October 31, 2011

Halloween Specials 2011 Edition

While I await for the anticipated How I Met Your Mother slutty pumpkin follow up, here are some of the Halloween specials I've checked out this season so far.

Castle:  After making an awesome special last year, the team over a Castle decided to do another Halloween special this year. This time it surrounded around a haunted house where a ghost hunter was murdered. Check it out while it's still available on Hulu.com!

Happy Endings: Penny, Max, Alex and Dave attend a Halloween party that has Penny and Max dressed as a mother and baby, Dave as Austin Powers and Alex as Marilyn Monroe. Meanwhile Brad and Jane are house sitting and the house is under attack by "the big kids".

Big Bang Theory: This episode proves that you don't mess with a Texan! After being pranked by Leonard, Raj and Howard it is Sheldon who gets the last laugh with his own Halloween trickery. Bazinga!

Community: Trying to top last year was going to be a challenge, but this year was just as good as Britta investigates which one of her study mates has to potential to be a psychopathic killer. Each member tells their own scary story, but Abed's made me laugh the most.

The Office: Andy is on a mission to create an awesome Halloween party to impress CEO Robert California, which puts Erin under a lot of pressure. It's worth to watch the great Halloween costumes as well as Robert California's "ghost story" at the end.

Parks and Recreation: Andy and April throw a Halloween party without informing their roommate Ben. Ron and Ann take it upon themselves to fix all the things that are wrong in the apartment which gives them both a thrill. And Chris takes Jerry's daughter to the party where he gives him too much information about their relationship. Meanwhile Leslie is shmoozing with Pawnee businessmen which is constantly being ruined by Tom promoting Entertainment 720.

The Simpsons: The 22nd Treehouse of Horror spoofs a lot of random movies including 127 Hours, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,  Dexter and Avatar. Definitely one of their weirder specials.

October 27, 2011

Justice Productions Live at New York Comic Con

Watch the duo of Justice interview attendees at this year's New York Comic Con.

And Finally...My Review of the NY Comic Con

It's been a week in a half, but there's been a lot to think about. I saw some great panels while I was at Comic Con. Among them were the following:.

Friday
Robot Chicken Panel - Seth Green, Matt Seinrich and Macauley Culkin! Some great clips including the announcement of the new Robot Chicken DC Special and a trailer for the next season.
Pizza Man Panel - Frankie Muniz, Diamond Dallas Page and Corbin Bernson. Great panel about an upcoming kid friendly super hero movie starring Frankie Muniz as the title character.

Saturday
Terra Nova - Jason Mara and Stephen Lang. Watched a full episode of the show with a small Q&A after.
Person of Interest - Watched a full episode with an introduction from Michael Emerson
Nikita - Maggie Q and Shane West. Clips from future episodes and a Q&A with a lot of marriage proposals.
The Walking Dead - Most of the cast and Robert Kirkman. Great panel hosted by Chris Hardwick featuring clips from the show and a Q&A session.

and...
The Avengers- Chris Evans, Colbie Smulders, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Hiddleston. Saw some exclusive clips from the most anticipated movie of next year. So psyched.

Sunday
The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret - David Cross, who was interviewed by H. Jon Benjamin. Hilarious panel which showed off clips from the new season.
Portlandia - Fred Armison and Carrie Brownstein, hosted by Seth Meyers. Another great panel which showed some awesome sketches from last and this coming season.

Up Sides to NYCC:
I had a lot of fun, saw a lot of people in awesome costumes and got to see some great panels.

Down Sides to NYCC:
Bad organization and over crowdedness. There were times I waited on line for an hour to see a panel and people who were on the back of the line were let in first because there was no line control. When I was searching the show room there were moments I couldn't breath because there were too many people.

The Bottom Line:
NYCC is a lot of fun. I've been going for the last 5 years and every year it gets bigger with better guests and panels. Avengers was huge for them. But I shouldn't have to wait from 11am - 8pm in a screening room to wait for the panels I actually want to see. My press pass gave me no access or interviews to anyone. San Diego is obviously a bigger con that has had  a lot of time to work out the kinks. NYCC is coming along but needs to get their act together if they want to keep growing in numbers.

