Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

steve martin martin short

The legendary stand-up comedian and writer Steve Martin and SCTV and Saturday Night Live alumnus Martin Short perform for an audience in Greenville, South Carolina.

Steve Martin and Martin Short met over 30 years ago while filming the movie the Three Amigos.  Please don’t judge their careers by that movie, it is awful.  If you want to fairly judge Steve Martin, find an old copy of his “Wild and Crazy Guy” stand-up routine, or watch the movie The Jerk or Bowfinger with Eddie Murphy, a side-splitting satire of guerilla filmmaking and big Hollywood studios.  If you want to judge Martin Short, watch old episodes of SCTV or Saturday Night Live.

This comedy show is pretty funny, the first thing to notice is the jokes have some pretty recent references.  The two do a sketch with pictures of themselves, which is hilarious only to see the hairstyles of the 60’s and 70’s. It’s amusing to see the pair try their hands at insult comedy.  Short does a few impressions, and sings, and gives insight into one of his recurring characters.  Steve Martin, shows off his musical talent, and the guy has some serious musical talent.  There was only one really unfunny sketch was one which Short did by himself which was a satire of Broadway shows, but ended up being an embarrassment to Short and diminished the show a little.

Overall, the show is very funny, and a nice showcase for these two talented performers, who get to put their many talents on display for the masses once again.

Martin and Short:  Long on Laughs.

 

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Fahrenheit 451

Guy Montag (Michael B. Jordan) is a firefighter in the future in Cleveland Ohio.  In this America, firefighters don’t put out fires, they start them.  Specifically they start fires to burn books that are deemed offensive by the government.  The government allows people to read the Bible, In the Lighthouse and Moby Dick, but bans all other literature.  There is a group of people that are fighting this censorship, derisively called Eels by the government and the firefighters.  Under pressure by Captain Beatty (Michael Shannon) a young Eel named Clarisse McClellan ( Sophia Boutella) gives Beatty information on one of her fellow resistors, an old woman with a vast library.  When Montag and Beatty get to the location, the old woman burns herself and the library.  Before she burns herself, she yells the word, “Omnis !” The old lady burning herself has a profound effect on Montag.  How does he change?  What is Omnis?

This is not a faithful adaptation of the classic book by Ray Bradbury, and that is not a good thing for viewers of this film.  The central premise of the book involves people turning away from reading books, in favor of other forms of entertainment.  This premise should be more prescient today with the advent of social media, online shopping, and streaming movies, but somehow this adaptation concentrates more on style than substance.  It changes substantial plot points until almost nothing remains of the original book but the title.  This new adaptation adds a meaningless romance to the story and changes the ending to make it look like every other action movie that Hollywood churns out today.  Do yourself a favor, read the book and skip this movie, it will make Ray Bradbury happy and save you the time of comparing this version of the movie to the book.  The book is vastly better anyway.

The acting is above average, for the most part.  Michael B. Jordan is convincing as the conflicted firefighter, where does his loyalty lie, to Beatty or to his conscience? He is boxed in by a script that doesn’t allow for character or plot development Michael Shannon is once again excellent, and turns the intensity up to 11 as Beatty.  He wants to find those eels and stomp out this movement.  Once again, the character is not allowed to develop, and seems one-dimensional.  Sofia Boutella is again hired for her looks and doesn’t even get a chance to show any range in her acting skills.

The direction is more interested in making this a fast-paced glossy image of a movie rather than conveying any big ideas.  So the viewer moves from chase scene to chase scene and images projected on sides of a building.  It’s all style over substance.  The pacing is surprisingly slow for a movie that purports to be an action film.

