Television Review: Endgame (2011)

Endgame (2011) is available on Hulu Plus (which we finally got working at our new place). There is only one season available and it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, but it was a good binge watch all the same.

endgame image

Summary from TV.Com

Arkady Balagan is a genius who found fame as the world chess champion but who, since witnessing the murder of his fiancée, has become rather agoraphobic and has been living in a posh hotel in Vancouver. Out of money and with his tab being called due he stumbles into helping find an abducted child. Realising (sic) he could make some money as an unofficial consulting detective he takes up a new profession and hires one of his chess fans to do the work which requires leaving the hotel. Arkady continues to work with Pippa Venturi, his late fiancée’s sister, to solve the murder of Rosemary Venturi, his fiancée, and her old friend Greg Lamont.

Balagan is an agoraphobic Sherlock Holmes. He is a genius who solves mysteries with chess strategic thinking. Since he is agoraphobic he enlists the help of a younger chess player, a maid of the hotel, and a bar tender in the hotel. He finds smart people to help him and doesn’t discriminate who that intelligent person is based on their job description. He is able to walk through what people probably did based on his extensive knowledge of how people work because of his chess playing background.

I like this show because I like smart people, and the entire ensemble is a cast of smart people. They all play off of each other beautifully, and there wasn’t a secondary character that I didn’t like or who was just there to fulfill some quota. They all contributed in their own way and each character pushed the show forward seamlessly. Balagan is a great character beautifully played. Sometimes he comes off as the biggest jerk, that smart kid who always thinks he is right, because he usually is. But, Balagan is smart because he understands not only the rules of a game, but how people think. His ability to understand other people gives his sometimes jerk character warmth and charm that really endured him to me.

My favorite episode was “I Killed Her” where a killer shows up at the hotel and confesses everything to Balagan, but in a way that he can’t be caught. At every turn the killer outsmarts Balagan, which was quite exciting to watch. In the end, it is Balagan’s understanding of human character that resolves the case. In a very touching scene Balagan figures out the psychology of the killer and what ultimately drives his behavior.

If you like binge watching television about smart people solving crimes in unusual ways, check out Endgame (2011) on Hulu Plus.

Television Reviews of Reckless and Bad Judge: Legal Trouble With a Laugh

I’ve recently watched a couple of legal dramas that I found interesting, so I thought I would share my thoughts on them.

Reckless

reckless

Synopsis from teh internets

Beautiful Charleston litigator Jamie Sawyer uses her Chicago street smarts in the Old South atmosphere of South Carolina, especially with her handsome courtroom rival, City Attorney Roy Rayder — with whom she shares a strong mutual attraction. When disgraced Officer Lee Anne Marcus hires Jamie to represent her in a lawsuit against the police department, Jamie and Roy discover a sinister sex scandal that threatens to tear the city apart. Jamie and Roy hide the tension between them as they spar in court — and out. Dark secrets remain hidden behind closed doors, threatening to destroy the town’s genteel facade.

My thoughts:

What I enjoyed about this series was that both sides had some of the answers, and both sides thought they were right, and for good reason. Often legal dramas show lawyers just being general jerks without an explanation of why they had to legally and ethically behave the way that they did. There are certain rules for what a Prosecutor verses a Defense attorney is legally obligated to turn over and what they don’t have to turn over to the other side. Additionally, most cases have either side sussing out the issues so that there isn’t much surprise in court. Here, both attorneys are smart, both of them are doing their jobs well, and both of them think they have some of it right, and they both do. They also figure out most of the issues before going to court (though there are a couple Perry Mason moments that made me roll my eyes). So from a legal aspect I enjoyed how the show played out.

It doesn’t hurt that the two main characters were really good looking and had the hots for each other. The spiceyness of the series was played perfectly. I also really liked that Jamie was a Chicago street smart attorney whose background explained her character’s reactions to things. I enjoyed this show so much, I had only a few quibbles. Now, I don’t know exactly how the Charleston city legal department is set up, but I don’t think any sizable town has ONE city attorney. Plus, if it was a smaller town and there was ONE city attorney he or she would be so busy at traffic court they wouldn’t be able to try bigger cases, and if they did have time to try bigger cases for the city, there is no way they could then have a private practice as well. It is the Abby Sciuto Syndrome, where one person does a dozen people’s job on the show, in real life that is not how it works. Secondly, I don’t know where it says that lawyers who have cases against each other can’t date. There is a side of things that is missed in most legal dramas where the courtroom is a stage and behind the scenes most of the actors/lawyers are friendly with each other. Clients come and go, but in small towns, legal departments, or areas of law, the opposing lawyers remain the same. It’s often imperative to maintain a civil relationship with them in order to get what you want for your client.