October 26, 2011

Web Series Observer - Suck and Moan

Created by Brendon Fond


The Story: The end of the world is near. As a horrific viral outbreak creates a growing army of flesh eating zombies, what happens to those who have been secretly feeding on mankind all along? "Suck and Moan" chronicles the stress filled situations brought upon a group of reluctant vampires, who are forced into a battle with fellow flesh eaters, after their only food source is threatened. Tossing aside the tiresome melodrama of recent vampire lore, this witty web series addresses the smaller, every day issues, facing the undead, and the dangers of over thinking a struggle against the brainless. Despite their lightning fast reflexes, superior strength, and immortality, "Suck and Moan" reminds us all that vampires were people too…


The Observation: The human psyche is quite an interesting thing. For some reason (Observer included) we get all giddy as we watch ourselves get tortured and devoured by the undead, having our flesh ripped off our bones, blood spewing out of our throats, etc. It’s kind of like football for geeks. Talk about self-loathing. And much like those hordes of flesh-eating zombies, they keep coming at us in a variety of mediums and sub-genres. Don’t even start thinking that the genre is beginning to wane, or has been already for a few years. You know it, I know it, and Hollywood knows it – we are constantly hungry for more. All it takes is giving us a fresh take on the subject matter, pushing the boundaries of what we’ve seen. So, it’s safe to assume that it was only a matter of time before those fanged creatures of the night are blended with a little Kevin Smith twist.

 ‘Suck and Moan’, on the surface, tells the tale of a small group of vampires who are forced to deal with a quickly growing zombie outbreak. They are forced to take action and wage war against their rotting counterparts to save their food source (us) from complete annihilation.

Sinking our teeth a little further, the majority of each webisode is chock-full of dialogue, drolly over-analyzing some aspect of their species. They scrutinize the ‘rules’, so to speak, that we have come to associate with vampire, zombie, and even werewolf lore. It is quite reminiscent of a certain two clerks chattering their day away at a Quick Stop, nitpicking facets of geek-culture. I don’t want to get into specifics – I’ll save that for you to check out.

It took me a few episodes to get into this story, I have to say. In the beginning, it seemed to be just a bunch of random vamps with certain quirks as they watch over the amassing zombie infestation. But, as episodes progressed, I understood what the creative minds behind this series are going for. The characters grouped together and determined to fight the demise of their food source, and, in turn, themselves. The story arc that I found most intriguing was vampire Henry dealing with the mysterious side effects of accidentally drinking the blood of a zombie. And when I grasped the social commentary of all things vampire, it made this show much more enjoyable. My only hope is that the writers push their own limits even further, enhancing the gross out effects, as well as the crudeness of the characters’ discussions. 



The Bottom Line: While I do feel there is room to grow from both a storytelling and technical standpoint, ‘Suck and Moan’ is a nice, fresh foray in undead storytelling.

The Info: Suck and Moan is currently streaming eight episodes of their first season, with a ninth and tenth on the way. Check it out at www.suckandmoan.com, and be sure to follow the show on Facebook and Twitter.

The Interview: I had a chance to ask series creator Brendon Fong, as well as producer Joel Bryant, about their show. Check it out after watching the first episode!



What triggered you to put this spin on the current trend of Vampire/Zombie/Horror films and television shows?
Brendon: I've never really been a big fan of the horror genre in general, but as the latest vampire trend hit a few years ago, there was an increased accessibility to these classic "monsters," in a lovey-dovey melodramatic way that dropped many of the horror conventions. I wanted to write within the horror genre, but in my own way, which led me to think about what life would be like for an immortal person who just happens to maintain that immortality by feeding on people. And to a further extent, what it'd be like to finally find a balance between attacking people and keeping those habits on the down low, only to have a massive outbreak of flesh eaters obliterate the lifestyle you've struggled to maintain. Myth has always shown us people, who actually hunt vampires, but the moment there's a zombie outbreak, mankind considers it the end of the world. Why?!

What can we expect from future episodes? Any spoilers you're willing to hint at?
Brendon: We really will find out what happens to Henry, who is patient zero of vampires who've contracted the zombie virus. Also, humans have yet to chime in on the equation... 

