REVIEW: THE RANCH – SEASON 4

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MAIN CAST

Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men)
Sam Elliott (Ghost Rider)
Elisha Cuthbert (The Girl Next Door)
Debra Winger (Rachel Getting Married)

Megyn Price and Dax Shepard in The Ranch (2016)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Dax Shepard (Chips)
Megyn Price (Rules of Engagement)
Kelli Goss (The Young and The Restless)
Jim Beaver (Breaking Bad)
Wendie Malick (American Housewife)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Kathy Baker (Picket Fences)
Grady Lee Richmond (Dirty Girl)
Barry Corbin (Anger Management)
Josh Burrow (Shoot Me Nicely)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Debra Jo Rupp (That 70s Show)
Martin Mull (Sabrina: TTW)
Bret Harirson (V)

Ashton Kutcher and Elisha Cuthbert in The Ranch (2016)There’s going to be a lot of chatter over the way Netflix has decided to end the latest part of “The Ranch.” While this is the fourth season, it’s actually Part 7 of 8 parts in the show’s storyline, with Brad Paisley songs gracing the names of each episode in this part. Coming back to the world of the Bennetts can feel like a family reunion, both fun and bittersweet. This new chapter again features the particular humor the series is known for but with dark reunions and a final, cryptic act. It is this part’s closing moment that is quite bold in many ways.Sam Elliott in The Ranch (2016)Picking up where the last season ended, Colt Bennett (Ashton Kutcher) has been left by his wife Abby (Elisha Cuthbert) over him misleading her about the potential sale of his livestock. Now Colt is on his own and even barred from the Bennett family ranch by his father, Beau (Sam Elliott). Colt’s cousin, Luke (Dax Shepard) has meanwhile gone off to tie the knot in a hasty Vegas wedding with Mary (Megyn Price), who everyone knows has a serious drug problem. When Luke returns he realizes the wrongs he’s done and tries to rebuild a bond with Colt. It’s a moment of crossroads for the family as Colt wonders if he and Abby are truly over, Luke realizes it’s time to actually grow up.Ashton Kutcher and Dax Shepard in The Ranch (2016)“The Ranch” has never lost its homey feel during its four seasons. There have been grand, dramatic moments, like wildfires and the disappearance of Colt’s brother, Rooster (Danny Masterson), but for “Part 7” the writing becomes reflective. The storyline focuses more on where each character is situated and how they will face the future. Colt must face up to the lies he told, not out of malice but because he genuinely believed he was on the cusp of a big business deal. Most of this season finds him doing a delicate, emotional dance with Abby, openly pining for her, giving her alimony and jumping at the first chance to prove his loyalty. Worried about her image as a teacher at a new school, Abby asks Colt for his help in attending a school event so she won’t look like a separated spouse. He almost does it thinking it means they could get back together. As a comedy “The Ranch” has always delivered, but it’s in the subtle drama where it works best. Colt’s feelings towards Abby aren’t funny, but sad and endearing. Yet the show never gets predictable with this storyline and it is refreshing how it treats a breakup without dreamy romanticism, it soberly knows that some couples simply never get back together.Ashton Kutcher and Elisha Cuthbert in The Ranch (2016)The same goes for other relationships, like Luke and Mary’s, which in any other sitcom would be a gag for countless jokes. Instead it leads to real consequences such as Mary having to face the chaos of her existence, and how it affects her daughter, Heather (Kelli Goss). Heather is a bit underused this season, but she has strong scenes where she needs to pick up Mary at the hospital after an overdose, and telling Luke to get lost then accepting his sincere help for paying the mortgage. Luke’s character this season also becomes a person trying to make amends. He buys Colt’s cattle at the auction block, in order to prove he truly wants to be partners with his cousin. Beau is making plans for his new life with fiance Joanne (Kathy Baker), but must first make amends with Colt. It’s family dysfunction written with a particular kind of heartfelt drama, where no one screams or shouts but just say what they honestly feel. When Beau tries to advise Colt on how to treat a potentially ill cattle Colt takes it as an insult, and this is indeed how families actually do argue.Sam Elliott, Kathy Baker, Ashton Kutcher, Megyn Price, Dax Shepard, and Kelli Goss in The Ranch (2016)Colt runs into one issue after another trying to make his ranch sustainable, but he won’t go down easily. In one crisis he tries to buy a new bull to impregnate his heifers from Neumann’s Hill Ranch, who have repeatedly been trying to purchase both Cole’s and Beau’s Iron River Ranch. In another pivotal moment, Cole strikes back at Neumann’s Hill when they try to play dirty. Ashton Kutcher again delivers some of his best work, turning Colt into a man full of both many faults and heart. The great Sam Elliott also elevates the material with that calm demeanor that hides a powerful presence. What Elliott does here with Beau is begin to soften the hard exterior of the patriarch. Now that he has found the love of his life in Joanne he is opening himself to new experiences, like a proposal by Joanne to go to Spain.Sam Elliott and Kathy Baker in The Ranch (2016)In the previous season we saw how he had changed to the point of contemplating selling the farm for the good of his family and in this season he does just that. Even Luke acknowledges he is happy to have met this Beau, a man with an iron will for sure, but now with a more loving outlook, even if at first he still gives Luke a stern talk for his behavior. Essential to Elliot’s performance is the warm presence of Baker’s character, Joanne. With an alzheimer’s diagnosis her character’s engagement to Beau transcends the usual sitcom’s twilight years romance. It’s treated like a special bond between people who have been through much, and are prepared to go through more, together. This is the season where Joanne becomes an even more present and essential character that completes Beau’s life while in a sense completing the Bennett family.Ashton Kutcher and Dax Shepard in The Ranch (2016)While some episodes in season 4 just mosy along, it must be said this is never a boring season. We love to watch the Bennetts deal with their inner traumas and hassles because they feel real. Colt’s predicament with Abby is relatable to anyone who lets a good thing go, Luke embodies the wild child who can prove he’s not a screw up. This is a worthy season for “The Ranch.” The Bennetts grow and reconcile while enduring new challenges. To revisit these characters is like walking into a living family portrait, where everyone has good and bad memories.

REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN – SEASON 1

Starring

Lynda Carter (Supergirl)
Lyle Waggoner (The Carol Burnett Show)
Richard Eastham (Battle For The POTA)
Beatrice Colen (High Anxiety)

Lynda Carter in The New Original Wonder Woman (1975)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

John Randolph (Serpico)
Red Buttons (The Poseidon Adventure)
Stella Stevens (Say One For me)
Eric Braeden (Titantic)
Henry Gibson (Sabrina: TTW)
Kenneth Mars (Fletch)
Cloris Leachman (Spanglish)
Christine Belford (Christine)
Keene Curtis (Stargate SG.1)
Lynda Day George (Mission: Impossible)
Anne Francis (Forbidden Planet)
Dick Van Patten (Spaceballs)
John Saxon (Black Chirstmas)
Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family)
Debra Winger (The Ranch)
Pamela Susan Shoop (Halloween II)
Robert Loggia (Big)
Robert Reed (The Brady Bunch)
Tim O’Connor (Buck Rogers)
Scott Hylands (Earthquake)
Harris Yulin (Ghostbusters II)
Robert Hays (Airplane)
Charles Cyphers (Halloween)

Lynda Carter, Christine Belford, and Lyle Waggoner in Wonder Woman (1975)Season 1 of Wonder Woman is set in 1942 to the backdrop of the second world war. Following the comics Major Steve Trevor crash lands his plane of the secretive Paradise Island and the all-female residents take part in olympic style games to decide which of their warriors shall be the one to escort him back to man’s world. As we all know it is Diana, daughter of the Queen who wins the coveted role and along with her invisible jet she returns with Steve to America.Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner in Wonder Woman (1975)Before leaving her homeland Diana is presented with her costume features a golden belt, the source of her strength, bullet proof bracelets and the golden lasso of truth. Choosing to stay and fight the evil Nazi’s Diana takes up the guise of Diana Prince a yeoman for the US Navy. For much of the first season the show follows the formula of the Nazi’s attacking the US either on home soil or on rare occasions the show would require Diana to travel to Germany in order to resolve conflicts.Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)Many fans would testify that after season one the shift to stories told in the present day would see a downturn in the creativity of the show and eventually lead to its cancellation. So why does a WW2 Wonder Woman work so well? Much of it has to do with the feelings that WW2 evokes with viewers, so at the time in the 70s and with the young target audience there was a very black and white, good vs evil appearance to the show that barely exists in modern media. The time period of the shows setting and also the period of its production allow for a simplistic nature that also capitalises on the 1966 Batman series. They’re very similar in tone and ‘Wonder Woman’ would use the same extreme caricaturisation to portray its villains.Lynda Carter and Hayden Rorke in Wonder Woman (1975)There series is by no means complex, far fetched yes but in no way complex. For a modern audience it’s a great example of how superheroes were portrayed in the age before Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’. There’s an incredibly well defined moral compass which could teach the young audience of today many lessons. For the uninitiated ‘Wonder Woman’ would come across as looking cheap and cheesy but to those of us who grew up with this kind of show it has a great place in our hearts.Lynda Carter and James Olson in Wonder Woman (1975)The writing is strong for its age, it might not hold up against the scripted drama of today but as a nostalgia show it is one of the greats. There are plot hole abound but they come from a need for a great story rather than a tightly woven average story. At the time audiences were taken aback by the scale of the show and that’s what you must remember when watching it back. Lynda Carter will forever be the fans ultimate Wonder Woman and there is little that anybody can say to argue with it. Her presence on screen is excellent and the passion that she throws in to the role is commendable. She continues to ride the coat tales of ‘Wonder Woman’ to the present day and her legacy will run on long after she is no longer with us. If you’ve never watched this show before I highly recommend you check out the first season on DVD. If you have seen the show and yet don’t own it… well I don’t know but you better have a good excuse!

