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I also write for Influx Magazine--where many of my opinions and reviews are also posted.
The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff (2011)
A lot more entertaining than actually having to see a Dickens story!
"The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff" is a four-episode British series which pokes gentle fun at Charles Dickens and his style of telling stories. Considering that Dickens' stories can be a bit dated to read or dramatize, I was thrilled to see the tales inspire this very weird comedy. It's in some ways like the Blackadder shows...but not nearly as mean-spirited (I actually LIKE the mean-spirited aspects of Blackadder). It's all amazingly silly and enjoyable...but less so if you've never read any of Dickens yourself. I especially like how the show made fun of "Great Expectations", the god-awful story they forced us to read in 8th grade! However, I am sure that Dickens purists would be shocked and hate seeing all this...but as for me, I loved it all.
Museum Secrets (2011)
"Museum Secrets" is a Canadian series that is currently on Netflix here in the States. Each episode covers a different major museum around the world...and in each museum you see six artifacts with interesting histories...the sort of stuff you probably never heard before or since. It's all quite interesting, educational and worth your time. My only quibble, and it's a minor one, is that sometimes the show draws conclusions that seem premature and based on limited information. The best example is the object from ancient Egypt whose purpose was unknown and the show seems to think it's a hand grenade!! Huh?! Still, well worth seeing and never dull.
A Shot in the Dark (1941)
When the two main characters have to explain the case at the end of the film, you probably are best off skipping this mystery!
"A Shot in the Dark" is a slickly produced B-mystery from Warner Brothers. And, just like in his film "The Case of the Black Parrot", William Lundigan plays a smartypants newspaperman who helps the cops solve the mystery. But, unlike "Black Parrot", this later film suffers from a poor mystery...so poor that at the end of the film, the two main characters discuss the case and explain to the audience what actually happened! In other words, the film is poorly written and could have been a lot better. Imagine...watching a mystery that really makes no sense and then relying on the characters explaining what you saw! As a result, while I like a nice B-movie, here I cannot recommend it because of the Swiss cheese-like holes in the story.
South of Suez (1940)
Nice blood diamond miners...and one really rotten one!
The plot of "South of Suez" is something you simply cannot use any more. After all, the diamond miners in South Africa and other parts of the continent have developed a horrid reputation for mistreating the workers. However, when the film debuted in 1940, folks didn't know or particularly care about this...and so having a diamond miner being the leading man was not unusual but you won't see in the 21st century.
When the story begins in Tanzania, you see that mine owner Eli Snedeker (George Tobias) is a cruel and vicious man. Soon he and his foreman, John Gamble (George Brent) have a falling out and Gamble is thrilled to stop working for this monster. At about the same time, Snedeker is about to cheat a man out of his mine...and Gamble comes to his aid and becomes his partner. You know that sooner or later, the evil Snedeker will do something to try to exact revenge on Gamble...even though Gamble is a decent and honorable man.
When this film began, I was shocked to see George Tobias playing the vicious Snedeker. Tobias was known for playing 'nice guy' roles as well as the Stevens' neighbor, Abner, on "Bewitched"...hardly the type to be a murderous villain! But Tobias was good in this juicy role.
So is this any good? Yes. The story certainly is unusual as well as interesting...and is much like like "Jubal", which is a reworking of the Biblical story of Joseph! See the film and you might see what I mean. My only quibble was the ending...when one of the characters behaved in such an uncharacteristic manner...that was just poorly written. And, despite what the judge said, a wife CAN testify against her husband...she cannot be compelled to do so but can do it if she wants! Still, despite this sloppy ending, it's worth seeing.
Border Romance (1929)
"Border Romance" is a B-western whose biggest asset is that the sound, for 1929, is awfully good. As far as the rest of the story goes, it's just okay and is, at best, a time-passer you can find on YouTube.
Bob Hamlin and his buddy wander into a western town. Soon, a baddie attacks the friend and Bob shoots him in self-defense. But the guy was a baddie who has a gang who will want revenge...so the two beat it out of town. But Bob is infatuated with a local señorita...and risks his life to see her. What's next? See the film...or not.
