Tag Archives: The Conjuring

FINDING MONEY

20 Jun

icy
1. Finding Dory/Disney                          Wknd/$ 136.2   Total/$ 136.2
2. Central Intelligence/WB                    Wknd/$ 34.5     Total/$ 34.5
3. The Conjuring 2/WB                          Wknd/$ 15.6      Total/$ 71.7
4. Now You See Me/LG                           Wknd/$ 9.7       Total/$ 41.4
5. Warcraft/Universal                             Wknd/$ 6.5       Total/$ 37.7
6. X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox                    Wknd/$ 5.2       Total/$ 146.1
7. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles 2      Wknd/$ 5.2        Total/$ 71.9
8. Me Before You/Warner                      Wknd/$ 4.2       Total/$ 46.1
9. Alice Through the Looking Glass     Wknd/$ 3.6       Total/$ 69.3
10. Captain America: Civil War/BV     Wknd/$ 2.3       Total/$ 401.2

FINDING INSPIRATION
To the surprise of absolutely no one Finding Dory opens at number one. Now, I’m against Pixar sequels on principle but Pixar gets a better response than most because a) they don’t always do them, b) when they do them it’s so far down the line it’s not an obvious money grab and c) they get it right as Toy Story has defied all odds and just gotten better every time. Even Monsters University was better than it had any right to be (no comment on Cars 2 because Cars sucked). So, Finding Dory comes more than a decade after Finding Nemo because they genuinely felt there was no story to tell until now which is stunning in the entertainment business. As if that had anything to do with it. Hell, the Disney board would have been satisfied if Nemo had just gotten lost again and they’d just repeated the first. Luckily for us the Pixar creative leads wanted more and more in this case was about Dory slowly remembering her own family and going off in search of them and while it’s definitely good, there’s no singular brilliant moment like the chant of a seagull being “Mine” or the wonderful irreverence of the sharks who no longer want to eat fellow fish. Despite their good intentions to tell an original story it does feel a bit too familiar, the brightest spark being provided by an octopus who doesn’t want to return to the ocean, but instead wants a nice tank in Cleveland where no one will bother him (voiced by Ed O’Neil). One of the keys to Finding Nemo’s creative success was the wonderful supporting cast, from the adult and child populace of Nemo’s home reef to the laid back turtles to denizens of the dentist office tank to half a dozen others in between. They just don’t match that here and while we see the kids of the reef and the turtles again, they don’t have the same spark. Nonetheless it’s still better than 90% of what else is out there as the sad trailers for Storks and Ice Age: This Goddamn Franchise Has Lasted Longer Than The Actual Ice Age proved. If Finding Nemo was an A+ (and it was) then this is a solid B+. Oh, and make sure you stay through the end credits. There’s always something there…as I found out this weekend with Brave.

WHAT? COULDN’T GET PERMISSION FOR MARIAH?
Central Intelligence opens at number two and it seems logical that two of the hardest working men in show business would finally end up in a movie together. Not since Michael Caine in the 80’s have actors seeming been so omnipresent onscreen. It’s also a great creative move on both their parts for Kevin Hart to actually play the straight man to Dwayne Johnson playing the funny guy. Kevin Hart is Dean Martin while Dwayne Johnson is Jerry Lewis (ask your parents what that means). While I bear it no ill will, I have zero interest in either of them as anything beyond being supporting characters to actual leads. They simply lack that for me. The trailer shows a film, while not aimed at the lowest common denominator of comedy, is severely broad reaching. Oh, look. When Dwayne Johnson was in high school he was fat and sang En Vogue in the shower ‘cause fat guys and guys who sing girl songs are funny. In terms of wit that’s a butter knife level of sharpness. Even on cable this is a hard pass.