Fahrenheit 451:  Not So Hot

the cars

The telecast showcases the induction of The Cars, Dire Straits, The Moody Blues, Nina Simone, Bon Jovi and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

As a broadcast, there were a lot of good performances.  The Cars were very good, but the fact that Ben Orr was missing was noticed by everyone, especially the members of The Cars themselves.  Elliot Easton is one of the most underrated guitarists in rock music, and he showed why again.  The tributes were outstanding, the tribute to Tom Petty was good, although the singer of the band paying tribute to Petty, seemed a bit too enthusiastic.  The tribute to Chris Cornell was even better.  The two tributes to Nina Simone were also excellent, although I liked one more than the other, and it wasn’t the one critics were raving about

Dire Straits were a disappointment by omission, but the Moody Blues were amazing, for a band whose members are that old they are in their 70’s. To see the progressive rock pioneers to play that well, was genuinely shocking to me.  They’ve been playing for over 50 years.  And I learned something watching the broadcast.  I learned who Rosetta Tharpe is, and you should learn about her too, her career blew my mind.  The only reason I know about Nina Simone is because I watched a documentary on her.  There are no documentaries on Sister Rosetta, but there should be.

Despite some great performances, the broadcast had some drawbacks. The telecast was too long, 3 hours in total, and to devote almost an hour of that time to Bon Jovi is a bit excessive. I like Bon Jovi, but just cut the speeches and keep to playing music.   Howard Stern is not funny, he uses the same crude material he always has, and it’s getting old after 30 years.  By the time Bon Jovi started playing, I didn’t care what songs they played, and they have some good songs, but the entire night had gone on for too long at that point. There are lots of people that think they don’t deserve the honor, but the combination of Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora made that band a great one.  And frankly, there aren’t that many rock bands left to induct, because everyone is trying to be on a talent show these days.  So Bon Jovi is unfortunately one of a diminishing breed, a band that plays its own instruments and sings.

Hall, Hall Rock and Roll!

jesus christ superstar live

The musical tells the story of Jesus Christ, (John Legend) from shortly before Palm Sunday to his betrayal by Judas Iscariot (Brandon Victor Dixon) and denial by Peter. (Jason Tam) Jesus was eventually handed over to Caiaphas, (Norm Lewis) Pontius Pilate, (Ben Daniels)   and finally King Herod.(Alice Cooper The people who once showered him with Hosannas, now want to crucify him.  But what is Jesus’ crime?  And will Herod find him guilty?

There were two musicals about the life of Jesus from the 1970’s, Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar.  Jesus Christ Superstar is clearly the superior musical of the two.  The songs in Jesus Christ Superstar are clearly superior songs.  The songs, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are still powerful and convey the passion story with great emotion and conviction.  One of the aspects of the songs that I didn’t like is the fact that it deemphasized the divinity of Jesus.  I suspect that that’s what made the songs popular in the 1970’s and now. The song “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” continues the misconception that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, but it’s still a very well written song.  There are some songs like “What’s the Buzz” “Hosanna” and “The Last Supper”  that sound dated, but the music remained the same in this version and it still tells the story just as well as it did in 1970.The songs have to carry the story because there is very little dialogue.

John Legend stars as the titular character in the latest version of Jesus Christ Superstar, and he mostly does well, especially on the ballads where he adds touches of soul.  But Legend lacks the powerful voice necessary to carry off a song, like “The Temple” he really needed to scream in that song, but his voice is not a voice that lends itself to screaming.  Brandon Victor Dixon is very impressive as Judas, he seems to have the power to sing Judas’ songs, even though his voice falters at times.  It was a live performance.  Sarah Barelles does a decent job as Mary Magdalene, but not as good as Yvonne Elliman  Alice Cooper talks his way through his role as King Herod.

There shouldn’t be any controversy to casting a black man to play Jesus, but it is doubtless that some Christians will have a problem with this.  These Christians would seem to be more concerned with the messenger than the message.  In fact, this was a multiracial, multiethnic cast. The message of love, selflessness, fellowship and eschewing material well-being is universal, so why not have a multicultural cast embody that?  There is no better way to show the universality of these themes.

There is not much to directing this show, the staging is space, and so there’s not many elaborate set pieces to move into place.  The songs aren’t elaborately staged either, but everything goes off without a hitch.

Jesus Christ Superstar:  Can a Legend walk on water?  Almost.

