Archive for the ‘television’ Category

Welcome to this week’s Doctor Who Discussion! Jaden C. Kilmer and J.A. Prentice discuss the latest episode The Eaters of Light, noteworthy for being written by a returning classic series writer, Rona Munro.

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Read on for our thoughts and spoilers.

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Welcome to the extremely late Doctor Who Discussion, where JA Prentice and Jaden C. Kilmer argue the relative merits of Empress of Mars under a title that would make Henry Gordon Jago proud. (Editor’s Note: Google it. Then buy every season.)
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Read on for scintillating wit, insightful analysis, and whatever it is Jaden’s contributing. (Editor’s Note: I make the edits, I make the insults. Dem’s the rules.)
Also SPOILERS. 

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Welcome to Living Authors’ Society‘s latest Doctor Who Discussion. Jaden C. Kilmer and J.A. Prentice take a look at Saturday’s episode, Lie of the Land, the conclusion to the story begun in Extremis. Read on for our thoughts.

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There are SPOILERS ahead!

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Welcome to yet another Living Authors’ Society Doctor Who Discussion! Join Jaden C. Kilmer and J.A. Prentice as we examine the latest Doctor Who episode, Extremis. 

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Warning. There are Spoilers ahead. Everyone who has read the Spoilers has chosen Hell. Proceed with caution.

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In the wake of the tragic news that Series 10 will be Peter Capaldi’s last, I am attempting to deal with the pain tearing me up from inside by speculating about the next incarnation of Time’s Champion. Jaden C. Kilmer and I (J.A. Prentice) will each be providing our three favorites for the role in an attempt to fill those seemingly un-fillable shoes.

J.A. Prentice’s Top Three

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  1. Chiwetel Ejiofor

He has the gravitas, the acting talent, and a voice that fits very well with how I picture the Doctor: mysterious, otherworldly. With Ejiofor, we could see a more reserved, calculating Doctor with just the right mix of compassion and danger. His performance in Serenity alone makes him perfect for the part and his resumé is stacked with incredible displays of acting talent.

The only difficulty, of course, is that he’s an acclaimed rising film star who is rumored to have already turned down the role back when Matt Smith was cast. Whether he’d do it is highly questionable, but I think if he did take the role, it’s certain he’d knock it out of the park.

2. Hayley Atwell

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Agent Carter was a wonderful, fun show that died too young. Conviction is less great, but still has an astounding performance from Atwell. It too, however, seems to be heading to that great five-dollar complete series DVD bargain bin in the sky. This leaves Atwell entirely free to take on a part she’s already said she wanted.

She could bring a sense of fun and energy to the role. If Ejiofor would be more the aloof McCoy-esque Doctor, Atwell would be the McGann/Pertwee-esque action hero, alive and driven by a sense of adventure. She has a presence that commands the screen and a great acting range, from Captain America to Black Mirror to Blood of the Daleks. (She, much like my last candidate, gets bonus points for having done Big Finish). Atwell would be an excellent contrast to Capaldi’s Doctor, as I think all the Doctors should be to their predecessors.

3. Alexander Vlahos

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Just listen to Big Finish’s Dorian Grey stuff. Listen to it.

He can do witty, serious, cold, warm, dark – just about anything. I can see him as a more Sherlock Holmes-ish Doctor, combining a detached alien-ness with a deep sense of emotion and energy. There’s a Shakespearean quality to Vlahos’s performances (which is why I’m looking forward to Big Finish’s Hamlet with him in the lead) and I think that’s an essential element to the Doctor. A lot of lists focus too much on the quirk without paying attention to that need to communicate the deeper character underneath, the ancient Time Lord who has endured thousands of years.

Whoever the next Doctor is, I’ll miss Capaldi a great deal. But hopefully his successor will impress enough to numb that terrible pain.

Jaden C. Kilmer’s Top Three

Like a true American, I’m refusing to acknowledge England’s dominance and used my first two picks on actors from better, more freedom-y, less Brexit-y nations.