AND JAWLINES. DON’T FORGET THE JAWLINES
The Conjuring is down to number three and I’m also glad to see Vera Farminga here on the money train. I’ve loved her as an actress since the short-lived Finding Evil TV show and she improves pretty much everything she’s in. In my movie fantasy she and Gillian Anderson play sisters onscreen as they are seemingly cut from the same cloth (coincidentally they were both on the small screen alongside famous serial killers). In my other fantasy I’ve been very bad and they’ve come to discipline me. Soooo many icy stern looks of disappointment and contempt. Delicious

YUAN BETTER RECOGNIZE
Now You See Me 2 is down to number four followed by the Warcraft at number five and you might be seeing film history being made as China saves an entire franchise single-handedly, which is funny given how movies like Iron Man 3 and Transformers: Whichever The Fuck It Was have bent over backwards trying to win them and been met with contempt. It hasn’t even broken $40M here, but has made ten times that in overseas. Depend on how much studios get (it ranges from 15-14%) this may actually get a sequel…which America will ignore again.

ALSO HE’S A SCUMBAG
Speaking of sequels America has ignored, X-Men: Apocalypse is down to number six and hasn’t even made it’s $178M budget domestically, but like Warcraft has pulled almost $400M from overseas markets, so rest assured there will be another and this time mercifully without Bryan Singer. While he started the franchise and did good things with it, using the metaphor for oppression appropriately, he seems to have forgotten that and they need a director who remembers the core of the X-Men is also appealing to that self-important teenager drama where you think you’re special the entire world is against you for no reason at all. Yes, that’s the dark truth about the real reason so many like it. Not because you’re a person of color or your religion or your sexuality suffering genuine oppression, but because you think you’re special and the world is actively trying to hold you down. You’re wrong.

JUST KIDDING. EVERY ROLE WILL SOMEHOW PUT HER IN A FETISH COSTUME.
I thought this would be the hat trick of franchises supported by overseas money, but it turns out they care even less than we do about Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles: Out of the Shadows, down to number seven. There probably won’t be a third, which must be bittersweet news to Megan Fox who has another child on the way, but at the same time doesn’t have to worry about a contrived reason to put her into a fetish costume in the near future.

LESS IS MORE…IF YOU’RE AN IDIOT AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO USE YOUR PROPERTIES
Me Before You is down to number eight, followed by Alice Through the Looking Glass at number nine and Captain America: Civil War closes out the top ten at number ten and this is why the Warner Brother/DC Comics hierarchy was recently shaken up as two movies about fighting superheroes came out this summer (well, 3 if you count X-Men, but no one cares enough to do that) with had approximately the same budgets but the one what that the 3 most famous superheroes of all time in them did significantly worse than the film that had a bunch of heroes 90% of the population had never heard of ten years ago. And by “significantly” I mean almost $900M vs over $1B. While this may not seem like too much of a difference to you and I, remember that Batman’s last two solo films both made $1B but teaming him up with Superman and Wonder Woman somehow resulted in less!?! Not good when your very next film will add even more superheroes to the roster that you also hope to spin-off into individual films. Warner Brothers is being force to reconsider their dumb-ass strategy of if your competitor has cornered the market on chocolate and you reconfigure your chocolate machines to make vanilla, rather than simply understand there’s no such thing as too much good chocolate. Instead they’ve made mediocre (Man of Steel) and bad (Batman v Superman) vanilla and surprise! People preferred the better made chocolate. Damn it. Now I want some chocolate!

