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Chaos Breeds Chaos 2019 Television Awards – Part 3

And finally, here is Part 3 of this year’s television awards. (Check out Part 1 and Part 2.)

Worst Editing: The Conners

The Conners — ABC

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.

Best Homage: NCIS: New Orleans Meets Fast and Furious

NCIS: New Orleans — CBS

The only Fast and Furious movie to not star Vin Diesel was The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, which starred Lucas Black, who has been hunting down criminals as NCIS Agent Christopher LaSalle for 5 years. One thing we’ve never seen from the character is the ability to drive like a street racer. So it was fun (and perhaps a little silly) to suddenly see him whip around a parking structure as if he had been drifting his entire life. To cap it all off, after catching the perp he was chasing, he smiles his crooked smile and says, “I still got it.” So, was this just an homage to LaSalle’s old racing days, or does the NCIS universe somehow fit into the Fast and Furious world? Wouldn’t that be a weird twist for everyone involved.

Worst Plot Mistake: 9-1-1

9-1-1 — FOX

No matter how good 9-1-1 is, it’s still fallable, as evidenced by the episode in which the fire and rescue first respondents head into a situation at a bank that gets them all scrutinized by the police after several thousands of dollars are found stashed away in one of their trucks. The episode itself was fun, imaginative and fit right in with the rest of the series — with one glaring exception: a major plot point that, as far as I know, could never have happened. The point of a safety deposit box is that they cannot be opened, not even by the bank, without having both sets of keys. Part of the plan to rob the bank included the bank manager (Christian Clemenson) stealing six million in diamonds from one of the safe deposit boxes. But how was he able to get into the box without the owner’s key? And how exactly did they know what was in it? You can usually look over minor things in heightened shows like 9-1-1, but this one, I just can’t, in good conscious, let slip by. You’re on notice, 9-1-1!

The season’s most noticeable trend: Social Warrior Justice

Clockwise from top left: The Conners (ABC); All American (CW); Roswell: New Mexico (CW); Madam Secretary (CBS); S.W.A.T. (CBS)

This season saw a glut of blatant social justice warriors trying to prove a point. It’s okay to bring light to a topical subject matter, so long as it feels organic and discusses the issue, as opposed to pushing it into a story or show and forcefully shoving the message down the viewer’s throat. Madam Secretary focused two episodes on the separation of children from parents at the border, saying how it’s a moral crisis against humanity no less than two dozen times over the course of an hour. Roswell, New Mexico, started its pilot episode with a character ranting over ICE agents and continuing the storyline with the opposing side looking like lunatics; The Conners dug into the illegal immigrant debate with Becky’s baby daddy being deported in the season finale; and All American and S.W.A.T. pushed the racist white cop angle. But nowhere do we get any conversation or debate for the opposite side or viewpoint. Immigrants and blacks are good; cops and whites are bad. No gray area whatsoever. What’s really dividing America? The inability to discuss topics respectfully without the opposing side being inherently evil.

Most Annoying Pattern: Suits

Suits — USA

I’ve been a big fan of Suits since its inception, but throughout the seventh season, I started noticing a pattern. Not in the way they tend to repeat the same story structure in each episode, but in the way the writers and the score seem to have grown into a rut. Every scene tends to begin quietly, with no score and a pair of actors in a room beginning a discussion. Halfway through, the score begins to come in as the conversation becomes heated, or the two characters clash over something. The score continues to rise as the voices rise, and as the scene comes to a close with a big revelation, the score hits its final beat and fades into silence as the cycle starts all over again. I don’t know if it’s been this way since the beginning and I only started noticing it because Mike (Patrick J. Adams) left, but once you do notice it, you can’t not notice it… and it’s become a minor hindrance on an otherwise good show.