 

 

the tick

Episode 1: Pilot

Arthur Everett  (Kyle Catlett, Griffin Newman) is obsessed with the arch villain, The Terror. (Jackie Earle Haley) The terror was responsible for the death of Arthur’s dad. (Richie Moriarty) And now, heavily medicated, Arthur tracks down the Terror’s henchmen to an abandoned warehouse.  But the police mistakenly arrest Arthur, and threaten to lock him up.  All this time, Arthur has been seeing a large man in a blue Tick costume, and he wants Arthur to join him as his sidekick, and find and stop the Terror.  Arthur is just trying to stay out of jail, and he’s not even sure if The Tick (Peter Serafinowicz ) is real. Arthur just wants to get out of jail.

I liked this episode.  The story was darker than I remember the animated series ever being, Arthur was a lot more obsessive than I remember but the Tick is really funny, and that saves the episode.  Peter Serafinowicz really seems to understand the nature of the Tick the satirical catchphrases flow out of his mouth like a waterfall.  Griffin Newman does a good job as the slightly unstable Arthur, the unwilling sidekick. Valorie Curry is pleasant as Arthur’s sister, Dot.

Episode 2:  Where Is My Mind

The Tick has a battle with Ms. Lint (Yara Martinez) but Arthur still thinks that The Tick may be a figment of his imagination, until his sister, Dot (Valorie Curry) sees The Tick too.  Arthur is still ready to give his costume to Ms. Lint and her henchmen, until the police come to arrest him, then what happens?  Why does the Tick disappear when Arthur needs him most?

This was not a great episode.  It’s full of exposition and backstory, rather than moving the plot forward, some new characters were introduced, like Rameses the IV, but not much more than that. I’d hate to think of this as filler, so early in the season, but that’s what it seems like.

Episode 3: Secret/Identity

Arthur wants to give up the sidekick business and return to his cozy accounting job after being hunted down by Overkill (Scott Speizer) a former government assassin.  But Arthur is still haunted by visions of The Terror and pursued by Ms. Lint.  The Tick also wants Arthur to rejoin him as his sidekick, as he is having some memory lapses.  What does Arthur do?

This is a good episode, Overkill adds a new wrinkle to the storyline, the established characters are interesting, the dialogue is interesting and funny, and there’s a bit of a cliffhanger at the end.

Episode 4:  Party Crashers

Arthur goes to his stepfather Walter’s (Francois Chau) 60th birthday.  Ms. Lint has trouble activating the suit she stole from Arthur, so she shows up at the party.  And, of course the Tick shows up, and Walter likes the Tick.  Lint gives the suit to Arthur, does he activate it?  Overkill is still lurking, whose side is he on?  Who is a V-L-M?

I like this episode because even the tangential characters are making me laugh now, and that’s always a good sign.

Episode 5:  Fear of Flying

Arthur tries to fly in his suit, but doesn’t know how to land.  He is being pursued by the Tick, who is riding with Dot.  Also chasing Arthur is Overkill and Rameses IV.  (Michael Cerveris)  Why do they want the suit?  Does Arthur land safely?

The viewer finally finds out who Ramses IV is, and why Overkill wants the suit, and there’s a surprise ending to this episode involving Ms. Lint. What I like about this episode is that the laughs aren’t coming from only The Tick but all the characters.  And the characters’ roles are coming more sharply into focus.

Episode 6:  Rising

The Tick and Arthur are on the trail of The Terror, with Ramses IV in tow.  In a bid to escape Ramses fires a missile at a city bus, forcing the Tick and Arthur to save the passengers.  Ms. Lint takes the advice of an old cohort.  After savoring their victory in saving the passengers, Arthur is kidnapped, but by whom?

I like this episode because it builds on the plot, further develops the characters, and keeps the laughs coming.  It also ends on a cliffhanger, which makes the viewer want to see the next episode.