REVIEW: RACHEL GETTING MARRIED

CAST

Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rise)
Rosemarie DeWitt (Poltergeist)
Bill Irwin (Law & Order: SVU)
Debra Winger (Wonder Woman TV)
Mather Zickel(Bones)
Sebastian Stan (Spread)
Roslyn Ruff (Salt)

MV5BMTU0Mzk0MTE4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTc0NTgxNg@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1505,1000_AL_Kym Buchman (Anne Hathaway) is released from drug rehab for a few days so she can go home to attend the wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt). At home, the atmosphere is strained between Kym and her family members as they struggle to reconcile themselves with her past and present. Kym’s father Paul (Bill Irwin) shows intense concern for her well-being and whereabouts, which Kym interprets as mistrust. Kym also resents her sister’s choice of her best friend to be her maid of honor instead of her. Rachel, for her part, resents the attention her sister’s drug addiction is drawing away from her wedding, a resentment that comes to a head at the rehearsal dinner, where Kym, amid toasts from friends and family, takes the microphone to offer an apology for her past actions, as part of her twelve-step program.MV5BMTQ1NjM1NzExMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTc0NTgxNg@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1505,1000_AL_Underlying the family’s dynamic is a tragedy that occurred years previously, which Kym retells at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. As a teenager, Kym was responsible for the death of her younger brother Ethan, who was left in her care one day; driving home from a nearby park, an intoxicated Kym had lost control of the car, driving over a bridge and into a lake, where her brother drowned. The day before the wedding, as Rachel, Kym, and the other bridesmaids are getting their hair done, Kym is approached by a man whom she knew from an earlier stint in rehab. He thanks her for the strength she gave him through a story about having been molested by an uncle and having cared for her sister, who was anorexic. Rachel, hearing this, storms out of the hair salon. The story turns out to be a lie, an apparent attempt by Kym to evade responsibility for her addiction.
MV5BMjAwMTc1MzgxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTc0NTgxNg@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1505,1000_AL_The tension between the sisters comes to a head later that night at their father’s house, when Kym comes home. Rachel reveals she has never forgiven Kym for their brother’s death, and suggests that Kym’s rehab has been a hoax since she has been lying about the cause of her problems. Kym finally admits responsibility for Ethan’s death and reveals that she had been relapsing in order to cope. She gets into her father’s car and leaves. Kym heads to the home of their mother Abby (Debra Winger), hoping to find solace with her. However, a fight breaks out between them, when Kym asks Abby why she left Ethan in her care on the night of his death despite knowing that she was often on drugs, suggesting that Ethan would have been better off in Rachel’s care. Abby tells Kym she left Ethan with her because she was good to him and that she thinks Rachel is a hypocrite for her accusations.
MV5BNWVhNTQ4NTEtYTNlMi00N2YxLTliYWUtZTFkOGIwN2JjOWZhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyOTc5MDI5NjE@._V1_When Kym makes it clear she thinks her mother’s decision was in part responsible for Ethan’s death, Abby becomes furious and punches Kym in the face. Kym hits her mother back and drives off in her father’s car. While driving away, Kym begins sobbing uncontrollably because she feels Abby has not accepted appropriate responsibility for her part in the actions which ultimately caused Ethan’s death. Kym drives the car off the road in an attempted suicide and crashes into a boulder. Rather than summon help, she spends the night in the car while everyone at home worries about what has become of her. The next morning, the day of the wedding, Kym is spotted in the car by passing joggers, who call the police. The police awaken her and give her a sobriety test, which she passes. She gets a ride home with the driver of the tow truck who is towing the wrecked car. She makes her way to Rachel’s room, as Rachel prepares for the wedding.
MV5BNTMxNDkxYTgtNTc3OS00OGFiLWI5YWMtM2I2OWU4YjRhYzRhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyOTc5MDI5NjE@._V1_Seeing Kym’s bruised face from the crash prompts her anger of the previous night to vanish, and Rachel tenderly bathes and dresses her sister. Amid a festive Indian theme, Rachel and her fiancé are wed. Kym is the maid of honor, and is overcome with emotion as the couple exchanges their vows. Kym tries to enjoy herself throughout the wedding reception but continues to feel out of place and is plagued by the dispute with her mother. Ultimately, her mother leaves the party early, despite Rachel’s effort to bring the two together, and the feud between Kym and Abby is left unresolved, suggesting Abby’s emotional distance and unwillingness to accept responsibility is the root cause of the family’s problems. The next morning, Kym returns to rehab. As she is leaving, Rachel runs out of the house to hug her.MV5BMjA4NjEwMDA3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjY5ODA4MQ@@._V1_This movie has had its critics, but I like it, it`s not the usual Hollywood fare, it certainly isn`t a rom-com, and the dramas are played for real. Hathaway and DeWitt are totally credible as sisters, and it`s so good to see the divine Debra back in a mainstream film.