‘Evil Genius’ – Netflix’s Newest Must-Watch Crime Series

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Brian Wells moments before his untimely death – Netflix

The True Crime genre love that has been drawing in viewers for some time now from Making a Murderer to The Keepers and The Staircase among others, has a new must-watch show featuring one of the most bizarre cases ever documented.  Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist recently dropped on Netflix and the four part documentary has enough of all the right genre ingredients for it to be binged in a single sit and leave us wanting more.

At the very base of this case is the town of Eerie, Pennsylvania and a pizza delivery driver named Brian Wells who robs a bank with a working walking cane gun (it’s literally something out of James Bond), a note demanding $250,000 – and a collar bomb around his neck.

After obtaining less than $9000, Wells leaves the bank, is apprehended and while waiting for the bomb squad to arrive, dies when said collar bomb explodes in one very graphic and horrific scene that has traumatized me since viewing. Moments after Well’s shocking death, it’s discovered he was on a scavenger hunt, following a map and instructions in order to defuse the Saw like collar bomb.

The web of this case begins to expand when one of Well’s co-workers mysteriously dies only days later and two people – Bill Rothstein and Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong – enter the fray with a third dead body sitting frozen in Rothstien’s chest freezer.

This fascinating case features master mind criminals, red herrings, crazy theories and law enforcement bungles – just as others in the genre have – but unlike those, the focus on the judicial system is just a haze as the unusual circumstances within this case are just too outlandish to not be put front and centre.

Of the two criminals in this case, Diehl-Armstrong is the only one still alive and the only one to actively communicate with director Trey Borzillieri about Well’s case and the ever expanding landscape that surrounds it.

Check out the trailer below:

Evil Genius is streaming now on Netflix Australia/New Zealand.

p.s – for fans of the genre’, the compelling The Staircase is coming to Netflix along with three all-new episodes starting on June 8th!

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Review : The Assassination of Gianni Versace

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Ray Mickshaw/FX

Taking the what-if around this murder as gospel, the follow up to The People Vs OJ Simpson is more flash than facts but is still a good watch.

I’m putting it out there front and center – the actual murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace is only a fraction of what is featured within the world of Ryan Murphy’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace so much so, the show would have been better titled The Delusional Life of Andrew Cunanan as Assassination delves into the world of Versace’s killer (played by Glee’s Darren Criss) more than Versace’s terrible fate as the title would suggest.

Opening with soaring operatic music and a flowing visual tour of Versace’s gaudy Miami mansion, Versace is dead even before the title credits.  However, the aim for Murphy wasn’t for us to follow those trying to solve this murder (hence the title) but in fact send us back in time and follow Cunanan and how he ended up with a gun in his hands aimed at the famed fashion designer.  Yes, Versace’s untimely death at the hands of Cunanan plays as the pilot episode’s main premise but that’s more to do with Versace’s celebrity status over Cunanan’s four other victims, who also get a look in during the shows eight other episodes in the form of time jumps.

Based off the book Vulgar Favors: The Hunt for Andrew Cunanan, the Man Who Killed Gianni Versace by author Maureen Orth, Assassination is spread among three different lines – Cunanan and his victims, Versace’s loved ones (including Ricky Martin as Versace’s long-time partner Antonio D’Amico) dealing with the fashion empire pre and post murder and the bumbling FBI who can’t seem to get to grips with the ‘gay’ aspect surrounding the murders (it was the 90’s).

The source material also happens to blur the lines between truth and made-up and Assassination quickly becomes a show that will have you asking “did that really happen?” while trying to decide what is fact and what is fiction considering to this day, there is still no actual proof that Versace and Cunanan had even met prior to the murder.

Gianni’s sister Donatella (played with startling verbal similarity by Penelope Cruz) has claimed the series as “a work of fiction” while the programme itself carries the disclaimer: “Some events are combined or imagined for dramatic and interpretative purposes. Dialogue is imagined to be consistent with these events” and that’s because the main players within this world are….well, dead.

Cunanan’s prior interactions (or lack thereof) with his victims – Versace (Édgar Ramírez), Jeffrey Trail (Finn Wittrock), David Madson (Cody Fern), Lee Miglin (Mike Farrell) and William Reece (Gregg Lawrence) – is somewhat pure speculation so while the work is based off fact, it is done so with much “let’s assume this is what happened“.

That aside, the character study of Andrew Cunanan is a rather intriguing one and is explored heavily within the series.  Cunanan’s ability to seamlessly morph into any given situation or social standing and flee when his lies have all been revealed is quite remarkable though giving so much focus on his life, his lies and his troubled youth feels like we’re being forced into empathizing with Cunanan in light of the fact he is/was a notorious serial killer.

