REVIEW: DEFENDING JACOB

Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, and Jaeden Martell in Defending Jacob (2020)

Starring

Chris Evans (Knives Out)
Michelle Dockery (Hanna)
Jaeden Martell (IT)
Cherry Jones (The Beaver)
Pablo Schreiber (First Man)
Sakina Jaffrey (Lost In Space)
Betty Gabriel (Unfriended: Dark Web)
J. K. Simmons (Spider-Man)

Chris Evans at an event for Defending Jacob (2020)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries)
Poorna Jagannathan (Awake)
Jake Picking (Top Gun: Maverick)
Nathan Parsons (Roswell, New Mexico)
Leighton Meester (The Judge)
Kat Graham (The Vampire Diaries)
Daniel Henshall (Skin)
Matt Lanter (Disaster Movie)
Patrick Fischler (The Finder)
Megan Byrne (Ghost Town)

Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, and Jaeden Martell in Defending Jacob (2020)As a limited series packed to the gills with recognizable faces and even big-name stars, Defending Jacob is yet another step in the right direction for Apple TV+. Though the nascent streaming television (and movies) service from one the biggest tech companies in the world has had something of an uneven start, with ambitious, big-budget series like The Morning Show and See that created relatively small ripples in the sea of streaming content when they likely should have been the source of enormous waves signaling a massive change in the day and age of Peak TV. Nevertheless, the progress of Apple TV+ continues apace, with nearly every subsequent television show being arguably better than the last (with the exception of Amazing Stories, sadly). And while the service finds itself taking smaller steps toward seriously competing with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, the inclusion of star-driven adult-oriented dramas like Defending Jacob make the service a welcome outlier among services relying on ubiquitous IP or that are relentlessly chasing the next Game of Thrones.Adapted from the novel of the same name by William Landay, the series is written, executive produced and showrun by Mark Bomback (Outlaw King), with all eight episodes directed by Morten Tyldum, who helped create the somber look and feel of Starz’s superb sci-fi spy drama, Counterpart. Like most of Apple’s original series to date, Defending Jacob looks like a million bucks, with its chilly color palette that accentuates the story’s brooding and moody tone. It’s sort of the complete package, in terms of prestige-y dramas, with the aforementioned Evans and Dockery playing Andy and Laurie Barber, a well-to-do Massachusetts family who finds their world is one day shattered after their son, Jacob (Jaeden Martell), is accused of brutally murdering his classmate.Pooka-10What follows is a slow-burn thriller that asks how far a parent would go to protect their child, even when the questions regarding his guilt are too great and too compelling to ignore. Complicating matters is Andy’s position as an assistant D.A., a fact that shines an unwelcome spotlight on a crime that already has their community in an uproar. But while Defending Jacob could have been a compelling two-hander, with Evans and Dockery weighing the possibility that their child is indeed guilty of a horrific crime, all while doing everything in their considerable power to ensure he’s set free, the series offers a robust supporting cast that helps make the Barber’s world feel more lived-in and compelling, especially as it begins to turn on them.Defending_Jacob_Photo_010104The rest of the cast is made up of terrific character actors like Cherry Jones, Sakina Jaffrey, and Pablo Schreiber, while also bringing in the always-welcome J.K. Simmons and Betty Gabriel (who both worked with Tyldum on Counterpart). Each supporting role plays a fascinating part in examining the ways in which a community can be torn apart by violent crime and the ensuing accusations that emerge as a result. They also help ground the story as it unfolds, and as the series introduces plausible and not-so plausible answers to the question at hand. But many of the key supporting players — Jones and Gabriel, chiefly — also aid in assuaging one of the biggest obstacles the series faces: that of convincing the audience that Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery are the middle-aged parents of a teenaged son.a5-21-e1585242550178In approaching this concern, Defending Jacob stacks its cast with characters for whom this is not at all unusual. It’s a bid to normalize what is essentially an odd sticking point for an otherwise compelling mystery-thriller that just happens to have cast two people who very much look like movie stars as everypersons. The result, then, is something of a strange throwback to the kinds of mid-budget thrillers that Hollywood doesn’t really make anymore. From that perspective, it’s easy to see why Evans was attracted to the material (he also serves as executive producer on the series), having come off an extended stint playing the lab-grown super soldier and idealized version of the male form for Marvel. So, while it may be a bit of a stretch to think there’s a small-town D.A. with biceps bigger than the average human’s head racing to keep his son out of prison for a crime he may or may not have committed, it’s ultimately a small quibble considering Evans and Dockery deliver strong performances that, along with the rest of the cast, ultimately make the series worthwhile.200412-defending-jacob3Though it’s easy enough (especially right now) to jump into a dark eight-hour drama with a cast as appealing as this, it’s important to note the series dutifully takes its time getting started, as though the term “slow-burn” wasn’t just an apt descriptor but the ethos of the entire production. In that sense, Defending Jacob feels a great deal like HBO’s superb The Outsider. And while the former doesn’t have the benefit of a supernatural entity haunting its edges, it does have a compelling mystery and thoughtful performances to keep audiences watching until the end.

