Category Archives: TV

Best of 2017: TV Shows

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BETTER THINGS – Pictured: (L-R) Pamela Adlon as Pam, Olivia Edward as Duke). CR: Colleen Hayes/FX

The annual list is back again for another year – the list that only begins to take any real form or shape late in the year once the influx of shows, new and old, have made their way into our homes.

Last years list saw eight of the twelve classed as “new entries” and this year is no different with only two shows managing to hold onto a spot within the coveted top twelve.

That said, if the list went longer than the specific twelve, I don’t know where I could actually stop and find an appropriate cut meaning some shows such as The Walking Dead, American Housewife and Wentworth become glaringly absent.

Honorable Mention: Big Mouth Season 1 [New Entry] – Netflix Australia

Netflix’s new animated comedy Big Mouth is silly, disgusting, funny, shocking and rather awkward too – which is much like the tween characters featured in this outrageous ‘coming of age’ laugh fest.  Underneath all the gross-out jokes and masturbation references though lies a sweet friendship between Andrew (John Mulaney) and Nicky (Nick Kroll) as they both traverse the sweaty, pimply and smelly puberty years.

12: Schitt’s Creek Season 3 [New Entry] – Netflix Australia

Season Three has the Rose’s being contempt with life in Schitt’s Creek – Moira (Catherine O’Hara) has cemented her position on town council, Alexis (Annie Murphy) completes her high school education and David (Dan Levy) opens up his own ’boutique’ store.  Another fantastic season filled with gif worthy quotes.

11: How To Get Away With Murder Season 4 [#7 in 2016] – 7Flix

Laurel (Karla Souza) is trying to solve Wes’ (Alfred Enoch) murder while the rest of the scooby gang have moved, trying to rescue their fledgling legal careers after Annalise (Viola Davis) fired everyone including Bonnie (Liza Wiel).  The mid season finale with heavily pregnant (and bleeding) Laurel trapped in an elevator was one of the most horrifying and traumatizing scenes on television this season.

10: Playing House Season 3 [New Entry] – USA Network

Absent from last years list thanks to a year long absence (Thanks USA Network – wtf?!) Playing House’s third and sadly final season continued along with the shows much loved theme of two best friends being there for one another no matter the circumstance.  Emma’s (Jessica St.Clair) brush with breast cancer was highly emotional along with Maggie’s (Lennon Parham) attempt to dive back into the dating pool.  A wonderful comedy ending on a seriously hilarious high.

09: The Sinner [New Entry] – Netflix Australia – Netflix Australia

The ‘whydunit’ of the year became a surprise hit thanks to stellar performances by leads Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman and the power of word-of-mouth.  A graphic murder, memory loss, sickness and bad memories all play out over eight incredible episodes as we find out why Cora committed murder.

08: Orphan Black Season 5  [New Entry] – SBS

The final season of the sci-fi/clone drama saw the clones pulled apart in an attempt to finally put an end to the Dyad/Castor/Brightborn saga that has played out over the past four seasons.  A surprise return in favorite Delphine (Évelyne Brochu) made many fans happy while star Tatiana Maslany continued to shine in her ability to portray multiple, layered, characters.

07: Greys Anatomy Season 14 [New Entry] – 7Flix

In all honesty, it’s been some time since I have been ‘really’ excited about an episode of Grey’s but the series’ 14th season (currently on a mid season break) has seen a return to form with many characters and their multi-season story arcs all culminating into this fantastic season.  Owen’s (Kevin McKidd) long thought dead sister reappears, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) wins the long mentioned Harper Avery award and the shows 300th episode brought glimpses of past favorites such as Christina (Sandra Oh), George (T.R Knight) and Izzy (Katherine Heigl) in the form of look-a-likes.

06: Star Trek Discovery Season 1 [New Entry] – Netflix Australia

It has been some time since a “Trek” series was on television (12 years to be precise) and the CBS All Access/Netflix outing is a sleek, flashy, violent and welcome addition to the franchise that, unlike previous Treks, sets its sights firmly on the theme of war against an uprising band of Klingons.  Discovery offers up a perfect mix of battle seriousness and somewhat-kooky characters that the Star Trek series has been known for.

