October Viewing List

Raising Dion

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I binge-watched this entire series last weekend. While it wasn’t entirely what I expected, it wasn’t bad, and I will be back for a second season. It was a pleasant series, not as intense as I thought it would be, pretty fun in a lot of places, with the occasional thrill of tension  in others.

I did go into this with some assumptions based on the trailers. I thought it was going to be a straight superhero origin story, but it turned out to be as much about Nicole, his mother, as it was about Dion.

Nicole was a  professional dancer, now turned single mom, after the death of her husband , and she and Dion have moved to Atlanta. Nicole is one of those people whose life always  seems to  careen from one disaster to another, and when Dion develops superpowers, that just complicates her ability to find and keep a job. When we first meet them, she is still job searching, with the help of her older sister, and she still has not yet told Dion that his father is dead, and won’t be coming home, which is rather heartbreaking. (She eventually gets around to telling him.) Dion’s dad died under mysterious circumstances, and Nicole is still in  mourning, while her sister and her girlfriends do their best to console her.

 

The show mostly turned out to be a mystery, and not the government thriller I thought it would be, as Nicole delves into how her husband died, while he was  working for a Biology corporation. She’s spurred on this journey by Dion’s development of powers, so while trying to figure out how Dion got powers, she is also trying to find out what happened to her husband.

I wasn’t into the plot too tightly, but I did enjoy the secondary characters, like her husband’s best friend, Pat, who starts out  endearingly dorky, and obviously crushing on her, and  great as Dion’s godfather. Later in the series, his story changes, and I wasn’t ready for that ,and I was kinda mad about it. Her sister is one of those likable/unlikable people, who at first, seems super critical, but will totally ride or die for her little sister, which made me like her more. I liked these two characters okay, and Nicole was okay too, although I could have done with a lot less dancing in a couple of the episodes.

The two stand out characters for me though were Dion and Esmeralda. The actor playing Dion is as cute as a button, and Dion is imaginative, and kindhearted, which goes a long way with me. Esmeralda is a gem ,and that actress reallt endeared herself to me. Esmeralda is especially smart and insightful and I was glad to see that the show didn’t focus all her personality into her disability, but it does inform certain aspects of her personality.

Esmeralda uses a chair, and when we first meet her, is around the time that Dion discovers he has powers. He declares that he is a superhero, but Esmeralda reminds him that he isn’t a superhero yet, and has to earn that title. One of the things she says about herself is that she can turn invisible, and this is important, because people’s disregard of her allows her to be especially attentive. Because people don’t pay close attention to her, she is able to pay attention to things other people ignore, as she is the first person to figure out, (outside of his mother), that Dion has powers.

So yeah, I already like the characters, and the show is pleasant enough. There are no world ending stakes involved this season, as the story remains mostly small and personal, which will give the show room to expand, as Dion grows into his abilities.

 

Batwoman

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I can’t say that  enjoyed this episode, but I didn’t hate it either. It was a busy episode and I’m still processing it. Let’s just say there is some real potential in the show, and that there is room for some improvement. It was occasionally cheesy, and yeah, some of the dialogue needs help, but it wasn’t actually a bad show, and I’m gonna stick around for the rest of the season, because the action scenes were top notch and I just like Ruby Rose, the actress who plays Batwoman.

I’ve been a fan of Batwoman/Kate Kane fan since she was re-introduced a few years ago, and Rose just perfectly fits this character. Once again, I was not heavily invested in the plot, and I wasn’t  really feeling many of the side characters either,  except for Kate’s bubbly stepsister, Catherine, who is the daughter of her father’s second wife, and is a medical student. Kate lost her mom and bio-sister in a car accident, when she was a child, and she hates Batman because he was there to save them, but left the scene, and Kate watched them die.

We meet up with her while she is undergoing some Bruce Wayne type training with some sassy Indigenous guy, with long White hair, at the behest of her father who, for reasons of love and safety, is trying to keep her out of his hair, after she got kicked out of military school, for fraternizing with another female, her girlfriend, Sophie.

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She and Sophie are given a choice. They can reject their relationship and stay in school, or they can be expelled. Kate chooses to be expelled, but Sophie chooses to deny the relationship and stay. At first, I  was mad about it, but Sophie is a Black woman, from a modest background, who worked damn hard to get where she is, and while she appears to love Kate, she is not willing to sacrifice her potential career for her, as she may not get another chance in life. As she tells Kate, she doesn’t have the luxury of being able to take a stand, while Kate comes from a wealthy family, who will always take care of her, and I thought that was a nice touch.