While the sound quality is very good for 1929, films from the very late 20s tend to be a bit flat compared to movies made 1930 and beyond. Much of it is because incidental music is missing in most early talkies and decent dialog writing was still pretty rare. And, the singing at the 22 minute mark is pretty hard on the ears...also more common in early talkies. Because of these factors, the film is most likely a better bet for people who are nuts about movies and have come to expect a bit less from most 1929 productions.
Oh, Yeah? (1929)
Even after 74 minutes, nothing seems to happen in this one!
"Oh, Yeah?" is a very early talkie and it's unusual in that it has practically no plot whatsoever! rail-riding hobos, Dude and Dusty (Robert Armstrong and James Gleason), get jobs with the railroad. And, on their spare moments they romance a couple ladies who work for the commissary. Oddly, despite having jobs and the audience being told that they are working double-shifts at one point, you never really see them work and they ALWAYS seem to be off work. And, amazingly, not a whole lot more happens during the course of the film!!
"Oh, Yeah?" is a slow and meandering film. It even has time for a few musical numbers which seem a bit out of place considering that the plot isn't exactly complicated or developed. Because of this, it's slow going and tough to love this film. The actors seem to try their best but the script just doesn't give them nor the audience much.
A rousing adventure...with a dozen or so passengers and crew on a mostly empty ship!
I was very surprised that I found this 1929 film on YouTube today.. I had no idea it existed and I was excited to see a talking picture made only a decade and a half after the disaster. However, my excitement turned out to be rather muted, as instead of having a grand scope (as ANY picture about the Titanic should have), it looks amazingly claustrophobic. Despite the ship having about 3300 folks aboard (counting crew and passengers), you mostly see scenes with a small handful of folks in them!! I think this is for two reasons. First, the film was obviously made on the cheap. Second, 1929 was the first year for sound pictures in the UK and like the earlier American films of 1927-28, the sound technology was primitive and they had no idea how to film large rooms full of people. Instead, folks had to stand around hidden microphones and talk...which seems unnatural when you see such movies.
As for the title, apparently the White Star Line had a lot of nerve and wouldn't allow the studio to use the name 'Titanic'. I am no barrister, so I have no idea about British law, but this seems more a ploy by White Star than a legitimate case where a copyright or trademark is involved. The sinking of the Titanic was a historical event and mentioning this and the ship's name seem reasonable...and I am not sure why the studio caved and named the movie 'Atlantic' instead of 'Titanic'...but they did.
One thing that was bad about the movie but isn't the filmmakers' fault is that the print is rather jerky and it jiggles a bit. You probably won't need Dramamine to watch the picture, but it is noticeable and annoying.
Another thing to note is that there apparently were several versions of the movie. In the earliest days of sound, they studios had no idea how to dub films into other languages...so they filmed multiple versions in various languages. Laurel & Hardy did this, the Bela Lugosi version of "Dracula" has another version starring a Mexican count and with "Atlantic", they filmed it in German, English AND as a silent (as most theaters didn't have the technology to play sound films yet). And, after finishing the filming, the film was re-cut and French language scenes were added. I saw the English language version...and have no idea if these other versions even exist today nor where you can find them if they do exist.
The movie is odd in that it just begins on the ship in a small drawing room just before the ill-fated crash. I checked...the print I saw WAS the entire 90 minute picture and the normal introduction apparently just wasn't made. This provided little in the way of suspense and over an hour of the film consists of what happens after the ship collides with an iceberg. And, since it was made with very few extras and cast, the whole thing seems a bit small and anticlimactic. But I do cut the film some slack because of when it was made....expecting the same spectacle as in the Nazi propaganda film "Titanic" (1943) or "A Night to Remember" (1958) or "Titanic" (1997) would be ridiculous. Cramped productions were certainly the norm until about 1930-31....and, in hindsight, it might have worked better had they just waited a year or so to make the movie. Additionally, the film lacks reasonably well developed characters and even for 1929, it was a bit of a disappointment in this regard. So, overall it's a very mixed bag for 1929...and a film that must have impressed back in the day but which became quickly dated as well. Mostly of value to the curious and film historians. I give it a 5 because it is watchable and some of the scenes were well made...but overall, it is disappointing and cramped!
Home Game (2020)
A docu-series about insane sports played throughout the globe.
Judging by the narrator's accent, I assume that "Home Game" was originally made for British television. Regardless, it was just recently posted on Netflix and is worth your time if you want to see about small, lesser-known ultra-dangerous sports. Each episode covers one sport...such as the nutty Calcio Storico (Florence, Italy), free diving, Texas Female Roller Derby and the Highland Games (among others).