Best representation of a coma: Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes — Audience Network

When they announced that there would be a second season of Mr. Mercedes, I was excited. The first season, which followed the novel it was based on quite well, was an outstanding adaptation with some terrific acting, storytelling and pace. I wondered if they would skip the second book in the series (which doesn’t deal with Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway)) and jump right into the third. It turns out they did, which begged another question: how would they represent Brady, who’s basically in a coma the entire time as he continues his killing spree by taking control over other people’s bodies. The producers found the perfect way to represent the coma while giving Treadaway a chance to once again shine as the insane Brady. By taking us inside the psychopath’s head and using the computers in his basement to be his eyes (both of his own, and of those he psychically takes over), helped bring this story to the screen in a powerful way.

The When Are They Going To Cross-Over Award: Magnum P.I. and Hawaii Five-0

Hawaii 5-0 and Magnum PI — CBS

From the jump, Magnum PI was obviously setup to be included in the same universe as Hawaii Five-0. Within the first five minutes of the first episode, Magnum is already mentioning the Five-0 task force, and a couple of characters from Five-0 pop in regurlarly (such as coroner Dr. Noelani Cunha (Kimee Balmilero)), but they have yet to pull the trigger on a full-blown crossover. It’s like being in a relationship where it’s clear both parties want to go further, but neither is brave enough to take the first step. Just get it over with already; the tension is killing us!

The Did They Plan That Award: Supernatural and Legacies

Supernatural and Legacies — CW

Sometimes you’re never really sure if executives at a particular station plan certain narratives to coincide with other shows (and sometimes theme weeks can get super annoying), or if they end up being a mere coincidence. In the most wild case this season, right after Supernatural delivered a stunning 300th episode, literally plucking John “Big Daddy” Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) from 2003 to 2019 after Dean (Jensen Ackles) touches a pearl that grants the bearer their heart’s desire, Lizzie Saltzman (Jenny Boyd) comes face to face with a Genie (sorry, that’s Jinni (Riann Steele)) on Legacies, wherein she goes on a wishing spree to finally rid her life of Hope (Danielle Rose Russell) to dire consequences. Both episodes ended with the resetting of the timelines, and it just seemed too coincidental not to have been planned in advance. I wish I could know for sure… then again, maybe not.

The Show Must Go On Award: Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks

If God thought he could stop country superstar Garth Brooks from performing, he had another think coming. Brooks had a live concert set for December 2, 2018 at the historic Notre Day stadium and within the first few seconds of his opening song (and probably before), rain started to fall. It continued to fall (whether hard or drizzle) throughout the entire two hour event. Did that stop Brooks from giving yet another fantastic concert to his fans worldwide? Heck no! He delivered a strong performance to a crowd of over 100,000 despite the rain that got everyone, including the band and Brooks himself, drenched. This just proves that Brooks is a consummate performer; rain or shine, the show must go on!

And so, we now must close the 2018-2019 television season. Come back next year for more wonderful chaos in the world of television!

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Chaos Breeds Chaos 2019 Television Awards – Part 2

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

Multiple D’Arcy Carden’s (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.

Actor who’s better than the show: Paul Adelstein, I Feel Bad

I Feel Bad — NBC

I’ve been a fan of Paul Adelstein ever since his portrayal of Paul Kellerman on Prison Break. He has the ability to bring nuance and connection to his roles that allows for a sense of authoritative gravitas to whatever he’s working on. This is why he stands out so much in the comedy, I Feel Bad. The only time I ever even smiled during the two-episode premiere was when Adelstein was on screen. His timing, his expressions and his body language brought the show up a whole other level. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to keep watching the show as the rest was so unfunny and bland. I’d be fine if Adelstein remained a distinct character actor, but if he were to have his own show, he deserves much better material than this.

Most Vile Creatures: The Skeksis, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance — Netflix

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is full of vibrant, unusual creatures, but no creature created by Jim Henson’s creature shop can rival the Skeksis for pure stomach-churning disgust. Far be it for the Skeksis to just be pure evil as they use the crystal of truth to pull the essence from the Gelfling in order to remain immortal, their appearance, personalities and manners are all reprehensible in nature too. From the way they gorge on food to the way they punish those that get out of line, there is no character on television that is more vomitous than the Skeksis. To make matters worse, as the creatures deteriorate, they become even more repulsive, as evidenced most by the one that has pustules on her beak that occasionally ooze a disgusting creamy white liquid. Even more disgusting is when that liquid drips into her food and she eats it anyway. Just the thought makes me want to run to the bathroom and heave, but that is also what makes each Skeksis both unique and memorable.

