Wednesday, August 26, 2009

thirtysomething: The Complete First Season

In September of 1987, I was a couple months away from my 16th birthday, and you can be damned sure that there was no series on television that looked less interesting to me than thirtysomething. The title, which wasn’t exactly reaching out to my age group, was only part of the problem. The ads seemingly showcased a series about a group of yuppie scum of whom I had no interest whatsoever in following the adventures. So not only did I not watch the show in its first season, but I never even caught a single episode of it during its entire four-year run. But now I am thirtysomething – 37, in fact, which I believe makes me even a few years older than the show’s characters – and with this brand new DVD set and a gig as a reviewer of such material, it seemed like the time was right to give this show that earned my teenage scorn all those years ago a real chance.

What do you know? thirtysomething is actually pretty good stuff, and not at all comprised of the yuppie scum I’d always assumed – or, at least, not the yuppie scum I’d envisioned in my youth. I’m not sure that I even knew what a yuppie was when I was a teenager, only that they were not what I was supposed to turn into. It’s noteworthy that one of the show’s writers says in this set’s rather substantial extras section that the intention was never to make a show about yuppies; indeed, if someone had ever accused him of working on a show about yuppies, he probably would’ve punched them in the face.

Read the rest of this DVD review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Californication: The Second Season

If you pay any attention at all to celebrity gossip, then you know that David Duchovny checked himself into a facility to be treated for sex addiction last year. This happened right before the second season of Californication premiered on Showtime. Normally I wouldn’t mention such trivia in a DVD review, but given the promiscuous manner in which his character, Hank Moody, behaves in this series, it’s the obvious elephant in the room. Further, his most famous character, Fox Mulder (of The X-Files), had a fascination with pornography. Given these character stats, it’s now become impossible to entirely separate the dancer from the dance.

It’s not that one should judge any of the work that’s come before Duchovny’s real life problems, but what are we to expect from Hank in Season Three? If the character continues to go down the roads he’s previously traveled, it’s difficult to understand Duchovny as an actor, and any declarations he might make akin to “He’s just a guy I play on a TV show” are unlikely to alleviate the conundrum. Since he must have shot most – if not all of – Season Two before his problems were made public, the issue has less bearing on what’s presented here, but there’s no denying that the further you get sucked into the universe of Californication, you can’t help but wonder what the future will bring, what the whole thing’s really about, and whether or not Duchovny chose the role as an excuse to work through/explore personal issues.

Read the rest of this DVD review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Last House on the Left

It used to be said that there were only two things you could count on in this life: death and taxes. We should probably go ahead and add remakes to the list. They’ve become a fact of life – something we cannot escape, no matter how hard we try and how much we complain. They just simply are. Great. Now that we’ve accepted that remakes are going to be a big part of moviegoing culture for the foreseeable future, we can get down to the business of figuring out which ones are good and which ones are not. Surprisingly, The Last House on the Left, a remake of Wes Craven’s 1972 debut, is actually one of the good ones. Not great, mind you, but good – especially when one considers the source material was flawed to begin with. The new movie, on which Craven has a producer credit, manages to actually outclass the original on numerous levels, although there are still a couple areas of the old movie (which was produced on a shoestring budget) that are more interesting than what’s presented here.

Read the rest of this Blu-ray/DVD review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

And click here to read a short review of Wes Craven's 1972 version of The Last House on the Left at Premium Hollywood.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Co-Starred in a Short Film with David Tennant

The title of this post is meant to grab your attention - and it also happens to have a grain of truth to it. The video above was taken at the BBC America party at TCA a couple weeks ago, and has now surfaced online. I was at the party, and you can see me in the background, to the left of Tennant's head, throughout the video. Jeanne is with me, as well. To the right of Tennant's head - and with far more prominent roles - is my Bullz-Eye editor Will Harris and his wife, Jennifer. See if you can also spot TV Guide's Matt Roush, BBC America head honcho Garth Ancier and Russell T Davies. Oh, I realize it isn't up there with even a below average episode of Doctor Who, but since nobody's been ringing my phone off the hook, offering me roles on the show, I'll have to settle for this very minor minute in the background of the spotlight.

Tennant was ridiculously in demand that night, and I only got to speak with him briefly toward the end of the party, and he actually remembered me from four years ago when we met, at which time he'd only been the Doctor for 30 seconds. I had longer conversations with Davies and Julie Gardner, and I spoke to Euros Lyn for a long time about the Torchwood mini, "Children of Earth." All in all, a fun night, and one I'll remember for years to come.

Coming soon: Russell T Davies stole my Patio Furniture!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Torchwood: Children of Earth

Back when I wrote the review for Season Two of Torchwood, I threw out bold proclamations like “If this material doesn’t make you a fan, then nothing the series will ever do is likely to grab your attention,” and “it’s unlikely to ever reach such perfection again.” Before even the first hour of the miniseries “Children of Earth” was over, all those words felt hastily chosen. Here’s a show that has consistently gotten better and better with each passing block of episodes, and now, looking back at the antics of Season One (which I dearly loved at the time), the material presented three years ago seems rather silly in comparison to this masterpiece. This really is the must-see TV event of the year, and what a treat it is to be able to own it on DVD or Blu-ray so soon after its broadcast on BBC America. The even better news is that it’s fairly self-contained, so if you’ve never seen Torchwood before this, here’s an excellent jumping-off point, sure to leave you wanting more as the end credits roll.

The action turns on, as the title suggests, the children of the Earth, who one day begin speaking in unison: “We are coming. We are coming.” It lasts mere moments, and when it’s over, the children remember nothing. Needless to say, the planet shifts into full-on panic mode, and behind closed doors, the British government knows more than anyone else. Aliens known simply as the 456 are behind this, and they’ve visited once before in 1965, at which time they took 12 British children. Now they’re back, and they want more – a lot more.

Read the rest of this DVD review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead

There will probably be a time when “Planet of the Dead” doesn’t feel like such a colossal disappointment. When it can be grouped together and viewed alongside the three specials that follow it, it’ll likely be easier to appreciate what it amounts to, which is, as Russell T Davies has stated, “the last chance for the Tenth Doctor to have a good time.” The Doctor (David Tennant) does indeed have a splendid time in this outing, despite once again being thrust into a hopeless situation, but unfortunately, the viewer doesn’t fare so well. It’s not that “Planet of the Dead” is bad as much as it is total whiz-bang, balls-to-the-wall, non-stop eye-candy and action – which, for some people, will amount to bad. Thing is, it’s not actually any worse than any number of the other various action romps the new series has presented, but it doesn’t have the cushion of better stories surrounding it to fall back on. As the sole Who outing for a ten month period in 2009, one quite reasonably expected it to be something special, which it just simply isn’t.

Read the rest of this DVD review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.