The Mandalorian: Seasons 1 & 2

A while back I finished watching the first two seasons of The Mandalorian, and as I’ve finally finished with my (written) recaps of the Knightfall Saga, it’s time to get my feet wet again in Star Wars.

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Falcon and the Winter Soldier: TV Review

If WandaVision was an experiment within an experiment, Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a much more conventional limited TV series. It’s still very much a MCU work, with the higher budgets that come with a show like this. However, if you were expecting some more standard superheroic action, this is certainly the show for that. That said, this is, when all is said and done, a show in the vein of the Captain America movies, and like Cap’s comics counterpart, while all comics are political to some degree, Captain America comes to the table planning to be overtly political, with things to say, so to really discuss this show, I’m going to have to say upfront, I’m going to have to get into spoilers – starting below the cut.

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From Left, Wanda Maximoff and The Vision from WandaVision

WandaVision: TV Review

WandaVision is the first part of Marvel’s new initiative for incorporating TV series into the MCU. Rather than the long ongoing series like Agents of Shield, or more street-level series that are superheroic but smaller in scope than the Netflix series, these are more limited series that are more limited in scope, while also involving some of the actual Avengers. In the case of WandaVision, they’re also starting off with a series that is considerably more experimental in style and far more personal in tone than the main films.

There will be spoilers below the cot.

Continue reading “WandaVision: TV Review”

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: TV Review

A long time back I reviewed Smiley’s People. At the time I’d seen the previous series – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – but I’d never gotten around to reviewing it. With the show having come out on Blu-Ray and being available through Netflix on-disk, and having seen the film a while back, I figured it was about time to revisit it.

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Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 1: TV Series Review

There have been varying attempts in the past to tell dramatic and mature stories with puppets. The works of Gerry Anderson are great examples of this. Well, it turns out there’s a tradition of these kind of stories in Taiwan and china, through glove puppetry. We got a real great example of this a few years ago with the Taiwanese and Japanese co-production, Thunderbolt Fantasy.

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Anime Review: Mushibugyo

Mushibugyo is a series that has a real issue with tonal whiplash. There are anime series that have mixed creepy elements and comedy with tremendous effect – Ghost Hunt is an anime series adapted from a light novel with some strong comedy elements, which doesn’t overlook the creepier and more horrific elements of the narrative, with a well done escalation into further horror.

Mushibugyo doesn’t do that. Mushibugyo starts off with super-colorful characters, an over-enthusiastic and incredibly dense shonen protagonist, and numerous fanservice jokes, but which also contains some surprisingly horrific elements created to the show’s primary menace. Continue reading “Anime Review: Mushibugyo”

Anime Review: Fate/Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works (2014-15)

Fate/Stay Night, as a visual novel, had a several routes the player could take through the game. The original F/SN anime adapted the Fate route, with the inclusion of some elements of the Unlimited Blade Works route, with varying degrees of success. After Ufotable’s successful adaptation of Gen Urobuchi’s novel, Fate/Zero, there was question of what it would look like if they were to adapt one of the routes of the game, and in particular the Unlimited Blade Works route in its entirety. Two years ago, we got that adaptation. Continue reading “Anime Review: Fate/Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works (2014-15)”

DVD Review – Bones Season 3

The DVD Cover for Season 3
Get Season 3 of Bones from Amazon.com

Crime Dramas tend to be serialized, unless they’re not. Yes, that sounds incredibly silly, but it’s generally true. The majority of crime dramas, whether of the soap opera variety or the serialized drama take the Dragnet/Law & Order tack of one case per episode, and it’s wrapped up at the end. Starting in the late 90s we finally started seeing much more serialized procedurals which would stretch a case out over several episodes, to a whole season, to even multiple seasons – with the most notable example of this being Homicide: Life on the Street.

Why am I bringing thus up with a Forensic Detective series that I’ve already reviewed the first two seasons of? Well, that’s because the first two seasons stayed in the standard episodic vein. This season, however, shifts gear to our first serial storyline. Specifically, the case of the cannibal, secret-society hating serial killer the Gormogon. This review will contain some spoilers. This is your warning. Continue reading “DVD Review – Bones Season 3”

DVD Review – Peter Gunn

Craig Stevens as Peter Gunn
Get Peter Gunn from Amazon.com

If you’re reading this, and live in the United States, you know what the Peter Gunn theme is. You’ve heard it played by your High School Band (or played it yourself), you’ve heard it while playing Spy Hunter, or in a few movies. If say you haven’t heard the Peter Gunn theme before, then you’re probably lying. However, if you said you hadn’t watched Peter Gunn, I’d probably believe you. For a TV series with one of the memorable themes in the history of television, it’s surprisingly not well known outside of the Baby Boomer generation.

