Category Archives: PayTV

First Look Review: The Exorcist

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Alan Ruck and Geena Davis in THE EXORCIST. (c)2016 Fox Broadcasting/Jean Whiteside

A dark an eerie take on the timeless cult horror flick pits Geena Davis against a demonic force that has set its eyes on her family.

Joining the ranks of the ‘reboot’ fad, The Exorcist has a more tender ground to tread on than others within the field thanks to its cult fandom background.  Considered to be one of the scariest films of all time, the 1973 movie of the same name produced an iconic film filled with memorable quotes and scenes (a 360 degree head turn anyone?) that have been done and redone so many times that this new incarnation has to be very careful of not to try and out-do or recreate what has been done and done well.

Thankfully, in this new outing for The Exorcist, it leaves little opportunity open for fans and viewers to mock or gripe.

Taking the lead (and bringing in some worthy star power) Geena Davis plays Angela Rance, a religious upper class working mother who is concerned that the noises and strange occurrences happening in her home might be more than just your everyday easy to explain happenings.  Her husband Henry (Alan Ricks) is a former version of himself due to a workplace accident, her eldest daughter Kat (Brianne Howey) is dark and depressed after a tragic accident that killed her best friend while youngest daughter Casey (Hannah Kasulka) is a care-free and easy going young woman with the world at her feet.

Concerned that troubled Kat may be ‘under the influence of a demon’, Angela asks local priest Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) to do a cleansing of her house though Tomas’ spiritual demons find him playing cat and mouse between a concerned mother worried her daughter is possessed and another priest, Father Marcus (Ben Daniels) who has very close ties to the world of exorcisms.

What ensues is a stylish and slick tale about religion in the modern day versus the barriers provided by old-school religion.

At an hour long, the first episode doesn’t feel rushed or have too much crammed into it though there lies a problem in that you begin to question how Angela is so convinced there is a demon in her house when we are not actually privy to any demonic activity (the only real signs is through her telling Father Tomas about cupboards and chairs in the kitchen moving about) and the scene where Father Tomas and Father Marcus meet – via demonic children filled dreams is semi-sketchy to say the least but one could say it’s divine intervention from a higher power to bring the two together.

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We do catch a glimpse of this demonic force, though it’s not until the end of the episode and provides one of the best surprise plot twists presented in a pilot in some time and it’s not the series only card up their sleeve.  The big reveal comes towards the end of episode five that will have those who know the movie literally gagging with excitement about what’s to come.

The Exorcist  begins Sunday December 4, 8.30pm on Showcase.

Pilot score: 4.5/5

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7 Binge Worthy TV Shows: What to Watch When the Olympics Are On

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Broad City’s  Abbi and Ilana offer a new level of friendship goals.

If you’re like me, your’e dreading the impending barrage of Rio Olympics television coverage and what it will do to the other free-to-air networks.  Seven have already announced all of their FTA and digital channels will be non stop Olympics, Channel nine will probably opt for Big Bang Theory repeats and Network Ten…well they’ll do want they want and continue with their standard schedule.

So then we find ourselves aimlessly channel surfing trying to find something to watch in between episodes of The Bachelor Australia hoping to find a gem we’ve not yet seen.  This is where the following list of recommended shows to binge during the Rio Olympics will hopefully come in handy.

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Schitt’s Creek  /  Seasons 1 and 2  / Comedy  /  2015 – 

Now currently on hiatus after two seasons (season three is currently filming) Schitt’s Creek has a familiar premise of the fish out of water scenario where the fish is the ultra wealthy Rose family and the water being an unscrupulous business manager that left them with nothing but a small middle of nowhere town (and the Roses new home) named Schitts Creek that Rose patriarch Johnny (Eugene Levy) purchased as a gag gift for his son David (Daniel Levy).  Forced to forgo all their luxuries, the Rose’s must endure life as they never knew it until Johnny is able to sell the town to nab back some much needed dollars.

Why you should binge: Comedy legends Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara back on screen together for starters!  Plus it’s funny, heart warming and very ship-worthy, you’ll fall in love with “is he or isn’t he” David and his spoiled sister Alexis (Annie Murphy) will either make you uber jealous or scratch your head in wonderment.

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Robert Durst, star of The Jinx

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst /  Season 1  /  Documentary  /  2015

With the popularity of Making a Murder being so overwhelming, many people might be looking for something just as absurd and something just as intriguing.  The Jinx delves into the mystery surrounding the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s first wife Kathy along with the murder of his best friend Susan Berman and neighbor Morris Black.  The six part documentary series is told from Durst’s point of view and you’ll be left gobsmacked when things start to unravel and truth’s start to come out.

