TV & Film Review: TV Series

TV Show Review: Feud

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5 of 5 stars to the first season of Feud, a TV drama series produced by Ryan Murphy that began airing season one in 2017, focusing on the famous feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford from the 1950s thru the 1970s. Season 2 has already been approved for 2018, and it will focus on the feud between Prince Charles and Princess Diana in the 1980s and 1990s. How could you not want to watch this amazing show?

Why This Show?

  • I am a big fan of Ryan Murphy’s TV Shows. I first watched Nip/Tuck, then Glee, followed by The New Normal. He got a little quiet for a while, but then came back with a few amazing shows in a row: American Horror Story and Scream Queens. But then he produced Feud. I couldn’t say no!
  • I’ve seen a few Bette Davis and Joan Crawford movies, stimulating some interest in how Murphy would portray their feud. I wasn’t alive when they had their disagreements, nor had I seen too many older movies, but I thought this would be a great way to immerse myself in their culture.
  • I enjoy Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange in almost anything they’ve previously been in. How could I not give it a chance?
  • The significant other really wanted to watch it… again, how could I say no?

Show Overview

  • Eight (8) episodes on the FX network in March and April, 2017. Each were about 1 hour long, starting with the pitch for “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” and ending with the death of both women.
  • Joan Crawford and Bette Davis are the primary focus of the show. You see Bette’s relationship with two of her daughters, and you see Joan’s relationship with two of her daughters. There is very little concerning the early years of Joan’s life, and Murphy avoided the entire story involving Christina, which was later a book and movie about Joan’s abilities as a mother.
  • The show also has several side stories concerning:
    • Aldrich’s wife, affairs and their divorce
    • The assistant’s drive to be her own director
    • Victor Buono’s “hidden” homosexuality
    • The Warner brothers fame and fortune
    • Hedda Hopper’s cancer
    • Mamacita’s nearly heroic efforts to support Joan

Notable Stars

  • MY FAVORITE (in this show)
    • This is so tough… Both Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange were amazing. I think Sarandon has the slight edge, simply because she plays a bit of a different character for me, whereas Lange’s portrayal reminds me of a few other characters she’s brilliantly played before. That said, I am including both here.
    • Susan Sarandon had some moments worth of an Oscar. She nailed Bette in so many scenes. There were also a few with a bit too much of an edge in the performance, but still memorable. Always with a cigarette in her hand, the accent was critical to show us the Bette we all love. Sarandon held nothing back, always a spit fire — she lit every seen with her expressions, eyes and anger.
    • Jessica Lange’s bitter misery with Joan’s life was evident at every moment of her performance. When she cried, you almost wanted to laugh at her… not because it was poor acting, but because she truly made Crawford a flawed character who couldn’t ever see beyond her own opinions. With age, she mellowed a bit, but never could she see the error of her ways. She may have had a tough life, but she was way too pushy in some aspects. For Lange to get this across was amazing!

  • OTHERS
    • Judy Davis plays Hedda Hopper, a vicious columnist and reporter known to go after the stars with a vengeance. She had some really strong and tender scenes where I didn’t know if she was speaking a brilliant truth, or just being a bitch!
    • Jackie Hoffmann plays Mamacita, Joan’s maid and personal assistant. Her accent is hilarious,  but she’s got a very strong role as a supporting cast member in this one.
    • Alfred Molina plays Robert Aldrich, their director. He is married, but seems to forget it from time to time. His marriage is a key point during a few of the episodes, helping provide some much needed reality for life of the “middle-class” housewife during the 60s.
    • Stanley Tucci plays Jack Warner, the owner of Warner Brothers Studios, who bankrolls the pictures that the women star in. His character was such an ass!!! But the acting was great.
    • Alison Wright plays Pauline, a fictional character portraying the director’s assistant, but she wants to direct her own films. She’s a compilation of several people from real-life at the time. She has several great scenes, helping provide some depth and humor, outside the feud between the two other women.
    • Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Olivia de Havilland, an actress working in other films with both women. She’s closer to Bette Davis, and ultimately takes Joan’s place in “Hush, Hush… Sweet Charlotte.” She’s good, nothing too special tho.
    • Kathy Bates plays Joan Blondell, a similar-type actress during their generation. She provides commentary about Joan after she’s passed away. Fine performance, nothing special.
    • Kiernan Shipka plays Bette’s daughter, fighting with her mother the entire time. Typical character you’ve seen her play elsewhere… best known for her work as the daughter on MadMen.
    • Tons of other stars, but those are the major ones.