05: Game of Thrones Season 7 [New Entry] – Showcase

Winter is coming, that’s for sure.  A gigantic season that brought about a tense meeting between Cersei (Lena Headey) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), the death of Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen), Arya (Maisie Williams) back home to Winterfell, the truth about Jon Snow’s (Kit Harrington) heritage and the white walkers to the north’s door.

04: Better Things Season 2 [#5 in 2016] – FX (USA)

The sixth episode of Better Things’ second season titled Eulogy might just be one of the best episodes of television aired this year and is why it sits number four on this list.  While Sam (Pamela Adlon) was actually quite annoying to watch in this series’ first half (I found her to be quite aggressive and selfish, especially when it came to dating) all that was wiped away with one single heartwarming (and affirming) episode in which Sam, frustrated with her children’s lack of interest in her acting career, forces them to perform a fake eulogy at her fake funeral.

This episode was also the last work for late actor Robert Michael Morris who passed in May this year – his scene with Sam in the bar truly encapsulated a heart weary man who missed out on the best years of his life with one single line “Nobody could be gay until I was too old to have any fun.”

03: Will & Grace Season 9 [New Entry] – STAN

It’s like there wasn’t almost a 20 year break between seasons.  That’s how good Will and Grace’s long wanted return to TV has been.  On point with cutting remarks on quips on current day politics, technology and pop culture, the gay old gang are proving they still have the goods they had many moons ago.

02: Big Little Lies [New Entry] – Showcase

A season that consisted of eight episodes that moved so slowly yet managed to tell so much with each and every episode, Big Little Lies featured an all-star cast including Nicole Kidman, Reece Witherspoon and Alexander Skarsgård and kept us guessing about the big “what happened” and “Whodunit” right up until the final moments.  Good news too – Season two is in the works with Kidman and Witherspoon back for more lies!

01: The Mick Seasons 1 and 2 [New Entry] – Fox8

Crass, rude, violent, bloody, crazy – there’s no one real word to describe The Mick to really hammer in just how un-sitcom this show is other than it’s funny as all get-out.  Saddled with looking after her sisters three children, hustler Mickey (Kaitlin Olson) finds herself adapting to sudden parenthood and living the high life in their mansion all the while trying to not loose her rough and tumble past.

I’ll just let the trailer show what i’m trying to say….

 

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Netflix’s The Sinner is you new Binge Watch show for the Summer.

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Image Credit: USA/Netflix

We’re heading into that “TV lull” time of year where all our favorite weekly must-watch shows head into hiatus during the extended Christmas and New Years break and shows such as The Big Bang Theory and The Simpsons feel like they’re on for three hour stretches, seven days a week.

Thankfully, those with access to Netflix will be able to fill a small portion of the upcoming TV void with this years sleeper hit that has been sweeping social media with talks of praise it’s binge-worthiness.

The Sinner is an 8-episode series starring Jessica Biel (7th Heaven) as downtrodden mother Cora Tannetti who seems to be living a very plain and ordinary life with her husband Mason (Christopher Abbot) and their young son. It’s nothing too exciting but there’s something up with Cora and it feels as though she has succumbed to this monotonous life she is living and has basically checked out.  Moments of silent vacant stares and this need to escape the desperation that is her life.

This all leads her to commit a very public and graphic murder in an unprovoked and very shocking attack that while brief in its moment, is the driving force for the entire series.  The Sinner is not a whodunit but in fact a whydunit (if that is an actual word – and if a murder mystery can be a why and not a who!)

For you see, while we know Cora kills someone, she has no idea why she committed murder as she has no idea who the victim is or what came over her to commit such an act and in what should be an open and shut case for the local police, becomes an obsession for local detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) who believes that there may be a more dark and sinister reasoning to Cora’s crime.  With his help, the two begin to traverse the twisted and morbid memories of Cora’s strict religious upbringing and subsequent rebellion that led to the driving moment of the series.

