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“Going From Drunk Asshole to Sober Asshole Isn’t the Dramatic Makeover You Think it is” — Josh Reviews Brockmire Season Three!

September 25th, 2019
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I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write about Brockmire season three, which I devoured quickly upon its release last spring.  I absolutely adored season one and season two of Brockmire, and season three did not disappoint!  This is one of my very favorite shows currently being made!

Brockmire has charted the slow climb back up of Jim Brockmire, a disgraced former baseball announcer who years ago destroyed his life and career in a drunken on-air rant after discovering that his wife was cheating on him.  The show is one of the funniest shows on TV today, while also at the same time being a deeply moving story about real, flawed humans beings doing their best to get through the day.

As I’ve said in all of my previous Brockmire reviews, the main reason to watch Brockmire is to see Hank Azaria give the greatest performance of his career in this, the role it seems that he was born to play.  Mr. Azaria is magnificent, able to deliver devastating punchlines as the show’s jokes come fast and furious, while at the same time mining deep, moving pathos out of the story of this former scumbag inching his way, maybe, towards something better.  Every moment Mr. Azaria is on screen is a master’s course in comedic and dramatic acting.  It’s truly extraordinary.

The show’s season one set-up felt like something that could have lasted for many years, with Brockmire working as an announcer for a podunk team in a tiny town, flirting with local bartender Jules (Amanda Peet).  I was surprised in season two that the show shifted locations, as Brockmire got a new job working for a minor league team in New Orleans.  I was excited to see the show and the characters move forward, though I missed having Jules as a series regular.  Here in season three, the show has again reinvented itself, as Brockmire has gotten sober and gotten himself a job back in the Major League, calling games for Oakland.  (The show doesn’t actually mention the A’s by name.)  I miss Jules (who returns for one episode) and Charles (who was elevated to the series’ second lead in season two, but who, like Jules, only appears in one episode here in season three).  On the other hand, I think it’s incredible that the show doesn’t rest on its laurels.  Too many TV shows insist on staying put in their status quo year after year.  I think it’s fascinating and exciting that Brockmire has reinvented itself completely with each new season.

Not just the show, but the main character himself!  In the first season, Brockmire was an alcoholic and drug addict, and much of the humor … [continued]

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News Around the Net

For the past few months, I’ve been rewatching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, my favorite of all the Trek series.  It’s very sad to read the news, right smack in the middle of my rewatch, of the passing of Aron Eisenberg, who played Nog. Here’s one of my favorite scenes of Mr. Eisenberg’s, from season three’s “Heart of Stone”:

Such a loss.  The Divine Treasury has a new member.

This is interesting: more than a year in advance of the next Jurassic World film, they’ve released a new short film set after the last film but before the next one:

I strongly disliked the first two Jurassic World films, but that’s an enjoyable, well-put-together little action-adventure short!  The cast is solid — and in particular it’s great to see Moonlights Andre Holland.  And the short validates the point I’d made in my review of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom that I think the characters who were supposed to be the heroes in that film acted like villains.  This short (and the fun stuff in between the credits) shows the negative consequences of their actions at the end of that film!

This is a fun trailer Marvel Studios put together for “The Infinity Saga,” their first 22 films:

Bring on Phase Four!

Over in DC-land, I’d thought DC/Warner Brother’s attempt at an interconnected movie universe was mostly dead, but that Harley Quinn sequel film (in which Margot Robbie reprises her role from 2016’s Suicide Squad) is really coming!  This is a fun new poster.  Could this film possibly be any good?  Margot Robbie was one of the only good aspects of the dreadful Suicide Squad… and I’m excited to see Rene Montoya on the big screen… we’ll see in February…

I’ve never watched any of the DC “Arrowverse” TV shows, but I might have to sample their upcoming “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover.  I’d noted in a previous post that Brandon Routh, from the vastly underrated Superman Returns, would be reprising his role as Clark Kent/Superman for the crossover… now it seems that Smallville’s Tom Welling and Erica Durance will ALSO be reprising THEIR roles as Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane!  That is very cool.

The great Paul Feig might be involved with resurrecting Universal’s monster movie franchises?  Ok, that is a bizarre match, but I am intrigued…!

Looks like a SECOND Game of Thrones prequel project might be moving forward… I feel sort of done with this series following the so-so final season… but on the other hand, who am I kidding, I’ll be watching any and all of these spin-offs/prequels if they actually happen…

I’ll leave you for today with … [continued]

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Catching up with Legion Season Two

September 19th, 2019
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I was blown away by the first season of Legion back in 2017.  I thought it was magnificent; hugely creative and weird and unique.  It was a gloriously mindbending experience that pushed the boundaries of what a television show could be.  I loved it.

