REVIEW: SELF MADE: INSPIRED BY THE LIFE OF MADAM C.J. WALKER

Octavia Spencer in Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker (2020)

 

Starring

Octavia Spencer (Truth Be Told)
Tiffany Haddish (The Kitchen)
Carmen Ejogo (Rattlesnake)
Blair Underwood (When They See Us)
Garrett Morris (New Girl)
Kevin Carroll (snowfall)
Bill Bellamy (Kindergarten Cop 2)
Zahra Bentham (Spinning Out)
Mouna Traoré (American Gods)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Karen Glave (Crimson Peak)
Keeya King (Van Helsing)
Kimberly Huie (Andromeda)

499b5400-69a8-11ea-823a-174df1b17ad7_800_420Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker is a Netflix limited series based on the true story of African American entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker who built a haircare empire that made her America’s first female self-made millionaire. The series will be released on the platform on March 20, 2020.200318122700-self-made-octavia-spencer-large-169.Although Netflix’s Self Made is a true story, what makes it so compelling and enticing is that it makes the lead character look cornered by the world. The way each episode is directed makes the character Sarah Breedlove, played by the ever-present Octavia Spencer, feel like the entire world is the enemy. It relies on the character constantly fighting for social justice, while battling other cultural pitfalls. Everything feels impossible and void. And that’s why the Netflix series works. It’s a concerning rags to riches story that ties itself to a world built to be purposefully resentful against your existence. Sarah Breedlove, who eventually transforms into entrepreneur Madam C.J Walker, is bruised by big defeats coupled with small victories. Sarah has to fight the fact she is black, a woman and unprecedented in times when men ruled the world. And Self Made presents this notion well in a charming but truthful way.imageThe Netflix series does not shy away from cultural references. How blacks were referred to as “negroes” and “colored”. Self Made banks on rawness rather than shying away from the truth. Men sour at the fact that Sarah wants to build her own female enterprise, which was seen as a strange concept in the early 1900s. Self Made is only four chapters but it uses that time wisely, slowly presenting Sarah’s struggles to build a business centering on hair products while battling a competitive enemy and an insecure husband that appears to suffer from his own fragile masculinity. Octavia Spencer does her usual best performance. In stories that require themes involving cultural divides, Octavia always seems to thrive.mcjw_102_unit_00909rc-_h_2020The biggest surprise and addition to Self Made is Tiffany Haddish who plays Lelia, Sarah’s daughter. Her story is important to the LGBTQ community, expressing what it would have been like to be attracted to the same sex in times where it was banishable. There are plenty of stories to gnaw on in Self Made, and audiences will be impressed by the business achievement she made in a white man’s world. Some stories deserve to be told and this is one of them.

REVIEW: PARADISE PD – SEASON 2

MAIN CAST

Sarah Chalke (Scrubs)
David Herman (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Tom Kenny (Super Hero Squad)
Kyle Kinane (Epic)
Cedric Yarbrough (The Boss)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Dana Snyder (Open Season 3)
Waco O’Guin (Brickleberry)
Grey DeLisle (Bolt)
Roger Black (Stankervision)
Lance Reddick (Fringe)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)

72093883201a8eec0_wParadise PD is undoubtedly one of the funniest animated American adult cartoon out there. People liken it to Brickleberry because of the animation and creators involved, but the content is vastly more offensive and executed with a near-flawless comedic timing.  It’s absolutely hysterical and it will have you nostalgic for those days when South Park was effortlessly bulldozing television’s taboos and riling up all of the politically correct censorship groups campaigning for Matt and Trey’s heads hoping to put them on a stick at the city gates.screenshot_99_1514727We’ve obviously come a long way since the 90’s since most people won’t blink at the type of offensive comedy that Paradise PD spits out with machine gun rapidity, but if it was two decades ago when American networks were experimenting with the idea of expanding adult animation outside of The Simpsons, it would have easily landed on Comedy Central and subsequently been the center of its own salacious media storm targeted by the PC police.paradise-pd-season-2-696x392It’s juvenile, it’s disgusting, it’s every kind of phobic you can imagine, and if it could spit in your eye and evacuate down your throat as a way of saying “Thanks for watching,” it would do it with a Cheshire smile and without so much as batting a single wink of an eye.MV5BMzc4MzIwNzc4MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTM0MTc3._V1_Every episode’s plot line is ridiculous and pokes fun at just about every serious and painful subject imaginable, and that’s part of the magic of Paradise PD. The best way to confront and deal with life’s absurdities and travesties is to couch them in nihilistic, ridiculous comedy so that they lose their ability to inflict more pain. This show is medicine and Season 2 just dropped on Netflix, so spend your Friday binge watching PPD and enjoy.

