Henry Cavill Nabs New Netflix Series

Netflix announced this morning that Henry Cavill has signed on to play Geralt of Rivia in it's new series based on the popular fantasy book and video games series, "The Witcher".  The series of fantasy books was originally written by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski and was subsequently adapted to a popular and critically lauded  series of video games starting in 2007. 

There have been rumors of a film going back as far as 2012 but this incarnation is set to be a whole series for Netflix. Lauren Schmidt Hissrich  known for Marvel’s Daredevil, Marvel’s The Defenders, Umbrella Academy is set as the writer, EP, and showrunner. Hissrich announced Cavill officially joining the project via twitter “He was my first meeting...I didn’t have writers or scripts yet – just a greenlight and a lot of passion. That was four months ago, and I’ve never forgotten the passion he brought. He IS Geralt. He always has been. I’m so thrilled to welcome HENRY CAVILL to the Witcher family.”

Cavill is undoubtedly most well-known for his most recent stint as Clark Kent/Superman in the new DC Universe films and also his mustache did great work in the newest Mission: Impossible. It should be noted that this isn't his first foray into the world of television. Cavill spent 4 seasons working on the critically acclaimed Showtime drama, "The Tudors".

Is there anyone you would rather see Geralt than Cavill? Put your hands together for good casting.

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Summer Binges

What do you watch when you get home from work? (I’m assuming here that most people plop, exhausted, on the couch after work every single night because that’s exactly what I do) I noticed this summer that my post-work TV viewing revolved around suspense dramas and murder, so I thought I’d rank the six shows I binged between June and August.

How To Get Away With Murder (streaming on Netflix): We’re obviously starting with the worst because, man, this show. It’s a few years old now, but I’d never seen it, so I watched the first season and half of the second and then I turned it off for good. A law professor literally teaches her students how to, well, you know - get away with murder. It was interesting at first, but then it became a huge tangled web of deceit with no resolution in sight. When one situation or threat was cleared, another (more implausible than the last) had already started brewing. It caused more stress than a day at work and I know murder shows aren’t all relaxation and mindlessness, but jeez. No thanks. And I couldn’t get past Alfred Enoch not being Dean Thomas from Harry Potter.  

Goliath (streaming on Amazon Prime): This show is ranked second lowest on my list, but that’s not to say it was bad; it just wasn’t as intriguing (to me) as the other shows I watched. Billy Bob Thornton plays a smart and once powerful attorney who now drinks more than he practices law. In the first season, he’s talked into taking on a wrongful death case against a large corporation who happens to be represented by his previous firm (that he helped build) and conspiracies are unveiled. I liked the plot of first season more than the second, where a young boy is framed for murder; howeverrrrr… the second season had some pretty surreal situations that I feel need mentioning. Mark Duplass plays an unscrupulous developer who has some pretty specific turn ons involving H.R. Pufnstuf and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say it was one of the most bizarre things I’d seen on TV for awhile. I just sat on my couch with an unbelieving and horrified look on my face - and doesn’t a reaction like that at least make for decent television?

The Tunnel (streaming on Amazon Prime and PBS Passport): My first (and not last) British show on the list. This is where my true love of crime procedural lies - across the pond. Or, in this case, across the Channel. The Tunnel is three seasons of the British working with the French to solve trans-Channel murder and crime. And yes, there are some subtitles. Like Goliath, the first season is the best and most plausible, but they’re all cleverly developed. I enjoyed the interaction between the two lead detectives -- Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon from Game of Thrones) and Clémence Poésey -- as they learned to trust each other and work as a team. They’re short at six episodes per season and the third and final season aired this summer.

Marcella (streaming on Netflix): Another British murder drama, this time with an extremely flawed and complicated lead (wait, isn’t that every murder mystery?). The first season aired a few years ago and I loved it. Anna Friel (from Pushing Daisies) plays Marcella Backland, a headstrong detective and mother who goes in and out of often-violent blackout episodes stemming from an unrealized traumatic event in her past. The second season aired this year and she finally delves deep enough in her psyche to understand what she’s been trying to bury for the last several years. There are definitely some intense scenes and, honestly, some are very disturbing and dark - notably more so than in the first season. Is it weird that that’s exactly what I love in a suspense show? The crazy ending leaves an opening for further seasons, but on a completely different path. Definitely check it out.