Most Surprising Death: Captain Zoe Anderson (Mercedes Mason), The Rookie

Mercedes Mason as Captain Zoe Anderson (The Rookie)

Like any television season, there are going to be several major characters who perish, no more so than on shows that deal in science fiction and fantasy. The penultimate episode of The Walking Dead saw several characters, including Enid (Katelyn Nacon), Tara (Alanna Masterson), and young Henry (Macsen Lintz), get their heads placed on pikes as a barrier between the Kingdom and the sadistic Whisperers, led by “Alpha” (Samantha Morton). But I have to say the most surprising had to be Captain Zoe Anderson (Mercedes Mason) on The Rookie. Usually in a police procedural like this, a supporting/lead character such as this wouldn’t be killed off so soon, and with the episode being one that showcased the appearance of IA agents hidden in the field to make sure the officers were doing their job, it felt like it could have been all an act. Yet, by the end of the episode, it was clear that she had died, leaving a gaping hole in the precinct that embraced a 45-year old rookie into their ranks. I can’t say I miss her, per se, as we never really got to know her all that well, but I never expected her to be the first character to depart from the show.

Oddest Cast Change: Molly McCook, Last Man Standing

Molly McCook as Mandy Baxter (Last Man Standing)

It’s not unusual for a television show to recast a character when an actor decides to move on, something happens to them, or things just don’t work out. Occasionally, a show will simply bring in a new character (the better choice, in my opinion), but there are situations where that can’t happen. Usually, when a character has to be recast, the producers will choose someone with similar attributes to the original portrayer. When Darren was replaced on Bewitched, the actors didn’t just share the same look, they shared the same first name! When Becky was replaced on Roseanne, they chose someone with blonde hair and same height. Even the recasting of Kristen on Last Man Standing remained mostly true to the original actress. So it’s odd to see the producers choose an actress that doesn’t match any attributes (except their first name!) when forced to replace Molly Ephraim with Molly McCook as Mandy. I can overlook the hair color change; but casting an actress that is more than a foot taller makes the change really stand out above the fact that the replacement is trying way too hard to simulate the original’s effortless presence.

Best Milestone Episode: The Walking Dead

Andrew Lincoln as Rick (The Walking Dead)

Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) final episode on The Walking Dead was the perfect homage to the character who brought us into this fantastic post-apocalyptic world. As he slowly dies from his wounds during a walker attack, Rick is haunted by memories of those he lost and essentially couldn’t help in his attempt at forming a new society against all odds. There were some very special appearances by old cast members, as well as a gut-wrenching moment when Rick chooses to sacrifice himself for the sake of his new family. Seeing Michonne (Danai Gurira) watch Rick shoot the barrel of dynamite to destroy the bridge that would keep the walkers from storming Alexandria was poignant, but no more so than witnessing Daryl (Norman Reedus) witness it happen. His look of defeat and loss was heartbreaking and matched what most fans were probably feeling at that moment… until Rick was secretly rescued by Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) and taken away on a helicopter to… live another day? To cap it all off, there was a post-“death” time jump with the wild reveal of Chloe Garcia-Frizzi as the now seven-year old Judith. All-in-all, it was a perfect send-off for a true leader and a perfect transition into what would come next.

