Archive for category Best of
This season’s most noticeable trend: COVID-19 Finale Alterations
Though a lot of shows weren’t impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown (as filming had already been completed on all episodes), many shows had to shorten their seasons anywhere from one to five episodes, depending on their production schedule. While most of these shows, especially sitcoms and procedurals, had the luxury of simply ending their seasons early (without major cliffhangers to satisfy us until next season), some had to change or alter their story arcs to condense the season accordingly, leading to mixed results. The Blacklist had to complete what would end up being their finale with animation that in many ways distracted from what was actually happening (I would like to see them finish this episode once production starts again and then re-air it as it was meant to be seen); New Amsterdam completely removed an episode that introduced a new character due to the nature of the content (which they say will be aired eventually… we’ll see; at least The Resident didn’t shy away from their virus-themed episodes); Prodigal Son condensed a few of their storylines to make sure they could get the finale they wanted and did a fantastic job in delivering the finale they intended without losing any of the show’s integrity; and Supergirl, somehow pulled off a win by throwing some of the footage it filmed for its final episode into episode 19, which then served as its season finale.Read full awards
Read on for Part 2 of this year’s Television Chaos awards. (Check out Part 1).
Cutest Creature: The Child, Star Wars: The Mandalorian
The moment this little creature peeks out of the blanket in his little hover pod, you automatically want one of your own! If that wasn’t enough, during the next episode we get to see him walk, play, eat an entire frog whole like a duck and prove his worth with force power. The puppetry (which we later learn in Disney+’s Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian was performed by five separate puppeteers) was outstanding, giving the little guy the perfect amount of curiosity, emotion and carefree attitude that proved that the Mandalorian had a soft side under the hard exterior of his bounty hunter predilections. From saving his friends from a flamethrower to sipping soup while watching his new father-figure fight, the Child (who was instantly and affectionately dubbed “Baby Yoda”) became a favorite among hardcore and non-hardcore Star Wars fans alike.Read Full Awards
Despite COVID-19 stopping nearly all production in Hollywood for months on end, the show must go on. That’s right, the Emmy’s air this Sunday as normal (well, as normal as it can be), which means it’s time again for my annual TV Awards! (See previous Awards – 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013)
Not only was there plenty of shows to choose from on network TV, new streaming platforms, including Disney+, Quibi and Peacock, made their debuts, adding more content then we could possibly view unless we spent 24/7 on our couches… which, come to think of it, isn’t out of the realm of possibility these days. So, as always, over the next two days we’ll grant awards, good and bad, to over twenty series, compiling several actors, scenes and moments that resonated with me in some form or another over the tumultuous season.
Best New Series: The Mandalorian
Is it the hype? Is it my bias for everything Star Wars? Or is it simply because The Mandalorian was just that good? I think it may be a little of everything, but that’s why this show became the cherry on top of the 2019-2020 season. The Mandalorian had a lot riding on its shoulders, being the show that would basically make or break the launch of Disney+, and yet, Jon Favreau (together with animated Star Wars vet Dave Filoni) was up to the task, matching (maybe even exceeded) all the hype with terrific direction, an incredible score, streamlined stories that still had enough meat even if they didn’t completely move the story forward, and the most scene-stealing character this side of Boo. Better yet, it did what no other Star Wars property since Empire Strikes Back has been able to do — unite all Star Wars fans for the good by taking the essence of George Lucas’s vision and creating something entirely new and fresh. By mixing the use of old-school practical effects with new world-building computer-based technology, it gave everyone a visually-stunning piece of artwork that no one wanted to see end. At a scant twenty to thirty minutes per episode, The Mandalorian didn’t feel like it was enough to fulfill our weekly Star Wars fix, yet was exactly the amount we needed. If you haven’t guessed yet, I can’t wait for the next season.Read Full Awards
Well, the decade is coming to a close, and with it come the end of two major eras in cinema history. Though Disney has no plans to end the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the Star Wars saga anytime soon, 2019 brought an end to what’s been dubbed “The Skywalker Saga” as well as bringing 22 interconnected comic book movies to a loving crescendo.