REVIEW: I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS – SEASON 1

Wyatt Oleff and Sophia Lillis in I Am Not Okay with This (2020)

Starring

Sophia Lillis (IT Chapter 1 & 2)
Sofia Bryant (Suspicion)
Wyatt Oleff (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Kathleen Rose Perkins (Gone Girl)

Sophia Lillis in I Am Not Okay with This (2020)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Aidan Wojtak-Hissong (Falling Water)
Richard Ellis (Should I Do It?)
Patricia Scanlon (Magnolia)
Zachary S. Williams (I Am Frankie)
Sophia Tatum (Salt 2006)
Marisa Davila (My Big Fat Blonde Musical)

Wyatt Oleff in I Am Not Okay with This (2020)This is a Netflix Original series that follows a teenage girl named Sydney (Sophia Lillis) as she deals with growing powers that are far beyond her control. It’s an interesting look at the whole concept of a youth gaining what are essentially super powers, having deep emotional issues and then having no guidance on what to do with them.Wyatt Oleff and Sophia Lillis in I Am Not Okay with This (2020)This is a very to the point show, being short and not having any sort of extra fluff to it. The narrative is always progressing, with each moment building towards something that gets teased a little along the way. It’s quite well done, very gritty and incredibly gory. It’s about more than just dealing with the problems of control, it also handles some of the issues one might face at that age. Figuring out who they are as a person, what sort of friends they want and that emotions are rather hard to deal with in a healthy way.Sophia Lillis in I Am Not Okay with This (2020)This had an excellent pacing to it, with an interesting narrative that was compelling to watch. I went through this in its entirety during a single viewing, and was left wanting more by the end. It actually really leaves things open as while it completes a main plot point it does also spark a lot of wonder as it teases an interesting second season. This is a very intimate type of series, it focuses almost entirely on Sydney and from her perspective. She’s insanely awkward which was great to see, and well performed. There’s also a nice balance there as she deals with anger, loss and various people that aren’t always the best to her. She does connect well with a close neighbor Stanley (Wyatt Oleff) that also has issues of his own and dresses like he’s from the 70’s.Sophia Lillis in I Am Not Okay with This (2020)The two have an awkward sort of connection, and that does help drive some of the drama. She also has a best friend Dina (Sofia Bryant) and that’s an interesting aspect of the story that plays out. This again has a rather neat style of shooting to it. Looks super gritty, sort of dark and definitely grounded in some realm of realism. It’s not too over the top as she does have interesting abilities, and I thought they handled that well.Wyatt Oleff and Sophia Lillis in I Am Not Okay with This (2020)I Am Not Okay with This Season 1 is really great, it’s very dark and feels like a realistic depiction of a young woman dealing with problems, along with having powers she can’t control. It’s grounded, and has some rather insane moments that definitely stand out. The pacing was excellent, the season went by swiftly and I was left really wanting there to be more. It completed what I considered to be the main focus of this initial series, while also leaving room for more to happen. The episodes didn’t waste any time, covering key points and building a group of people around the lead. It had a good look at issues from that age, and also just presented a sad gritty atmosphere to see play out. I thought Lillis was great here, being super awkward and that works well for this character. I’m very intrigued to see how they might built upon this going forward.

REVIEW: LOCKE & KEY – SEASON 1

 

Locke & Key (2020)

Starring

Jackson Robert Scott (IT)
Connor Jessup (Falling Skies)
Emilia Jones (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides)
Sherri Saum (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Griffin Gluck (Why Him?)
Darby Stanchfield (Waitress)
Laysla De Oliveira (The Gifted)
Petrice Jones (IBoy)
Thomas Mitchell Barnet (Run This Town)
Aaron Ashmore (Smallville)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Stars

