Category Archives: Drama

Pilot Review: Code Black

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Marcia Gay Harden leads new medical drama Code Black (c) CBS 2015

Medical dramas are a staple on television and have been for years.  From M.A.S.H to Chicago Hope, ER to Greys Anatomy and some other ones in between.  They’re like your cop/crime procedurals that infiltrate our TV listings but sometimes there’s a bit more blood and a bit more drama but in the end, there’s nothing really new or exciting about them.  Code Black (starting August 25th, 9.10pm on Channel 7) attempts to throw out everything we know about medical dramas and smears it with added blood for good effect.

Code Black follows the hectic work lives of doctors and interns at Angels Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles where on numerous occasions the patients outnumber the staff and resources available – hence the title Code Black.  Even in the opening scene we’re informed “while the average ER goes into code black five times per year, Angels Memorial hits that level 300 times per year.

For those familiar with the array of medical dramas that have been televised, the opening scenes of Code Black may feel a little familiar with Senior ER nurse Jesse (Luis Guzman)  going through the motions of introducing four new interns (including Bonnie Somerville as Christa and Benjamin Hollingsworth as cocky Mario) to life at Angels Memorial – what to do, what not to do and how not to kill patients before Dr. Leanne Rorish (Marcia Gay Harden) whips through the ER like a medical genius hurricane informing the crew that a “Code Black” is imminent.

While your usual shows like Greys are full of pristine hospital wards where everything is white and sterile and most staff can maintain their ‘inside voices’ while spewing out hospital speak, Code Black is full of shouting, yelling people moving very fast… and  blood stained floors saturated by unflattering hospital UV lighting.  It’s a major contrast to what we know but also feels very ‘slap-in-the-face-we’re-different-ok?’

As the story goes, Code Black is a hectic show with lots going on.  Leanne is dealing with a traumatic past, Christa’s personal demons involving a close to home death cloud her judgement and Mario’s over inflated ego mix right into the crazy world of week to week cases – and there’s plenty of those too.  To pull off the Code Black feel, the pilot alone features seven cases among a myriad of background patients and a waiting room literally overflowing with more medical professional seeking members of the public suffering from ailments ranging from common colds to broken limbs.

A major play that Code Black has going for it is that while there is sooooooooooo much going on, unlike our beloved Greys Anatomy residents, there is no time for Code Black staff to bang each other in medical supply rooms while wondering “does he really like me?  Like really like me?”   And while sex between docs is on the down low, there is still a few hints of flirting among each other, but thankfully it doesn’t register on the McDreamy scale that Greys forcibly pushed onto us.

Code Black begins 9.10pm, Thursday August 25th on Channel 7.

Did Looking: The Movie, Offer a Fitting Farewell?

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Melissa Moseley/HBO 2016

There’s always a trepidation when coming into a ‘farewell movie’ of a series that one has grown to love but was cut short on us.  We find ourselves asking “Will we get the answers we want?  Will it give us a feeling of a proper conclusion?  Will we be happy with how we have to say goodbye?”  Even in Looking’s two season short life span, those questions begged to be asked and required answers.  Thankfully not only did we get our some answers but most fans should be able to say a final goodbye to a pack of characters we quickly grew to love.

Looking back, It’s been well over 12 months since Looking’s untimely demise.  Patrick (Jonathan Groff) ended his tumultuous relationship with Kevin (Russell Tovey) and had all but destroyed any chance of any kind of relationship with his ex Ritchie (Raul Castillo). Dom (Murray Bartlett) rekindled his long standing friendship with Doris (Lauren Weedman)  and was about to start a new professional journey while Augustine (Frankie J Alvarez) and HIV positive Eddie (Daniel Franzese) were on the cusp of starting a brand new relationship together.

The 90 minute farewell movie attempts to answer those looming questions but still leave enough open to assume that while Looking may in fact be over, Patrick, Dom and Augustine are still living their lives and making life changing choices even if it’s not visible to us.