REVIEW: THE ORVILLE – SEASON 2

Starring

Seth MacFarlane (Sing)

Adrianne Palicki (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

Penny Johsnon Jerald (Star Trek: DS9)

Scott Grimes (American Dad)

Peter Macon (Shameless)

Halston Sage (Goosebumps)

J. Lee (Family Guy)

Mark Jackson (The Royal Today)
Jessica Szohr (Piranha 3D)

Seth MacFarlane and Adrianne Palicki in The Orville (2017)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Will Sasso (Mom)
Mike Henry (The Cleveland Show)
Chris Johnson (The Vampire Diaries)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Chad L. Coleman (Arrow)
Lesley Fera (Pretty Little Liars)
Candice King (The Vampire Diaries)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Kerry O’Malley (Annabelle: Creation)
Patrick Warburton (Ted)
Molly Hagan (No Good Nick)
Norm MacDonald (Dr. Dolittle)
Michaela McManus (SEAL Team)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Ted Danson (The Good Place)
John Rubinstein (Angel)
Kevin Daniels (Atypical)
Wren T. Brown (Whoopi)
Bruce Willis (Glass)
Nick Chinlund (Training Day)
Mackenzie Astin (The Magicians)
Leighton Meester (The Roommate)
Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager)
Sarah Scott (The Artist)
F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus)
Rena Owen (Siren)
Kelly Hu (Arrow)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: TNG)

Penny Johnson Jerald and Mark Jackson in The Orville (2017)It would be profoundly unfair at this point to keep comparing The Orville to Star Trek: The Next Generation. But the parallels are pretty obvious. The titular Orville has the same ‘Giant Conference Hotel’ in space look that the old Star Trek show did; the Union has a similar aesthetic as The Federation, and so on. But all of this is shorthand; we know Star Trek, so all the visual clues are really just there to quickly get the viewer up to speed.Seth MacFarlane in The Orville (2017)Season 1 of The Orville worked pretty hard to establish its own world. This was an optimistic yet militaristic future in which people still behaved like people. They got drunk, they made dirty jokes, they had affairs, they got divorced. The central relationship of the show is that the First Officer is the Captain’s ex-wife, after all. Season 1 had a lot of missteps and frequently fell flat. Season 2 addresses these issues by simply being more straight forward and blunt.Halston Sage in The Orville (2017)For a start, it’s more obvious that the various prominent alien races in the show represent various social issues. Stories that feature the ‘All-Male’ Moclus tend to focus on sex, identity, and gender. It helps a lot that Peter Macon plays the role of Bortus brilliantly. He can switch from sombre and serious to physical comedy extremely well and is perhaps one of the most under-rated characters in the show. The war-like Krill allow the show to reflect on religious intolerance and the mechanical Kaylon serve a general cypher for the human experience. None of these ‘issue’ stories are subtle, but they are fun and filled with humour.Seth MacFarlane in The Orville (2017)The show’s twists and turns are also pretty significant, and from the outset there are plenty of them. The Orville isn’t afraid to use story arcs, and the ‘reset’ button is rarely used here. Mistakes and tragedies are permanent. Certainly the last few episodes of the series feel like a promise. The past is another country and that even the slightest thing can have ruinous consequences.Penny Johnson Jerald and Seth MacFarlane in The Orville (2017)The special effects budget has also gotten a significant bump. Though there are plenty of ‘people standing around talking’-type scenes, when the action gets underway it really does go for it, reminding the viewer that this show is versatile enough to do both action and drama very well.Penny Johnson Jerald and Mark Jackson in The Orville (2017)Despite the short second season, it seems that Fox is very fond of its very marketable sci-fi show. Season 2 is occasionally a bumpy ride for its changes in story and pacing, but it’s well worth the journey.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: KILLER MOVIE

