REVIEW: LEON

CAST

Jean Reno (Mission: Impossible)
Gary Oldman (Batman Begins)
Natalie Portman (Thor)
Danny Aiello (Do The Right Thing)
Peter Appel (Spider-Man)
Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors)
Robert LaSardo (Nip/Tuck)
Adam Busch (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)

Léon Montana (Jean Reno) is an Italian hitman (or “cleaner”, as he refers to himself) living a solitary life in New York City’s Little Italy. His work comes from a mafioso named Tony (Danny Aiello). Léon spends his idle time engaging in calisthenics, nurturing a houseplant, and watching old films.One day, Léon sees Mathilda Lando (Natalie Portman), a lonely twelve-year-old girl. Mathilda lives with her dysfunctional family in an apartment down the hall. Her abusive father and self-absorbed stepmother have not noticed that Mathilda stopped attending class at her school for troubled girls. Mathilda’s father (Michael Badalucco) attracts the ire of corrupt DEA agents, who have been paying him to stash cocaine in his apartment. After they discover he has been cutting the cocaine to keep for himself, DEA agents storm the building, led by sharply dressed drug addict Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman). During the raid, Stansfield quickly becomes unhinged and murders Mathilda’s entire family while she is out shopping for groceries. When Mathilda returns, she realizes what has happened just in time to continue down the hall, where she desperately rings her neighbour’s door. A hesitant Léon gives her shelter.Mathilda quickly discovers that Léon is a hitman. She begs him to take care of her and to teach her his skills, as she wants to avenge the murder of her four-year-old brother. At first Léon is unsettled by her presence, but he eventually trains Mathilda and shows her how to use various weapons. In exchange, she runs his errands, cleans his apartment, and teaches him how to read. In time, the pair form a close bond. Mathilda often tells Léon she is in love with him, but he refuses to reciprocate. One day when Léon heads out for an apparent assignment, Mathilda fills a bag with guns from Léon’s collection and sets out to kill Stansfield. She bluffs her way into the DEA office by posing as a delivery girl, only to be ambushed by Stansfield in a bathroom. Mathilda learns from Stansfield that Léon killed one of the corrupt DEA agents in Chinatown that morning. Léon, after discovering her plan in a note left for him, rescues Mathilda, shooting two more of Stansfield’s men in the process. An enraged Stansfield confronts Tony, who is interrogated for Léon’s whereabouts.When Mathilda returns home from grocery shopping, an NYPD ESU team sent by Stansfield captures her and attempts to infiltrate Léon’s apartment. Léon ambushes the ESU team and rescues Mathilda. Léon creates a quick escape for Mathilda by smashing a hole in an air shaft; he then reassures her, tells her that he loves her, and thanks her for giving him “a taste for life”, moments before the police blow up the apartment. In the chaos that follows, Léon sneaks out of the building disguised as a wounded ESU officer; he goes unnoticed save for Stansfield, who follows him and shoots him in the back. As he is dying, Léon places an object in Stansfield’s hands that he says is “from Mathilda” before succumbing to his wounds; Stansfield discovers that it is a grenade pin. He then opens Léon’s vest to find a cluster of active grenades, which detonates and kills him.Mathilda goes to Tony, as Léon had instructed her to do before he died. Tony tells Mathilda he had been instructed by Léon to give his money to her if anything happened to him; he offers to hold it and provide the money on an allowance basis. Mathilda returns to school and meets the headmistress, who readmits her after Mathilda reveals what had happened to her. She then walks onto a field near the school to plant Léon’s houseplant, as she had told Léon he should, to “give it roots”.Maybe, probably, definitely the best hitman movie ever made and very well acted by all!

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REVIEW: THE NAKED GUN 33 1/3: THE FINAL INSULT

CAST

Leslie Nielsen (Airplane)
Priscilla Presley (Dallas)
George Kennedy (The Dirty Dozen)
O.J. Simpson (C.I.A)
Fred Ward (Carny)
Kathleen Freeman (The Blues Brothers)
Anna Nicole Smith (To The Limit)
Ellen Greene (Pushing Daisies)
Raye Birk (Best Defence)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars)
Weird Al Yankovic (Halloween II)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb (Liar Liar)
Marc Alaimo (Star Trek: DS9)
Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch)
Shannon Doherty (Mallrats)
Morgan Fairchild (Menu For Murder)
Elliott Gould (Ocean’s Eleven)
Mariel Hemingway (Superman 4)
Raquel Welch (Fantastic Voyage)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Ann B. Davis (The Brady Bunch)

4Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) has retired from Police Squad and lives a basically happy life with his wife, Jane Spencer-Drebin (Priscilla Presley). It remains “basically happy” because police work has been Frank’s meaning of life, and he feels unhappy about not being able to legally take on criminals anymore. Additionally, Jane tries to push him into siring a child, but Frank does not have the courage to go through this yet. It comes as a blessing to him when his old friends Ed Hocken (George Kennedy) and Nordberg (O.J. Simpson) come by and ask for his help in an investigation. The Police Squad has caught wind that a well-known bomber named Rocco Dillon (Fred Ward), who is currently incarcerated, has been hired by a terrorist (Papshmir, known from the first movie) to conduct a major terrorist act against the United States. An important contact, Tanya Peters (Anna Nicole Smith), Rocco’s girlfriend, proves to be a dead end, so Drebin is asked to join Dillon undercover in prison, befriend him, and then leak details of the plan to his colleagues. However, the first part of the mission – by pure accident – proves to be extremely taxing; Jane becomes frustrated both at Frank’s sudden unwillingness to engage in his marital duties and the suspicion that he is doing police work again, and storms out of the house.
2Frank joins Rocco in prison, and after winning his trust, the two stage their breakout together. Rocco even manages to persuade his dominant and highly distrustful mother, Muriel (Kathleen Freeman) to take Frank into their house. However, both are loath to tell Frank too many details right away, which is why he is forced to stay around a little longer. In the meantime, Jane joins her friend Louise (Ellen Greene) on a road trip, but in time she realizes that she really misses Frank. When she calls home and receives no reply, she follows a clue Frank had inadvertently left behind to Tanya, where she is promptly taken hostage by Rocco and his mother. Frank is barely able to save her life for the time being, and eventually Rocco reveals his plan: the bomb is to be set off at this year’s Academy Award ceremony, with the bomb hidden in the envelope with the nomination of the Best Picture category and triggered when the card is pulled out.
3At the awarding night, Frank and Jane separate from Rocco’s team and frantically begin searching for the bomb, with Frank inflicting his usual chaos on stage during the prelude show. However, Frank and Jane are unable to find the bomb before the nomination for Best Picture has begun. When Frank bursts onto the stage and awkwardly tries to prevent the detonation of the bomb, Rocco and his mother realize what is going on and kidnap Jane, but in the process, Frank loosens an electronic sign which takes out Muriel. Desperate, Rocco decides to detonate the bomb to follow his mother, but Frank manages to catapult Rocco and the bomb out of the awarding hall right into Papshmir’s private helicopter (which was circling overhead), with the bomb eliminating all hostile parties involved. Frank and Jane reaffirm their love under the applause of the awarding audience and viewers worldwide.6Nine months later, Frank and Nordberg rush into the pediatric ward to witness the birth of Frank’s child but in their hurry run into the wrong delivery. Seeing that the baby is African-American, Frank assumes Nordberg is responsible and angrily chases him. Just after they leave, Ed comes out of another hospital room with Jane, who is holding their real baby.7Leslie Nelson is brilliant as the straight faced cop who causes havock wherever he goes. If you liked the first 2 then you’ll like this too – if you havent seen a naked gun movie before then you’ll probably like it as well.

REVIEW: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986)

CAST

Rick Moranis (Ghostbusters)
Ellen Greene (Pushing Daisies))
Vincent Gardenia (Moonstruck)
Steve Martin (Cheaper By The Dozen)
Tichina Arnold (Wild Hogs)
Jim Belushi (Red Heat)
John Candy (Spaceballs)
Christopher Guest (The Princess Bride)
Bill Murray (St. Vincent)
Miriam Margolyes (Babe)
Stanley Jones (Super Friends)
Danny John-Jules (Red Dwarf)
Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) and his colleague, Audrey (Ellen Greene), work at Mushnik’s Flower Shop, lamenting they cannot escape the slums of New York City, living in a run-down, rough neighborhood referred to as “Skid Row.” Struggling from a lack of customers, Mr. Mushnik (Vincent Gardenia) prompts to close the store, only for Audrey to suggest displaying an unusual plant Seymour owns. Immediately attracting a customer, Seymour explains he bought the plant, which he dubbed “Audrey II”, from a Chinese flower shop during a solar eclipse. Attracting business to Mushnik’s shop, the plant soon starts dying, worrying Seymour. Accidentally pricking his finger, he then discovers Audrey II needs human blood to thrive.

Audrey II continues to grow rapidly and Seymour becomes a local celebrity. Seymour soon attempts to ask Audrey out, but she turns him down because she has a date with her sadistic, mean-spirited dentist boyfriend Orin Scrivello (Steve Martin). Despite this, Audrey is interested in Seymour, as well as dreams of marrying him and escaping Skid Row. After Seymour closes up shop, Audrey II (Levi Stubbs) begins to talk to Seymour, demanding more blood than Seymour can give. The plant proposes Seymour murder someone in exchange for fame and fortune: Seymour initially refuses, but agrees upon witnessing Orin beating Audrey.
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After Orin was finished with his patient, Arthur Denton (Bill Murray), who requested “a long, slow, root canal”, Seymour books an appointment with Orin and arms himself with a revolver: however, he cannot bring himself to use it. Orin, who abuses nitrous oxide, puts on a type of venturi mask to receive a constant flow of the gas. Accidentally breaking an intake valve and unable to remove the mask, Orin begs Seymour for help removing it, but as Seymour just stands there. When Orin asks Seymour what he ever did to him, Seymour coldly replies, “Nothing, it’s what you did to her.” Orin dies from asphyxiation and Seymour drags his body back to Audrey II. While dismembering the body for the plant, Seymour is unknowingly witnessed by Mushnik, who flees in fear.
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After feeding Orin’s parts to Audrey II, Seymour discovers the police investigating Orin’s disappearance. Audrey, feeling guilty about wishing Orin would disappear, is comforted by Seymour and the two admit their feelings for each other. That night, Mushnik confronts Seymour about what he saw and holds Seymour at gunpoint, threatening to report him to the police. Mushnkik then attempts to blackmail Seymour, giving the option to flee the country in exchange for the ownership of the plant. With no choice, Seymour steadily backs him towards the plant, which swallows Mushnik whole.
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Despite widespread success, Seymour worries about Audrey II’s growth and unstable appetite. Offered money and a contract for a botany TV show, Seymour plans to escape Skid Row with Audrey using the money, leaving the plant to starve. After Audrey accepts Seymour’s marriage proposal, Audrey II catches Seymour leaving and demands another meal: Seymour agrees, but insists on meat from a butcher. While Seymour is gone, the plant calls Audrey, coaxes her into the shop, and then tries to eat her. Seymour, returning in time to save Audrey, escapes the store with her. Explaining that he fed the plant to become successful and win Audrey’s heart, Seymour discovers she has always loved him. Approached by an executive from a botanical company named Patrick Martin (James Belushi), Seymour is offered a contract to breed Audrey II and sell the saplings worldwide. Seymour drives Martin away, and realizes he must destroy Audrey II for the sake of humanity.
2Returning to the shop, Seymour learns that Audrey II is actually an alien from outer space. Audrey II traps Seymour and destroys the shop, but Seymour grabs an exposed electrical cable and electrocutes Audrey II. Leaving the destroyed shop, Seymour safely reunites with Audrey. The two wed and move to the suburbs: arriving at their new home, which is the one seen in Audrey’s daydreams, a smiling Audrey II bud can be seen among the flowers in their front yard.
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Little Shop of Horrors is so amazingly special and unique, that viewing it almost transports you to another world. It’s quite possibly the best film representation of a stage musical ever made–the sets are perfect, the casting is perfect, the music is perfect, and everything else about the film is perfect