Including these spectacular milestones, I once again saw 125 movies in the cineplex this year, 64 of which scored an A- or higher. The movies listed as part of my best and worst lists do not include any films that premiered on a streaming service, and are only based on those movies I saw between January 1 and December 31, 2019. Now without further adieu, here are my picks for the top ten best and top five worst movies of 2019.Read Full List
Worst Editing: The Conners
I noticed issues in the editing on the reincarnation of Roseanne last year, but it wasn’t so atrociously obvious as it is on The Conners. Everything about the editing is horrible, but the most egregious are the transitions between scenes, which seem as if the directors don’t know where to end a scene, so they just stop and fade into the next. On top of that, there are several moments when it’s clear they cut something out with placement of characters. It might not be as bad if the show itself was consistent, but with sporadic hints of excellence sprinkled about a mediocre attempt at finding the magic that was once Roseanne in its prime, it just tends to highlight the problems even further.Read Full Awards
It’s time now to begin the specialty awards in Part 2 of this year’s Chaos awards. (Check out Part 1).
Best Multi-Character Performance: Janet (D’Arcy Carden), The Good Place
I wasn’t the biggest fan of D’Arcy Carden when The Good Place premiered; I thought the character of Janet was odd and a little off-center (to be fair, I thought the show was exactly the same – not sure what to make of it early on). But as the show matured, so did my affection for everyone involved. Carden’s place as the powerhouse performer was cemented when she hit her pinnacle best in episode 9 of season 3 titled “Janet(s)”, in which Janet pulled the entire gang into her void to keep them from being sent to the bad place. In order to keep her void from literally tearing itself to pieces, each one had to become Janet. Carden took the ball and ran with it, picking up every little nuance from each character almost to perfection, no more so than Jason-Janet. Her interpretation of the dim-bulb was amazing and hysterically accurate in movement, voice, and reaction. (Tahani-Janet was a close second). In the same episode, we also got to meet Neutral Janet, which was also a riot in and of itself. I wasn’t a fan before; I certainly am now.Read Full Awards
The Emmy’s air this Sunday, which means it’s that time again to present my awards of the Best (and Worst) of the 2018-2019 television season. (See previous Awards – 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013)
We start as always with more traditional categories, and over the next two days will continue with additional categories for moments that resonated with me in some form or another over the past television season.
Best New Series: The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
I usually like to wait as long as possible before choosing the best new series of the year, as you never know when a gem will arrive. For the last several months, New Amsterdam was holding onto the top prize, and I was about to solidify its position as the number one show of the 2019-2020 season…. Then, at the tail-end of summer, I decided to try Netflix for the first time (mainly to see the new season of Lucifer) and discovered a glorious new show: The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. The 1982 film has slowly turned into a cult classic, and although there are good aspects to it, it can be extremely slow and meandering, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this new prequel set in the time before the evil Skeksis wiped out all of Gelfling kind. It did take some time to get used to, but by the end of the second episode, the show truly hit its stride. From then on, I was hooked. Though we know where everything will eventually end up, the wonderfully distinct characters, masterful puppetry, terrific set designs, perfect flow, a brilliant mix of practical and CG that blend so well together you don’t know where one begins and the other ends, and wonderfully crafted scripts with plenty of twists keep your interest peeked and your investment worth every minute of time.Read Full Awards
The 91st Academy Awards air tonight, and if there’s one thing this crop of nominees doesn’t have over previous telecasts is a clear Favourite. While trying to stay away from controversy, they drop there their host faster than a Black Panther attacking its prey, and wind up with more questions than a Blackkklansman. Trying to Bohemian Rhapsody their way out, they come off like power-hungry Vices, treating their viewers like Roma. At least they didn’t go as far as creating their own Green Book of categories that may or may not be televised. For most viewers, this year’s telecast isn’t about whether A Star Is Born, it’s finding out how insane the telecast will end up.