Episode 7: Tale From The Crypt

Arthur knows who kidnapped him, and he has company, Dr. Karamozof (John PInkus) has also been kidnapped.  The Tick is coming to rescue him with the help of Dot, Overkill, and Dangerboat.

The episode shows that the show is just hitting its stride, very funny, laugh out loud funny, and the plot is coming together too.

Episode 8:  After Midnight

Arthur escapes his kidnapping and wants Overkill to track down Midnight.  Midnight and Overkill don’t get along.  Overkill’s true identity is revealed, who is he?

The dialogue between Midnight and Overkill is funny, and the plot is really starting to gel.

Episode 9: My Dinner With Android

Arthur and the Tick try to find Dr. Karamazov before Sonja, (Jaqueline Antaramian) a diplomat from his country and her sidekick, an android named Bakkup (Dan Castiglione) The Tick, who’s having an identity crisis, thinks that Backkup is his doppelganger.

The show continues to be funny, and the viewers are getting to learn a little more about the characters, and the plot is continuing to take shape.  It’s a very well-constructed, well-written show.

 

Episode 10: Risky Bismuth

Superian is feeling ill, and Dr. Karamazov knows why, he developed a chemical compound called Bismuth that has a deleterious effect on Superian, and there’s more to the plan, that includes the VLM.  Can the Tick and Arthur stop the plan? Dot and Overkill take on Ms. Lint, how does that turn out?

There was more exposition than jokes in this episode, but that’s ok it was still funny.

Episode 11:  The Beginning of The End

Dr. Karamazov  has come up with a way to counteract the Bismuth, now The Tick and Arthur are on their way to confront The VLM.  Meanwhile, Ms. Lint is still torturing Overkill and he seems to be enjoying it.  Can Dot make Lint stop?  Does Overkill want her to stop?

The bi-play between Lint and Overkill is funny.  The dialogue between Arthur and his stepfather is funny.

Episode 12:  The End of The Beginning

Arthur confronts the VLM with Dr. Karamazov’s new formula, what happens?   The Tick confronts the man who started it all, how does that confrontation turn out?

I like the way this show ended, Arthur got his confrontation, the Tick got his, and they both got to retain their low-key hero status.

 

The Tick is an outstanding show.  This iteration of The Tick is darker than the cartoon series, while maintaining its campy sense of humor. Think of a mashup of The Dark Knight It is consistently funny, while keeping the plotline going.  Most of the characters are funny, and interesting.  The Tick has an identity crisis all throughout, Arthur is a reluctant hero, Dot is a badass, with a day job that she hates Overkill is a heartbroken anti-hero.  Superion is a Superman  ripoff, I wanted more from this character.  Ms. Lint is evil, and loving it.

Amazon has ordered a season 2 of The Tick, and I am happy about that.  Very few shows make me laugh as much as the Tick did, I’m unhappy that Amazon split twelve episodes into two seasons, and made viewers wait for months to find out what happened.  BEZOS!!!! (See Star Trek Wrath of Khan for reference)

 

marvelous mrs maisel

Episode 1: Pilot

Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) has a dream life in the 60’s, she’s married to the love of her life Joel (Michael Zegan) and has two kids.  Joel is a businessman who dreams of being a standup comic, but when he bombs in a comedy club, Midge’s dream life turns into a nightmare.  Joel tells Midge he’s leaving her and having an affair with his secretary, Penny Pann. (Holly Curran)  Drunk and heartbroken, Midge stumbles onto the standup stage, and vents about her cheating husband, and broken marriage.  How does her performance go?

This show starts off slowly with Joel leaving Midge, but the episode gets much funnier after Joel leaves and Midge tries out her standup routine.  The writers seem to emphasize Midge’s Jewishness, I don’t know if they’re trying to be authentic or stereotypical. The acting is good, Rachel Broshnahan stands out, she handles both the comedic aspects and the serious aspects of the part well. Tony Shalhoub, who is usually very funny, overdoes the accent a bit,as Midge’s father.  Alex Borstein from Family Guy is also very funny.