REVIEW: PUSHING DAISIES – GIRTH

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MAIN CAST

Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Anna Friel (Land of The Lost)
Chi McBride (Human Target)
Jim Dale (Pete’s Dragon)
Ellen Greene (Heroes)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Kristin Chenoweth (The Pink Panther)

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GUEST CAST

Barbara Barrie (Breaking Away)
Hamish Linklater (The Crazy Ones)

Image result for pushing daisies girthAs a child at the Longborough School for Boys, Ned never received any mail from his father. Suddenly, at Halloween, he finally received something: a preprinted notice that his father was moving. Ned ran away and went to his father’s new home dressed for trick or treating, to find him with a new wife and two twin boys. A farrier, Lucas Shoemaker, is working in a stable. A ghostly horseman, riding a flame-spitting horse, tramples him to death. At the Pie Hole, Chuck is putting up Halloween decorations, despite Olive’s insistence that Ned hates this specific holiday. Chuck wants to know what Olive told her Aunt Lily and Aunt Vivian. Olive still assumes that Chuck simply faked her death, and Chuck is relieved that Olive doesn’t suspect what really happened. Ned comes in and is taken aback by the Hallowe’en decorations. Olive plays coy about exactly what she has told, then hears about the death of Lucas Shoemaker. Olive goes to her safe deposit box and takes out the money necessary to hire Emerson to investigate Shoemaker’s death, believing it was murder. It turns out Olive used to be a jockey and competed against Shoemaker.
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Emerson takes the case and goes to the morgue with Ned and Chuck. They interrogate the toothless Shoemaker (with translations by Chuck, who once wore orthodontic headgear) who says that John Joseph Jacobs killed him… although the records say Jacobs died seven years ago. Shoemaker warns that Jacobs will kill again. They let Olive know and she gives them a list of other jockeys that might be in danger. Olive is leery about identifying Jacobs and then faints. Emerson goes to check out a jockey’s bar while Ned goes alone to the stable to look for clues and prods Emerson into taking Chuck with him. Ned admits he won’t even go to the stable, and an upset Chuck goes to the stable and tells Ned to do what he has to. Olive wakes up and tells them that Jacobs was the golden boy of racing until he competed in the Jock-Off 2000 and fell off his horse. Olive, the winner, and the other jockeys inadvertently trampled him. Emerson figures that someone is trying to avenge Jacobs. Olive figures that someone is going after the people who placed, in the order they came in.
Image result for pushing daisies girthAt the jockey bar, Emerson talks to the bartender, Pinky McCoy, while another jockey, Gordon McSmalls, warns about Jacobs’ ghost. Gordon says that Jacobs’ tomb has been broken open so Olive and Emerson go there and open the coffin. All they find inside is the skeleton of a horse… with no legs. Chuck and Digby go to the stable and find cracker crumbs, and Emerson surprises them. Ned goes to visit his old house. Chuck, Emerson, and Olive go to see Jacobs’ mother, Mamma Jacobs. She invites them in and says that she made peace with her son’s death. She shows them his ashes, explaining that she had his horse All the Gold secretly buried in Jacobs’ tomb. They’re unaware that someone is watching them through the heating vent. At Pinky’s bar, the ghostly horseman appears and tramples him to death. Meanwhile, Ned goes to visit Chuck’s aunts next door and ask them to tell them what they can about his father. Ned realizes that the pie they served him is from the Pie Hole (the strawberries die when they touch his tongue) and goes to leave, and Vivian tries to console him.
Image result for pushing daisies girthNed goes to Pinky’s bar where everyone else is, checking out Pinky’s corpse and finding cracker crumbs on the floor. Chuck gets Olive out while Ned and Emerson interrogate Pinky’s corpse. Pinky reveals he fixed races and asks them to apologize to Olive: he figures Jacobs is seeking revenge on him and Olive benefited. Olive explains that Jacobs’ girth had been cut by one of the other jockeys, causing him to fall to his death. The jockeys agreed to keep the secret and burn the saddle, over Olive’s objections.  Ned and Emerson go to find Gordon, the last jockey, while Chuck guards Olive at her apartment. Olive goes to get some booze in her bedroom but sees a horseshoe outside her window. She climbs up to the roof and sees John Joseph Jacobs. Chuck knocks him out briefly and they notice he’s two feet taller then he should be. Jacobs explains that he survived the fall but his legs were badly broken, so they transplanted his horse’s legs onto him. Jacobs has been living in his mother’s basement while he relearned how to walk. Olive tells him to get out and live and Jacobs agrees.
Image resultThe three of them go to Mamma Jacobs’ house and the women realize that Jacobs, being hypoglycemic, often eats crackers. They examine Jacobs’ supposed ashes and realize they’re from the burned saddle. Suddenly the horseman rides into the house. Emerson and Ned find Gordon and he mentions that Shoemaker confessed everything to Mamma Jacobs and gave her the ashes to prove what he was saying was true. The horseman removes her mask to reveal that she’s Mamma Jacobs. She’s seeking revenge for the fact her son’s career was ended. They run out of the house as Mamma Jacobs gallops after them. Ned and Emerson get to the house and hear them in the nearby woods. Chuck twists her ankle and Olive gets her to safety before luring Mamma Jacobs away. Ned grabs her just in time while Emerson clubs Mamma Jacobs with a shovel. Olive embraces Ned, who drops her to go to Chuck. Mamma Jacobs ends up in jail, while Olive gives the trophy cup and winnings to Jacobs. Ned and Chuck go to her aunt’s house and Ned says he knows about the pies. Chuck then dresses up as a ghost and goes up to the aunts for trick-or-treat.

