Posts Tagged ‘Deadwood’
For the first post back, I’m taking a look at the first all-new series of 2015, ABC’s Galavant, which is a show that took me somewhat by surprise because the advance word didn’t seem to be overwhelmingly positive. In addition, ABC’s strategy of double-pumping it over four weeks had the odor of burn-off. Added together, I was very wary going in, but I ended up being mildly shocked by just how much I enjoyed it.
Galavant stars the relatively unknown Joshua Sasse (Rogue, The Neighbors) as the titular Galavant, a knight suffers his love Madalena (Australian model Mallory Jansen) being taken from him by the effete and evil King Richard (a never-better Timothy Omundson from Deadwood and Psych). Galavant is later enlisted by the *deep breath* Princess Isabella Maria Lucia Elizabetta of Valencia (Strike Back’s Karen David) as her champion in a conflict with Richard, piquing his interest with word of how much Madalena claims to miss him. As the seconds to Galavant and Richard respectively, Luke Youngblood (Magnitude from Community – POP POP!!) and Vinnie Jones (various Guy Ritchie films) round out the cast.
Surprisingly, Galavant offers higher than average laughs in its first two episodes, mostly as a result of its Alan Menken-penned Flight Of The Conchords-esque songs that the characters use to flesh out the storylines. Additionally, a medieval musical comedy is rather unique for television right now, so it has its own niche to carve out in forms the comedy counterpart of sorts to similar (albeit non-musical) on-trend dramas like Game Of Thrones, Reign, and Outlander. My sense was that the premiere had a little more steam than the second episode did, largely because of the problems I had with what seemed like a miscast John Stamos’ performance as Galavant rival Sir Jean Hamm (unfortunately, that was actually the character’s name) in the second installment. Future episodes promise guest stars like Rutger Hauer, Anthony Stewart Head, and Ricky Gervais (!!), so hopefully they fare better than the admittedly game Stamos did.
Ultimately, you could do a lot worse than spending three or so hours with Galavant over the next month, though there may be more than that to come in the future since it did a surprising aggregate of 7.34 million viewers its first time out on Sunday. Though it’s not perfect, I do think that Galavant is beginning to charm me.
Episode 1.01/1.02 Grade: B
Top Lines Presented Out of Context:
“And tonight, you will join me in my bed. And we will do it!!”
“(Singing) And so what if you have that pesky little muffin top?” “Wait… what?”
“Holy shit I’m out of shape. That was a long song.”
TV Diary | Luck – Episode 1.03 – “Episode 3” – Original Airdate: 2/12/12
Episode Grade: A-
I’m not sure whether it’s because Luck’s getting easier to understand by design or that immersion into the world of the show is starting to take hold but I felt significantly less confused after the conclusion of “Episode 3” than I did at any point during either of its first two episodes. Again, it’s becoming clearer that there are three major threads in the show: Ace’s pursuit of revenge, the Four Amigos  and their foray into the world of horse ownership, and Walter’s attempt to prepare Gettin’ Up Morning  for big money races, so we’ll continue to look at the show from those standpoints. “Episode 3” introduced a new player in Ace’s pending confrontation with his former partner Mike  – Suits’ Patrick J. Adams as a smarmy derivatives expert who works for a firm that Ace owns as part of his legitimate business pursuits. Beyond the fact that it was surprising to a degree to see Ace running a legit enterprise, Adams registered an immediate impression when his David Israel was the lone member of a board meeting that Ace was running who had the gumption to speak his opinion, leading Ace to abruptly exit the meeting and then ask for a private audience with Israel. Later, after meeting with Israel and Gus in his hotel room, Ace takes a liking to him almost solely because – as he remarks to Gus – “He’ll irritate the shit out of Mike.” The shading of the Israel character isn’t anything that hasn’t been seen before – the savant who’s really good at what he does but is lacking in any type of social grace – but it establishes Israel as yet another cog in Ace’s expanding plan for revenge. “Episode 3” also marked the first appearance of Michael Mann vet Joan Allen  as Claire Lachay, a woman who runs a non-profit organization devoted to rehabilitating horses and who it would appear – based on Ace’s lingering glance at her – could end up positioned as a love interest for Mr. Bernstein before too long. While two new players were introduced into Ace’s orbit, the Four Amigos (or 4A) continued on in their quest for ownership of Mon Gateau, Escalante’s former horse who was claimed in “Episode 2” after Escalante’s con of making it appear that the horse was injured while entering him in a claiming race backfired. Lonnie’s near-death experience with the would-be-murdering hookers seems to have galvanized the entire group’s resolve as Jerry in particular looks much less haggard than we’ve seen him at any point in the series thus far. He’s enlisted by the rest of the group to meet with the winning claimant, played by W. Earl Brown (probably best known as Deadwood’s Dan Dority). After securing ownership of Mon Gateau from Brown, Jerry is then able to convince Escalante to stay on as Mon Gateau’s trainer, news that’s seen and received as a gigantic victory by his three partners. The scene where Escalante gives them the rundown on what his services entail  is marked by the wonder on the 4A’s faces when Mon Gateau is brought to them up close and personal. Again, just as in the pilot, Luck takes great care to show its audience how majestic these animals really are and the reaction of the four men shows that that majesty is enough to strip away any negativity present in that one moment. It’s a great scene as played by all four actors . And as in “Episode 3,” the least traction comes in the Walter thread where the biggest development is that Walter loses Ronnie as a candidate to ride Gettin’ Up Morning after Ronnie takes a spill in a race and breaks a collarbone, sidelining him for a good period of time and for long enough that Walter ponders bringing Rosie back from Portland to be his jockey. Nick Nolte is great but of Luck’s three major threads, this is the one that’s moving the needle the least for me, but we are only three episodes in. There’s plenty of time for Walter’s story to find its groove and prove that it’s just as strong as the rest of Luck is shaping up to be.
