Television

Uncle Buck

Did you like the movies of the eighties? Then you’re going to love the television series of the teens. Deadline reports that ABC is currently working on a half-hour sitcom based on John Hughes‘ 1989 “New Classic” (we use the TNT designations in this house) Uncle Buck, with Universal TV and producer Will Packer (the immensely successful producer behind both Ride Along and the Think Like a Man features) on board to turn the film into a weekly offering. The new Uncle Buck will be, well, pretty much just like the old Uncle Buck, as Deadline reports it “will center on a childish man, played in the film by [John] Candy, who learns how to be an adult by taking care of his brother’s kids in a very childish way.” Weirdly enough, this isn’t even the first time that Uncle Buck has been turned into a small screen offering — a CBS series based on the movie hit screens for one season back in 1990. One season. Big hit. Of course, Uncle Buck is not the only beloved eighties property to be getting the small screen treatment this pilot season, and it’s certainly not the most egregious. Let’s take a journey, back to a period of time when original entertainment wasn’t such a wholly foreign concept, to explore what else network television is so forcibly mining for new material.

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Say Anything

UPDATED: Victory is ours. Put down your boomboxes. Fold up your kickboxing trousers. Wait for the airplane to ding. This is not a drill, and frankly, it’s nearly impossible to believe that this is happening, but here it is: NBC is making a series based on Say Anything, Cameron Crowe‘s 1989 John Cusack- and Ione Skye-starring teen romance. It’s okay if this news is hard to swallow, because even with the recent rash of small screen revivals of beloved properties — think Real Genius, Problem Child and Big – word that Say Anything is getting a new television series seems almost too bizarre to be believed, too weird to be true. Let’s parse this.

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Gotham The Balloonman

Sometimes you see something on TV, and one tiny little thing — a name or a face — juts out. Then at some indeterminate point in the future, another indeterminate detail and another mind-jut. Synapses start firing, pieces come together an odd TV bloodlust sets in, and suddenly you’ve figured it all out. You know the twist that’s sure to come, thanks to the entirely crackpot theory that seems so very real when formed in the midst of conspiracy frenzy. I will admit that this was me last week. A character named Lazlo and a pig mask in a trailer, and I was sold — clearly, this week’s Gotham was bound to feature Professor Pyg, a Batman villain sporting a pink piggy face and the first name of Lazlo. A villain who, it turns out, has basically nothing to do with “The Balloonman.” My bad on that one, guys. Instead, this third hour of Gotham was all about… the Balloonman. Who’da thunk it?

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Hermione Norris in Doctor Who Kill the Moon

If you’ve ever wondered why the Doctor doesn’t ever just nip out and kill Hitler, maybe after some pudding, now you do thanks to “Kill the Moon,” this week’s likely-to-be controversial episode of Doctor Who. It’s not going to be at issue for its defense for letting alone one of the worst figures in history, though, partly because fans of time travel stories have always had to accept such excuse (here it’s that not all of the past, nor future, is that malleable). Far heavier is the notion that the show allegorically tackles the abortion debate in its 45-minute running time and comes to the conclusion that it’s womankind’s right to choose, but the correct choice is still in favor of life. That the plot of the episode entails the fate of the Moon — an entity given a feminine representation in various mythologies and one that’s been believed associated with menstruation — is so ridiculously perfect, but also for some people probably too silly to be used for such a touchy subject. But this is a ridiculous show and a particularly ridiculous episode altogether, one in which Earth’s single natural satellite is revealed to be not an orbiting mass of rock but an egg for some sort of enormous cosmic dragon. And that alien dragon lays another egg of the very same size immediately after it’s born — quick enough that there’s no effect on the nearby planet at all, not even on its tides. It’s an episode where an astronaut […]

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Fox

Calling the second episode of Gotham “Selina Kyle” is just a wee bit disingenuous. It’s not so much a Selina Kyle episode- for one thing, she refuses to be called Selina Kyle, and any attempt to say those words around her will cause an immediate correction with the proper nomenclature: “cat.” Expecting “Selina Kyle” to include any in-depth look at a young Catwoman’s psyche is a fool’s game. This one’s not about our future clawed criminal; it just happens to involve her, as a victim of our Batman villain of the week (even if it seemed like Gotham wouldn’t be doing that). Like last time, Gordon and Bullock take the lead, on the trail of the little-known, little-seen, probably-murderous Dollmaker. So yeah, kind of a misnomer with the “Selina Kyle” thing.