Part of this comes down to how star Darren Criss brings the killer to life, playing Cunanan as mysterious yet suave with an air of charm, a believer in his own lies and the false world around him that he has created while trying to decide just how much of his true self he needs to reveal.  One could only presume by the middle of this series, much more freedom for Criss was enabled with Cunanan as this is where most of the fact/fiction lines become very blurred.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Assassination is the glaring fact that unlike season one’s OJ Simpson story, there is no real hero to root for.  While we all knew the end result, Sarah Paulson’s Marcia Clark still had us backing her to go and get hers in a male dominated environment yet in Assassination, that task is less male dominated environment and more gay acceptance.

That job is pretty much left vacant even though it may feel like we’re being forced into believing it should be Cunanan who, while never ashamed of his sexuality, understands how being gay can be perceived by those less educated on the topic.

The missing hero however is through no fault of anyone’s as there just was never one in this story to begin with.  It could never have been Cunanan (regardless of his childhood), the FBI, as it’s shown, were a bunch of bumbling bigots who couldn’t have cared any less about Cunanan’s victims and others such as Versace or even Lee Miglin’s wife Marilyn (played wonderfully by Judith Light) were so far removed from the central story line it would have meant stretching the truth even further to find that hero.

On the whole, this tale of Andrew Cunanan is a worthy watch and while lacking in the suspense and law and order that drove American Crime Story’s first season of The People Vs OJ Simpson there is still enough substance to dig in and make your own mind up about how much truth is actually found within this series.

American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace begins Thursday May 24th at 8:30pm AEST, on Foxtel’s showcase.

 

Review: Olivia Newton John: Hopelessly Devoted to You – Part One

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Image credit: Channel Seven

At some point during the two hours of this part one Olivia Newton John bio, A young Olivia Newton John (played by Morgan Griffin) finds a review about her album with the now infamous quote “If white bread could sing, it would sound like this.”….

Needless to say, that white bread is what we’re being delivered up in the first part of this ONJ biopic that literally speed-balls through two decades of her career within the blink of an eye, bypassing the darker, meatier topics that could have added a bit of wholegrain to the loaf.

Hopeless Devoted to You opens with one of ONJ’s most iconic film moments, the transformation of Sandy in Grease with her ink black leggings, figure hugging corset and hair tizzed within an inch of it’s life singing ‘You’re the one that I want’.  She’s riding a wave of praise with the world at her feet at the movie’s premiere wondering “how did I get here?” before we’re thrown all the way back to Melbourne 1965 with 16 year old ONJ  (Morgan Griffin) about to get her first break with boyfriend TV presenter Ian Turpie (Will Ewing) by her side.

A move to London, a failed attempt with her first single and movie plus a new boyfriend in Bruce Welch (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) from the band ‘The Shadows’ and suddenly ONJ is 22 years old and she’s beginning to make a name for herself with thanks to her boyfriend and manager Welch.  There’s a slight hint within this first part that attempts to look at Welch’s jealousy of ONJ has her career begins to soar (he left his band to manager her) but because that might delve a bit to deep into the dark side it’s quickly brushed aside and ONJ moves on.

White bread.

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Image: Channel Seven

It’s a full 45-odd minutes before the Delta Goodrem version of ONJ re-appears just as she’s about to sing her first mega hit “I Honestly Love You” with new boyfriend by her side, Englishman Lee Kramer (Todd Lasance) who, also happens to be her new manager.  And very much like before with lover/manager Welch, ONJ finds herself struggling with the jealousy of Kramer as her lover/manager as her career continues to keep going higher and once again, she lets him go before we get into the meatier parts of their relationship.

White bread.

The nitty gritty of this part one is that there is none.  It’s simply white bread and in all honesty there is really nothing wrong with it as it makes for a nice and pleasant viewing filled with some hit songs and a couple of broken hearts.

As a young ONJ, Morgan Griffin shines, giving us the doe eyed soft spoken Aussie girl about to take on the world with her music though as this is the Delta Goodrem show, she’s brought in to play ONJ in her early 20’s and that may not have been the best move as Goodrem is too present, too self aware, too…well…Delta Goodrem.

Sure Delta and ONJ both embody the ‘good girl next door’ image but the similarities between the two end there and I had to remind myself constantly that this wasn’t a Delta singing singing ONJ’s greatest hits special and that’s through no fault of her own.  Delta is just too big a name, face and brand to easily morph into someone else – someone just as well known in the form of Olivia Newton John.