Reckless is an interesting legal drama that is available in Netflix for a fun week of binge watching a one season show. The mini legal dramas each episode keep up the fun while the over all legal case for the first (and only) season was intense and had some interesting twists.

Bad Judge

bad judge

Synopsis from IMDB

A hard-living, sexually unapologetic woman who plays with the law, and whose life on the edge is constantly in balance as she also happens to be a judge in the Criminal Court system.

My thoughts

Rebecca is a glorious mess. She is both a super intelligent adult who rightly judges people under the law and also a super messy can’t leave college behind girl who can’t give up her hideous van or cut-off denim shorts. I love her like I love Mindy from The Mindy Project. Women who are unapolegetically chaotic. I always feel I have to have everything in order or the world will end. But life is rarely in order and it hasn’t ended yet. So, Rebecca and Mindy remind me that I don’t have to be perfect, because I will fail if I try, but I should try to be happy, because that is something I can achieve.

Executive Producer Adam McKay explains: “Rebecca kind of has one foot in each side of life. Like there is part of her that is still her college girl, partying, getting in to trouble. Then there is another side of her that is very grown up and is a judge and occasionally surprises you by doing the right thing.”

What is really amazing is that the legal aspect of this comedy is more right on than a lot of legal dramas I’ve seen. So, I found that refreshing. While Rebecca seems to take a Judge Judy way of handing out sentencing, I’m not sure what she does is always available to her under the law and the counts brought before her, a lot of it is pretty spot on. One quibble is the court reporter’s relationship to the judge and bailiff. Most court reporters are actually hired through a court reporting agency and have no real relationship to the judges or the court other than as people they see all the time and work with. So, I found that a tad strange, but hey it’s California, maybe that explains the difference.

One really odd thing is that Ryan Hansen (Dick from Veronica Mars) shows up as a well rounded psychologist who has his life more together than Rebecca does. It is mind boggling and he does a great job as the character. Check it out on IMDB where they host full episodes of the show via Hulu.

Watching the X-Files of an Evening

As I mentioned in a recent post, Chris and I often spend the evenings watching X-Files and discussing the seven tropes of 90’s television. One evening while watching an episode I had already seen, I got a bit bored. This is what happens when I get bored and have access to Facebook.

Create Your Own Chris caption.

Mine: OMG are Mulder and Scully finally going to kiss?

Chris 1

We watched the episode where Skinner runs around in his tighty-whiteys and bees are carriers for smallpox. This is one of my mother’s favorite episodes. For some reason. <.<_>.> But it caused a few confused moments on our part. 

chris and jami

I asked Chris if I could post the picture below and say, ‘Chris’ second favorite redhead.’

“You could, but it would be a lie.” He said.

“Come on, don’t you have a crush on Scully?” I asked.

“No. She’s too man-ish.”

Hmm, that might explain my crush on her.

chris and scully

A friend commented that Chris must have never seen her Maxim photo shoot. So I did some ogling googling research.

maxim photo shoot

Chris and I both agree, Gillian Anderson does not look mannish in that photo shoot.

P.S. Some of the submissions we got for the Create Your Own Chris Caption.

Michael: Everyone is stupid but me.

Thom: Does Jax really have to take his shirt off…. Again!!?!

Do you have a submission for a caption?

7 Things to Expect from 90’s TV: A Review of Sliders

Recently I started watching Sliders, a show from the 90’s that involves sliding into parallel universes, modified cell phones called Timers, and Jerry O’Connell with that hair-do all the boys had back then.

jerry oconnell

I bet Jerry O’Connell still makes this face whenever he sees his old hair do

This show is amazing, it is so ridiculous and entertaining. I just can’t quit watching it. But then I usually find 90’s shows highly entertaining, and have watched several. Chris too loves shows from the 90’s. Granted he mostly does it to make fun of them, and be amazed at the ridiculousness that can happen. But isn’t that mostly why we watch other people live completely outside the norm lives? The ridiculousness of the Winchester brothers hunting down dead ghost heiresses, makes our lives a little less boring, and a little less ridiculous feeling.

After a run of watching 90’s television shows we came up with a list of 7 things to expect from a 90’s TV show.

1. Exaggerated Fist Fights Where the MC Takes Down Combative Trained Military

Quinn Mallory, the star of Sliders, is a really smart nerdy type who finds a way to open portals and slide to parallel universes. Whenever those universes turn out to be places with military types, like the time they slid into San Francisco and it was a huge penitentiary, or the time they slid into a world run like the Hunger Games, or the time etc etc, he ALWAYS overpowers the military with his bad (just bad, not badass) fist fighting. It is such fun to watch. I never have to be anxious that he will win over the bad guys (even if they are better trained at fighting) because he will always win.

