The Man From U.N.C.L.E. debuted on September 22, 1964. It was the first American spy series and is, to this day, one of the best ever. It was television’s first international phenomenon, too – years before Star Trek and Dark shadows. The series was developed by Sam Rolfe as a kind of American answer to James Bond and though it ran for four seasons, the first comes as close to being perfect as anything that comes to mind.
The second season of ABC’s Batman series of the sixties was not as filled with classic efforts as the first season and at least one major villain had to be recast, but the show’s sense of fun was mostly undiminished. Plus there was that two-part crossover…
The fifth season of Rizzoli & Isles had a couple of obstacles to overcome in the loss of Lee Thompson Young during the show’s hiatus, and trying to remember him while moving on. It’s a measure of the show’s consistency that both obstacles were handled well.
In every other way, the show maintained its mix of procedural efficiency and character heart. In a way, season five was one of the show’s most inventive.
Major Crimes is about to enter its fourth season on TNT – not too shabby for a spinoff show; especially when the mothership was Kyra Sedgwick showcase The Closer.
Although Major Crimes also has a spectacular female lead in Mary McDonnell’s Captain Sharon Raydor, the biggest difference between it and its predecessor is that more weight is placed on the shoulders of the rest of the ensemble (most of whom came over from The Closer). One thing that links the two shows inextricably is charming, vicious psychopath Philip Stroh – who has a big presence in Major Crimes’ third season.
The Book of Negroes is a mini-series adapting the novel by Laurence Hill – a story that follows the remarkable Aminata Diallo from prior to her kidnapping by slavers in Africa, through her time as a slave in South Carolina – owned by two very different types of slave owners, to seeking her freedom in New York, moving with black loyalists to Nova Scotia and thence to Sierra Leone before heading to London to help the abolitionist put a halt to the slave trade.
Summed up in a few words like that, it doesn’t seem like much, but the CBC/BET co-production covers a lot of history through the eyes of a single human being. The device of using a fictional protagonist – through whose eyes we see that history – makes the journey, which could have been perhaps too epic, more personal and thus more relatable.
Despite having great ratings, Longmire was canceled by A&E after its third season, leaving fans with (if nothing else) an emotional cliffhanger and a lot of questions. With a fourth season being picked up by Netflix, millions of fans breathed a sigh of relief.
Now Warner Home video has released the show’s third season DVD and fans can binge their way through the ten episodes again (which is likely how they’ll watch season four if they’re anything like me…). Despite being light on bonus features (a single featurette), the DVD is worth having because the show is one of the great mystery series.
Whiplash, my favorite movie of 2014, is now available on DVD.
It’s a tale of the lengths someone will got to to be great, and the lengths someone will go to to push someone to be great. Whiplash won three Oscars® this year – including Best Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons for the role of Mr. Fletcher, the abusive instructor/conductor of the top-rated music school’s jazz band.
The best movie of 2014 (according to Oscar voters) is now available on Blu-ray. There’s a good chance you missed it in the theaters, now’s your chance to see what all the fuss was about.
A guy walks into a bar. The bartender asks what he’ll have. ‘Old Underwear. Leave the bottle,’
It’s a quiet night and the two begin to chat. When he’s about halfway through the bottle, the guy says, ‘I’ll bet you the rest of this bottle that I’ve got the best story you’ve ever heard.’ The bartender is skeptical, but suggests that, if the guy’s story is so good, the bet should be a full bottle. If the guy loses, he adds twenty to the tip and they’re square. The guy agrees.
The bartender finally says, ‘Okay, what have you got?’ The guy looks him in the eye and begins…
‘When I was a little girl…’
The Color of Time was made by the members of a class James Franco taught at NYU – a peculiar mix of poetry and biography based on the poems by Pulitzer Prize winner C.K. Williams. The film’s content is a collection of vignettes composed of memories, poetry and Williams’ struggle to write new material as he prepares for an appearance to read his work.
The reason I say that The Color of Time feels like a student film is not because of any lack of polish, but because it looks and feels free of the need to be commercial; to fit into a specific niche. Franco’s students have clearly been taught well when it comes to both technique and thinking for themselves.
One of the two masterstrokes in the creation of Doctor Who is a machine that can take its pilot anytime in the universe (and to some points outside it), thus opening up the possibility of telling any/every kind of story imaginable. The other is the idea that when The Doctor gets too old/damaged, he can regenerate – making it possible for the show to carry on even if an actor is unable/chooses not to go on.
The eighth season of the current run of Doctor Who introduced the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) (the fourteenth if you want to be sticky about it, but for all intents and purposes the twelfth) and did something that hadn’t been done before in the show’s fifty-one year history – it gave us a hero who didn’t believe in heroes… and wasn’t even sure if he was a good man. The result was an almost intoxicatingly odd season.