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REAL ARTISTS ARE APPARENTLY ALL PERVS

13 Jun

psylocke
1. The Conjuring 2/WB                        Wknd/$ 40.4   Total/$ 40.4
2. Warcraft/Universal                          Wknd/$ 24.4   Total/$ 24.4
3. Now You See Me 2/LG                    Wknd/$ 23.0    Total/$ 23.0
4. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles 2   Wknd/$ 14.8     Total/$ 61.0
5. X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox                 Wknd/$ 10.0    Total/$ 136.4
6. Me Before You/Warner                   Wknd/$ 9.2      Total/$ 36.8
8. Alice Through the Looking Glass  Wknd/$ 5.5       Total/$ 62.4
7. The Angry Birds Movie/Sony         Wknd/$ 6.7      Total/$ 98.2
9. Captain America: Civil War/BV     Wknd/$ 4.3     Total/$ 396.9
10. The Jungle Book/Disney               Wknd/$ 2.7      Total/$ 352.6

SCREAM KING! EQUALITY AT LAST!
The Conjuring 2 opens at number one and after years of “scream queens” have we developed a “scream king?” Patrick Wilson, a respected character actor on stage, TV and film is the male lead in not just this successful franchise, but also the Insidious films. When you think about it, it’s a wonder it never occurred to horror filmmakers to go to stage actors for their talent. You’ll get better than your average pretty face (sorry, I do hold stage actors in higher regard ‘cause that shit is real) and because they come from the stage where they get little money and less fame they’d be cheap and eternally grateful, because basically film and TV work is to subsidize what they really love. This is the real reason Claire Danes does Homeland. This is why Billy Crudup has no problem showing up in Mission Impossible 3. This visibility and profitability will serve to finance a few off-Broadway plays once Wilson commits to them. Which is good. I like knowing that people who truly care about art succeed in the world occasionally.

IN RETROSPECT I COULD HAVE USED A LONG, DUMB FILM TODAY
Warcraft opens at number two which is a huge fucking failure for them. Not only did this $160M+ movie based on a ridiculously successful video game not open at number one in the summer, but also it lost to an R-rated film that cost ¼ its budget. Yes, it’s doing huge in China, but know that studios get less than 40% of overseas money. Domestic is where the real money is made and it will have to do ridiculously well overseas in order for this not to be written off as a failure. I thought about seeing it because…well, summer. Seeing dumb movies filled with fantasy creatures and special effects is what the summer is for, but sometimes even I have to draw the line and you’re talking to a man who went to see Battleship. Obviously, bad reviews don’t slow me down so what was it? The two-hour running time. I’ve got a new rule about movies I expect to be bad and it flatly states you don’t get 2+ hours (factoring in previews and commercials) of my life anymore unless I fully expect you to be at least entertaining. Needless to say this didn’t pass muster not even with Rathnar Lothbrok in the cast. Not that it should. I haven’t watched Vikings in over two years. I’m busy!

YOU KNOW, BECAUSE BATMAN V SUPERMAN SUCKED
Now You See Me 2 opens at number three and this is oddly a success because would have thought the first would have been a hit, much less enough of one to generate a sequel. It’s gotta feel good to Jesse Esienberg to have an actual success this year that could be a franchise.

SUCKS TO BE YOU!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is down to number four followed by X-Men: Apocalypse at number five and one good thing about this is it sets back the career of Olivia Munn. I don’t know what it is, but I do not like this woman. Something about her makes her someone you love to hate. I’m not so simplistic a geek for it simply to be the title of her autobiography “Wonder Woman Can Suck It” but it didn’t help. Even better is the fact she’s so full of herself she said she had the option for Monica Baccarin role in Deadpool, but turned it down because it was “just another girlfriend.” Granted, Baccarin basically has sex with Ryan Reynolds and then gets kidnapped, so she’s not too far off, but the character eventually becomes a superhero in her own right and thanks to the highest grossing R-rated film in history (not adjusted for inflation) that will probably happen. Whereas seeing Munn return as Psyclocke is highly unlikely. Not helping matters is the fact they not only translated her stupid T&A costume straight from the comics, but also made it even more degrading by adding a boob-window. You know how pathetic you have to be to make a female superhero costume even more exploitative!?! Just glad it happened to her and not an actress that I liked.

