Suits: Season 4 (TV Review)

Suits: Season 4 (TV Review)

Now this is more like it for Suits.

After an up-and-down second season, and a bit of a return to form in Season 3, the fourth installment of the show, recently added to Netflix Canada, brings us back to a time when the show is always fun to watch again.

The fourth season initially revolves around Mike leaving the firm at the end of S3, and his new job as an investment banker. Of course, he still has many associations with Harvey and the gang over at the law firm, including several occasions where the two friends are forced to butt heads, and play dirty, against one another.

NUP_163666_0598.jpgAs things move forward in the season, and things actually get quite ugly between Harvey and Mike as they focus on one massive merger, things get switched around, and they start to hit the fan. There are some pretty predictable events that come out of the year, such as some turmoil between Mike and Rachel, more issues at the firm, people always trying to get their names on the door, Louis Litt trying to be honourable, but really being a screwup, and the ever-present secret of Mike never having gone to law school coming about time and again.

Despite the plot not being the most interesting of the four years, they have returned to some of the things that made Suits so enjoyable to begin with. The sharp wit, specifically from Harvey, and now Mike fighting back, and a little bit of a return to the cruelty that Harvey was able to demonstrate at the beginning. This is why we liked him so much, and to be honest, he got a little soft in the following seasons. He takes it back a little bit in S4, which is great to see. He is no monster, by any stretch, but isn’t afraid to be Harvey-esque when he needs to be.

suits2The fourth season is definitely entertaining, and easily digestible with its short seasons. It is a strong continuation of where the show left off, and of course provides us with enough of a cliffhanger at the end of the year to leave us waiting for the release of Season 5.

Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell (Book Review)

Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell (Book Review)

I can’t get enough Veronica Mars.

Following the wildly entertaining three season long television show, fans have been lucky enough to see the continuation of the life of the edgy, vindictive, sleuthing Veronica in the Veronica Mars movie, and the fun follow-up novel, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line.

Well, for fans, things keep on rolling with the latest novel about the exploits of our favorite heroine, in Mr. Kiss and Tell.

vm2This time around, Veronica is put on a case where a girl was the victim of a brutal sexual assault at the Neptune Grand Hotel, the centerpiece of wealth in the seaside town of Neptune. She is hired to try and find out what really happened, since the girl can be seen entering the hotel on video, but never leaving it. From here, the mystery unfolds, and we are swept into a seedy world of abuse and prostitution.

As with the first VM novel, this one brings back the familiar cast of characters from the show, that we all know and love. There is the perfect amount of exposition, explaining the role that each person played in Veronica’s life, which makes the novel accessible for those who are new to Neptune and looking for a casual book read. Also, it is not too much for the hard-core fan, who of course remember the youngest Manning girl, or the importance of Leo in Veronica’s teen life. It was a good balance, to appease the old fans, and the new.

vm3As for Mr. Kiss and Tell itself, it is a similar beach read to The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. The mystery itself doesn’t offer as many twists and turns as the show, film, or first book offered, but the majority of the time was spent with Veronica knowing who did it, and trying to figure out a way to catch him. It provides a suitable amount of intrigue, even if it is not as good as the first book, overall.

Part of the charm of the first book was that Veronica’s voice was captured perfectly, and it was tough to read without hearing her voice in your head. The sharp-edged sarcasm always came through in the dialogue. That is lost a little bit in Mr. Kiss and Tell, and some of the dialogue comes across as quite un-Veronica. Maybe she is mellowing as she approaches 30?

There are the secondary story lines, as well, which push forward the general narrative of the lives of the people of Neptune. There is the romance between Logan and Veronica that is continued on in this book, and the developing story of the partnership between Keith and his daughter as they continue to grow Mars Investigations as a team. There is of course continued battles with Sheriff Lamb, and an upcoming election to decide his future. Some of the extra stories were a little underdeveloped and almost thrown in, but it doesn’t really take away from the overall enjoyment of this read.

Mr. Kiss and Tell is another fine addition to the growing universe of Veronica Mars. Fans can only hope that they will continue with the novel series, as it really does offer nice, light reads, that provide interesting mysteries, some laughs, and a group of people that we have known for a decade now.

And the best part, for those who are fans of the show and get it…Veronica gets a puppy. And names it Pony.

vm4Perfect.