Overall, this is a very interesting series. While I am not a huge sports fan, I did enjoy the shows. the one that I could not make myself watch was free diving. I am a scuba diver and simply think free divers are insane...and death is not too uncommon. Apart from that, I loved the programs...particularly Calcio Storico, as it is so weird and violent, you really won't believe it! Well made and never dull.
UPDATE: I did watch ALL the episodes...even the free diving one. Scary...but worth seeing as well!
Not really a comedy...but well worth seeing.
Although this IS a Will Ferrell film, do not watch "Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga" thinking it will be anything like "Talladega Nights" or "Anchorman". In fact, I would go so far as to say I wouldn't even consider it a comedy...though it has some comedic portions. Instead, it's a strange tribute to Eurovision from some folks who seem to understand and love it.
Now this MIGHT mean that the best audience for this movie are Europeans and folks from a few other countries that also compete in the competition (such as Israel, Turkey and Australia). After all, few Americans (apart from me and a few other strange folks) watch Eurovision or even know what it is or how it's conducted! But, if you don't know about it, you might still enjoy it...who knows?
As far as the movie goes, it is the fictional story about Lars and Sigrit (Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams)...a singing duo who, frankly, don't seem very good. But through an odd set of circumstances, they find themselves the Icelandic entry into Eurovision!! Do they stand a prayer? Probably not...but the film is about them and how they manage to salvage some dignity out of this!
What really helps this story is that so many Eurovision winners and famous competitors appear in the film. Additionally, they must have gotten permission to use the name, bumper music and more...making the film look and sound exactly like Eurovision!
Overall, a wonderful and enjoyable film for anyone who loves Eurovision...and a mildly enjoyable movie for anyone else.
Disneyland: Man in Space (1955)
Very good but definitely NOT for everyone!
Although portions of "Man in Space" are quite dry, this is a pretty amazing installment of Disney's "Wonderful World of Color"...one that actually holds up very well today. And, it was just places on Disney+ today...and it's waiting to be discovered.
The film is not one that really would appeal to many kids...but is more for adults. You would NOT expect this for this show...but there it is. The Disney folks attempt to explain all the requirements needed for manned missions to space as well as what to expect when these would soon occur. What is shocking is how accurate this early look at space was...filled with lots of facts and presenting it in a semi-interesting way. To do this, they use some excellent animations, interviews (one with a war criminal, Wernher von Braun*) and more. Well worth seeing...particularly by students in a physics or astrophysics class.
*Von Braun was the head of the Nazi rocketry program. To build his base in northern Germany, 20,000 slave laborers were killed...either worked to death, starved or worked to death. But, because von Braun't work was so important, folks just casually forgave him for this! Yikes. And, because of this, the Disney film's biggest weakness is the way they gloss over Germany's V-program.
Absurd Planet (2020)
A nature series for folks who hate nature shows...and like annoying narration.
I must point out that I did not even complete the first episode of this Neflix series....I simply couldn't force myself because it was THAT bad. Now the basic idea wasn't bad...to talk about the strangest and most inexplicable creatures on the planet. But here's the problem...instead of normal narration and style, the show features a lady pretending to be Mother Nature and it's full of all sorts of silliness. In many ways, it would be like making the Three Stooges and annoying 12 year-olds the producers for this documentary! The end result is simply awful...grating, unfunny and about as educational as staring at your navel. A total waste of time, mostly due to the narration that tries too hard to be cute and funny...which seems wildly out of place for a nature series.
Elephant Boy (1937)
Worth seeing but not among Sabu's best...just his first.
If you watch "Elephant Boy", I strongly recommend you use the closed captions along with the movie. This is because it's Sabu's first movie and his command of English isn't great and his accent quite thick. With the captions, this shouldn't be a major problem.
The story is based on a Kipling tale and is set in India. Toomai (Sabu) is the son of a mahoot--an elephant driver. And, Toomai looks to follow in his family's footsteps and become a mahoot just like his many ancestors. When a white hunter arrives, Toomai's father and his elephant join in the expedition...and Toomai, though only about 12, is allowed to come along with them. This film is about the many things that occur during this hunt...things that force Toomai to grow up very quickly.