In other words, with all of the madness that surrounded the Oscar telecast this year, it’s hard to know who will come out as winners, but, as usual, I’m going to give it a shot, along with giving out a few special categories I created myself to highlight those moments in film that otherwise got overlooked.My Picks
Most Surprising Death: Nick (Frank Dillane), Fear the Walking Dead
As always, there were plenty of shocking deaths this past season: Klaus and Elijah Mikaelson (The Originals), Charlotte (Lucifer), Clayton (NCIS), Rufus (Timeless), Quentin Lance (Arrow), Roman (Blindspot), Fitz (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Mia (Humans), Alison (The Affair), poor little Ferguson (New Girl), and of course the bloodbath that is The Walking Dead (which has never been shy about killing characters. Corl. CORL!). However, The Walking Dead‘s sister show, Fear the Walking Dead, has always been more hesitant when it came to killing its core players, so it was a real shock to the system when Nick (Frank Dillane) was suddenly shot in the 3rd episode of season 4. Not only was it a complete surprise, but it was so unceremoniously produced. One moment he’s reflecting on the (at the time, possible) death of his mother (Kim Dickens) and then bang. Gone. After surviving so much — walking with walkers; a complete bridge collapse — Nick is shot by a fourteen-year-old girl (Alexa Nisenson) avenging the death of a man who all but brainwashed her. It just goes to show, you never know when your time is up, so always make the most of the time you have.
Sad to See You Go Award: Lucifer (Lucifer, Preacher, Supernatural)
It may be surprising that there were even this many representations of the King of Hell on television, but we lost not one but three Lucifer’s this season, and each one hurt just a little. First in line was Supernatural‘s Lucifer, who was obliterated by Jack (Alexander Calvert). As portrayed by the always awesome Mark Pellegrino, this version was a remarkable character — fun, goofy, sarcastic and menacing all at the same time. Then there was Preacher‘s version of Satan (Jason Douglas), who, after sending out his troops to bring Eugene (Ian Colletti) and Hitler (Noah Taylor) back to where they belong, as well as collect Tulip (Ruth Negga) to help secure Jesse’s (Dominic Cooper) soul, was shot dead at point blank range by the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish), who then left Hell in the capable hands of Adolf Hitler. Finally, there was the announcement that Lucifer was canceled by FOX, and the thought of not being able to see Tom Ellis’s suave Lucifer hoof it through Los Angeles solving crimes with detective Decker (Lauren German) any longer was sad to say the least. Praise be to the heavens that Lucifer was picked up by Netflix, so at least there’s some saving grace in witnessing the ultimate villain perish multiple times in one year.
Most Promising Career Potential: Harper Grace
She may not have made the top 24 on American Idol, but Harper Grace shouldn’t worry. When she first appeared at her audition, she brought with her a charm that sold me on her original song, “Yard Sale”. What could have been a corny little ditty became a clever tune with just the right touch of heart and whimsy. Her touch at writing was good, but it wasn’t until Hollywood week that she proved her talent wasn’t a fluke, when she sang another original song, “Rest In Peace” — a creative, soulful break-up song that if I had heard it on the radio, I never would have believed it was written by a sixteen year-old ingenue. It wasn’t her time this year, but look for Harper to have a long career, if not as a singer, than as a fantastic writer.
Welcome Back Award: Michael J. Fox, Designated Survivor
Michael J. Fox has made guest appearances on several shows over the last few years, but it never felt like he was truly back in the acting game since first being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. That feeling ended with his terrific, if not brief stint on Designated Survivor. As Ethan West, the special council investigating President Kirkman’s (Kiefer Sutherland) involvement in several circumstances that may have ended his run as President, Fox was a natural fit, attacking those around him with his blunt fervor, yet doing so from a place of integrity. I’m not sure whether Fox will continue on in the series after its recent cancellation and last-hour pick-up by Netflix, but I hope he does because he brought life back to a season that was starting to feel a bit stale and worn.
