American Horror Story: Season 1 (2011)

American Horror Story: Season 1 (2011)

American Horror Story is in an anthology format, with the first season focusing on a haunted house while later seasons are focused on an asylum and then a witch coven.

The Harmon family, a father-mother-daughter combo, moves from Boston to Los Angeles on the heels of a family scandal. Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) has cheated on his wife, Vivien (Connie Britton) and they hope to reconcile things by moving to a new house in a new part of the country. However, things are not what they seem at their new home – it is a dark place full of tragedies and past murders and lurid secrets, and the Harmons soon discover that they may not have the house all to themselves.

The show has an interesting format. I didn’t expect there to be a different focus for each season, which is a nice touch. I thought for sure that they couldn’t go on with the same premise for more than one season so I’m glad of the focus switch. It really allows for some flexibility with later seasons.

The show is sexy, violent and pretty terrifying at times and seems to blend all of the urban legends and horror stories we’ve all heard over the years into a compelling drama.

Sometimes, it can be a bit over-dramatic and somewhat like a soap opera, so I had to look past that at times but overall it was really enjoyable. The acting was solid, especially from veterans like Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy. Some of the characters are likable but most are pretty damaged and only likable because of their quirks as opposed to any humanity they might have.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

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Wilfred: Season 1 (2011)

Wilfred: Season 1 (2011)

Original Air Date: June 23, 2011
Stations Airing: FX
Number Of Episodes In Season: 13

Ryan Newman (Elijah Wood) has had enough of life and decides to take the easy way out. However, when he swallows a bunch of pills and he doesn’t die, he ends up seeing his neighbor’s dog, Wilfred (Jason Gann), as a man in a dog costume…complete with Australian accent. What’s real and what’s not begins to blur as Ryan struggles to regain his sanity.

For the record, I have not seen the original series from the U.K. but I think this American version is great. Not knowing what to expect when I first started watching this, I was pleasantly surprised.

Elijah Wood – I can take him or leave him usually. He’s always just good enough but I have never been a huge fan of his. He was okay in films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where he portrayed a creeper, or even in Sin City…but he’s painfully average, in my opinion. He works well for this show, however. His sensibilities come through as genuine and it plays off Jason Gann’s Wilfred very well, who is almost the exact opposite of Ryan…his dark half. Jason Gann is great as the dog and is consistently hilarious.

I found myself laughing out loud as I watched some of the episodes, and I can honestly say that I’ve now witnessed a slow-motion graphic sex scene between a man in a dog costume and a stuffed giraffe. Yup. Also, there are a lot of guest appearances as well like Nestor Carbonell from Lost and Jane Kaczmarek from Malcolm In The Middle, and there are lots of others, too.

This is one of the funniest shows out there right now, so give it a shot.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Trailer For Wilfred: Season 1 (Promo)

Comic Book Men: Season 1 (2012)

Comic Book Men: Season 1 (2012)

Original Air Date: February 12, 2012
Stations Airing: AMC
Number Of Episodes In Season: 6

Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash is a comic book store located in New Jersey where many familiar faces from Kevin Smith’s films (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, etc.) are employed. Touted as being unscripted, Comic Book Men centers around the staff’s exploits as well as trying to capture the essence of fanboy culture in the comic book world.

Overall, the first season (and by extension, the show) was interesting. but even though it’s supposed to be unscripted, I can’t imagine that it’s NOT unscripted. Each episode fit neatly into a different theme and many customers came in with items seemingly relevant to the episodes as well. Other reality shows seem to be able to hide the scripted feeling a little better.

The best part of the show is actually the podcast portion, which is usually the only part where you get to see Kevin Smith (for those of you who are fans of his) and is also the only part of the show which feels unscripted and genuine. It’s just a bunch of friends hanging out and talking about geek culture.

Getting to see all the neat back issues and rare toys and artwork is another great reason to watch Comic Book Men. The comic collector in me squeals with joy in seeing the issues that I own being haggled over on television. There is a happy nostalgia and fanboy appreciation that the show encourages and succeeds in fostering.

If you’re a fan of Kevin Smith and/or enjoy Pawn Stars type of programming, or are a fan of seeing comic books and/or toys and artwork, this is the show for you. I will give the second season a chance but I will probably only do so at this point in order to check out all the rare and weird finds.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Trailer For  Comic Book Men

 

Breaking Bad: Season 1 (2008)

Breaking Bad: Season 1 (2008)

Original Air Date: January 20, 2008
Stations Airing: AMC
Number Of Episodes In Season: 7

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is a high school chemistry teacher who discovers that he only has two more years left to live because of his unexpected stage III cancer. With nothing left to lose, and no other means to provide for his family, he enlists the aid of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), a bright but broken junkie and former student to help him distribute some crystal meth, which “Walt” is very proficient at creating. Soon, the duo find themselves not only at odds with each other but also crossing paths with heavy-duty drug dealers like the insane and violent Tuco (Raymond Cruz) as Walt and Jesse shoulder in on the meth-dealing business.