Asha Bromfield (Full Out)
Bill Heck (The Alienist)
Kevin Alves (Shadowhunters)
Genevieve Kang (Impulse)
Hallea Jones (Let It Snow)
Kolton Stewart (The Expanse)
Chris Britton (Riverdale)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Felix Mallard (Neighbours)
Joy Tanner (Mutant X)
Coby Bird (Mega Python vs. Gatoroid)

bunny_hat_rawgoseiger_movie_189872f8-mkv_snapshot_18-44_2013-01-03_15-08-19After nearly a decade of failed attempts to bring a live-action version of Locke & Key to life, Netflix has finally delivered the goods, but was it worth the wait? Based on the graphic novel of the same name written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, the series centers on the Locke children, Tyler (Connor Jessup), Kinsey (Emilia Jones), and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott), and their mother Nina (Darby Stanchfield), who move to their ancestral home of “Keyhouse” after the family’s patriarch, Rendell (Bill Heck), is murdered.sentai1498Fans of the comic book’s graphic violence and creepy visuals may be a bit disappointed that Netflix’s version leans more into the whimsical aspects of Hill’s narrative and less on the terror and bloodshed. However, if the streaming giant’s goal is to appeal to a larger audience, then I think the series succeeds with some terrific set-pieces, aesthetics, and performances from the leading cast that make Season 1’s 10-episode arc a worthy binge.MV5BNmY1MWIxYjUtYWJhMy00MGE3LWFlNDgtY2Q2ZjcyMmZlMmYwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDM2NDM2MQ@@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_One of the standout characters in Locke & Key is not an actual person, but the house itself. Big props to the production designers (Rory Cheyne and David Blass) for creating a location that truly feels alive. Every room is meticulously detailed with fascinating little trinkets and decor that add a layer of mystery to the story, and may even cause you to pause on particular scenes just take in all of the details. Keyhouse is home to several magical keys, each with their own unique abilities.MV5BNmY1MWIxYjUtYWJhMy00MGE3LWFlNDgtY2Q2ZjcyMmZlMmYwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDM2NDM2MQ@@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_While siblings Tyler and Kinsey do have their own adventures with the keys, it’s their younger brother Bode who has the most fascinating encounters with their magic in Season 1. Since this version of Locke & Key is a little more family-friendly than the comics, Bode’s youthful exuberance after discovering each key is palpable and honestly infectious. Scott portrays Bode with just the right amount of innocence and wonder without ever making him too precocious. Tyler and Kinsey’s adventures in the first half of the season (when they’re not teaming up with Bode) are less pivotal to the overall story and are usually relegated to high school dramaaaa like using the keys to get revenge on “mean girls” or trying to impress a potential love interest. These high school hijinks occasionally make the show feel more like a CW teen drama than an ambitious mystery, and Locke & Key feels far more engaging when it leans into its fantastical elements.34d785dd-541d-4fd2-a32d-a66cdaa3b1b2-locke_107_unit_01540rcOne particular standout on that front is the “Head Key,” which enables the series to get creative with its visuals, while also playing with body horror. The key is inserted into the back of someone’s neck to literally open the door to their mind, which then allows a person to relive important memories, or add bits of information they might want to remember at a later date. Everyone’s mind palace looks different depending on their life experiences; Bode’s is like a large playground/arcade, while Kinsey’s is a giant shopping mall. Even better, the Head Key gives the viewer insightful glimpses into the history of the Locke family. After their father is murdered under mysterious circumstances, the three Locke siblings and their mother move into their ancestral home, Keyhouse, which they discover is full of magical keys that may be connected to their father’s death. As the Locke children explore the different keys and their unique powers, a mysterious demon awakens — and will stop at nothing to steal them. From Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel) and Meredith Averill (The Haunting of Hill House), the series is a coming-of-age mystery about love, loss, and the unshakable bonds that define family.0ba2db67-b2e5-417b-84b7-78cda90b8004-LOCKE_110_Unit_01548ROne of the most emotionally stirring aspects of the series is its effective use of flashbacks, which allows the audience to see the kids interacting with their father, adding believable weight and grief to those relationships. These scenes are great character-building moments for the kids and are so well-realized, it’s easy to forget this is all happening because of a magical key. This confident blend of fantasy and real-world drama is Locke & Key’s greatest strength. Where the series gets into trouble is when it tries to tackle too many narratives at once.0ba2db67-b2e5-417b-84b7-78cda90b8004-LOCKE_110_Unit_01548RThe series is simultaneously attempting to be a compelling family drama, supernatural thriller, murder mystery, and high school dramedy throughout Season 1, and by attempting to serve several masters, it never completely feels like a cohesive whole. While the family storyline and the fantasy elements involving the keys work well, other aspects of the plot aren’t quite as memorable. One example of this is Season 1’s villain, Laysla De Oliveira’s Dodge, a mysterious figure who torments the Locke family in the hopes of taking possession of their keys. The Canadian-born actress has an incredible on-screen presence that can be alternately charming or menacing, and Oliveira can flip that switch in an instant, giving the character a welcome sense of unpredictability. Her performance isn’t the problem, but the character’s progression suffers from the way the story has been changed from the graphic novel to appeal to a broader audience.f5e96db0-47b5-11ea-b359-b54a8360c96a_800_420As the central villain, you’d expect Dodge to be a truly terrifying figure, but even when she kills someone in a way that should be shocking in any other situation, the show often leans into the absurd humor of her actions rather than ramping up the tension, undercutting some of the show’s biggest scares. As much trouble as the Locke kids get into, it’s difficult to imagine something horrible happening to them, even with an antagonist like Dodge lurking in the shadows.
Screenshot-2020-02-04-at-18.01.58Netflix’s Locke & Key hits the mark when it comes to its slick visuals and a focus on the powerful bonds within the Locke family, anchored by an endearing performance from Jackson Robert Scott as Bode. However, the series struggles to instill any real terror from its main villain due to its focus on whimsy over horror. Having read the original graphic novel by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, it’s difficult not to ignore the differences in tone and subject matter when it comes to Netflix’s more family-friendly version. If the streamer is going broad with its adaption in order to make the series more accessible for viewers who have no history with the franchise, then on those terms, it succeeds. Bottom line, Locke & Key: Season 1 is an enjoyable binge that’s easily digestible for fans and newcomers alike, but those who were hoping for a wholly faithful adaptation may feel frustrated by some key changes.