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Image USA/Netflix

Pullman’s Ambrose leads the eight episodic series’ B story, a telling of his broken relationship with his wife Fay (Kathryn Erbe) and his unusual sexual fetish he explores with local dominatrix Sharon (Meredith Holzman).  While the sad and desperate detective usually plays well as a side story, Amrbose’s damaged relationship with Fay and Sharon don’t actually add anything to the main story and by the end of the series, never really comes to a conclusion or involve itself with Cora’s story line.

When it comes to the stars and their acting within The Sinner, Pullman plays sad lonely cop well with his long graying hair and department store suits.  His unnerving desperation to solve the answers to this case while trying to solve the problems of his marriage culminate in one particular scene where a garden hose cops the brunt of his meltdown.

Having been more known as Mrs.Timberlake for the better part of six years, Beil sheds all former glamour to play the bare faced, red eyed and prison jumpsuit clad Tannetti.  A kind of “where has this version of Beil been?” reaction ensues as the first episode closes.  Equally compelling is Nadia Alexander as Cora’s terminally ill younger sister Phoebe.  The guilt about her ailing health comes flying at Cora not only from her overtly religious mother but from Phoebe herself who uses her illness to manipulate Cora into situations she would have normally avoided.

For most of the series run, with each episode, there’s enough information coming in to keep us just on the edge of figuring out the entire plot but also stringing us back into a void of unknown and if there were ever an award for “best use of binge moments” then The Sinner would surely win for their perfectly timed end of episode cut off that literally leaves you begging for more.

The final two episodes is where everything hits us and while most is all revealed in episode seven, the supposed big shock reveal that happens in episode eight actually doesn’t hold the effect it perhaps was intended to.  Maybe because of who it involves or because even though we have most of the answers by that time, the episode still feels rushed as it tries to tie everything up.

For its binge-worthiness and stellar turn by Jessica Biel, The Sinner get’s an 8/10 from me.

The Sinner is now streaming on Netflix Australia

 

Dynasty Reboot Casts Their Alexis Carrington

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Image Credit: The CW

Since word began floating about of the CW networks plans to bring 80’s cult favorite soap Dynasty back to our screens, one of the biggest questions being asked was who will be playing the role of iconic character Alexis Carrington (played by Joan Collins in the original 80’s outing)

While the character was visibly absent from the reboot as it began, it had been confirmed that Alexis will be appearing towards the end of the series first season (which ties in with the original) with names including Heather Locklear, Laura Leighton, Elizabeth Hurley and Melinda Clarke all being thrown around as possible candidates to play Alexis.

Now, the CW network have found their Alexis Carrington and have let us all in on who nabbed the role which has gone to former Desperate Housewives star Nicollette Sherridan.

Alexis is the first wife of Blake Carrington and mother to Fallon and Steven. She will return unexpectedly to their world, challenging Blake’s marriage to Cristal, seeking to reunite with her children, and fighting to claim what is hers.

A modern re-imagining of the iconic prime-time soap, the series centers on the powerful Carrington family as they defend their throne against the Colbys, new rivals and threats, and even each other.

It stars Grant Show, Elizabeth Gillies, Nathalie Kelley, James Mackay, Sam Adegoke, Robert Christopher Riley, and Rafael de la Fuente, and Alan Dale.

Dynasty is available to Australian viewers on Netflix Australia.

 

Eveything You Need to Know about the Will & Grace Revival

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Image: NBC

Since the news broke that NBC were two thumbs up for the Will & Grace revival, a slew of information has been streaming out about what to expect when the show returns for a brand new run in late September (Sept 29th on NBC to be precise).  From how THAT original finale plays out into this series to who’s back, who’s missing and who’s stopping by I’ve put everything you need to know about the Will & Grace finale into one single fabulous post!

The Revival:  Even before a single episode has aired of this new season, NBC have already confirmed the show will be back in 2018 for another 13 episode round.  This new season (officially classed as season 9) has already been extended from its originally announced 13 episodes to 16 while at present, season 10 is sitting at 13.

This revival came about thanks to that hilarious election themed mini-reunion episode with NBC taking note of the huge response from fans old and new and went about ordering a 10 episode season revival.

