Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

Josh Reviews the Fourth and Final Season of Brockmire

Hank Azaria’s series Brockmire has consistently been one of my very favorite shows these past few years.  (Season three was one of my favorite TV shows of 2019.)  Each eight-episode season has been a small slice of pure pleasure.  The series is fiercely hilarious while also telling emotional stories about the broken characters featured on the show.  This fourth and final season was absolute perfection.  The series’ love of baseball, and its commentary on today’s world mixed beautifully with the way they wrapped up all of the main characters’ storylines… without ever being afraid to pause to allow Hank Azaria’s Brockmire to deliver a scorchingly profane punchline.  I miss this show already!

As I have written before, Jim Brockmire is the role that Hank Azaria was born to play.  Mr. Azaria is screamingly funny, while also able to skillfully bring a lot of pathos and emotion to his depiction of the character. I love how the series has chronicled Brockmire’s slow, painful journey back from being disgraced and in the gutter.  It’s an insane idea that, here in this fourth and final season, Brockmire has somehow managed to become the Commissioner of baseball, but it’s absolutely perfect.  The series mines a lot of comedy from the profane, rough-and-tumble Brockmire’s new role as an administrator, and it’s fun to see the show explore a new side of the world of baseball.  (Also: I’m glad we got one final very funny Joe Buck appearance!!)

A key element in the first season of Brockmire was Amanda Peet as Jules, the woman with whom Bockmire falls in love while working as a play-by-play announcer in Morristown, a small Pennsylvania coal town.  I missed Jules’ regular presence in seasons two and three, and so I was delighted that she was back as a full-time player here in the final season.  Ms. Peet and Mr. Azaria’s comic energy remains spectacular, and I was very pleased to see that Brockmire and Jules’ on-again off-again relationship was given a satisfying resolution.

This final season of Brockmire is, for the most part, set in the future: specifically, the year 2033.  It’s a bold choice, but one that turns out to be beautifully serendipitous.  The show was completed long before the start of this pandemic, but began airing right as COVID-19 was spreading.  This makes the show’s social commentary far more biting than might have been expected.  Brockmire’s depiction of the United States of America is a scary (but horrifyingly possible) future, in which the country has continued to slide into a chasm of haves versus have-nots; many Southern states are now lawless “Disputed Lands”; and climate change has wreaked havoc, not the least of which appears … [continued]

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

Josh Reviews the Triumphant Final Season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars!

I quite enjoyed the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars series when it ran on Cartoon Network from 2008-2012.  Although the series started out a little wobbly (the first four episodes, which were edited together into a film that was released theatrically, were mediocre at best), it gradually grew into a wonderfully rich and complex series that fleshed out the Star Wars universe.  I was sad when the show was cancelled before its planned eight seasons could be completed (a casualty of Lucasfilm’s purchase by Disney).  I was thrilled that Dave Filoni & co. were able to sneakily bring back several characters and storylines from The Clone Wars into their next animated series, Star Wars: Rebels, thus giving Clone Wars fans some much-needed resolution.  I never dreamed we’d ever see an actual return of the series, and so I was blown away last year when the news broke that The Clone Wars would be returning with twelve additional episodes to wrap up the series!

This final batch of twelve episodes, which were released on Disney+, consisted of three four-episode stories.  The first two story-arcs were enjoyable.  The final four episodes were, without question, the best new Star Wars stories I have seen in years.  I am not exaggerating!  I was BLOWN AWAY by the final four episodes!!!  The animation was spectacular, beyond anything the show had done before.  But it was the character storylines that made these episodes so jaw-dropping.  Deeply emotional, richly nuanced, these episodes gave us the payoff to more than a decade of story-telling, and it was incredible.  This was ESSENTIAL Star Wars, and cements the legacy of this Clone Wars series as a critical part of the Star Wars saga.  I wouldn’t have said this before these final episodes, but I’ll say it now: if you haven’t seen these episodes, you haven’t seen the full Star Wars story.

If you haven’t watched The Clone Wars, but you’re swayed by my bold statement above that this is critical Star Wars storytelling, where to begin?  It’s tough, because while I think most of the show is watchable, there’s no question that the early seasons are a little shaky and more kid-focused.  But you can’t just skip the first few seasons, because you’ll miss a lot of important character-development and world-building.  So my suggestion is this: watch the final episodes of what Disney+ lists as season six (these were the “Lost Missions,” a final batch of completed episodes that were first shown on Netflix, after the show was cancelled on Cartoon Network).  The final four episodes are: “The Lost Ones”, “Voices”, “Destiny”, and “Sacrifice”.  Those four episodes tell a complete story that is super-awesome and ties very closely into … [continued]

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

Josh Reviews Better Things Season Four

Pamela Adlon’s magnificent TV series, Better Things, seems to get better and better with every season.  The ten episode fourth season was another wonderfully memorable, moving and funny installment.  I love this show, and if you’re not watching it, I highly recommend you change that forthwith!