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A great episode from a great series, it has enough plot twists and scares to keep you engaged throughout, a fun Halloween episode for this time of year.

REVIEW: PUSHING DAISIES – SEASON 1 & 2

CAST

Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Anna Friel (Limitless)
Chi McBride (Human target)
Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Kristin Chenoweth (Bewitched)
Jim Dale (Carry on Columbus)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul)
Riki Lindhome (Million Dollar Baby)
Raul Esparza (Hannibal TV)
Jayma Mays (Heroes)
Hamish Linklater (The Crazy Ones)
Christine Adams (Agents of Shield)
Mark Harelik (The Big Bang Theory)
Molly Shannon (Bad Teacher)
Grant Shaud (Wall Street)
Paul Reubens (Gotham)
Missi Pyle (Two and a Half Men)
French Stewart (Mom)
Autumn Reeser (The OC)
Diana Scarwid (Wonderfalls)
Rachael Harris (The Hangover)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
David Arquette (Scream)
Dana Davis (Heroes)
Hayes MacArthur (Life As We Know It)
Colton Haynes (Arrow)
Stephen Root (Finding Nemo)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
David Koechner (American Dad)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Ivana Milicevic (Vanilla Sky)
George Segal (The Cable Guy)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)
Constance Zimmer (Agents of Shield)
Rachel Cannon (Two and a Half Men)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Nora Dunn (New Girl)
Joey Slotnick (Nip/Tuck)

 

 

This show is like nothing you have ever seen before. And that is a good thing. It is the story of the Pie Maker aka Ned (Lee Pace). To the world, he is best known as the owner of The Pie Hole, where he serves delicious pies with his assistant/waitress, Olive (Kristen Chenoweth). But Ned has a secret. With his touch, he can bring the dead back to life. Of course, there are some conditions. If he touches them again, they are dead for ever and ever. And if he doesn’t touch them again in one minute, someone else nearby dies instead.

Since The Pie Hole doesn’t pay all the bills, Ned works with private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride). He brings murder victims back to life to find out who killed them, then the two split the reward.


Everything is going along fine until the next murder victim is the girl he calls Chuck, aka Charlotte Charles (Anna Friel). Chuck was Ned’s childhood sweetheart, and he just can’t bear to let her die, so he keeps her alive. While the two build a non-touch romance, Chuck’s two aunts, Vivian and Lily (Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz) mourn her death.

But Chuck’s death is just the beginning of the weird cases. There are the human crash test dummies, the dog breeder with four wives, the bodies in the snowmen, and the exploding scratch and sniff book. And that doesn’t even mention my favorite case, the headless horseman who is after Olive. So by now I’m sure you’ve figured out just how weird this show really is. But it is so much fun, too. While it is a mystery, the mysteries are only a background to explore the relationships of the characters in the show. Each week, those relationships advance, grow, and change. You never know just where they will wind up.


Yes, this show is quirky and odd. But please don’t let that stop you. Get this set and give it a try. You’ll be hook on the quirky before you know what hit you.

Pushing Daisies is one of the best TV shows there has ever been. Pushing Daisies wasn’t given much advertisement by ABC thus no one tuned in apart from the hardcore fans because nobody even knew it was on! Hence, lack of high ratings which lead to ABC being able to have an excuse to stop the show .

No the end doesn’t give closure. Only a little, but not much. It rushes to tie up ends and tell us what the characters do next but there is no closure whatsoever, just a MASSIVE cliffhanger and some really tasty leads that weren’t followed up. What a crushing disappointment. Anna Friel and Lee Pace were extremely angry at PD being taken off the air and legions of fans are left weeping and have nothing left but to endlessly discuss what ‘might’ have happened.
Series 2 is just as much as a visual and aural delight as series one. Brilliant plots and character development, beautiful music usage and faultless scripting. Great introduction of sub-characters that don’t jarr the main casting too much. Just ..well, perfect.