JUST ASK JASON MOMOA ABOUT CONAN
Me Before You is down to number six, but with a $36M return on a $20M budget don’t expect the disabled romance porn to go away anytime soon. The female lead is on Game of Thrones which I do watch, but she’s a lot better off that the other woman from Game of Thrones who was the female lead Terminator: Genysis and that dude who was the lead in Pompeii who knows nothing on and off-screen. The lesson here is stop trying to hit home runs at first bat. Be happy to get on base.

BASICALLY HE’S RAINMAN IN THE MOVIE BIZ
The Angry Birds movie is down to number seven and this is another which needs overseas loot to save it. $98M off a $73M budget isn’t awful, but the $213M from overseas (which is at most $85M and probably less) will be needed to save this from being a disappointment. This is from David Maisel who is apparently as responsible for the Marvel Universe as anyone, but since he’s clearly not with them, they no longer like to talk about it. Apparently he not only came up with the sale to Disney, but the sequel strategy and its original plan to self-finance which meant no more licensing characters out to other companies like they’d done with Spider-Man, The X-Men, Blade, The Punisher and The Fantastic Four And to top it off it he also came up with the idea they could use The Hulk without paying Universal to get him back so long as he wasn’t the lead character. Given how fucking major all this is, you can see why they don’t like to talk about him. But of course he’s a nutcase. He apparently pocketed millions from the Disney sale, but still lives with his mom in a 2-bedroom apartment. So yeah, ladies beware, but if you need financial advice, he’s clearly your dude.

JUST ASK MARY LOUISE PARKER IF ONE CLAIRE DANES IS ENOUGH
Alice Through The Looking Glass is down to number eight and is there any more painful irony that the billion dollar grossing first film did jack shit for the career of Mia Wasikowska who is only the title character in both films!?! Needless to say this won’t be changing that a bit. Not helping is the fact she looks like Claire Danes in a world that thinks one Claire Danes is plenty.

GEEK ANGER LIVES FOREVER
Captain America: Civil War is down to number nine, followed by Jungle Book at number ten. As most people know, The Black Panther finally appeared in the Marvel movies and honestly is one of the best parts about this. It sure as shit isn’t Captain America acting like an asshole or the stupid contrivances created to make him and Iron Man fight. Yes, I’m still annoyed.

CAMERA, GUITAR, GUN = DICK
I finally watched the documentary on famed photographer, Bert Stern: The Original Mad Man, even though I’ve had it on my hard drive forever. Only taking the actual DVD out from the liberry finally got me to see it. It didn’t get great reviews but I thought it was a pretty decent summation of the man’s career and life. Directed by the woman who was thought to be his decades younger girlfriend (they first met when she was 13 and it’s as icky as it sounds) it turns out she was secretly his wife, but we’ll get to that. You know Bert Stern even if you don’t think you know him. The famous “Last Sitting” of Marilyn Monroe, her final photo session before she died which stupid starlets and half-assed photographers keep trying to emulate? He did that. The Lolita poster? He did that. He did those and a dozen more iconic shots of celebrities as well as from the history of advertising. It’s subtitled “The Original Mad Man” in a sorry and failed attempt to cash in on the show as Stern was a major player in advertising in the late 50’s and early 60’s, coming up with innovative ideas for campaigns and shooting them himself. Unlike most, he was so good at his job, he basically had a free hand to do what he wanted. Unfortunately, the documentary is short on exploration in areas that seem obvious. We’re told his father attempted suicide and his mother was beautiful but they’re literally never mentioned again after he turns 13. Given he’s famous for taking beautiful shots of women especially, you’d think his relationship with his mother would play into that and be discussed, but it is not. Even the court fight for shots of Marilyn Monroe he took that were stolen in the early 60’s and were rediscovered in the ‘00’s by people who claimed ownership is given the short shrift. What we do get is far too many of shots of the director/girlfriend/wife naked. Even worst is the realization that some of the nudes were taken recently and by a seemingly nude Stern (his reflection is seen in one of the shots). Ewww. Still, there are enough legitimate examinations of the man and his work to make me actually take an interest in his famous “Last Session” as I am not part of the cult that romanticizes Marilyn Monroe. She lived a sad life (sexually abused when young and had to trade on her sex appeal far too much to make it) and died a sad death (accidental drug overdose alone). Her life is cautionary tale, people. Stop romanticizing it. It also caused the “Well, duh” realization that the best photographers of women in fashion (Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, David Bailey, etc) were straight men, which is only unique because the industry is well regarded as being both gay and female driven. Stern flat out states that when he took a picture it was because in that way he could possess the woman in question. He laughs, but you know it’s true. He made me think that the others were probably no different as they all dated and occasionally married the women they shot (Avedon was famously with Dovema, Bailey with Jean Shrimpton and Penn married the impeccable Lisa Fonssagrives). Stern just admits it. It makes me wonder if you have to use your camera as your surrogate dick to truly take beautiful photos of people, as it’s pointed out in the documentary that knowing that Stern worshipped them may have actually served to bring out the best in the women he was shooting. It would similarly be the case with others. The safety of being adored and complimented by someone who would do no more than document said adoration would undoubtedly produce better results than say a worthless fucking creep rapist like Terry Richardson (who’s a shitty photographer on top of being a rapist). Then again, you have Herb Ritts, who was open gay and also took beautiful photographs of women. Must think on this… Not including in the film which came out before Stern’s death in 2013 is the fact the heretofore unknown wife became the sole beneficiary of Stern’s will and the children (two of whom are interviewed along with the ex-wife and a still living girlfriend) are currently suing her over it. Oh, and I bought the book of Stern’s last session with Monroe. Some of the details are seriously fascinating. I mean, if I drank champagne with a shot of vodka like she did, I’d probably be taking my clothes off at every opportunity too.

