The Great Hannibal Lecter Deep Dive

Do you ever get really excited about a deep dive, go full-boat into it and then wash out? Well, that’s kind of what happened last year when I found myself minorly obsessed with Hannibal Lecter and his exploits throughout television, film and, of course, the written word. I started watching the series, which made me read the books, while still watching the show (a very unique and interesting experience) and then the movies, but I petered out after seeing my third take on the Red Dragon story. But, I still wanted to get these thoughts out there, so here’s most of the original post I started sometime last spring.

For years, I’d been hearing great things about NBC’s three season-long series Hannibal based on Thomas Harris’ character made most famous in The Silence Of The Lambs. It ran from 2013-2015 with Mads Mikkleson starring as the title character and Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, a pure empath who FBI Behavioral Sciences head Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) brought back in from his teaching gig in an effort to help catch a serial killer. I decided to dive right into the series thanks to its presence on Amazon Prime Video and now have a new favorite show! Continue reading The Great Hannibal Lecter Deep Dive

Parks & Recreation Is Awesome

parks and recreation castI sure have fallen for Parks and Recreation. This is a show that I went from writing off to enjoying to abandoning to now mainlining on Netflix. Thanks to a bad start that went way too The Office, my wife and I weren’t fans of the first few episodes. Eventually we came back around and watched chunks of various early seasons but fell off thanks to the many time slot changes and other shows popping up we were more into. Now, I can’t think of a better show on television (or that was on TV).

I know a lot of people call this the Golden Age of TV because shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad and True Detective are telling these amazing, complex, dark stories, but the shows that I continue to be drawn to all revolve around friendship. I realized not long ago that, instead of watching mean teenagers get bumped off in horror films or henchmen get face-kicked in action films, comedies make me feel better when I’m down. Sure the laughs in Parks & Rec, but I can’t think of a show that’s a better example of what real, honest human relationships should and can be like than this one.

As a work-from-home dad who spends the majority of his time behind a keyboard partially below ground whose friends all have regular jobs in other parts of the state and country (who is also super-shy, but thrives on human interaction), it can be difficult for me being so isolated. I love my wife and kids and my folks moved here not long ago which was an amazing sacrifice on their part, but you start to miss your friends and wonder if you still even have connections to those people when you mostly exist to them as a person on an email chain.

Recently, I had the chance to be a good friend and was helped out by another. A friend-since-high school’s brother passed away a few weeks ago and I drove to Ohio to be there at the wake and the funeral before coming right back home. It was an important thing for me to do because being friends isn’t just hanging out, drinking beer and telling old stories, it’s being there for the hard times as well. Thanks to the support of my wife and parents, I was able to make this happen and I’m glad I did. Another longtime friend and his wife were nice enough to let me stay on their couch the one night I was in town, so the circle kept on going. This past weekend, another set of good friends came up for a visit. I can’t even remember the last time just the four of us hung out. It was a great recharge for my system.

Anyway, this is all a long-winded way of saying that friendship has been on my mind a lot lately and Parks & Rec exemplifies how I feel about friendship in all of it’s many forms. First of all you’ve got Amy Poehler’s Leslie who is such an amazing, positive person that she actually makes everyone around her better. Her peers and even superiors see this and do their best to help her in any way they can. They don’t just vote for her when she runs for city counsel, they run her campaign. You really get to see this intense friendship these people have formed in the Season 5 episode “Ben’s Parents” when just about everyone from the office threatens Ben (Adam Scott) harm if he hurts Leslie.

But, it’s not just that. Like I said above, being a friend involves wading into the bad times with them, but also moving way outside of your comfort zone to help them. The loner April (Aubrey Plaza) participates in government not just because Leslie and other characters believe in her, but because she knows they would help her out. Ron, the grizzled anarchist/libertarian often times breaks his rule of staying out of peoples’ business because he knows that no one has a bigger hear than Leslie. Or Tom (Aziz Ansari). Or Andy. And, at the same time, he’s grown a bond with April thanks to their shared interest in not liking most people. We also get to see the real talks that people have when they’re this close. Anne (Rashida Jones) might not have it together as much as Leslie does, but she is often the voice of reason when the overly enthusiastic government employ starts to lose her way.