Why you should binge: It’s like the opposite of Making a Murderer where we all (for the most part) assume Steven Avery’s innocence but are left fuming at the US justice system but here, Dursts’ guilt is obvious right from the go but the police can’t seem to nab him.  it’s an incredibly powerful look into how power, money and influence can keep things hidden.

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The Tanner’s are back!

Fuller House  /  Season 1  /  Comedy  /  2016 –

Sure there’s some nostalgia that surrounds this updated version of 80’s sitcom Full House that those not yet to watch may think be corny, but in fact, Fuller House is such an easy show to watch, you’ll make your way through all 13 episodes in a breeze.  DJ Tanner (Candice Cameron) is back along with younger sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and best friend Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) who all join together to live in the house they grew up in.  If Carly Rae Jepsen’s updated theme song doesn’t get you, then seeing the return of the old Tanner family (minus the Olsen twins as Michelle) will.

Why you should binge: It’s a very easy show to settle into, doesn’t take itself serious and throws uber shade at the missing Olsen twins plus who didn’t love Full House?!  It was staple viewing growing up in the 80’s!

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Richie and Patrick’s relationship take center stage in Looking

Looking  /  Seasons 1 and 2 + finale movie  /  Drama  /  2015-2016

I’ll be very blunt, the first season of gay themed drama Looking killed me.  It frustrated me with its slowness and un-eventfulness but Looking’s slow paced look at the lives of three gay men living in San Francisco is worthy of a binge session.  Patrick (Jonathan Groff) has a stable work life but can’t get his romantic life on track, Dom (Murray Bartlett) is trying to clasp onto his youth with younger men and casual work while Augustin (Frankie J Alvarez) is a struggling artist with a drug addiction that’s spiraling out of control.

Why you should binge: It’s probably one of the more honest looks at the daily lives of gay men than we’ve ever seen to date and the acting by the leads – especially Groff – is understated and genuine.  Once you move onto season two, the pace picks up nicely from season one and finishes off with the recent Looking: The Movie.

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Real life and on-screen best friends Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair

Playing House  /  Seasons 1 and 2  /  Comedy  /  2014 –

Maggie (Lennon Parham) is heavily pregnant, had just thrown her husband out for cheating and best friend Emma (Jessica St. Clair) ditches her job in Hong Kong to move in and support her.  This hilarious look at what best friends will and can do for each other is honest and real and funny.  As best friends off screen, Parham and St. Clair bounce off one another with such ease one could be forgiven for forgetting this was a scripted comedy.

Why you should binge: Filled with laughter and outrageous moments, Playing House is just fun to watch.  Pure and simple, plus Maggie and Emma’s friendship offers up some major feels that will keep you moving onto the next episode.

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Michael Peterson – cold blooded killer or man of innocence?

The Staircase  /  Season 1  /  Documentary  /  2004

Another true crime documentary that falls into the Making a Murderer and the above mentioned The Jinx category where you can’t stop at just one episode.  Offering up two main themes – The investigation into a very complicated murder and the defense and prosecution teams who are trying to construct winning cases, The Staircase is told from the viewpoint of worried widow/cold blooded killer Michael Peterson, and details the case around his late wife who was found at the bottom of their family home staircase in a pool of blood.

Why you should binge: While this 8 part series ends rather abruptly, this case of a woman dead at the bottom of a staircase isn’t as clear cut as it first seems.  The family secrets and compelling connections that are revealed as time goes on will only leave you questioning your own mind on Peterson’s guilt or innocence.

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Broad City  /  Seasons 1 to 3  /  Comedy  /  2014 – 

Abbi Abrams (Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana Wexler (Ilana Glazer) are best friends in their 20’s living the high life in NYC.  Abbi works in a gym as a cleaner but has hopes of making her way up to personal trainer, Ilana works….well we never really find out what she does but it involves lots of sleeping in the toilet and spinning on her chair.  With meaningless jobs, a very short supply of cash and virtually no shame, their day to day experiences lead them down some bizarre and unexpected paths.

Why you should binge: It’s like Girls but funnier, and you don’t want to cause physical harm to any of the characters.  Broad City is wildly outrageous, crude and shocking in it’s approach to 20-something life in New York and the friendship between Abbi and Ilana will make you wish you had something similar, but with a more stable love life, professional life and cash flow.

A Place to Call Home Finds a New Home

Marta Dusseldorp and Noni Hazelhurst. Souce: Provided
Marta Dusseldorp and Noni Hazelhurst. Souce: Provided

Fans wanted it and now fans are getting it.  Axed channel 7 drama A Place to Call Home, which was suddenly cancelled after just one and a half seasons is back, but this time, on PayTV.