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HATERS GONNA HATE

5 Oct

minime
1. Gone Girl/Fox                                             Wknd/$ 38.0    Total/$ 38.0
2. Annabelle/WB (NL)                                  Wknd/$ 37.2     Total/$ 37.2
3. The Equalizer/Sony                                   Wknd/$ 19.0     Total/$ 64.5
4. The Boxtrolls/Focus                                  Wknd/$ 12.4     Total/$ 32.5
5. The Maze Runner/Fox                              Wknd/$ 12.0     Total/$ 73.9
6. Left Behind/Free                                        Wknd/$ 6.9      Total/$ 6.9
7. This is Where I Leave You/WB               Wknd/$ 4.0      Total/$ 29.0
8. Dolphin Tale 2/WB                                   Wknd/$ 3.5      Total/$ 38.0
9. Guardians of the Galaxy/Disney            Wknd/$ 3.0      Total/$ 323.4
10. No Good Deed/SGems                           Wknd/$ 2.5       Total/$ 50.2

INTERFERING WITH MY PLANS TO HATE BY ACTUALLY BEING GOOD
Gone Girl squeaks out a victory at number one and I’m going to be honest and say I’m not a David Fincher fan. He’s part of the Ridley Scott school of style over substance. That his big breakthrough was 7even, which was a beautifully shot but epically stupid movie is no surprise and would never let you forget he cut his teeth directing music videos (“Jaime’s Got A Gun” “Freedom ‘90” “Vogue”). He’s better off when he has strong source material like a novel that needs to be adhered to lest you lose that built in audience the studio is counting on rather than an originally screenplay you just do what you want with because fuck a screenwriter amirite? Gone Girl was not only a novel, but the author herself did the screenplay, which usually is the fast track to failure, but despite a shakey beginning, it manages to find its tone. Now, I never read the book, but I did guess the mid-film twist because there’s really nothing new about this genre. So the question isn’t originality, but what you do with an old idea. They do well here in the story of a man whose wife mysteriously vanishes and while it begins with the presumption of innocence, darker secrets of their marriage pop up aided in no small part by the onscreen depiction of the missing wife’s journal. While Ben Affleck may not have any anyone’s first choice, if you want someone who can simultaneously appear to be a nice guy but also an asshole, he’s your guy. I’m one of the few who remembers how his character is described by Jason Scott Lee in Mallrats: “He looks like a date rapist.” There is something very “frat boy who smile and laughs at your joke while placing a roofie in your drink” about him which works here. After reporting his wife’s disappearance he never asks for a lawyer, but at the same time is openly hiding evidence from the police and who is he talking to on the second cell phone? I didn’t want to like Fincher’s latest, but it’s been awhile since I spent two hours in a theater that held me like this. But you know the success of this will make him blow it next time, right? Just like he followed up The Social Network with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or the way he followed Zodiac with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