I had been extremely excited for this show upon seeing the original trailers on AMC back when I had cable. When it finally came on, I was not disappointed. I missed most of the original airing, but recently caught up on all the episodes using Netflix.

Right off the bat, the series and season one starts off at a decent pace, and you really get to both fear and love Walt by the end. I would say that the beginning half of the season is a nice segway into the dark, frenetic and chaotic second half with episodes like Crazy Handful of Nothin’ where Walt shaves his head and begins to really embrace his inner gangster. The dichotomy of Walter White, chemistry teacher with an extreme illness and Heisenberg, the meth-producing hard-ass is amazing and I can think of no better-written show in memory that could stand up to this series.

The relationship between Walt and Jesse is really, extremely well-done and is the subject of discussion even now among some of my friends. One of my friends, actually, (if you’re interested at all) has many theories about the show, especially when it comes to color symbolism. Check her out, but be careful because there might be spoilers if you haven’t seen the entire series yet. She makes some good points and observations, for sure, though. Her name is Erin Enberg and her website is HERE.

Breaking Bad has inspired so much conversation, between things like plot and characters, to other things like color symbolism. It’s that good. Do yourself a favor and check it out if you haven’t already. Just be prepared to become addicted to the show and not see the light of day until the series is over.

And even if you’ve already followed the show through to its satisfying conclusion, I found that it’s best to re-watch the series again right away from the beginning. You’ll really see how the characters have changed, mostly for the worse. Now get out of here and go watch it.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Trailer For Season One Of Breaking Bad 

Archer: Season 1 (2009)

Archer: Season 1 (2009)

Original Air Date: January 14, 2010
Stations Airing: FX, Comedy Central
Number Of Episodes In Season: 10

Archer follows several characters, mostly Sterling Archer (H. John Benjamin) – a great spy who is terrible at everything else. ISIS (not to be confused with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) is a spy agency he works at where everyone tries to indulge in their own greedy schemes or pleasures which often ends with disastrous, yet hilarious results.

Season 1 is an introduction to the characters and their world of espionage-gone-awry. We follow Archer and his somewhat-Oedipal interactions with his mother, Malory (Jessica Walters) and his fellow spy and ex-girlfriend Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler). Archer manages to piss off everyone he meets at some point with his extreme chauvinism and ego and I dare you not to laugh at the exchanges between the characters. Also, if you’re a fan of SNL – Chris Parnell voices the role of the cowardly Cyril Figgis.

The animation has a nice style that is reminiscent of other shows like Sealab 2021, which was also created by Adam Reed, and it seems to fit the espionage and retro-60’s feel the show gives off.

Each episode is pretty much stand alone aside from a couple, so you don’t necessarily have to watch them all in order as each one packs its own comedic punch. However, there are many in-jokes and nods to previous episodes as you move on, so as always – it’s best to watch with at least some semblance of continuity – especially in later seasons.

This is one of the funniest shows out there right now, hands down. You should check it out.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Trailer For Season One Of Archer

 

Starsky & Hutch (2004)

Starsky and Hutch (2004)

Original Theatrical Release: March 5, 2004
Director: Todd Phillips

David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is, at least in his own eyes, a super cop. He narrates his own life with a sort of grim, noir commentary and takes pleasure in being an officer of the law…one of the good guys. Ken Hutchinson (Owen Wilson), often called ‘Hutch’, is the exact opposite. Ending up as partners, they must resolve their differences and work together to take down the drug czar Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn) using intel and help from their informant, Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg).

I was never a super-huge fan of the show, as I only ever saw reruns when I was a kid. Once I reached college age, though, I started consuming some media I missed when I was too young to appreciate it, and Starsky and Hutch was one of the shows I started getting into.

First of all, the show isn’t really anything like this movie so it’s no use really comparing the two. One is mostly serious, one is pretty much a parody of the buddy-cop genre. With that fact kept firmly in mind, I must say the film was extremely successful with what it set out to do.

Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller, love ’em or hate ’em, do what they do best in this movie – which is to butt heads for comedic effect. They are, to me, a modern day Abbot and Costello and I thoroughly enjoy every movie I’ve seen them in together.

The movie isn’t too long, running at only 95 minutes or so, and that is just enough length for a movie like this. It’s not overly ambitious, but it’s a lot of fun to watch the interactions between Starsky and Hutch or really any of the characters in this film.

There are some cool car chase sequences in the film, making use of the Ford Gran Torino that is pretty much the flagship image of this movie and of the television show.

Overall, there’s not much to complain about here unless you don’t like the kind of humor that comprises the entirety of this flick. If so, you picked the wrong movie to watch.

Oh, and the Will Ferrell cameo is HILARIOUS. (Carmen Elektra, Brande Roderick and Amy Smart didn’t hurt, either…)

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Movie Trailer For Starsky & Hutch