Monthly Archives: April 2011

Blu Ray Review: Life

Planet Earth’s “sequel” proves itself a worthy successor to the greatest nature documentary ever filmed and one of the most visually stunning Blu Rays on the market.  Whether you’re into natural science or not this boxed set is a must own for anyone looking to show off their home theatre as it captures some of the most beautiful and surprising footage of our world that you’ll ever see. Continue reading

(Far From) Final Thoughts – The Wire

Summing up five seasons of any series in a single post would be difficult, doing so for one as complex as The Wire is impossible.  Five months ago I set myself the task of gaining an “impression of The Wire’s overall genius” and I think I’ve done that, but turning such an impression into understanding is another matter.  Continue reading

Life is full of possibilities

Reviewing this series after having read the books is an interesting exercise in that I’m having trouble separating the episodes from the larger whole.  This is a challenge with any heavily serialized series, particularly when you know the outcome, but Game of Thrones has the added complication of being based on a novel.  What we’ve seen so far is fairly true to the books, but the fact is that my understanding of the context of each scene is imperfect.  I’m evaluating what see  I based on what I “know” is going to happen next.  This can be problematic when small changes are made from text to screen.  Continue reading

… the life of kings

I have, perhaps, been unfairly harsh in my criticism of season five.  Throughout these ten episodes The Wire has remained an extremely strong, at times brilliant, series.  To slam it for not being the series I wanted illustrates the pitfalls of any long running show.  At a certain point we must start measuring the series against itself rather than against whatever else is on.  Four years of genius have created quite a host of expectations in the audience and while the creators shouldn’t have simply tried to meet them, I would rather they had been thwarted in more interesting ways.  With that in mind, I’ll attempt to look at the series finale for what it is, rather than what it isn’t. Continue reading

You’re not a praying mantis, are you?

Self-purported (and justifiably so) game changers like “School Hard” make episodes like “Inca Mummy Girl” hard to swallow.  This monster-of-the-week feels like a step back for the series for several reasons and could easily be lumped in with the worst of season one.  Ampata is neither as sinister nor as sympathetic as she needs to be and her comparisons with Buffy, while somewhat interesting, just aren’t enough to carry the episode.  Add to this the pointless appearance of an alleged assassin and a tacked on relationship with Xander and you’ve got story that just feels directionless. Continue reading

Deserve got nuthin’ to do with it

How could I not love an episode that quotes one of my favourite movies?  “Late Editions” has a lot more going for it than Unforgiven references, but I’ll focus on the epigraph before I get into it.  William Munny answers Little Bill Daggett’s protestations with this line just before killing him.  Bill may deserve what he gets by any sensible standard, but within the world of the film such moral considerations are irrelevant.  Neither he nor Munny can claim any measure of righteousness and his death is an inevitable result of the life he’s chosen.  This is Snoop’s final lesson to Michael, one he learns a little too quickly for her.  Michael may be innocent, but that’s irrelevant; holding himself apart is what makes him a target.  Conversely, Snoop is very guilty, but her death isn’t an assertion of moral order.  Michael kills her because he needs to.  West Baltimore is very much like Eastwood’s West; necessity trumps morality in both. Continue reading

DVD Review: The Simpsons – Season 8

“Best” is a difficult term to apply when a series delivered such consistent excellence for so many years, but it sounds so much bolder than “Personal Favourite.”  The eighth season of The Simpsons represents the series at its most hilarious, smart and innovative.  To those in doubt I’ll point out that this is the season that gave us Hank Scorpio, Frank Grimes, Poochie, and Mr. Sparkle; Ned loses his house, Burns loses his fortune, and Skinner loses his virginity; Homer becomes a boxer, Bart works in a burlesque house, and Marge gets mobbed up… I could mention every episode here and not hit a bad one. Continue reading

A lie ain’t a side of the story. It’s just a lie.

McNulty’s scheme begins to go off the rails just one episode after it finally picks up steam.  “Clarifications” sees him with all the resources he needs to pursue the case against Marlo and anything else the BPD throws his way.  It also sees him bearing a greater resemblance to the bosses he once despised as he tries to balance legitimate casework against the politics of his new position.  The strain is enough to make him confess to both Greggs and Beadie and neither or them offer the validation Jimmy’s been craving since season one. Continue reading

The things I do for love

“Winter is Coming” serves as a thorough reminder that nobody does it quite like HBO.  It’s not just the jaw-dropping production values that set their shows apart from anything else on TV (although those don’t hurt), it’s the jaw dropping amount of credit HBO gives its audience.  A Song of Ice and Fire is labyrinthine in its written form, with dozens of characters, myriad alliances, and a complex mythology.  Compressing that into the television format is no easy task, but the Game of Thrones premiere charts the only course available; it hits the ground running and never waits for the audience to catch up. Continue reading

They don’t teach it in law school

Hey, it’s Munch!  I have a special affection for meta-fiction and so a cameo from television’s most ubiquitous detective would, ordinarily, be a welcome treat.  This guest appearance isn’t forced or awkward (as so many of them tend to be) and the fact that Munch first appeared on Homicide and was based on real cop Jay Landsman (who also appears in this scene as Major Denis Mello) adds all sorts of fun layers, but appreciating this involves stepping out of the world of the show.  For The Wire, this sort of distance is counter-productive.  The series thrives on its realism and the characters become progressively less interesting as we stop thinking of them as real people reacting to real things. Continue reading