The Good and The Bad

  • The set re-creations were phenomenal. Winston had a book about Joan’s NYC apartment and looked it up… they nailed the interior.
  • They took a few liberties with the timing on events and some exaggeration in a few areas. Looked up a few of the realities and facts to compare. Nothing too jarring, but enough where you’d go, “huh?”
  • Both of those women were mad crazy during that time period. It’s like they want to love their children, but I did not see that… they certainly said they loved them and tried to show it, but wow… kids were never the top priority!
  • Old Hollywood was a beautiful thing sometimes. It was also very messed up. Feud clearly shows the highlights in each and every episode.
  • There is a nice dream sequence in the last episode where Murphy explores “what could have been” if the two women ever tried to become friends.
  • The re-creation of some of the real movies were so fun to watch, especially having seen both the movies that were the key focus: Baby Jane and Charlotte.
  • The 1963 Oscars… that episode was brilliant. To see how they stabbed one another in the back. How Joan won in the end even when she didn’t. And to think these ladies did stuff out and in the public, where everyone could see their behavior. Hilarious!

Final Thoughts

  • It’s a re-living of history with about 80% truth and 20% exaggeration or fiction. But what you get is a solid show, full of memories and nostalgia for the olden days… which weren’t all that long ago!
  • The concept of the show is great… and I really look forward to the next one with the prince and princess.
  • Too early to tell if the show will get any nominations at the Oscars, but we’ll see soon enough!
  • You’ll enjoy this no matter what age you are, whether you lived through it, watched some of the movies or think that’s so far in the past, everyone else is ancient. It’s got drama and comedy. It’s got fashion, style and charm. It’s got down and dirty politics and shenanigans. All with a classy production.

About Me

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Each week, I will post a summary of a trip I’ve taken somewhere in the world. I’ll cover the transportation, hotel, restaurants, activities, who, what, when, where and why… and let you decide for yourself if it’s a trip worth taking.

Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” Since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life… see how you compare!

Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

TV Show Review: Mom

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4+ of 5 stars to Mom, a 30-minute TV comedy that began airing in 2013 and is currently in season 4. I couldn’t say enough good things about this show, something everyone should be watching if you like to laugh and enjoy a true slice of life. I want to give it a 5, but I rarely do that unless the show has been out and over for years, and holds up well to continue to watch years after it went off the air. But this one is still on the air, so it’s as close as I can get to giving a 5 for a fun viewing!

Why This Show?

  • I watched Allison Janney back when she was on Guiding Light almost twenty years ago as one half of a comedy maid team for the Spauldings. I thought she was hilarious back then and watched her in any movies or shows she starred in. Anna Faris has been my go-to female comedy girl for a long time… LOVE the spoof movies she does.
  • When they teamed up and were going to play recovering alcoholics, and separated mother and daughter, I thought it would be golden. And it is!
  • I watch about ten shows regularly, and this will always be one of them.

