Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 3 – Review

Room for growth.

Kimmy and her crew are back at their silly adventures. Still trying to out live her mole-woman past, she finds herself trying to help others and even going to college. All the while Titus is trying to find love, Lillian does find love, and Jacqueline finds purpose.

Things are good and things are not so good with this season. The comedy is well written and delivered, as one would expect from a Tina Fey show, but there is a general lack of direction in this season. Plot lines are all over the place from Kimmy going to collge to Jacqueline getting the Washington Redskins renamed. Jacqueline’s story line felt like the most unnatural part of the show. There were stretches of the season that her story line was happening almost completely separate from Kimmy’s. This made the show feel disjointed and sloppy.

The parts that make me laugh the most usually involve Titus. He’s still my favorite character even though he might be one the the worst people from an humanity standpoint. His heart may have gold in the center but he packs a lot of self-centered attitude around it. There is an entire episode that involves him stealing a bathroom key that demonstrates the best and worst parts of him.

The show is funny and worthwhile but could have done better. Some of the characters did more growing and developing than others. Oddly the title character is the one that seemed to have the least amount of personal growth by the time the season ended. This resulted in some disappointment on my part but I do love the antics of the show and would watch this season as well as any others all over again.

 

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

The Flash: Season 3 – Review

Good but lacking.

Barry Allen has used his speed force powers to change time, again. After going back to save his mother Allen finds himself in a present day where things aren’t right. Although he has his parents he is finding that many other things are not as they should be. As much as he tries to make this reality work it is still wrong to him. Once again, he must go back and change time again. Even after letting his mother die, again, the present still isn’t exactly as he originally left it. Allen must now face all the pitfalls and consequences of his actions. Even across time will his mistakes haunt him.

This show is generally clever and fun. Granted it is based on a comic book and sometimes it seems more cartoony than necessary. The characters help drive the show beyond what it is really about, a guy that can run really fast. The relationships Barry Allen forges and holds dear are the true heart of the show.  Without giving spoilers, one of the key parts of the season follows an arc where a member of Team Flash has taken a dark path but the team never gives up on this person showing just how much they really are more of a family than a team.

As much as the show is fun it has its faults. Any show that uses time travel as a device ultimately has issues. Perhaps I missed something but it was never explained why things are slightly different after Allen resets the time line. Then there is the whole idea of something needing to pre-exist itself in order for it to exist at all. That idea only got worse when the show itself tried to explain it and made it seem even more ridiculous when after the explanation the characters just through their hands up in the air essentially say “yeah, what a pickle” and then walk away. It is as if the writers just couldn’t even convince themselves that what they were trying to convey worked.

It is unclear how much longer it can go without some retooling. For me, there seems to be serious issues about Barry Allen’s inability to learn from his mistakes. How many times does this guy have to change time before he realizes it messes things up and he shouldn’t do it? Then there is the layering of time travel on top of the multiple universes. If that weren’t complicated enough, there is an awful lot of cross show tie-ins with Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. At first all these were fun but then it makes me wonder how it is this show cannot stand on its own?

I enjoy the show but I’m not anxious about the next season. Where this season left off leaves some possibilities open. However, I can only wonder if they will keep doing the same type of writing instead of makes a few changes.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Breaking Bad – Review

Image via imdb.com

Breaking brilliant.

Walter White is a meek man. A mild mannered high-school chemistry teacher working an extra job at a car wash to provide for his family. Not that having a teenage son with Cerebral Palsy weren’t enough, add on your wife becoming unexpectedly pregnant all while you are getting ready to turn fifty. Although he greatly loves his family and they seemingly love him back, things only get worse. Walter finds out he has lung cancer. Faced with treatments that he cannot afford, he forgoes the generosity of friends and makes a decision that will send him down a path of darkness. To provide a legacy for his family Walter White makes the fateful decision to employ his knowledge of chemistry in the most profitable but most illegal manner imaginable… cooking meth. This is but the first of many decisions that seals Walter’s, and his family’s, fate.

Even though this show ended almost four years ago I will not be discussing spoilers. This show was good enough that I feel it should be properly experienced by watching it rather than reading about it. To that end, no spoilers are to come and I will only speak of moments in the show in the most vague terms possible.

From the start, Breaking Bad leaves no path unexplored. As soon as Walter makes his decision to cook meth the show makes no hesitation to follow any path. Whereas other shows would steer towards or tease something that could possibly be the worst outcome, this show would walk straight down that path stomping its feet directly passed the point you thought it would stop then turn around and tell you to hurry the $@*& up and keep up with it. If you ever think that there is no way they will kill off a character you had better prepare yourself. That is the only warning I will give you.

Beyond the total arch of Breaking Bad there are moments that stand out. The moments that stand out to me may not necessarily be the ones that stand out for others. There are the moments that were well known or noted in popular culture while the show was on air. Things like “I am the danger” and “say my name” took on statuses outside of the show. While those were notable moments I tend to think there were more impactful moments. When Walter is talking to his son and telling him about the only true memory he has of his own father it not only gave depth to the character but demonstrated the range of Bryan Cranston. He made you forget it was just a show and drew you into that time and place, not just that of a father talking to his son but that of Walter in that moment with his own father. There was also the moment when Walter reveals his true motivation to his wife and the look on Anna Gunn’s face of disbelief conveys a level of despair and release that gives the scene more gravity than the words and context themselves. If you take the time to watch the show to the very end, you’ll see the end payoff in spectacular fashion when sight and sound merge to a singular point of brilliance just before the final credits roll.