Better Things was co-created by Pamela Adlon, who also plays the lead role, writes most of the episodes (she wrote or co-wrote five of the ten season four episodes), and directed ALL of them.  I have a particular love for TV shows that feel like the strong expressions of their creator/showrunner, and Better Things is a prime example of this.  The show feels so personal and autobiographical for Ms. Adlon, even as I recognize that it’s a work of fiction.  But there are clearly many levels of underlying truth to the stories being told; this makes the show so compelling to me.  It is also, as I have written before, a magnificent showcase for Ms. Adlon’s talents.  I love that she has created a show that is so wonderfully unique.

The show is a beautifully-made character study, allowing us a peek into the life of Sam, her three daughters (Max, Frankie, and Duke), her mother Phil, and many of the other women in her life.  The show is focused on exploring the lives of these women; not in a tacky or superficial way, but through rich, complex, nuanced storytelling.

There is plot to be found in Better Things, but unlike most TV shows, the series is never really about the plot.  It’s about these characters.  The show is, at the same time, bracingly realistic and lifelike, while also being dreamlike and playful.  As the narrative flows onwards, we’re carried forward from vignette to vignette.  Sometimes we linger to dig deeply into a moment and then we move on (often skipping the type of plot-driven connective-tissue scenes found in other TV shows).  The result is a beautiful ensemble character piece.

The cast is amazing.  I’d enjoyed Pamela Adlon’s work before Better Things (she was so memorable in her sporadic appearances on Louie), but now that I’ve seen this show I am cemented as a fan for life.  The three young actresses who play her character’s daughters — Mikey Madison, Hannah Alligood, and Olivia Edward — get better each season (and they were terrific to begin with).  I was particularly pleased that this season gave Frankie (Hannah Alligood’s character) a number of interesting stories, allowing her to mature out of the angry phase we saw her in for most of season three.  (I also love how delicately the show continues to address Frankie’s fluid sexuality without making it into a Big Deal.)  Celia Imrie continues to … [continued]

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

Star Trek: The Antares Maelstrom

Star Trek: The Antares Maelstrom, the new Star Trek novel by Greg Cox, is set in the later days of the Five Year Mission.  As the novel begins, Captain Kirk and the U.S.S. Enterprise are summoned to assist the colony of Baldur III.  A rare and valuable material known as pergium has been discovered on the planet, leading to a “gold rush” as prospectors from across the galaxy rush to the colony, hoping to make their fortune.  This has overwhelmed the infrastructure of the small, independent colony, as well as the local space-station, and tensions are rising as the colony’s locals fight with the newcomers and all are frustrated by breakdowns in power, supplies, and other necessities of life.  And so Captain Kirk is forced to divide up his leadership team: Scotty works to keep the colony’s power station operational; McCoy helps assist the beleaguered medical staff; Uhura coordinates with the local civilians; and Sulu assists the security team on the space station.  Spock and Chekov, meanwhile, head off to a neighboring world on a mission of their own: they fear that smugglers are interfering with the pre-industrial society there in order to obtain a rare tea that is popular on Baldur III, a tea for which demand has skyrocketed due to the influx of newcomers.

Mr. Cox has written quite a number of terrific Original Series Star Trek novels.  (When Pocket Books temporarily halted their publication of new Trek books, I took the opportunity to read a variety of older Trek novels I hadn’t gotten to; quite a few of Mr. Cox’s stand-alone Original Series novels were among that number.)  The Antares Maelstrom is a fine addition to his oeuvre.

I like the idea of a “gold rush” in the 23rd century.  This is a fun and original hook for the novel.  And I particularly enjoyed the way Mr. Cox was able to give an important, meaty story-line to every single one of the Original Series characters.  This was a true ensemble story, and I loved that.  It’s especially nice to get to see Uhura, Chekov, and Sulu.  I loved how Uhura’s story-line allowed her to use her people-skills to great advantage, while also showing off her competency under pressure and her organizational and leadership skills.  As a bridge officer on the Starfleet flagship she would surely possess those qualities, but many Original Series adventures don’t really allow her to show them off.  I also liked how her musical skills were also utilized.  Sulu, meanwhile, got to show off his piloting skills, his scientific acumen, and his leadership skills, when he’s forced to basically take command of a huge city in space.  Chekov’s story, meanwhile, builds on the … [continued]

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

Josh Reviews Modern Love

Amazon’s series, Modern Love, is based on the New York Times column of the same name.  Each episode of this eight-episode anthology series adapts a specific Modern Love column.  Each episode tells the story of a romance; though the episodes feature different types of love stories featuring characters of different ages, genders, and situations.

