RECTIFY Comes To AMC

images-3

After Sunday night’s episode of Mad Men, AMC re-premiered the Sundance original series Rectify.

From the producers of Breaking Bad, the show tells the story of Daniel Holden, a prisoner of nineteen years who is released from Death Row when new DNA evidence surfaces that questions his involvement in the rape and murder of a sixteen-year-old girl.

We open on an officer preps Daniel for his release and press conference, just as his family drives into the detention center. The family’s reunion is bittersweet, since Daniel has no idea that his mother has remarried and he now has a stepbrother who has effectively taken over the family tire business.

Daniel, played by Aden Young, is emotionally detached throughout the episode, which contrasts his over-gracious sister, Amantha, played by Abigail Spencer, who you might recall as Miss Farrell, Sally Draper’s teacher and Don Draper’s mistress in Mad Men.

At various points in the episode, Daniel has flashbacks to his time in prison, which might amount to some significance later on in the season, but seem really pointless in this isolated episode.

Another criticism I have for this show is the over-abundance of characters and separate storylines. The audience is introduced to four separate storylines: Holden family, the police force under Deputy Daggett, two convicts in the woods, and Amantha’s phone conversation with Jon, who I presume is her love interest.

Also, Daniel’s younger brother Jared simply an older version of Homeland‘s Chris, in that everything that comes out of his mouth is absurd and no one ever wants him around.

The last thing I took issue with in this pilot was how stupid they made Daniel. I understand that he has been in prisoned for nineteen years, but that is no excuse for not knowing how to work a television or fumble over saying “DVD.” Also, if he has been in jail for the past nineteen years, that pins his initial arrest in the year 1994, yet he has no clue what the film Dazed and Confused is, given that it hit theaters in 1993 – a full year before.

Aside from these minor setbacks, the show’s breathtaking cinematography makes up for the lagging plot. The shots of the Georgia countryside rivals those of AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Also, this is a very drowsing show. Much like HBO’s recently cancelled Enlightened, the director takes advantage of bright lights and the blinding sun to give the effect of just waking up – much like how Daniel is symbolically awaking from his prison nightmare.

The episode ends with a cliffhanger that calls Daniel’s innocence into question.

Overall, while I don’t see this show going past its first season, I look forward to seeing how the Daniel’s case unravels.

Advertisements

MAD MEN Takes on Dr. King’s Assassination

mm_end_frame-0-1280-0-1024

We all knew it was coming. As soon as we learned that this season would be taking place in 1967, I had Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in mind. But I never could have predicted how powerful the episode could be – but last night, I found out.

Within the first fifteen minutes of Sunday night’s episode of Mad Men, Peggy is apartment hunting with Abe (with her money, of course), Bobby is peeling the wallpaper in his room (apparently he’s a character now?), and Don and Megan get all dolled up for the big advertising award ceremony.

As Paul Newman, who comically appears as a speak from SCDP’s tables, is introducing the awards, a man shouts out an almost inaudible jeer, causing the room to go into panic. A fade to the Francis home reveals that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been shot and killed.

Ginsberg, who had been set up on a blind date, sits in a diner when the news breaks, causing the episode’s most powerful moment of two black cooks on the verge of collapsing in the wake of the radio announcement.

If you recall, last episode the writers tried to incorporate Dawn and black culture into the show and it really didn’t work out or seem to make sense. Now it does.

Cinematically, my favorite shot from last night is when Peter and Trudy are on the phone, both of them listening to the same broadcaster unveil the news. She is ardent about the parameter she set around the house after finding out about Peter’s affair. Peter, however, is distraught that he will not be able to see his child.

Conversely, Don wants nothing to do with the kids and thinks that for their safety they should not come in to the city to stay with him for the weekend. However, Betty being Betty insists, so Sally, Bobby, and Gene come to the Big Apple.