How will the original finale play into this return?:  The original finale that aired back in 2006 saw Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace (Debra Messing) parting ways for almost 20 years, with both characters married (Will to Vince played by Bobby Cannavale and Grace to Leo (Harry Connick, Jr) and each couple with a child.  The last scenes in that finale saw Will & Grace eventually reunite after their college aged children ended up living across from each other at the campus dorm.

Even though this return will be classed as the show’s 9th season and takes place only 11 years after the finale, the entire dissolution of the friendship and each couples kids will be ‘erased’ from the Will & Grace history. Talking to EW, co-creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan said  ‘When the decision was made to bring the series back, we were like, well, we left them with kids, right?” And if they have children, then it has to be about them being parents, ‘cause presumably it would be a priority in their lives. And if it wasn’t a priority in their lives, then they’re still parents, they’re just bad parents, right? We frankly did not want to see them being either good parents or bad parents. We wanted them to be Will and Grace.”

The Core Cast:  The revival will see Will and Grace living together as the two did for the bulk of the series’ run with Jack (Sean Hayes) living across from them and Karen (Megan Mullally) still a rich boozy socialite living in her mansion.  Will is still working as a corporate lawyer, Grace remains an interior designer but with a bigger office and working with current day design technology along with ‘assistant’ Karen while Jack, who flitted from ‘acting’ to retail to student nurse to acting teacher during the shows original run will be back in his latter career teaching the ‘Jackting’ method of acting.

The Recurring Cast: Shelley Morrison who played Karen’s long suffering, viper tongued maid Rosario Salazar confirmed she won’t be back for the revival.  Morrison has now retired from acting, with the exception of a small appearance in the 2016 Will & Grace political themed mini episode.  Rosario won’t be forgotten on ignored with Mutchnick adding “The audience has come to know and love her — as we do — and we’re dealing with her as a character and we’re writing to it very specifically.”

Along with Rosario’s absence, the revival will touch on Grace’s mother Bobbi Adler played by the late Debbie Rynolds.

Confirmed to return are thee integral characters to the Will & Grace history – Harry Connick, Jr as Grace’s husband Leo, Bobby Cannavale as Will’s husband Vince and Minnie Driver as Karen’s British nemesis Lorraine Finster.  Noting that the 2006 finale is being wiped, how Leo and Vince fit into this revival is yet to be seen considering Will and Grace will be back living together.

No word yet on Leslie Jordan as Karen’s best friend/enemy number one Beverly Leslie, Blythe Danner as Will’s widowed mother Marilyn Truman or Tom Gallop and Leigh-Allyn Baker as game night friends Rob and Ellen.

Update Sept 18th:  Michael Angarano is a confirmation to return having filmed his scenes last week.  Angarano played Jack’s son Elliot for 12 episodes during the original run and is currently tapped for a single episode in season 9.

The Guest Stars:  From Madonna to Demi Moore, Cher and Britney Spears, the original series run never shied away from nabbing big named stars to appear on the show and this next season won’t be any different with the recent news that Glee’s Jane Lynch, Girls star Andrew Rannells and 2017 Tony Award winner Ben Platt have all signed on to guest star in season 9.

When and how to watch:  Will & Grace season 9 begins Thursday September 28th as part of NBC’s must-see-TV lineup at 9/8c in the states while here in Australia, the series begins on Friday the 29th on streaming service STAN

This post will be updated as news comes about for the sew season.

Wyrmwood: Chronicles of the Dead drops the most insane trailer you’ve ever seen!

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Even though the trailer for Wyrmwood: Chronicles of the Dead dropped in mid May, with thanks to the wonders of social media, it has only just now made its way to me and this 6-odd minute trailer is so intense, insane, erratic, gory and in-your-bloody-face, I immediately had to know more.

First off though, check out the *teaser* trailer which is very NSFW!

Wyrmwood: Chronicles of the Dead comes off the back of an indie 2014/15 Aussie movie Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead by director Kiah Rouche-Turner.  It’s a sort of Fury Road meets Resident Evil meets The Girl with all the Gifts kind of movie that follows a mechanic named Barry (Jay Gallagher) who is trying to find his kidnapped sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) as the world is falling to pieces amid a massive zombie apocalypse.

