”. For every new episode, the show will give you a new intro with the family rushing to the couch. Yesterday, the internet was buzzing because film director Guillermo del Toro (whose works include Pacific Rim and HellBoy) got to create this piece of art for the upcoming Treehouse of Horrors. Check it out:

This got me thinking of some of the other great intros the Simpsons have done recently. Let’s take a look.

Breaking Bad:
While the attempt was decent, it felt a little odd to have Marge to be the one cooking and Homer as Heisenberg only because you wanted someone to do both (and after seeing Ned Flanders as Walter White, I think he should have been the one doing the cooking if he’s the one who knock-diddily-ocks).

Game of Thrones:
The actual show has one of the best opening themes around; you immediately get jacked up for the show and the fact that it’s a good show in general kicks it up a notch. Their intro is great and watching The Simpsons take on their own version where they raise up the town of Springfield is hilarious and well thought out.

Simpsons Dandelion:
This doesn’t seem to be that great on the surface compared to the other but put it into perspective: the show created a contest and allowed people to submit their ideas for a “Couch Gag”. Name me another show that has opened up to their audience (and, no, Who’s Line Is It Anyway? doesn’t count) and allowed them to write and direct an opening to the show? Probably never has happened nor will happen again.

Robot Chicken Simpsons:
Hands down the best intro they’ve done to date. The most detailed, time consuming, and all around humorous. You can actually watch how it all came together here, here, and here and it’s all for a less-than-two minute intro. Very cool to see the process and then the end result.

Thanks for reading and stay connected with me on Twitter: @ChrisFudali

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Bridging the Gap to Greatness

Posted: October 3, 2013 in T.V.

The Bridge

When The Killing first came out, I ignored all the skeptics and what they had to say about the show. Eventually, their concerns became too glaring and I fell out of favour of the show and, unfortunately, some of the acting (a cop who decided to take on a murder before she was to move? Was this plot written in 1988 and just kicked around for two decades?). When FX announced that they, too, were importing a show Danish-idea about an unlikely cop-partnership-drama who are supposed to solve a murder, I almost refused to watch. Almost.

The biggest selling point about The Bridge is that FX was going to produce it; yes, I’m well aware that I’ve gushed about FX in the past but they do produce quality shows overall. So, when The Bridge was made available, I found it to be really well done.

The show starts with a murder that resembles that of Bon Cop, Bad Cop (Canadians everywhere that have seen both just nodded in agreement) but the twist, that won’t be given away here, felt almost Dexter-esque. From there, there are a number of different storylines (the death of a rancher with a tunnel, a journalist with a substance abuse problem, a number of dead bodies) that all intertwine with the overall theme: people die in Mexico, nobody cares, people die in the U.S. and people are up in arms about it.

The show itself does a great job trying to show the dynamics between the Mexican and the American “way of life” and also isn’t afraid to keep the dialogue authentic with the use of subtitles (by the way, if you’re one of those people who will play the “I don’t like subtitle because I don’t like to read while I watch”, you’re just being lazy and I doubt you said that when you watched Inglourious Basterds).  Over the course of the season you see Detective Macro Ruiz struggle with his personal life, Detective Sonya Cross trying to just deal with everything after a messed up childhood, and Lieutenant Hank Wade doing his best to keep it all together when he’s so close to retirement.

As far as the casting goes, Sonya is played by Diane Kruger (amazingly enough, was IN Inglourious Basterds) and does a phenomenal job as the ‘by-the-book-but-lacks-social-interaction-on-a-personal-level’ character. Demain Bichir is the reasonable but often too emotional for his own good Mexican detective (who may have let his emotions get the better of him after the season finale), Ted Levine (yes, THIS Ted Levine) is the Lieutenant is a blend of both officers for their good traits, and then you have a great tag-team of “keep your eye on” guys with Daniel Frye (Matthew Lillard) and Steven Linder (Thomas M. Wright).

Overall, the first 2/3rds-or-so of the season makes you wonder “who dunnit?” and the rest makes you genuinely wonder “where do we go from here?” The show is definitely worth a watch and, since it’s on FX, will most likely be on Netflix in the near future to get caught up.

Thanks for reading and stay connected with me on Twitter: @ChrisFudali.

2013-14 NHL Playoff Prediction

Posted: October 1, 2013 in T.V.

The start of the NHL season is tonight and with it comes a lot of anticipation; who will get in to the post season? Who will be the league’s biggest ‘shocker’? How long until James Reimer won’t be able to smile during a press conference because he wants to be the Leafs’ number one goalie? (I predict 18 games in and then you’ll see his frustration….maybe take a lesson from April on how to give ‘the look’.)