Meanwhile, Joan and Peggy both deal with their African American secretaries in very distinct ways. Peggy gives a delayed, but genuine hug to her employee, whereas Joan goes in for the awkward, Voldemort hug.

This episode guest starred William Mapother as Randall Walsh, who plays a trippy insurance tycoon (I think). But besides his crazy rants about Tecumseh and being visited by Dr. King’s spirit, what took me back was that he also played Ethan Rom on Lost! Maybe this is intended to be a crossover episode? It would fit with Lost’s constant time jumps!

In the office, Harry and Pete argue about how their business relates to the Dr. King assassination. Harry is displeased that many of their scheduled ads will not air during the regular primetime shows because of the continuous coverage of the riots that have broken out in the wake of the murder. Pete, who we actually get to agree with for once, puts Harry in his place by reminding him that Dr. King was a man with a wife and four kids. Cooper ultimately breaks up the fight – the writers needed to squeeze him into the episode somehow.

Towards the end of the episode, Don takes Bobby to the movies to see The Planet of the Apes. His son is so fascinated by the movie – which symbolically relates to the Dr. King assassination, in that humans are doing more harm to the world than good – that they stay for a second showing. As they wait for the second feature to start, Bobby questions a black theater attendant as to whether or not he has seen the film. When he says he has not yet, Bobby (the show’s apparent new character) says, “Everyone likes to go to the movies when they’re sad.” Atta boy, Bobby.

Don later reveals to Megan that he had never loved his children the way he thought he was supposed to love them until that moment, giving Don a much more human quality (something he has been lacking this season so far).

Overall, this episode, like the JFK assassination episode, is powerful beyond words. The writers, who suffered a major loss to Homeland at last year’s Golden Globes and Emmy’s, are proving that this is the same show that audiences fell in love with six years ago. And if the acting keeps up, maybe Christina Hendricks or Elizabeth Moss can pull a fast one on Claire Danes. But let’s be honest, John Hamm has no chance – especially with Damien Lewis’ performance in the last season of Homeland and Bryan Cranston’s final season of Breaking Bad scheduled to premiere in July.

MAD MEN Talks About Sex

mm_end_frame-0-1280-0-1024

In last night’s  episode of AMC’s hit drama Mad Men, we got a peek into the sex culture of the late 1960s, while they also tried to make a statement about African American culture.

First, Don and Pete meet up with the executives from Heinz Ketchup, a move that violated their agreement with Ken’s account with Heinz Baked Beans. It was trouble from the start.

Then Joan’s older, but younger looking, sister Kate stopped by the city, expecting a crazy night on the town. Joan helps her pick up a waiter and the three of them take a cab to a club where Joan lets loose for the first time after prostituting herself in pursuit of her partnership.

Meanwhile, Don and Megan are indirectly invited to participate in an orgy of sorts with one of Megan’s superiors on her show. The two respectfully decline, but the sex talk doesn’t stop there.

Megan, who has suddenly become a household name in between seasons, has been asked to do a love scene for her daytime soap opera, but doesn’t think Don will approve – and he doesn’t. However, he comes to realize that he’d be a hypocrite if he were to say no to his wife so he promises to condone her wishes.

In the office, Harry’s secretary Scarlet asks Dawn to punch her out because she needs to get a birthday gift for one of the other secretaries. Dawn agrees, but the next day Joan interrogates both of them. She proceeds to fire Scarlet and punish Dawn with extra work. However, Harry is not too keen on Joan’s assertion of authority.

Earlier that day, Harry wins a big account with Dow Chemicals, giving the company another stable form of income. Harry, who has questioned Joan’s role as a partner, is outraged by her decision to fire his secretary so he storms into the partner’s meeting to set the matter straight. In demanding a partnership, he delivers the best, most biting comments of the night: “I’m sorry my accomplishments come in broad daylight!” alluding to Joan’s “work” as a prostitute at the end of last season.