Show Overview

  • Christy (Faris) is a newly sober 35-40 year old woman living in Napa Valley, California. She’s been estranged from her alcoholic and pill-popping mother for years, but unfortunately inherited the same tendencies. She’s got an 18-year old daughter (not sure who the father is) who seems like she’ll follow in her mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps, and she’s got a 12-year old son (different father we see from time to time) who spends time with his dad more often than not. Christy’s a waitress and went back to law school to earn a law degree, struggling to survive as a parent, caretaker and recovering sober woman.
  • Bonnie (Janney) is Christy’s mother who raised Christy, but was often in jail or on a bender. She’s witty, sarcastic and hilarious. She’s had tons of jobs, was a lesbian for a few years so she had someone to pay for her habits and take care of Christy. Bonnie finds herself currently a building super, tho she has know skills in managing a building. She re-kindled her love with Christy’s father, but he eventually died of a heart attack in an earlier season.  She never knew her mother, and recently had a one-day introduction, but the woman later died where Bonnie learned she had a half-African-American brother. She’s currently dating a paraplegic man and trying to be more sensitive to everyone’s feelings around her.
  • Bonnie and Christy have spent the last few years re-building their relationship, living together, raising Christy’s kids together and figuring how how to be sober together. They even helped Christy’s then 16-year old daughter give up her new baby for adoption when Violet didn’t want to be a mother.
  • They have a group of friends through their AA meetings who have become an incredible support system and a sense of amazing comic relief.

Notable Stars

  • MY FAVORITE (in this show)
    • Allison Janney is the bomb! She’s been nominated for many awards, and even won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in the show. Her sarcasm and critical style are always on point and the biggest laughs on the show. But she also has a tender side and you will always root for her even when you want to smack her.

  • OTHERS
    • Anna Faris is a close #2 favorite. She plays a similar character as she has in many of her movies, but she’s got more substance in this show. She’s a good mom, but both her kids can be terrible. She tries to be nice to her mother, but she just can’t be — in a funny way. She has a good sense of comedy, a few dramatic scenes, but it’s her frequent snafus that keep us all entertained.
    • Mimi Kennedy plays Marjorie, the older and wiser sober friend who helps them all figure out how to keep moving forward each day. She’s best known for her role in Dharma and Greg.
    • Jaime Pressly plays Jill, the super-wealthy divorcee who wants a baby, but ends up adopting a teenager. She’s best known for her role in “My Name is Earl.”
    • Beth Hall plays nurse Wendy, a whiny friend who is always just one step away from the group. She’s best known for her role on Mad Men.
    • Many stars have joined from time to time, notably French Stewart and Octavia Spencer (who was fantastic).
    • Supporting players include Bonnie’s boyfriend Adam, Christy’s kids Violet and Roscoe, and her ex-husband Baxter.

The Good and The Bad

  • It is a true comedy. It covers so many different life experiences, and you have an amazing time watching them grow season by season.

  • It has a good amount of drama. There is excellent balance. We’ve watched death, break-ups, benders, marriages, births and a lot of heart-ache. Sometimes it’s shocking as you think it’s all comedy and boom, something bad happens.

  • Every episode is its own story. And sometimes, you don’t even realize you’ve been taught a lesson.
  • There’s been a few holes where characters should have stuck around longer. We want to know more about Bonnie’s half-brother. Baxter and the kids have been gone most of this season. Octavia Spencer’s role should be more frequent. Christy needs a good boyfriend for a few episodes.

Final Thoughts

  • You will always laugh, so give it a chance.
  • It’s got so much heart without being cheesy.
  • You root for everyone, even when they are doing stupid things.
  • I hope it lasts another 2 seasons and ends on a somewhat happy note.
  • If you’re going to watch it, you can pickup any episode and not worry about missing history. It’s good to watch in order, but not 100% necessary.  Find the one with Octavia Spencer’s debut… it’s probably the best one out there!

 

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I watch TV A LOT. I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. This site, https://thisismytruthnow.com, is where you’ll find TV & Film reviews, book reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

TV Show Review: Falcon Crest

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3+ stars to “Falcon Crest,” a 1980s drama about a family running a vineyard in California. What a hoot! With the normal television cycle winding down next month, I decided to look for a “classic” TV series to watch via Apple TV and stumbled across this one… I was too young to watch this when it first aired, but I thought I’d give it a chance.