When you compare this to 2014’s Michael Hutchence/INXS biopic, Luke Arnold, while known, did not have the same status as Goodrem which allowed the actor to become Hutchence to a point the two were eerily alike but then again, there was more substance and darker, personal material being explored in that movie.

Part two, which airs the following week, delves into the more recent(ish) and more tabloid ONJ era with crazed stalkers, the Xanadu years, battle with cancer and a lover missing at sea.

Don’t expect too much depth from this part one, if we’re talking white bread it’s a cucumber sandwich made to look like a cheese sandwich but we still can clearly see it’s a cucumber sandwich.  Enjoyable but sadly not satisfying that hunger.

Olivia Newton John: Hopelessly Devoted to You – Part one airs Sunday, May 13th at 8:30pm on the Seven Network.

The MKR Grand Finalists Have Been Revealed!

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Image – Channel 7

After 5 long months (including a 4 week hiatus for the Commonwealth Games), we finally know which of the 16 teams have made it through to the My Kitchen Rules grand finale airing this Sunday night on Channel 7.

Victorian mums Kim and Suong who have powered through with their cyclone-in-a-kitchen traditional Vietnamese cooking, will battle it out against Gold Coast couple Alex and Emily who have proven strong with their Mexicali fusion cuisine, for the $250,000 winning prize.

The road to the finale has been a tough one for viewers with the ousting of fiery friends Hadil and Sonya after their abusive outburst while fan favorites Henry and Anna, along with Olga and Valeria failed to impress the judges enough to make it through to the semi-finals.

Leaving just four teams to cook off, brothers Nic and Josh and friends Stella and Jezzey both missed the final hurdle leaving the last two teams of Alex and Emily and Kim and Suong to cook off on Sunday night.

Who will win?  Find out this Sunday on Channel 7 and leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

The Trailer is Here for the Next Installment of The Toys That Made Us!

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Hello Kitty features in Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us Second Season

Just like the excitement that follows after finding that childhood gem of a toy in your parents storage, the second season of the Netflix series The Toys That Made Us is finally coming to our screens!

The documentary series which takes a look at the history of some of our most beloved and iconic toy brands – from conception to reality and everything in between – has already taken a look at He-Man, Barbie, Star Wars and GI Joe and now it’s time for the next batch of mega toy brands to get a closer look.

The first four episodes released back in December were being pushed as the first half of season one, but now it seems, Netflix have seperated the eight episodes into two four episode seasons.

May 25th will see The Toys That Made Us throw Hello Kitty, Star Trek, Transformers and Lego under the microscope on Netflix.

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Image via Netflix

 

 

Sonya and Hadil Revealed as MKR Booted Contestants.

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Hadil goes on the attack in tonight’s MKR.  Image: Channel 7

“Assholes!”  It’s the final vitriolic word screamed out across the table from My Kitchen Rules contestant Sonya before judges Pete Evans and Manu Fidel stepped in to defuse the situation by finally kicking Sonya and Hadil from the Ultimate Instant Restaurant table.

That shocking moment had been milked for advertising the show by the 7 network even before the current series had started back in January of this year and was the final blow up event that had been building up between the Jordanian besties and sisters Emma and Jess over the course of the year.

After a minor altercation the night prior at Henry and Anna’s ‘super instant restaurant’ in Tasmania, tensions between the two teams came to an explosive conclusion when Sonya and Hadil went on the attack once again, with their sights set firmly on the sisters.

Starting off with under-the-breath-but-loud-enough-for-all-to-hear quips about the sisters still being in the competition it wasn’t long before Emma and Jess had stopped biting their tongues and bit back leaving other teams stunned silent.

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Pete and Manu were clearly unimpressed by the antics.  Image: Channel 7

Stella, Jazzey and Josh even attempted to step in and call out Sonya and Hadil for their poor behavior before finding themselves on the receiving end of a tongue lashing resulting in Sonya stating “I will come for you, and you and you” pointing her witchy poo finger at the three.

Meanwhile, poor Kim and Suong, the night’s cooks, are left standing in the kitchen unable to serve their quickly cooling mains as the drama unfolded.

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Kim and Suong are forced to wait to serve their mains.  Image: Channel 7

It was only when Jess had excused herself from the table and Sonya began to call everyone a bunch of “assholes” that judges stepped in and removed Sonya and Hadil not only from the table, reminding the teams that the focus should be on the cooking and not the drama.

So will Sonya and Hadil be back for the next Ultimate Instant Restaurant?  Find out on the next episode of My Kitchen Rules!

Sound off in the comment section about your thoughts on Sonya and Hadil’s booting from MKR!