Coming Into Its Own Award: The Orville

The Orville — FOX

The Orville never quite seemed balanced throughout its first season. It wanted to be a spoof on Star Trek by making fun of certain aspects of that show (and space operas in general), but it also wanted to be taken seriously as its own viable entity. The first few episodes were like a roller-coaster giving its viewers whiplash as the writers tried to bounce back and forth between these two conflicting ideas. It finally did settle into a groove toward the end, but still didn’t seem to have a good footing on what it truly wanted to be. Enter the second season, where The Orville finally found its voice. As it slowly found a strong balance between the dramatic and the surreal, it finally started to create plots and character developments that helped deliver both great drama and absurdist comedy. All of this newfound energy culminated in the two-part episode, “Identity”, which saw the betrayal and eventual redemption of Isaac (Mark Jackson), some very good crew pairings we don’t normally see, and a killer space battle that was incredibly directed with some of the best special effects this show has ever had. This was then followed by a terrific showcase for the underutilized Scott Grimes, and a two-part finale that saw what it would be like if Ed (Seth MacFarlane) never captained the Orville. It’s great that FOX picked up the show for a third season, but still a shame that it will only air on HULU.

Most Touching Moment: The Resident

The Resident — FOX

Last season, The Resident came at us with a different approach to the medical drama, making a big impact in both emotion and thrills. It didn’t let up in its first episode of season 2, though it did take a step back from its intrigue and cancerous financial storylines for one brief moment to reveal one of the most touching sequences of the season. As Dr. Austin (Malcolm Jamal-Warner) operated on a premature baby’s heart (in a blackout, no less), her tiny twin brother wouldn’t stop crying. So, when the small baby finally stops crying after he touches his sister’s shoulder with his hand, knowing she’s there with him once again and that they’re both protected by one another… if you weren’t crying, you probably don’t have a heart.

Best Self-Promotion: Andrew McCarthy, The Blacklist

The Blacklist — NBC

Although Andrew McCarthy hasn’t done a whole lot of acting over the last twenty years, he has become a rather prolific director, building his resume behind the camera on various television shows. One of his most recent gigs has been directing episodes of friend James Spader’s show, The Blacklist. On the April 19 episode, “The Third Estate,” directed by McCarthy, a woman is reading a book in a coffee shop. Eagle-eyed viewers would notice that the book was McCarthy’s own Just Fly Away. Kudos McCarthy for plugging your work in such a nice, subtle way!

Best way to keep a dead character on a show: Remy’s (Jaimie Alexander) Hallucination, Blindspot

Luke Mitchell as Roman (Blindspot)

After the death of Jane’s (Jaimie Alexander) brother Roman (Luke Mitchell) in the season 3 finale of Blindspot, it wasn’t necessarily a given that he would remain a constant presence on the show. It was sad to see him go, as Mitchell did a terrific job playing all sides of the situation that not only helped himself and his cause, but also helped the FBI take down a nefarious billionaire (David Morse). In order to keep this charismatic character around, the filmmakers set up an illness that both Roman and Jane were afflicted with, highlighted by Roman literally fighting with himself hours before he died from said illness. Once Jane’s amnesia turned off and Remy rose from the ashes, Roman started to guide her through each step of rescuing their mom and finishing what they started. That way, even in death, Roman remained a presence to be reckoned with—at least until Jane was cured. RIP for a second (and final) time, Roman.

Don’t forget to check out Part 3 of the 2018-2019 awards, including Best Homage, the Most Annoying Pattern and the season’s most noticeable trend.

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Chaos Breeds Chaos 2019 Television Awards – Part 1

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

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance — Netflix

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.

Worst New Series: Murphy Brown

Murphy Brown — NBC

I didn’t care for the original Murphy Brown when it aired in the late-eighties/early nineties, so it’s probably no wonder why the reboot didn’t grab my attention. In a year where most comedies, such as The Conners and The Cool Kids, failed to live up to the hype and the talent involved (or get canceled way too soon; keep reading for more on that), at least those shows had a few moments of pure joy and heart. Murphy Brown seemed to me to be one long tirade of bitterness. I’m not against political comedy, but to sustain humor, you need to be more diversified and come from a place of respect, which Murphy Brown was incapable of committing to. It’s no wonder they were eventually voted off the television lineup.