  1. Cillian Murphy

Cillian Murphy is a man of many accents, he’s an Irishman playing an American in Inception, a Londoner in 28 Days Later, and a Midlander in Peaky Blinders, so despite not being English he can do whatever voice asked of him, David Tennant style, or stick with the natural (superior) Irish tilt. Certainly a distinguished and talented actor, Cillian Murphy has been in big name vehicles but has never been a big name himself. His career, though undoubtedly successful, lacks that one defining role. Doctor Who can be that role. His repertoire as an actor is eclectic, his track record a proven one, and he even looks a little alien. He’s got Matt Smith levels of cheekbone.

2. Tatiana Maslany

OK so this is the biggest instance of wishful thinking on our list, but this is our picks, not who we think will be picked by the BBC. But I should do a disclaimer as to why she will NOT be the next Doctor.

a) she’s Canadian

b) she’s probably the “hottest” actor on this list, including Ejiofor. Maslany is the only one here with a major award under her belt and will probably have a few dozen suitors for her next role

c) she still has a year of shooting left on Orphan Black

Having said that, holy shitballs is she good. Her versatility is amazing, her youth would provide a full heel turn from Capaldi’s persona, and like Murphy, she can do whatever accent asked of her. What makes me so excited at the thought of a Tatiana Maslany era of Doctor Who is the sheer possibilities that are opened up by her incredible range. Her skill would open up writing possibilities unavailable to lesser or more specialized actors, her popularity stateside will help Doctor Who advertise the new era stateside with an audience perhaps not as willing to accept the regeneration component to the show, and DID I MENTION HOW MINDBLOWINGLY GOOD SHE IS?

 

I did? OK good.

3. Tom Hollander

No, not Spiderman. Tom Hollander. This guy.

At a Naploeonic 5’5″, Tom Hollander would be the shortest actor to ever play the Doctor. But Tom Hollander has screen presence in spades, and as a 5’4″ guy, it would be nice to see us short guys in the limelight. I’ve also selected him because, of my three, I find him the most likely to get an audition with the BBC. The reason being, his career lines up nicely with that of other NewWho actors. Always a bridesmaid and never a bride, Tom Hollander’s biggest TV/Movie role came a decade ago, in a supporting role in Pirates of the Caribbean. He’s been mainly a supporting main when in front of a camera since, coincidentally showing up in many of my favorite movies- Hanna, About Time, Byzantium displaying great range and oozing with screen presence. Looking for a grumpy, gettin-real-sick-of-your-shit Doctor? Watch his About Time cameo. Want an eccentric, cane-twirling weirdo? Hanna. Want a wise, reserved and enlightened Doctor? Byzantium.

And more importantly, Hollander made his name in theatre. Every single New Who actor had their start in theatre, and I think it’s that sort of Shakespearean, Monologue-happy kind of actor that the BBC looks for first and foremost. It makes sense, as the Doctor is one of the few real “theatrical” characters left on TV. The sort of exaggerated performance and grandiosity required for the role is something a theatre veteran is uniquely cut out for.


Who will it be?

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But isn’t speculation fun?

The fate of dozens of bubble shows was revealed yesterday as the major networks announced their renewals and cancellations. Here’s a list of them all and my reactions.

ABC

It was an absolute slaughter at ABC headquarters with its new president assuming control and clearing house.

510tylzqlbl-_sx500___111209022226Castle is the biggest name on the entire list and the one that saddens me the most personally. It was a rather undignified exit for the venerable procedural, as its current and final season feels like an unnecessary dark sequel (the main story arc of the show was wrapped last year). And I’m glad that we won’t have to suffer through the horror that would’ve been a season of Castle without Stana Katic, as was rumored for a season 9. You can’t do that. So RIP Castle, the last good procedural.

 

The Muppets revival is no more. Fans of the Jim Henson creation will have to settle for the next cameo-laden movie.

Nashville ends a respectable four season run, going down in what was not a good season for fans of musical television shows. (All hail Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, you’re our only hope.)

The Marvel universe (finally) shrinks a little, as Agent Carter gets the boot. I haven’t seen Agent Carter and it seemed to be well liked but I have to say I have a massive case of Marvel overload and it’s nice to know they will be ever so slightly less omnipresent next year.

galavant-2Galavant, the hilarious, strange, wonderful, heartfelt, and gloriously anti-fourth wall musical-fairy tale-comedy was, alas, too strange to survive on network TV. But fear not, its season 2 finale wrapped everything up, its soundtrack is on Spotify, and I wouldn’t doubt a Broadway revival in the future. If you missed out on this one, please do everything you can to watch it. I promise you, it’s awesome.