The investment of hours in this show are well exceeded by the return you get on them. By the time I finished the final episode I already wanted to go back and watch it all over again. The show draws you in so much that on a particular Sunday I started watching at ten in the morning, had Netflix press me if I was still watching several times, and finally realized that at eight in the evening I had done nothing else with my day. The only bad thing I will say about this show is that it makes me wish that other shows would live up to its level of quality. I know full well that this is unlikely to happen but I can’t help but think that some shows just aren’t reaching their potential based on what I’ve seen in Breaking Bad.

What I have left after watching this show is moving on to Better Call Saul. I watched the first two seasons of that show before watching Breaking Bad even though Better Call Saul is a prequel to the former.  There were serious considerations on my part to not watch Breaking Bad until Better Call Saul concluded but given that that show is only in its third season I just couldn’t wait. Also, I wanted to see how the producers would blend in the events of Breaking Bad into the show.

In conclusion, watch Breaking Bad if you haven’t already.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Dana Carvey: Straight White Male, 60 – Review

Image via newonnetflix.info

This guy still makes me laugh.

Dana Carvey hasn’t done much stage work over the years and that is sad. This Netflix special is a fantastic display of the comic’s talent. Time has not dulled Carvey’s sense of humor or his ability to deliver it. If anything it has given him more insight and material. The comic already had an impressive reservoir  to work with and this special only shows that it has deepened.

There are few styles or topics Carvey will not employ in order entertain. Anything from telling a joke about the Apple store, singing a mock Italian song about space travel, or an impersonation of Barack Obama explaining the Middle East. Much of the humor is politically oriented but equal in that he makes fun of both Democrats and Republicans. For me, the special’s best parts were when he talked about his own life.  It may be that the stories are exaggerated but it is hilarious to hear about his travel experiences and past gigs he has done. The part when he discusses his Millennial children is perhaps my favorite. Hearing his experiences with them were funny on their own but they made me think of people I know and that made me laugh even harder.

Watching Dana Carvey’s special was both nostalgic and fresh.  Other than a reference to making the original Wayne’s World movie and reviving The Church Lady for a corporate gig he doesn’t speak about his past material. The vast majority of the special is based around his life after his heyday and Saturday Night Live work. Given that he is now sixty, it could be that having raised his children is what has kept him in tune and on the pulse of what is going on.

Being old enough to have seen Carvey as a regular on Saturday Night Live gives me an appreciation for seeing him again. His absence probably wasn’t very noticeable given that things change and people have access to comedy, and other entertainment, outside of television and movies, for which Carvey is most known for. Doing a Netflix special may have been the best move for him at this point since it is a newer delivery method and one that is readily accessible to both new and old audiences.

On a personal note, Dana Carvey is a long time favorite of mine. I even enjoyed some of those movies that he did that weren’t so good but I tried to enjoy his performance more than the overall movie. He was an early idol to me and I always wanted to be able to do impersonations like him. I don’t know if he plans on doing any more of these specials but I sure hope so.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Dave Chappelle: Collection 1 – Review

Image via instantwatcher.com

Still hilarious after all these years.

Dave Chappelle had been absent from the comedy stage for years but he is back in triumphant fashion delivering humor as only he can. Beware that Mr. Chappelle makes generous use of a certain racially divisive word but if you have ever heard or seen him before you are well aware this fact. For those that are not familiar with his previous work then you best be prepared.

The first episode, entitled The Age of Spin: Dave Chappelle Live the Hollywood Palladium, takes Chappelle to L.A. for his first stage performance there in ten years. He takes the time to regale the audience with tales and jokes on every topic from O.J. Simpson to his own run-ins with the law. The second episode, entitled Deep in the Heart of Texas: Dave Chappelle Live at Austin City Limits, takes Chappelle to Texas. No topic is safe as he talks about his family, drug use, and having snowballs thrown at him.

Dave Chappelle is a unique man in the world of comedy. Many people get turned off by how much he talks about racism but I don’t. It much reminds me of the way Mel Brooks portrayed itin Blazing Saddles. Some consider that the most offensive movie of all time, however how racism is played out in that film shows how faulty and unnecessary it really is. This is how I view Chappelle’s use of racism. He as a successful black man, a public figure,  surely has been subjected to his share of racism. Rather than let it bring him down he stands in front of us all and puts it on display in fantastic fashion. Never is it done in the prose that he should be felt bad for the things that have happened to him. Rather, it is more in the stance that we need to recognize it and do something about it.

Chappelle is one of few voices willing to be bold about his stance. Perhaps he is too bold at times for some to stand. I kind of cringe when he uses certain language but I don’t think he is using to offend anybody. On the contrary, I think he may be using certain words in order to exhaust them. If there ever were a more socially conscience and aware comic, I must have missed that person. Chappelle seems not only to want to entertain but enlighten. His absence from public life could have questionably been caused by his own feelings of trying to make things better in his own way but being ostracized for it. Seeing him back in action and still in form is a welcome site.