There are rumours of a movie or a comic being made but this is all doubtful, the cast have already moved onto other projects and now Pushing Daisies is left drowning in a sea of shows that had the potential to be groundbreaking if given a bit more time but never got given the chance. Such a shame. Same thing happened with Wondefalls also made by chap Bryan Fuller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: PUSHING DAISIES – CORPSICLE

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CORPSICLE
MAIN CAST
Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Anna Friel (Limitless)
Chi McBride (Human Target)
Jim Dale (Pete’s Dragon)
Ellen Greene (Heroes)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Kristin Chenoweth (Rio 2)
CORPSICLE
GUEST CAST
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Grant Shaud (Antz)
Julia Campbell (The Crasiglist Killer)
When Chuck’s father, Charles Charles, died Ned and his mother waited with her for Chuck’s aunts, Lily and Vivian, to arrive. Lily didn’t embrace Charlotte, but she later embraced Ned when he came over to report his mother had died. Ned was then taken away by his father as Chuck chased after him, calling his name. Ned looks for Chuck, who has fled into the wintry night after being told that Ned killed her father. He goes to the aunts’ house, who invite him in. The house is cold because Charlotte was the one who used to light the furnace. Once Ned gets it going, he asks them to report of any strange signs of Chuck’s presence. Lily mentions she imagined seeing Chuck once and dismisses Ned. He then goes to see Olive but she says she doesn’t know where Chuck is. After she sends him away, she goes inside to talk to Chuck, who is hiding in her apartment. Olive insists on an explanation for Chuck’s supposed death and Chuck gives her the truth, but Olive doesn’t believe her. Olive reveals the aunts are swimming again. Olive offers to make a pie for the aunts, and Chuck gives her the herbal mood-enhancer, which she says is vanilla.
Ned tells Emerson what he did and the detective wonders if Chuck will go to the news. Emerson tells Ned to drop the matter with Chuck and help with a new investigation: Victor Narramore, an insurance adjuster for Über-Life Life Insurance who was found frozen to death. Ned brings the man back and he reveals that someone hit him with a baseball bat with the word “kindness” scratched into it. In life he had to decide who gets organ transplants, but Ned is more concerned about Chuck. He’s unaware that she’s on the apartment roof with Oscar Vibenius. Oscar gives Chuck her mother’s sweater back but asks for a sample of her hair, having already taken some from Digby. Oscar notes that Chuck and Digby both have a unique odor and suggests she knows a lot about death. Ned begins to suspect Olive is lying about knowing Chuck’s whereabouts. Emerson arrives and reveals three of the people Narramore turned down for organs are still viable. One of them, Abner Newsome, needed a new heart but Ned doesn’t want to talk to the boy. Ned goes to Olive’s apartment and finds Chuck, who understands Ned didn’t kill her father deliberately but wants him to leave. Instead she leaves a message in the sewer, asking Oscar to meet her on the roof.
Emerson goes to talk to Abner Newsome and his mother Emma. Abner isn’t upset that Narramore died and doesn’t have anything useful to add. As Emerson leaves, he spots a corpse frozen in a snowman on the front yard. Emerson takes Ned to the morgue but notes that his partner is more worried about Chuck. Ned revives the corpse, which is Über-Life Life Insurance adjuster Bill Richter. Richter reveals he was also killed with a bat and they should talk to Kevin Vanden Eykel, his carpooler who yelled out a warning before he died. They go to Über-Life and end up talking to Steve Kaiser, who says that Kevin has disappeared and they assume he’s dead as well. Bill, Victor, and Kevin all rejected Abner for a heart transplant, and it’s clear that Kaiser is upset at the situation but can’t approve a transplant due to the high chance Abner won’t survive.Oscar meets Chuck on the roof and speculates that she may have been brought back to life based on her odor. He notes that it isn’t unusual for people to come back from death and tries to get her to tell her secret. She asks for a pair of scissors and gives him a piece of her hair to smell.
Ned and Emerson go back to see Abner and Emma, suspecting that Kevin’s body will show up frozen. Madeline McLean from the Wish-A-Wish Foundation arrives with a monkey friend, Bobo the bonobo, but Abner doesn’t have any wishes for her to fulfill. Emerson and Ned stake out the Newsome house that night but Ned is still concerned and thinks he should bring back Chuck’s father so she can say goodbye to him. Emerson doesn’t think that is a good idea. Emerson reveals he has a daughter and tells Ned to not ask about her. They are both unaware that someone has secretly sealed off their exhaust pipe with a potato.
The next morning, Ned barely wakes up with the car filled with carbon monoxide fumes. He gets Emerson out, who is relieved to be alive (and not just brought back to life by Ned), but they spot a new snowman in the Newsome yard. Olive goes to visit the aunts and bring the new pie, unaware that she overdosed it with the herbal mood-enhancer because she thought it was a weak-tasting vanilla. Olive reacts when Lily says she’s seen Charlotte’s “ghost”. Meanwhile, Chuck makes pies and wonders what Oscar might discover. He arrives and gives her back her hair as a gesture of trust, and to give her the chance to tell him her secret. She realizes there’s only one person she wants to talk to about her secret, and that’s Ned. Lily finishes off the entire pie and starts hallucinating the decorations coming to life. She points out there’s no vanilla in the pie, making Olive wonder exactly what was the secret ingredient. Meanwhile, Emerson and Ned watch the coroners remove Kevin’s body, while Emerson realizes that Emma was peeling potatoes like the one in their exhaust pipe. They prepare to touch Kevin’s body but the coroners drop it and it shatters, and Ned refuses to bring it back. They go inside to find that Abner has been rejected yet again for a heart. Emma mentions that McLean asked for the name of the adjuster who refuses Abner’s most recent transplant request, which was Steve Kaiser. Ned and Emerson realize McLean is the killer and head for Über-Life, while McLean pulls into the parking lot where Kaiser is getting into his car.
Ned and Emerson close in on McLean while Ned tries to find out more about Emerson’s daughter. McLean takes a swing at Kaiser and just misses, then pins him down to deliver the final blow. Ned and Emerson confront her but she pulls a gun and says her job is to grant wishes. It turns out that McLean was depressed that Abner had no wishes for her to grant, until he said he wanted the insurance adjusters who rejected him to drop dead.However, they’re unaware that Bobo the bonobo is playing with the gearshift in McLean’s van and runs her over. She’s killed, but her heart is intact and Abner receives it as a transplant. Ned goes to the cemetery to find Chuck at her father’s grave. She admits she feels better and asks Ned to bring her father back to life, but Ned refuses to be responsible for killing him again. Only one of Chuck’s wishes is granted that night: Lily hallucinates floating mermaids and talks about how she secretly made snow angels in the back yard for the young Charlotte. The mermaid is Olive, and Lily reveals that she is actually Charlotte’s mother.
Not only a great Christmas episode, but a great Season finale. This became the season finale because of the writers strike it fits well as a finale. Chuck finding out Ned was responsible for her fathers death was touching and led  to an great story, the cliffhanger was great ending and left viewers for a very long wait for season 2, but was worth the wait.