Sharp Objects (streaming on HBO Go): Sharp Objects is based on the book of the same name by Gillian Flynn, of Gone Girl fame. Over the course of a year or so, in the sleepy Missouri town of Wind Gap, two girls have been found brutally murdered. A reporter from St. Louis returns to her hometown to cover the latest murder and is brought face-to-face with her haunted past. Family and town dynamics are explored at a slow, but satisfying pace. The show feels distinctly Southern Gothic and patience is key for the reward of a shocking twist at the end… don’t skip the credits. I usually read books before I watch the TV or movie adaptation, but I was so disgusted with How To Get Away With Murder, I jumped into Sharp Objects without reading first. I’ve heard the show is slightly different than the book, so I think I’ll pick that up soon.

Endeavour (streaming on Amazon Prime and PBS Passport): Alright. This is it. As much as I love crazy, dark, and twisted murders, there’s nothing better than a British cozy mystery and Endeavour very much satisfies that sub-genre. My favorite class in college was British Detective Fiction - we read a mystery each week and broke down the genre from its origins to present-day trends. Everything from Agatha Christie to Colin Dexter, who, as it happens is directly connected to Endeavour. Colin Dexter is known for Inspector Morse - a slightly-more-than-middle-aged man who solves crimes across the city of Oxford, England. He debuted in 1975 and appeared in more than 13 novels across more than two decades (there was also a British TV series based on the books than ran almost as long). Endeavour imagines Morse as he would have been in the 1960s before he moved through the ranks of the British constabulary system. It’s just delightful and well-made. Each episode is approximately 90 minutes, so there’s plenty to sink into if you’re looking for a long-term relationship with a fictional character.

Posted on September 2, 2018 and filed under TV Reviews.

Friendly Advice: Hiring a Roofing Contractor

Picture this scenario, you are woken at 3 AM to what sounds like golf balls hitting your roof and windows. If you live in North Texas like I do, you know all too well its hail. Big hail. This exact thing happened to me early this summer. Thankfully, it wasn't too bad at my place. No broken windows and the truck was in the garage, but my roof took a beating. The second such beating in 3 years. I knew it was time to get the roof looked at before I developed any leaks.

 This was a kid brother of the bigger ones.

This was a kid brother of the bigger ones.

If you are like most people you don't have a roofer on retainer. Shortly after I moved into my house, I had another wallop of a storm and had to get a roof then also. When a big storm happens, roofer swarm the area like flies to a fresh turd and if you don't do your homework, that's exactly what you may get.

I got lucky and saw a neighbor about post Golden Rule General Contracting, his roofing contractor, on the Nextdoor community website. I decided to do my homework and check him out. They had great reviews on every platform I looked at so I decided you give them a shot. I was not disappointed.

In order to help anyone navigate the perils of finding a quality roofer that's stands by their product, I decided to site down with Randy, owner of Golden Rule G.C. and get some sound advice.

Doug- "So Randy, what are the first things you should do or check if you find a leak in your roof or experience hail damage?"

Randy- "First thing is to always stop damage from getting worse. Collect water, make sure it’s not going to damage the floor or cause your ceiling to collapse. Get an experienced roofing contractor to complete emergency repairs to keep leaks from getting worse."

D- "What are some good resources to use to find a good roofing company?"

R- "It is important to check references such as the Better Business Bureau, Home Advisor, Google My Business, Angies List, etc. The app Nextdoor can be a valuable place to find recommendations from people in your area who have had a good (or bad) experience with roofing contractors."

D- "Are there any you should steer clear from?"

R- "Anyone that has been in business less than a year. Our area experiences hailstorms on a pretty infrequent basis, so the person who was cutting your grass last week could be installing your roof the next. Anyone who is from out of town or doesn’t have a track record of doing business locally. We call them storm chasers in the roofing industry, and it’s important to hire a reputable company so if there is a problem with your roof in the future you can call them to honor their warranty."

D- "When talking to an roofing company, what are some key things to look for?"

R- "How long they have been in business. Their reviews. If they’re insured and bonded or not. Do they pull permits in municipalities that require permits. Do they have a Jobsite Foreman who stays on the job to oversee the work during the entire process? Do they take pictures to document the work? Does their warranty cover labor and materials, and damages caused by leaks. Do they have a pre, during and job completion checklist to ensure quality of work?"

D- "What are some red flags you should avoid?"