The Family  was also cancelled. Though I’ve never heard of it so I guess it’s no surprise. If you are the show’s fan, my condolences.

CBS

CSI: Cyber has been cancelled, thus ending the legendary CSI franchise. However, it’s s 2016 and it hasn’t really been anything other than a punchline for at least a decade now. If your grandma asks you when that show with that woman from Boyhood is coming on, just tell her it got its name changed to NCIS. Same difference.

FOX

The Grinder and Grandfathered, two critical hits, meet the Firefly fate and wrap after one season. I would not be surprised, however, if The Grinder finds second life on Hulu or Netflix. The Rob Lowe comedy was already a level above most other network comedies in its freshman season and seems something right up the alley of streaming sites. I have less hope for Grandfathered but at least we will always have the Drake and Josh reunion.I’m not gonna cry I’m not gonna cry I’m not gonna cry…

Bordertown and Cooper Barrett  were also cancelled. If anyone cares. No? Didn’t think so.


And that does it. Any other shows that are ending were either planned to end this year or cancelled early. Which cancellations hurt you the most? Let me know!

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iZombie is the one show that most of us here at LAS watch. The spiritual successor to Veronica Mars is the snappy, zombie-themed procedural we all never knew we wanted. However, we all agree season 2 wasn’t as strong as its first one. The iZombie season 2 finale aired a week ago, and by now we here at LAS think most of the iZombie fans out there have seen the finale. If you haven’t, SPOILERS!

We good? Okay. Read on to see what Jaden C. Kilmer, J.A. Prentice, and Philip Jean Kilmer all thought of iZombie’s sophomore season!

What Jaden thought:

Thirteen is the new twenty-two.

Television has long used twenty-two episode seasons as its standard length. Back when serialized television was a rarity, twenty-two more or less standalone episodes strung out, one a week, from September to May was enough substance to leave fans satisfied. Now we are in a new era of television, where case-of-the-week procedurals feel like relics of the past. Now television is all about the long story. But this paradoxically means shorter seasons. You don’t need twenty-two hours to tell a good story. Most of the really acclaimed shows of this era- Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Orphan Black, Jessica Jones, House of Cards, Doctor Who, etc. all run seasons between ten and thirteen episodes. iZombie’s first season was also thirteen. This season was nineteen.

That was a mistake.

Like its spiritual predecessor Veronica Mars, iZombie tries to balance cases-of-the-week with a serialized story. However, season 2 ended up a bit of a mess. There were three or four main plots going on at once, and what could have felt like an intricately woven series of threads ended up feeling more like watching writers throw things at the wall and see what sticks. In Veronica Mars, almost every character and plot point felt connected in the larger picture. It could get confusing at times, but you never lost sight of what the season’s overall point was, and what it was building to. iZombie’s second season was aimless. It couldn’t decide what it was about, and what its new characters’ purposes were. Even with a solid two hour finale, it represents a downturn for the CW’s sophomore zombie procedural.

The nineteen episode season was a bit of an anti-goldilocks. It was a number too long for one cohesive story, necessitating the various story arcs, but too short to adequately contain everything plus individual cases of the week. Perhaps it could have been pulled off had the plotting been done better. There were many things that did not seem to go anywhere. It completely dropped Liv’s family which drove much of the emotion of season one. And in true CW fashion, I counted five, not one, not two, not three, not four, five romances that were either underwritten (Liv/Drake, Clive/FBI Agent) or just plain unnecessary (Ravi/Peyton, Peyton/Blaine, Rita/Major). Rita’s character as a whole ended up being a big waste of time. She served no importance to the already overstuffed plot other than to annoy Liv. She was, like most of the airtime of the season, filler.