Foxtel, in a deal with Channel 7, are resurrecting the popular cancelled drama for at least a further two seasons after hearing the cries from fans annoyed at the shows cancellation.  While the show was a hit for the network, production costs saw Channel 7 make the decision not to continue with the show, much to the dismay of fans.

Foxtel executive director of television, Brian Walsh, said in a statement today: “A Place to Call Home is Australia’s most loved drama series and has captured the hearts of millions of fans across the country. We are proud to partner with the Seven Network on this landmark deal and ensure that audiences can continue to enjoy this beautifully crafted and elegantly produced series for a further two seasons.

“The Seven Network has produced Australian television’s most successful drama series of all time and we are delighted to partner with the highly experienced creative team at Seven, who will now work their magic for Foxtel subscribers.”

Fans will also be happy to hear that series originals Marta Dusseldorp, Noni Hazlehurst, Brett Climo and Craig Hall will all returning to the new series!

A Place to Call Home is expected to return to our screens sometime in 2015 on the SoHo Channel via Foxtel.

Less Girls and More Accessible, Please Like Me Season 2

Josh Thomas is back for a second round of Please Like Me. Source: Provided
Josh Thomas is back for a second round of Please Like Me. Source: PivotTV/ABCTV

I wonder how many reviews of Josh Thomas’ Please Like Me will use the phrase “yes Josh, we really do like you”?  In fairness, after watching the first two episodes from season two that were available for preview, the saying is more than warranted.

Unlike Please Like Me‘s first outing, which saw too much crammed into the meager six episodes offered up, we’re brought back into Josh’s hectic and awkward world but this time, the feeling is much more paced and easy with familiar faces including Tom (Thomas Ward), Claire (Caitlin Stacey) Niamh (Nikita Leigh-Pritchard) and mum Rose (Debra Lawrence) already fleshed out enough for us to willingly allow new characters like new housemate Patrick (Charles Cottier) and potential love interest for Tom, Jenny (Charlotte Nicado) to enter this frenetic world we’ve been waiting to come back to.

This frenetic world that Josh has created is filled with house parties, unrequited love, adventures in baby sitting, self depreciation, mental illness, awkward conversations with parents, discussions of penis size, unexpected visitors and probably the most uncomfortable “saddest recount of losing your virginity” competition that has ever existed – and this is just in the first two episodes.

Thomas, just as he did in season one, manages to mix his quirky awkwardness with that of a young man we’ve come to root for with an effortless flair and is now taking the foot off the “i’m not good enough” pedal just enough that the feeling of self sorrow that surrounded Josh in season one is lessened in this second outing.

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Josh isn’t the only character to have undergone some personal development between seasons. Best friend Tom has a new-found confidence with women, probably his way of dealing with the departure of girlfriend Claire to Germany, that see’s Tom more confident in his approach and confident of achieving his goal.  Even Niamh has undergone a change  – gone are her nagging and manipulating ways now replaced with a girl who’s less assured and assertive.

The standout so far, without a doubt, is Debra Lawrence as mum Rose.  The erratic and unstable episodes caused by her bipolar disorder are spot-on and as Rose struggles to deal with doing what she’s told and doing what she wants is a battle that will affect those closest to her. The first time we see Rose this season is a scene that lets us all in on just how far downhill she has gone since the death of Aunt Peg.

In it’s first season, Please Like Me found itself being compared to Lena Dunham’s self penned series Girls – a comparison that was likely and to a point correct, but now, Please Like Me feels a bit more real and accessible than Girls ever was.  A scene that see’s both of Josh’s housemates preoccupied with hookups while Josh is stuck babysitting in the lounge room is a scenario that many currently in or have lived in shared accommodation can identify with.

It’s been a long awaited and very much welcome return for Please Like Me and Josh Thomas to our screens, and yes Josh, we do like you!  Anyone that can bring Denise Drysdale back to our screens and uttering obscenities is someone I will always like!

Please Like Me – Season Two begins Friday August 8th on Pivot and Tuesday August 12th on ABC2.

The Walking Dead Season 5 FULL TRAILER

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Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes. (c) Gene Page/AMC Source: Provided

It’s here!!!!!!  The official full length trailer for The Walking Dead’s fifth season has just been released and it looks like we’re in for a mega season ahead!

Talk about wow right?!