Episode 2: Ya Shivu v Bolshom Dome Na Kholme

Midge is trying to get used to her new life.  Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein) is trying to convince her that she should do stand-up, but Midge is convinced that it is a one time thing. Joel’s father, Moishe (Kevin Pollack) and mother Shirley (Caroline Aaron) are upset about their son’s separation from Midge.  They pressure Midge and Joel to get together for dinner.  Midge and Joel get together, how does the dinner go?

This show is funny, and the laughs come in unexpected places .  Kevin Pollack overdoes Moishe a little but the interplay between Pollack and Tony Shalhoub is funny, the parents on the whole are very funny.  But I hope the writers quit the redundancy of Midge getting angry, and then doing what she does best.  It’s like watching the Incredible Hulk and waiting for David Banner to get angry.  It’s getting to be a tied plot device.  Alex Borstein is funny again, and Rachel Broshnahan is very talented.  Not everyone can show all the sides of a character like she has already done.

Episode3:  Because You Left

Midge goes to jail again, and is bailed out by Lenny Bruce. (Luke Kirby)  Midge also gets a lawyer, because she might need one in the future.  Abe and Moishe hatch a plan, and Joel asks Midge a question,  what is her response?

This episode is not as funny as the first two, and that makes me mad, I sense a dramedy coming and that would ruin a perfectly good show. Rachel Broshnahan does one good stand-up routine,  but she’s like some kind of 50’s rebel, hanging out with musicians, smoking dope, what’s next reciting beat poetry? I hope it doesn’t turn into a cliché.

 

Episode 4:  The Disappointment of The Dionne Quintuplets

Midge moves out of her apartment, and moves in with her parents.  Joel moves out of Archie’s (Joel Johnstone) apartment, and moves into his own place.  When  Midge drops Ethan (Matteo Pacale)  off with Joel, she gets a few surprises.  Susie takes Midge to a few clubs to give her a few tips, but when she comes home late, Midge remembers what living with her parents was like.

I don’t want to say this was filler, because it was funny, but it didn’t have the hallmark of the first three episodes, but it did have something that I didn’t like, name dropping, and when I realize how pathetic 50’s stand-up comedy was, the writers really didn’t need to name drop all that much.  Midge talks about changing her name and that leads me to think that this show is based on someone real, and that’s only one person I can think of.  Good performances by Rachel Broshnahan, Alex Borstein, and Marin Hinkle as Midge’s mother.

Episode 5: Doink

Midge goes to work behind the makeup counter at B.Altman’s.  She also bombs for the first time at the club, and hires a comedy writer named Herb Smith (Wallace Shawn) to sharpen her act. Joel takes Penny out to dinner to meet his parents.  How does that go?

This is an interesting episode, because Midge succeeds at something and then fails at something badly, and her failure droves her to do something impulsive.  Joel is not doing any better trying to impress his parents with Penny Pan.  Wallace Shawn is funny as the well-meaning but not funny comedy writer.

Episode 6:  Miss X At The Gaslight

Midge hones her act at B.Altman parties, and she may have a comedy partner, named Randall. (Nate Cordray)  Susie doesn’t lie any of it, the parties, the partner.  Does she do anything about it?  Abe gets a job offer at Bell Labs, and the family goes out to celebrate and unexpectedly runs into someone at the restaurant.

This was a pretty funny episode, but there was some unnecessary drama, and some unnecessary characters introduced in this episode.

Episode 7:  Put That on Your Plate

Abe brings home a colleague.  Joel is in line for a promotion.  Midge has a “tight ten minute set” and she’s set to open for Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch) the biggest comedienne in New York.  Sophie gives Midge some advice.  Does she follow the advice?

This is an interesting episode because the women in this episode strike out against the conventional wisdom of the 1950’s.  First Midge’s mom, and then Midge react to external situations not of their own making.

 

Episode 8:Thank You and Good Night

Midge and Joel talk about a divorce, but do their actions suggest something else?  Midge gets blackballed by a powerful   agent.  Midge and Penny fight at B. Altman’s. Joel blows his shot at a business proposal. Midge gets another shot at stand-up, how does she do?

