Justin Moss

Archive for the ‘TV Review’ Category

Season 1

a708_2Saucy, surprising, audacious, personal, tantalising.  Billie Piper’s execution of the role far exceeded my expectations.


Buy it Now: Secret Diary of a Call Girl (Season 1) DVD *New* – eBay Television Shows, DVDs, Movies, TV Shows, Movies. (end time 11-Jan-09 13:29:41 AEDST).


Wilting 😦

It seems that the executives, eager to tone down the zaniness of the show to appeal to a broader [more stupid] audience, have had their way with the vigour that blessed Season 1.

The music is subdued, more conventional and much less original than that featured in the first season. The narration, once brilliantly delivered by the narrator (Jim Dale) and the pace setting highlight of every episode, has eased to a metronomic pace, as if the Mr Dale is making some kind of protest about the executives’ corruption of the original magic.

Timing, in a word, is what’s gone wrong with Season 2.  In slowing down the narration, the story and the complexity of script, that crazy high paced menagerie for which we quickly acquired a taste has wilted.  The whole thing has lost that “storybook come to life” feel.

Thought it’s only been two episodes, Pushing Daises seems to have lost it’s shine – who knows, perhaps I just need to get used to a new Pace 🙂  Perhaps, the rythm and delight that graced season 1 is yet to return – fingers crossed.


Update 1: With 12 episodes out of the way (probably all for Season 2), I have to ask myself if the show actually got any better, or the Producers’  Prozac Push finally came into effect.

Update 2:  Time of Death: November 2008Pushing Daisies is now truly living up to its title ~ tantamount to a crime in a TV world where countless other mind-numbing shows can run 6 or 7 seasons uninterrupted.

Story Book Come to Life

Described by others as a “forensic fairy tail”, Pushing Daisies centers on the life of Ned, a pie-maker gifted with the mysterious ability to bring dead things back to life by touching them. There are a couple of conditions to this somewhat unwanted talent, however. Ned quickly learns that if something is revived for more than exactly one minute, something of similar “life value” in the vicinity drops dead, as a form of balance. Additionally, if he touches the revived thing a second time, it falls dead again, this time permanently. (Ref)

Links: IMDB | Metacritic Score 89

A television drama series created by David Simon, The Wire is set in Baltimore, Maryland; each season of the series focuses on a different part of the city. A group of characters, mainly in the Baltimore Police Department, appear in every season.  Quite simply the best police drama on TV.

Season 1 (HBO)

It starts out this way: Homicide detective Jimmy McNulty observes the murder trial of a mid-level drug dealer, D’Angelo Barksdale, and sees the prosecution’s star witness recant her testimony. McNulty recognises drug king-pin Stringer Bell in the court room and believes he has manipulated the proceedings. McNulty circumvents the chain of command by talking to the judge, who then places pressure on the police department over the case … (Ref)

A little dated now (2002), but I think that was intentional at the time – in order to paint the picture of a department and city starved for resources.

Season 2 (HBO)

Now centred on the wharves, but still with an angle of the drug trade in the slums.

It continues: Jimmy McNulty is sidelined to harbor patrol. He discovers a corpse in the harbor and pays back Colonel Rawls by proving City Homicide are responsible for the investigation. Major Valchek feels slighted when the boss of a local stevedore union named Frank Sobotka donates a more impressive gift to a local Polish church. Sobotka meets with other union leaders and learns that a crucial pier is still in a state of disrepair … (Ref)

Put aside a weekend.

Season 3 (HBO)

Why does it have it end!

The season starts .. midway into the Major Case Unit’s unsuccessful investigation into the Barksdale criminal enterprise. With their recent efforts fruitless, ASA Pearlman and Lieutenant Daniels consider dropping the wiretaps, to the dismay of the squad. Meanwhile, Ellis Carver finds himself in command of an incompetent group of policemen in the Western district … (Ref)

Gritty, character driven and harsh.

Season 4 (HBO)

This season focusses on the ailing / flaling Baltimore school system.  Organised crime and the drug trade is a constant thread. 

Four West Baltimore boys wrestle with what to do with the rest of their summer vacation. When unkempt outcast Duquan “Dukie” Weems is beaten up by a neighbouring group of children. Michael Lee is the quiet leader of the group’s retaliation. Randy Wagstaff has the imagination to plan the endeavour. Namond Brice is the most outspoken and the richest of the four … (Ref)

No more needs to be said.

Season 5 (HBO)

Media and media consumption get the spotlight in this season. Whilst some of the subjects covered by The Wire gave me cause for hesitation (disinterest), I have to say that each one was executed with an integrity and level of detail that demanded attention.

It starts: The Stanfield Organization continues to operate despite a year of surveillance by the Major Crimes Unit. Education budget deficits and ambitions to become Governor leave Mayor Carcetti forced to make funding cuts. His broken promises to the police department destroy morale and cause the closure of the Major Crimes Unit. (Ref)

Why only four stars and not five?  Well, it ended! (hmphh!)

Links: IMDB | Amazon | Metacritic

Based on Paul Haggis’ movie of the same name, this show stars Dennis Hopping leading a troop of fresh faces.  This show had big shoes to fill, with Haggis’ original movie scoring an academy award long after I was impressed by it as a surprise DVD rental (who knew it would reach DVD before a punt at the Oscar).

Do yourself a favour and don’t attempt to compare it with the movie – it really only shares a loose relationship in the form location, complexity of the the characters and the style of plot.  If not for the identical “Crash” logo, it might as well be titled something else.  Still, where it is similar is the script and screenplay, often ducking and weaving ensuring that you work til the very end of each episode.

There’s some talk that Haggis pulled out as Producer after the first two episodes.  Having seen only the first two episodes, I can only hope his influence persists for the whole season.

Links: The Seattle Times review | IMDB | EW | Starz

Update: Episodes 4-9 seem to wane somewhat, perhaps related to the firey relationship with Inez taking a desperate turn.  However Epsidoes 10-12 are back ‘on song’ though curiously they seem to have dropped the blur-o-vision that was so heavily employed in the first few epsidoes – as much as I disliked its overuse, I kinda miss it 🙂  (ironically, it added a texture to it).

(Miniseries, HBO)

Based on the book by Evan Wright, this is a seven part series covering the invasion of Iraq (#2) during the first 40 days from the perspective of the Marines of the First Recon Battalion.  The popular media would have had us believe that the invasion was a ‘walkover’.  This series however, if to believed, presents a harsh environment, confronting and, at times, humorous take on the invasion.  The story focuses on the brutality, camaraderie and bureaucracy of an ill-prepared army.

The screenplay is strongly centred around five main characters – all of whom have their own take on their purpose there (to do their job, to report, to serve, to avoid jail, etc).

I found the last episode a tad meandering, reminiscent of a Tolkien ‘goodbye’ – but that failed to diminish, what was overall, an exhausting but worthwhile journey.

Produced by HBO and written by the two of the team that brought us probably the best show on TV, “The Wire”, Ed Burns and David Simon, this is another feather in HBO’s cap. See IMDB details here.

Four and half star

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