You may be a giant nerd

You may be a giant nerd

Similarly, in the X-Files, Mulder always wins his fights with his fists even though he carries a gun. It is truly bizarre if you take the time to review the early episodes how many times Mulder looses his gun. Only every single episode. Even the show lampshades how many times he looses it. In the episode, Nisei, he once again has his gun knocked out of his hand. But wait! He has a back up piece in an ankle holster. “I get tired of losing my gun.” He explains.

But if you have abs you can fight all the monsters

But as long as you have abs, you can fight all the monsters

No matter their non-combative background or their military trained opponent, a 90’s television MC will always win, and usually by fist fighting.

2. Cars that Spontaneously Explode

Every show from the X-Files to Walker Texas Ranger has massive car explosions. 90’s action television shows are obsessed with car explosions, a hold over from television in the 80’s. Often a car will tip over and then suddenly explode, seemingly for no reason that can be explained with any kind of real laws of physics.

car explosion

 

3. Unrequited Love

You can’t have a 90’s show without unrequited love. While some of those ‘ships may eventually hook up, it is usually for a moment and doesn’t normally last. Or if it does go for a season, it is only because there have been a billion episodes where nothing except sidelong glances happens.

In Sliders it is obvious that Wade has a thing for Quinn, but he is not as much into her. Well, then again maybe he is. In fact, in one parallel world they are an item. A dysfunctional item, but an item nonetheless.

sldrs-wade-quinn

Buffy and Angel. Need I say more?

buffyandangel-angel-reedus-smith-gillan-set-for-wizard-world-chicago

Or how about John and Aeryn on Farscape? They finally, finally get together, and then….. atomic bomb.

john and aeryn

You can’t have a 90’s TV show without unrequited love.

4. Primitive CG

I mean this is kind of a Homer “Doh” moment, because of course the CG is primitive, it was in the primitive stages of being used. But in watching them now, it is really apparent how early in the game CG was at the time.

Take for example when the Mayor becomes a supernatural creature at Buffy’s graduation. It doesn’t even look like the creature is really there. Just imposed on top of the scene.

demons-graduation-buffy

But primitive CG is never more apparent then when being used to create primitive creatures.

Dinoslide

5. Dramatic Camera Shots of Chins

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 6. Floppy Disks in the Future 

I find it fascinating how people thought technology would develop verses how it actually developed. The internet was just starting to be a thing. While Wade and Quinn do have some hacking abilities, as they are both the nerdy type, the concept of using the cloud to store information rather than floppy disks, or really tiny CDs, was not even a thought.

timer

Of course the argument can be made that they do not slide into future worlds, but rather parallel universes and so technology doesn’t develop similarly to our own. And I get it, yes, that’s the answer that lets you suspend your disbelief, but if it looks futuristic and acts futuristic, it is still jarring that the technology used does not conform to future technology.

floppy disks

Plus floppy disks? Who has those anyway? …. Oh wait. I actually have a few stashed right here. ::coughcough:: Why do I have these?

7. Lack of Internal Continuity 

In the X-Files, Scully never, never, remembers what happened before. She does not remember all the weird and wonderful things she and Mulder have come across. Every episode she comes back as a die hard skeptic. How does this make sense? She is a smart woman yet one who doesn’t learn from the past to inform her future. This doesn’t even make sense. The lack of internal continuity is baffling.

scully

In Sliders, supposedly the Timer opens a certain size portal that can only transport a certain number of people. So, even though they may want to they can’t take people from other universes with them into the next. Yet, in the very next episode they offer to take someone with them through the portal. What? And a few episodes later they do! This. Just. What?

sliders

The lack of internal continuity bugs me the most about 90’s television. But I will keep watching 90’s TV, because the concepts, the characters, and the stories are more than the tropes. Aeryn, Scully, and Maggie are some of the best female badasses ever. They can handle guns, aren’t afraid of confrontation (unless it is about their feelings), and written to be more than a female trope characters. 90’s television has a place because of the lessons it teaches us, about ourselves and the world around us.

Plus, it is highly amusing to make fun of them.

Bonus Trope: Mark A Sheppard will make a guest appearance at some point

Sometimes he will have bleeding eyes and purple hair

Sliders

Sliders

Sometimes he will have psychokinetic abilities

X-Files

X-Files

Sometimes he will have ridges on his head

Star Trek: Voyager

Star Trek: Voyager

Those a just a few 90’s tropes that we’ve noted in our TV watching. What other 90s tropes can you think of?