So Kate’s dad sends her away for some training, and Sophie stays behind and gets a job with The Crows, Kate’s father’s security agency, something which Kate covets, but her father gives her the runaround about. When Sophie gets kidnapped by a villain called Alice, Kate returns to a Gotham which has been missing Batman for  three years. Kate is desperate to save Sophie, and prove herself to her father, and we get some twists and turns in the plot, and some fairly emotional scenes between Kate and Sophie, and Kate and her dad. I thought all that  was too much too soon, as I don’t feel we had enough of a setup to warrant tearful conversations, yet.

Anyway, there was a lot to unpack, as the show covers a lot of emotional  territory, along with Kate finding the Batcave, and meeting one of her father’s  security consultants, named Luke, who appears to have no actual security skills beyond having a big brain. We get a little bit of backstory, and a subplot about a traitor among The Crows.

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I liked that the show made some real efforts at diversity. There are plenty of poc in the cast, and they all have distinct personalities. There are only two White guys in the cast, Kate’s dad, and  one of the villains, and I find it interesting that shows are doing this thing now where they do cast White men, but only as secondary characters, or villains, the way it was done in Star Trek Discovery. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens often enough that I’ve noticed it.

This isn’t my first run in with Kate Kane. I first saw her in a crossover episode with Legends of Tomorrow, a show i still like and occasionally watch, and will be watching this season  because there’s supposed to be another crossover with Arrow, and Supergirl, called Crisis on Infinite Earths.Now, i’m probably one of the few comic book readers who has not read that particular series of books. As I’ve said, I was a Marvel fan at the time of that event, and I could care less what happened in the DCU comic books. I don’t dislike the DCU. All the characters I know are all current, or former, members of the Justice League, Teen Titans, or Legion of Superheroes. Of those characters, the only ones I truly cared about, at the time, were the members of the Justice League.

I will will watch all the shows and some of the movies, though. I’m picky about a lot of pop culture, but  I’m not entirely sure why some things capture my attention, while being indifferent to other things. For example, I didn’t ever give a flying rat’s ass  about Aquaman in the comic books, but I liked the movie version just fine. Well, anyway the big new event this season on the CW is the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, with multiple Supermen, which should (and it better) be exciting.

 

 

 

The Dead Don’t Die

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This is an exceedingly odd zombie film, which I had a lot of fun watching. Even though most zombie movies give me anxiety, I watch them anyway, because, its zombies, and there was a little of that tension here, but the movie was more comedy than horror. Its not the kind of comedy seen in Shaun of the Dead, or Evil Dead II. Its more of an intellectual kind of comedy, that doesn’t make you laugh out loud, so much as make you nod, and chuckle,  which is the hallmark of a Jim Jarmusch film, really.

The movie has an all star cast of Bill Murray, Danny Glover, Steve Buscemi, Rosie Perez, Tom Waits, Tilda Swinton, and a bunch of others, and is a very oddball film. it heavily reminded me of the movie Rubber, a movie in which a telekinetic car tire goes on a killing spree, in Southwestern America, and if you have not seen that movie, then you probably should. At the very least it will prepare you for watching any horror  movie directed by Jarmusch.

According to the movie, there is a worldwide zombie outbreak because the earth has been thrown off its axis by fracking, or something, but this isn’t important, and barely mentioned in the film. Ronnie (Murray) and Cliff (Adam Driver), are the Sheriff and deputy of Centerville, a small Midwestern town. The first time anyone notices things have gone off kilter is when Cliff notices that the sun has not set at the correct time, and  the town crankypants, (Buscemi), notices his chickens and cows are missing. When the diner is attacked by two zombies, Ronnie and Cliff investigate, and Cliff reaches the swift conclusion that it was zombies.

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There are long moments of characters standing around, or sitting somewhere, having bland conversations about the situation, the world, or sometimes each other.The town is visited by what Cliff calls hipsters from Cleveland. Cliff takes a liking to one of them, but its all pointless since everyone in the movie gets eaten, even after Cliff warns them to stay inside and not go out at night because of the outbreak.

The humor comes from the laconic acceptance, by  all the characters, that the town has been invaded by zombies, and from the activities of the zombies themselves.  The director has taken the idea of the zombies being attracted to the the things they did in life, and just ran with it, which results in the Chardonnay quote, seen in the trailer. From time to time, one of regular humans will freak out about the situation, which is only meant to offset the calm of the other characters. This movie is the exact opposite, in mood,  of The Walking Dead TV shows. The zombies are given odd quirks of personality. They still eat people, but they also like tennis and coffee. There’s a country song that plays throughout the movie, called The Dead Don’t Die, and I kind of liked it. When Ronnie asks why that song keeps playing on the radio, Cliff explains  that that is the theme song.