R- "Take a look at the vehicle they arrive in. Does it look professional? Ask how much experience the representative has, is he/she a salesman, or do they know the roofing industry. Pushy salespeople. Did they thoroughly inspect your entire home or just take a quick look at your roof? If they didn’t have time for you prior to you signing the contract, chances are they won’t have a lot of time for you after. Never give a roofing contractor money upfront. First checks should be given when materials are delivered and the job has commenced, with final payment upon your complete satisfaction of completion."

D- "Is there any type of maintenance you can do to keep your roof in top condition?"

R- "Leaves and debris should be kept from piling up on your roof and/or gutters. Tree limbs should be kept from rubbing/brushing the shingles. After the first five years, boot jacks should be inspected to ensure they’re not cracking around your plumbing pipes. After that every two years they should be inspected as the average life expectancy of these flashings is around 6 to 10 years, and are frequently the cause of leaks on roofs."

D- "What sets Golden Rule GC apart from the other?"

R- "We focus on providing top-notch customer service. Our job is never complete until the customer is 100% satisfied. Upfront, we do a thorough inspection of the entire home, not just the roof. After inspecting the roof, we inspect the exterior of the home, from paint to windows, rotten wood on soffits and fascia. We check the windows for proper seals. We check the foundation for issues and erosion. We check that the home is properly ventilated. We check the soffit and roof vents to ensure proper attic ventilation. We check dryer vents, whether roof or wall mounted to ensure these vents are not clogged with lint and present a fire hazard. After a thorough inspection we advise customers on the pros and cons of filing an insurance claim as if it were a claim on our home. Once a claim is filed, we make sure that the claim is properly paid for and that the insurance company didn’t miss anything that should be paid for. We document everything with pictures and negotiate the claim with the insurance company on the customer’s behalf. We check local building codes to ensure all work is completed meets that minimum standard. Upon finishing negotiation with the insurance company and prior to starting work, we inform the customer of all changes to ensure complete transparency. We provide an English/Spanish speaking Jobsite Foreman on all of our jobs to ensure communication between the roofing crew and the customer will be facilitated. We take pictures during the entire process, and take great care to install proper underlayment and flashings on all roofs. We install Ice and Water Barrier in all valleys, low slope areas, walls, and flashings to help ensure there are no leaks which is backed by our Best-in-Industry Five-year warranty on labor, materials and any damages caused by our faulty workmanship."

D- "Do you have any other advice you could give someone with a leaky or hail damaged roof?"

R- "The best piece of advice I can give you when dealing with a roofing contractor is – go with your gut. If you don’t feel completely comfortable with the person you’re dealing with, don’t sign anything. Roofing salespeople can be as bad as used car salespeople sometimes."

Speaking from experience, I have dealt both both the "storm chasers" and a top quality contractor. Believe me, you will sleep much better at night using a seasoned professional. For my money, Golden Rule G.C cant be beat. If you are in their area, I suggest giving them a call. If not, take heed to Randy's advice. 

 

Posted on August 31, 2018 and filed under Friendly Advice.

BEST IN WEST: KOLACHE (and KLOBASNEK) SHOWDOWN

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If you've ever made the trek from anywhere North to anywhere South in Texas you've probably passed through West, Texas. If you have, there's a pretty good chance you've pulled off the highway and grabbed a hot kolache or klobasnek. It's basically a road trip tradition. Depending on the direction you were heading, Czech Stop or Slovacek's may have managed to slow you down, but did you know there were other options no more than a stone's throw from the highway to help you get your kolache fix?

Let us take you on a kolache and klobasnek tour of West, Texas.

*It must be noted that while each of these establishments offers multiple varieties of each item we opted to test the classics.*

THE BASIC SAUSAGE ROLL

 Before we begin, let's take a look at what some might confuse with a kolache. This sausage roll is technically a klobasnek, but we'll forgive you. (We just learned this today). You can find these at any donut shop down the street. They're not bad, but they also aren't the best. We're looking for something more. 

Before we begin, let's take a look at what some might confuse with a kolache. This sausage roll is technically a klobasnek, but we'll forgive you. (We just learned this today). You can find these at any donut shop down the street. They're not bad, but they also aren't the best. We're looking for something more. 

 This good-sized klobasnek was stuffed full of ground sausage. It was wonderfully seasoned and the roll had a nice yeasty sweetness to it. I also picked up two jalapeno sausage rolls for the road and they were  delicious ! 