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Ben Affleck in Gone Girl

“She’s not above her material. She’s not making fun of these people, even the nosy neighbor. She’s not making fun of even those archetypes. And she’s interesting in that way. I kind of held my breath and waited to read her first draft and I was so emboldened by it. She was not only capable of slaughtering the darling, she took a peculiar pleasure in offing those extensions of her own imagination.”  Bestselling author Gillian Flynn didn’t pull any punches when it came to the script for David Fincher‘s Gone Girl — a script based on her own blockbuster book and her first produced attempt at working in that medium — slicing and dicing and cutting and crafting without prejudice. In fact, even Fincher was stunned by her ability to “off” bits and pieces (and even whole people) from her script, sharing with FilmComment the above quote about Flynn’s interest in keeping things neat for the sake of a good script. This is not a novelist beholden to her own material, and that might be why Fincher and Flynn are teaming up for yet another project — and why the duo is making a claim to be Hollywood’s next big dream team.

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Danny Pink in Doctor Who the Caretaker

Doctor Who has always been a writer’s show. The opening credit emphasizing the author of each episode is our constant reminder, but we still might take that for granted. There are a lot of names who’ve written adventures for the Doctor and his companions, and they’re not most of them household names, nor are all of them consistent in their quality or genre. The two most recent episodes, however, need to have their authors acknowledged for different reasons. Last week, it had to be said that Steve Thompson is always boring. This week, with “The Caretaker,” Gareth Roberts has to be recognized as being a wonderfully clever yet down-to-earth voice who has been greatly missed for the past few years. Maybe it’s because he’s been writing Doctor Who stories, originally in novel form, since the early 1990s, but he just seems to get it. There is a lot going on in “The Caretaker,” but this isn’t immediately apparent. Well, there’s a good deal of plot, what with the whole triangular rom-com situation going on between Clara (Jenna Coleman), Danny (Samuel Anderson) and the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) while also there’s a threat to the planet occurring coincidentally near and then in the school where the former two work. But this is not a plot-centric episode. Even the relationship stuff is just a vehicle for deeper levels, giving us more to chew on regarding the Doctor and Danny than the Doctor and Clara. Actually, no, strike that, because the very end of the episode is very important, […]

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Rachel McAdams

See? We told you guys to just wait — and, yes, we had to take that advice to heart, too — because, no matter what the addition of Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn to the True Detective second season roster meant, it didn’t mean that casting was over. Now, well, casting still isn’t over, but it’s getting there, and it’s certainly moving in a very nice direction. Variety reports that, as has been rumored off and on for awhile now, Rachel McAdams has been offered one of four lead roles in the HBO series’ second season. The part will reportedly see McAdams playing “a Monterey sheriff with a troubled past that has led her to a gambling and alcohol addiction.” The part is one of three law enforcement types on the new season — Farrell is on board as one, Taylor Kitsch is still expected to play the other, and Vaughn is set to star as a “career criminal” — and it marks a very important step forward in the realm of complicated female characters on the small screen.