Please Dave Chappelle, keep doing what you are doing.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Extraction – Review

Image via imdb.com

Remember when Bruce Willis made good movies???

A CIA agent nearing the end of his career is sent on one last secret mission. He has had a fall from grace and this is his last chance to redeem himself. In contrast, his son has been working hard to rise through the ranks of the CIA to become a field agent like his father but he keeps getting passed over for the position. The father/son duo have had a strained relationship after the wife/mother was murdered years ago. Now the pair have a chance to come together again when the father’s mission apparently takes a wrong turn and the son takes it upon himself to save him.

Normally I would try to say something nice about a movie and go through all the positives. Here is the only positive – see that graphic I used at the top of this post? That has a great throwback vibe to it and screams of an old Steve McQueen movie. There.

What this movie ultimately turns out to be is a total disaster.  Bruce Willis all but mails in his performance and given how little his is actually in the movie, he must have only been on set for about a week. The rest of the cast doesn’t do much better but maybe its not completely their fault. There is supposed to be a romance element in this movie but the pair involved in it pull it off in the most uncomfortable and unbelievable fashion as if they are step-brother and step-sister. As far as the dialogue overall goes, not only is it delivered poorly, it was written poorly. Maybe the delivery was bad because the actors were reading it during their takes thinking to themselves “is this right?”. If you are looking for plot just keep looking. The setup and rollout of the story is not only unbelievable but somewhat ridiculous. There is a machine capable of taking over major communications systems that can be operated by a common street thug. Kind of like the world’s most versatile smartphone.

This movie is a big step in the Nicholas Cage direction of films for Bruce Willis. I don’t think this movie ever had a theatrical release and it may not have even been direct to DVD. This one could have gone straight to forgotten and then Netflix got the streaming rights on the cheap. Granted that at this point in his career, Bruce Willis can make his choice of films. The question is why he would agree to do this film. There is no great direction in this film or deep meaning. The only passing thought is that he was trying to do a friend a solid by being in their movie.

The hour and a half I spent on this movie feels like a waste. As much as I love Mr. Willis and all he has done in his career, I cannot endorse this movie in any way. At least with the lower tier Nicholas Cage movies I can get some entertainment, this movie just left me sad about where Bruce Willis is at with himself. In hind-sight, I should have started watching Breaking Bad before watching this movie and then I would have never even seen it. (P.S. – Breaking Bad is damn good even though I’m only four episodes into it.)

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Luke Cage – Season 1 – Review

marvel-luke-cage-posterAs strong as Luke Cage is, it may be that the Marvel universe is getting weak.

Many will know that this take of Luke Cage is a direct off-shoot from the Daredevil series that Netflix also produced. The main character was introduced in said series and it also brings a few cross-overs. The same New York exists here that also existed in the Avenger movies. What seems odd is that although those events are referenced it seems that it has little to no effect on this environment. This left the series somewhat disconnected even with the direct ties that it had. Then again, this a problem Daredevil had as well so it shouldn’t be held against the Luke Cage series alone.

What we do get is something that is well intended but in many cases misses the mark. In Luke Cage we have a tragically flawed and tortured hero that doesn’t want to be a hero. A far too familiar superhero theme that is not played to its best in this series. One of the issues with the show is how long it takes to develop the main characters. What seemed to be important characters at the start of the series were thrown away earlier than expected and the pay off for doing so never came through. Other characters and their intentions are strung out too far when compared to their overall impact at the end of the first season. The season struggled with a pacing issue across its entirety and several episodes were microcosms of this problem. There were times that the show became nearly a pain to endure only to have a triumphant payoff at the end. Cliffhangers and anticipation could have been better used in the series and episodes.

Even with all of its issues, the series shows a great deal of promise. Despite the long drawn out reveal and setup of Luke Cage, Mike Colter plays a charismatic and affable role. He may be one of the best reasons to watch the show as to enjoy his performance. Along with his performance, Netflix continues to show that it has a solid production model with the sights and sounds of this show being some of the best do date in one of its original series. A huge tip of the hat goes to the soundtrack of this series not only for its selection and variety but more so for its placement and usage with the visuals of the show. The ways music and sound were used to draw the viewer in and convey emotion and intent were nothing short of inspired.

The most worrisome part of this series may be something outside of it. There is an over abundance of Marvel properties in release and in production at this point that we are nearing or may be at a saturation point. There will be a point at which the returns diminish for both we as viewers for enjoyment and studios for profit. It is somewhat sad to think that this show for all its merit may be at the fulcrum point not for its own doing but for its timing.

Personally, as much as I wanted to like the show I can’t help but feel that it left something on the table. There was a lot of hype for the show and that certainly did not help. If taken as a standalone product, outside of the overall Marvel universe, this could have been a more enjoyable series. It has many things going for it and even with as good as it was it still has room for vast improvements. Take the time to watch and enjoy it, knowing that at times it will not be everything it is capable of.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.