Category Archives: TV and Movies

Storytelling Done Right: The Murdoch Mysteries

When I finished watching all of “Miss Fisher’s Mysteries” the first recommendation that popped up was “The Murdoch Mysteries.” I gave it a try, not expecting to discover a series so good that I would watch the available nine seasons and then immediately start over again. But that’s what happened. After watching 9 season’s worth of episodes twice I developed a theory about what makes this series so compelling. Continue reading

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How Not to Sell Things

I recently saw a trailer for a show called “Norman.” The trailer was so bad that I looked the movie up afterward, baffled over how something that looked so unpromising had actually gotten a preview slot in a bonafide movie theater. The summary line¬†at the IMDB was even worse than the trailer: “Norman Oppenheimer is a small time operator who befriends a young politician at a low point in his life. Three years later, when the politician becomes an influential world leader, Norman’s life dramatically changes for better and worse.” (If you were lucky enough to miss the trailer it consisted chiefly of Richard Gere fumbling around trying to talk to people who were trying to avoid him.) Of both the trailer and the IMDB description, I have only one question. Why should I care? Continue reading

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If Horror Stories were Specialized

October sailed by, and it always seems to be the month made for horror stories, what with ¬†Halloween and all. Much as I like the idea of curling up on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn and a scary movie, I have never been into horror. Not because I have a problem with gore or violence or even harsh language. It’s because I don’t find standard horror stories to be horrifying. The ‘scary’ problems are things that I don’t see myself falling for of failing to solve. Monster or bad guy in the closet? Kill it! Ghost in the attic? Not real, ignore what you’re imagining! Creepy stalker in your driveway? Rent a thug! The problems that crop up in horror stories strike me as utterly unbelievable (ghosts, demons, etc.) or as problems with super-straightforward solutions (apply violence). Continue reading

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Storytelling Done Okay: Falling Skies

I started watching Falling Skies with real enthusiasm when it first aired. I won’t try to deny that I’m a sucker for anything that prominently features a historian. From the initial season, Falling Skies promised the perfect combination: the chief main character was a history professor, and there were aliens. Awesome. Throw in high stakes and a general sense of human-decency-at-work, and overall this was a pretty good show. At some point it lost a bit of interest for me (the last season languished a long time in the DVR), but I really did like how the characters behaved with a lasting sense of optimism and morality. Too many of the “world gone wrong” shows depict everyone at their most hopeless and worst. And that’s interesting for about five minutes. It’s the cast of characters with a code of conduct that keep me riveted because I wonder how long they will hold up under the strain. Continue reading

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Storytelling Done Right: How to Get Away with Murder

Both seasons of ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” have held me spellbound. I generally take forever to watch anything. Shows – show that I really do like – pile up in the DVR. Programs that friends and family strenuously recommend stay on my “to watch” list for months (for years!) because I’m still slogging through the things they recommended before that. I love shows across the genres: science fiction, law dramas, detective shows, fantasy, historical fiction, anything that’s well done. Yet, for all my enthusiasm, I still usually plod through programs because there’s only so many hours in a day. I like to watch when I can actually pay attention, and carving out time for that isn’t easy. This show, however, is one I’ll watch a season of in three days. It’s like a train wreck that I can’t look away from. Continue reading

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Fight, Fight, Fight, Bite, Bite, Bite

I enjoyed the first season of Daredevil. Check out that description! Blind lawyer by day, vigilante by night. What’s not to love? In season one we got to meet Matt Murdoch, learn how he developed his awesome fighting skills, and watch him start up the little-lawfirm-that-could. Over the course of that initial season, Murdoch/Daredevil took on the suave-but-crazy Wilson Fisk, risking everything to stand up against corruption. It was a pretty good baker’s dozen of episodes and I queued up each one with a reasonable amount of interest. Then, they offered up season two. Continue reading

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