The film itself received generally positive reviews and feedback and upon it’s limited US release found itself at the mercy of online piracy where it topped illegal downloading charts.

Jump to 2017, Chronicles of the dead series will pick up from where Road of the Dead leaves off with a 10 episode series filled with over-the-top carnage, explosions and oh so many zombies!

While there is no further information about release date or where the series will be hosted, you can keep up-to-date with it all via their twitter and Facebook pages.

Wentworth Season 5 – What We Know and What Could we Expect?

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We’re only a few short weeks away from finding out what the fallout is following Bea Smith’s (Danielle Cormack) death at the hands of former prison warden and current inmate Joan Ferguson (Pamela Rabe)  in the new season of Wentworth starting April 4th on Showcase.

While most of us are hoping for some miracle, it’s no secret that those involved with the show have been very vocal in letting us all know that Bea is in fact very dead and that Cormack is off perusing other projects. That said, the impact of Smith’s murder will play heavily into this upcoming fifth season affecting inmates and prison staff alike.

Foxtel have confirmed that contrary to earlier suggestions, there will be no time jump between the end of season four and the start of season five, with this new season picking up right after Bea’s death with the focus heavily on the theme of revenge as shown in various teaser promos released by Foxtel.

So what do we know so far about season five?  Kaz Proctor (Tammy McIntosh) cements her role as the new top dog within Wentworth but will her ‘no violence’ policy react negatively with the inmates when it comes to the punishment of Ferguson – especially with that of Allie Novak (Kate Jenkinson) whom unbeknownst to Ferguson, survived her lethal hot shot.

 

Liz Birdsworth (Celia Ireland) continues her top secret mission with  Don Kaplan (Steve Bastoni) to get Sonia Stevens (Sigrid Thornton) to confess her crimes though has Sonia cottoned on to what Liz is doing?

Boomer (Katrina Milosevic) continues to support Maxine (Socratis Otto) through her battle with breast cancer.

Franky (Nicole DaSilva) and Bridget’s (Libby Tanner) relationship outside the walls of Wentworth continue to go from strength to strength but will Bea’s murder push Franky to do something that will send her right back?

Jake Stewart (Bernard Curry) deals with the consequences of his actions with Ferguson that led to him murdering the key witness in Ferguson’s trial and the smuggling in of the drugs used to give Allie the not-so-lethal hot shot.  This begins to put stress on his relationship with Governor Vera Bennett (Kate Atkinson) who is still blind to his unlawful actions.

All will be revealed when the fifth season of Wentworth begins April 4th on Showcase.

 

Best of 2016: TV Characters

Standing out is hard to do in a television land that is as wide and varied as it is today.  In most cases, it’s the lead who takes front and center and other times, it’s those side characters who just pull you in and make you love them.

From an actress and a single mother trying to balance work and home life to a brassy best friend who tells it like it is to a family keeping many secrets to an actress blurring the lines between acting and reality, check out my list of the 12 best TV Characters for 2016.

12: Doris (Ali Wong) – American Housewife [New Entry]

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Playing on her ‘non threatening Asian diversity’ within the snooty town of Westport, Doris (Ali Wong) has been able to share the dismissive views of best friend Katie (Katy Mixon) while also being able to mingle with the popular green-smoothie-drinking fit moms, who Katie literally hates.  Doris has no qualms about pushing her take-no-prisoners, hands on approach to parenting (which involves lots of yelling and eating strange meats in broth) onto Katie’s children.

11: Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) – American Crime Story [New Entry]

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Finding herself playing in the big league with the OJ Simpson trial, Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) found herself facing a giant brick wall right from the go.  From her personal dealings of a crumbling marriage and a nasty custody battle to how she dressed and did her hair for court, Clark, it seems was never going to win.  Thrust into the public eye, Paulson’s Clark offered up a deeper and thoughtful look into the most talked about woman of the time that was often overlooked for lesser, inessential topics.