REVIEW: HANNIBAL – SEASON 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Hugh Dancy (King Arthur)
Mads Mikkelsen (Clash of The Titans)
Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfalls)
Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix)
Hettienne Park (Puppy Love)
Gillian Anderson (The X-Files)
Scott Thompson (The Simpsons)
Aaron Abrams (Take The Waltz)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Raúl Esparza (Pushing Daisies)
Kacey Rohl (Caprica)
Lara Jean Chorostecki (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Richard Armitage (The Hobbit)
Eddie Izzard (Powers)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Anna Chlumsky (Veep)
Cynthia Nixon (Igby Goes Down)
Fortunato Cerlino (Gomorrah)
Tao Okamoto (Batman V Superman)
Glenn Fleshler (All Good Things)
Nina Arianda (Tower Heist)
Rutina Wesley (True Blood)
Vladimir Jon Cubrt (Hollywoodland)
Richard Chevolleau (Earth: Final Conflict)
Chelan Simmons (Wonderfalls)
Cynthia Preston (Carrie 2013)
Molly Shannon (Scary Movie 4)
Ellen Greene (Heroes)
Dan Fogler (Fanboys)
Lance Henriksen (Aliens)
Ellen Muth (Dead Like Me)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Shawn Doyle (Big Love)
Barry Flatman (Odyssey 5)
Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction)
Jeremy Davies (Constantine)
Daniel Kash (Bitten)
Zachary Quinto (Star Trek)
Julian Richings (Cube)
Joe Anderson (The Crazies)
Mia Maestro (Alias)


There was a lot of wariness of Hannibal initially. While the original source material were Thomas Harris’ books, the movies loomed so huge in the public’s mind. And going the prequel route? Not only has that not turned out so well in Hollywood in general, it’s already given us a disappointing prequel in this very franchise with Hannibal Rising.

But lo and behold, not only was Hannibal good, it was great. There was always a major reason for optimism, amongst all the naysayers, and that was Bryan Fuller. An amazingly imaginative and distinct voice in TV, Fuller’s previous shows like Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies had proven he was someone whose work was always worth a look. And it became clear that he had a true passion for the story he was telling with Hannibal.

It’s now a very daunting task for any actor to play Hannibal Lecter, thanks to how beloved and memorable Anthony Hopkins was in the role. But Mads Mikkelsen proved to be an excellent Lecter, giving the character an ever-cool, ever observational demeanor that conveyed both his intelligence and his danger while not behaving in such an arch manner that he would come off as too obvious a villain to those he interacted with.

As the true protagonist of the series, Hugh Dancy is also perfect as Will Graham, who goes far beyond the usual “eccentric but skilled” archetype of crime series heroes to portray someone with some genuinely traumatic issues – which only escalated through the season. Dancy managed the difficult task of portraying Will’s amazing skill set and his innate “goodness” while also showing that this guy has severe problems that would make him genuinely seem like he could be someone to keep an eye out for. If Hannibal was going to convince the world at large and possibly even Will himself that he was a killer, we had to see how that could sell, and Dancy’s performance did that perfectly.

When Hannibal was first announced, it sounded like the show would be about Hannibal and Will consulting together on killer-of-the-week cases, with Hannibal managing to keep the truth about who he was from Will for several seasons. All of which is to say, it sounded like it could be tedious. But Fuller quickly proved he wasn’t playing into our assumptions at all. Yes, Will’s job had him working several different cases this season, but it was hardly a bunch of one-off, unimportant stories. In fact, several of these cases would have repercussions in later episodes, or even the killers themselves (such as Gideon and Georgia) returning. The events in Hannibal were never self-contained. Will killing Hobbs in the premiere was a huge event that would haunt and shape Will through the entire season. The totem pole on the beach may have had no connection to the main story, but it would continue to resonate with Will as he began to hallucinate. The entire season felt like a well-constructed story where the majority of the cases Will worked contributed to the tapestry being completed.