But by the time season two came out, I felt that I needed to rewatch the first season to refresh my memory of everything happening on this twisty, complicated show.  And so I held off on watching season two until I had a chance to rewatch season one.  Although that first season was only eight episodes, in this age of “peak TV” I found it hard to find the time!  I kept deciding to watch something NEW as opposed to going back to rewatch something I’d already seen.  But I finally made the time, and I’m so glad I did, because it was a delight to rewatch season one — there were so many nuances I caught, knowing where that season would wind up.  And I am certain I got a lot more out of season two having season one fresh in my mind.

So what did I think of season two?  I loved it!

This second season was a wonderful expansion of everything we saw in season one.  I was intrigued to see the way the show took our main characters from season one and pushed them all in unexpected directions.  (This is NOT a show that returns go the status quo at the end of every episode, and I love it for that!)  I enjoyed meeting tons of fascinating new characters.  Most of all, I was delighted that the show continued to be every inch as wonderfully bizarre and unexpected as season one!  Season two was packed full of strange imagery and moments, and the show continued to be playful with its very structure as a TV show, throwing in narration and asides and digressions so that I as a viewer was constantly surprised by the directions in which the show was taking me.

That is what is most memorable and praiseworthy, in my opinion, about Legion.  Creator Noah Hawley and his team are constantly pushing against the limits of what a TV show can be, and the conventions of “normal” TV narrative.  Legion is constantly surprising in terms of what we’re seeing on screen.  Suddenly we’re watching a dance sequence!  (David’s dance-off showdown with Farouk!)  Suddenly we’re listening to narration (by Jon Hamm!!) of how a delusion develops, an idea memorably depicted by showing chicks hatching from eggs (ideas) and a horrifying black goo monster (a delusion).

Visually this show is extraordinary!!  It’s jam-packed with strikingly original, memorable images.  I am haunted … [continued]

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Josh Reviews IT: Chapter Two

September 16th, 2019
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Stephen King’s It is a magnificent novel, complex and horrifying and wonderfully memorable.  The novel tells two interwoven stories: of how the Loser’s Club discovered and fought a horrifyingly evil entity in the small town of Derry in 1957-58, and how they returned to the town 27 years later as adults to once again confront that evil in 1984.  In adapting the novel for film, the filmmakers made the fascinating choice to have the first film tell the kids’ half of the story, with the sequel devoted to the adults’ half of the tale.  (They also cleverly updated the time-frame of the first film, It: Chapter One, to 1989, so that the sequel film could tell the second half of the story in the present day.)  I loved the first It film from 2017.  (Shockingly, I liked it a LOT more than the disappointing adaptation of The Dark Tower, which had been the film I was anticipating far more.)  And so I have been very eager to see how the sequel film, focusing on the adult versions of the characters, would come off!

For the most part, I quite enjoyed It: Chapter Two!  I think it’s a worthy sequel to the first film.  The first film was stronger, mostly because I think the kids’ half of the story is the more interesting half.  The “coming of age” aspect of the kids’ story lends that part of the tale a little more emotional resonance.  I also think this sequel, at two hours and 45 minutes in length, was too long.  It sagged in the middle somewhat.  But that being said, this is a skillfully-made film.  The cast is fantastic, and the film manages to be a lot of fun and also very scary and also quite moving.  It’s tough for a film to accomplish all of that!

The best aspect of It: Chapter Two is the cast.  They have assembled a perfect, and I mean PERFECT, cast to play the adult versions of the kids we met in Chapter One.  James McAvoy plays Bill.  Mr. McAvoy is an amazing actor and a big-time movie star (I’ve been a fan ever since the Sci-Fi Channel’s mini-series adaptation of Dune Messiah) and he’s fantastic as the leader of the “Loser’s Club.”  Jessica Chastain plays Beverly, and she brings such depth and strength to the role of Bev.  Bill Hader plays the funny, fast-talking Richie, and I can’t think of a better actor to play this role.  James Ransone (Ziggy Sobotka from The Wire!) plays Eddie, and while Mr. Ransone isn’t the movie-star that the first three actors I’ve listed are, he is absolute perfection as the adult Richie.  Not only does … [continued]

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Josh Reviews the Animated Adaptation of Batman: Hush

September 11th, 2019
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Back in 2003, Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee produced a twelve episode story in DC’s Batman comic book called “Hush” that was a year-long mystery, introducing a new villain to the Batman pantheon.  The story was a big hit with fans and has remained one of the memorable Batman tales from the last few decades.  The latest DC Animated film, Batman: Hush, is an adaptation of that story.