 Since this is what Renzo suggests they should call their stable, this is how I’m going to refer to them beginning… now.
 Hell… I even managed to learn the names of the two principal horses thanks to this episode. Hooray for progress!
 Who I’d expect to be introduced very, very soon.
 I’d completely forgotten the pivotal role that Allen played in Mann’s 1986 classic Manhunter until Alan Sepinwall pointed it out in his review of “Episode 3.”
 And good damn… it costs a shitton of money for upkeep on horses. Holy shit.
 The contrast between Renzo’s childlike wide-eyedness and Lonnie’s scared reluctance to approach Mon Gateau is a nice touch, too.
*I mentioned in my review of “Episode 2” that there was a palpable childlike quality to Gus but that label could just as easily be affixed to Renzo. His telling everyone within earshot that the 4A are thinking of buying a racehorse is proof of that, but so is his instinctive need to take care of people. It’s clear that he views the purchase of Mon Gateau as something that can keep the Four Amigos together but he’s just as insistent that Goose, the man who helped guide him through the claiming process in “Episode 2,” is given 5% of all of Mon Gateu’s winnings as a token of his appreciation for Goose’s help. Renzo is quickly turning into the kind of guy you root for, even as Richie Coster often plays him as if Renzo just smelled a fart. Just an observation.
*”People make adjustments.” Liked seeing Ace’s parole officer parrot this “Episode 2” line back to him after he shows up at Ace’s hotel for a routine urine test only to find that Ace has the hotel’s gym all to himself.
*Between Ronnie’s accident, Leon taking a header onto a tile floor and cracking his head open after a weight-loss-inducing sauna session, and the near accident on the track as Gus watched Ace’s horse almost collide with another animal coming the wrong way, Luck is doing a fine job of showing us the inherent dangers of the horseracing industry. Not to mention that Ronnie’s descent (or relapse) into drug abuse is clearly a coping mechanism for the stress and eventual emptiness of the sport being taken away, even if only for a brief period.
*To that end, the scene were Ronnie hands over a bill to a liquor store clerk to buy some booze that he’d used as a coke straw not five minutes earlier? Classy move.
*I wouldn’t be surprised if Luck is setting up some competition for who gets to ride Gettin’ Up Morning between Leon and the returning Rosie.
*That Escalante and his veterinarian are fuck buddies makes perfect sense in retrospect. The scene earlier in the episode where he offhandedly accuses her of leaking sensitive information on Mon Gateau that lead to the horse being claimed was fraught with sexual tension.
*The staging of the scene in the hotel after Israel shows up for his meeting with Ace stood out in a very positive way as Ace, Adams, Lachay, and the hotel’s concierge all walk to the elevator as Massive Attack’s “Angel” plays on the soundtrack might have made it one of my favorites in the show’s three episodes thus far.
*”Mr. Late For Me Is Prompt.”
*”Jesus Christ you fucked this up. Every part to every damn aspect.”
*”I break this fucking collarbone more than I get laid.”
*”You think this comes from a job at McDonald’s?”
*”Define junk more precisely.” “A Chinese sailboat.”
*”I’d like to use the lavatory.” “America, kid.”
*”Don’t be poaching my ketchup. You’ve got ketchup of your own.”
*”My guess, honey, if that ain’t a week’s work and something to put in the basket on Sunday you better call me a greedy motherfucker.”
*”I know you’re not gonna flunk him on account of me being fresh?” “No. That would make us both unprofessional assholes.”
*”Oh… put on your to-do list? Go fuck yourself.”
*”Go home. Come back tomorrow tell me every fucking thing you did between now and then. If I like what I hear I’ll give you a million dollars for the next twelve months you work for me.”
*”I’m out looking for fun.”