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While Will and Hannibal’s relationship is the one at the core of this series, Jack Crawford – an integral character in Harris’ books – was hardly shortchanged. Laurence Fishburne, looking far more engaged than during his short time on CSI, was great as Crawford who had his own interplay with Hannibal occurring all season, while dealing with some huge issues at home. The story of Jack’s ill-fated attempt to use FBI trainee Miriam Lass (Anna Chlumsky) to help find the Chesapeake Ripper also was used to truly shape who Jack was and what was motivating him, rather than a bit of backstory thrown in and then barely touched upon.

Overall though, the supporting characters were strong. Caroline Dhavernas had a tricky role she pulled off well as a protégé to Hannibal and a colleague of Will’s whose close ties to both men made it all the more difficult to suspect either was up to no good. Tabloid reporter Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) was equal parts vexing and amusing as she weaved in and out of the story – eventually seeing some truly depraved events occur while in the company of Dr. Gideon (Eddie Izzard). Despite only appearing a couple of times, Gina Torres brought a lot of power to Bella Crawford’s plight and rift with her husband. And it was a delight to see Gillian Anderson as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, Hannibal’s own psychiatrist, as we tried to figure out exactly what she and Hannibal knew about one another.

Best of all was Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), the daughter of serial killer Garett Jacob Hobbs. On a lesser procedural crime series Abigail would have been a one and done character; the damsel in distress Will saved. But here, the psychological damage her father had put her through long before his death, not to mention the horrific day he died (and killed her mother) cast a big shadow on the entire season. Abigail’s own secrets and her growing bond with both Hannibal and Will made for a compelling through line, as so many possibilities lay before her with two surrogate fathers who could help shape her into someone who stops murders or causes them.

Regardless though, Hannibal has plenty to fuel its stories going forward. As I noted above, Fuller didn’t play into audience expectations at all – who would have guessed that Will would have figured out the truth about Hannibal by the end of the first season? But by having it occur in the manner it did, with Will disgraced, imprisoned and looking guilty of multiple murders, while Hannibal walks free, the entire dynamic has been upended in a very exciting way.

We went into this year with a huge change-up, as Will Graham was locked up, accused of the crimes he now realized Hannibal Lecter had committed. Bryan Fuller took this subversion of the usual Thomas Harris dynamic and used it to its fullest extent, as the early episodes involved Will as the genius, (perceived) killer who was still a valuable resource to the FBI.

At the same time, Fuller realized this was a storyline that shouldn’t go too far, and wisely constructed Season 2 in two distinct segments, wrapping up the “Will as prisoner” section in the first six episodes. These episodes found Will at odds with Jack and Alana while forging a closer, ill-fated bond with Beverly. There was also some excellent material for Dr. Chilton, whose own narcissism and instinct for self-preservation mixed with his intelligence and growing awareness of just what a threat Hannibal was.

It all culminated in the absolutely fantastic “Yakimono”, which was basically the first of two amazing finales Hannibal would deliver within one season. The excitement of Miriam (Anna Chlumsky) turning up alive turned out to simply be the next step in Hannibal’s twisted traps, as Miriam was a ticking time bomb of sorts – set to go off at just the right time, aimed at a perfectly-placed target in Chilton.

Yes, Hannibal’s rise to supervillain status was cemented in Season 2, and it was glorious and terrifying to behold. Hannibal had always operated on a level that was a bit bigger than life and that got pushed even further this year, as we learned just how intricate, complex and masterful Lecter’s plans were and saw how amazing his abilities were, as he manipulated people in ways both subtle and extreme. In the wrong hands, it could have all fallen apart, but the wonderful writing and directing, combined with Mads Mikkelsen’s confidant performance – always exuding intelligence – made it work.

Meanwhile, we got to see Will Graham in a much better place, at least as far as his own comprehension of what was occurring and willingness to make huge moves of his own. After seeing Will mentally spiraling throughout Season 1, it was very gratifying to see him now so much more in control and, even as Will was put through one terrible situation after another. Hugh Dancy again brought the right mixture of vulnerability and inner strength to Will, and he and Mikkelsen played beautifully off one another.

Opening the season with the flash forward to Jack and Hannibal’s brutal, nasty fight, with a potentially fatal turn of events for Jack, was an audacious and spectacular move. It put a ticking time clock on the entire season and let us knows, even in the quietest moments, that something very bad was going to occur soon.Image result for hannibal mizumonoIn the meantime, we met siblings Margot and Mason Verger, who had their own mini-arc over several episodes. At first, I wasn’t sure if Michael Pitt’s rather big, mannered performance fit in on a show that mixes grisly and shocking imagery with quiet, subtle acting. But I was soon won over, as we got to know Mason more and saw just what a monster he was – and how his “Look at me!”, repellant behavior purposely stood in contrast to Hannibal’s mask of kindness and gentleness towards those around him. Hannibal’s instant dislike of Mason was one of several times Fuller was able to inject humor into the macabre situations this season.