This year is going to be a little different (the politically correct way of saying “a clusterf***”) when it comes to seeding for the post season. They’ve reduced the number of divisions from 6 to 4 while keeping the East/West Conferences. This year also features a ‘wild card’ format because…well…the East has too many teams (and heaven forbid the NHL considers retraction). Here’s the breakdown: the west will have two divisions of seven teams, the East will have two divisions of eight, the top three from each are guaranteed playoff spots. The next four are based on overall record and can be loaded from any division; one division could have up to 5 teams and another could have the minimum of three. Confused? Read the NHL’s way of putting it and if you still are…well…blame Gary (seriously, I have no idea what else to tell you).

Here’s how the league looks so let’s try and predict who will be playoff bound starting in the west:

NHL Divisions 

Pacific Division: L.A., San Jose, and Vancouver looks like the early locks (simmer down Ducks fan; you’re not out of this yet). Phoenix is on the cusp, the Ducks will have to make some major improvements to replace Bobby Ryan, the Oilers are still a couple years away (and some defense and a goalie), and the Calgary Flames are…umm….hmm….look, I’m trying to be nice because the people of Calgary have been through a LOT lately so we can pretend that the ’13-14 season just doesn’t exist for them. Sound good?

Central Division: Chicago, St. Louis and (oh, god, I have to pick a third?), Minnesota. I like what Dallas has done but it has too much of an unknown, Nahsville feels like they can light it up or fade away with the best of them, and Winnipeg always feels like they’re a perennial nine-seed which is NOT what you want your team to be (go all in or blow it up and struggle for 3-5 years).

Overall Western Teams in Playoffs: L.A., San Jose, Vanvouver, Anaheim, Phoenix, Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota (not in that order). Let’s move on to the East.

Metropolitan Division: First off, I would like to say to the League, What the *expletive* were you thinking when you came up with this?? I’m picturing a brainstorming session where you hired a creative consultatnt to come into your boardroom and spend all night spit-balling ideas (maybe even having some discarded Chinese food containers on the dark wooden table for added effect) befpre someone jumped up and said “I got it! We’re in New York, a Metropolis…so let’s go with ‘Metropolitan’!” and then you lit up expensive cigars with $100 bills. Sorry, on to the division.

Pittsburgh, Washington, and the New York Rangers are going to be the top three this year in that division because Philly is still using an abacus to try and figure out what the hell a salary cap is, the New York Islanders are getting better but in the “not a lock yet”, the New Jersey Devils have a puncher’s chance, the Carolina Hurricanes are another 8 Stall brothers away from being contenders, but the team I do like (and will benefit the second most from moving west-to-east) is the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Atlantic Division: Detroit, Boston, (and I will never forgive myself for this but) Ottawa. Not to discourage Montreal fans but last season the Habs started off great and then got hammered in the playoffs (and it was a shortened season). The Buffalo Sabres still have more questions than answers (unless they actually think the answer will always be “Ryan Miller”), the Florida Panthers signed Tim Thomas (match made in heaven for both professional and political reasons), Tampa Bay lost Vinny Lecavalier but might have found goaltending, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are still missing a top centreman, another top six winger, and the young defense needs time to grow and I’ll stop myself there before I walk away.

Overall Eastern Teams in Playoffs: Pittsburgh, Washington, New York Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit, Boston, Ottawa, Montreal (not in that order).

(May God have mercy on me for not putting the Leafs in the playoffs…)

Thanks for reading and stay connected with me on Twitter: @ChrisFudali

Breaking for Perfection

Posted: September 30, 2013 in T.V.

breaking_badBefore Breaking Bad’s final episode was going to air, I racked my brain trying to think of ways to compare this to other greats; maybe try and rank it against shows like Cheers, M*A*S*H, The Sopranos, and Seinfeld and discuss its ending versus theirs or assign an album/some songs to that would reflect the different emotions I felt during the final episode or even write a “what’s next for the cast”-type of blog (that has Dean Norris getting the career Michael Chiklis should have had, Anna Gunn takes on a dramatic movie role that makes us all change our minds about her acting abilities, Bob Odenkirk has huge success with his Saul-spinoff and gets to host SNL; Aaron Paul becomes the next Bruce Campbell in that he absolutely nails every B-Role he gets for the rest of his career [and he’s got a jump start on it now], and Bryan Cranston ends up winning an Oscar for Best Actor after teaming up with George Clooney).

But then the episode started and it did what it always does; sets up a situation and leaves you wondering what’s going to happen next but simultaneously allows you to get lost in the show. Never before have I been in a room for a show and you could hear a pin drop (unless an “OH, S***” moment happens like last night with the ricin and the big boom). The show’s creator Vince Gilligan earlier said he was going to kill Walt and the show will end, so we knew what was going to happen. We just wanted to know who else Walt was going to take down with him (…because, well, that’s what Walt does). But there was a point in show (for me, around the same time Jessie drove off) where it all sank in; you couldn’t help but think that you’re a part of history.