REVIEW: THE STRANGER (2020)

Hannah John-Kamen in The Stranger (2020)

Starring

Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Siobhan Finneran (Boy A)
Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
Jennifer Saunders (Minions)
Shaun Dooley (The White Queen)
Paul Kaye (Anna and The Apocalypse)
Dervla Kirwan (White Dragon)
Kadiff Kirwan (Mary Queen of Scotts)
Anthony Head (Buffy: TVS)
Stephen Rea (V For Vendetta)
Kai Alexander (Catastrophe)
Jacob Dudman (The List)
Brandon Fellows (Raised By Wolves)
Lily Loveless (Sket)
Tamica Greenaway

Hannah John-Kamen in Episode #1.1 (2020)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Aurora Burghart (October Faction)
Manoj Anand (Pennyworth)
Joey Ansah (THe Bourne Ultimatum)
India Brown (Hetty Feather)
Callie Cooke (Britannia)
Chike Chan (Everest)
Jemma Powell (Alice In Wonderland)
Ella-Rae Smith (Into The Badlands)
Chinenye Ezeudu (Sex Education)
Jade Harrison (Hollyoaks)
Misha Handley (THe Women In Black)

rewrewrwerwerewrSecrets! Everybody’s got ‘em. Sordid little lies tucked away behind incognito tabs and fake online usernames. Maybe you diddled your expenses or your mortgage application or your son’s clarinet teacher. Let’s say you robbed Peter to pay Paul, then knocked Peter over the back of the head with a golf club and fed his remains to Paul’s pig. Whatever foul canker you’ve shoved so far up inside your folds nobody could ever find it, you’d better hope that you don’t get a visit from the Stranger. The Stranger is Netflix’s new UK thriller, adapted by Danny Brocklehurst (Shameless, Exile) from the 2015 novel of the same name by crime mystery superstar Harlan Coben (The Five, Safe). It’s about a mysterious woman who goes around spilling people’s darkest secrets. She turns up, whispers a devastating truth about a loved one in your ear and then whoosh, she’s gone.TheStranger-04.04.19-1.14-3-d84d4b7Where, who, how and why are all questions the series dutifully ticks off over eight highly bingeable instalments. Be warned: this is precision-engineered viewing designed to keep you on the sofa lazily slurping up twist after twist. Every episode bar the last ends in three minutes of frenzied discovery that leave our characters tossed in a variety of perils. Watching it in one hypnotised go is more or less a contractual obligation. The Stranger’s binge-ability works greatly in its favour, because it keeps you too busy to reflect in any depth on what you’re seeing. The ‘hang on, what an enormous contrivance’ thoughts won’t arrive until you’ve rushed through the lot, and by that point, you won’t be thinking about it much at all. It’ll just leave you fed and full, like a tasty M&S carbonara.hqdefaultThe highlights are in the cast. Hannibal’s Richard Armitage is a strong lead as lawyer and family man Adam Price, while Happy Valley’s Siobhan Finneran is so capable and likeable as detective DS Johanna Griffin that if you were ever murdered, you’d want her as lead investigator in your case. The pair of them easily cushion any jolts over bumpy dialogue. The Stranger herself (gender-swapped from the book at Coben’s behest) is played by Black Mirror’s Hannah John Kamen. She wreaks havoc around the unspecified Northern town (it’s Stockport), unearthing shameful acts and confronting people with realities they don’t want to face. Some lies even come out without her involvement, as if her mere presence in the local area is a kind of