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Vince Vaughn

The latest news in the wacky world of True Detective may not have come to us care of the Colin Farrell Gazette (the paper of record, duh), but it’s still official enough to send fans (and foes) of the HBO series into a major tizzy. Everyone, calm down. Let’s talk about this. HBO (via ComingSoon) has announced that, yes, Farrell is on board to star in the series’ second season, as is Vince Vaughn, who has long been rumored to take on one of four leading roles in the next installment of the deep, dark detective drama. The breaking of this news has apparently sent literally thousands of Twitter users into a downward spiral of guilt, blame and fear (at least, by our count) — which is weird, because the series hasn’t even completed half of its casting. Put the towels down, guys, let’s not throw them in just yet.

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Gotham

There’s an age-old debate in the Batman mythos: Does Batman really stop crime? Or does the very presence of Batman, a man gallivanting around in bat ears and a cape, attract costumed criminals that wouldn’t have shown up in the first place, thus doing more harm than good? Gotham, Fox’s shiny new Batman prequel series, set in the grimy corruption of the Gotham City Police Department, throws all this good/evil Bat-debate in the trash. “Nope!” it proclaims, fancifully showing off a parade of before-they-were-villain villains, “Freaks were running around Gotham and committing meticulous theme-based crimes long before Batman ever started doing the same.” That’s already par for the course on Gotham, a prequel interested in a new take — a Batmanless take — on Batman. It will pursue that newness to any end, even if it means scrapping the subtlety and the blurred lines of good and evil that are present in just about every Batman story.

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Doctor Who Time Heist

One of the coolest things about the premise of Doctor Who is that it can dip into so many different genres. Sometimes, as in the case with this week’s episode, “Time Heist,” you get a mash-up of a few. Obviously we got a heist story here, and that was combined with the amnesiac thriller and the superhero team-up. Guest good guys Psi (Jonathan Bailey) and Saibra (Pippa Bennett-Warner), who join up with the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) on their latest adventure, are respectively reminiscent specifically of Marvel mutants Cable and Rogue. And who wouldn’t want a heroine called The Impossible Girl in a group tasked with such a mission: impossible as robbing the most secure bank in the universe? So how did “Time Heist” wind up being one of the least exciting and imaginative episodes in years? The set-up was great, not necessarily the part where again we’re having a trip disrupt date night for Clara and Danny (Samuel Anderson) but the mysterious phone call and the sudden loss of memory and introduction of the new super-friends. Even the Karabraxos bank manager, Ms. Delphox (Keeley Hawes), has a delicious cartoonish villainy about her, all the way through the end in fact. There were some decent scenes, too, like the one where Delphox and her alien “Teller” wipe the brain of an accused customer and the guy’s skull collapses like a basketball that’s been popped. But that’s actually one of the many moments in this episode that are directed poorly by […]

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Lucifer Comic Character

You know the rules. There must be one new comic-to-TV adaptation per week, every week, lest Superman come down from his throne on high and smite us with his cool Superman powers. Two weeks ago, we were given Supergirl. Last week, (Teen) Titans. And for September 14-20, our weekly allotment is Lucifer. Deadline tells us that Fox has a put pilot commitment (that is, “shoot a pilot and air a pilot, or face a severe fine”) for a Lucifer series, based off the DC/Vertigo comic of the same name. Lucifer is basically who you think he is — big guy, red skin, horns, jumbo pitchfork. Except in the DC comics chronology, he’s rocking a more angelic look, as a stately blonde fellow in a suit with a large pair of wings. This Lucifer first popped up in Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman,” (the same “The Sandman” that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is so interested in adapting), as a demon bored of the whole Hell thing and looking for a new gig. Eventually he moves out and opens a piano bar in L.A., which would become the setting for his eventual “Lucifer” spin-off comic, and also this Lucifer show. Tom Kapinos will be the showrunner for Lucifer, which feels like a good match. He also created Californication, where a malaised David Duchovny wandered about the glitz of L.A. Lucifer is the same thing, give or take a pair of six-foot wings.

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Doctor Who Orson Pink

What a clever girl, this episode was! Part of me should be disappointed that “Listen” wasn’t strictly the creepy installment that was promised in the preview and the first act (I revealed my excitement in last week’s recap). But in the end I am too impressed with the unexpected turns of its plot to complain. We began with an introduction teasing a new villain along the same lines as the Weeping Angels and The Silence. The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is wandering about the TARDIS talking to himself about the possibility that none of us is ever truly alone, that the fear of something under the bed or right behind us comes with good reason. Whatever might be there is always hidden, as the best baddies in the Doctor Who universe are — they come at us when we aren’t looking, or we forget about them when we’re not looking, or in this case they’re always there when we don’t see them. But the creepiness quickly subsides for some rom-com-ness with Clara (Jenna Coleman) and Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) — or should I say Rupert Pink — which reminded me of how, two episodes ago, in “Into the Dalek,” the flow of the action was similarly interrupted by some cuteness between that budding couple. The show just can’t wait to get back to them any chance it can. Here they have some awkward get-to-know-you and a sudden walk-out from Clara, who gets home and finds her time-traveling pal in her bedroom amazed by her […]

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Doctor Who Doctor of Sherwood

When I first got into Doctor Who (only a few years ago), part of the appeal for me was that it had a kind of Quantum Leap deal as far as the main character’s control of where he’d wind up in many episodes. He would try to go to one place and time, but he and his companion would land in another, as if the Tardis was taking them somewhere and somewhen more important to put right what once went wrong. It’s not as fun when, say, Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) gets to pick a destination and they actually get there. But this week’s installment, “Robot of Sherwood,” worked for me anyway because of a new twist on the idea. The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) doesn’t expect to land where/when they do because he thinks it isn’t real. Or at least he doesn’t think the real place and time is populated by such folklore characters as Robin Hood (Tom Riley), Little John (Rusty Goffe) and the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Miller). 

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FOX

The annual passing of Labor Day is more than just a reminder that your favorite shows will be premiering again soon, it’s also a time to rid yourself of seasons and series past, opening up space on both your DVR and in your heart for new shows. Unfortunately, there’s not much this year premiering on promising cable channels like FX and AMC, but there is still a legion of network series vying for your attention. We’ve skimmed through them all and selected the most promising. Get ready to open up that heart of yours.

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Doctor Who Into the Dalek

This week, Doctor Who continued what may be the running theme of series eight: what makes Doctor Who Doctor Who. I’m not sure if that should be a statement or a question or both. Last week, the philosophical concern with his identity was a sort of “Ship of Theseus” paradox regarding his physical regenerations. Is he the same if so much of him is different? This time it’s the question of whether or not he’s good. And are any soldiers good, if they’ve killed? Is he any better than a Dalek if his hatred of them is as powerful an influence on one of them as is their intrinsic hatred of everything else? The episode, “Into the Dalek,” made me wonder about Peter Capaldi‘s casting and whether it is okay or expected that we think of the actor’s past work while watching this. Thanks to his well-known role as Malcolm Tucker on The Thick of It and in Into the Loop, he carries a bit of meanness on his shoulders that heightens the Doctor’s usually horrible bedside manner. There are a few deaths in this installment, and while they’re no more significant than so many in the past, his attitude towards them comes off crueler than usual. Particularly the darkly comic bit where he gets a soldier (Ben Crompton) to swallow a tracking device prior to his demise so that the Doctor can see where his remains will go.

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Full House

If you’ve already exhausted your syndicated TV options — heavy on the Friends, light on the Family Matters, some Seinfeld thrown in for good measure — we’ve got the throwback news you’re apparently pretty hungry for. New Full House. No, really. And, no, it’s not suddenly 1997, so stop shaking your calendar (and making that joke). TV Guide reports that “Warner Bros. TV is mulling a new take on Full House, with some of the original cast intact.” WHAT. Well, it turns out that Full House continues to perform exceptionally well on the syndicated market (it does seem to be on all the time) and that measurable audience interest, combined with the actual cast’s apparent desire to come back from some more family-friendly hijinks, means that little dollar signs are positively dancing in the heads of the Warner Bros. brass. Honestly, who could possibly blame them?