Before leaving town, Joan’s sister Kate confesses that she is jealous of her sister’s accomplishments, causing Joan to look at what they have truly amounted to – drawing back memories of her sexual escapades – both with Jaguar and Roger Sterling.

Over at Heinz headquarters, Don, Pete, and Stan deliver their pitch for ketchup, only to be greeted by Peggy and her team who are vying for the same account. Don eavesdrops on Peggy’s pitch, and hears her recite his go-to line: “If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation,” and knows that she’s won the account.

Both groups have an awkward encounter at a bar following the presentations – just to give Elizabeth Moss more air time as the shows number two billed star.

When Don leaves the bar, he heads over to Megan’s studio to see her sex scene – which the producers call “steamy,” but isn’t anything more than what we would see on Disney Channel today.

Megan is mortified that Don would come today of all days and she sends him away. Don being Don goes right back to his mistress, who he reprimands for wearing a golden cross around her neck. She retorts that she wears her cross to pray. “I pray for you to find peace,” she declares, which goes back to my whole “Don Draper is actually dead and is living in purgatory like Lost season 6” theory. A soul trapped in purgatory is never at rest – and neither is Don. He is haunted by the ghosts of his past and feels the weight of New York City on his shoulders. I’m interested in seeing how this all pans out.

For an episode all about sex, I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get a glimpse into the Francis household. Sally, who we saw last season “become a woman,” would have been an interesting focus for this episode, as would her neglectful mother, Betty.

Also, I was a little peeved that the opening credits announced that the episode would be guest starring Alison Brie, but she didn’t show up! Not cool, AMC. Not cool.

No TV Time in the Midst of Boston Terror

bostonpic

If you’ve been a dedicated fan of my posts and have been wondering why there have been very few posts as of late, I apologize. As a student of Boston University, I have been quite literally in the midst of the Boston Marathon Bombing panic, followed by the murder of an MIT police officer and a manhunt in Watertown. I had been intensely following the story as it broke from the time I was at Mile 25.8 on the day of the bombings until Friday evening when the celebrations erupted in Boston upon the capturing of the suspect. That being said, I have had very little TV viewing time apart from the news.

Now, I am approaching the end of the spring semester and am bogged down in group projects and finals studying. I hope to keep this blog active in the coming weeks but will definitely have it fully-functional come summer time – especially with Breaking Bad and Dexter coming back for their final installments. I hope that you continue to enjoy my blog! And bookmark it!

Best,

Rob

‘The Kings of Summer’ trailer: Nick Offerman is just your average suburban dad

Here’s a look at a new indie film with Alison Brie (Mad Men/Community), Mary Lynn Rajskub (24/Safety Not Guaranteed), Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation), and Megan Mullally (Will and Grace).

VEEP Premiere: Midterms

images

After weeks on the midterm campaign trail, Selina Meyer and her staff are back in the office for the season 2 premiere.

It’s the night of the midterm elections, so the office is packed with analysts crunching numbers to determine the results of the various gubernatorial and congressional races. Per usual, Selina is focused on her job and her job alone, where as her staff members have other priorities.

Amy receives a call that her dad has had a stroke, but the Veep talks her into staying, reminding her how important the midterms are – a jab at our current political system.

Gary, played by Arrested Development’s Tony Hale, flaunts his acquisition of a girlfriend named Dana and never misses a chance to mention her in conversation. His goal for this episode is to locate the Veep’s red lipstick – but chaos ensues.

Mike is once again down in the dumps. After buying a defective boat, he is left with a money problem that has him betting left and right around the office.

Dan is on edge the whole night after receiving a call from gubernatorial hopeful Roger Furlong, who threatens to expose Dan’s corrupt past if he loses the race. However, it’s a win-win for Dan, as Furlong loses the election, but the House also changes parties, leaving him a powerless figure in politics.

Special guest star Gary Cole (Office Space) plays the senior strategist for the POTUS, Kent Davis, who the Veep describes as “a thick rubber condom” between her and the president and all she wants is “unprotected access to the Oval Office!”