Television Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (AoS) Season 1

I adore Coulson, he’s my favorite avenger/super hero. He has the best wit. Clark Gregg has an amazing face and I love love love him as Agent Coulson. I mean, how can you not love this face? Adorbs!

clark-gregg-marvels-agents-of-shield-newscom-325So, I haven’t not been keeping up on all my superhero movies. My husband is not a fan of them. I know, right? So I have yet to see quite a few of them. BUT, he cannot stop me from watching copious amounts of TV while he is at work. Working retail means working weekends and a lot of evenings. This means sometimes we are more like strangers passing in the night than a couple living together, but it does makes watching vastly different types of TV shows easier. I’m sure I’ll catch up on my movie watching soon, but for now here are some of the best things about AoS Season 1.

The Cast

I was absolutely sold on all of the characters right from the beginning, except for Skye. I grew to accept her and appreciate what she brought to the crew, but it wasn’t until the last two or so episodes that I really saw her as a great character and understood what Whedon saw in Bennet. I have a huge crush on Agent Coulson, so it was no surprised I loved Gregg reprising his role on the small screen. But I was also quite drawn to Ming-Na Wen as May. She is so tough and smart and bada$$ in such small and quiet ways, that she is all that much more powerful in her being. Baugh! I cannot get enough of her! I love how Ward starts off as a very static character that appears to have a particular story arc, but one that way outside the norm of such a character. It was kind of mind blowingly amazing how Brett Dalton took such a character and brought his story arc to life. Kuddos to you sir. Kuddos. 

But my absolute favorite characters where of course FitzSimmons, the nerds who were more than that. The nerds who were the heart of each and every episode. Of the entire season. The people who made me laugh and smile and cry. Their characters absolutely resonated inside of me. Just. ::Sigh:: Yes, wonderful beautiful thoughtful full bodied characters. My absolute favorite moment of the season was when Simmons was asked, “You wash up on a deserted island alone. Sitting on the sand is a box. What is in that box?” And she says, “That’s a hard one. Let me think. The TARDIS.”

simmons2

The CG and Backdrop

The ship that the crew live on was such a big part of the show and made each episode feel bigger and grander than some dinky little TV show. Whedon is masterful at the use of his stage and backdrop and incorporating them as characters into his show. I loved it. I thought the CG was all done wonderfully and only once or twice was a bit hokey. I like that there were new places where the story was told, but that everything was brought back to a home base. It kind of reminded me of another story about an amazing crew on a flying ship… ::coughfireflycough::

The Storytelling

While not every episodic story was extremely strong, the overall story arcs for the characters in season one were excellent. I love the slow build to find out what happened to Agent Coulson and how he died and was brought back into the series. There was well drawn out suspense with a good payoff. Each of the characters grows wonderfully and I’m super excited to see what Season 2 brings and how the crew grows and changes over the season.

Television Review: Witches of East End

After the bar I needed something to help me decompress from an extremely stressful summer and keep me occupied as I made boutonnieres, glued burlap and lace to jars, and created bridesmaids bouquets for my upcoming nuptials. Netflix kept recommending I watch Witches of East End and sometimes Netflix is right, so I decided to give it a chance and I’m really glad I did. 

witches of east end

Julie Ormond (First Knight, Legends of the Fall, and Sabrina) stars in this show as a powerful witch who is keeping a secret from her two daughters, that they too are witches. Joanna has many secrets from her grown daughters, Freya and Ingrid. But when the girls start exhibiting powers, she can no longer act dismissively and must begin to reveal to them their heritage. Then her sister shows up at her doorstep as a cat, and Joanna’s life becomes even more complicated. 

I really enjoy this series. I think it is an incredible cast of characters and as the season goes on they become more of an ensemble cast than it just being about Joanna. Plus, the series pulls in some serious acting power! Each of the girls characters takes shape and they each have their own story lines that are interwoven with the family and magic. Ingrid is a librarian and her geeky side really helps her understand the Latin spells, plus the library she works in is just amazingly beautiful! Freya is  a free spirited bartender who is engaged to one man, but starts to fall in love with his brother who shows up in her premonitions. Everything gets wonderfully complicated in a this-would-never-happen-in-real-life-i-hope kind of way. And Joanna’s sister, Wendy, sticks around for the season and her character beautifully complements Joanna’s. Where one has a weakness the other has a strength. They don’t just blindly follow each other, but discuss and disagree with respect. Most of the time. 

Witches of East End reminds me of Charmed in that it is a female ensemble cast with their own problems that comes together and help each other out. Often women on television are shown as katty and unhelpful toward each other, so it is quite refreshing to see a cast of women actively and sincerely involved in each others lives. However, unlike Charmed, this show is less campy and more on the dark side. For example, Ingrid brings someone back to life and there are some really serious consequences I thought the show would gloss over, but did not. Some of the choices the women must make are heartbreaking. 

If you like magic, ensemble shows, and empowering female characters who are multidimensional with their own vices and problems, check out Witches of East End. 

Whedonistas

A book created by a collaboration of women who explore Whedon’s body of work. You can buy it in Amazon.

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