The romantic relationships are also some of the best around. They’re real and complicated and feel earned even though you don’t necessarily spend entire seasons wondering if the people will get together or not. I worried that Andy (Chris Pratt) and April might be rushing into things too quickly when they got married, but the work so well together, it’s amazing! And how great is it watching Ben and Leslie? Sure there was some of that will-they-won’t-they stuff, but most of it felt real and honest instead of “Uh oh, Ross came back from Europe with a girlfriend just as Rachel realized she loved him!” (I love Friends, but boy did that relationship tumble around like a drunken gymnast.)

Better yet, those relationships have grown and changed over the seasons (I’m towards the beginning of five as I write this). If you saw a first season episode with April being snotty and then a fourth season one of her being nice to Chris (Rob Lowe), you might think the character had been radically altered for some reason, but watching the whole thing shows you all the good things that she’s done that have changed her in various ways. Some people balk at the idea of changing. They think that however they are is the way they are and that’s that, but my parents instilled in me pretty early on that people go through life and a lot of different things can happen that result in changes. Basically, nobody’s perfect, but there are ways to better yourself and P&R shows that without being preachy or even that obvious about it.

All of this might sound like I’m talking about a serious show, but it’s also one of the funniest around. How can you not like Ron? Or cringe-laugh at all of Jerry’s nonsense. Or just love (and pity) Tom at the same time? I laugh so loud at some Andy-related incidents that I worry I might wake the kids up.

And a lot of those laughs come from the show’s own sense of continuity and history. I’ve always been drawn to narratives that give readers or viewers or listeners little easter eggs. The world of Pawnee Indiana is filled with insane sugar companies, wildly literal newcasters, the oddest assortment of residents this side of Twin Peaks and people who adore a tiny horse simply for existing. These more out-there elements get balanced so well with the heart-based ones that you almost don’t notice. The little nods here and there to previous storylines and episodes probably would have gone unnoticed by me were I watching this series when it was on, but I’m catching and appreciating a lot of them this time around.

All in all, I’ve had an amazing time re-watching this show and can’t wait to see how it ends. I’ve seen that the last season isn’t on Netflix Instant yet, so I just added them to my disc queue and will pop them up top when the time comes.

Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

hellblazerThis has been a big month for comic-based TV. In addition to the debut of ABC’s S.H.I.E.L.D. and news of a Gotham series at Fox, NBC is working on a Constantine show based on Vertigo and DC’s Hellblazer comics. John Constantine’s one of the most interesting and dark characters in comics, but how will that translate to TV? [via Deadline]hunger-games-catching-fire-jennifer-lawrence

If you’re interested in checking out a ton of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire pics, you’re in luck. [via Collider]

Sideshow‘s Battle Damaged Terminator 2 statue is all kinds of awesome. Half-destroyed Arnold Schwarzenegger has never looked so good! The Sideshow exclusive version even comes with a mini Thumbs Up statue sticking out of the lava!bryce dallas howard terminator salvation

Bryce Dallas Howard (Terminator Salvation) is in talks to star in the fourth Jurassic Park film, now called Jurassic World. Production was postponed so director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow could polish it up with Derek Connolly. The movie’s scheduled for a June 12, 2015 release, so they better get those contracts signed quick. [via Variety]

TNT has an untitled show in the works that’s described as a mix of Bourne Identity and National Treasure. Yes, more of that! [via Deadline]Christoph Waltz inglourious basterds

WB is working on a new Tarzan movie directed by David Yates (Harry Potter & The Deathly Hollows) starring Alexander Skarsgard as the title character. He’ll be facing off against Inglourious Basterds bad guy Christoph Waltz as the villain. Margot Robbie (Focus) and Emma Stone have been mentioned to play Jane, but nothing’s finalized yet. [via Varietymichael b jordan chronicle

Fruitvale Station star Michael B. Jordan is being looked at to star in Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day 2. No offers have been made or deals signed, but that’s the word right now. [via TheWrap]the wolverine

Finally, feast your eyes on this seriously accurate Hugh Jackman action figure based on his appearance in The Wolverine. [via Hot Toys]

BULLET POINTS: HOT ROUNDS OF INFORMATION GOODNESS

teenage mutant ninja turtles TMNTThe Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flick from director Jonathan Liebesman got pushed back to August 8, 2014. This movie’s getting moved around more than the Turtle Van on patrol. Is there any hope it will be good? [via THR]

Lone Ranger 1

Word on the street is that Disney’s so pissed about the The Lone Ranger not making it’s money back yet that they’re restructuring their deal with producer Jerry Bruckheimer. In the past, his contract said that he had final cut, but that might not be the case anymore with Pirates Of The Caribbean 5. [TheWrap]