House of Lies: Season 3 (TV Review)

House of Lies: Season 3 (TV Review)

At the end of the second season of the hit show House of Lies, Marty Kaan broke away from his massive firm and decided to open up his own shop, forcing the loyal members of his Pod to make decisions for themselves on what their futures may hold, and where they will work.

To start the third season, we are given views into the lives of the different characters in their new (or old) places of employment. Jeannie and lovable Doug are still toiling away at Galweather, while Clyde jumped ship to work with Marty’s psychotic ex-wife Monica. Marty is toiling away at his new place, trying to put Kaan & Associates on the map, while struggling with his new Pod, and dealing with life as a smaller fish in a very big pond of financial consultant firms out there.

lies2Much of the season is focused on how the members of Marty’s original Pod will reunite, and with this comes the usual manipulation (of companies, and each other), blackmailing, and backstabbing that we have become used to on House of Lies.

Many of the usual things are there, even if by this third season, the show has become more serious and seems to have lost a step in the razor-sharp wit department that it was so good with over the course of the first couple of seasons. (I think much of this was due to the primary characters being apart for much of the season, as their interactions with one another are what gave the first two years of the show its best, and most humorous, situations).

lies3Either way, House of Lies remains crazily watchable, as we wait to see what is going to happen with these people that are created as so detestable, that we can’t help but love them.

While the show always provides interesting stories about the companies they are working for (this season focuses primarily on a couple of health food companies and a new hip-hop clothing line run by friends with past ties to the drug trade), the most interesting part of the show remains the characters.

Season 3 gives us more on each of the primary characters, including Doug and his hasty marriage to his controlling wife, Clyde and his fall from grace, Marty and his dealings with his family, including an excellent look into the often rocky relationship with his son, and the mysterious Jeannie, who remains perhaps the best shark of them all, all while keeping her life a secret from everyone else.

Don Cheadle has garnered much acclaim for his role as Marty Kaan, and rightfully show. But Season 3 signals a bit of a changing of the guard.

lies5In my opinions, House of Lies has become Jeannie’s show. Kristen Bell, still beloved from her days as Veronica Mars, rules House of Lies. She is deliciously manipulative, and knows how to get what she wants. She manages to out-maneuver even the best during this season, showing that she is more than just an associate of Kaan’s- she has become his equal, and in many ways, his superior. Bell plays the role so well, that she is able to keep us adoring her, even if so many of her methods are questionable, and even if we never really know what her true motives are. Is she pushing for the throne in the business? Or just trying to make it rich? Or does she simply want to do the right thing for her clients and her partners? She shows glimpses of all of these things, and she manages to keep us guessing the entire time. In my opinion, the beautiful and vicious Kristen Bell deserves more credit than she gets for her role as Jeannie, who over the course of three years, has far and away become the most interesting character on the series.

Okay, not from Season 3, but I don't care!
Okay, not from Season 3, but I don’t care!

Even though Season 3 may not be the best during the show’s run, it is still very good television, and worth delving into a Netflix coma for a little while to pour through the episodes.

Sit back, and watch Kristen Bell take the world of financial consulting by storm.

Showrunners (Film Review)

Showrunners (Film Review)

There is a lot going on behind the scenes of your favorite television show.

Hundreds of people are required to do a myriad of different jobs, long before the highly paid actors ever stroll on to the set and start to act out the episode that you will see on air months later.

Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show is a fascinating documentary that takes us around Hollywood to see the people that truly are in control of shows, and some of the work that needs to go into the toughest job in television: running an entire show.

show2With a host of interesting and hard working show runners being interviewed, we are shown just how tough their job really is, how everything is questions that they must somehow come up with the answers for. From scripts to directing, plotting out episodes and seasons, casting, balancing their personal vision with that of the studios and networks…it is a ton. It truly is amazing the amount of time and effort that goes into bringing our favorite stories to life each week. And it is a miracle that there are still people out there who want to run their own shows.