The show’s problems don’t begin and end with the plot and story. Despite the really cool Edgar Wright style montages of Liv preparing zombie food, it’s actually rather unimaginatively directed. Conversations are anything but cinematic. Shot, reverse shot. There’s way too many cuts and the directors don’t let the actors play off each other organically. It hinders the breakneck, sharp dialogue Rob Thomas fans know and love so well. Sometimes shots are just poorly framed. At other times the camera moves without purpose, as if the director of the episode realized their blocking was lazy and decided to just pan the camera aimlessly so there’s something, anything happening visually. It’s not that I’m asking for something the quality of The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, or True Detective as far as directing goes, but I am asking for something that looks more professional. Even compared to its sister shows on the CW, the directing pales.

iZombie’s strengths are the same as always. The cast is terrific, the dialogue is clever and witty and fast-paced. But it’s all the same strengths from season one. There’s nothing new to discuss there. What is new is the weaknesses. The cracks in the foundation. The good news is that the finale was, on the whole, excellent. It sets up a bigger, better, darker season three that drops weekly cases for all out zombie mayhem. And if it delivers on that promise then consider the show back on course. But it’s like sticking the landing after a shaky routine. It doesn’t make up much ground. If it was at a C before, it’s only a B- now. And I’m grading on a curve here.

Grade: B-


 

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What J.A. thought

Just to provide some context here, at least 50% of why I watch iZombie is the comedy. As long as there are still witty lines of dialogue, I’m happy.

That said, I did overall enjoy the plot this season as well. There was just one major problem with it: the structure was an awkward compromise.

The best example of this major problem is Major. His plotline is set up in the very first few episodes: he’s hunting zombies because Max Rager is forcing him to. It’s an interesting plot.

But from those first few episodes until right before the finale, the plot didn’t move forward at all. We got the illusion of momentum, moments where it seemed like Major was gaining the upper hand or that Clive and his FBI agent girlfriend were onto him, but nothing really changed until Major was actually arrested. Similarly, Max Rager is developing Super Max and studying zombies. All season.

What we have there is a plot that would fit much better in a shorter season (as Jaden suggested). The other option is this: ease off the serialized storytelling.

iZombie sort of does this with the case of the week, but this season it seemed like far more screen time was being spent on the story arc. I think that was a mistake. Time should only be spent on the story arc if it moves the arc forward. Otherwise, just focus on the episode’s story and keep the arc stuff in the background.

I’m also going to echo the comments about directing. I think flat directing really undermined what should have been a heartbreaking final scene with Drake. To use a comparable CW example of how that scene should have been directed, look at almost any episode of The 100.

Rita was very oddly underused and had an anti-climatic end. I also was a bit confused by the zombie horde in the finale and whether they were actually different from Liv and Blaine or whether Liv and Major were just mercilessly killing people who were only a brain away from being more-or-less normal.

I’m going to ease off now because I gave this thing a B and I really, really like it. The characters are amazing. The highlight, as with last season, was Ravi. I’d watch an episode which was just him sitting alone in a room spouting clever dialogue. Blaine seems to be heading in interesting new directions, as does Major. I’m intrigued to see where the story goes next season, since the cliffhanger promises a very different Season 3.

To wrap up, some (but by no means all) of the highlights for me were: Cape Town, Zombie Bro, and Abra Cadaver. I think Cape Town was my favorite. The best episodes were those that really embraced their own story rather than just treading water for the finale. My big fear for next season is losing those great brain-of-the-week plots for an even more overarching story arc, but I’m looking forward to seeing where the show goes next.

Grade: B


 

What Philip said:

(Editor’s Note) Philip didn’t write up a review, but did offer his thoughts in an online conversation, which I’ve copy pasted and edited lightly for clarity.

I liked (the finale) for the intensity and finally able to get some serious zombie shit happening. But I did find it a little bit odd how easily Liv and Major killed all of those zombies in “full on zombie mode” that in reality could have been saved. They had to, obviously, for Clive’s sake, but it was still odd.

The Drake (death) scene was weird. I think it was because they didn’t show Liv at all. They didn’t have her try and fail to pull him off, didn’t show her not wanting to pull the trigger, just boom unseen head shot.

Also they SO did not have to kill off Gilda, those bastards. (show runner and writers). She was presumably well fed (even before eating her father’s brains) so she didn’t have to be killed off.