Oddly enough while the series was about three gay men living life in San Francisco, this finale movie sees most of the narrative hinging on Patrick’s love life – or in fact, where he left off and what’s in store when he returns to San Francisco after a 9 month hiatus living and working in Denver.  Granted the Ritchie/Patrick/Kevin triangle played one of the major arcs in Looking’s second season, but the force of pushing this right into the main story for the movie sadly left Dom and Augustine relegated to side characters that only either offered a reason for Patrick to even be back in SF or give him a reason to question his own motives.

It’s a odd move by writers Michael Lannan and Andrew Haigh who seemed to assume viewers were only invested in Patrick and his life and not that of Dom and Augustine’s. It’s a shame really as of the three, Augustine was shown to be the one that had grown the most from the pilot episode to the second season closer.

Yes, we’re offered answers and you know what, while not everyone will be satisfied, we should be happy with them even if certain elements are not clear cut in stone.  There’s enough there for us to make up our own minds as to which way the story ends for Patrick. Perhaps that was the intention all along?  Give us the equation, hint at a resolution but allow us to find the answer that sits the best with us.

I for one am happy we got one last outing with Looking even if it was a bit too much focused on Patrick at the expense of the other players.

 Looking: The Movie is currently screening on Showcase via Foxtel.

Pilot Review: Shades of Blue

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Liotta and Lopez struggle with right and wrong on Shades of Blue. (c) NBC 2016

Premiering Tuesday, August 2 at 8.30pm on Universal Channel is a brand new police crime series that sees all-rounder Jennifer Lopez go toe-to-toe with screen veteran Ray Liotta.  Titled Shades of Blue, the series delves into the corruptness within a Brooklyn police department led by Liotta’s Lieutenant Matt Wozniak.

What starts out as a cover up involving a skittish rookie with a touchy trigger finger and a drug dealer playing video games quickly evolves into an all-out undercover operation involving Lopez’s cash strapped Harlee Santos against her tight-knit crew of officers.

Harlee must find the line between protecting those she works with, her own family and giving the FBI what they need.  It’s not an easy task for Harlee as Wozniak is quick on the mark to note a mole within his crew.

As a whole, Shades of Blue doesn’t really bring anything new to the police procedurals that have flooded our screens over the years involving crooked cops but there is enough twisty plot moments within the first handful of episodes that actually keep the show slightly riveting.  Especially with the question of how much information on her crew Harlee keeps to herself and how much she hands out to the FBI while Wozniak is on the hunt for the mole in his crew.  Sadly though, once you’re past episode three, the series begins to stray away from its main story and offer up filler weekly cases and a somewhat unnecessary look into Harlee’s home life and her unruly teenage daughter.

Liotta, playing crooked cop dedicated to his team, is in his element here.  He tears through every scene he appears in, ready to lay some smack down and dole out some tough talking. While it works for Liotta, he is easily outshone by star Lopez…but not in a good way.

The ‘real’ problem with Shades of Blue is in fact Lopez herself.  It’s not that she is a bad actress or over-acts or anything like that because actually Lopez does hold her own against Liotta and fast talking Drea de Matteo (as officer Tess Nazario).  It’s that..well…it’s Jennifer Lopez.  Curves in all the right places, her perfectly tousled bob flowing effortlessly in the breeze as she totes her gun and flashes her badge in gritty and grungy NYC.  If anything, Lopez is basically one big distraction through no real fault of her own.

You’ll like it if: You enjoy serialized cop dramas with a gritty feel and some interesting plot twists.

You’ll hate it if: You enjoy heavily fleshed out police/crime dramas that delve deeply into character development while maintaining a steady pace to the main story line.

Shades of Blue begins  Tuesday, August 2 at 8.30pm on Universal Channel .

HBO’s Looking: The Movie Reveals Drama is Never Far Away from Patrick

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It’s been well over a year since HBO’s gay themed drama Looking aired its final episode and while Looking’s second season was a much welcomed improvement on season one, we were never given a true and proper ending to Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and his drama seeking pals after the show was cancelled.

HBO listened to our cries and have delivered up a movie length goodbye to tie up the loose ends of Patrick and his love triangle involving Ritchie (Raul Castillo) and Kevin (Russell Tovey), Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez) and his new relationship with HIV positive Eddie (Daniel Franzese) and Dom (Murray Bartlett) and his fractured relationship with life-long friend Doris (Lauren Weedman) and his newly opened Portuguese chicken kitchen.