The amount of stress on these people is incredible. And with such a quick-to-judge audience, even more so with social media picking at every move that is made on screen, the pressure to be successful, and remain that way, is enormous. Running one small scale show is an incredible balance. Seeing people like J.J. Abrams, who seems to be the executive producer for every show on television, the workload is unfathomable.

show3Showrunners is definitely interesting. While we are provided with behind-the-scenes information on actors and directors all of the time, and with a renewed focus on the writers of late, it is great to go behind even those important people to finally give some notice to the people who really make a show tick. Actors are famous. Some directors achieve a level of fame, and there are some writers who have truly made a name for themselves out there. But there is very little attention paid to the showrunners, and perhaps this documentary will give them some of their due. Seeing how they come up with ideas, and get scripts written (usually themselves) in a short time frame, going through re-writes, and the endless meetings with their teams, it kind of makes it amazing that TV shows are still done in this manner.

We get to see some of their ups and downs, from a hit series, to one that has run its course, to one that is flat out cancelled. How far should these people pursue their dreams? When do they know when it is time to give up, and if you are lucky enough to have a hit, what do you do next? (This last one is of particular interest for fans of the show Lost.) We are told about the debacles that can happen when a network becomes to involved with the vision of the writer, and that moment when they need to cave to get something done, or stand up for their beliefs, and scuttle something that they love just so it can be done in the way that they perceive as being right.

Definitely worth checking out, Showrunners will, if nothing else, provide you with some insight into TV, and give a new perspective and respect for those who care enough about an idea to try and make it happen week after week, season after season.

Bloodline (TV Review)

Bloodline (TV Review)

Netflix keeps churning out solid original programming as the on-demand company continues its quest to take over the world. Bloodline is the latest offering from Netflix, and it is a show that features a stellar cast and a story about a renowned family whose past its dragged up and ripped apart with the return of a prodigal son and the death of the patriarch.

The Rayburns rule the Florida Keys, and when their hotel is celebrating its 45th anniversary, older brother Danny, the clear black sheep of the family, returns to the Keys to see the rest of his siblings (another two brothers and a sister), things are really shaken up, and the dark secrets of the family slowly get exposed, focusing mainly on the long-ago drowning death of their other sister.

blood4The cast here is a definite strength of the show, led by the always strong Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights, The Wolf of Wall Street) and Linda Cardellini (Freaks and Geeks, ER). Chandler plays John, the good brother, who has grown up to become an important law man in the area. Cardellini is the lawyer sister, and Ben Mendelsohn plays the evil, yet kind of good, but definitely evil, Danny. Each of the actors in the show are able to create characters with depth and story to them, as the past is dug up and they need to face who their family really is, when memories and truth about the drowning of Rachel begin to come to light. The events of her drowning, and the aftermath, shook the family to the core, and now the adult children must deal with a past that was based around lies, manipulation, and the ostracizing of the bad seed: Danny. It is not only the central characters that are portrayed by strong actors, but there is an excellent supporting cast as well, filled with actors that are well known, or at least recognizable, bringing their roles to life.

The narrative of Bloodline is interesting, as it provides us with flashbacks to the younger days of the Rayburn children, as well as little hints of events to come. From the early episodes, we know everything is going to hit the fan with Danny, and that John is going to be playing a major role in the whole ordeal, but the show still manages to make it very interesting on how we are going to be getting to that final, culminating point. It makes for an interesting method of story telling, and for interesting TV.

blood3Bloodline isn’t a perfect show, and it actually moves quite slowly at some points, almost having too many good characters and secondary story lines to focus on. At times it feels like it is taking us away from the central plot, and there is no real reason why, but in the end, it does allows us to see a richer version of the characters had there not been the meandering secondary story lines. Aside from that, there is really a reason for everything, and all the minor events of the lives of the Rayburns that is exposed is for the greater good of the story. Even if an event feels minor, it plays a role in the complex construction of the family, and of the events that will befall them.

BloodlineSince the plot is far more character-driven, it does not lend itself to the traditional binge watching that Netflix is best known for. Bloodline is a show best taken in over a little bit more time. A couple of episodes here and there, instead of planting yourself on the couch until the whole adventure is over with (like something like House of Cards).

blood5My only complaint about the show would be the ending…literally the last line of the season. I get it that Bloodline deserves another season, as we really do want to see the continued fallout from the climactic event, but it created a bit too much of a random cliffhanger that kind of felt out of place in the scheme of the show. It is obvious how it will create havoc when Netflix decides to bring us Season 2, but I thought it could have been left for now, and brought up in the early episodes of the second go-round.