DOES THIS COUNT AS A FILM WITH A FEMALE LEAD
Annabelle opens at number two and I would love to see the demographics of this audience as opposed to the audience for Gone Girl, given they finished neck-and-neck and that number may actually change by the time final tally is done. Let’s not pretend we don’t have a class system, America. Though that has nothing to do with why I did not nor will I ever see this. Say it with me kids: “I don’t do the scary.” Doesn’t matter how stupid or incompetent it might be, I simply don’t do it. It doesn’t help that the very premise of this is unbelievable. No, not an evil doll. That’s horror gold. No, it’s that the doll is so freaking ugly. No one would ever own it much less leave it in their daughter’s room to begin with. Like so many other things, this was done first, better and in less time on The Twilight Zone. They understood that it’s actually scarier if the doll is attractive. You pretty much expect an ugly doll to be evil, which is why no one owns them to begin with.

IF THEY’VE WON A VIDEO MUSIC AWARD, LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS
The Equalizer is down to number three and this reunites Denzel Washington with his Training Day director, Antoine Fuqua, who is somewhat competent action director who also comes from music videos and like David Fincher has problems with story and this is no exception. But if you’ve seen what is for the most part immensely watchable schlock like The Replacement Killers, Bait, Tears of the Sun, King Arthur, Shooter and Olympus Has Fallen (also skipable) like I have, you know exactly what you’re walking into when you see his name on the poster and you’re not even remotely surprised he manages to create a typical climatic showdown in the rain even though we’re inside a Home Depot. Even Training Day suddenly loses its footing in the final 10 minutes. I’m thinking too many music videos taught both him and Fincher that making sense really doesn’t matter as much as making it look good.

THE WANT OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL BAD FILMS
The Boxtrolls is down to number four followed by The Maze Runner at number five and Left Behind opening at number six and normally I’d say this nonstop dreck from Nicholas Cage (look him up on Netflix and you’ll see a dozen films you never heard of all released in the last two years) was just because he was paying off a debt he owed to the IRS, but he was making lots of crap even before the government showed up with a bill. In fact, it was taking all those big money paydays that lead him to not just making Christian fundamentalist films, but remaking them as this was done first by none other than Kirk Cameron. When you’re swimming in Kirk Cameron you seriously need to look into a TV show. A paycheck every week TV show. You can pay your debts, rehabilitate your stardom and for god’s sake, save your dignity.

YEAH, THIS IS TRASH BAD DIRECTORS DAY. GET OVER IT.
This Is Where I Leave You is down to number seven and also if you need a reason as to why this sucks so much just look at the director: Shawn Levy. At best he’s underwhelming you with Real Steel, Date Night and Night at The Museum and at worst he’s dropping turds like The Pink Panther, Night At the Museum 2 (and 3 which is coming and looks to be the worst yet) and this. It’s takes negative amount of talent to drain people like Steve Martin, Ben Stiller, Jason Bateman, Robin William and Tina Fey of it and that he does so frequently and well shows you what a creative black hole this man truly is.