laxative for difficult-to-pass truths.UntitledThose three are joined by Stephen Rea (Counterpart, The Crying Game) as a curmudgeonly former police officer whose legal battle Adam is fighting, Dervla Kirwan (Strangers, Ballykissangel) as Adam’s wife Corinne, Anthony Head (The Split, Merlin) as a local kingpin property developer, neighbour and colleague Shaun Dooley (Broadchurch, Gentleman Jack), Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous) as a local café owner, and Paul Kaye (Vera, After Life). There are a dozen other characters, almost all with their own storylines and revelations on top of that lot. Underpopulated this series isn’t. Quite the opposite – it’s stuffed with character and incident. Like colourful pins on a whiteboard encircled by multiple threads, almost everybody we meet comes with a mystery to solve. Adam and Corinne’s eldest son Thomas (Jacob Dudman) and his schoolfriends are part of a parallel investigation that weaves in and out of the main story. The teen plot isn’t acted with many shades of light and dark, but it keeps things moving.Hannah-John-Kamen-nella-miniserie-The-Stranger-Credits-Netflix

It all keeps moving. The Stranger is thoroughly plotted, with carefully allotted motivations and mini-mysteries for all, even if none manage to reveal any particular human truths. A does X to B because they’re jealous of C, which makes C do X to get back at A. It’s a thriller with all the planning Post-Its in all the right places. Wherever there’s a question, there will be an answer – if you haven’t already guessed some of the more generic twists. Seasoned thriller viewers will predict many, but there’s such a high volume that another surprise will be along any minute. Its humour is another highlight. A stab of Brocklehurst’s former writing gig on Shameless comes through in some of the more comedic and unexpected elements, adding blessed brightness to a genre often mired in noir. Unnatural thriller elements like car chases and lengthy foot pursuits are softened by naturalistic humour, helped along by Kadiff Kirwan’s DC Wesley Ross (or ‘the infant’ as Johanna calls him) sight-for-sore-eyes Jennifer Saunders, and Shaun Dooley’s matey neighbour Tripp.ptWcWGKwIt’s an enjoyable and entertaining series that, while it doesn’t leave a lasting impression, also doesn’t allow any time for boredom. The transition from the US-set book – a world of lacrosse clubs, guns, domestic flights and ad execs proselytising on the American dream – is successfully done and keeps the whole thing’s feet on the ground, give or take a little tedious stoner philosophising inherited from the novel about whether secrets are cancer or whether they could even be like, maybe, good? All in all, there’s plenty to recommend it, and plenty of lesser ways to spend six and a bit hours in front of Netflix. Have at it.

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: CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA – PART 3

Kiernan Shipka in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)

Starring

Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men)
Ross Lynch (Muppets Most Wanted)
Lucy Davis (Wonder Woman)
Chance Perdomo (Killed By Debt)
Michelle Gomez (Bad Education)
Jaz Sinclair (Slender Man)
Tati Gabrielle (The 100)
Adeline Rudolph
Richard Coyle (5 Day of War)
Miranda Otto (Lord of The Rings)
Lachlan Watson (The Ultimate Life)
Gavin Leatherwood (Wicked Enigma)