This good-sized klobasnek was stuffed full of ground sausage. It was wonderfully seasoned and the roll had a nice yeasty sweetness to it. I also picked up two jalapeno sausage rolls for the road and they were delicious

 We were in for a real treat with Village Bakery's kolache. The cream cheese is the hero in this confection. It was unlike any other in our taste test. Angel kisses must be on the list of ingredients. The pastry had the same sweetness as the sausage roll and that's a good thing. 

We were in for a real treat with Village Bakery's kolache. The cream cheese is the hero in this confection. It was unlike any other in our taste test. Angel kisses must be on the list of ingredients. The pastry had the same sweetness as the sausage roll and that's a good thing. 

 King-Sized portions seems to be the name of the game at Gerik's. This massive klobasnek was filled with perfectly spiced ground sausage and cheese. The only thing that could make this roll better is more meat! It's that good!

King-Sized portions seems to be the name of the game at Gerik's. This massive klobasnek was filled with perfectly spiced ground sausage and cheese. The only thing that could make this roll better is more meat! It's that good!

 Another HUGE pastry. A little more bread than cream cheese, but that's ok. We found this bread to be even better than Village Bakery's, but that comes at the cost of slightly inferior cream cheese. You can't beat angel kisses.  If you're into gargantuan baked goods (and who isn't) be sure to check out Gerik's cinnamon rolls. They've got wedding cake and PB&J versions if you're looking to get crazy and they all look to weigh about 3 pounds.

Another HUGE pastry. A little more bread than cream cheese, but that's ok. We found this bread to be even better than Village Bakery's, but that comes at the cost of slightly inferior cream cheese. You can't beat angel kisses.

If you're into gargantuan baked goods (and who isn't) be sure to check out Gerik's cinnamon rolls. They've got wedding cake and PB&J versions if you're looking to get crazy and they all look to weigh about 3 pounds.

 Ah, Czech Stop, my old road trip workhorse. I can't count how many or your kolaches and klobasneks I've devoured over the years.   The sausage link is terrific. There's that little  snap  as you bite into it followed by a little heat from the pepper. The roll is definitely smaller than our previous contestants, but that just means you can eat more. The bread is great on this almost bite-sized roll. 

Ah, Czech Stop, my old road trip workhorse. I can't count how many or your kolaches and klobasneks I've devoured over the years. 

The sausage link is terrific. There's that little snap as you bite into it followed by a little heat from the pepper. The roll is definitely smaller than our previous contestants, but that just means you can eat more. The bread is great on this almost bite-sized roll. 

 Czech Stop packs a punch with its cream cheese. It's sweet and tangy and there's a ton of it. There's a reason why so many pledge allegiance to this little bakery.   Be prepared to wait if you swing by Czech Stop. It's a popular place, but totally worth a little line time. Czech Stop also has a large variety of other assorted baked goods. Their breakfast sausage rolls are incredible!

Czech Stop packs a punch with its cream cheese. It's sweet and tangy and there's a ton of it. There's a reason why so many pledge allegiance to this little bakery. 

Be prepared to wait if you swing by Czech Stop. It's a popular place, but totally worth a little line time. Czech Stop also has a large variety of other assorted baked goods. Their breakfast sausage rolls are incredible!

 Slovacek's sausage roll was nicely proportioned, although the smallest of the four we tasted, and the sausage link had a nice heat to it, but the bread itself was underwhelming. Maybe we were just spoiled by our previous contestants.

Slovacek's sausage roll was nicely proportioned, although the smallest of the four we tasted, and the sausage link had a nice heat to it, but the bread itself was underwhelming. Maybe we were just spoiled by our previous contestants.

 Again, we were left wanting a little more from the bread. It was like a little tasteless raft carrying cream cheese to our mouths. Speaking of cream cheese, it was good, but not life-changing.   Much like Czech Stop, Slovacek's offers a lot more than just kolaches. Think of it like a miniature Buccee's. 

Again, we were left wanting a little more from the bread. It was like a little tasteless raft carrying cream cheese to our mouths. Speaking of cream cheese, it was good, but not life-changing. 

Much like Czech Stop, Slovacek's offers a lot more than just kolaches. Think of it like a miniature Buccee's. 

 

We headed out to West with every intention of crowning a Kolache King, but we see now that it's impossible. There are so many great options in West that you'd be doing yourself a disservice by only trying one. So, start with Slovacek's and work your way a little deeper into West. It only gets better from there. 