CW’s DC Comics-based Arrow is recruiting The Killing actress Bex Taylor-Klaus to play a  character called Sin. In the comics, Sin is a girl trained for years to replace super-assassin Lady Shiva who gets adopted by Black Canary. [via THR]

Speaking of Greg Berlanti-created shows, the futuristic prison series Paradise got snatched up by NBC. Berlanti’s teaming up with Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) to make the Prison Break-like show set in a version of Las Vegas that’s been converted into a giant prison. [via Deadline]

seventh son jeff bridges

Divorces can be rough, especially when kids are involved. When Legendary split from Warners earlier this summer, some of the films the former financed were left without distribution. That was the case with Sergei Bodrov’s The Seventh Son, but don’t worry, the Jeff Bridges film will now be distributed by Legendary’s new partner Universal. [via TheWrap]

Warner Bros. snatched up a pitch by Mark L. Smith (Vacancy) called Herald about a Viking king that Leonardo DiCaprio may or may not play. [via Deadline]

james cameron poster blue lady

James Cameron revealed to Visionaries that he was thinking of blue ladies well before he came up with the idea for Avatar. [via Movies.com]

hercules set

Dig this crazy set from Brett Ratner’s Hercules. [via Dwayne Johnson’s Twitter]

Finally, this video reenacts the Peter/Chicken fight from Family Guy as performed by stuntwomen  Jessie Graff and Tree O’Toole. [via Topless Robot]

Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

vin-diesel-riddick

TheWrap reports that Vin Diesel has signed on to star in the sci-fi, alien-fighting thriller Soldiers Of The Sun at Universal. Written by Arash Amel (Erased, I Am Legend 2), the flick finds Diesel and a group of soldiers in a post-apocalyptic world trying to find a city of gold.

Ray-Liotta-and-Michael-Shannon-in-The-Iceman-2013-Movie-Image

World War Z writer Matthew Michael Carnahan scored Ray Liotta and Linda Emond to play the parents in his Godfather-inspired modern day mob flick Violent Talent, Deadline reports. Carnahan wrote the script and will also direct.

crossbones john malkovich

Deadline broke news that Hard Candy and 30 Days Of Night director David Slade will direct the first episode of NBC’s pirate series Crossobones. The show was created by Luther‘s Neil Cross and stars John Malkovich.

teryl-rothery

The CW’s Arrow will be adding a new character based on the world of DC Comics played by Teryl Rothery (Caprica, Hellcats). SpoilerTV says she’ll portray Jean Lorring, a lawyer who defends Moira Queen for the crimes she confessed at the end of the first season. In the comics, Lorring was married to the Atom and eventually went insane.

Variety says that Switched At Birth‘s Cassi Thompson is replacing Disney star Ashley Tisdale as Nic Cage’s daughter in the big budget version of Left Behind currently in the works.

warrior-joel-edgerton

Warrior star Joel Edgerton is looking to play Ramses in Ridley Scott’s Exodus against Christian Bale’s Moses, Deadline reports. This sounds like a more serious film, but if these guys don’t throw down at some point, it’s everyone’s loss.

960x530

Sullivan Stapleton, the star of 300: Rise Of An Empire, signed on for Krive Stenders’ Australian thriller Kill Me Three Times, a project that’s been in the works for a while now. [via Deadline]

Finally, if you’re interested in checking out the motion comic prequel to the upcoming Mad Max game,  just check out the videos above and below. The game hits next year, but  what the heck is the deal with Mad Max: Fury Road?

Last Night’s Shows, Today: The Office, Parks & Rec Season Premieres

Earlier this week I took a few minutes and actually created a schedule of shows we want to watch this TV season. Yes, that’s lame, I know this, but I also have a bad memory and wasn’t sure when a lot of the new shows were on. For the most part, we’re well set without many new shows clashing with old faves. The only big problem area is that two returning shows that I really, really dug, Happy Endings and New Girl are on at the same exact time. Someone needs to fix that. Anyway, I realized as I have for the past few seasons that I’m most looking forward to watching existing shows over new ones.

Last night’s a great example of this as the only two shows we really watched were The Office and Parks & Rec on NBC (at 9:00 and 9:30 PM respectively). As you probably know by this point — at least I do because I’ve been writing about it all summer for Spinoff Online — this will be the very last season of the show. The series creator Greg Daniels, who went on to do Parks & Rec has come back to end it and he says they’re going to wrap things up well. The first few minutes of the series showed a lot of this, showing Kelly and Ryan’s exit from the show and FINALLY some of the documentary behind the scenes stuff (which I’ve been wondering about since the series began). After all that, we got to see Andy return from an outward bound experience that had him gain confidence and get a little further away from the Michael Scott mold he filled so clearly last season. His stuff with Nellie was really fantastic.