My decision to watch this series comes from my appreciation of hard-boiled detective stories. I got hooked on the genre when I was a kid, through the “Tracer Bullet” persona that Calvin would occasionally take on in Calvin and Hobbes strips. Those strips would later lead me to the works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, and other works of the hard-boiled detective genre (along with works which were a pastiche of the genre, like the Max Payne video games, and like Frank Miller’s Sin City). However, while the hard boiled detective often could be found on the printed page, I couldn’t find him often, necessarily, on the screen, big or otherwise. The film adaptations and homages were there – Blade Runner, Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Chinatown, not to mention TV series like the anime Cowboy Bebop, but considering the prolific amount of work in writing in this genre, the dearth seemed surprising. Continue reading “DVD Review – Peter Gunn”

DVD Review – Bones Season 2

The Cover art for the DVD of Season 2 of Bones
Get Season 2 from Bones from Amazon.com

As you may have gathered from my review of the first season, I liked the start of this. I liked the Forensic Anthropologist take on the Science Detective show.  I liked the characters, and I liked the stories in the show. Now I’ve watched Season 2, and the show has slightly changed it’s focus, to a certain extent. Specifically, in this season the focus has changed from being heavily based around the murders, with the character focused side plots orbiting around it. Instead, with this season, the show has balanced itself out, like a binary star system (which is thus far the geekiest reference I’ve ever made), between the mysteries themselves and the portion of the plot based around the lives of the people working with Bones.

This is not a bad thing.

To get into the details, this season of Bones has two little side arcs to it. The first relates to the mystery surrounding Bones’ ex-bank robber father, who is still alive but missing, why he and Bones’ mother ran away from their children all those years ago. The other focuses around the blooming romance between Hodgins and Angela, which gets progressively serious over the course of the season. Both of these side plots are pretty well executed. I was a little worried about how they’d handle the arc around Bones’ father, but it worked out well. Continue reading “DVD Review – Bones Season 2”

Blu-Ray Review – Justice League Season 1

The cover art for Justice League: Season 1 on Blu-Ray
Get the Blu-Ray edition of Justice League: Season 1 from Amazon.com

If you’ve been following my reviews on Bureau42, you may know that I enjoy superhero comics, particularly judging by my reviews of DC: The New Frontier and similar works, as well as allusions to superhero comics in other reviews I’ve written. So, I missed Justice League when it first aired on TV. I missed it when it came out on DVD. However, now it’s finally out on Blu-Ray, and I’ve finally seen it. I’m pleased by what I’ve seen. My mind was not blown, but I did enjoy what I saw.

The series does what some of the best Justice League comics runs have done, such as Grant Morrison’s, and kept the league to a tight lineup: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman (II – Diana Prince), The Flash (technically The Flash II as we see Barry Allen’s origin story, but we’re not doing prior incarnations here), Green Lantern (IV – John Stewart), Hawkgirl (I – Shayera Hol) and the Martian Manhunter. Continue reading “Blu-Ray Review – Justice League Season 1”

DVD Review – Bones: Season 1

Bones Season 1 Cover Art
Get Bones: Season 1 from Amazon.com

I enjoy mysteries. I read Sherlock Holmes novels as a kid. I read pulp detective novels and Agatha Christie novels as a teen. As a grown up I’ve found myself drawn to the current trend of forensic detective TV series, like CSI on CBS. After missing the boat early on, I’ve picked up the first season of Bones, and have given it a watch.

The show focuses on Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan (played by Emily Deschanel), a woman with a doctorate in Forensic Anthropology who works at the Jeffersonian Institution (not-the-Smithsonian). She’s also a novelist, and probably on-spectrum (and it doesn’t help her mental state that she was knocked around the foster kid system for a while). She’s partnered with FBI Special Agent Seely Booth, an ex-marine sniper (played by David Boreanaz), a more intuitive kind of guy. Togeather–wait for it–they fight crime! Continue reading “DVD Review – Bones: Season 1”

TV Review – Chuck Season 1

Burn Notice Blu-Ray Cover
Get Burn Notice on Blu-Ray from Amazon.com

So, I’ve previously reviewed the first two seasons of Burn Notice. While I wait for season 3 to come out on DVD, I’m going to get started on another spy themed TV series – one with more of a James Bond (pre-Daniel Craig) theme.

The Premise:

Chuck is in charge of the Nerd Herd (Not-The-Geek-Squad) at a Buy More (a Not-A-Best-Buy-Circuit-City-Or-Comp-USA consumer electronics chain). His old friend-turned-arch-nemesis from College, Bryce Larkin, sends him an E-Mail that ends up uploading the contents of the Intersect, a classified NSA & CIA database (which Larkin has also destroyed) into his brain. Chuck ends up under the tender loving care of a beautiful CIA agent (whose cover is his girlfriend) and a rather nasty NSA agent (who presumably killed Larkin), while both agencies try to get the Intersect out of Chuck’s head, and deal with various international plots in and around LA. Continue reading “TV Review – Chuck Season 1”

DVD Review – Burn Notice Season 2

Get Season 2 of Burn Notice on Blu-Ray
Get Season 2 of Burn Notice on Blu-Ray

This week we finish up the Burn Notice reviews (for now), with a review of the show’s second season. I haven’t watched Season 3 yet, but once I do, you can expect a review.