My mom watched it and thought it was pretty good at the time. It hasn’t held up too well in my opinion, as many of the scenes are just so cheesy — no better word. It’s typical acting of the drama category and time period; nothing to dash in that capacity. But the ending camera scenes and the facial expressions… oh my! I’ve seen some bad ones on daytime soaps, but this took the prize.

That said, I’ve only watched 1/2 the first season – about 8 episodes. The story is good… a man dies under suspicious circumstances (but his sister makes it look like an accident) and his son, Chase, comes back to California to close on the estate. But Chase falls in love with the vineyard and moves his wife and two teenage children from NYC to claim his small stake in the family vineyard. His father’s sister, Aunt Angela, runs the entire vineyard and is anxious to get rid of Chase before he figures out that if his father died under suspicious circumstances, the whole vineyard goes to Chase. She’s got a kooky daughter, Emma, who is the one who accidentally pushed her uncle to his death. And another one, Julia, who seems smart but trapped. Meanwhile, Julia’s son, Lance, is the hot young stud who gets away with everything (or almost everything).

I’m excited to see where it will go, but not sure how much of the over-play I can take! Anyone out there watch it when it first aired and have thoughts?

TV Show Review: Sherlock

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4+ of 5 stars to the Netflix series “Sherlock.” I’ve only watched the first episode of the first season, but I’m already hooked. Let’s get to the details:

Story

 

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson… classic detectives from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary mystery novels… but re-imagined in the 21st century with computers, cell phones and cars. Sherlock is a “consulting detective” on the police force. Watson is a war hero doctor looking for a job and a place to live. By the end of the first episode, they live together and fight crime side by side.

Sherlock Holmes is played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Who wouldn’t want their detective to be a such a handsome devil. He’s got the expected charming arrogance, but when you see it brought to life, you’ll easily fall for him.

Dr. John Watson is played by Martin Freeman. He’s quiet and shy, but has a certain hint of risk and danger about him. He’ll also send a few shivers in your direction.

Strengths

  1. The characters are well drawn and depicted. Sherlock’s mannerisms and style are evident and on target. The setting and plot are captivating. The dialogue is witty. You want to reach into the TV and smack them both on occasion, but then you just want to sit down for a cup of tea or brandy with them, too.
  2. There are many versions of the Sherlock Holmes stories that have been filmed, and I’ve only see a few; however, both the lead actors have fantastic methods for transforming characters from written words to the TV screen. You watch to see how they will handle each action or story; it’s as much as about the portrayal of classic heros as it is about the mystery.

Suggestions

Part of the charm of the stories written about 125 years ago is lost when re-appropriated to modern times. It’s still very strong, but I’d love to see a little bit of the past weaved in to ensure we feel transported into the intrigue and cleverness of the stories. Maybe we’ll find about some of their ancestors… and they investigate a century old crime!

Final Thoughts

I’m glad there are only 3 or 4 episodes per season, as you don’t want to sit and watch them all in one day… catch one every few weeks, in between reading some of the actual Sherlock stories. Get immersed.

TV Show Review: “Madam Secretary” – S3E6: “The Statement”

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4 stars to “Madam Secretary’s” Season 3, Episode 6 “The Statement.” This season started off a little shaky but has been growing much stronger. I look forward to each new episode unlike the prior season where it sat waiting in the DVR station.

Story

Henry’s former asset, Dmitri, has gone rogue. Henry flies to his new undercover location to try to save him, subsequently learning that Dmitri doesn’t want to live if he can’t be near his family or in a career protecting the country.  Henry acts fast to find a solution to try to meet one of the two requests.  And he succeeds…

The presidential election is heating up and it looks more and more like Dalton will lose. All their decisions about current politics and US relations with the world are based on this election.  Realistic much?