Series that shouldn’t have been this good: The Purge

The Purge — USA

Based on the four-film series, which started with an intriguing premise and devolved into a routine horror show that kept getting worse with each new installment (leading to a movie that failed on almost every level), it was hard to believe that I’d be interested in a series based on the franchise. However, television, it turns out, is the best medium for The Purge because it has the time to develop the premise in much more intriguing ways. Episodic television allows the writers to explore what’s happening with each character and help us connect with how and why each of them makes their decisions before and during the purge. It’s not a perfect show, nor is it the best thing on television, but it did do what it promised and lifted the franchise to a whole new level.

Series that should have been better: Nightflyers


Nightflyers had all the makings of a stellar sci-fi space opera: an intriguing premise, some interesting technology, a killer opening sequence and George R.R. Martin as executive producer. But the show itself ended up to be as lifeless as its ghostly A.I. Starting with the characters, who all solemnly trudged along through the swamps of sadness, the show couldn’t find a rhythm to hold your interest. The characters that were intriguing, like Thale (Sam Strike) or Lommie (Maya Eshet), ended up being wasted by a series of scripts that couldn’t even make sense of its own language. By the third or fourth episode, I had to force myself to hit play in hopes that the show would somehow find its groove. It never did.

Best New Character: Dr. Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold), New Amsterdam

Ryan Eggold as Dr. Max Goodwin (New Amsterdam)

I was sorely disappointed when it was revealed that Tom Keen had officially died on The Blacklist. Tom started the show as a spy infiltrating Elizabeth’s (Megan Boone) life and turned into one of the best characters on the show as he tried to redeem himself. A spinoff eventually failed, but that wasn’t because of Ryan Eggold, who made Tom Keen the only bright spot in an otherwise generic spy thriller. But then he showed up in New Amsterdam as a doctor who becomes the head of a public hospital while also fighting throat cancer. From his first act of firing the entire cardio department to requiring Dr. Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) to stop spending her time making television appearances, Eggold infused Dr. Max Goodwin with a brain, a heart and courage to fight a system that cares more about money than its own patients. Always moving, never wavering in his resolve, Max is a force to be reckoned with, and every moment he is on screen shines with a spirit you want to embrace for all time.

Worst New Character: Gutierrez, aka “The Gute” (Paola Lázaro), Lethal Weapon

Paola Lázaro as Gutierrez “The Gute” (Lethal Weapon)

When the powers that be decided to fire Clayne Crawford from Lethal Weapon, everyone knew the show wouldn’t be the same. But if I was to put money on who would be the worst part of a Martin Riggs-less Weapon, I would have bet on Seann William Scott. However, although Scott was definitely a step down from Crawford’s Riggs, he was able to turn on just enough charm to keep things running smoothly. What I wasn’t expecting was a new addition to the team named Gutierrez. Self-proclaimed “The Gute”, Gutierrez was neither funny or charismatic. I believe the show wanted to use this character to bring back some of that naughty rule-breaking left behind by Riggs, but whether it was the character or Paola Lázaro’s infusion of pompousness, Gutierrez just never fit in with the rest of the cast. She tried too hard to be “edgy” and never quite hit the rhythm needed for the character to truly fill another character’s beloved shoes.

Best Ensemble Cast: New Amsterdam

The cast of New Amsterdam

Beginning with Ryan Eggold as Dr. Max Goodwin (see above), the cast of New Amsterdam fires on all cylinders. Tyler Labine is beautifully resonant as Dr. Iggy Frome, the head of the psychology department, who respects every patient no matter what they may say or do to him; Anupam Kher as Dr. Vijay Kapoor is funny, knowledgeable and is always there to listen no matter his own problems; Freema Agyeman as Dr. Helen Sharpe only wants what’s best for everyone, doctor and patient alike; Jacko Sims as Dr. Floyd Reynolds is the voice of diversity; and Janet Montgomery as Dr. Lauren Bloom proves that everyone is fallible, and isn’t always willing to admit it. The show has found a few pairs it likes to keep together, but it’s for a very good reason, as each one works wonderful together. Individually each actor brings something new and fresh to their character, and together, they blend perfectly into a musical symphony that breathes new life into a saturated genre.