CAST

Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries)
Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)
Leighton Meester (The Roommate)
Jason London (Carrie 2)
Torrey DeVitto (The Rite)
Gloria Votsis (White Collar)
Cyia Batten (Cookers)
Robert Buckley (Izombie)

41992199_1955607841164745_1867220934398574592_nKiller Movie tells the story of a reality television shoot that goes awry when its crew finds itself stranded in a remote Northern town. A killer is on the loose, stalking cast and crew members one by one. As past suspicions, betrayals and secrets inexplicably come into play, the nightmare of shooting this reality show becomes all too real for Jake, the show’s director, his crew and Hollywood starlet Blanca Champion.Killer Movie is just a ridiculous amount of fun. It helps that this reality TV riff is written and directed by Jeff Fisher, a guy with eight years of shows like The Simple Life and The Real World/Road Rules Challenge under his belt. This is Fisher’s first time fielding something that’s scripted and feature-length, but there’s a confidence that still really comes through. He doesn’t hide behind hypercaffeinated quick cutting or overly gimmicky camerawork, and Fisher clearly knows how to coax the best out of his actors. The reality TV framework helps the storytelling flow along extremely smoothly — why settle for clunky exposition when you can chuck out another confessional? — and it sports a pretty terrific sense of humor. The comedy’s kind of understated.The Cast of actors include: Lost’s Nestor Carbonell as a seasoned Hollywood agent who knows how to yank his clients’ strings to nudge ’em in the right direction, Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester, Al Santos from Grosse Pointe, Adriana DeMeo off an episode of Veronica Mars. One Tree Hill’s Torrey DeVitto, and Jason London from Dazed and Confused as a prickly local working sound for the show. ‘Course, the most recognizable face is The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco, and she stars as a Paris Hilton/Lindsay Lohan type trying to claw her way out of the tabloids by trying the whole method acting thing as a celebrity P.A.paulwesley_1273768622The real star of the movie, even though he doesn’t actually score billing on the cover, is Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries), and he plays a director still reeling from cancellation and he’s intrigued by the smalltown-hockey-underdog angle. I’m not going to say that Killer Movie is a lush character piece or anything, but quite a few of its characters really do have an enormous amount of personality, and it helps that the movie has a bunch of experienced, instantly likeable actors

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 1

Starring

Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Teddy Dunn (Jumper)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Percy Daggs III (Detention)
Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Death Proof)
Francis Capra (Izombie)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Michael Muhney (The Young and The Restless)
Corinne Bohrer (The Flash 90s)
Amanda Seyfried (Les Miserables)
Lisa Thornhill (Agter The Sunset)
Kyle Secor (The Purge: Election Year)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
Bradley Joseph (Stone & Ed)
Patrick Wolff (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Duane Daniels (Fashion House)
Jonathan Chesner (Bones)
Christian Clemenson (Apollo 13)
Aaron Ashmore (Smallville)
Wilmer Calderon (Fast & Furious)
Paris Hilton (House of Wax)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Bobby Edner (The Amanda Show)
Paula Marshall (Murder In The First)
Alison MacInnis (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Kyla Pratt (Dr. Dolittle)
Adam Wylie (Child’s Play 2)
Robert Baker (Supergirl)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Melissa Reneé Martin (The Secret Craft)
Lisa Rinna (Days of Our Lives)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Amanda Noret (Bunny Whipped)
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dar Thirty)
Adam Kaufman (Buffy: TVS)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Tina Majorino (Scorpion)
Erica Gimpel (God Friended Me)
Anastasia Baranova (Z Nation)
Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Megalyn Echikunwoke (That 70s Show)
Kevin Sheridan (Heart of Dixie)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Christopher B. Duncan (Legacies)
Katie Leclerc (The Big Bang Theory)
Bridget Hoffman (Total Recall)
Anthony Anderson (Transformers)
Jowharah Jones (Ugly Betty)
Ken Merckx (Masked Rider)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Leighton Meester (The Roommate)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: TVS)
Cynthia LaMontagne (Austin Powers)
Zachery Ty Bryan (Home Improvement)
Erin Chambers (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Last Man Standing)
Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)
Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Kyle Gallner (American Sniper)