I didn’t like this episode, everything the writers set in motion about women taking charge of their life is suddenly and magically forgotten in this episode, suddenly Joel is calling the shots, and it’s up to Joel whether or not his wife is suitable.  And when everything is pointing to Midge never doing stand-up, suddenly someone appears as a deus ex machina, and her comedy career is back on track.

Season 1 Summary:

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a very funny show that’s very Jewish.  I don’t know if it’s authentically Jewish, or stereotypically Jewish, but sometimes it seems to cross the line between authentically Jewish and stereotypically Jewish more than once. Are people laughing with Jews, or at Jews?  That’s the fundamental dilemma of this series.

The Gentile characters aren’t that well-written either, one is Penny Pan, who is a homewrecker, a dim-wit, and doesn’t have any friends to speak of.  I’m not sure that Joel even likes her.   The other Gentile character is Astrid, Midge’s sister-in-law, who’s converting to Judaism,  so she aspires to be more Jewish than her Jewish husband.

This is also supposed to be a female empowerment show, a girl power type show that proves even in the fifties, women could make it if they fought hard enough.  It is that show for the most part, but the final episode is really disappointing in that respect.  All the power that Midge built with her comedy, and living alone is somehow lost in that last episode.  The writers cede Midge’s power back to the men in her life in the last episode and that’s disappointing.  Separately, the economic fall that Midge encounters is not as precipitous as it should have been, but Midge just moved in with her parents.

I also didn’t like the name dropping of comedians on the show.  Lenny Bruce is on the show as a character, the writers mention Red Skelton, and Redd Foxx, and Buddy Hackett, and comedians that I generally didn’t think were that funny.  Redd Foxx is funny, Red Skelton, Buddy Hackett, not so much, and the way they use Lenny Bruce to advance certain storylines is a cop out.

All this criticism might lead you to believe that I didn’t like the show, but I actually did like the show quite a bit.  I liked it primarily because of two actors.  Rachel Broshnahan is very talented, she handles the serious and the comedic aspects of the show very well.  She does overplay the Jewishness a little but it’s a good role for her and she plays it well.  Alex Borstein is also very funny, uproariously funny at times, very cynical, very New York street smart, nothing phases her, she wants to bond with Midge, but yet she doesn’t want  to open herself up to ridicule.  It’s a different role than her Family Guy role, and she also handles the role well. Tony Shaloub overplays the Jewish dad role, but modulates a bit later on. Kevin Pollack, who is Jewish, wildly overplays the Jewishness of his character.  I also like Marin Hinkle as Rose, Midge’s mom.  I thought she did a nice job understating her role, and her scenes with the tea-leaf reader are hilarious.

I’m wondering how the show will evolve from here, and where these  characters will go in seasons to come.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel:  a-Maise-ing.

 

 

Stranger Things Season 2:

Posted: November 10, 2017 in horror, TV
Tags:

strangerthings 2

Chapter 1:  Madmax

Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) is still having visions of the Upside Down, and he’s seeing a doctor, Dr. Owens (Raul Reiser) to talk about it. Sheriff Hopper (David Harbour) is still worried about Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) but Joyce is dating Bob. (Sean Astin)   Will’s brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) is still carrying a torch for Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) but she’s still dating Steve Harrrigan, (Joe Keely) and mourning Barb. Dustin Galen Materazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) are smitten over the new girl in school, Max, (Sadie Sink  Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) has been searching for Eleven Millie Bobbie Brown) for a year with his walkie talkie, but can’t find her.  Where is she?

Most if not all of the characters are back from Season 1, and I find the show strangely addictive because I want to watch episode two, I didn’t think that the show or the characters were that memorable, but I guess they were.  I also want to see how the new characters fit in to the show as a whole. One of the new storylines widens the scope of the story to beyond Hawkins, Indiana.

