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Bless This Mess (2019)
Nowhere to go but up
I'll watch a couple more episodes but the pilot was painful to watch. Nit picky but annoying stuff included their driving from Iowa into Nebraska and the terrain obviously not anything remotely close to reality with what looked like the foothills of some mountain chain in the background. Cast-wise, Ed Begley, Jr as the local odd, Reverend Jim-like character didn't really click for me. The ever present hick schtick of the locals is going to wear thin fast.
Ridiculous and laughable
If you thought Bigfoot hunters had carved out their goofy TV niche with the program Finding Bigfoot, 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty has it beat by a mile with its level of absurdity. Kudos to the show's producers for coming with the silliest possible format. It clearly shows there is production money to be wasted in the entertainment industry.
Watching the first episode was painful. If this show survives far into its initial season, I will be sadly surprised. It is a badly done mash-up of Amazing Race, Big Brother, and Survivor with an unintended heavy dose of the Joe Schmo Show. The participants are a motley collection, ranging from a Ken and Barbie-like couple, to a badly acted apparent psychotic who claims to have personally murdered a juvenile Bigfoot.
Each team's matching outfits and contrived personae make them into clowns tramping and stumbling through the woods. If nearly any of them had to actually survive in the wilderness, they wouldn't last long before having to be rescued or coming to an unfortunate end.
Finding Bigfoot (2011)
Finding Humor. Bigfoot? Not so much.
First off, I must admit I am addicted to this show. It's not that I believe in or do not believe in Bigfoot, I just like watching the unintended deadpan humor. If Christopher Guest of "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show" made a weekly pseudo-documentary, Finding Bigfoot would be the perfect candidate. Quirky characters, their absolute belief in the unproven existence of a giant, reclusive animal, interviews with often times caricatured hill folk, night time hikes with ridiculous night vision cameras extended off rods attached to hikers' backpacks, homespun howls, screams, and whoops coupled with smacking clubs against trees, knocking rocks together, and various other strategies to entice a Bigfoot into revealing itself all combine to keep you tuned in to see what happens next (which is inevitably, nothing). What fun though, each episode is always good for a laugh when the BFRO squad jumps to yet another conclusion that a particular sound or witness report could ONLY be attributed to a "squatch." The BFRO team is mostly likable. Matt and Ranae's near constant debunking feud gets a bit tiresome, but I'm sure they're told to create conflict for the viewers, it makes better television. Bobo is the consummate stoner who believes just about every unexplained sound in the forest is Bigfoot advertising its presence. Cliff is perhaps the most seemingly level-headed, but often times falls into the same traps as Matt and Bobo, thinking that every unexplained event is Bigfoot saying hello.
My main criticism with the show is its repetitive format. They pick a geographic area, do a quick one night hike, leave someone out in the woods for a few days to continue the ridiculous howling and stamping about while the rest of the team drives to a town hall meeting where they meet local witnesses. They pick 2-3 witness accounts for further study, and then do one last night time hike, combined with some new quirk in the standard strategy which never quite yields satisfying results.
A secondary criticism is the repetitive re-caps that begin each segment of each hour long episode. I don't need to be re-told the entire episode again up to that current point over and over and over. It's a waste of time, though it allows the show's producers to fill time without having to produce additional content. It's an annoyance, but an avoidable one if you DVR the program.
I'll continue to watch, but I'm hoping for celebrity guest stars or perhaps a holiday special or two, or even a team-up with another show to liven things up. Come on guys spice it up with a little variety. The recent trip to Australia was a nice change, but it was still the same, tired format. Maybe "A Squatchers' Christmas at Lake Tahoe, starring Kenny Rogers," or "Finding Bigfoot: The Colbert Report's Expose." Here's hoping.
It's Worth What? (2011)
It's Worth Very, Very Little
If I could give this show zero stars, that would be about right. Annoying, beaten-to-death catch phrases such as "are you sure sure" and the show's title phrase "it's worth what?" got old very, very quickly. Slow paced, uninteresting, and too long are apt descriptors. Cedric makes a decent comic actor, but either this show is not a good fit for him or it needs some serious re-tooling.