It’s rather good!  This is one of the stronger DC animated films from the past few years.  I’m particularly pleased because I’m not a huge fan of the source material.  I think the original twelve-issue story was a fun tour through Batman’s rogues gallery; I like the idea of introducing new characters into the Batman rogues gallery; and Jim Lee’s art is amazing.  But I don’t think the mystery was that effective, and I thought the story was way too drawn out at twelve issues in length.

This animated adaptation has nicely condensed things, creating a story that zips along at a nice pace.  They’ve done a solid job of adapting most of the most memorable beats from the original story, while making changes to make the tale work in the continuity of these DC animated films.  (I enjoyed seeing the references they slipped in to other recent films in this continuity, from Lex Luthor mentioning the attack of Cyborg Superman to seeing Bruce talking to Damian on the car phone.)

It’s fun how many characters they have squeezed into the film.  We get to see many of Batman’s famous villains, just like in the original story.  We also get some brief but nice scenes with other characters from across the DC universe, such as Nightwing, Lady Shiva, and Lois Lane.

As I have commented before, I don’t like the character designs they’re using in these recent DC animated films; I think they’re bulky and awkward looking (the faces especially).  That being said, the animation in this film is very solid.  The fights in particular are very strong.  There are some great moments in the fight with Bane, and the Batman versus Superman fight is terrific.  Jim Lee’s artwork from the original comic book issues is so iconic; I was hoping they’d have adapted the style of animation to reflect a little more of Jim Lee’s original art.  That didn’t happen, but they did work in a few of the most famous images from the original series, such as the iconic image of Batman and Catwoman kissing under the full moon.

The voice cast is a mixed bag.  I’m still not sold on the voice they’ve been using for Commissioner Gordon, and I continue to think that Rainn Wilson is very miscast … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season Six

A little over a year ago, at the end of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s fifth season, the show was cancelled by FOX.  I was so sad to read that news!  For me, it was a wake-up call as to how much I’d grown to love this show.  I didn’t realize how much I loved Brooklyn Nine-Nine until, suddenly, it was gone.  But then, miraculously, it wasn’t!  NBC rescued the show, picking it up for an eighteen-episode sixth season.  These things don’t usually happen!  Despite fan outcries when their shows are cancelled, it’s very rare for a show to actually find another home after a cancellation.  So the simple fact of the existence of a sixth season of the show was quite a gift.  I’d have been happy with almost anything.  What we got, stunningly, was by far the best season of the show so far!

The season began by quickly resolving the season five cliffhanger over whether or not Captain Holt was promoted to commissioner.  The season-opener was good, but it was the second episode that really caught my attention.  “Hitchcock & Scully” gave the focus to the two oafish supporting characters, showing us a flashback to when they were young and effective detectives.  It was a genius concept — showing us that the dumb and lazy dup were once muscled eighties action-star officers — and executed marvelously.  From that point on, I thought this season was on fire.

We got fantastic continuations of many of the series’ annual traditions.  Craig Robinson returned as Doug Judy, the “Pontiac Bandit,” in “A Tale of Two Bandits,” in which Nicole Byer also appeared as Doug Judy’s sister, Trudy Judy.  Mrs. Beyer was so funny!  (She also killed on her one-off appearance on The Good Place last season, in an episode that aired only a few weeks before this one, as a very jovial lady in the Good Place.)  I hope she appears again in the future!  In “Cinco de Mayo,” the gang’s Halloween Heist competition was moved to Cinco de Mayo in order to take the stress off of Terry, who was preparing for his Lieutenant’s exam.  (Because this new season didn’t begin airing on NBC until well after Halloween, this was a clever way to continue this annual tradition!). In the season finale, “Suicide Squad,” we get to see an alliance of many of the show’s (villainous) guest stars, including the Vulture (Dean Winters), Madeline Wuntch (Kyra Sedgwick), and C.J. Stentley (Ken Marino).

In recent years, the show has occasionally dipped its toes into more dramatic territory.  This season saw a few examples of that.  In “He Said She Said,” Amy reveals the harassment that she suffered coming up as a … [continued]