How will the show stand out amongst other series on the web?
Joel: Our show is written for the web. It's not a feature-length project broken up awkwardly into episodes or a "pilot" that we didn't sell so we popped it up online. It has been developed specifically for the web, written in web-ready 5-6 minute episodes. So it's easy-to-watch, easy-to-follow, and ready to be forwarded! Truth is, there's a lot of crap out there. My main goal when hopping aboard was: "Let's make this good!" It's too easy to pick up a camera and shoot anything and post anything nowadays. But there's something to be said for taking your time, doing it right, and making a series that you're proud of - not doing it just do to it, but doing it because you need to. Hopefully that quality - though not "Mad Men" or "Game of Thrones" - helps it stand out.

What advice can you give to other filmmakers trying to produce/market a web series?
Brendon: Make sure you spend plenty of time developing your idea. This is an amazing time when we all have the ability to shoot and distribute our own independent television shows, but make sure you're putting in the work to make a quality show that people can enjoy, rather than saturating the market with either something people have already seen somewhere else or a one note show that will be finished in four episodes. As far as marketing goes, take advantage of the ability to build personal connections with your audience via Twitter and Facebook. People are no longer content to sit and watch a program, when they can give instant feedback and act as a sort of "virtual producer" by supporting their favorite shows. You have to embrace that!
Joel: Also, be wary that this isn't a get-rich-quick scheme. I could count on maybe two hands the web-based shows that have actually turned a profit. It's not a great money-making idea. Sure, you never know, maybe your project could be the next "Guild" or "lonelygirl15," but keep financial expectations low and go into the web world with a sense of adventure and a sense of humor. If it's not fun, then there's no reason to do it.

October 24, 2011

Once Upon a Time: A New TV Show with Familiar Flair

Last night due to my Simpsons withdrawal I decided to watch the new ABC show "Once Upon a Time".

At first I was very skeptical about seeing the show. Fairytales mixed in with modern day life..it seemed complicated and corny. However, I was actually very impressed with the show and how it appeals to an adult and child audience.

The show centers around the fairy tale of Snow White and the Evil Queen mixed in with fairy tale characters such as Rumplestilskin, Pinnochio etc. Snow White and her Prince are married and about to live happily ever after but the Queen decides she's not having it and places an evil curse on the whole village. The curse is revealed by the evil Rumplestilskin who informs Snow White that her unborn child will be the one to save everyone on her 28th birthday. Meanwhile, Snow White and her Prince learn from the fairy godmother that once person can be saved while the others will suffer the wrath of the Queen. Snow White ultimately decides to save her newborn baby while placing her in some kind of magic box to save her in the hopes that one daughter will save them all.

Confused yet?

Back in modern day world, more specifically Boston. Emma just turns 28 years old when her biological son who she gave up for adoption shows up at her door. He wants her to return home with him to Storybrooke, Maine where he believes that she is the daughter of Snow White and everyone is town is stuck in time and does not remember they are a fairy tale character. Emma does not believe him, but needs to return the boy home anyway. She ultimately decides to stick around in town for a week when she sees that her child may not be in the best hands of his new mother, who happens to be the Evil Queen herself.

Sure, it's confusing. Sure, it's complicated. But when else do you expect from some of the people who brought you Lost?

This show has potential and if you're into fairy tales and parallel universes this show is definitely for you. It may be confusing and already has some plot holes (again, what do you expect from the creators of Lost?) but I think it can turn into a very interesting show.

Grade: B+

October 13, 2011

Anyone Else Over Two and a Half Men?


When CBS/Charlie Sheen announced that the long running sitcom would no longer feature him as a star I was worried. How would Two and a Half Men work without 1 of the men? And why was the show so persistant on continuing without him?

Sure, people need jobs. It's not the cast or crews fault that Charlie Sheen went crazy so I can understand that aspect of keeping the show going. Other than that though, I was very skeptical about how the show would thrive without their main star.

Enter Ashton Kutcher, former star of that 70s show, star of countless of failed movies and star of his own twitter account. Everyone thought "hey, maybe it won't be that bad". And why would it be when they planned to pay Kutcher a ridiculous amount of money to turn their show around.

I watched the first episode like everyone else and thought that the transition between last season and this one wasn't completely random. Sure, it's far fetched that a billionaire would buy Charlie's house and let Allan move in after trying to commit suicide because his wife wants to divorce him. Sure, it's crazy that they violently killed Charlie Sheen off and no one is really sad to see him go. But I thought hey, why not?