10: The Morgans – Home and Away [New Entry]

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When Tori Morgan (Penny McNamee) first appeared in Summer Bay as the new doctor, none of us were prepared for the overloaded baggage she was hiding – her and her brothers (James Stewart, Jackson Heywood and Orpheus Pledger) were in witness protection.  Their parents killed by top dogs within a drug syndicate, their covers were blown, had no one they could trust and faced having to run again.  The Morgans added a major dash of drama to the bay that has been sorely missing since Charlotte’s (Erika Heynatz) murder last year.

9: Darryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) – The Walking Dead [Re-Entry from 2014]

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The confident, lone wolf we’ve all come to love has been through the wringer this season on The Walking Dead.  His lash out at Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) resulted in the death of good friend Glenn (Steven Yuen) and subsequently saw him taken into Negan’s custody, thrown into an isolation cell and tortured in an attempt to break him.  Holding onto the grief and guilt of Glenn’s death is the only thing keeping Darryl sane while being tortured.

8: Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) – Game of Thrones [New Entry]

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The pint sized warrior, the Lady of Bear Island Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) proved herself to be a formidable leader as she held the cards to back Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) and Sansa Starks’ (Sophie Turner) attack on Ramsey Bolton to reclaim Winterfell.  Her blistering speech to the bickering houses of Manderley, Glover and Cerwyn showed that while Jon may have finally killed Ramsey, Lyanna is the one who has become the people’s champ and a force to be reckoned with.

7: Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) – Wentworth [New Entry]

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With all focus this past season on Joan (Pamela Rabe) entering Wentworth as a prisoner, the side story arc to this season featuring the blossoming romance between Bea (Danielle Cormack) and Allie (Kate Jenkinson) showed a more open yet vulnerable side to the prison top dog.  While the relationship was used to expose Bea’s weaknesses to both Joan and Kaz (Tammy Macintosh), this relationship ultimately proved to be Bea’s strength, believing Joan had given Allie an overdose, she sacrificed herself to put Joan behind bars for a very long time.

6: Agnes Mary Winstead (Kathy Bates) – American Horror Story: Roanoke [New Entry]

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While the premise for this latest season of American Horror Story was fantastic, the second half of the season became a total mess with one shinning mark – that of Agnes Mary Winstead (Kathy Bates) AKA – The Butcher.  Agnes’ became a victim of her own sudden rise to fame after My Roanoke Nightmare became a massive television hit and earned herself a Saturn Award best actress nomination.  After delving right into the role of The Butcher, Agnes was diagnosed with  schizoaffective disorder, unable to distinguish between fact and fiction and wholly embodied the woman with a penchant for meat cleavers.

5: Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) – Game of Thrones [New Entry]

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Season 6 of GoT was one full of loss for Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) as he mourned the death of his daughter Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) and was removed from his position in the Kingsguard by his own son Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) who, later on, also died taking his own life after his mother Cersei (Lena Headey) set alight half of Kings Landing.  Discovering that the woman he loves was responsible for the act that pushed Tommen to take his own life looks set to push Jamie into darker personal territory as he struggles with alliance next season.

4: Bonnie Winterbottom (Liza Weil) – How to get away with Murder [#8 in 2015]

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We’ve seen Bonnie (Liza Weil) fall back into old habits this past season of How to get Away With Murder as she continuously battled with boss Annalise (Viola Davis) over the treatment of Annalise’s former right hand man Frank (Charlie Weber) now on the run after his murderous past was fully revealed.  With Laurel (Lauren Velez) and Annalise trying to find Frank, Bonnie took it upon herself to track him down and try and coax him back after discovering he had killed her abusive father leading the two to spend a very intense and revealing night together.

3: Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon) – Better Things [New Entry]

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There’s no high glamour or Hollywood high life when it comes to Better Things‘ Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon).  She’s not a struggling actress but she’s also not readily recognized on the street by the everyday person.  She’s an actress and it’s her job and it’s this level of fame she attains while also a single mother to three girls, all of whom require a bulk of her attention to make it through each and every day, that makes Sam relatable.  Woman on the verge…..perhaps.  Woman trying to get a minute to have ‘dirty facetime’ with a recent hookup..seems to fit better when describing Sam Fox.