The Veep, meanwhile, is trying to build a case for herself to convince the president to give her more power over various executive affairs. One of the strategists finds that voters in the states where she spoke on the campaign trail were more likely to support the administration, so she jumps on that fact without reading into the details.

While making her case, she is interrupted by one of the statisticians who confirms a mere 0.9% increase in approval in the states where she spoke, causing her to throw a tantrum – and her tube of lipstick at Kent. The cosmetic tube ricochets off the strategist’s face and explodes on the floor of the Oval Office, creating yet another scandal.

In the end, Selina is able to convince Kent to ask the POTUS for more of a say in the administration and he agrees by giving her control of foreign affairs. In exchange, however, he forces the sleep-deprived Veep to participate in the dreaded morning talk shows, where she humiliates herself with her answers.

In responding to a question, she reminds the nation that, “We are the United States of America because we are united…we are states…and we are of America.” Be sure to catch Veep on HBO every Sunday night at 10pm.

Netflix Pick: SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED

628x471

The 2012 crop of films was epic and unlike any year before. From the historical pictures like Lincoln and Argo, to the beautiful literature adaptations like Life of Pi and The Hunger Games, the industry made its great deal of profits. However, one film stayed below the commercialized radar. For my Netflix Pick, I have decided to deviate from television for a moment to spread the word of the most amazing film of 2012: Safety Not Guaranteed. However, the majority of the actors from this film come from a strong television background, so I’m kind of staying with my theme.

The film stars Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza as the highly intelligent but highly unmotivated Darius, who works as an intern at an alternative-style Seattle magazine.

The demanding magazine editor Bridget, played by 24’s Mary Lynn Rajskub, leads an ordinary pitch meeting where staff writer Jeff, played by New Girl’s Jack Johnson, suggests investigating a classified ad, in which the author is looking for a partner to travel back in time with, noting, “Safety Not Guaranteed.” Bridget agrees to the story and Jeff picks two interns to travel with him to Ocean View, WA. Darius and Arnau, the nerdy Indian medical student, accompany Jeff and strategize a plan to find the ad’s author.

After Jeff reveals to his interns that he intends to rekindle a romance with his high school girlfriend, Darius takes it upon herself to get the story. However, when she finally meets the ad’s author, a seemingly deranged grocery store employee, Kenneth, played by The League’s Mark Duplass, she becomes close to him.

Through his quirky training sessions with her, Darius tells Kenneth that she wants to go back in time to stop herself from asking her mom to stop at a gas station for chocolate milk, because this led to an incident where she was robbed and killed at the gas station’s mini-mart. Over the next few days, Kenneth eventually becomes comfortable enough to reveal to Darius that he intends to go back in time to stop a drunk driver from crashing into his girlfriend’s living room and killing her.

This movie is really about time. Jeff wishes to go back to his high school girlfriend and badgers the sexually inert Arnau to live a little while he’s young.

Darius’s mission takes an unexpected turn when she discovers that Kenneth’s old girlfriend, Belinda, is still alive. She goes to interview her and the charming housewife, played by Veronica Mars and Heroes star Kristen Bell, tells Darius that Kenneth had never been the same after he drunkenly drove his car into a house. In a twist right out of the pages of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the truth we thought was about an unnamed driver was really about Kenneth.

And to complicate matters more, Kenneth discovers that Darius’ original intentions for seeking him out were to write a story on him for her magazine and that she was not genuinely responding to his ad.

I will not spoil the movie’s ending, but I promise that it will leave you speechless.

Apart from the witty humor and terrific acting, the beautiful cinematography of Ocean View’s coast truly captures a place where time is virtually non-existent. This aids in giving the characters the necessary time to develop together and create a genuine, lasting bond.

I recommend this film to those who enjoyed such comedies as Dan in Real Life, Lars and the Real Girl, and Silver Linings Playbook.