 

Taste Tested by Andy, Doug, and Chris. All photographs by Chris.

Posted on August 29, 2018 .

Tattoo Inspirations

I made an appointment to get my next tattoo in September. Is it possible to have a tasteful homage to my love of wacky and weird pop culture-themed parties imprinted on my forearm for the rest of my life? Fingers crossed.

Over the past six years, I’ve had a slew of themed Friendsgivings:

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Thank You For Being a Friendsgiving (Golden Girls)

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I Get By With a Little Help From My Friendsgiving (The Beatles)

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and Imaginary Friendsgiving (The Shining).

I’ve also had a few backyard movie nights:

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Moonrise Kingdom

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and The Big Lebowski (backyard turned into living room thanks to the rain).

And I had a party room at the Reservoir Geeks’ Lovely Soiree in 2015:

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The Royal Tenenbaums.

For my tattoo, I decided to choose one icon to represent each of these special events with my friends. They really have been some of the best nights ever and looking back over some of the pictures just now made me feel so nostalgic - something I’m not opposed to feeling every time I look at my arm.

Each icon will be done in a simple, but graphic, blackline style. This is what I’ve chosen to represent each party:

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Golden Girls - Tropical leaf. I always imagine the lush lanai when I think of The Golden Girls.

The Beatles - The Apple Records apple. I’ve played their records so often, this fruit just means the lads to me.

Moonrise Kingdom - A vintage portable record player. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is Sam and Suzy dancing on the beach to a 60s French pop record.

The Royal Tenenbaums - The yellow tent upstairs. I’ve always wanted to hide out in that tent, but it also breaks my heart every time.

The Shining - Vintage motel keychain and key. These were actually the favors at my Shining party almost 3 years ago - a lot of my friends still have it on their key rings!

The Big Lebowski - A patterned rug. It’ll just tie the whole tattoo together, man.

Besides being reminders of all the fun times I’ve had with my friends, they all mean something more to me anyway because I wouldn’t have picked the themes if I hadn’t loved the movie or show or band in the first place. The wheels are starting to turn in my head for my next Friendsgiving… perhaps Pee-Wee’s Big Friendsgiving?

What pop culture tattoos would you get?

Posted on August 26, 2018 .

Holmes and Watson

The first poster for Holmes & Watson starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Ralph Feinnes, and Kelly Macdonald.

So far it’s described on IMDB as “A humorous take on Arthur Conan Doyle's classic mysteries featuring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.”

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Posted on August 23, 2018 .

Bazinga! The Big Bang Theory to End

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Millions of people will have to get their geek culture laughs elsewhere. The Big Bang theory is set to end after 12 dominant seasons on CBS. In a joint statement between CBS, WBTV, and Chuck Lorre Productions said "We are forever grateful to our fans for their support of The Big Bang Theory during the past twelve seasons. We, along with the cast, writers and crew, are extremely appreciative of the show’s success and aim to deliver a final season, and series finale, that will bring The Big Bang Theory to an epic creative close."

As recently as last week there were rumors that CBS was trying to renew the show for a 13th season but apparently failed to close the deal. Big Bang has been a ratings juggernaut since it's debut in 2007 and has won 10 Emmy's in 52 nominations. According to a report at Deadline the show will air it's last episode in May of 2019. 

Netflix's Disenchantment - Review

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When talking about animated television shows for adults, Matt Groening's name (even if you don't know how to pronounce it) is undoubtedly going to come up. He created The Simpsons, which is the longest running American sitcom, and Futurama, which might not have reached the same level of mass appeal, but has definitely attained cult status. 

And now there's Disenchantment.

Disenchantment is a 10 episode animated fantasy series developed for Netflix. It recently debuted on the home streaming service and...it's rough.

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Abbi Jacobson voices Bean, our beer-chugging princess protagonist. She is joined by Elfo the Elf (voiced by Nat Faxon) and Luci, her own personal demon (voiced by Eric Andre). They venture far and wide throughout the medieval land of Dreamland shirking responsibility and getting into trouble. Our three main characters meet on Bean's (arranged) wedding day and make an escape after her suitor impales himself on a throne of swords. Luci is a demon packed into a wedding gift meant to turn Bean to the dark side, but instead becomes her best drinking buddy. Elfo has left his happy colony of elves looking for something other than a life of singing and making candy. Sounds cool, right?