While this is a decent film, it also is a product of its times. Paternalistic, presenting the British control of India is rather idealized terms as well as a few natives who are just Brits in dark makeup! My attitude is DON'T toss the film in the trash bin but just learn from it and understand its shortcomings. Sure, it's not exactly realistic but also represents Sabu's first film...a film which would end up changing his life radically.
So is this a great film? No. At times, it seems rather plotless and meandering. There also were a few scenes which shocked me, as you could NEVER make scenes like it today...such as the elephant walking around the baby!! Worth seeing and better than a typical jungle picture of the day--with animals from all parts of the globe stuck haphazardly into the film because they films were made on the cheap. "Elephant Boy" is no cheapo jungle flick and only offers a few ill-placed bits of stock film (such as occasionally showing African instead of Asian elephants).
Hitler's Olympics (2016)
Enjoyable to watch...but I think it missed the big picture in some ways.
"Hitler's Olympics" is a decent documentary about the 1936 Olympics, though it easily could have been better. Sometimes it just missed the big picture or details that would have made the film better. A few cases in point: Although the film ONLY talks about the 1936 summer Olympics, BOTH the summer and winter sessions were held in Germany in 1936. Why absolutely no mention of the winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (the Bavarian Alps)?? This omission is just sloppy and nonsensical. Second, often the film talks about Nazis and eugenics and the film acted as if this was solely a German issue. While not included in the narrative, early eugenicists were from the United States and Britain.....why no mention of this? Third, while distasteful to admit today, Adolph Hitler was much admired and loved OUTSIDE Germany in 1936. He was Time Magazine's man of the year in 1938 and was seen by many non-Germans as a great statesman and leader. Of course he was an evil maniac....but the film painted Germany as being completely out of step with the rest of the world...but, sadly, in many ways it wasn't. Overall, the film has some nice interviews and film footage but it's not the most scholarly nor complete account of the 1936 Olympic games.
Still Game (2002)
Marvelous...and Netflix FINALLY has it captioned!
The following is NOT meant as an insult to anyone: Most Americans seem to have difficulty understanding strong Scottish accents. And, I assume, most Scots have a hard time understanding us. That being said, despite the difficulties, I enjoyed watching re-runs of "Still Game" on Netflix even though it was occasionally difficult following what they were saying. Fortunately, Netflix IS captioning the program now and it really helps with my enjoyment of this cute series.
The show centers on two Scotsmen who are roommates. Neither wants to grow old gracefully and both have a variety of strange friends who they associate with...including some they don't even like! In many ways, the show SEEMS slow and mundane but keep watching. Like the wonderful Canadian show, "Corner Gas", the seemingly mundane becomes very enjoyable and you really grow to love the characters and weird situations they've gotten themselves into. Overall, "Still Game" is a marvelous show...full of wit and cleverness.
O'Brien deserved better.
"Maggie" is a pilot for a TV series that the networks rejected. And, after seeing it on YouTube recently, I think I can understand why. There already were some similar shows (such as "Meet Corliss Archer") and the show was anything but subtle. It's a shame really, as Margaret O'Brien was a very good child actress...but here they simply gave her bad material.
Maggie (O'Brien) is a super-emotional 17 year-old who goes through life as if she's acting on stage. And, because of this, she often over-acts and is a bit annoying. To make it worse, the laugh track is invasive. Overall, an interesting experiment that clearly failed. I just wish O'Brien had been given a better chance and better writing.
Li'l Abner (1967)
Li'l Abner was a very popular comic strip for 43 years. It was so popular that it spun off a couple movies as well as this failed attempt at a TV series. When see today, you might wonder what folks saw in all this...and I would have to agree. Times have changed and the zany antics of the folks at Dogpatch simply are passe.
When I found this unsuccessful pilot on YouTube, I noticed two things...it was broken into several parts AND the print was completely yellowed. The plot consists (as usual) of Daisy Mae trying to get Abner to marry her...but the dopey Abner being completely oblivious. Later, to try to make Abner jealous, his mother tries to set up Daisy Mae with a visiting senator (Robert Reed)...but still Abner is oblivious.
The show makes "The Beverly Hillbillies" seem like Shakespeare by comparison, with every ridiculous hillbilly stereotype being used in spades. Not the least bit subtle nor funny...just tedious.