So as we can see from the trailer, it looks like Carol, Tyreece and Judith eventually make their way inside terminus (remember the short clip released a few weeks ago?) and that Rick and the gang seem to unite with the Terminus members to find a cure in Washington but the biggest reveal was that Beth is in fact alive but not with the folks in Terminus as we all first thought!

The Walking Dead returns October for season 5.

 

Hotwives Brings the Hotness to Orlando

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The Hotwives from L-R: Kristen Schaal, Danielle Schneider, Casey Wilson, Tymberlee Hill and Angela Kinsey Source: Provided

What happens when you take the beast that is the Real Housewives franchise and tweak the characters, settings and story lines ever so slightly to push the final result from really ridiculous to hilariously ridiculous?

Why you get the Hotwives of Orlando of course!

If you’re like me then you have never watched a single episode of any of the Real Housewives series.  You know about these shows and know they exist, you may know of some of the people involved (NeNe Leakes is my limit here), what they do and know that in general, these Real Housewives shows are just a bag of flashy mess, so thankfully, Dannah Phirman and Danielle Schneider came along and created this incredibly funny, racy and wink wink parody for Hulu that means i’ll never have to watch a Real Housewives episode ever!

Taking notes (or basically whole pages) from the Real Housewives franchise, the Hotwives of Orlando follows the lives of a handful of fictional (and hopefully one day iconic) women whom, just like the Housewives series, “don’t want no drama”.  There’s trophy wife Tawny St. John (Casey Wilson) who is a loving (ahem) wife to her (somewhat) dying husband Phil while spending adult time with her personal trainer (oh hi Joey McIntyre!) and arranging ludicrous charity events such as Classy Canines which aims to see every dog in a pair of heels (only a pair?).  

Big time spender Shauna Maducci (Danielle Schneider) is unable to see her family’s forthcoming bankruptcy over the mounds of designer dresses lying about.  Her anger issues reach everyone from her husband Anthony to her on again-off again best friend Tawny.

There’s also finger in every pie Phenomenon “Phe Phe” Reed (Tymberlee Hill) who is constantly busy with being a lawyer, foot model and aspiring taxidermist (among a myriad of other pursuits) yet she is super supportive of her husband’s chosen career as a sports mascot and a show like this would not be complete without the British cougar in the form of (and winner of the best name ever) Veronica Von Vandervon (Andrea Savage) who relies on her sexually overt and vulgar sense of humor to nab herself younger men.

Rounding out the cast is Christian girl Crystal Simmons (Angela Kinsey) a local Orlando weather girl who while claims to be a devout Christian but has never read the bible because “it’s written in Jewish” and my personal favorite in Amanda Simmons (played by the wonderful Kristen Schaal) a former child star living off the fame that came with being the Florida prune juice girl who also happens to have a rather torrid affair with drugs and alcohol.

The brilliance surrounding Hotwives is that, with just the slightest tweaks from the source material, the absurdity that resides within the Housewives series becomes less jaw dropping “Is she for real?” to “This is fucking funny” for Hotwives and while some are calling the jokes lazy, I call it genius and that even though the jokes are more likely to be relevant to those familiar with the Housewives series, they are not lost on someone like me who refuses to watch the original.  

Schaal, Wilson, Schneider and the rest of the cast must be relishing being able to play these boisterous and brassy women that we’re allow us to laugh at without also feeling sad for.

The first three eps of The Hotwives of Orlando is now available on Hulu with more to come including including the necessary reunion special!

 

Oh So Devious! Devious Maids Begins on Foxtel

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Anna Ortiz (center) stars in Devious Maids. Source provided

Did you know that it’s been two years since we last saw the ladies of Wisteria Lane?  Crazy right? Back then, Desperate Housewives (created by Marc Cherry) followed the (sometimes) classy and wealthy ladies of Wisteria Lane and now, Cherry is back and joining forces with Housewives actress Eva Longoria (who played Gabrielle Solis) to bring us a look at the other side of the rich and famous – or…those who clean up after them.

Devious Maids, created by Marc Cherry and co-produced by Longoria has Cherry back to his guilty-pleasure best (remember Desperate Housewives in it’s early years?) creating a world where those that work for the rich and famous are in fact, the ones with all the power with access to their employers dirty secrets, some small and others that could destroy lives.

There’s some familiar faces among the maids cast including Ugly Betty’s Ana Ortiz, Scrubs’ Judy Reyes and Melrose Place star Grant Show as popular soap star Spence Westmore.

Says Show about Devious Maids “It is sort of like Desperate Housewives 2.0.  It is a little racier and a little sexier. It is absolute pure fantasy. If you want real life, you can watch The Real Housewives of Orange County. If you want fun and fantasy, watch this show.”