It should be. But, it's not. At least not right away. I'll admit that I did find myself enjoying the series, but only after groaning through the first two or three episodes. I don't know if I was just then starting to figure out where the writers were going or if they were. The series picks up steam and laughs around the fourth and fifth episode and is genuinely interesting by the final few. 

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Abbi Jacobson and Eric Andre are the only saviors in that troublesome beginning. Their characters are clearly defined and they play well off eachother. Nat Faxon's whiny Elfo, however, is a real disappointment. I think it was mostly his lines and delivery that sucked the potential fun out of the room. I don't know if this was intentional as multiple jokes are made by other characters about how annoying he is, but it put a real damper on the introduction to the series. Maybe I missed something in the first episode, but his character's motivations and his demeanor seem at odds. I understand that both he and Bean are unsatisfied with the way their lives have been laid out in front of them and they are meant to bond over this frustration, but a different backstory for Elfo and a little tweaking to their introduction could have gone a long way in making him easier to understand. He plays an elf (who's had dirty sex on the regular with a promiscuous lady-elf, more on that in a sec) that wants a life where things aren't always happy and he strikes out in search of "real life". Nothing wrong here, but later in the series he is constantly seen as shy, timid, self-conscious and naive. Normally you'd think a character so seemingly headstrong would be a little more adventurous and open to new experiences, if not at the very least familiar with even the most basic of social cues. He develops a crush on Bean and struggles with the way to approach her. It's as if he's never spoken to a girl before, lest we forget that we just saw him plowing away on the the town door knob in full view of fellow elves just a few episodes earlier. Oh, and his voice is insanely irritating. I guess I really just had a problem with Nat Faxon.

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The animation is, for the most part, gorgeous. Sadly, there are a few characters that seem a little...undercooked. The King, voiced by John DiMaggio, looks like a Homer Simpson sketch from that shows early years. It's as if they started the show with a mock-up and forgot to finish fleshing him out. Elfo (ugh) is another character that looks like he could use a few revisions. 

Like I said, things really pick up towards the end and Disenchantment even delivers some poignant moments to go along with the funny. Groening's shows have never really had trouble delivering in the emotional department and it was during one particular scene that I saw a lot of similarities to Futurama. The final few episodes ultimately saved the series for me. They're the reason I'll be returning for the next 10 episodes. Here's hoping that the growing pains are over and we can leave that awkward beginning behind us. 

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I think Disenchantment suffers from the same fate as a lot of other streaming only shows. When you've been green-lit and you're dropping every episode on a single day you lose out on the premier episode criticism that might prompt a few changes in story-telling and character development. Show runners nowadays don't have to make a show that's killer right out of the gate. They've been given 5 or 10 hours to tell their story and this show has definitely opted for the slow warm up. Disenchantment could have used a few more weeks in the oven. 

Posted on August 20, 2018 .

Summer of '84 - REVIEW

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Last weekend, my friend and I went to the movies. It was Saturday after work and he offered up two suggestions and I offered up two of my own. Long story short, I was vetoed on both my choices and, with a brief description of both Summer of 84 and Never Goin’ Back, I chose the murder mystery (I’ll almost always choose a thriller). Had I taken a few minutes to watch the trailer beforehand, I might have lowered my expectations a bit.

It’s the summer of 1984 (duh) and conspiracy theory-loving Davey becomes increasingly convinced his neighbor, a town cop, is a serial killer after several neighborhood boys go missing. He enlists the help of his friends (a ne’er-do-well, a library-loving nerd, and an overweight teddy bear) to spy on fresh-faced Officer Mackey, played by Mad Men’s Rich Sommer, who does seem increasingly guilty. Is he actually the serial killer? I won’t spoil that for you, but throw in a crush on an older girl next door, a walkie-talkie communication system, and group rides around a quaint Oregon town on bikes and you’ve got a stereotypical 80s movie, right?

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That was part of the problem for me. It’s not that the movie was bad, per se. It was just too heavy-handed on the 80s nostalgia craze that Stranger Things ushered in. A year ago, or even two, it wouldn’t have seemed so forced, but at this point, it just felt late to the game and unoriginal. It definitely paled in comparison to the group-of-friends original classics of my childhood: The Goonies, It, The Lost Boys, ET, and so on.

Now that I’ve ragged on it enough, I really did enjoy the unfolding of the mystery and its eventual outcome. The movie starts a bit slow and is dragged down by visits to the bowling alley and all the teenage feelings, but the end picks up and delivers a few surprises and scares. You know it’s a decent quest to catch a killer when characters start snooping into business they shouldn’t and you literally begin to exhibit signs of stress in the movie theater.