Jan & Dean: On the Run (1966)
To understand why they'd make this, you need to understand that 1966 was a most unusual year!
"Jan & Dean: On the Run" is a very odd failed TV pilot that would confuse the heck out of younger audiences. After all, the show seems to have little in the way of structure and is a strange stream of consciousness experience that is completely unlike anything you might see today. However, seen in context, this show actually makes sense. After all, 1966 ALSO brought America "The Monkees"...a show that has a lot of similarities to this Jan & Dean pilot. Additionally, you must understand that the show was never intended for many of us...mostly just for young folks of the 60s who liked Beach Movies as well as defying conventions!
The show, as I mentioned above, doesn't have a conventional plot. Instead, you see clips of the pair in concert and it's interspersed throughout the show. What is left consists of all sorts of short clips that seem unrelated and odd. And, as for the singers, well, they come off as real knuckleheads....which is what the makers of the program wanted. So, while I didn't love it in the least, it WAS what network execs thought teens and young adults would like. Apparently, there just wasn't enough room for this AND "The Monkees" in the weekly schedule. It also might not have been approved because also in 1966, Jan Berry was critically injured in an accident and was left with having great difficulty in speaking and singing.
I give this one a 3 because at least the music is nice and a few of the jokes (the one with Elizabeth Montgomery was cute) work....though most just seem flat and boorish.
If you are curious about this ultra-strange attempt at a TV show, it is currently posted on YouTube. Fortunately, unlike most failed pilots, the quality of the print posted there is very good.
Back to Norm (2005)
Lots of unfunny skits with no punchlines.
Wow...rarely have I seen anything more unfunny than "Back to Norm"...a failed pilot for a skit comedy show starring Norm MacDonald. Many of the skits were very tasteless...the sorts of things that could almost never be funny. And, in these cases and others, the punchline to finish up the skits just fell flat. Godawful and horribly written...I just wonder WHO thought comedy skits about suicide, jihadists killing themselves, threesomes and a woman who lights her abusive spouse on fire as well as Roofies could ever work?! Tedious, unfunny and awful....and those are the best things I can say about this show that was justly never approved as a regular series. It might just be one of the unfunniest comedies I've ever seen. Even cancer is funnier than "Back to Norm"!
The Elvira Show (1993)
"The Elvira Show" is a pilot for a series that was never picked up by the networks. In many ways, it plays like "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" (1996)...but with the boobified Elvira in the lead. It also stars her kooky aunt (Katherine Helmond) and a niece she never knew she had.
So is it any good? Not really. It lacks subtlety and the jokes are too often about sex and boobs. But, for fans of Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), you really aren't looking for much more! I think in hindsight, the show needed more.
Driving Miss Daisy (1992)
"Driving Miss Daisy"...with a laugh track?!
In 1988, "Driving Miss Daisy" was a huge hit on Broadway...so much so that it was made into a top film the following year. Oddly, the networks considered making a weekly series out of it...three years later. I am not sure why there was such a gap, but after seeing this failed pilot, I can see why it failed. Imagine watching "Driving Miss Daisy"...only to have a laugh track and guffaws!! It seemed very out of place and it never was originally a comedy....and after seeing the pilot, it was a comedy in name only. The show just wasn't written as a comedy...yet they stuck a laugh track on it!!
It's really a shame, as Robert Guillaume, Joan Plowright and Saul Rubinek are ALL talented folks and played their parts well. Sure, it wasn't Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy nor Dan Aykroyd...but the three TV pilot actors were most accomplished and up to the task...providing the writing and laugh track were reconsidered.
A little bit LESS please!
In 1988, "Coming to America" was a huge hit for Eddie Murphy and director John Landis. So, it's not surprising that the networks would consider making a weekly television series of this story. The problem is that the pilot just wasn't particularly good.
In this pilot where much of the movie is essentially rehashed, Tommy Davidson is given the lead...which is most unusual since he hadn't a single movie or television credit at this point in his career. He's strike it pretty big on "In Living Color" in 1990...but this was a year off and here Davidson is expected to support an entire television show...which is quite a burden. On top of this, his character turns out to be much louder and more 'in your face' than Eddie Murphy's version of Prince Tariq...so much so that it became tiresome very quickly. Had the director and writer told Davidson to dial it back a bit, it might have worked...but here it's just too much!