Veronica Mars is set in Neptune, California, a town without a middle-class. Everyone’s either a millionaire or works for one, and the man largely responsible for Neptune’s unparalleled success is Jake Kane (Kyle Secor), the resident billionaire software mogul. Kane and his family are still reeling from the murder of his daughter Lilly (Amanda Seyfried) some months earlier, and as if that loss wasn’t enough, the beloved Kane family was doggedly pursued by a county sheriff convinced that they were hiding something. Public sentiment turned against Sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), who was ousted from office and abandoned by his wife.Kristen Bell and Jessica Chastain in Veronica Mars (2004)Cue the title character. His daughter Veronica (Kristen Bell) had already lost her best friend with Lilly’s death, but standing by her father also cost Veronica her friends, her social status, her house…even her mother. Veronica had already been unceremoniously dumped by Lilly’s brother Duncan (Teddy Dunn) shortly before her friend’s murder, and a defiant visit to face her former friends at a party weeks later led to Veronica being drugged and raped. Despite having lost so much, Veronica is resilient enough to move on with her life, and as her father struggles to stay afloat as a private eye, Veronica puts her smarts and determination to work to help ease the caseload at Mars Investigations. She also puts her talents to use to help her classmates with their troubles — for a price, of course. To cap it all off, Veronica’s faced with a couple of her own mysteries to solve. What convinced Lianne Mars to abandon her family, and where is she now? Who was it who drugged and raped Veronica last December? Also, is her father right — did someone other than disgruntled Kane Software employee Abel Koontz murder Lilly? If there is, who orchestrated the conspiracy that led to Koontz’ confession and why?Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)The dialogue in Veronica Mars has the same sparkle as Joss Whedon’s work…arguably better, even, since Buffy sometimes sounded like a deliberate attempt to be hip, whereas Veronica Mars manages to be witty and clever without feeling quite so forced. The writing doesn’t skew as young as one might expect from a TV show set in a high school. If anything, the target audience seems to be twentysomething — I don’t know how many fifteen year olds would be able to appreciate references to Archie comics or 21 Jump Street, f’r instance. Characterization is another strength of the series, and part of the reason Veronica Mars works as well as it does is that the audience truly does care about the characters. Despite having a seemingly endless array of talents, Veronica isn’t some sort of idyllic Mary Sue. She’s not always right. Her investigations frequently take morally questionable turns. Things don’t always go the way she wants. Not every episode has a happy ending.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)Along with the cases that are solved in the space of forty minutes and change every week, a couple of mysteries are introduced in the pilot that are gradually explored throughout the entire length of the season. That’s right — unlike the hydra that is Lost, where answering one question spawns ten more, all of Veronica Mars’ mysteries are resolved by the time the season finale rolls around. (The finale tosses out a couple questions of its own, but if a second season hadn’t gotten the green light, it still would’ve been a fitting end to the series.)Veronica Mars has a capable cast to match the quality of the writing. Veronica is strong and cynical…bright and sarcastic…and even though all of the trauma she’s suffered over the past year has aged her somewhat, she’s still an emotionally vulnerable teenage girl.Kristen Bell and Alona Tal in Veronica Mars (2004)That’s a lot to juggle, but Kristen Bell is talented enough to make such a colossal task seem effortless and captivating enough to carry a show on her shoulders. Of course, Bell is joined by a strong enough supporting cast that she doesn’t have to shoulder it all herself.VM-S2D2_04After cutting down Wallace (Percy Daggs III), the new kid at school, who’d been stripped naked and duct taped to a flagpole, he and Veronica become best friends. In teen-TV land, it’s an immutable rule that people of different genders can’t just be pals…there’s this endless temptation to couple everyone. Veronica Mars manages to resist, resulting in one of the few platonic friendships like this left on television.Enrico Colantoni, who plays Veronica’s father, is another fan favorite, able to shift from warm, loving, and borderline-goofy to secretive and deadly serious when the situation calls for it. There’s also Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra), the leader of a local biker gang from the wrong side of the tracks who engages in some mutual backscratching with Veronica.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)The character who stands out the most — aside from Veronica, of course — is Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring). Like Kristen Bell, Dohring is endlessly engaging. He’s introduced as an “obligatory psychotic jackass”, but as the season progresses, Logan’s humanized without being watered-down; even when he’s doing something as thoroughly loathesome as bribing a homeless vet to join in on his homebrew Bumfights video, there’s an undercurrent of understanding why Logan is the way he is. The character changes throughout the season, but the shift feels deserved and natural, not just because that’s what’s scrawled on the whiteboard in the writing room.Other guest stars throughout the season include Napoleon Dynamite’s Tina Majorino as computer whiz Mac, Aaron Ashmore as a love interest with a shady past, Logan’s movie star family (played by Harry Hamlin, Lisa Rinna, and Alyson Hannigan), Anthony Anderson, Zachary Ty Brian, Joey Lauren Adams, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and, in a shameless bit of stuntcasting, Paris Hilton. Kristen Bell and Francis Capra in Veronica Mars (2004)The fact that the second episode of Veronica Mars manages to be really good despite a Paris Hilton guest spot really is a testament to how good a series this is. Oh, and, in true Laura Palmer fashion, just because Lilly Kane is dead doesn’t mean that Amanda Seyfried can’t rear her head in nearly every other episode.The conclusion to most of the mysteries caught me by surprise. Throughout the entire season, the only time I correctly guessed the culprit was in “Lord of the Bling”, and even then, the motivation and execution were well out of my reach. The many twists the stories take are clever, and watching these episodes a second time, I could spot all sorts of clues and hints that didn’t seem that important the first time through. Veronica Mars is a series that’s easy to dive into as a marathon, but for viewers catching these episodes for the first time, I’d recommend drawing it out a bit.