I have to admit my mind did start to wander a bit after Davey sees a missing neighborhood boy on the milk carton one morning. It’s such an 80s reference, but did you know that the milk carton campaign only last two years and didn’t actually help all that much? I’d just listened to a podcast episode about milk carton kids and the skeptical side of me wanted to re-listen to see if they were even used in 1984 still. You can breathe a collective sigh of relief - Summer of 84 got in just under the gun: the campaign ran from 1982-1984.

So, unless you’re really dying (ha) to see a movie about the summer in the last few weeks of summer, Summer of 84 can wait for streaming.    

Posted on August 19, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Reservoir Geeks Review: Netflix's "Everything Sucks"

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When school began at the end of the summer of ‘96 I was a 14 year old Freshman braving Junior High at a new school, intimidated by girls, and generally unsure what to make of the world around me. If Netflix's show "Everything Sucks" is even semi-autobiographical, it's safe to assume the creator shares my exact same age because it's story revolves around a Freshman experiencing all those very things in, you guessed it- 1996.

Now knowing that I’m the exact target audience of the show, it's not surprising that when I first saw the teaser I instantly thought "Yep- I'm going to watch that". In retrospect, my immediate commitment is mostly to blame on the use of an all-time great song- The Cranberries' "Linger" playing over the main character reenacting popular music videos of the day (so many feels!). The teaser certainly did it's job reeling me in, but with all 10 of the season's episodes now behind me, I learned a valuable lesson; there is a big difference between a reflexive "I'm gonna watch it" and a reflexive "Hey, that looks great!".

I'm sad to report that "Everything Sucks" turned out to be not much more than 'nostalgia porn' of the highest order. The first 40 seconds of episode 1 alone manage to shoehorn in slap bracelets, skateboards, troll dolls, neon colors, a walkman, playing hacky sack, and one of those folded paper "Cootie Catcher" games. 

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Subtlety is not a concept the makers of this show are familiar with. 
Neither is pacing.
Within a minute after the opening sequence ends it's quickly established that our main character Luke is ”Kind of a nerd”, his two best friends vary slightly on the nerd spectrum, and the tie that binds them together is a passion for movies and A/V club. Less than a minute after that Luke is head over heels for a girl that happens to be Principal’s Daughter (Kate). 
Anything sound familiar yet?
Like someone cherry-picked Freaks and Geeks, The Goldbergs, Netflix's own hit Stranger Things, or any one of a host of other underdog coming of age, "reminiscing" shows. Today's TV landscape may be littered with shows that shamelessly prey on the "'member berries" of my demographic; (I’ll even go so far as to admit that when done well, “keep em’ coming”) but “Everything Sucks” never stops feeling like simply a vehicle for surface level 90’s pop culture references. 

 "Anyone want a Surge?"

"Anyone want a Surge?"

"Everything Sucks" achieves the difficult task of simultaneously being completely unbelievable and highly predictable. A contradiction best explained by giving one (of many) examples:  Upon meeting, Luke's single mom and Kate's Principal Dad start secretly dating despite knowing their children also are. Their second date is instigated by the otherwise goody-goody Principal suggesting they smoke some pot together that he confiscated from a student. This event is completely out of character, out of left field, and becomes even more glaring as they proceed to smoke pot in the very parking lot of his school (in the daylight, no less) which eventually results in their traipsing through the school in search of a cure for the munchies, and later stripping down and swimming in the school's pool (?!)
It's so far-fetched and yet such obvious writing I almost turned the show off right then.

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The one unique storyline of the show is that Kate, while being simultaneously pursued by Luke is embracing the realization that she is actually attracted to women. While I can't claim to know the experience of realizing I am a Lesbian in high school, to me it ended up feeling almost as clunky as the rest of the show negating any groundbreaking it may have otherwise done. 

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"Everything Sucks"' heart is in the right place but in so many ways the execution is just not there.  It says it all that the show was made with my exact taste and demographic in mind yet I still can’t give it my endorsement.
So I'll give a predictable, hacky show a fittingly predictable and hacky review line-
"Everything Sucks" is everything mediocre.

...After rewatching the trailer I probably should've seen it coming.
Check it out HERE and let us know what you think.

Posted on August 16, 2018 .