It felt like one of those long, tedious, not very funny Saturday Night Live skits that just doesn't know where to stop and end the viewers' pain. Revamp it, pick up the pace, give it more excitement, and maybe it stands a chance of becoming a decent game show.
Falling Skies (2011)
I wanted to like Falling Skies and suffered through the first two episodes. I liked the first few minutes with it's desperate feel of future humans vs. Skynet terminators, but after that it devolved into a hackneyed, plodding, boring epi-soap ala Jericho et al. Even without a compelling story line or a decent amount of action, I was still willing to give Falling Skies a shot. Seeing actor Dale Dye (Porter), I was hoping maybe he served as military consultant to give it a believable feel of a human insurgency fighting alien invaders. Nope. Small plot points like the hodgepodge of weapons everyone carried (where did the Russian guns come from, how do they keep ammunition supplied), or that apparently a ragtag group of hundreds of people could just saunter around in the daylight without being attacked by a supposedly superior alien race with aircraft and armored robots told me Falling Skies was going to be a groaner. Nitpicking, I know, but small things like that just tell me Falling Skies is sloppily directed and produced. If the story doesn't pick up the pace, I don't expect it to survive season one.
Lastly, the incessant commercials made it even worse, if possible.
Unfunny and offensive, but mostly unfunny.
I'm a huge fan of Family Guy, and I enjoy the edgy humor and parodies. It doesn't feel so funny when a live action program tries to do the same thing. Chuckling about the Holocaust and imitating how deaf people sound when they talk isn't funny and kinda makes my skin crawl. Amazingly unfunny for someone as funny as Seth McFarlane. It's like he was trying to rack up as many insulted groups as he could in 30 minutes. What was he thinking when he put together this show? If his point was to make it a 30 minute uncomfortable Family Guy style skit, he pulled it off. Another feather in the cap of Fox, was the network so desperate for a program in this time slot that it needed to put this slapped together train wreck on air?
The Last Drop (2006)
Thank god I didn't pay to see this
This was like a bad, bad dime novel come to the big screen. What utter crap. It's obvious they did not use a military consultant, or if they did, the producers were taken for a long ride, because there was next to nothing accurate about the portrayal of things military. The inaccuracy list is far too long to go through, but just looking at the American paras, they weren't wearing jump gear, the 101st lt. colonel had a leather flight jacket and a class A officer's cap? Almost to a man the Americans are armed with Thompson submachine guns? The rock music only adds to the schlockiness of this movie, I'm surprised there wasn't a chase scene on skateboards or bmx motorbikes. I think the producers were trying to emulate "Kelly's Heroes" but fell so far short, it's pathetic.
Dante's Cove (2004)
I rented season one of Dante's Cove on some friends' recommendation, they enjoyed the steaminess of the series but warned me to watch out for cheesiness in the storyline. The steaminess of the sex scenes wore off quickly and the cheesiness of the storyline and dialogue had me groaning after about 15 minutes. I forced myself to watch disc one, quickly repackaged it and sent it on its way. If you've ever seen one of those really bad softcore Cinemax late-nite flicks...Dante's Cove would fit in there quite nicely. Mediocre to bad acting, not enough suspense to hold up a pair of pants, story lines that would best be kept in porn movies (ya know, the talking parts of porn when its boring), and clonish actors who look like they belong in really bad soap operas (oh wait, that's what this is). And what's with the thin volume of Dante's Inferno? Obviously no one from this production ever read the real thing.
I really wanted to like this show, but...
When it comes to dedicating my time to serials such as Jericho, I am pretty selective. I just have other things I want to do, so I limit my TV watching time. I really wanted to like this series, but am quickly growing tired of it. The writing is mediocre, and the plots are both far too scattered and often uninteresting. The nuclear attack premise of the show is what got me interested in the first place, but the plot development of the series is losing my interest. Also, who is writing this show? They obviously have little to no knowledge of what life is like in a medium sized rural Midwestern town. I say this because I grew up in a Nebraska town smaller than Jericho is supposed to be and it was nothing like this.