chilling-adventures-of-sabrina-part-3-music-video

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jedidiah Goodacre (The Order)
Jonathan Whitesell (The 100)
Sam Corlett (The Dry)
Luke Cook (Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2)
Skye P. Marshall (Black Lightning)
Ty Wood (The Haunting In Connecticut)
Emily Haine (Deadpool)
Christopher Rosamond (Van Helsing)
Justin Dobies (Get The Girl)
L. scott caldwell (Lost)
Bronson Pinchot (Lois & Clark)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Matty Finochio (Freaks)
Nathalie Bolt (Step Dave)
Alexis Denisof (Legacies)
Jasmine Vega (Legends of Tomorrow)
Vanessa Rubio (How To Be Single)
Lucie Guest (Orphan Black)
Graeme McComb (Legends of Tomorrow)
Will Swenson (The Switch)
Heather Doerksen (Van Helsing)
Glynis Davies (Stargate Universe)
Whitney Peak (Tales From The Loop)

october-factionIt’s a case of hell hath no fury like a Spellman scorned as Kiernan Shipka’s wily witch is back on her broomstick for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 3. With fans still reeling from the fiery Part 2 finale, it was always clear things were going to get darker before they could get brighter in the next run of episodes. With Father Blackwood on the run, Lilith on the throne, and Zelda ruling over the Church of Night, it’s very much a woman’s world in Part 3. However, Sabrina wastes literally no time in going straight to Hell (in a handbasket) to rescue BF Nick Scratch from her father’s hooves.926c2220-9142-11e9-9460-afa8c7f01ada_800_420Elsewhere, Prudence and Ambrose go on their own Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? quest to track down Father Blackwood. It’s a game of cat and mouse as both sides outfox each other at every turn. The unconventional lovers are assisted by the enigmatic Mambo Marie as Skye P. Marshall channels some serious American Horror Story: Coven vibes. Mambo’s own goals soon put her on an unconventional path toward Zelda.CAS_204_Unit_01167RC-31fa6ab-scaledThe comedy double act of Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto once again bounce off each other as though they’re real-life siblings. Hilda is the warm and motherly Ying to Zelda’s frosty Yang, but it’s Hilda who has arguably the biggest transformation (figuratively and literally) in Part 3. Aside from Chance Perdomo’s Ambrose slipping neatly into the role of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Giles as the de facto expert on all things occult, the real star of the piece is Michelle Gomez. Pulling double duty as Ms. Wardwell — back in the land of the living — and the powerful Lilith, Gomez brilliantly balances the nervous disposition of Wardwell and the acid-tongued Lilith we’ve come to love and loathe. Richard Coyle has a similarly tough task as he portrays everyone from Father Blackwood to Satan, and even Aunt Hilda.chilling-adventures-of-sabrina-6-e1578590723722-700x327When it comes to the rest of the newcomers, Jonathan Whitesell’s ‘elfish’ Robin gives Theo’s arc much more of a presence as the most interesting member of the Fright Club. Finally, Sam Corlett steps out from the shadows as Caliban – the self-titled Prince of Hell — but sadly fades into the background as just another pretty face. Worse than this, Caliban doesn’t fill his potential as Part 3’s big bad. There’s still a more menacing presence as Lucifer gives Sabrina some serious daddy issues by holding up inside both Nick and Father Blackwood. At the centre of the series is the idea of love and loss, with happy endings being just out of reach for the main characters. Was anyone really buying that Blackwood would simply roll over, that Nick and Sabrina were for keeps, or the vain hope we’d get to see Salem go full Sabrina the Teenage Witch and start talking?sabrina.vikmjaThe coven is down on its luck, and with power waning, it allows a more sinister presence to roll into town. The simple premise of the ‘regular’ witches being the good ones and a carnival of Pagans being the bad is forced a little too hard, making this a travelling circus of problems. The third season of many shows is where they hit their stride, and just like Game of Thrones shocked with the Red Wedding, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina doesn’t hold back in its penultimate episode. Throwing together Pagans, Father Blackwood, Lucifer Morningstar, Lilith, and Caliban, Part 3 becomes a melting pot of villains.MV5BODEyNTAwMTcyMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDIyMjI2MTE@._V1_While some are undoubtedly disappointed the usual run of episodes have been shrunk to just eight, it’s at least helped writers tighten everything up in Part 3 – admirably, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina still keeps its core of female empowerment and teenage angst. If not for the batsh*t ending putting the pieces in place for Part 4, there’d be a convincing argument that Sabrina has lost a bit of her magic, but thankfully, she’s sure to keep casting a spell over Netflix’s viewership.