Chapter 2: Trick Or Treat You Freak

It’s Halloween 1984, and Mike, Will, Dustin and Lucas dress up as the Ghostbusters, and no one else is dressed up.  Dustin and Lucas ask Max to go trick or treating with them, and she doesn’t want to, until Billy (Dacre Montgomery) almost run the boys over with his Camaro.  Jonathan leaves Will with his friends to go to a teen party where Nancy and Steve are, and things do not go as planned for Nancy or Steve.  Mike is mad that Max is along, and takes Will home after Will has another vision, what is it a vison of?  Eleven is trying to find Mike psychically, but not having any luck. Dustin finds something in his trashcan, what is it?

This is another character driven episode, and the characters are getting more interesting.  There’s also some genuine scares in this episode, as the Duffer brothers turn up the suspense about what’s creeping in the darkness in Indiana.

Chapter 3:  The Pollywog:

Dustin gets a new pet.  Will gets a ride to school from Bob and some advice on how to face his fears. Eleven ventures out to try to meet Mike. Sheriff Hooper tries to get Dr. Owens that something strange isn’t coming from the lab, and destroying local pumpkin crops.  Joyce gets a clue about what’s bothering Will after watching a videotape of Halloween.  Nancy and Jonathan plan to meet with Barb’s mother.

Didn’t Justin see Gremlins?  Don’t feed the pets. The storylines are  getting more and more interesting and the relationships between Max, the boys and Eleven is also getting interesting. The suspense surrounding what Will sees is actually more scary than what he actually sees.  And each show seems to have a cliffhanger, which makes the viewer want to see the next episode.

 

Chapter 4: Will The Wise

Will undergoes physical and emotional changes after his latest vision of the Upside Down. Mike thnks Will has “true vision” but does he, and does that help the party figure out what’s going on in the Upside Down? Dustin’s new pet shows its true colors.  Nancy and Jonathan embark on a plan that goes beyond telling Barb’s mom the truth about Barb’s death.  Mike bans Max from their party.  Eleven throws a tantrum.  Sheriff Hopper has a revelation.

Will’s transformation is more interesting than what he’s actually seen in the Upside Down.  There’s still some mystery about what Jonathan and Nancy are doing, There’s a lot of mystery about Max and Billy.  Who are they really?  I have my theory, let’s see if it pans out.  There is also a mystery about what’s killing the pumpkins.  So there’s lots of intriguing things going on, but I don’t like what the writers have done to Eleven, she’s a petulant child who cries a lot.  The writers have taken the worst stereotypes for girls and combined them all into one girl.  They’ve also made Dustin extremely dumb, and he’s the one who knows the most about alternate dimensions, so it doesn’t make sense that he would be the gullible one.

Chapter 5: Dig Dug

Hopper gets in way over his head.  Nancy and Jonathan meet someone outside Hawkins to help them with their plan.  Eleven tries to meet someone from her past.  Joyce tries to find Hopper with help from Will and Mike.  Lucas tries to make up with Max.  Dustin forms an unlikely partnership with Steve.

I like that Joyce is actually getting the kids involved in looking for Hopper.  I don’t like the Eleven storyline at all, more crying and emotional upheaval.  I don’t think the Jonathan/Nancy storyline is going anywhere, It’s just an episode extender.  I don’t know where the Max/Lucas story is going, but I also have a theory on that, related to my other Max and Billy theory.

Chapter 6:  The Spy

Will is taken to the hospital.  He says his skin is burning, but there are no burn marks on his body.  Is it his psychic connection that’s making him feel things no one else is feeling? Steve and Dustin go hunting for Dustin’s pet. Jonathan and Nancy get sidetracked on their road trip.  Max and Lucas join Steve and Dustin in their search.

In an episode, Stranger Things has turned into a conventional horror flick.  A little teen and pre-teen romance to divert people’s attention, but it’s basically a garden variety horror flick.   The writers inexplicably have taken the best elements from last year, Eleven, and the government conspiracy, and put them on the shelf.