Most Morbid Game: Worst Case Scenario, This Is Us
In the season 2 finale of This Is Us, Randall and his wife Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) play a game in which they tell each other their worst fears on a topic to get their thoughts out into the open. It’s introduced as they try to cope with Déjà’s (Lyric Ross) seclusion after moving back into the home because her real mother told a court she wanted to give away all of her parental rights. Reasonable way to address your fears, no? We don’t find out how seriously morbid the game can get until Randall teaches Kevin (Justin Hartley) the game as they hunt for a missing Kate (Chrissy Metz) on the day of her wedding. After coming up with a seriously twisted idea in which Kate disappears and Toby dies from a heart-attack because of it, the facial expression on Kevin’s face is priceless. And so are the nervous laughs produced by such a morbid way of thinking. (Admit it; we all do it!)
Most Honest Critic: The auditioner’s dog, American Idol
Let this be a lesson to you: never bring your dog with you to an audition. During American Idol‘s new round of auditions, one of the contestants brought their dog into the room with them. Innocent enough, until the dog started going to the bathroom every time her owner started singing. I’m not sure how much of it was editing and how much of it was real, but the point is, it was hilarious and said everything we needed to know about the poor girl’s audition. It was, well, you fill in the blank.
Worst Special Effects: Ghost Wars
I couldn’t bear to watch more than one episode of Ghost Wars. Not because the acting wasn’t good (some of it was… some of it… meh), or the plot wasn’t somewhat intriguing (perhaps a bit of a rehash of other supernatural shows). No, the reason I couldn’t get past the first episode was the somber tone and the laughable special effects. Don’t get me wrong, some of the corporeal effects were fine, but everything else, including a bus dropping over a cliff into a fiery death made me feel like I was watching something out of the Sharknado playbook as opposed to a serious supernatural drama.
Oddest Big-Boss Battle: Beebo fights Mallus, Legends of Tomorrow
We’ve all come to love the weird and strange things that happen to the Legends of Tomorrow every week, but no one could have expected to see a giant, thirty-foot tall Beebo jump into action against the evil the Legends had been worried about all season long. In the third season finale, the team finally figures out how to fight Mallus (voiced by John Noble) and combine their elemental medals together to become one ultimate life force of joy, which ends up being the toy first introduced in an earlier episode (and also appeared on The Flash!). Watching this gargantuan, fuzzy blue bear fight and ultimately destroy Mallus was not only weird, but oddly fun and glorious, the perfect representation of what this show is — and that its not afraid to go big, no matter how off the wall it might get.
Weirdest Ingredient Choice: MasterChef
The most recent season of MasteChef got off to an interesting start when the contestants’ first mystery box challenge included ingredients representing each participant’s state. Florida got to cook with oranges; Wisconsin, cheese; Iowa, corn; Texas, steak; and California… spot prawns? As the contestants were cooking, one of the chefs was confused at why the California contestant, S.J., was cooking a Louisiana-style dish. I wasn’t. Spot prawns would have been a much better ingredient for someone from Louisiana. But from California? Anyone I know probably would have said avocados, or maybe even wine as the best ingredient to represent California. If they wanted a true Californian dish, that’s what they should have given this contestant. Weird.
Most Satisfying Conclusion: 12 Monkeys
When it was announced that the terrifically mind-bending film 12 Monkeys was going to be turned into a television series, I thought the studio execs had lost their minds. How could they possibly top such a classic piece of science-fiction? Then the show premiered, and all of my fears were laid to rest. The entire cast was a tremendous blend of personalities, matching the intricacies of the original cast while making the characters and the story their own. As the show deepened its mythology, weaving its own intricate story together, it grew more and more intriguing to the point I was disappointed to see it end. Thankfully, the producers took great care to make sure they used the final 11 episodes to perfectly untangle the web they had created. I can’t say I was totally on board with the final addition to the puzzle, but it didn’t matter. The moment James Cole (Aaron Stanford) was reunited with Dr. Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull) was a terrific way to say farewell to such a perfectly executed series.
And with that, we close out the 2017-2018 television season. Come back next year for more television chaos!