CLEARLY WHAT HE LOOKS LIKE MATTERS MORE THAN WHAT HE SOUNDS LIKE
Dolphin Tale 2 is down to number eight, followed by Guardians of the Galaxy at number nine and No Good Deed closing out the top ten at number ten having made almost 4x its budget domestically alone. Domestically, because the big excuse for not having films with minority leads is that they don’t perform internationally. Know where it’s been released overseas? Africa, period. Bear in mind Idris Elba is fucking English and has a successful TV show there.

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR
Yes! The new Fall TV Season. Because I loves me some TV I do try to give every show at least one shot unless it is clearly just ridiculously awful like Scorpion or Stalkers or NCIS New Orleans or The McCarthys (are you surprised that the network of Two and A Half Men has more shit than most?). I mean life is just too short. Let’s get started, shall we?

Gotham
This was a no brainer for a comic book geek like me. Basically, it’s the story of Young Commissioner Gordon in Gotham City almost 20 years before Batman. We know this because the first episode is about the murder of The Waynes. Now this would make an interesting one-off movie or even a mini-series, but as an open-ended series makes no sense whatsoever. First of all, they insist on trying to shoehorn Bruce Wayne into the show. Bruce Wayne simply has no stories to tell between his parents’ death and the arrival of Batman. It’s not like Clark Kent who did have his powers as a boy so could do Superman-like things. Bruce Wayne has to be an adult after years of training himself to be Batman. Nonetheless Jim Gordon is being given excuse after excuse to drive out to Wayne Manor were we get to see Bruce Wayne getting progressively darker. Then there’s the need to include young versions of Batman’s villains. Now, while The Penguin as a young flunky for a mobster and The Riddler as your typical CSI tech both work it doesn’t change the fact that it means Batman’s gonna be punching out couple of old dudes when he finally shows up. Not that the alternative of showing them as kid is much better, as witnessed by a 10-year old Poison Ivy (her name needlessly and stupidly changed from Pamela Isley to Ivy Pepper because the people running this show want to show they’re “creative” when they clearly are no) and the a pre-naturally beautiful 13-year-old Catwoman who’s already running around the rooftops as a thief. In fact she looks just like Dina Meyer who played Batgirl on the awful Birds of Prey show so maybe they’ll give her a job as the mom she insists is still alive. If the biggest flaw is that they keep trying to shove elements of the Batman mythos without Batman (you know, ignoring the very premise of the show), the second biggest is young Jim Gordon as a good cop in a dirty town. Rather than show his compromises as he tries to eek out some measure of justice, they’re just having him be annoyingly self-righteous every week. If you know the mayor’s lazy, you don’t call him lazy to his face. You play him to get what you want but this Jim Gordon is too full of his own morality to do that. That more than anything will drive me away from this show.

A to Z
Now, I was prepared to hate this because the previews made it look like he stalked her and she rewarded him with a date, but it’s not. It’s actually about an 8-month relationship between two people who almost met previously due to friends and job proximity, but don’t actually do so until she comes into his office to complain about being listed as a lesbian on her dating profile (he works at an internet dating service) and he actually approaches her like a normal human. They go on a normal date, but when he realizes she was the girl he saw years ago that he thought could be “the one” she freaks out because her parents were starry-eyed hippies and she has no patience for that. Of course in the end she decides to give it a try and we have our show. But now we have the same question as Gotham. How can this be an open ended show about an 8-month relationship? How many years can they drag out 8 months? While it was better than I expected (which isn’t saying much) the premise doesn’t really grab me, but they get points for trying to be a little different (amidst a ton of clichés like straight laced lawyer dates free spirit and they both have wacky best friends). Oh, and it had a great Back to The Future joke which makes at least watching the pilot worthwhile.