 

Review: Roseanne Revival Coming soon to Network Ten

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Adam Rose / ABC

We’re strong into the era of the ‘reboot’ where the feelings of days gone by nostalgia is breathing new life into shows long forgotten.  Sometimes it works a treat and sometimes it leaves us with a nasty sour taste in our mouths.  Will & Grace came back with a force, molding itself into modern era culture and The X-Files continues it’s bumpy sci-fi ride traipsing through aliens and government conspiracies.  2009’s Melrose Place reboot lost viewers the moment anything relating to the original series was thrown out the window while Gilmore Girls Netflix revival seemed to have lost it’s quip and heart.

So where does Roseanne sit on the reboot/revival scale?  

Well, the ‘working class’ family comedy that debuted 30 years ago was biting in its humorous take on the less than glamorous, shining a light on everyday family problems from teenagers to low income, unemployment and health care though its final season embraced ‘jumping the shark’ culture with the Connor family winning millions in the state lottery and killing off Roseanne’s husband Dan (John Goodman) with a heart attack.

This Roseanne revisit needed to fix the wrongs of the past and does so using familiar techniques as seen very recently with Will & Grace, using one line quick quips to glaze over what we knew and wipe the slate clean for those old enough to remember how things left off.

This cleanse leaves us with a Connor family at war within itself in 2018, some of which being the result of the diabolical political state America is currently enveloped in.  Jackie (Laurie Metcalfe) has been pushed aside after a voting clash with Roseanne (Roseanne Barr), Darlene (Sara Gilbert) has moved back home as a recently divorced mother of two, DJ (Michael Fishman) has returned home after a stint in the army over in Syria and brings with him his young daughter and Becky (Lecy Goranson) is a struggling single who can’t seem to keep away from her childhood home.

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Familiar and new faces in the Roseanne revival

In general, almost everything looks the same about Roseanne from when we last saw them (albeit older and including a sweet nod to ‘other Becky’ Sarah Chalke, who guests in the first few episodes) though there are some minor ‘token’ attempts to pull the show into current times with DJ’s bi-racial daughter and Darlene’s gender fluid son Mark, who takes center stage in the revivals’ second episode that features some semi-touching moments pinched between some grimacing looks from Dan early on in the piece.

In a move similar to that of the Will & Grace revival, Roseanne’s first episode back is a very politically charged episode, commenting on the current landscape with Trump in charge but unlike Will & Grace, Roseanne proudly voted for Trump and plays as the reason why she and Jackie have had a falling out.  Thankfully though, politics seem to take a back seat for the next few episodes and putting that topic in the hip pocket allows the show finds that magical stride, balancing brutal cutting humor with heart warming touching moments the show was known for.

So again, where does the Roseanne reboot sit on the scale?

After a heated first episode that feels unfamiliar and a questionable second episode, Roseanne settles in nicely to produce one of the more welcome returns to television after being revived from the crypt.

The Roseanne revival begins with a double episode starting Sunday April 30th on Channel 10.

 

Queer Eye, Nailed It and More get Second Season Netflix Order!

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Streaming giant Netflix has given us all an early Easter present with the announcement of new seasons for some of our most binge worthy non-scripted shows!

Dope, Drug Lords, vintage toy docuseries The Toys That Made Ushilarious baking show Nailed it! and the Queer Eye reboot have all been given an additional series order by the service.

“These series are indicative of what we’re trying to accomplish for Netflix unscripted: working with world-class producers to create the best unscripted shows on television,” Bela Bajaria, vice president of content at Netflix, said. “These series elevate the genre with innovative takes on familiar formats. They deliver immersive and nuanced stories. They elicit so many emotions from viewers, from tears of laughter to tears of joy – and that’s just ‘Queer Eye.’”

No news as yet when we can expect the new episodes however The Toys That Made Us’ will have four more episodes from season one to drop shortly!

 

Which Team Get’s the Boot on My Kitchen Rules 2018?

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The kitchen heats up on My Kitchen Rules.  Image Credit: Channel 7

My Kitchen Rules, the cooking competition show that’s become more known for its on-screen dramas and love-to-hate contestants than for any form of cooking, have been proudly advertising for weeks on end that for the first time in the shows long run, one team will been kicked off the show for ‘inappropriate behavior’.  As we’re nearing this huge moment, what’s not being said is just which team is getting the boot so it’s time to do some investigating!

Looking back at reports when the news first broke back in December of 2017 and January of this year, they all say the same thing : Production on the show was temporarily shut down while Channel Seven investigated an altercation in which sources said the contestants “crossed a line” involving an all-female team.

The altercation being noted is a ‘physical altercation’ with another team in a Tasmanian hotel during filming with several reports stating that the other team (which they had been feuding with prior to) was an all-male team.