2: Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) – Stranger Things [New Entry]

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Joyce Byers (in a defining comeback role for Winona Ryder) is a single mother, relatively poor and wanting answers regarding her missing son Will (Noah Schnapp).  Her less than affluent standing within the small town of Hawkins, Indiana has the locals not believing her son has gone missing, but despite her lack of influence within the town, she challenges each and every person – right up-to the Police Chief.

When she discovers she can communicate with her missing son through lights, Joyce finds a confidence and a voice to believe in what she is doing is actually real despite the constant knock downs from those telling her, her son is dead.

1: Quinn King (Constance Zimmer) – UnReal [#2 in 2015]

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Walking into season two of UnReal (and the new season of Everlasting) shouting the motto “MONEY, DICK, POWER!!” and ready to hand over the reigns of Everlasting to Rachel (Shiri Appleby) Quinn (Constance Zimmer) found herself not ready to let go when former boss Chet (Craig Bierko) returned to the fray looking to take control back of ‘his’ show. Quinn’s battle to maintain a hold on the show all came to a head in the fourth episode when she learns her father has died and only able to internalize her pain for a short while, Quinn literally opens the biggest can of whoop-ass ever seen.  No one, not even the studio office was saved from her scathing breakdown that saw her literally throw monitors across the room.

But Quinn is a quick one to recover.  She’s a smart ballsy woman who has this inane ability to see the knife coming before it hits her back and has a counter-attack already in play by the time that knife is on it’s way down.  By the end of the season, Quinn retained control of Everlasting and her Money, Dick, Power relationship with Rachel was as strong as it started out at seasons start.

 

Best of 2016: TV Shows

How does one pick just 12 TV shows to make a “best of” list without going insane?!  It’s a struggle I had last year and with an influx of impressive new shows, it doesn’t get any easier.  That said, I chained myself to my desk, a list was made, shows were culled and now here it is, my Best of 2016 TV Shows list.

12: American Crime Story Season 1 [New Entry]

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There was going to be no shock surprises with how this real life re-telling of the sensational OJ Simpson case ended yet somehow, we all watched with baited breath to see what was coming next.  What made this series so exciting to watch comes down to the genius casting and slick handling of how this story was told.  Sarah Paulson as lawyer Marcia Clark, Cuba Gooding Jnr as OJ Simpson and John Travolta as Robert Shapiro equaled perfect casting and played so well along the story telling that at times we flitted between feeling for Clark and her battle to win what should have been an open and shut case and Simpson who, while clearly guilty, was dealing with the possibility of losing everything his glorified sporting career had gotten him.  In the 90’s the OJ Simpson trial was must-watch TV and today, American Crime Story was also must-watch TV.

11: The Exorcist Season 1 [New Entry]

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It was a big effort for the supernatural show breathing new life into the timeless horror classic but with surprising plot twists, impressive special effects, strong story lines and the star power of Geena Davis, The Exorcist has managed to deliver a show worthy to sit among the Exorcist timeline.

10: Grace and Frankie Season 2 [#10 in 2015]

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It was a very strong and solid outing for the second season of this Netflix comedy starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin about two 60+ year old women facing life as singles after their husbands them them for each other..  Feeling much more confident in this outing, Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin) deal with the fallout of Sol (Sam Waterston) and Roberts (Martin Sheen) relationship breakdown.  The topic of mortality was often seen throughout the season, especially towards the back end of the season in which a touching story line involving a long time friend suffering from terminal cancer decides to end things on her own terms.

9: American Housewife Season 1 [New Entry]

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This light-hearted comedy about a middle class family living a fish-out-of-water life in the rich Connecticut town of Westport hit many funny notes in its first outing.  A family based comedy at heart, topics of body image, fitting in and making the most out what life has handed to you featured heavily throughout the season all while never taking itself too seriously.  Katie Otto’s (Katy Mixon) friend time spent with  Doris (Ali Wong) make up a large portion of what makes this a great show to watch.

8: Australia’s Next Top Model Cycle 10 [New Entry]

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Celebrating 10 seasons, the model search reality show competition pulled out all stops from the addition of Megan Gale to the judging panel to an impressive line-up of worthy competitors to the guest list of world famous models (Elle McPherson and Miranda Kerr to name a few) that popped up along the way to offer some sound advice.  The photo shoots were more glamorous and the resulting photos even more stunning.   While the scoring system still remains the shows biggest downfall, this recent cycle proved why our version of this show remains one of the best in the world.