Check out the trailer below:

The plot sees Patrick return to San Francisco after living in Denver for almost a year to celebrate the upcoming wedding of some ‘close friends’ and ultimately finds himself face to face with unresolved issues surrounding his love life.

Looking: The Movie is scheduled to air July 23rd on HBO in America.

Sarah Michelle Gellar Brings Back the Brunette Bitch

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Call it a cult flick, a lesson in bitching and back stabbing or just how to get the most out of riding a horse…either way 90’s teen flick Cruel Intentions remains one of the most iconic movies of the decade that was.  Now, thanks to the fad of bringing back what has once been done and gone, the movie is now in the works to become a TV series.

NBC recently purchased a pilot script based off the movie that was also written by Roger Krumble, Cruel Intentions original writer and director.

The news for Cruel Intentions fans gets even better with the announcement of Sarah Michelle Geller joining the show – jumping back into the role of snobby elitist Kathryn Merteuil that she played all those years ago.  The series is set to pick up 15 years after the end of the movie (if you’ll remember, the movie saw Kathryn’s drug habit and back stabbing dealings come to light and her reputation all but ruined) with Kathryn aiming for control of Valmont International as well as the soul of Bash Casey (Taylor John Smith), the son of her brother, the late Sebastian Valmont (played in the movie by Ryan Phillippe), and Annette, Reece Witherspoon’s character in the movie.

Geller has been happily hitting Instagram keeping fans updated on the progress of the pilot with a pilot script photo, a photo of her in her makeup trailer on set and one of her sporting some newly brunette locks to play the role of Kathryn.

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Reece Witherspoon is not attached to the project with her role in the TV version of Annette being played by Kate Levering with Burn Notice’s Coby Bell cast as Annette’s husband Pascal Barrett, a dashing and smug California power lawyer, who is the attorney for billionaire Edward Valmont who joins forces with Kathryn to claim control of Valmont International.

Wentworth Season 4 Air Date Revealed?!

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One thing is for sure, Wentworth, the top-notch Aussie based prison drama from Foxtel’s SoHo channel, sure know how to keep fans waiting!  While seasons three 2015 premiere date was revealed on Christmas day 2014, the only information us eager fans have been treated to is the casting of Bernard Curry as corrections officer Jake Stewart, Kate Jenkinson as new inmate Allie Novak and Sigrid Thornton as inmate Sonia Stevens.

But, is it possible we’ve finally been given the news we’ve all been waiting for?

Wentworth’s official twitter page has been oddly dormant since Jan 12th, Foxtel’s have been very silent on anything Wentworth and SoHo’s is the same applies to all three’s other social media accounts including Facebook pages.  Wentworth star Danielle Cormack though posted to her Instagram account attempting to set the record straight on the date

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The 25. 04. 2016 date falls into line with Wentworth’s usual premiere dates for an April start, so until official word comes through, as per usual, it’s a waiting game for us all!

 

Meet the Bride of Hannibal in the New Season 3 Trailer

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Gillian Anderson as Bedelia Du Maurier

They say marriage is a sacred institution.  One that is not to be entered into lightly and as the traditional vows go “Till death do us part” and judging by the new Hannibal season three trailer, death may be more imminent in a surprise new union.

In the closing moments of the season two finale, Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) was seen leaving on a jet plane with his former therapist Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) and it seems by the trailer above, this new relationship will be the focus of season three.

Showrunner Bryan Fuller recently told Digital Spy that Anderson has “quite a big role in the first half of the season”, and has one “hilarious” episode in particular.  It’s such a treat because you don’t see a lot of comedy from Gillian Anderson in her roles, but she’s very funny as a human being and incredibly funny as an actress when she turns it on,” he said.

Hannibal returns

USA: Thursday, June 4 on NBC
Australia: TBA on FOX8

Checking in: Looking Season 2 and it’s Cancellation by HBO

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After getting quite deep into the problems that surrounded Looking’s first season (here and here) I wanted to give the second season a full run before sitting down and sharing my thoughts.  Did it step up from season one?  Did it become more enjoyable and less painful to watch?