The Premise:

Following the conclusion of Season 1, Michael finds a few answers about who burned him – sort of. To be more accurate, he’s lost the FBI surveillance and instead has found himself in the care of Carla, his new handler. So, while now trying to make ends meet by helping the helpless, he now must also try to find out who Carla is working for, and what they want to do with him. Continue reading “DVD Review – Burn Notice Season 2”

DVD Review – Burn Notice (Season 1)

Buy Season 1 of Burn Notice at Amazon.com
Buy Season 1 of Burn Notice at Amazon.com

Yes, I am aware that I didn’t finish my recap of Season 1 of Burn Notice. To make up for it, I’m going to review the entire season (and season 2 besides, on a later week). However, we need to begin at the beginning. There will be spoilers, but they’ll be below the cut. I’ll try doing some spoiler-guarding stuff this time.

The Premise:

I’ll let the star of the show take this one (courtesy of IMDB):

Michael Westen: [voice-over] My name is Michael Westen. I used to be a spy. Until…
voice on phone: [phone rings] We got a burn notice on you. You’re blacklisted.
Michael Westen: [voice-over] When you’re burned, you’ve got nothing: no cash, no credit, no job history. You’re stuck in whatever city they decide to dump you in.
Michael Westen: Where am I?
Fiona Glenanne: Miami.
Michael Westen: [voice-over] You do whatever work comes your way. You rely on anyone who’s still talking to you. A trigger-happy ex-girlfriend…
Fiona Glenanne: Shall we shoot them?
Michael Westen: [voice-over] An old friend who used to inform on you to the FBI…
Sam Axe: You know spies… bunch of bitchy little girls.
Michael Westen: [voice-over] Family too…
Sam Axe: [phone rings] Hey, is that your Mom again?
Michael Westen: [voice-over] … if you’re desperate.
Madeline Westen: Someone needs your help, Michael!
Michael Westen: [voice-over] Bottom line? Until you figure out who burned you… you’re not going anywhere. Continue reading “DVD Review – Burn Notice (Season 1)”

DVD Review – Smiley’s People

Buy Smiley's People from Amazon.com (cover art will vary).
Buy Smiley's People from Amazon.com (cover art will vary).

As you can probably tell by some of the subject matter of my reviews, I like spy fiction. In particular, I enjoy John LeCarre’s work, especially the character of George Smiley. Previously I’ve watched the adaptation of his novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, though I didn’t review it here. What I will be reviewing today, though, is the adaptation of the 3rd novel of the “Quest for Karla” trilogy, Smiley’s People, which once again puts George Smiley (played by Alec Guinness) of the British Secret Service (aka the Circus) up against Karla of the KGB, played by Patrick Stewart. There are some spoilers below the cut. Continue reading “DVD Review – Smiley’s People”

DVD Review – Genesis of the Daleks

Buy Genesis of the Daleks from Amazon.com
Buy "Genesis of the Daleks" from Amazon.com

This week we’re taking a break from reviewing movies for a review of another Doctor Who storyline. This one is one heck of a classic storyline, featuring one of everyone’s favorite Doctors – Tom Baker. Now, does this storyline hold up over time, or is it as flimsy as the walls of one of their sets. Oh, the story? Genesis of the Daleks.

The Premise

The Doctor and his companions are diverted from their Trans-mat (teleporter) trip back to the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions In Space – their Time Machine to you who are new to the Who), by the Time Lords, who instead send them to the planet of Skaro in the distant past. Their reason – the Time Lords have come to realize that the Daleks are far more powerful than they realized, powerful enough to destroy even them. Thus, they have broken their rule of non-interference and are tasking The Doctor (and his companions, Ian and Sarah Jane), with the task of finding a weakness in the Daleks in this early stage of their existance, or, if possible, to elimiate them. Continue reading “DVD Review – Genesis of the Daleks”

DVD Review – Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days

Get Michael Palins Around the World In 80 Days from Amazon.com
Get Michael Palin's "Around the World In 80 Days" from Amazon.com

Travel documentary series, while at times they can be enoyable, aren’t necessarily my thing. Often times, like Travels in Europe, by Portland native Rick Steves, or Globe Trekker,  the people hosting the show are people who travel professionally – they write about it, and often times they take the time to get to know an area, and thus they have all the tricks and tips to pass along to you to make your stay more comfortable. I’ve also found that these end up making the documentary a little less approachable. They’re being told by an old hand. So, in the course of my travels and travails through Netflix, I found a travel documentary series by Michael Palin – Around the World in 80 days. Being a fan of Monty Python (as is any self respecting geek), I watched it. Now, what did I think about it? Continue reading “DVD Review – Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days”