The Defenders – Review

Image via netflix.com

Is Harlem that big that these people have never run into each other before??? Other than Jessica and Luke hooking up??? Oh wait, the nurse knows at least three of them. Damn, this is a mess.

When The Hand threatens New York City it will take not just one but many heroes to save it. The joining of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil and The Iron Fist will be the city’s only chance. The five prongs of The Hand have brought about the ultimate weapon, the Black Sky, to aid them and take down the city. These heroes will reluctantly join together as The Defenders to save the city that they love and live in.

If you’ve watched all of the series involved in this show, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and The Iron Fist, you’ll be up to speed on what is happening. If you have not you will be utterly lost. This is the first flaw in this show. Having watched all of the involved shows, even I had to scratch my head at times and use my recall to ascertain why things are as they are. I can only imagine how lost this show will be with people that have not watched all four series. This paints the show into a corner that limits it enjoyability.

With the joining of four different series, there is also the joining of four different styles. The second flaw this show has is the constant jumping between styles. When Luke Cage is the focus of a scene you get the “Luke Cage” visuals and music, when Daredevil is the focus you get the “Daredevil” visuals and music, etc… This makes The Defenders jump all over the place in terms of style and identity in a bad way. If there were plans to bring all of these show together then there should have been a plan from the beginning to use a common style but that didn’t happen apparently.

Overall I have to say that this show suffers from the same tragic issue that DC has with The Legends of Tomorrow. The fact that if you don’t follow or watch one of the series involved with it you lose the context of the entire series. Not only is this a problem for The Legends of Tomorrow and The Defenders it is just as much a problem for Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Iron Fist, The Arrow, The Flash, and The  Supergirl. Don’t get me wrong, I like the cross-overs but I feel that they need to be a standalone event and the shows should be able to stand on their own. If a person should choose to not watch The Defenders then they should still be able to follow Daredevil or Luke Cage but given this scenario I don’t see how that will be possible. Viewers are likely to tune into and watch a show with situations they don’t have all the information for, example being  ***Spoiler*** Luke Cage viewers will have the ‘problem’ of Misty Knight only having one arm and going ‘when the f@#! did she lose an arm?’. ***Spoiler***.

The show was fun to watch and enjoyable despite it’s flaws. I will point out one small but important moment that the director/writers missed. ***Spoiler*** When Danny is talking to Colleen and says they need to ‘protect’ this city, that was the perfect time to have one of the main characters invoke The Defenders ideal by saying “we need to defend this city”. ***Spoiler***  It is the little things like that that could make this show so much better.

The Defenders is only worth the investment if you have watched the amalgamation of show leading into it. The tragic part of this series is that it may break all of the four shows involved within it going forward. As previously stated, there are things that happened that will effect the storylines of the individual shows in a potentially detrimental way.  As much as I enjoyed watching the series, which was too short at only eight episodes, I almost wish they had not even bothered to do it. I will give props to some great appearance and performance from Sigourney Weaver. ***Spoiler*** She didn’t make it through the length of the show but she delivered some fantastic performances to carry it forward, bravo. ***Spoiler***

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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.

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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.

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.

Better Call Saul, Season 2 – Review

Image via amc.com

This show makes me want to be a lawyer for all the wrong reasons.

Following the events of the first season, Jimmy McGill is seemingly becoming a success. Having obtained a dream job at a prestigious law firm, things should be going well but Jimmy’s own sense of discontent may be his worst enemy. Constantly bending if not outright breaking the rules puts him in the dog house of his friends, peers, and bosses. Through it all he has to be true to himself and what he believes, even if it will cost him everything he has built.

The series continues it’s quirky roots. Bob Odenkirk’s delivery of the main character makes him lovable yet insufferable at the same time. Jimmy is constantly conflicted with wanting to do the right thing but going about it in the wrong way. Many times this is ultimately his undoing. Learning to recover or hide his tracks has become a highly tuned skill for him. Those around Jimmy are also conflicted with how much they can trust him. Regardless of what has transpired they almost always come back to him.

The story doesn’t take a backseat to the characters. It rides right beside them and keeps the show flowing. At times the shows bounces between the arcs of multiple characters but there never feels to be a time where they are away from any one for too long. The story lines constantly cross each other to keep all the characters involved and on screen. What helps further to keep things interesting is the unpredictability of the plot. There are times where you will think you know where it is going and what they will do only to have it veer off in a different but not totally oposite direction.

Season three has some great things set up from season two. There are several story arcs that I was disappointed not to see completed but where and how they left them still felt satisfying. Knowing that these lines will be picked up in season three has my curiosity peaked.

Without having seen the parent series, Breaking Bad, I only have a general sense of what happens to Jimmy McGill in the long run. Having watched Better Call Saul kind of makes me not want to watch Breaking Bad until this show concludes.

 

dudewantshisrug-profile

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.

Westworld, Season 1 – Review

Image via hbocanada.com

Brilliant, yet broken. Guess that describes many things.

In a seemingly far flung future the rich have a playground that surpasses any other theme park. Westworld offers, to those than can afford it, a place to live out endless fantasies in a wild-west environment. These guest get to live among the hosts of the park and interact with them in numerous ways. Fighting, frolicking, living and dieing.

As an HBO production, you get what you pay for.  With actors ranging from well-known to familiar to “who is that”, the cast is varied but grand. Actors like Sir Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris deliver to and beyond expectations. Familiar faces like James Marsden and Jimmi Simpson pull off solid performances once you get past thinking “hey it’s Liz Lemon’s boyfriend and the McPoyle brother”, respectively.  However, it is the lesser known actors that are the meat of the story most of the time. People like Evan Rachel Wood and Thandle Newton not only show their grit but push the storyboard along.

Through ten episodes, the show weaves an interesting tapestry that in the end somewhat folds in upon itself. Much of the idea of Westworld is left in ambiguity.  To keeps its own secrets the show doesn’t give any direct lines. While this leaves it open to anything happening it oddly makes it predictable. Within the first few episodes one can point in the direction the show is going and find it there very quickly. For something trying to be so complicated, it is a disappointment to see it be so simple.

If you were expecting Games of Thrones you won’t find it. You’ll be better off just to watch Game of Thrones instead. But if you want to see Dollhouse meets Deadwood take some time to stroll through Westworld. You’ll need to forgive some of the inconsistencies in order to enjoy the walk but it can be a fun little trip if you take the time.

If you let it get a little weird you get this

dudewantshisrug-profile

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.