Chapter 7: The Lost Sister

Visions take Eleven to Chicago in search of someone else from Hawkins Lab.

Having done the horror genre, the writers try the revenge fantasy genre, and it lands with a thud. Even the writers realize this is a waste of time.  This is a total filler episode.  It tries to squeeze in a twist, but no one can tell if the twist is real or not. This is disappointing.  A show that had so much promise two episodes ago, is now circling the drain.  The mystery character was better as a mystery.  The bulk of the acting is done by Millie Bobbie Brown and another young actress.  Bad idea.

Chapter 8:  The Mind Flayer

Everyone is trapped in Hawkins Lab with the mire and more creatures that look like Dustin’s pet.  Meanwhile, Will is suffering as his visions manifest inside him.

I think the problem with these final episodes is that the writers revealed things too quickly, and now they are employing a deus ex machina ending because everyone else is helpless to stop the situation from spiraling out of control. This is pretty unimaginative writing.

Chapter 9:  The Gate

Eleven has to close the portal to the Upside Down before what is lurking there comes to the surface, there is something that has to happen first.  Will she be able to close the portal in time?

The ending is predictable, and again relies on Eleven as the deus ex machina to get the rest of Hawkins Indiana out of deep doo doo.

The show on the whole was disappointing on the whole, partly because it was so engaging and good for the first half of season 2 and then episode 6 happened and the bottom fell out.  It reminded me of so many movies and shows that it stopped being original.  There are parts that feel like Gremlins , Pacific Rim, Poltergiest, Jurassic Park, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek The Next Generation, The Host, and many others.  The writers changed the most important elements of the show, Eleven and the government conspiracy, change those two things and the show is just like any other show.

The teen characters were more engaging this time around.  I liked Jonathan and Nancy, the writers even made Steve more sympathetic, and give him a new rival, Billy.  Billy seems to have a giant chip on his shoulder and I’m not really sure why.  I like Maxine, but I don’t like what the writers did to Eleven/Jane, I liked season 1 Eleven much more.  The writers seemed to make Dustin a lot dumber than season 1, and Mike was given a smaller role, and Will was given a bigger role this season, that was a mistake.

I also think the writers were too quick to put these characters in romantic situations. Mike was pining for Eleven in many episodes, Dustin and Lucas became romantic rivals, and there’s already a love triangle between Steve, Nancy and Jonathan.  These budding romances are fillers for when the writers don’t have enough horror content.

Winona Rider and David Harbour were excellent.  Ryder played worried mom Joyce Byers to a tee, but she was also figuring things out, and that was a new dimension.  David Harbor plays Chief Hopper very well, he’s trying to balance the strange things going on, with an added responsibility.  Sean Astin was a fun character a nerdy guy who the kids really don’t like, who evolves later on. Paul Reiser was miscast, I don’t know if he was a hero, a villain, or comedy relief, he certainly didn’t have the intensity of Matthew Modine. Millie Bobby Brown was not as good this year as last,  that had a lot to do with the writing of her character. Dacre Montgomery plays Billy as a little bit of a psycho, and I really don’t  know why he was written the way he was. I like Sadie Sink, she had a good mix of comedy and drama in her role, and she played both well.

The plot was intriguing until episode six, in my opinion, and then it just became too derivative of other movies and shows and became a conventional horror show with monsters.  And of course there is going to be a season three, because portals to other dimensions have a habit of opening, just when everyone thinks everything is fine.  Besides Stranger Things is making a lot of money for Netflix.

Did I like Season 2 as much as Season One, in a word, no.  I thought Season two limped to the finish with a predictable and conventional ending.  Keeping Eleven apart from the party really hurt the second season. Dr. Owens is much less menacing than Dr. Bremmer and that hurts the second season as well.  Justice for Barb the hot new internet hashtag, was tacked on like an afterthought. Mad Max was supposed to be this take no prisoners girl from California, but the character turned out to be much less than meets the eye.  Let’s hope for better in season 3.

Stranger Things 2: After a good start, it goes to the demi-dogs.