Growing up, you heard about ‘the classics’ like M*A*S*H and Cheers and how your parents weren’t going anywhere for that final episode. Talk to someone who was around and they’ll tell you where they were just like they would if it was the JFK assassination or Paul Henderson’s goal in 1972. I was able to experience this a little bit with Seinfeld but that ending left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouth (it’s like the ‘Saint Anger’ of show endings; see? A musical reference I felt was strong enough that I had to use). The Sopranos was not available at the time to me (young, living at home, bad cable package, and even DVD’s weren’t totally popular) so I wasn’t that invested in the show when it ended. Not like this.

Gilligan and Co. ended the show almost exactly how we all wanted it to end; the loose ends with Skylar and Marie over Hank should be tied up, Flynn and Molly have been taken care of for life, Jessie gets to do whatever he wants, and Walt just went away. It was an ending as intense as the rest of the show, graphic, but also made you realize just how beautiful it is in its own way. During the last episode, I was watching it with some friends and one of them asked “Do you think this can ever be topped?” Forever is a long time, but I certainly hope not.

Thank you to everyone for making this show such a success, keeping millions entertained every week and being damn near perfect.

Thanks for reading and stay connected with me on Twitter: @ChrisFudali

Gray Areas in The Blacklist

Posted: September 24, 2013 in T.V.

The Blacklist Some things get over hyped and don’t live up to expectations (looking at you, 2013 Blue Jays!) but once in a while something will come along and not necessarily live up to the hype, but definitely make you think “that was good; I need to see more to form an opinion”. That was pretty much the overall idea behind The Blacklist. The Blacklist made its debut last night on NBC and if you saw the trailers leading up to it, you might have been underwhelmed. But some reviews trickled in that basically said “you have to give this show a chance”, so I did.

To be perfectly honest, the premier episode started off a little slow; it gave the impression that it was moving quickly to set up the overall premise but I found myself looking at my watch. James Spader plays Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington (who will make you constantly wonder: “Why didn’t they just cast John Lithgow for this role instead? Is the role of The White Rabbit THAT much more lucrative?”) who was/is on the FBI’s most wanted list but surrenders in an effort to help the FBI capture some of their most wanted (but not the 10 most wanted; the ones you never hear about…spoo-OOO-ooky). However, he only wants to work with one agent: Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone).

(By the way, if you hate spoilers, you better stop reading because the next few paragraphs are a synopsis of what happened.)

(Seriously, stop reading if you don’t want it to get ruined for you.)

(Okay, you asked for it…)

In the first episode, Agent Keen and Red are trying to foil the terrorist plot that involves a General’s daughter (who is a child and nothing like The General’s Daughter) and a chemical weapon. Keen has to work around the fact that Red is pretty much playing mind games with her while maintain a ‘normal’ personal life (notice how normal is in quotations? Wink-wink!). They are able to disarm the bomb thanks to a Ukrainian guy who then steals it because he’s into those sorts of things (apparently. Oh, and hearing James Spader speak Russian was the second greatest thing to happen last night; hearing Jon Gruden say this name was number one by a landslide).

It felt like the overall premise of the show was a producer watching The Negotiator, The Silence of the Lambs (or since this is an NBC show, Hannibal), and The Jackal on a Saturday afternoon with nothing else and going “THAT’S how I can make a number one show! Yes!” but it does work. There is a twist that happens with Agent Keen’s husband that they do leave until the end that makes you wonder where the show will go next (there, I didn’t spoil the best part for you). The biggest issue with this show is “can it bring you back for next week.”

We’ve been spoiled by shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and even The Walking Dead that leave you with hooks where you will say “HOLY S***!” out loud in your apartment late at night only to get a noise complaint from your Asian neighbour in his underpants and beater asking you to keep it down (okay, so maybe just me). The Blacklist laid out all the elements of a great show and had a good premise for a hook but should have ended it with Agent Keen just opening the box, not seeing what she found, and then approaching Red in his cell asking the question about her husband (because we always want to know “what’s in the box?!”). The only fear for this show is that it could be more of a “random-on-demand-and-feel-up-to-date” show like Lie To Me (you could’ve picked any episode from there, watched it and felt like you knew what was going on; not necessarily a bad thing but the story arc was too loose for the most part).

The show is worth watching but when it comes to making it a weekly event, it may not make your main rotation (but put it on your list no one knows about).

Thanks for reading and stay connected with me on Twitter: @ChrisFudali.

Mad Men Going Bad

Posted: September 19, 2013 in T.V.

 

Mad and Bad

Long before I jumped on the Breaking Bad bandwagon, I was hooked on Mad Men (when I say “long before”, Breaking Bad was in its third season before I got caught up; in this day and age, two years is considered “long before”). Since day one, I found Mad Men to be dramatic, smart, witty, and a hint of jealousy over the fact that I wasn’t living back in the 60’s. With its final season approaching, I was gearing up for it like a kid on Christmas their birthday. I had even theorized what might happen in the final season. But the air in that balloon has gone away since I saw articles like this.