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Tom Waits plays the  homeless guy, who lives n the woods, named Hermit Bob, who makes voiceover observations of the events happening in the town, and  whom everyone thinks is crazy.  He’s also the only survivor at the end of the film. I  liked Cliff, who is both pragmatic and intelligent. He occasionally mentions that he’s got a bad feeling, and when Ronnie asks why, he says he read the script, and that things do not end well, which is correct. They don’t. Ronnie is unperturbed by Cliff’s insistence that there is a movie script for their scenario, and that he read it.

Swinton plays the new town mortician who also turns to to be an alien. You could tell she was a strange one, because she  made weird observations, and  carried a samurai sword that she was extremely good at using. She is both delighted and unbothered by the zombie outbreak. Yes, there is a UFO in this movie. From time to time, one of the characters will  forget that they are in a Jim Jarmusch movie,  and behave as if they are actually in a big budget zombie movie instead, and try to do something heroic, but it doesn’t work. The movie ends with the deaths of all the other characters, and  Hermit Bob shaking his head with the  observation that the world is a messed up place.

And So It Begins

I’m going to start off my Fall viewing season by trying to cover as many shows as I can. I’ve already given a rundown in a previous post about which shows I was most interested in, which shows are just “meh” and which ones I was flat-out not looking at. Nevertheless,  I’ve probably forgotten by now  which ones ones I said I would cover, anyway.

This one is a little late but we’ll start with:

Bastard Executioner:

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I like this show. It looks good and it’s got some great actors in it. I didn’t pay much attention to the plot and I don’t know how much cultural accuracy is involved in its particular version of the Middle Ages. But here’s what I was thinking as I watched the premiere: Boy! are these people dirty. There’s dirt everywhere and on everyone, even the people you would think wouldn’t be dirty, the members of the nobility. At the very least, these people are engaging in living with some powerful odors.

The show opens with people fighting and fucking and at no point do we see people bathe, even  though they were just engaged in some sweaty and dirty activities. Bathing is discussed fairly often, so theoretically, it does exist in this world, but no one seems to want to take the time to do it, and I found this very distracting. Hell, people didn’t even wipe themselves with warm cloths, or do that thing where they splash their faces with water, out of those water bowls people always seem to have in historical dramas.

This show is by the same creators of Sons of Anarchy, so I expect lots and lots of intrigue. I paid just enough attention to the plot to recognize Bill the Vampire as a schemer of the first order, so I hope he lasts a good long while, and that Brattle needs a personality donation. I do understand that his wife and family got fridged on his behalf but, really dude! It’s okay to change facial expressions. I think I saw Katie Segal, but she wasn’t wearing any makeup, so it was really hard to tell it was her. She plays a witch on the show and I kept staring at the actress’ face, trying to see Katie in it, and getting frustrating glimpses.

I think I glimpsed some Black people in the background of one scene, which I found heartening. I like that the writers remember that Black people had been invented by the Middle Ages and had been engaged in  something besides slavery. You know, sometimes, we just hung out with people and farmed or something.

I’m going to keep watching this one, despite the distraction of “dirt”. I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to it though, and if nothing else, this show really makes me appreciate indoor plumbing.

Let’s move on to:

Gotham

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I wasn’t greatly interested in watching the second season of this, as I was not impressed with the first. Also I had some difficulties watching it, which I will get into in a short moment.

I’m a Black woman, who lives in the U.S. Gotham was released last year, right during the height of media reporting of police brutality incidents, against African Americans. Every report left me an emotional wreck. This was true of a lot of people I know.

I, sort of, liked the show. Well, at least I didn’t hate it.  I enjoyed watching Fish Mooney tearing up the scenery and I liked how batshit some of the plots and characters were, but I had to stop watching the show, not just just because the series kept getting worse but because I could no longer watch police misconduct on television, without having severe anxiety attacks and comparing it to real life. It’s called escapist TV for a reason and this wasn’t escapist for me. I couldn’t watch the corrupt Gotham PD beat up suspects, railroad people into prison, accept graft, lying and engage in bribery and consider it entertainment.

I still can’t.