I wouldn’t have expected this to be up my alley, but I found myself rather taken by this show.  This isn’t ground-breaking television by any means, but it’s endearingly warm-hearted.  Anthologies can be a tough sell, but I enjoyed the way each episode in this series was completely different.  It helps that the cast they assembled for these eight episodes was quite extraordinary (see more on this below).  At a brisk eight-episodes, the series didn’t overstay its welcome.

Here are my (mostly spoiler-free) thoughts on the series:

Episode 1: “When the Doorman Is Your Main Man” — Cristin Miloti (How I Met Your Mother, the “USS Callister” episode of Black Mirror) plays Maggie, a single young woman living in New York City who has a very close relationship with her building’s doorman, Guzmin (Laurentiu Possa).  This slight tale is a nice intro to the series, though ultimately I found it to be one of the weaker entries.  Both my wife and I thought the show was going to be about Maggie ultimately falling in love with her father-figure of a doorman, an idea that we both found very creepy.  Ultimately the episode went in a different direction (thankfully), but because that’s what we thought was happening for most of the episode’s run-time, it cast a shadow over our enjoyment of the story.

Episode 2: “When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist” — Catherine Keener (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Being John Malkovich) plays Julie, a reporter interviewing a young man, Joshua, played by Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, The Newsroom), who has started a successful dating app.  Over the course of the interview, Joshua tells Julie tells the story of the woman he loved who he let get away, and Julie tells Joshua a similar story from her own past.  I really liked this episode, and I was particularly taken by Julie’s story of how she reconnected, late in life, with her old flame, played by Andy Garcia.  I liked Julie’s story even more than the “main” story of Joshua and Emma (Caitlin McGee)!  I thought Mr. Garcia and Ms. Keener had terrific chemistry, and I was moved by their melancholy story of missed opportunities.

Episode 3: “Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am” — Anne Hathaway (Love & Other Drugs, Interstellar, The Dark Knight Rises) plays Lexi, a woman … [continued]

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

I loved Josh Gad’s Goonies cast reunion, and his Back to the Future reunion was just as much fun!

I always enjoy sampling Robert Myer Burnett’s Robservations show.  Recently he had a terrific in-depth interview with Melinda Snodgrass, a terrific writer who, among other credits, wrote the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “the Measure of a Man”, which is one of the best TNG episodes of all time!

I also really loved Mr. Burnett’s recent lengthy interview with David A. Goodman.  Mr. Goodman is the current head of the Writer’s Guild of America, and as such he has been at the focal point of the WGA’s lengthy conflict with agents in Hollywood.  Mr. Goodman is also a terrific comedy writer.  I first fell in love with his work as the author of “Where No Fan Has Gone Before,” the magnificent Star Trek-focused episode of Futurama.  Mr. Goodman has worked with Seth McFarlane on many projects, including Family Guy and The Orville.  This is a terrific in-depth interview:

Sad news this week: the passing of Jerry Stiller.  Jason Alexander wrote a wonderful piece about his Seinfeld father that is a lovely read.  Meanwhile, enjoy this classic Seinfeld blooper:

Click here for a fascinating, in-depth interview with Chronicle director Josh Trank, exploring what happened after his life exploded following the release of his dismal Fantastic Four film in 2016 (which he claims was taken away from him and re-edited) and his subsequent quitting or being fired from a Star Wars film.

This is a lovely look back at the career of Linda Cardellini.  I first became a fan of hers with her fantastic work as Lindsay Weir on Freaks and Geeks!

Lots of exciting Star Wars news has come out recently!  Hot on the heels of word that Ahsoka Tano will likely appear for the first time in live action on season two of The Mandalorian, played by Rosario Dawson, comes two additional cool announcements.  First, we heard that Temuera Morrison, who played Jango Fett in Star Wars: Episode II (and whose voice was dubbed over as his cloned son Boba Fett in the currently-available versions of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), will play Boba Fest in The Mandalorian season two.  Even since Return of the Jedi, Star Wars fans have speculated that Boba might have found some way to escape from the Sarlacc.  It looks like that might finally be confirmed!  (Though Robot Chicken has already established the definitive version of Boba Fett’s final fate.)  Even more exciting to me as a huge fan of the Star Wars animated shows Clone Wars and Rebels comes news that Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff [continued]

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

Josh Reviews The Report

Amazon’s film The Report, written and directed by Scott Z. Burns, depicts the years-long process in which the Senate Intelligence Committee investigated the C.I.A.’s use of torture of detainees after September 11th.  The investigation was led by Daniel Jones, a staffer for Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Mr. Jones worked with a small team for six years on the report, which wound up totaling more than 6,700 pages.  The full unreacted report remains classified to this day, although a 535 page “Executive Summary” was released by Senator Feinstein and the Committee in December, 2014.  The film is partially based on the Vanity Fair article “Rorshach and Awe” by Katherine Eban.