Overall, I really liked this episode. It definitely feels like they’ve got their feet back under them now that there’s a real focus to the show with its upcoming finale. While I liked the past few seasons, it deed feel like they maybe didn’t have the same focus as the old days, even with larger, overarching stories going on. I’m actually really excited to see how these characters end up and finally find out why they’ve been filmed for so long. I’m not mourning the end of the series, I’m anxiously awaiting the end to see how it all wraps up as I love a good ending.

Ten minutes into watching the first episode of the fifth season of Parks & Rec, I turned to my wife and said, “That part before the theme song was better than the first season put together.” When this show first premiered I was bored to tears, but after the first, shorter season, it really came into its own and has rocked my world since. It’s rare that I give a show a second chance after being disappointed by the first season, but P&R benefited from not really having anything opposite it that I wanted to watch. I’m glad for that now, because this is easily up there on my favorite shows and unlike a lot of other faves, it seems to be getting better as it ages instead of feeling stale or like a rehash.

The first ep kicked off with Leslie and Andy visiting April and Wyatt who are working in DC. Leslie, who won a seat on Pawnee’s city council at the end of last season, finds herself dealing with feelings of insignificance and disappointment which are both real and funny, a tough mix to nail. I wasn’t as involved in the second story which saw Ron taking charge of the department appreciation picnic and focusing solely on the meat portion of the BBQ. There were funny bits for sure, but I think Ron’s character works better when he’s not outwardly being a dick to so many people. It’s funny when it’s Rob Lowe’s Chris because they’re direct opposites, but less interesting when he’s so clearly in the wrong and mistreating the people who work for him. Sure, he learned his lesson, but I think we all saw where they were going about 2 minutes into that story. However, the scene with Ron driving away with the barbecue still attached to his car was worth the price of admission alone. So, all in all, a somewhat uneven episode, but I still had a ton of fun and am jazzed to see where the season goes.

What We’re Watching: Monday & Tuesday

I find myself with a strange feeling this TV season: a lack of interest. Sure, I’ve got favorite shows I like tuning in to, but it feels like I’ve got a lot less of them to look forward to, possibly because Lost is gone. There wasn’t another show in the history of my television watching career that engrossed me as much as that one and got me so excited about an hour of TV. Maybe it’s because most of the new shows aren’t so good. Here’s the break down for the first section of the week as far as regular viewings go.

For all the years I’ve been in New York, I’ve been looking around for a good syndicated block of reruns between 6 and 8 that would stay consistent and, for the most part, I’ve been unsuccessful. That is until recently. VH1 scored Saturday Night Live reruns from the 90s which have been a lot of fun to watch, even when I’m reminded that that was an era when skits tended to run WAY too long. It’s still fun to see a lot of today’s big stars and musical acts on the show both in the cast and as hosts. It’s even more fun to see long forgotten folks like Finese Mitchel and Sysqo perform. That takes care of the 6 to 7 block and then we bounce over to a local station called My9 which runs How I Met Your Mother. The only problem I foresee is that, with only a few season under its belt, I’ll be rewatching these episodes over and over again.

MONDAY

8:00pm – HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS)
I’ve already gone on record with the potential problems I see with HIMYM, but I still enjoy this show better than most of the others I watch on a weekly basis. I’ve grown to really enjoy these characters, but I still think there needs to start being some resolution to the overhanging “mysteries” or else this one could start feeling a little tedious. Like I said though, great cast and still one of my favorite, most looked-forward-to shows.

8:30pm – RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (CBS)
Rules of Engagement is a show we only started watching because it was on right after HIMYM and nothing else was on, but I’ve actually come to enjoy it. Sure, it’s a jokier type of sitcom with lots of jokes being tossed around that aren’t hilarious, but funny enough to get a laugh. I like seeing Patrick Warburton and David Spade doing their things, plus I find the dumb neighbor/friend guy oddly charming. I’m in it with this series, though if something more interesting came on I think we’d jump ship in favor of that. 