So, I was more than a little reluctant to watch this season of the show, but wanted to try again. As a general rule, I avoid cop shows anyway, mostly because they’re all alike, but I had an especially difficult time watching any of them since last year. Every time a police officer shot someone, I had severe anxiety and had to stop watching. Whenever an officer refused to shoot someone, I had severe anxiety and had to turn the channel. It was best to just stay the Hell away from such shows altogether , as I could no longer approach these shows as entertainment, and could only think of them as an indictment against real police officers, no matter how fantastical the show.

The first few minutes of this season’s premiere had me wanting to turn the channel, again. The only reason I got past Gordon being unwilling to shoot some crazy in the street, is because he had already been established as largely uncorruptable, during season one. But it did get increasingly difficult to watch as Gordon kept getting further enmeshed in the villains schemes. He ultimately chose not to, so I still have faith that he will try to remain a good guy, despite the temptations around him.

That said, I am still not impressed with this episode. I’m still not greatly interested in any of the characters. I hate Selina Kyle. I just hate that actress.  Bruce Wayne is less than lackluster as a character, although, I like Alfred. The women are all paradoxically annoying and characterless, which is an amazing feat of engineering, especially Barbara Keene. I don’t think the writers have a single damn clue what to do with her. This is a character flailing around in search of a plot. I’m still into watching the villains scheme and I may keep watching the show because it says it’s specifically about them this season,  but my question is, considering how awful the GPD is, what makes that different from last season?

Oh,  and the guy who plays the Joker, is just fucking annoying. He’s trying too damn hard to be Joker-ish and it seriously got on my nerves. Like he’s trying to channel both Cesar Romero and Heath Ledger and it’s just not working. I think it’s because he’s just not the great an actor. He simply doesn’t have enough depth to accurately portray the complexity of the Joker, who is technically, not insane, but is insane. But t’s just the premiere. Maybe he’ll develop depth later on, I hope.

I won’t be reviewing this show again unless I see something extraordinary or have something especially poignant to say.

Next we will tackle:

Minority Report

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I  was very looking forward to watching the pilot, even though I wasn’t especially interested in the trailer. I’m one of the few people on earth willing to openly admit to being a Tom Cruise fan, so yeah, I actually enjoyed the movie a lot, and I was interested in seeing how the show would handle the movie’s basic plot line.

The show doesn’t start on a good note. The narrator chronicles the history of the pre-cogs, and the children portraying them are awful. I know the scene is supposed to be all tragic and shit but I just thought it was funny. Thankfully, it gets a little better after that.

This world is very clean and modern and run by machines and I enjoyed looking at it. It’s not utopian, although I don’t like the idea of ads that detect when you’re feeling stressed, so you can be offered drugs to calm down. None of the police dress like service professionals. They all dress like they came off some avant garde runway and they talk like teenagers, so it’s hard to take them seriously.

I do like that the creators have a Black woman in the lead. They  are probably trying to capture some of that Sleepy Hollow magic, although this show mostly reminds me of Almost a Human, a show I really enjoyed and wish this one was, instead. And although the actress isn’t bad, she’s less than compelling in this episode but she tries, though. Maybe she’ll develop more personality later. And yes, I was horribly distracted by those tiny gloves she wears. Really, people! Ya’ll couldn’t find some gloves that fit?  I was also distracted by the makeup on that one Asian woman. It’s stupid and I kept laughing at it. She doesn’t look like a professional anything. She looks like she’s going to a rave. Vega is really cute and we get to see her in a lot of really tight clothes, but I keep unfavorably comparing her to the lead from Sleepy Hollow. I know that’s not fair but I couldn’t help it.

The year is 2065, and there are PoC all over this show, so the writers have been paying attention, not just to things like the future of technology but to future social and population trends, as well, and I liked that.  I liked seeing Hispanics in the future. It’s nice to know they’re still around, unlike the TV shows of the past where PoC had all disappeared to their own planet or alternate dimension or something. The movie was really good at trying to predict technology and neglected the social and people angles of the future. I liked that the show didn’t turn the presence of PoC into Hallmark moments. They’re just regular people, working jobs and shit.

I liked that even though Vega (yes, its a dumb name) believes Dash is a precog and is willing to accept his crime predictions, she keeps refusing to believe any of his other, smaller  predictions, like where she should stand or what she’ll be having for dinner. It’s also nice to see she has a family, although that felt kind of tacked on. Her Mom is, like 65, and she has a tiny brother, who I already don’t like. I also didn’t like the cheesy music that was orchestrated to make the viewer feel excitement, but maybe that gets better later.

Dash is the pre-cog who allies himself with her as a way to prevent the murders he sees but doesn’t have the resources to stop. I have a little trouble accepting the premise of crimes you can stop before they happen, as traditionally, that’s not actually what the police do. I mean, they do sort of, but not really. Mostly they engage in the cleanup of crimes that have already been committed, and capturing the perpetrator of those, is what stops future crimes by that person, I guess.