Even with that minor blip, Bloodline is a good, intense show, that gives us very layered and strong characters that we can easily cheer for or against as the episodes progress. Well worth a watch.

Danger 5: Season 2 (TV Review)

Danger 5: Season 2 (TV Review)

After pouring through the few episodes of the second season of Danger 5, I can only wish that there were more.

While the first group of episodes of the strange yet fun Australian action comedy were odd and focused in the 1960’s, the second season has moved on to be set in the mid-80’s, and bringing with it all the glam of that era. Instead of sipping drinks all of the time, the gang is now snorting cocaine and listening to saxophone music.

53The goals for the Danger 5 gang remains the same in the second year, in that their main goals are to kill Hitler, as they were eventually unsuccessful at this by the end of the original run. There are a couple of cast changes, including an impressive transformation for Pierre, and the relative absence of Claire throughout the entire season.

52But it is still fantastic.

If you have watched the first season, you understand the hilarious ridiculousness of the episodes. Well, things have become even more insane in the second year. There is some time travel, some revenge, some possible hookups, a whole lot of craziness, and of course, everybody’s favorite high schooler, Johnny Hitler.

5I definitely missed the 60’s element of the first season, as it worked so perfectly for Danger 5, but with the crazy extremes that they go to in the second year, it is still a silly and fun show to watch. A similar formula is followed in year 2, and there continues to be some of the running jokes that made the first year so great (Pierre’s cassette tapes come to mind).

Stumbling across Danger 5 was a fun little Netflix misadventure, and I’m glad I poured through the series. It is absolutely insane, but a ton of fun from start to finish. And besides, what other shows out there will give you the chance to see Hitler in high school, as a zombie, and as the indestructible world ruler?

Only in the weird, weird world of Danger 5.

Sharknado 2 (Film Review)

Sharknado 2 (Film Review)

Of course, Sharknado is one of the cheesiest, and most ridiculous TV films ever made.

Which, naturally, means that it is quickly becoming a cult phenomenon (one way to tell is the increasing number of cameos in this second film), and is already spawning a trilogy, in which our heroes must fight off multiple tornadoes filled with people-eating sharks.

shark2For the second installment of the series, ingeniously titled, Sharknado 2: The Second One, we get to see our central character, Finn (played by Ian Ziering), as he heads to New York with April (Tara Reid). She has written a book about the events of the first Sharknado that struck Los Angeles, and he is struggling with flashbacks to the events of the first disaster. On their flight, Finn sees sharks outside the plane window, which of course leads him to exclaim that, “It’s happening again.”

Some kind of superstorm is hitting New York City, and it is scooping up sharks along the way, to wreak havoc on the nation’s largest city. Well, something must be done to save the city once again, and Finn steps it up, as he did before in LA.

Sharknado 2 provides us with all the cheese that the first one did, which makes it oddly watchable and fun. Be sure to completely shut your brain off for this one before starting it up, because pretty much everything in the film is unrealistic and ridiculous, right down to the incredibly hammy acting and terrible dialogue. They don’t mess around too much with this one, and right from the beginning, it is pretty much action all the way through to the predictable ending of the film. We get to see some sharks shot, and chainsawed, and blown up. We get to see April have her hand chewed off, wonder if that shark actually remembered who she was, and we get to see Tara Reid at least try to act (we are not convinced by the end that this is accomplished).

shark3And of course, we get to see Finn stand above an expectant crowd, ready for him to step up and be the hero once more, and provide us with a delicious Independence Day-style speech about why New Yorkers are the toughest people on Earth.

It is insanely brilliant.

There is nothing new here compared to the first version of Sharknado, but if you were able to mightily suspend your disbelief enough to enjoy the cheese-fest of the first one, then the sequel is worth checking out as well. It is absolutely terrible, but almost in a good way.

I wish that they would have spent a little bit more money on some special effects, to at least make the sharks look like more than okay cartoons. I get it that cult classics and TV movies aren’t supposed to have good special effects, and I’m not asking for multiple millions of dollars to be spent on it. But with a strange following already set up, it seems like the producers could have dumped a little more money in there, just to ironically provide some kind of realism to the show. Maybe that would take away a bit from the overt cheesiness, but I’d be alright with that.

Regardless, Sharknado 2 is stupid, and a complete waste of time to watch.

So much so, that I can’t wait for Sharknado 3 to come out.