7: How to Get Away With Murder Season 3 [#4 in 2015]

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Another season, another murder, another set of flashbacks bringing us to a spine tingling revelation, surrounded by weekly court cases.  It’s a solid system that works for the legal/murder drama but season three changed things up by killing off one of the series main stars in a glorious and shocking mid season finale while tying in major events that had occurred throughout the first two seasons bringing everything together in one very neat package.

6: Wentworth Season 4 [#7 in 2015]

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Bringing Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson into the walls of Wentworth prison was not this season’s shining glory.  While it played out nicely over the season and created one heck of a finale, it was the Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) and Allie Novak (Kate Jenkinson) romance that really spurred this season along.  The tender yet volatile relationship between the hard as nails ‘top dog’ and prison junkie was put to the test by both Joan and Kaz Proctor (Tammy Macintosh) that it ended up with such brutal heartache.

5: Better Things Season 1 [New Entry]

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Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon) is a working actress, mother to three daughters and a woman with not enough time on her hands.  Better Things had no big fanfare around it’s premiere, instead relying on very strong story telling revolving around the circle of motherhood and powerful performances from lead Adlon and her on-screen offspring (Hannah Alligood, Olivia Edward, and Mikey Madison).  There’s also a list of brilliant cameos from David Duchovny to Constance Zimmer to Julie Bowen and Lenny Kravitz.  If one needs to know more, just watch the season one finale titled “Only Women Bleed” where Sam comes across all kinds of obstacles just getting her three daughters dressed and ready for school before dealing with a very real and confronting personal situation involving her middle daughter Frankie.  It’s pretty much a perfect half hour of television.

4: The Walking Dead Season 7 [New Entry]

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Controversial choice considering the backlash from fans with the introduction of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the very graphic deaths of Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yuen).  This season of TWD has once again split our survivors into multiple groups, each of which are discovering have all had the same dealings with the bat wielding pack leader.  From Ricks’ (Andrew Lincoln) submission to Negan to Darryl (Norman Reedus) playing prisoner to Carol (Melissa McBride) unsuccessfully going it on the road alone, the tension and raw emotion has never been higher.

3: Ink Master Season 8 – Peck Vs Nunez [New Entry]

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How to change up a slightly stale reality competition series without bringing back past fan favorite contestants over and over?  Do it the Ink Master way!  Pitting judges Oliver Peck and Chris Nunez against each other with hand picked teams of tattoo artists has breathed new life into this show, boasting a massive line up of contestants that were being eliminated from day dot.  The flash challenges have been more interesting, the tattooing more intense and the girl power all female alliance – never seen before on Ink Master – has proven to be one of the greatest alliances ever on the series and put two females (Ryan Ashley Malarkey and Kelly Doty) into the live finale.  Another season like this is highly recommended!

2: Stranger Things Season 1 [New Entry]

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Most of us were instantly drawn into this Netflix series just off the awesomely authentic 80’s synthesized opening theme.  It played so well into this tale of medical experiments, a missing child, a seriously creepy ‘underworld’ and a nameless little girl trying to survive – all set in the mid 1980’s.  The flash and meme worthy series (Barb anyone?!) offered up cover-ups and government conspiracies, utter scares and touching moments given by pretty much all over the main cast.

1: UnReal Season 2 [#2 in 2015]

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Always a sketchy move coming off a bumper first series but UnReal kept doing what it does best – offering up must-watch TV that is smartly written and skillfully acted.  Rachel (Shiri Appebey) goes fully fledged into girl power territory by becoming BFF’s with her boss Quinn (Constance Zimmer) after the breakup of her romance with season one bachelor Adam (Freddie Stroma) and makes the bold move to introduce Everlasting’s first ever black suitor in NFL quarterback Darius Beck (B.J Britt).  The perusing episodes throughout the season slam into us like a steamroller on steroids as Rachel and Quinn constantly butt heads and egos, both trying to take control of the show and climb up the Hollywood glass ladder.

 

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

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.