At one point Dash has a seizure in a restaurant and says that phrase from the movie and I know it’s suppposed to be a serious moment, but I laughed at it. Does that make me a bad person? At another moment, they question an old guy who runs away, and Vega chases him, (because there has to be an obligatory chase scene,) and I couldn’t help thinking that this looks like an investigation run by amateurs, or the writers really don’t know about police investigations, and are just making shit up as they go. Anyone who has ever watched the show 48 Hours, knows that detectives don’t operate like this. This is pure TV show detectiving.

I did feel  a little better when the actor from the movie, the one who took care of the precogs, showed up with some tech that allowed Vega to see what Dash sees, while trying to prevent the murder of a businessman’s wife by some diseased birds. I automatically suspected the husband as the perpetrator, so I wasn’t really invested in that part of the plot, which is kind of silly.

Dash’s sister, Agatha, does put in an appearance and she asks Dash some very pertinent questions, which he is very vague about, and she has a few dire predictions,too. His brother shows up to and is a dick. I had those same questions Agatha did, though, and they were not answered to my satisfaction.

I’m probably going to keep watching it, despite that it’s not a compelling show, because Wilmer Valderama is in it and that man is Hawtness Incarnate. I could watch him all day, and I have…in From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series, where he plays a really hawt Mexican vampire. I don’t love this show yet because it could be improved by having Valderama bite somebody.

Lastly, we’ll discuss:

Blindspot

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I had no intention of watching this but it was on and I was reviewing, so it wasn’t out of my way or anything. I’m not really into espionage shows and this one looked like a cross between The Bourne Identity and Memento, and I enjoyed both those movies.

Let me be frank in stating that I have no idea who the Hell Jaime Alexander is. She looks vaguely familiar, so she must have starred adjacent to a show I liked, but not actually in one of them. I really like her, though and I’m going to keep watching this.

Jane Doe is a really interesting character. There’s an intriguing mystery and Jaime really sells the despair, confusion and bewilderment, which was giving me all kinds of feels and the episode really seemed very like The Bourne Identity, only this particular episode had a clearer purpose, in which she and Agent Weller  try to stop a Chinese terrorist attack on New York City.

I didn’t buy the FBI’s excuse for letting her tag along with them on a case, though. Those guys are some fairly dense and stubborn MFs, and once they get an idea in their heads, there’s no talking them out of it, I don’t care how angry or determined you act. The real FBI cannot be swayed by temper tantrums or appeals to civility or logic. But it’s a TV show, so I do realize, if she doesn’t tag along on their cases, there will be no show. Agent Weller does seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to persuade  her to stay in the car, while he investigates, until she throws some logic at him, about why he’s wrong, and then  he relents.

I did enjoy the scenes where she  kicks some ass. That was kind of fun although I do have to say, watching White people beat up people of color also so makes me feel deeply uncomfortable. Apparently, I like my violence to be intraracial. I don’t know why.

I liked some of the other characters in the show. There are several women and PoC, both men and women, but, once again, we get a lack of Hispanic representation, even though it’s set in NY,  and you’ve got a bad Asian guy. Actually there are several bad Asian guys. I get that this was in Chinatown and that’s where bad Asian guys would probably be found but I still didn’t like it. It didn’t  seem like an international thing, though. Just a disgruntled guy, in a desperate situation. But the whole Yellow Peril thing, in action shows, is getting tired, which is why I’m hoping the series Rush Hour will do better, on that front.

I like that the other characters on the show have a little personality of their own, are quietly snarky to Weller, have some  skills of their own, and some of them get a little mystery attached to them, although we spend most of our time with Weller and Doe.

Weller, whose name is prominently tattooed on Jane’s back, doesn’t have a whole lot of personality himself, beyond squinting and determination, but Jane has attached herself to him as her anchor, nevertheless. She keeps hugging him, and you can see the discomfort on his face as she clings to him, as the only semi-known factor in her life.  I only hope that they remain just friends and the series doesn’t do the whole “will they or won’t they” bullshit, because that’s a very tired trope, and  I’m heartily sick of seeing it.

I really liked the show, though. I didn’t  think I would. I will tune in next week, for it.  I like to plan my viewing habits but sometimes that planning gets broadsided by a really intriguing show and the shows I thought I would love, turn out to be a bust.  I hope this one sticks around and becomes as good as Person of Interest, which I also fell into by accident.