Here are some comparisons: Jericho, 5,000 pop., My town, 1,300. Jericho, one tiny grocery store (where apparently drums of pesticides are for sale on the same shelves as bread and canned soup). My town, two large groceries, three small ones. Jericho, 2 truck fire dept. My town, 8 trucks, 3 ambulances. The next town over from my town had about 3,500 pop, and its services are easily multiplied 2-3 times what I described for my small town. There's many more shortcomings for Jericho, but you get the point. Basically, Jericho as a real town wouldn't last a week or two in the real world, and to me this Mayberry mentality shows the shallow and stereotypical writing ability of a staff that is unfamiliar with the basic workings of a small town. I wonder which episode will feature Floyd the barber jacking up haircut prices since there must be only one barber in town? Oh, the drama that will ensue.
Time Bomb (2006)
Sunday, Bloody Awful Sunday
Where does one begin? Horrible acting, horrible over-acting, no suspense, full of stereotypes, choppy story line, and poor casting. Apparently the only lines David Arquette had were "what are the codes!!" and "where's my wife and son!!!" Repeat these many, many times in a loud, over-excited, daytime soapy manner and get the picture of this movie's dialog. If this isn't Mystery Science Theater material, I don't know what would be. The best line (sports arena maintenance guy to federal agents about to cloister him for security reasons): "I'm a veteran of Desert Storm and I can keep my mouth shut!" Ugh. Remember the old CBS late night movies? Prime candidate...definitely.
My German Boyfriend (2002)
Fantasy vs. Reality
Director Yung shows how stereotypes and preconceived ideas can lead to disappointment, frustration, and an unexpected romance. The film is really two shorter related subjects combined in one short. Part one humorously explores his travels to Germany in search of the perfect German boyfriend and his realizations that fantasies never quite meet one's expectations. Part two is a more serious study of the film maker's efforts to complete his film and follow the story line he had plotted out while not getting lost in a confusing inner struggle between desired fantasy and his own reality. A reality that offers love and stability weighed against a desire to explore a "what-might-have-been" romance. Which will prevail?
Die Already...generic spoilers ahead
I saw this film at the DC G/L Film Festival, Reel Affirmations. Well filmed and filled with excellent perfomances, it was nonetheless an exhausting movie to endure. Two hours of a recurring theme is a bit much, I don't need to be repeatedly hit over the head with the fact these characters' lives are chaotic. They repeatedly end up half-dead after being exposed to the elements, beaten up by police, nearly killed in explosions, drug abuse, drowning, jumping off high places, hanging, etc, etc, ad nauseum, infinitum. They apparently are as inept at dying as they are at living. I found myself hoping the next time one of them flirted with death he might actually succeed. The only real sympathy I felt for any character was for the young boy who was much wiser and more mature than nearly all the other characters combined.
Full of angst and viscera
Maybe it's because I don't appreciate the joy that drama queens bring to life. Maybe it's because I don't appreciate the angst of living in the life today. Who in the real, work-a-day world speaks like this? If I met such an emotional train-wreck as the lead character, I would sprint at high speed in the other direction. It seemed every time Ryan opened his mouth out spilled a Greek tragedy punctuated by his belabored, self absorbed, oh-woe-is-me breathing. The acting was good, the story line was mediocre. I found myself looking at my watch and checking the box the video came in to see how much longer the pain was to continue. I would have been the guy in the back row of the theater groaning every time one of these poor widdle boys dug himself into a hole and then waxed poetic.
I have this visceral feeling of...oh sorry, it's just indigestion.
Hollywood take note
Why are the Europeans so much better at producing hard hitting, gritty war films than those in Hollywood? I wish I knew. Talvisota is an excellent example of this and is infinitely better than what has been produced in the U.S. If you have seen "Saving Private Ryan" or "Enemy at the Gates" and think you have seen the best...you're sadly mistaken. Talvisota and other such films as the German film "Stalingrad" or the French film "Capitaine Conan" are much better at presenting the absolute horror of war and the desperation felt by those men forced to face combat.
I am looking forward to the release of "Pearl Harbor" but am afraid it too will only reinforce what I have stated here.
Rent Talvisota and hopefully you will agree that it is one of the better war films in terms of accuracy and unvarnished drama.