REVIEW: TARZAN (2003)

 

MAIN CAST

Travis Fimmel (Vikings)
Sarah Wayne Callies (Prison Break)
Miguel A. Núñez Jr. (Lethel Weapon 3)
Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Fulvio Cecere (Dark Angel)
Tim Guinee (Stargate SG.1)
Johnny Messner (Loaded)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins)
Ona Grauer (V)
Andrew Jackson (Smallville)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Ty Olsson (Izombie)
Colette Stevenson (Earth: Final Conflict)
Eric Breker (Stargate SG.1)
Douglas O’Keeffe (Dark Angel)
Kathleen Munroe (Stargate Universe)
Sterling K. Brown (Black Panther)
Aaron Abrams (Hannibal)
Gary Hudson (Smallville)

Image result for tarzan (2003)For those of you expecting Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic version of Tarzan, a la Johnny Weissmuller in loincloth, swinging on vines and fighting random crocodiles, this isn’t it. The WB network took a real risk with the jungle lord, and decided to update him for a modern audience. That idea could have backfired in so many ways, but instead, what the viewer gets is an entirely new Tarzan mythology, and surprise! it’s good, too. Extremely good, in fact.
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Tarzan has been transplanted from the jungle to New York City; instead of battling the jungle denizens, he now climbs skyscrapers and hangs from gargoyles while battling the evil machinations of his uncle, the head of Greystoke Industries. Jane is also not the typical heroine in distress; instead, she is a strong, capable NYC police detective, who finds herself increasingly drawn to the mysterious and dangerous Tarzan. Dangerous? Oh yes, I forgot to mention — the Tarzan writers were brave enough to let the hero’s dark side show through, making for a much more intriguing protagonist. This Tarzan is capable of sudden bouts of violence and anger one moment, while the next moment may see him comforting a small child or protecting Jane. While most of his violence has to do with protecting Jane, paradoxically, some of Tarzan’s actions often result in putting Jane in danger. The jungle is never far away from this story, even if it is a jungle made of concrete.
Image result for tarzan (2003)Travis Fimmel, an Australian ex-Calvin Klein model is Tarzan, and Sarah Wayne Callies, another newcomer, plays Jane. Both actors are better than one would expect, lending the Tarzan and Jane romance plenty of heat and spark, without even a kiss, as yet. In fact, some of the most powerful scenes between the two of them, have no dialogue at all — just a glance here, a blush there. But somehow, it works. Fimmel also impresses by doing most of his own stunts, something which no worthwhile show about Tarzan could be without. His Tarzan is strong, proud, fierce, has a child’s innocence, and always battles for what he believes is right. That’s quite a performance to manage, but Fimmel is able to get the job done. Lucy Lawless, Mitch Pileggi and Miguel A. Nunez, Jr all lend their considerable skills in supporting roles. Lucy plays Tarzan’s feisty and smart Aunt Kathleen, Pileggi gives a deliciously Machiavellian take on Uncle Richard, and Nunez (who often has the best lines in the series), plays Jane’s NYPD partner, Sam Sullivan.Image result for tarzan (2003)Although there are only 8 episodes of the series, the WB’s Tarzan is a little undiscovered gem of a show. Each episode improves upon the last, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself quoting some of Sam’s lines from the show or humming one of the terrific songs from a particular episode’s soundtrack. This Tarzan is worth watching, especially if you appreciate great dialogue, plenty of action, and two characters that fight to stay with each other, no matter the odds.