9:00pm – THE EVENT (NBC)
AS regular readers might remember, I wasn’t really all that into The Event when it premiered. I’m even less so now and barely still pay attention while the missus watches. I think she’s getting pretty sick of it too. I spent way too many episodes wanting to slap Jason Ritter for saying “My girlfriend!” so much that I don’t think we can ever be okay again (at least not on this show). I appreciate that they’re trying to move things along at a faster clip, but I just do not care about any of these people or what’s going on. I have the vaguest interest in what’s happening with these supposed aliens (though my money’s on dimensional or time travelers), but I could really just look it up in Wiki at some future date and feel satisfied. Probably moreso because I wouldn’t be wasting my time watching a lackluster Lost wannabe. 

10:00pm – CASTLE (ABC)
I almost feel bad for not liking Castle more. I really like the cast and the dynamics of the characters, but it just feels so hacky lately. From the wacky set-ups for crimes this season (steampunk AND time travel in one episode?!) to the increasingly formulaic plot, I’m getting worn down. How many times can they run across a suspect who lies so well that they completely buy his story and move on only to come back to him or her later in the episode to realize he or she is really the killer? It’s boring and, personally, I expect more from a show with Nathan Fillion on it. Hopefully this one will pick up because the missus still LOVES it, while I just keep thinking about how much better Bones is and wishing Netflix would send the first disc of last season already so we can start the long road to catching up.

TUESDAY

8:00pm – GLEE (Fox)
This one’s completely because the missus likes the show. She’s a big fan of musicals and show tunes and whatnot, so this is right up her alley, which is unfortunate, because I find it to be one of the most wildly inconsistent, sloppy and increasingly gross shows around. Anyone else see the Rocky Horror episode tonight where the teacher actually considered and planned on dressing up in gold shorts and performing a sexually charged number with one of his students? Sure he practiced with the hot red head teacher, but he was actually planning on jumping in and doing that. He’s just one of the many headache-inducing characters on a show filled with them. I’ve heard the argument made that you’re not supposed to expect anything from Glee but high school drama and musical numbers, but I call bullshit on that. The very basis of ongoing fiction of any kind is based in consistent characterization and this show lacks it for the most part. However, I do love Brittany’s throwaway lines. Those are just solid and sound like they’re being written by someone from 30 Rock.

9:00pm – RAISING HOPE (Fox)
I can’t remember the last time I watched this much Fox programming on a single night, but I find myself really liking Raising Hope. It’s clear the show was created by the brains behind My Name Is Earl as both showcase small town folks without much money doing what they can to get by. Hope revolves around a guy discovering his one night stand turned out to not only be a serial killer on death row, but also pregnant with his child. Now he’s raising the kid with his parents who had him at a really young age (his dad looks about the same age as him at times) and his mom’s grandma played by Cloris Leachman. Hope can be a little too weird and a little too jokey at times, but I think it’s starting to hit its stride. Plus, the Halloween episode featured homemade Batman and Robin costumes, so bonus points for that.

9:3opm – RUNNING WILDE (Fox)
Running Wilde, on the other hand, is not a show I’m enjoying much and I’m starting to get the feeling I’m not the only one as Fox decided to run two episodes of Raising Hope tonight instead of one of each, like usual. I am a huge Arrested Development fan, so I should like this show with its use of Will Arnett, David Cross and that fact that it was co-created by Mitchell Hurwitz, but Wilde suffers from two afflictions. First off, it’s not very easy to jump into. We missed the first episode and had trouble figuring out what the relationship between Arnett and the still-hot Keri Russell was. That’s not a good thing for a new show and something that AD suffered from (I still have trouble describing it to friends who missed out the first time around). The other problem is that it just feels like a rehash of old material. Arnett’s playing GOB from AD, Russell feels like Felicity though I never watched that show, plus the premise is a more exaggerated version of Dharma & Greg without the love. I’ll be curious to see what Fox replaces this show with if it does get the axe.

10:00pm – PARENTHOOD (NBC)
Parenthood continues to be one of the best written, most solid shows on television. I’d honestly put it up there with Mad Men. There’s a lot more in Mad Men considering it’s a period piece, but like that show, the Parenthood creators do an amazing job of juggling a small army of fast talking characters, giving each their moments to shine and great lines. Great writing mixed with a great cast makes for great TV, but for some reason I don’t find myself looking forward to this show on a regular basis. I’m happy when it’s on, but never excited for it. I wonder if that’s because it’s a drama and not an action show. I’ll have to think about that. I’ll be back on Thursday with more shows I’m watching. What are you viewing on Monday and Tuesday?