Worst Reboot: Roswell, New Mexico

Roswell, New Mexico — CW

Using basically the same premise as the original Roswell, Max Evans saves Liz after she’s shot in the Crashdown diner, exposing himself to be an alien from the 1947 crash. All of the familiar faces are here. What’s missing is the spirit that made the original show so fascinating and relatable. Julie Plec may have found magic with The Vampire Diaries and their off-shoots, however, when you take a show that worked so well with teens and update it with a pack of adults with hardly any charisma and zero chemistry, it simply made me want to grab the pilot of the original and revisit Roswell the way it was meant to be seen.

Worst Premiere Episode: The Conners

The Conners — ABC

Despite the decision to fire Roseanne from her own show because of a stupid comment on social media, I wanted to give this new iteration a chance. Overall, The Conners (much like the roboot itself) was an uneven attempt at moving forward without its controversial matriarch. There were a few highlights, mostly when it came to Laurie Metcalf’s Jackie and the appearances by Johnny Galecki as Darlene’s (Sara Gilbert) husband, David, but overall the show had a hard time finding its footing. And it all started with the initial episode, which picked up weeks after Roseanne’s death. From the jump, this felt odd, as we weren’t allowed to experience the immediate reactions from each character to that major life event. We hear about what each character felt, but it simply left me feeling a bit cold about the whole situation. Not to mention that a couple of episodes later, we see instances of grief (mostly by Dan (John Goodman)) that would have been better suited to appear prior to this episode, which also begs the question: was this actually the pilot? Whether it was or episodes got switched around, this particular episode set a poor precedent for the ultimate tone of the series moving forward.

Most Disappointing Cancellation: The Kids Are Alright

The Kids Are Alright — ABC

I wasn’t too excited about The Kids Are Alright when it premiered, but over time, the show found a rich, loving rhythm, and through that, the characters grew into their own one-by-one. From two parents who show their love by not caring about what their children are doing from one minute to the next, to kids who are always getting into trouble in one way or another, the show depicted a large family growing up in the seventies in the most honest, respectful way it knew how. All of the cultural references were subtle and the quarks of each kid, which started out grating and obnoxious, only became more endearing with each episode. It’s a shame ABC didn’t give this show a second chance; I have a feeling it could have grown into a phenomenon with a little more time and a little more love.

Check out Part 2 of our Television Awards, which includes the Best Multi-Character Twist, Most Surprising Death, and Most Vile Creatures of the 2018-2019 season.

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Movie Mayhem – Don’t Let Go

Don’t Let Go — 2019; Directed by Jacob Estes; Starring David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Mykelti Williamson and Alfred Molina

Back in the year 2000, Frequency, a small film about a cop who begins to speak with his deceased father through an old ham radio, debuted in theaters. The movie was an intelligent, suspenseful, unique sci-fi thriller with terrific turns by Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid, who found a compelling chemistry together despite having no screen time together. Nineteen years later and we find our way back to a similar premise with Don’t Let Go, another smaller film that understands how to work within the bounds of the idea, but doesn’t know how to build the necessary suspense to sustain any amount of intrigue.

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Movie Mayhem – August Movie Roundup

Clockwise from top left: Ready or Not, Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark, Blinded by the Light, Good Boys, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, The Kitchen, and Overcomer

For three weeks at the end of July/early August, there were a whopping three (count them – 3!) wide releases in theaters. How do the studios make up for that? Release 13 films over the next three weeks! To honor the glut of riches at the movieplexes, here are some quick reviews for all of the films I’ve seen in the last two weeks. Enjoy!

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Movie Mayhem – Brian Banks

Brian Banks — 2019; Directed by Tom Shadyac; Starring Aldis Hodge, Greg Kinnear, Melanie Liburd, Sherri Shepherd and Morgan Freeman

All you can control in life is how you respond to life.