REVIEW: 8 SIMPLE RULES – SEASON 1-3

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MAIN CAST

John Ritter (Bad Santa)
Katey Sagal (Futurama)
Kaley Cuoco (The Big bang Theory)
Amy Davidson (Goyband)
Martin Spanjers (Good Luck Charlie)
James Garner (The Notebook)
David Spade (Rules of Engagement)

Superman-Red-Son-flying

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Larry Miller (10 Things I Hate About You)
Mo Gaffney (That 7os Show)
Billy Aaron Brown (Jeepers Creepers 2)
Brian Sites (Gigli)
Patrick Warburton (Ted)
Rachel Bilson (Chuck)
Cole Williams (North Country)
Jason Priestley (Tru Calling)
Shelley Long (Cheers)
John Ratzberger (Up)
Cybil Shepherd (Moonlighting)
Cindy Williams (American Graffiti)
Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries)
Suzanne Pleshette (The Birds)
Amanda MacDonald (The Naked Ape)
Lisa Rinna (Veronica mars)
Ethan Philips (Star Trek: Voyager)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Smallville)
Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon)
Keir O’Donnell (Wedding Crashers)
Lee Garlington (Flashforward)
Adam Arkin (Hitch)
Jan Hoag (Scream Queens)
Eric Jungmann (Sabrina: TTW)
Raquel Welch (Fantastic Voyage)
Pamela Anderson (Scooby-Doo)
Ed O’Neill (Married With Children)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
Leighton Meester (The Judge)
Matt Lanter (Heroes)
Rachael Harris (Lucifer)
Nicole Richie (Chuck)
Kenneth Kimmins (Lois & Clark)