One of the only problematic aspects of the season as it progressed was Alana and her seemingly unwavering belief in Hannibal’s innocence and Will’s guilt. In the early episodes, it was actually very interesting to see her sympathetic portrayal as someone who was horrified to think her friend was a killer, but wanted to help him, sure he’d been pushed into his actions by Jack not heeding the consequences in Season 1. But the more the likes of Beverly and Jack began to believe Will and start suspecting Hannibal, the more frustrating it became that Alana just didn’t see it. Thankfully, Alana began to come around on her own, not due to a shocking moment in the season finale, and was firmly on Will’s side again by the time all hell broke loose at Casa Lecter in the finale…

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…And what a finale it was. As exciting as the Jack/Hannibal flash-forward was, there was some concern that it might deflate the actual finale a bit. After all, we’d clearly seen the biggest thing that would happen in the final moments of the season, right? What else could be bigger than that? The answer was dark as hell but also incredibly exciting, as it turned out Jack would only be the first character to have a possibly fatal encounter with Hannibal inside his home. Within just a few minutes, Jack, Alana and Will all lay bleeding and dying, while Hannibal Lecter walked free. Oh, and Abigail was revealed to be alive… and then had her throat sliced by Hannibal! And Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) was revealed as being Hannibal’s companion (and accomplice) at the very end!

Season 3 of Hannibal began on the heels of an incredibly audacious, jaw-dropping Season 2 finale, that left nearly every major character except Hannibal himself possibly dead, as the bad doctor fled the country accompanied by Bedelia. You couldn’t have a bigger “What’s going to happen next?!” scenario, which no doubt led to frustrations when the season began and answers were not exactly being quickly delivered. More so, while Hannibal has always been an unusual, often esoteric, dream-like series, all of those aspects were dialed up to the Nth degree in the first three episodes of the season.

It was still highly evocative, compelling stuff, delving into the frame of mind of characters like Hannibal, Bedelia and Will Graham and their new lives in Italy, more order includes – while slowly revealing who’d survived that night in the house. I have to say, the answer to that question being “Everyone except Abigail” did diminish what had happened to a certain extent, but still, these episodes were showing there was plenty of consequence and fallout from that oh-so bloody night in Hannibal’s house, beyond the injuries sustained.

The pace picked up considerably around episode four and then went into overdrive, as Jack had an amazing rematch with Hannibal and Mason Verger’s plan to get revenge kicked into gear. A high bar was set by Michael Pitt as Mason in Season 2, but Joe Anderson adeptly stepped into his shoes (and mutilated face) in Season 3, bringing his own take on Mason’s witty, macabre insanity.Image result for hannibal primaveraThe standout “Digestivo”, which wrapped up the Mason Verger story once and for all in a thrilling, intense hour of television. A lot happened here, to the point that this felt like a season finale – which was not coincidental, given the show was about to leap ahead three years and into an entirely different story.

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Given this ended up being the final season of Hannibal I am incredibly grateful Bryan Fuller decided to move up his plan to make Red Dragon the Season 4 storyline and put it into the second half of Season 3 instead. Not only did it mean we did get the show’s version of the original Hannibal novel depicted, but it also essentially meant we got two seasons in one this year. And wow, was this version of Red Dragon awesome. Yes, it streamlined some aspects – we didn’t get any of the Dolarhyde flashbacks (one tiny glimpse aside) and Will’s role was altered, to some extent. But this was creepy, intense storytelling through and through, with Richard Armitage bringing just the right mix of scary and semi-sympathetic as Francis Dolarhyde, a murderous, delusional monster who was at war with the potentially loving man somewhere deep inside him – a war amplified as Dolarhyde fell for the blind Reba (a strong Rutina Wesley), even as “the Dragon” was coming to life within him, compelling him to kill.

This storyline also allowed Fuller to bring characters like Jimmy, Brian, Freddie and Chilton back into the story, all of whom got nice moments – well “nice” may not be the right word for Chilton, but he sure got some riveting moments, as he came face to face (and mouth to mouth) with the Dragon in a horrific manner.

Of course, the center of this show has always truly been the relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham and has given them a far more intricate, layered and complicated dynamic than they typically had in the Red Dragon novel (or other films), where Will met Hannibal a couple times, figured out he was the killer and was nearly killed while catching him. That meant this version of Red Dragon couldn’t help but feel different than others – even early on, when the story beats were pretty much sticking to the source material, what was driving Will forward felt notably altered thanks to all he’d gone through in this series beforehand. So yes, Will’s actual deductive skills are not used as much here as in the novel when it comes to tracking down Dolarhyde, and his relationship with Molly is essentially a hollow one he can’t really go back to – not because of anything wrong with her, but because of what he’s gone through. Yet the story still resonated so much because we were seeing how Will was affected by once more interacting with Hannibal and the simultaneous urge to join forces with him and determination to put an end to Lecter, once and for all.

In the midst of this, the rather obvious fact that Hannibal’s obsession with Will was a form of falling in love with Will was finally articulated – as was the idea that a part of Will returned those feelings, even while he knew Hannibal was a monster himself. This back and forth had long been fascinating and it felt appropriate to finally be upfront about it here. What was also great was that this Hannibal was a fully dimensionalized, multi-faceted character in a way no other version had been before – we saw so many sides of him, including the caring side that manifested with Will or even Abigail… even as he murdered Abigail and tried to kill Will!

We understood Hannibal better than ever, yet Fuller commendably never tried to redeem him. He was never going to change who he was. And that’s a big reason the ending was so satisfying, as Will pulled them off that cliff together. It was, on one hand, a culmination of the strange love story between the two – as the “murder husbands” were united, having killed Dolarhyde together. But Will also knew this was it. If he let Hannibal go, or live at all, he would kill again – he’d promised as much while threatening Alana. And Will might eventually cross even more lines in terms of the crimes he was willing to commit himself. So it had to end… which it did, in an emotionally stirring, “yes, this feels exactly right” manner that was, as always, perfectly played by Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen.