The Punisher – Season 2

You can always burn the place down, if it makes you feel better

Amy Bendix – Season 2: Episode 6 “Nakazat”

I really enjoyed the first season, but the second is just too long and there are too many people involved.  Too many characters, too many writers and too many directors.

Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the incredibly tight Peaky Blinders I just finished watching. Only six episodes a season, with just one writer and one director for all six. Compared to this meandering tale of thirteen episodes written by eight separate people, told by ELEVEN directors managing seven main characters. I didn’t hate it, but it was just too long and had too many characters I didn’t care about.

Watch out for spoilers below.

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Reboot this! Space: Above and Beyond

So many shows are getting a reboot theses days. The thing is, a lot of them are reboots of shows that already have a huge number of episodes people could re-watch. Did we really need to reboot shows like Charmed, Roswell and MacGuyver? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved all those shows, but couldn’t they have just put the originals on a streaming platform for us to watch? How about rebooting shows that didn’t last very long but had great potential? How about giving Space: Above and Beyond another shot?

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Peaky Blinders

“They call them the Mafia.  Yeah, there’s fiftenn ‘ov ’em.  They wan’t kill us all, but we got guns and grenades and Polly’s back, so we’re gonna be okay, yeah.

Curly – Season 4 Episode 2 “Heathens”

I will say first off, this show is not for everyone, it is raw, rude and violent, but I love it.

The Peaky Blinders were a Birmingham street gang active from the 1890s to about 1910. Writer and Creator Steven Knight borrowed their name for this series about an Irish Traveler family who run a bookmaking and protection racket in Birmingham, England. The first season begins in 1919, not long after the three oldest brothers return from fighting in France during the First World War. Thomas Shelby, the second oldest brother, has plans and ambitions to grow.

I’m a big fan of gangster stories. The Godfather, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, I never really got into the Sopranos though. I watched more than a few episodes, and I liked it, but it didn’t grab me the way it did other people. I devoured every episode available of Peaky Blinders.

The acting is superb. These are terrible people but Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson make them sympathetic and human. The costumes, sets and visual design transport you to the past. And then there’s the music!

On a gathering storm comes
a tall handsome man
in a dusty black coat with
a red right hand

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “The Red Right Hand”

Sometimes (too often in my opinion) when directors and producers try and use modern songs in a period setting, the results are jarring. It snaps you right out of the immersion they are trying to build. It’s the exact opposite here. Despite the setting being 1920s England, the music by Jack White, Dan Auerbach, PJ Jarvey, Radiohead and others pulls you in deeper. Everything is chosen perfectly and all the pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle that’s both horrifying and beautiful to look at.

One of the things that makes the show so good is how short the seasons are. That sounds odd to say, but having only six episodes per season (or series as the BBC prefers to call them) means the writer and producers have the time to make sure each one counts. That every script has been honed and fine tuned. Every episode has been written by the same person, creator Steven Knight and each season but the first directed by a single director. So there is a uniformity and consistency that you don’t get with shows that have twice, three or even four times the number of episodes to watch.

Tom Hardy is another wonderful thing about this show. He only has small guest appearances peppered throughout seasons 2, 3 and 4 but holy crap is he amazing. I didn’t even realize it was him I was watching, until I saw his name in the credits and to look up who he played, just to see if it was the same Tom Hardy I was thinking of. It was, and it goes to show how badly his acting ability was misused by Chris Nolan in that last Batman movie.

Each season begins a little further in time than the previous one. Each telling the tale of the growth of the familys power and influence and the prices they pay for it.

I’ve read that Mr. Knight plans for the story to encompass the time between the two world wars, over a total of seven seasons. Four have been released and the fifth is due this year. I can’t wait.

Watching Jeopardy on Netflix makes me feel smart

Before a few weeks ago, I had not watched an episode of Jeopardy in a loooong time. I was probably living at my parents house the last time I saw one because they liked to watch it and I watched with them.

Not long ago I saw Jeopardy was on Netflix and I though “What? There must be like a thousand episodes by now. Did they put them all on Netflix?”

The answer is no. They put some of their Tournament of Champions episodes on Netflix, and I like it.

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Z Nation is cancelled, but more Z Nation to come!

So, SyFy has cancelled Z Nation after five seasons. However, Netflix will be doing an eight episode prequel series called Black Summer, a point in time often referred to in Z Nation. The new mini series is from mostly the same production, direction and writing staff as Z Nation, but will not feature any of the existing characters.

I’m going to miss Lt. Warren, Murphy, Doc, 10K and the others, but maybe if Black Summer does well and gets a 2nd season, some of our favorite people can be brought on to it or, even better, Netflix pays for a 6th season of the original. That right there is why production companies need to be separate from the networks that broadcast the shows.

Wait… You have no idea what I’m talking about? You’ve never watched Z Nation? I can’t really say I’m surprised.

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Good Eats is coming back!

I like cooking shows. It’s fun to learn new recipes and get ideas for meals, it’s even better when they expose you to techniques and styles of cuisine you might not ordinarily encounter. My favorite of all cooking shows though has always been Alton Browns Good Eats.

I didn’t catch the show when it first premiered on Food Network in 1999, I think it wasn’t until the third or fourth season that I started watching (I was late to that party, as usual) but I fell in love with it immediately. Good Eats wasn’t just another celebrity chef giving you a bunch of recipes, each episode was a cooking class, it was a testing lab, it was an equipment review, a history lesson, it was one of the best resources for culinary information I have ever come across. Even better than all the Dummies books I had been buying.

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Dr. Who is on Twitch!

I don’t know when it started, or how long it will last, but Classic Dr.Who episodes are currently streaming on!

Actually, that’s a lie, the information on the Twitch page tells me it started on January 5th and will end on the 20th. Unlike a lot of other streaming sites, this is 100% legal. Twitch, having been bought by Amazon a few years ago, often get the rights to broadcast shows as a special event. They’ve done it with Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting in the past and this time have made an arrangement with the BBC to show old Dr. Who episodes.

Remember when the Doctor had no trouble using guns? Remember when the Daleks were actually scary? Remember when TV was square instead of rectangular? Relive it all now! Fair warning though, the episodes are pretty old and you will see plenty of white people squinting in yellow face using generic “oriental” accents and there are no seizure warnings before the screen tries to strobe you blind.

You’ll also have to put up with a few ads for Amazon Prime shows and of course Twitch chat, which can be good or bad depending on the mood of the viewers.

It’s a good antidote for AGDQ withdrawal symptoms.

The Magicians. A book trilogy and a series on SyFy

Discussions about Lev Grossmans The Magicians invariably lead to comparisons with the Harry Potter books. Both are urban fantasy series about people who wield awesome magical powers, living in the same world as us and the schools where they were taught to use them. The similarities end there however. Hogwarts is a highschool and Brakebills is a college. While the Potter novels each recount a single year of school, The Magicians covers an entire fours years of college in the first book and the next two are all about growing up and life as an adult. One of the things I enjoyed about J.K. Rowlings books was how the language and themes of the books matured as the readers did. Lev Grossman treats his readers as adults from page one. The themes he explores are deep and complex, mostly about how we view the world and our relationships in it. Where most unpleasant things in the Harry Potter books happen in bloodless, Disney like manners or completely “off camera”, in The Magicians books they are violent, bloody and in your face. So I wouldn’t recommend it to readers still in primary school, but if you’re ready to graduate…

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