Superman-Red-Son-flying8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (Later Shortened to 8 Simple Rules)  had an auspicious start. The supremely-talented Tom Shadyac was involved in the project. This meant that the comedy would be nothing less of spectacular, and that’s exactly what happened: the show remains one of the freshest, funniest, wittiest shows made in a very long time. Every line, facial expression, casting choice, scene, all wreaked of perfection. There was not one episode after which I thought, “Man that wasn’t as good as the rest”. Each one was a standout. Again, this is the kind of perfectionism that we’ve come to expect from Tom. For those who don’t know, Tom Shadyac is the director of Ace Ventura (first movie), The Nutty Professor (first one) and Liar Liar. Quite a résumé. He’s a producer here not a director, but his magic touch is felt in every episode.The family consists of:
Superman_09-1014x570The Father: Paul Hennessy (John Ritter): nice, slightly neurotic, can be a pushover from time to time, works as a sports writer. John unfortunately passed away in 2003 leaving a fond memory and near-sure cancellation contemplations by the suits. The Mother: Cate (Katey Sagal): come on, who didn’t fall in love with Katey when she played Peg on Married With Children? Al Bundy was our hero. We viewers gave him the respect and love he never had. But without Peg’s nonchalant, parasitic, lazy lifestyle, Al would’ve probably been just another Chicago dad instead of the mess that Peg (life, actually) caused him to be. Katey was a MILF back then and still is: a brune now (instead of a redhead) and just as buxom as ever. Cate is the conservative mom and loving wife. I know it sounds boring, but comedically, she fits perfectly.
Superman_09-1014x570The Ditzy Blonde Daughter: Bridget (played to perfection by Kaley Cuoco): almost never has an idiot been played so well. Aside of Gob on Arrested Development, Bridget may well be a shoe-in for any awards given to this archetype. Bridget is shallow, self-centered, not very bright and a tad slutty in his look. She plays the dumb blonde role better than absolutely anyone IMO. Perfection. One of the high-points of the show. The Overlooked Geeky Daughter: Kerry (Amy Davidson): a brune and a geek, she gets no love from life or circumstances. Feels overlooked, under-appreciated and neglected most of the time. She’s Bridget’s younger sister (in reality she’s older than her) and the two’s extremely opposite personalities and brains cause endless clashes, to much of our amusement.
Superman-Red-Son-flyingThe Son: Rory (Martin Spanjers): was the second funniest character IMO before the passing of Ritter, then John passes, new characters come and Rory is not the wise-cracking verbal-trouble-maker that he used to: that went mostly to David Spade’s character.Tim-Doctor-Sleep-1Those characters were the main ones at the time of John Ritter. Unfortunately enough, the insanely hilarious Larry Miller (one of my favorites) did not get lots of screen time. He played Paul’s co-worker/competitor. After an aortic dissection cost Ritter his life in 2003 (September 11th), the show was on hiatus for a while. No one thought it could come back, but it did later on, with a couple of new additions. This began the second phase of the show, and the new characters were:  The strict, confident school principal: Ed (Adam Arkin): I saw Adam here and there on talk shows. This was the first time that I saw him do anything. Impressed, is the word I use. His performance was very impressive. Sad he wasn’t brought in earlier. He also plays Cate’s potential love interest after Paul passes. The gradual progress towards this point (which would’ve sounded crazy at the beginning) earns the creators lots of praise. It was done slowly, carefully and excellently, with constant respect paid to the Paul (Ritter).Tim-Doctor-Sleep-1

The Attitude Grandpa: Jim Egan (James Garner): a surprisingly welcome addition to the series, he was cannon fodder for endless ‘old’ jokes, mainly by… The 35-year-old unemployed wise-cracking half-brother of the mom: CJ (played to insanely funny heights by David Spade): I knew Spade was funny, I just didn’t know he was THIS funny. Somehow, Spade’s very familiar presence is sensed inside his character (as opposed to a separable character), which is understandable, since he’s a comic and he’s on a comedy show. This eerie feeling is kinda like seeing someone borrow lots of material from David Spade’s appearances in movies, talk shows and functions (award shows, etc.) and delivering a superb impersonation of Spade’s voice and comedy style, except, that it IS Spade. By that I mean you realize he’s not trying to play someone else, or a whole new character: he’s being the goofy, funny Spade we’ve come to know, and he takes this pleasantly humorous formula to the absolute top. Every line he uttered, every sarcasm he begot, all classics, literally. Spade was CRAZY-funny; so, SO funny.
913Mv-kIUpL._AC_SL1500_The show’s humor and drama were both upped after the show was back, but audiences thought, “John passed, it ain’t gonna be the same anymore”. This is understandable, considering we are talking about a group of people (American viewers) who gave ‘Yes Dear’ a free ride but caused Andy Richter Controls the Universe to be cancelled in no time. As the show’s quality increased, its ratings declined. Soon it was no more, sadly.

 

REVIEW: DATE NIGHT

CAST
Steve Carrell (Evan Almighty)
Tina Fey (Mean Girls)
Mark Wahlberg (Rock Star)
Taraji P. Henson (The Karate Kid)
Jimmi Simpson (White House Down)
Common (Terminator Salvation)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Leighton Meester (The Roommate)
J.B. Smoove (The Sitter)
Kristen Wiig (The Martian)
Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers)
James Franco (This Is The End)
Mila Kunis (Ted)
Olivia Munn (Iron Man 2)
Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman)
Jon Bernthal (Daredevil)
Ari Graynor (For A Good Time Call..)
Will.i.am (X-Men Origins)
Bill Burr (Zombeavers)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Nick Kroll (Sing)
Gillian Vigman (The Hangover)
Ray Liotta (Hannibal)
Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) are a married couple from New Jersey with two children and whose domestic life has become boring and routine. Phil is a tax lawyer while Claire is a realtor. They are motivated to reignite their romance after learning that their best friends, Brad and Haley (Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig), are planning to divorce to escape the married-life routine and to have more excitement in their lives.
To avoid the routine that had become their weekly “date night”, Phil decides that he will take Claire to a trendy Manhattan restaurant, but they cannot get a table. Phil takes a reservation from a no-show couple, the Tripplehorns, despite Claire’s misgivings. While eating they are approached by two men, Collins (Common) and Armstrong (Jimmi Simpson), who question them about a flash drive they believe Phil and Claire stole from mobster boss Joe Miletto (Ray Liotta). Phil and Claire explain that they are not the Tripplehorns, but the men threaten them at gunpoint. Not seeing any other way out, Phil tells them it is in a boathouse in Central Park.
At the boathouse, Claire pretends to search; while Collins and Armstrong’s backs are turned, Phil hits them with a paddle and escapes with Claire on a boat. At a police station, Phil and Claire talk with Detective Arroyo (Taraji P. Henson), but discover Collins and Armstrong are also detectives, presumably on Miletto’s payroll. Realizing they cannot trust the police, they decide to find the real Tripplehorns. They return to the restaurant and find the cellphone number of the Tripplehorns.
Claire remembers a former client, Holbrooke Grant (Mark Wahlberg), is a security expert and James Bond-like action hero. He is consistently seen never wearing a shirt. At his apartment, Grant traces the cellphone signal to an apartment owned by Tom Felton. Collins and Armstrong arrive, but Phil and Claire escape in Grant’s Audi R8.
They arrive at Felton’s apartment and break in. They question Felton, nicknamed “Taste” (James Franco), and his wife “Whippit” (Mila Kunis) about the flash drive and Joe Miletto. It turns out that they went to the restaurant, but left when they spotted Collins. Realizing they are in danger, the couple give the flash drive to Phil and flee. When Phil and Claire get back in the Audi, Armstrong and Collins shoot at them. Phil and Claire crash the Audi head-on into a Ford Crown Victoria taxicab, resulting in their Audi and the Ford being attached at the bumpers. Phil and the cab driver (J. B. Smoove) decide to drive off to get away. Phil climbs into the Ford to navigate while Claire navigates the Audi. Phil checks the flash drive on the driver’s Amazon Kindle and finds pictures of district attorney Frank Crenshaw (William Fichtner) with prostitutes (early in the film, a press conference shows Crenshaw highlighting his integrity platform). After evading Collins and Armstrong, they are eventually hit and are separated by an SUV. The cab falls into the river; Phil and the driver escape, but without the flash drive.
In a subway, Phil determines that Felton obtained the flash drive to blackmail Crenshaw. They return to Grant’s apartment, and Grant is reluctant to help after becoming exhausted by their incompetence, but Phil begs and he agrees. Phil and Claire go to an illegal strip club that Crenshaw frequents, with Claire under the guise of a new prostitute and Phil as her pimp. After doing a pole dance for Crenshaw, they confront him and tell him they are the Tripplehorns. Collins and Armstrong come in and hold them at gunpoint and take them up to the roof with Crenshaw. Miletto arrives with henchmen and it is revealed that Crenshaw has been paid by Miletto to keep him out of jail. When Phil mentions the photos, a feud escalates between the mobsters and Crenshaw, Collins and Armstrong. Phil asks Claire to count to three (her typical method of calming their children). When she does, a helicopter appears and Arroyo and the SWAT team come onto the roof to arrest Miletto, Crenshaw, and everyone else. It is revealed that Phil was wearing a wire courtesy of Grant, who informed Arroyo of the situation.
After being declared heroes, Phil and Claire enjoy breakfast at a diner, where Phil admits he would marry Claire and have their kids all over again if given the chance. When they return home, they make out on the front lawn.
This is a real laugh out loud movie and even though it looks like a chick flick it suits both sexes! Very amusing escapades of a normal, bored couple who decide to do something different for date night and the story begins….a great watch!