So let’s break it down….

The very last promo for MKR before it’s 4 week hiatus showed a fiery clash with brothers Nic and Josh along side sisters Emma and Jess going against Sonya and Hadil which leads to the booting.

As it stands, the all-female teams remaining in the competition include Russian friends Olga and Valeria, fine dining friends Sonya and Hadil, life-long friends Kim and Suong, sisters Emma and Jess and waitresses Stella and Jazzey.

Recent promos advertising the elimination cook-off between Kim and Suong and Davide’ and Marco stated “one of the teams at the table would be kicked off” leading us to believe as Kim and Suong were cooking and not at that table, it’s not them.

As recent as late February, well into MKR’s run (and when we’ve gotten to know the teams), sisters Emma and Jess were being pin-pointed as the team but Jess has been quick to deny this saying while they were involved in the incident, it actually happened to them….”We’re just taking the fire, but we know the truth and it will come out very soon.”

In Tuesday’s most recent episode (April 17th) Sonya and Hadil began to get out of control, attacking Jess and Emma’s comments on their turn in the ‘Super Instant Restaurant” round leading to the all out fight.

So who gets the boot?  Let’s look at the suspects.

Stella and Jazzey:

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(c) Channel 7

The waitress best friends have been mostly clear of any drama thus fur in the competition with Stella focusing all her attention on single hottie truffle farmer Henry.  They have though been very vocal towards Sonya and Hadil when they go on the attack.

Boot likelihood: 1/10

Olga and Valeria:

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(c) Channel 7

The Russians made a memorable entrance to the show in round two of the instant restaurants, fast becoming the ‘team to hate’ but, once the show kicked into gear after the instant restaurant rounds, the girls have found themselves fitting in nicely with the other teams.

There’s been no real issues with other teams since the instant rounds but that’s no to say their fiery attitudes won’t burn up again!

Boot Likelihood: 4/10

Emma and Jess:

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(c) Channel 7

The sisters butted heads with now eliminated team Roula and Rachel (yay!!) and started their MKR journey off being very outspoken and not very likable but just like Olga and Valeria, the sisters have merged into the competition nicely with only a few minor spats with members of team two.  Reports state that they have direct involvement with this ‘incident in question’ but they were on the receiving end of it.

More recently, the sisters have been one to not shy away from calling out Hadil and Sonya when they go on the attack.

Boot Likelihood: 6/10

Kim and Suong:

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(c) Channel 7

The Vietnamese mums have been on the receiving end of some not-so-casual racism during their run (Jess’s ‘domestic animals’ comment, Emily’s ‘magpie on the BBQ’ comment and Sonya’s ‘can’t afford fine dining’ snark) and Suong has clashed heavily with both Sonya and Hadil of recent weeks.

Suong it seems, has struggled more than Kim when it comes to the politics and games of the show and seems to be a main target for Sonya and Hadil though she has maintained a level head when on the defense.

Kim and Suong were also absent from recent promos advertising the “which team” will be booted they were cooking.

Boot Likelihood: 1/10

Sonya and Hadil:

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(c) Channel 7

The ‘stylish’ friends came out strong as the team to beat in round two, but even though the girls manage to continuously deliver outstanding dishes, they’ve become more known for their higher-than-though attitude and constant attacking of the groups in team one.

They have clashed with both Emma and Jess and Kim and Suong on more than one occasion showing they are not afraid to take down anyone they deem not up-to their level.  The very last promo previewing the upcoming episode where it all goes down showed both girls going on into mega attack mode, with their sights firmly set on Emma and Jess and Nic and Josh.

Boot Likelihood: 9/10

Check out the promo for the “Super dinner parties” round and the fight that will see one team kicked out of the competition!

 

So there you have it.  Based purely off the contestants left and earlier reports of what happened, my guess is Sonya and Hadil.  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Sound off in the comments section!

THE episode airs Wednesday night, April 18th at 7:30pm on Channel 7

Update – check out what happened in this post

 

Will & Grace Extended a Third New Season and More Episodes!

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The dream run of Will & Grace’s reboot continues with the announcement by NBC at PaleyFest that it has committed to a third season of the revived sitcom or its 11th season overall.

Along with this news, it’s been announced the comedy’s second season (or tenth season) has been extended a further five episodes bringing the run up-to eighteen episodes in total and this is before production has even begun on the next season.  The newly announced extra season will also have an eighteen episode run.

NBC’s faith has not been misplaced. Season-to-date, the new Will & Grace ranks as the networks No. 1 comedy and the No. 2 comedy, overall, on TV.

Will & Grace currently streams new episodes on STAN Australia.

 

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