I’m not sure I’d seen video of L. Ron Hubbard before, and I was surprised by him. He does not come off as the kind of charismatic cult leader. He kind of seems like a nerdy John Madden.
It’s well put together, but at least for people who spend a lot of time online and watch South Park and all, not a lot of new info really. LRH was a loon, the beliefs sound nutty, they are secretive and litigious and abusive and vindictive, and David Miscavige and Tom Cruise are creepy and weird. The only interesting new things to me were: John Travolta as more of a victim than a perpetrator, this actress from Homeland being groomed as a potential Tom Cruise girlfriend, and apparently LRH kidnapped his own baby then called his wife and told her he murdered the baby.
Just when I was caught up on stuff and ready to make some progress in video games, Netflix goes and releases Bloodline, yet another original series. This one’s from the creators of Damages and starring Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini, and Sissy Spacek.
Which was basically all I knew about it going in, and it seems to be a super serious heavy family drama set in the Florida Keys. I thought that meant an obvious pass for me, but it seems that Kyle Chandler is the town Sheriff, discovers a crime at some point, and also his black sheep brother has some kind of shady history. So some things were happening, at least. But somewhat like Damages, they jump around a bit in the timeline, and that allowed them to tease some interesting stuff in the pilot, but it was always in the future. I think they were hoping that would make me want to see how things get to that point, but instead I felt disconnected from the excitement. So it’s looking like a video game weekend.
I’d never seen Wet Hot American Summer and with it getting a Netflix prequel series I figure I ought to see it to know if I want to watch the series. Which is kind of a backwards reason to see the movie, I guess, but it has a ridiculous cast so why not. I’m not sure it was that ridiculous at the time, but now it’s got several A-listers and tons of other well-known people too (Bradley Cooper and Amy Poehler, for example, have relatively small parts). Oddly, they were all too old to be playing teenagers 15 years ago, but they’re coming back to play even younger versions of themselves for the prequel? That’s confusing.
Anyway, it’s about a summer camp in Maine in the early 80s. Having gone to summer camp in New Hampshire in the late 80s, I can say that there are too many white people in this. It should be mostly white people, like about 95%, but I believe the only non-white person in the entire movie is a non-speaking part (there’s one kid who might be pale hispanic, but from his name he’s gotta be Italian), an African distance runner for a sight gag.
You’d think a bunch of talented people and late 70s/early 80s music would be a winning combination for me, but it’s really not. I might still give the Netflix thing a shot because I have nothing better to do, but I’m not looking forward to it.
The Brothers Solomon is written by and starring Will Forte, co-starring Will Arnett, as naive brothers who want to have a baby to give their terminally ill father reason to live. Kristen Wiig, Chi McBride, Lee Majors, Malin Akerman, Jenna Fischer, and Bob Odenkirk (who also directs) also appear.
It’s… pretty terrible. I kept watching, because bad comedy movies often have those one or two jokes that are especially funny. The most amusing thing for most it is that the theme from St. Elmo’s Fire is for some reason used repeatedly on the soundtrack. But there is one joke that killed me about 80 minutes in (to a 90 minute movie), so totally worth it. But this is not at all recommended.
iZombie is the new CW series based on the comic I tried out and didn’t like, but the pilot is written by some Veronca Mars people, and the girl in it is pretty cute despite the super pale thing (she looked kinda familiar, and she’s been in a bunch of stuff, but it turns out I know her as “Skank with Atitude” from Play it Again, Dick).
It’s kinda like the zombie version of Dead Like Me, but as a murder-solving procedural. The girl becomes a zombie, gets a gig at the morgue so she can ethically snack on brains, but she gets psychic impressions from the brains she eats.
The pilot has a lot of the same feel as Veronica Mars: similar narration, a mostly snarky tone with occasional moments of heavy drama, the same deal where in the time of the pilot, she’s got an awkward situation ex who she broke up with after a traumatic thing (though in this case, it was zombiism and not a rape/friend’s murder/he might be her brother thing). And he’s probably not a regular but it even has Cliff McCormak, the deep-voiced lawyer. I’m basically on board.