Expect a little intrigue and mystery with these maids as the first episode opens up with what looks like and open and shut murder case (a maid is found stabbed to death) but not is all as what it looks!

Check out the trailer below

Devious Maids begins Thursday night 8:30pm on Universal Channel, Foxtel. 

Taking the Glitter Away from Vampires. The Strain Reviewed

Sean Astin as Jim Kent.  Souce: Supplied
Sean Astin as Jim Kent. Souce: Supplied

Without beating around the bush too much, The Strain (airing Wednesday July 30th on FOX8) resembles a horror movie that may have come out in the mid 1990’s – you know, the kind that went straight to DVD.  I’m not saying it like it’s a bad thing, just that, here, The Strain is purely for scares and gore while only slightly relying on a deeper story-line.

Now that deeper story-line is either about ancient vampires coming to New York or lead character Dr. Ephraim Goodweather’s failing marriage…i’m not to sure as to which as we’re drowned with too much personal information about Ephraim, his distant wife and their son right off the bat.

So just like FX’s creepy disease based Helix, The Strain (also from FX) brings us another biological catastrophe involving the CDC and those affected by a mysterious disease, but unlike Helix where all the action takes place in the isolated Arctic, The Strain takes place in heavily populated New York City.

According to FX, The Strain is about “a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism” and is based on the series of books from Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (Guillermo del Toro is also credited as the creator, writer and director) where the central character of no-good is, well, he’s the ancient king of Vampires named The Master.

Now the vampires here in The Strain are nothing like you have ever seen before.  Gone are the tweenie glittery human loving creatures we’ve been saturated with of recent times and in their place, creepy hooded monsters that rely on blood seeking and sucking worms over fangs and del Toro (a master in the field of scares and gore) goes to lengths to create a dark and eerie visual that offers up some jump worthy scares.

The cast is pleasant enough to watch and while some of the acting is a bit kitsch and over the top, it fits perfectly into the theme of what we are being offered up….Lord of the Rings star (or Goonies star to me) Sean Astin is there along with Alias’s Mia Maestro and House of Cards actor Corey Stoll taking the lead as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather.

So in the end, Helix stands miles above what The Strain is, but as a show where you don’t really need to think too much and can get a few decent scares and some gross out gore then The Strain should sit nicely into your weekly viewing.

The Strain begins Wednesday July 30th on FOX8.

The Walking Dead Season 5 First Sneak Peek Clip

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Now this is just being mean.  We’re salivating here, hoping for any news or tidbits about what to expect when The Walking Dead returns for it’s fifth season only to be given a very short clip that leaves us screaming WE WANT MORE!!!

During the Talking Dead season preview special that aired on AMC, a small 30 second clip from the premiere episode of season five was shown, smashing us right into zombie territory with Carol (Martina McBride), Tyreece (Chad Coleman) and baby Judith on the run.

 

So we now know that Carol, Tyreece and Judith have not yet made it to Terminus and that obviously, they’ll be blind as to what has happened to Rick, Darryl, Maggie and the rest of the gang – with exception to Beth whom no one knows where she is (or if she is even still alive).

AMC also announced via twitter that the first full trailer for season 5 will drop online July 25th!

 “We’re counting down to the release of #TheWalkingDead Season Five trailer 7/25. RT to win a #20DaysofDead prize pack!” tweeted The Walking Dead AMC.

Sadly, there’s still four months until the show’s return in October.

 

Sharknado 2 First Look Trailer Online.

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It’s here and it looks just as godawful as the first outing!  The Sharknado 2: The Second One trailer dropped online today and it looks so damn bad that it’s gotta be good.

The sequel to the ‘movie event’ of last year (ahem) once again sees Ian Zeiring and Tara Reid fighting tornado’s spitting out sharks but this time round, the action has been moved to New York City.

Along with Ziering and Reid, other suckers along for the ride include Vivica A Fox, Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath, Kari Wuhrer (Sliders), Judah Friedlander (30 Rock), Andy Dick, Kelly Osbourne, Billy Ray Cyrus and Judd Hirsch and yes, that was Matt Lauer making a cameo too.

For those hanging to see this giant mess, Foxtel announced that we will be gettin Sharknado 2 fast tracked to our screens within minutes of the US.  SyFy channel will air the movie on July 31st at 11:30am with a late-night repeat set for 9:30pm and perfect timing to take part in the numerous Sharknado 2 drinking games that will be sprouting up shortly

Sharknado 2: The Second One airs Thursday July 31st at 11:30am/9:30pm on SyFy Channel.