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Doctor Who Deep Breath

Would a Doctor by any other face smell so sweet? Not if he’s wearing a tramp’s coat, apparently. With the first episode of Doctor Who‘s Series 8, Peter Capaldi is a jarring presence as the Twelfth Doctor, mainly to companion Clara “Impossible Girl” Oswald (Jenna Coleman) but also to an audience used to younger actors in the role since its reboot almost a decade ago. It’s not just because he’s older, though; the thick, sometimes hard to understand Scottish brogue is as rough as his new “attack-eyebrows” appear to be. And maybe it’s an odd appearance because we’ve seen Capaldi on the show prominently before. Does the Doctor acknowledge this deja vu? Has he seen this face before, as he says in the alley to that tramp, in the same place we have? Is it just a coincidence that Capaldi played Caecilius in the 2008 episode “The Fires of Pompeii” and this new episode, “Deep Breath,” debuted on the same date as that earlier one took place, only 1,935 years earlier? This is one of the many things we’ll have to wait to see as the series continues. I also look forward to seeing if the show can quickly get over Capaldi’s distinction and offer up some truly entertaining installments. “Deep Breath,” written by showrunner Steven Moffat and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ben Wheatley (Kill List; Sightseers), was not very interesting plot-wise. For one thing, there was the matter of Moffat bringing back the Clockwork Robots from “The Girl in the Fireplace,” […]

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John Cho and Karen Gillan in Selfie

I came very close to shutting off Selfie in the first few minutes. The new sitcom, which debuts on ABC at the end of September, is currently previewing its pilot episode on Hulu, and that could be a mistake. Watching TV on the Internet allows viewers to judge something super quick, and I foresee a lot of others being turned off by the opening scene, which introduces one of the most obnoxious characters ever to hit the small screen — and that includes a lot of awful reality TV stars. But anyone able to get through the first few minutes without closing their browser and throwing their computer out the window will find something genuinely charming and maybe even a little socially important. One episode in, Selfie is far from being a good show, but it has a cultural relevance that’s not unlike The Newsroom. Similar to Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama, the new sitcom, which was created by Emily Kapnek (a producer on Hung and Parks and Recreation) is founded in a great idea that unfortunately has to work too closely with the very thing it’s derisively commenting on. Here it’s social media addicts who can’t look away from their phones for a moment, and who don’t have any real friends or true social experiences despite their popularity on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Karen Gillan plays such a person, and it’s interesting that this new role is being unleashed the same week that her last series, Doctor Who, is kicking off […]

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The Knick

In the seven years since it debuted, there have been several constants in the reaction to Mad Men: the critics have loved it, everyone has nursed a crush on Jon Hamm, and viewers have asked where the black people are. The time span covered by the period drama, from early 1960 until (presumably) the end of 1969, was one of extraordinary shifts in race relations in America. This was the height of the Civil Rights movement, after all. But that’s only happening in the background noise on Mad Men. This is entirely intentional on the part of creator Matthew Weiner and his writing staff, who have made it one facet of the isolated world of Madison Avenue advertising movers and shakers in which the show dwells. It’s debatable whether that’s a justifiable excuse (I can see points both in and against its favor), but even accepting it, there are still times where it’s just odd to be viewing the ’60s through an almost entirely white lens (most notably in the episode that addressed the death of Martin Luther King Jr.). In any case, it might be easier to swallow had the myriad shows produced in the hopes of mimicking Mad Men‘s success not followed its lead on this front. The period piece genre, which gains traction each year, is one of the most lily-white milieus on American television, and that’s even by the standards of the already overwhelmingly white prestige drama herd. Pan Am, Vegas, Magic City, Halt and Catch Fire, Turn – all of them have little-to-no diversity […]

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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