In what can only be seen as an effort to get more ad revenue, AMC has decided to split the final season of Mad Men across two years: this year will be called “The Beginning” and the second, slated to start in the spring of 2015, titled “The End of an Era.” This would make sense if it were to be justified because of scheduling conflicts, but, according to the New York Times: “Matthew Weiner will shoot all the episodes in one production cycle, so in effect, AMC will simply be storing away the last seven episodes for a year.”

Wait. Seven episodes?

That’s right. The last SEVEN episodes.

They’re only making 14 in total and have decided to split it over two calendar years. To put that into perspective, a regular Mad Men season is (usually) 13 episodes. So instead of adding an extra week, they decided to add a year and give you just over half a ‘normal’ season. At least with Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan took the time to really draw out the story and felt it was necessary to add extra episodes (going from 13 to 16). They developed the show in such a way that the last season (or the last eight episodes depending on your viewpoint) has become such compelling television that you’re willing to miss any other major event going on for that hour of television (yes, even the Seahawks/49ers game took a back seat and luckily that game turned out to be a blowout).

As much as I may love Mad Men, the last season didn’t win me over or make me set my PVR with the same desire that Breaking Bad has done. They wanted to split Breaking Bad because it made sense on the surface and the product has delivered. Mad Men is a different animal and it should not be done. This feels like AMC’s executives saying “Oh, god! After 2014, we’re pretty much screwed for programming! What do we do?!” and then hitting the panic button. Unless Weiner & Co. are doing some MAJOR transitions that would be far too complicated to follow along in a single season (and even IF they make those major transitions, it should be up to the audience to notice them; and I would like to think that those who watch a show like Mad Men are smart enough to pick up on said transitions). This is a bad decision on everyone involved and with today’s media coverage and the internet, over the next two years you can almost guarantee that something will get leaked.

Thanks for reading and stay connected with me on Twitter: @ChrisFudali.

Andy Samberg & Co. are Brooklyn’s Finest

Posted: September 18, 2013 in T.V.


When the upfronts happened a few months back, a handful of trailers for upcoming shows were released and one of them that stood out was “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”; a new Fox comedy staring Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Terry Crews to name a few who are detectives in, you guessed it, Brooklyn New York. This was definitely on my radar and last night, following the premiere of dads (which I won’t get into but it somehow has a second show next week…Fox must’ve been suckered into Martin Mull’s golden lab puppy dog look).

Brooklyn Nine-Nine starts with Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) performing the monologue from Donnie Brasco at an electronics store that was just robbed into a bay of televisions before easily solving the crime. It shows that right off the bat, Peralta is a goofball and later reinforced when Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) tells Captain Ray Holt (Andrew Braugher, the new Captain for the precinct) that Peralta can solve anything except how to grow up (by the way, Terry Crews seamlessly played up the “used to be fat” card when he and Captain Holt reminisce that Terry used to be called “Terry Ti**ies”; and if anyone doubts Crews’ comedic chops, watch these).

The show does a great job a introducing the entire precinct to the audience (as they get introduced to Captain Holt) and while it gives elements of ‘out there’ comedy, it still feels real enough that the crimes are actually getting solved. When they’re having a debriefing on the murder that needs to be solved, Peralta talks about how he interviewed a witness and then shows a slide zoomed in on her face wondering “what’s on her chin”. After hanging around friends who are officers, there is no doubt in my mind that this sort of thing probably happens (True story from a cop friend: a new officer when to a minor call and forgot to lock his car. The other officers came and stripped it of everything inside; computer, shotgun, etc. The rookie then had to call it in before being let in on “the joke”.)

As defiant as a joker that Peralta is, Captain Holt puts him in line by sending him to the records room where Peralta shows Holt that he can be a good detective even when he’s being punished. From there, Peralta, Holt and company are able to catch the killer and Peralta learns what it’s all about to be on a team, even if they’re all working individually to get a case done.

The comedy will make you laugh out loud (even when living alone like I do) when you hear lines like Detective Santiago (Melissa Fumero) tells Captain Holt she just tunes out Peralta by calling him “white noise” and he calls her racist. Or when Peralta tells everyone the low point of the investigation was when Santiago struck out with a 92-year-old. She says “that’s not entirely accurate” and Peralta quickly responds with “Wait, you hooked up?”

Overall, the show feels like a combination of “Law & Order” minus the lawyers but replaced with witty comedy. If you missed it, catch up on it. If you can’t catch it on Tuesdays, then make sure you set your PVR.

Thanks for reading and stay connected with me on Twitter: @ChrisFudali.