TV Diary | Alcatraz – Episode 1.03 – “Kit Nelson” – Original Airdate: 1/23/12
Episode Grade: C+
“Kit Nelson” was not really the way that I’d hoped Alcatraz would come out in its second week, even as I understood its approach. The first couple of episodes of a season – particularly that of a debut season – usually see a show repeating itself, and its pilot in particular, as a way of reinforcing what the show is while at the same time creating an inviting environment for newcomers who may be seeing the show for the first time. So, I get that Alcatraz used the same formula for “Kit Nelson” that it did for its second episode, “Ernest Cobb,” but it didn’t make it any less frustrating. I have the sense that there’s a really weird and interesting show in here struggling to get out but it’s weighted down by the generic procedural aspect that’s in the show’s DNA thus far. Like in “Ernest Cobb,” Madsen and Soto track down a baddie but this time instead of a crazed sniper it’s a crazed child-kidnapper. That amps the stakes more than a little  even as it was doubtful that Alcatraz is the kind of show that’s gonna kill a kid, especially in its third episode. In a nutshell, Nelson killed his own brother back in the day as a child and then, as a response, began kidnapping and killing other kids as a way of working out his issues. Not particularly healthy, that. Ultimately, this episode – much like “Ernest Cobb” – felt waaaay too Criminal Minds-ish for my tastes. If this is something that becomes a regular occurrence, I’m going to have to reevaluate whether Alcatraz is something worth sticking with but for now the strange threads that pop up at various points in each episode are what’s keeping me around and there were a couple in “Kit Nelson” that caught my attention. First, Nelson is the first of the three Alcatraz escapees that we’ve seen who hasn’t survived . What does that do to the dynamic of the show, seeing as Hauser has incarcerated both Cobb and Jack Sylvain in a mysterious high-tech prison in the middle of the woods? Even more intriguing – is Nelson actually going to be dead? The final moments of “Kit Nelson” introduced Leon Rippy  as Dr. Beauregard, the mysterious medical examiner at Hauser’s new facility and, after delivering Nelson’s lifeless body to the doctor, Hauser mentions something about possibly needing Beauregard’s services for a friend – presumably Parminder Nagra’s Dr. Bannerjee who is still near-death in the hospital following her shooting in “Ernest Cobb.” Sooo… are we re-animating corpses here? Something even more strange, perhaps? Either way, it’s these little hints of weirdness that make Alcatraz worth sticking with for the time being. Given the fact that the show’s been a breakout hit for Fox the past two weeks, they’re probably loathe to change the formula too much but less generic torture-porn procedural and more weird sci-fi is definitely the direction the show needs to be heading. Time will tell if that’s what happens.
 And allows a bit of backstory into Soto, as he confesses to the victim towards the episode’s conclusion that something similar happened to him when he was an adolescent. Nice to get a little insight into Soto, even if it came in a somewhat lackluster episode like this.
 After being shot dead by Hauser when Madsen’s unable to pull the trigger.
 Tom Nuttall! Deadwood represent, yo.
*Through three episodes, Sam Neill isn’t being given much to do other than act like a hardass each time he’s on screen. Here he cancels the amber alert on the abducted child because he doesn’t want the photo of Nelson to be widely distributed due to his status as a 63. He also seems willing to boot Soto from the team until Madsen goes to bat for him, and later psychoanalyzes Soto by telling him that the incident from Soto’s past has caused a state of arrested development and that the only reason he’s keeping him around is because his expertise on the subject of Alcatraz. I said in my initial review that Neill is somewhat handicapped by Hauser’s role as the keeper of the secrets but Neill’s been a decent actor for much of his career. Maybe give him some more to do already.
*On the subject of giving people more to do… no Robert Forster again? What the hell, Alcatraz?
*Another one of those interesting threads that’s I’ve been talking about comes when we see Nelson at Alcatraz in flashback talking to a figure behind a curtain in the infirmary. For the second time, said figure cuts deeply into the psyche of the inmate who’s the focus of the episode. As I said, this is the second time that type of scene has played out in Alcatraz’s three episodes and, here, the man behind the curtain is revealed to be Madsen’s grandfather. That’s clearly something that’s going to be important going forward and is a nice nod to continuity.
*Admittedly, I didn’t like too much about the “Kit Nelson” plot, but the fact that he killed his victims within 48 hours of abduction provided a nice time crunch for our heroes to solve the case.
*On the other hand, the actress playing the mother of the kidnapped kid? Maybe act a little more broken up about YOUR KID BEING KIDNAPPED BY A PYSCHOPATH. Jesus… it’s like someone told her that her blender had been stolen – not her oldest child.
*I’ve generally liked Sarah Jones’ work in the past (Big Love, Sons Of Anarchy, Justified), but her line readings here are kind of odd and dispassionate. Am I the only one noticing this?
*Is Madsen always going to apprehend these guys in the rain? Something to think about.
*The first five minutes of this episode… I swear to God if you hadn’t told me that it was Alcatraz I would have sworn it was an episode of Fringe. Here’s hoping that Alcatraz ends up following a similar path as that show, at least from a content standpoint since Fringe has never drawn the numbers that Alcatraz has in its three outings.
*Doc’s attempts to stall Nelson after he happens upon him in the diner are great. “Hey… what are you guys up to?”
*”If he had tried my cherry pie, he wouldn’t be so unhappy.” I may have heard this line differently than intended.
*Episode embedded below via Hulu, as usual.