One Big Happy is a new NBC sitcom about a guy and his lesbian best friend (Elisha Cuthbert) who decide to have a baby together just as he meets a super hot british chick (Kelly Brook) and I guess things get complicated. I hoped this would somehow be good enough that I could ogle Kelly Brook for 30 minutes a week, but nope. I only made it 10 minutes in, it was really bad. Just a bunch of tired sitcom jokes about sperm and boobs, and the studio audience laughing hysterically at them.
RoboCop is the 2014 remake of the ultra-violent ’87 movie that made me uncomfortable as a kid, because I had a very strong “I should not be watching this” reaction. Yet the remake is PG-13, so they obviously wanted to piss off fans of the original.
It deviates from the original roughly 95%, other than the robot cop from Detroit, there’s not a lot that’s familiar. PG-13 instead of R means that there’s a lot more robot-on-robot fighting, because they can have all the explosions they want and only so much blood.
It’s fairly bad.
Powers is the TV series based on the comic that was supposed to star Jason Patric and Lucy Punch on FX, but instead stars Sharlto Copley and Susan Heyward on the Playstation. The pilot is free on the playstation site here, but best watched on youtube here, because the embedded player on the playstation site is total shit (you can’t fullscreen it, adjust volume, or skip forward or back, so if you accidentally close it like I did, you start over from the beginning with no way to skip ahead).
After the pilot, for now you have to have a Playstation Plus membership. I assume the show will appear on itunes or amazon eventually? Or obviously on all the piracy places too. The first three episodes were put up on Tuesday the 10th, and subsequent episodes will come out every Tuesday for a while. Just like Community will be, so I guess Tuesday is the official “shows appearing on weird platforms” night. We are in serious need of a portal through which you can access stuff from your various subscriptions, but I don’t think the players would ever cooperate on that.
It’s ok. It’s hard to say if I have a better opinion of it as a fan of the comic, or a worse one. Because in some respects, it’s cool to see familiar characters and plots on screen, but at the same time I have some idea what’s going on so there’s not much in terms of surprises. The production values aren’t great. I assume for Playstation that the budget is lower than your standard cable scripted series, and it’s a concept that calls for some special effects. The effects aren’t terrible, but I think the money they spend there is money that could have gone to making the rest of the show look and sound better. But it doesn’t look like shit or anything, just not very good.
Sharlto Copley’s American accent is iffy at best, but he otherwise makes a decent Christian Walker. Susan Heyward is actually pretty perfect as Deena Pilgrim. She doesn’t entirely look the part, obviously, but she’s appropriately short and has that kind of fiery attitude that’s exactly right. Most of the other casting is pretty ok.
The pilot combines a few familiar stories from the comics into one: Deena joining the force, a power dying during sex, and Walker meeting Calista (who was much younger in the comic, but since she aged 10+ years in the comic, it makes more sense to cast a teenager here).
Possible spoilers for the TV show, and actual spoilers for the comic if you ever intend to read it: There are quite a few differences though. Walker’s past as a former power isn’t a secret, he has no history with Zora, and (at least as of the pilot) Retro Girl is still alive.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is the new Netflix series starring Ellie Kemper as an extremely naive former cult member who tries to make it in the big city. It’s co-created by Tina Fey, and it seems like the result is a feminist message and shitload of white women in the cast. Carol Kane, Jane Krakowski, etc. Krakowski is a lot like her 30 Rock character, except married to a rich dude and obsessed with money instead of on a TV show and obsessed with celebrity. Fortunately, the actress who plays Krakowski’s 15 year old stepdaughter daughter is herself older than 15, because she’s kinda hot.
The show is 100% carried by Kemper. It’s kind of an ok concept and the writing is pretty hit or miss, but I think the show would fail pretty badly if she wasn’t like the perfect amount of adorable cluelessness.
Chef is about a chef played by Jon Favreu. You can tell he’s also the writer/director because his character has slept with both Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Vergara, which anyone else would say is ridiculous. It’s sort of an Iron Man 2 reunion thing, with Favreau, Johansson, and RDJ (though all 3 don’t end up on screen together), joined by John Leguizamo, Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman, and Amy Sedaris.
It makes for an ok movie. It could entirely be taken as a “fuck Marvel, I want to do indie movies” thing, since Favreau’s character is stifled creatively by working for a boss who doesn’t let him cook the food he wants, then opens a food truck cooking what he wants and finds happiness. But I guess his next project is a big budget Jungle Book adaptation, so maybe not.