Vikings Season 3: Starting off in Troubled Waters

Welp, time to sit down for another set of rousing adventures on the ‘Floki and Lagertha Show.’ Wait- sorry, I forgot. There are also other characters in the program and it’s actually called ‘Vikings.’ And not a moment too soon, because I was starting to wonder what value History had left to offer the world. I’m hesitant to admit it, but with ‘Vikings,’ History (the patron channel of Nazi fixations, conspiracy theories, and redneck vocations) has for once put its creative license with the past to good use.

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Better Call Saul: A Beautiful, Sleazy Symphony

Two nights in a row of Bob Odenkirk’s fast-talking, litigious antics? Don’t mind if I do. Last night I voiced my thoughts on the series premier, but since the second episode aired the very next night, I had to weigh in just as quickly on how ‘Better Call Saul’ stands with less of that new show smell. So, despite the tremendous effort required to remember to refer to the protagonist as Jimmy McGill, I press on.

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TV Ennui? Better Watch Saul

Read the second part of my review on the two-night premier here.

AMC has a shot at reminding us who brought the new golden age of television to basic cable. With ‘Mad Men’ winding down, the network will need something far more interesting and well-written than ‘The Walking Dead’ to stay relevant. Honestly, if I ever get curious about how the aimless zombie drama is progressing, I’ll stick to the parody Twitter accounts.

My focus tonight is the premier of ‘Better Call Saul,’ which will take us back to the world of ‘Breaking Bad,’ riddled with violence, drugs, and pork pie hats. Hiding my excitement is a lost cause because, like any true disciple of Heisenberg, I’ve dearly missed receiving the weekly devotional at the alter of Vince Gilligan.

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I got off my high horse to enjoy “The Man in the High Castle”

Spoilers ahead, because obviously…

As a general rule, historical fiction make me uneasy. Important as dialogue is, far too many movies, shows and books never realized that to show is better than to tell. Story components that should be alluded to through context are awkwardly crammed into conversation, and you end up with characters in the Great Depression talking about FDR like they’re reading from a middle school textbook. The problem with gratuitous exposition is that it so often comes at the expense of the narrative, if not replacing it completely. So every time I’m about to take in a story set in the 20’s, 60’s or 80’s, my expression is a preemptive cringe.
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Is FX ready to have grown-up conversations?

Every Tuesday night at 10 p.m., one or two TV networks in the US are bound to focus on Middle Eastern tension and conflicts. The usual suspects are, of course, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Now FX will be vying to take part in the conversation with it’s newest original series “Tyrant”. This is a pretty ambitious move for a channel whose claim to fame is that “FX has the movies.” For all of that trying though, will “Tyrant” contribute any valuable insight or commentary on its subject matter?

Contentious social and political issues are not new territory for FX. Many of the network’s original drama series have had major plot points, if not their entire premises, on hot-button topics. “The Shield” had gang violence and police corruption. “The Bridge” personalizes the dangers of trying to enforce the law along the US-Mexico border. “Sons of Anarchy” looks at all of the above through the lens of the outlaws profiting from the illicit gun and drug trades. So with over ten years of experience, FX should be experts by now at developing material that maturely examines the big questions that face our society. Right? No, actually not at all. Both FX’s broadcasting history and “Tyrant’s” unique subject matter far from guarantee any lasting depth in the plot. Continue reading

Game of Thrones Abroad: Can China have their lemon cakes and eat them too?

If you like international news, fantasy sagas, and the internet as much as I do, you probably heard some outcry this past week over the Chinese government’s decision regarding the TV series Game of Thrones. You can’t know how excited I am to even suggest that this show is relevant to current world events. The series has been permitted to air in the PRC, despite some reportedly heavy edits in the name of censorship.

According to the South China Morning Star, one viewer of the altered pilot episode felt it was reduced to “a medieval European castle documentary.” What was the motivation behind this move? According to Ishaan Tharoor of the Washington Post, it may be a shrewd political maneuver for China to take the plot to the chopping block. Continue reading