The subject matter of The Report is very challenging.  The film’s first half contains several flashbacks that present instances of the C.I.A.’s “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which I found extremely difficult to watch, even though the scenes are brief.  On the other hand, the rest of the film mostly depicts subject matter that can be extremely dry.  Daniel Jones worked for years with a small team in a windowless room, reading e-mails and files and other documents.  That’s a hard subject matter to dramatize.  The sequences of committee hearings and political back-room conversations aren’t much easier!  Mr. Burns and his team had quite a challenge to weave this all into something compelling that could sustain an audience’s interest.

I am impressed by what they have done.

Now, be warned: The Report doesn’t have the momentum of a film like Spotlight.  Despite the best efforts of Mr. Burns and his terrific cast, I have to admit that there are portions of this very talky film in which I struggled somewhat to remain focused.  At the other end of the spectrum, as I’d noted above, there were sequences — the flashback to the C.I.A. interrogations — that were extremely unpleasant and tough to get through.

But the power of this incredibly important and relevant story shone through.  And the terrific cast was a huge factor in bringing this story to life successfully.  Adam Driver is fantastic in the lead role as Daniel Jones.  This is the least flashy role I have ever seen Mr. Driver play.  There’s not a single moment of the type of explosive energy that has characterized many of his best roles, from Adam in Girls to Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequel trilogy.  This is a very internal performance.  Mr. Driver keeps all of his energy tightly bottled up.  And yet, his charisma shines through his stillness.  Daniel is like a coiled spring throughout the film, and that intensity blazing forth behind Mr. Driver’s eyes kept me, as a viewer, riveted … [continued]

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

Josh’s Guide to Watching Battlestar Galactica!

I hope you enjoyed my recent series, giving a step-by-step guide to watching (and falling in love with) Star Trek!  After getting to Deep Space Nine, my strong recommendation is that, rather than continuing with any of the mediocre series or movies that came after Deep Space Nine, you shift to a different show that, to me, is a perfect next step after watching DS9: the reimagined Battlestar Galactica!  

The “reimagined” Battlestar Galactica was a reboot of the original Galactica series from 1978.  This new Galactica ran for four seasons on the Sci-Fi network between 2003-2009.  That show was created and overseen by Ronald D. Moore and David Eick.  Mr. Moore was one of the best writers from Star Trek The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.  Battlestar Galactica was a huge leap forward in the types of stories that Trek had been developing through Next Gen and then DS9.  It’s much darker than Trek, and the episodes are much more tightly connected than Trek episodes ever were.  But it’s very cool to see how ideas (characters, themes, approaches to storytelling, etc.) that Mr. Moore and the other Trek writers were playing with were taken to the next level on this different series.

If you’ve followed my recommendations and watched and enjoyed Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the end of DS9 will flow very smoothly for you into the start of Battlestar Galactica.  And, of course, the series completely stands on its own, so even if you’ve never seen ANY Star Trek, I highly recommend you give Battlestar Galactica a try!

I really love this show.  It’s one of my favorite sci-fi shows ever.  But, seriously, Battlestar Galactica is not just an amazing sci-fi show, it’s an amazing TV show, full stop.  Don’t let the title stand in your way!  If you like ambitious modern TV dramas, you will enjoy Battlestar Galactica!  As co-creator David Eick once famously put it: “we set out to make a space opera that would be appealing for people that hated fucking space operas.”  The series was included in Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest TV shows of all time; Time Magazine called it one of the 10 best shows of the 2000s; Alan Sepinwall included a lengthy section on the show in his wonderful book How the Revolution was Televised, about groundbreaking dramas that changed TV forever; I could go on and on.

The series began with a two-part, three-hour mini-series (which is terrific), and then it ran for four seasons.

It’s all pretty fantastic!!  (I will be upfront that the fourth and final season is a bit wobblier than I wish it was.  That season … [continued]

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone
MotionPicturesComics.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc., or its affiliates.

copyright joshua edelglass. all rights reserved. 2010-2020.