I watched the second episode and I felt bored. I didn't really care that Kutcher's wife left him even though she is played by Judy Greer who I adore. Allan was still a great character but I always thought he was better when he was bouncing off Sheen. The story lines feels kind of bland and I feel like their just trying to push the envelope with their dark comedy

Now I feel like I'm over the show and since it's Fall and there's so much other stuff crowding my DVR. Is it time to give up?

October 12, 2011

My Review: 50/50

If you've heard a lot of good buzz surrounding the new film 50/50 then you should believe the hype and go see this movie.

The premise of the film is that a young 20 something guy, Adam, is diagosed with a rare cancer and has a 50/50 chance of surviving. There isn't too much plot involved in the movie, it is more about Adam's relationships with his friends, family, therapist, girlfriend and co-workers and how they react to the fact that he is sick.The movie was written by Will Reiser and is based on what he went through when he was told he had the same odds of survival. Seth Rogen is a friend of Reiser's and co-produced the movie and well as convinced him to write the film.

The movie stars Joseph Gordon Levitt (who is still cute without hair), Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick and Bryce Dallas Howard. All actors give great performances in their respective rolls:

Joseph Gordon Levitt stars as Adam, the cancer patient you root for to survive and quite frankly get a positive outlook on life. Seth Rogen is the obnoxious best friend that despite being inappropriate really wants his friend to be okay. Anna Kendrick is the young therapist getting her doctorate who may not be the best at getting Adam to feel better, but she is a great potential love interest. And finally Bryce Dallas Howard who was most recently the horrible antagonist of "The Help" is Adam's bitchy girlfriend who has trouble relating to Adam once he's diagnosed. All actors are amazing in this film and Joseph Gordon Levitt could be a potential Oscar nominee.

The movie will make you laugh, cry and most importantly think about how valuable life is and how when you're in your 20s and 30s you are not as invincable as you may think.

Grade - A

October 10, 2011

Web Series Observer - DeVanity


Created by Michael Caruso

The Story: Ruthless. Tyrannical. Sordid, and sexual. The saga of the DeVanity family unfolds as Jason DeVanity desperately tries to keep his late father's crumbling jewelry empire alive. Trapped by his manipulative and scheming wife Lara, Jason must control his wayward siblings Byron, Bianca, and Jackie in order to restore his father's legacy. At any cost...

The Observation: The notion that a soap opera is a guilty pleasure befuddles me. We must all face an undeniable truth – we love ourselves some good television drama. Granted, you may not be watching the same soaps that your grandmother watches at one in the afternoon, but you are watching something with the same core attributes. Let’s break it down for a moment, shall we - the pretty-faced actors, the romance, the greed, the mystery, the twists and turns, the ‘a-ha’ moments – sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Whether you’re watching All My Children, E! News, Jersey Shore, The Office, or even The Walking Dead, you are watching a true-to-form soap opera.

DeVanity, as the storyline above suggests, involves the murder of a jewelry mogul, and his heirs as they attempt to pick up the pieces and save (or destroy) the empire. Trash-talking, cattiness and bitch-slapping ensue. The first episode does well in explaining the backstory, using the eldest DeVanity’s (played by writer and series creator Michael Caruso) interview to explicate what we are about to get in to. Yes, they are rich, they are cruel and they only really care about money, power and sex – but, hey, that’s what makes these shows so addicting. We love watching the crumbling of a rich and famous family, with none of that guilt that leaves a bad taste in your mouth afterward. 

DeVanity has the over the top dramatics and story arcs that we come to expect in daytime soaps. The show does possess the same campy, yet somehow addictive qualities that draw in an audience day to day. What makes this series work so well is the shortened run time. Running at eight minutes an episode, I found myself clicking on to the next one straight away, itching to know what is going to happen next in this family’s rather out-there happenings, as showcased with over-the-top dramatics. DeVanity walks a fine line between satire and taking itself too seriously, which makes it all the more better. It’s as if the writers and actors are well aware of this line too, and are utilizing it to draw in an audience. 

The Bottom Line: The traditional soap opera is alive and thriving in this web series, with well-crafted storylines and actors that portray their characters with just the right amount of campiness. 

The Info: DeVanity’s seven-episode first season is currently streaming at www.devanity.com, as well as being featured on Koldcast, SFN, Mingle Media, Stay Tuned TV and VBCTV. Also be sure to follow the series on Facebook and Twitter. Season 2 is currently filming and scheduled to streaming January 2012.