I'm not exactly the target audience for this one...but who was?
Back in the early 1990s, "Clarissa Explains It All" was a popular show for young people. It was so popular that I am not surprised that the networks decided to try a reboot a few years later...with an older and more mature Clarissa. The problem is that the show just wasn't very good and it never went beyond the pilot stage.
The show finds Clarissa in New York City. She's about to begin an internship and she's thrilled with life and the big city. However, reality is soon coming to wake her because it turns out she's supposed to intern for a boss (Robert Klein) who is just mean and nasty.
So why did the pilot fail? Well, Klein's character was simply too mean....so much so that it seemed out of place for a comedy. The show wasn't terrible...but needed a retooling before anyone would consider approving the series..which never happened. Not terrible...but misguided.
The Living Desert (1953)
Nice footage...occasionally inane narration.
"The Living Desert" is an Oscar-winning Disney film about animals living in a huge desert portion of the United States...roughly inland in California into the Midwest. As I watched the nice animations and film footage in the film, I couldn't help but becoming annoyed by much of the narration. Some is helpful but too much of it inane and unscientific...meant more to entertain than educate. A few annoying comments would include referring to rival bugs as 'boyfriends', calling one creature a 'confirmed practical joker' as well as showing scorpions mating and playing square dance music as the narrator calls out the dance! It's really awful...and something even many of the newer Disney documentaries continue to do. I know there must be a proper balance between education and entertainment...but not this! And, the shame of it all is that the cinematography is great in this documentary...truly exceptional...especially for the 1950s.
Incidentally, if you are deathly afraid of snakes, then perhaps you might want to consider another film. Yes, it has quite a few snakes and the ophidiophobic individual is warned to stay clear.
The Pilot is Dead: Rosie (2019)
"Rosie" is a strange idea for a television show and my biggest question is NOT why didn't the networks okay this show but who could have possibly imagined that ANYONE would want to see this in the first place! After all, it's a show featuring a guy in a grotesque dog costume who also talks! The actor given the unenviable task of playing Rosie was Phil Leeds...an excellent character actor who deserved so much better!
The story begins with homeless Rosie meeting some kid and the kid takes him home. However, his parents are not impressed by Rosie and don't want him...and, oddly, Rosie stops talking and they parents don't know that he can talk. And, the kid tries in vain to get them to believe him that Rosie CAN talk.
So is this any good? Good grief, no!! In fact, it might just be the worst and most creepy idea for a television series ever....and it's obvious why it never became a weekly series. Heck, compared to this, "My Mother the Car" seemed like a brilliant idea for a show!
The Omen (1995)
Brilliant and ahead of its time...but also very poorly named.
Recently, I've seen dozens and dozens of failed TV pilots...and with most it's very obvious why the networks never picked up these as a series. Generally, the writing sucked...and although some folks might think writing isn't all that important, common sense says it is! Bad laugh tracks, characters who were more like caricatures and sloppy writing spell disaster for a potential TV show. But in a few cases, it's not so simple. The shows really were NOT bad and yet they somehow didn't make it. Bad writing simply wasn't the issue with "The Omen"...it was brilliantly written. But I think the biggest problem is that the show really was NOT "The Omen" from the movies....and perhaps TV execs thought the old 1970s films were dumb. I know Harry Medved sure did, as he named "The Omen" (1976) as one of the worst films ever made!
Shortly after the story begins, a crazed man deliberately runs over a poor young lady. When the lady arrives at the Emergency Room, a weird spirit-like entity leaves the dying woman's body and inhabits her sister, a nurse on the unit. Soon, she's behaving not so nice...and a strange man (Norman Lloyd) arrives to tell Jack and Dr. Linus that the entity is there and must be stopped! Apparently, the creature feeds off fear and torments folks in the process...and so it's going to be tough for the three to stop it without themselves being possessed.
In so many ways, the show is like "The Exorcist" and the great TV show "The Invaders" combined. This is because like "The Invaders", only a few people KNOW what is going on....and those who don't simply cannot believe the threat is real. Overall, so much potential and so exciting....it's just a darn shame the pilot wasn't made a decade or so later, as with the proliferation of Netflix, AMC, Hulu and Amazon Prime, such a show seems like a natural.