The Mysteries of Laura
I love Debra Messing. I love her so much I’ve watched every crap show she’s been on since Will & Grace even though each got progressively worse. Just as Smash was worse than Starter Wife, this is worse than Smash. We get it, Debra. You’re willing to let yourself be shown as pathetically as possible for a joke. Only it’s not funny. Not even a little. Especially when every “humiliation” is followed by a “whoa, she’s really hot” scene. She’s a detective in NYC who’s dealing with her ex-husband as her boss and being a mom to two hellions. I can’t tell you how awful and lazy this show is. As flat as the jokes fall the attempts at drama are even worse. I really hate saying because they actually made the effort to film in NYC. It would really do them better to just go full sitcom with this like the much superior Bad Judge.

Bad Judge
This looked initially like The Mysteries of Laura (only she’s a judge not a cop) all the way down her working with a black guy who sees her in a state of undress and exclaims “Dayum!” But the execution is night and day. First of all they know they’re doing a sitcom, meaning it’s only 30 minutes and the goal is humor and even the small nods to drama are punctuated by humor. And while Kate Walsh plays the same ego-free card of willing to look bad on camera it’s not nearly as desperate as Debra Messing’s performance. But it helps when Will Farrell is one of your executive producers. It was co-created by Anne Heche who’s also a producer and that’s gotta mean some odd-as hell production meetings, but they clearly work.

Manhattan Love Story
Another sitcom that’s better than the commercials would have you believe thanks to the inclusion of some actual wit (his family runs a trophy-making business and America’s willingness to celebrate mediocrity has made their business better than ever) and I’m always a sucker to shows that film in NYC, but in the end the two leads are just too vanilla to hold my interest. I mean when you think “Manhattan Love Story” do you think the WASPiest people on earth? I mean at the very least make the native- New York some kind of ethnicity (the way the other members of his family clearly look).

Blackish
As much as I love Debra Messing, I hate Anthony Andrews who has always been the “black Tom Arnold” to me and that says it all. Nonetheless Lawrence Fishburne is here so I gave it a chance and it just didn’t make it. Granted I was told the second episode wasn’t as dependent on the whole “fear of assimilation” angle that the pilot episode was based upon, but I’m really not going to make an effort to see Anthony Andrews. Like I said, I hate him.

Forever
Pete Hamill is a longtime New York City journalist who wrote a novel called Forever about a man who is basically immortal and has been living in Manhattan since the Revolutionary War. This is not based on that and I cannot believe he hasn’t sued them. Then again he didn’t sue New Amsterdam about a cop with a similar affliction. This is about a medical examiner who as been alive for two hundred years only not consistently. He can die, but is reborn in water. Basically, you shoot him in Central Park, he wakes up naked in the East River and is picked up by his senior citizen adopted son played by Judd Hirsch. He uses his extensive experience in dying to solve mysteries and between this and CSI I’m thinking Jack Klugman as Quincy was the only unattractive television M.E. ever. It’s entertaining if not exceptional and it also preys upon my weakness by actually being shot in NYC, but not something I’m going to make an effort for. Basically, if you like Castle you’ll like this and I tired of Castle long ago.

How To Get Away With Murder
In all honesty, I barely watched it (god bless fast-forward) but what I did watch didn’t interest me in the slightest. But I’m not its audience. I don’t watch Scandal either.

Selfie
Yes, an entire TV series based on My Fair Lady. Her name is actually Eliza Dooley and John Cho plays “Henry.” This is where you eye roll. There are the barest glimmers of wit as they work at marketing firm where he succeeded in re-branding a drug that had been condemned by the FDA and basically he thinks he can “re-brand” her. Unfortunately there isn’t nearly enough of that wit and the whole show is burdened with a title that’s already dated and will only become moreso as time passes. It doesn’t help they don’t have the courage of their convictions as deep down inside she’s a former unattractive, unpopular girl who blossomed into a beauty and has used popularity to fill the hole inside her. Yawn. Give me someone genuinely shallow who finds their humanity while merely pretending to seek depth. That way we can laugh at her without feeling bad because we know it’s just a mask to hide her pain. Not that there are a lot of laughs here. Too bad. I want John Cho to succeed.

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