The Interview: I had a chance to ask series creator Michael Caruso about his web drama. Check it out after watching the pilot episode!

 

What inspired you to make a soap opera? Would you say this series is a satire of a typical show in this genre?
DeVanity is definitely NOT a satire, although I can see why you might think that in certain areas. It definitely winks at itself in certain places. I have the upmost respect for the genre and I was inspired to do this because the women in my family have always been enormous soap fans so this is kind of my tribute to them. I am fascinated by the power struggles, and the outrageousness of the situations these people find themselves in. Is the show typical? I would say that DeVanity is a series that embraces what it is and enjoys being what it is. It's definitely a guilty pleasure. Soaps are incredible and a huge part of our American heritage, and we have to keep them alive!!

What can we expect from future episodes? Any spoilers you're willing to hint at?
In season 2 we will pick up 6 months after the season finale and see that there are severe consequences for the character's choices in season one. We are also expanding the world a little bit and meeting some new family members and having some pretty great guest stars. As far as spoilers go my lips are sealed. I will only say that we do have a Christmas episode planned that is going to be a lot of fun, and 2 crossovers with two other web series. One is a soap and one is not.

How will the show stand out amongst other series on the web – given this daytime soap opera drama and the typical web series audience?
I don't think that you can ever generalize about what people want to watch. That's the beauty of the web. It's not like network TV where shows are pitted against each other. I think our show stands out because it is fun and campy, and entertaining. People need that right now with everything going on in the world. They need to be able to check their brain at the door and have fun with this horribly twisted family. As web series creators we need to break down the assumption that there is only ONE type of person that watches web series. My show is for everyone. If the storytelling is good the audience will not be far behind.

What advice can you give to other filmmakers trying to produce/market a web series?
DO IT!! Work hard, pay attention to detail, but most of all have respect for this space, and treat it well. Treat your project like you would a feature film or a formal television series. Quality will always make you stand out in the pack. I am amazed on a daily basis at the epic amount of talent you can find on the web.

October 7, 2011

This is Whitney's Week: Whitney Vs. 2 Broke Girls

Whitney Cummings is definitely on a roll these days.

Both her sitcoms “Whitney” and “2 Broke Girls” have been picked up for full seasons. Now that I've had time to see both pilots and their follow up episodes I decided to review my thoughts on them.


Whitney

I was very skeptical about seeing Whitney since the commercials were really annoying, and more annoying was the advertising on “America's Got Talent”. I decided to give it a chance since it was on demand and I've found Cummings to be entertaining on her stand up.

I was immediately relieved that the laughter I heard was coming from a live audience and not an irritating laugh track. The pilot was not the best pilot I've seen but it definitely wasn't the worst. In fact there were some things that were kind of funny.

I felt like I had seen most of the show through the commercials so it almost felt like watching a re-run. The pilot was really just a backstory on the relationship between Whitney and her live in boyfriend, Alex (We get it! They're not married!). The supporting characters are kind of useless and quite frankly pretty annoying, but hopefully they will not be featured as much in the future.

Although I thought some of the comedy was semi funny, the bit of Whitney dressed as a sexy nurse getting her boyfriend Alex to fill out paperwork to "turn him on"  was one of the funnier things I've seen in a while.

This down side of the show is that most of the jokes in the episode felt like they should be in a stand up and not a sitcom. Additonally, Whitney might be in Jerry Seinfeld territory in terms of acting. But overall it was semi enjoyable.

Grade:  B-

2 Broke Girls

I was originally very excited to see 2 Broke Girls, mainly because it was co-produced by Michael Patrick King and co-starred Kat Dennings. Then I saw the reviews and I was a little scared off since some of them were great and others we're very mean.

Although I didn't exactly love the pilot and 2nd episode(masturbation jokes, really?) I did think the show was kind of humorous. However the laugh track was not my favorite.

Despite the fact that there's a horse and an annoying socialite character with two babies named Brad and Angelina, I think the second episode was a lot stronger. Although I don't think it's as funny as some other CBS sitcoms, I think the show has some potential once they stop going for cheap laughs.

Grade:  B

So in conclusuon both shows rank kind of average, but 2 Broke Girls might have more potential.

 I'll keep watching...for now.