Well, I can say that Looking, for it’s second season, took a massive-gigantic-much wanted step forward into becoming a show that focused more on multiple episode story arcs and  about creating conflict and drama and less about the slow-moody snails pace it aimed for in it’s first outing.

Story lines of death, HIV, cheating, drugs, downward spirals, the demise of relationships, professional uncertainty…these elements all gave the show and each character a much needed breath of life and sense of purpose that was visibly lacking in the first season.

The central story line of Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and his on again-off again relationship with Kevin (Russell Tovey) was played out with much more intention and realness.  We were torn watching Kevin cheat on his boyfriend but felt like he and Patrick were a perfect fit but also thought Patrick deserved the punishment of not receiving Kevin’s full attention for how he treated the lovable Richie (Raul Catillo).  The relationship that moved from secret hook-ups to full blown romance made for an intense and well constructed finale that, i’m pretty sure, saw us all side with Patrick after discovering Kevin was still active on gay hookup app Grindr.

It was such powerful moments as that fight/discussion between the two that shows how much more the show was bringing this season and this wasn’t just restricted to the Kevin/Patrick/Richie triangle.

The budding (and somewhat unlikely) relationship between the emotionally/professionally damaged Agustin (Frankie J Alvarez) and HIV positive Eddie (Daniel Franzese) and the distancing of best friends Dom (Murray Bartlett) and Doris (Lauren Weedman) trying to identify where they are in their lives together created equal amounts of compelling stories.

Looking back at Looking, season two offered up more memorable episodes and moments than the first.  Patrick and Dom joining Doris at her fathers funeral, Dom and Agustin rescuing a heavily intoxicated Patrick from making the worlds worst jealousy fueled Halloween party speech, Kevin showing up at Patrick’s door step and telling him he’s left John….it’s situations like this I’m actually saddened to hear that HBO have pulled the plug on a third season.

Looking (while low rating) has a dedicated fan-base that for season one hated or viciously defended and for season two, joined together to equally love and while there is some comfort in knowing HBO plan on giving fans a special Looking finale, the fact that I can sit here and say “you know what, Looking is pretty fucking amazing” after roasting it so badly can only show that cancelling the show is a move not widely supported.

For further reading, may I suggest 11 reasons why HBO needs to renew Looking and An open letter to HBO: Save Looking

Can Patrick trust Kevin?  Will Dom’s chicken window be a success?  Will Agustin and Eddie’s new relationship survive?  Will Doris and Dom be able to sustain their newly defined life-long friendship?  Will Richie be happy?  There’s too much left hanging that I fear a final special won’t be able to cover and so in closing I feel like all I can say is – – –

We deserve a third season of Looking.

Do you agree?  Was season two a step up from season one?  Did HBO make a smart decision in cancelling the show?  Sound off in the comments below.

AMC Orders Two Series of The Walking Dead’s Companion Show

Photo Credit: Justin Lubin/AMC
Photo Credit: Justin Lubin/AMC

AMC’s ‘yet-to-be-titled’ companion series of it’s number one show The Walking Dead is off to a solid start with the network ordering straight up – two series right off the bat.

Set in Los Angeles, the unnamed show will focus on a new set of characters, looking at the onset of epidemic that wiped out millions of people and turned them into zombies with the shows first season set to consist of six hour long episodes premiering on AMC in late Winter (probably August).

“We take incredibly seriously the notion of building a satisfying companion series to the number one show on television. From the beginning of ‘The Walking Dead’ on AMC, we’ve been asked questions about what was going on in other parts of the zombie apocalypse, and what it looked like as the world really did ‘turn.’ Through this new series, we’re going to find out,” said Charlie Collier, AMC president. “Robert Kirkman, Dave Erickson and their writing team, along with an incomparable set of producers, cast and crew have created something remarkable and clearly distinct. We respectfully follow the request of Monty Python as we bring out (the latest of) our Dead.”