Jerome Johnson (Morgan Freeman), from the film Brian Banks

The quote isn’t just a powerful message for the new inspirational sports drama, Brian Banks, but relates, on a much smaller scale, very well to this very review. Upon finishing my first draft, something happened and the entire review was wiped from existence. Like anyone else, I was angry at myself for not saving, and was angry at WordPress for not auto-saving and acting weird. The easy thing to do would have been to give up on the review altogether. Instead, I took a deep breath, recollected my thoughts and started anew. This has nothing on the major incidents of the film itself, however, it’s still relevant to the importance this movie’s overall message means for true happiness in life.

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Movie Mayhem – Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw — 2019; Directed by David Leitch; Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Cliff Curtis and Helen Mirren

You can parachute cars out of a plane; you can have a chase sequence between a slew of supercharged cars and a submarine in an icy tundra; you can jump a sports car from one hundred-story tower to another; you can have a guy rip the cast off his arm with his bare hand; heck, you can even defy gravity to save someone’s life and no one would expect anything less. But introduce your audience to a transforming, self-driving motorcycle and you’ve suddenly gone too far.

Suspension of disbelief is a tricky thing. There are certain expectations that come along with being able to set reality aside and enjoy whatever is being thrown at you. Ever since The Fast and the Furious franchise veered off from centering around fast cars and hot women to becoming what amounts to an international spy series, you’d think the whole thing would have broke down on the side of the highway. Fact is, the franchise only became better as it became more and more absurd.

It only makes sense, then, that as the franchise grows more popular, producers would want to milk it for all its worth. Best way to do that? Spin characters off into their own wild and crazy franchises. The first choice, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, is the smartest choice, as it highlights two very bankable stars (and fan favorites since their respective introductions into the franchise) in an effort to see if this type of offshoot will work.

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Movie Mayhem – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — 2019; Directed by Quentin Tarantino; Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Margaret Qualley, Dakota Fanning, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell and Al Pacino

I am not much of a Quentin Tarantino fan. Of his nine films, I’ve only ever seen four of them, and by all accounts, that’s enough. Reservoir Dogs was okay, but I was not a fan of Pulp Fiction or Django Unchained. Tarantino has a very unique style, and his writing can definitely be sharp and witty, but it always felt to me that he can also be very overindulgent, an opinion that doesn’t end with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — even as his ninth film finally breaks through as one I can actually say I enjoyed, despite having no discernible plot.

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Movie Mayhem – The Lion King (2019)

The Lion King — 2019; Directed by Jon Favreau; Starring Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Chietel Ejiofor, John Oliver, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen and James Earl Jones

Live-action remakes have been around for quite some time (Popeye, anyone), they’re just much more prevalent now with Disney’s recent onslaught of remaking all of their beloved animated classics into live-action properties. I don’t mind these upgrades; getting to see your favorite animated films with real people can be a lot of fun, especially when the updates add more to the story and help develop stronger characters. The issue with these updates comes when a film relies too much on their predecessor (because, you know, they were perfectly fine in animated form), making them feel a bit lazy and underwhelming.

This is what happens with The Lion King, which isn’t so much a remake as it is a facelift; many scenes, including the grand opening sequence, are nearly identical to the original. Beauty and the Beast was criticized by many for this reason, though I didn’t mind it as much because real actors carried the majority of the film. However, because The Lion King is nothing but animals (no humans were harmed in the production of this movie), it’s hard to distinguish this version as “live-action” because the majority is still animated, just in a different way.

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Movie Mayhem – Crawl

Crawl — 2019; Directed by Alexandre Aja; Starring Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper

Movies about alligators (or is it crocodiles?) attacking gorgeous teens aren’t quite as plentiful as movies about sharks attacking gorgeous teens, but there are still plenty of them crawling around out there. Sharks, on the surface, seem more deadly; they are after all out in the wide open spaces of the ocean, while gators are stuck mostly in marshy, humid areas where no one would want to camp or spend their holiday. But alligators can be just as deadly as sharks when they want to be, and Crawl proves that when a family of alligators attack a father and daughter during a major hurricane, begging the question, how many times can someone be bit by an alligator and survive?

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