“We feel empowered by this two-season commitment, a serious show of faith from our network partner AMC,” Kirkman said. “I personally take it as a sign that they believe, like we do, that we’ve accomplished our goal of developing something original that can pay tribute to the original show and expand the world I created while at the same time having something new to say with this story. I’m very grateful that we now have the opportunity to tell this amazing story and show the fans that we really haven’t scratched the surface yet when it comes to ‘The Walking Dead.’”

The series will star Cliff Curtis (“Missing,” “Gang Related”), Kim Dickens (Gone Girl, “Sons of Anarchy”), Frank Dillane (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and Alycia Debnam Carey (Into the Storm).

Review: Empire ‘Pilot’

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Mixing the age old tale of King Lear, the mid 80’s soapie Dynasty and the modern world of r&b/hip hop music and drug money, Empire (Channel 10, Sunday 9pm) offers up a pilot episode that enters the ‘too good to be true’ category of first run shows because you know what…..it’s good!

I will admit, I was somewhat hesitant going into Empire as my scorecard of being entertained by shows with a musical back-tone (Smash/Glee) currently sits at a big Z E R O, but, Empire has notched up my first tick on my card.

This first episode, our first foray into the world of Lucious Lyon (Oscar nominee Terrance Howard) and his world engulfed in Empire Records, is glitzy, shiny, tough, fast-paced and it’s packed full with a lot of dialogue and back story that, if in the hands of anyone else besides Lee Daniels (The Butler) could have gone horribly wrong.

The setup has Lucious Lyon is at the top of his game.  His Empire Records…empire…has provided him with power (he’s on first name basis with Obama), money, and a lavish lifestyle we imagine someone like P.Diddy to be living in.  He’s looking to take Empire Records to the next level but he’s also holding onto a secret – he’s just been diagnosed with ALS – for which there is no cure, and sets out to find the rightful heir to his kingdom.

The problem here is that in Lucious’s eyes, none of his three children are the perfect fit to take the job.  Andre (Trai Byers), the eldest, is the well educated, business minded one but has zero musical talent – Lyon believes the next in line should be a musician – which brings us to Jamal (Jussie Smollett) who is filled to the brim with musical talent – but he’s gay, a topic that Lucious has never been able to accept (there’s a powerful flashback scene in which Lucious, so enraged by Jamal’s effeminate nature, literally throws him into the garbage can) so that leaves youngest Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) but he’s brash, uncontrollable and completely obliterated by the dollar bills readily available to him (remember Chris Lilley’s S’Mouse creation? – #NailedIt).

This struggle for Lucious to find an heir is put into turmoil by the untimely release of his ex wife Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) who has spent the last 17 years in prison for a crime that provided the initial seed money to create Empire Records, and she’s looking for her share of the dosh.

As I said, there’s a lot stuffed into the first episode, but what helps keep things on track is it’s leads in Howard and Henson.  Howard’s approach to Lyon – you want to feel for him…his life’s work building this musical kingdom is about to come crashing down, but his approach to his children (he treats, respects and raises each one completely differently) and ex Cookie just doesn’t sit right, but he’s sick and dying…it’s a constant struggle between the love/hate and love to hate you’ll have for him.  Henson on the other hand, complete standout.

With Cookie Lyon, there’s no bars held here.  She works the weave, the furs, the fake nails, the leopard print and her biting words “I want to show you a faggot can really run this company“.  Seriously, said by anyone else, this would have been an ultimate disaster for any show, but Henson, as Cookie Lyon, manages to walk away from this remark with viewers clapping their hands.  There is truly no one like Cookie on television and hands down, Hanson is probably the best thing on Empire.

I’ve managed to glimpse at the first 5 episodes of Empire and the show holds it’s own after it’s impressive first hit and i’m excited to see more.  Lee Daniels set out to create his “black Dynasty” and that he sure has.  Murder, lies, back-stabbing, secrets, illness, sex….it’s all there and it’s highly seducing.  Even the music (which obviously plays a big part in Empire) could have felt a little bit too Glee, but with uber producer Timberland taking the helm, it all seems to fit in nice and snug and brings the entire production together.

Empire should be on your watch list this coming Sunday night.  Mark it down!  Sunday, March 1st, 9pm on Channel 10.