Poor Matt is tied to a radical Islamic terrorist bombing, or so it seems… perhaps it’s the Afghan government’s connections who are behind it all.  Matt made a donation to a mosque which is under scrutiny, but he refuses to speak to the press.  He’s branded a traitor by some American new groups and in the end, he’s proven innocent (of course). But it was a very clear picture of what it’s like in America these days…

Strengths

  1. Reality. It mirrors so much of what’s going on right now, it ain’t funny!
  2. Matt’s story was moving. You saw what it was like for someone being accused of a crime they didn’t commit purely because of religion. Awful.
  3. Tea Leoni’s angst and determination are unparalleled.  She was born to play this part. Maybe she should have a real role in government. 🙂

Suggestions

  1. Less about the Middle East in the future please.  Sometimes we need a different topic. I look forward to next week’s about Venezuela! Maybe we can find with Trudeau’s counterpart in Madam Secretary Canada?
  2. The family comes in and out too much. It feels disconnected.  As does the plight of the rest of the Secretary of State team. I understand giving each actor a chance to shine, but sometimes we lose traces of what’s going on in all of the character’s personal lives, e.g. what is up with Blake?  Can we please find out who the heck he is after 3 seasons?

Final Thoughts

It’s the best of the political dramas.  Scandal is good… and I can’t wait for that to come back in 2017, but it’s a little too drama-oriented.  Madam Secretary is all drama too, but it’s based in reality where people do things that make sense and that I can understand. I hope it’s renewed for season 4. Check out more at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6102296/?ref_=ttep_ep6.

TV Show Review: “The Crown” – S1E7: “Scientia Potentia Est”

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5 stars to Netflix’s original series “The Crown,” episode 7: “Scientia Potentia Est,” about Queen Elizabeth II’s reign of the United Kingdom — the early years. I may have found a temporary, suitable replacement for “Downton Abbey.”

Story

A chronicle of the last days of King George VI before his unprepared daughter became Queen Elizabeth II. In episode #7, Elizabeth faces 3 primary obstacles: (1) Her own lack of formal education, (2) An inability to choose her own new private secretary and (3) Her government’s leading two men’s failure to inform her of their crippling illnesses.

Strengths

  1. The tone of the acting, the drama, the setting and the direction is strikingly mid-century British. Now, of course you’re thinking… it’s supposed to be you fool… and you’re right; however, it’s brilliantly assembled such that I don’t even mind when a few parts may be an exaggeration of the reality that took place. After all, how would anyone alive today know exactly what happened in the privacy of some of these conversations? And so… that’s why I find it enlightening! It feels exactly like what would have happened.
  2. Costumes and scenery are wonderful. Props are used in all the key places. And the actors seem quite comfortable in their roles.
  3. Winston’s comeuppance was amazing. I waited all episode for it to happen, and when it did, it came just short of where I wanted it to go… I wanted him to apologize. I wanted her to browbeat him. I wanted to hear the faltering in their relationship. But alas, that is not the British way, and so… I did not see it. Brilliant. It was all done in the facial expressions, the silence and the imagination. Loved it!
  4. How could her parents not properly educate her. I agreed with Elizabeth for confronting her mother… and then her mother’s drunken response was classic… she stated the simple truth. She didn’t know better. No one told her. How can you blame her? It suddenly felt so clear, and so sad… not just because she was a women but because she was not the expected heir at the time. Karma’s a bitch, though… so it comes racing back!
  5. The fight over her selection of the secondary back-up secretary to replace the current secretary instead of the primary back-up secondary… excellent plot. I too would have told them where to shove it. But there’s that tradition that she is so stuck on following despite her own needs.  Tough predicament. I feel like she and I would be good friends.

Suggestions

  1. I’m fearful with only 3 episodes left, we may only get to Elizabeth’s second set of pregnancies and still have another 50 years of non-aired history. I can hope for a season 2!

Final Thoughts

Yes, it’s less drama than Downton Abbey. And it’s based on reality which means it can be a bit of a repeat. But with such a fresh set of eyes and a look into years before my time, I am happily hooked and enjoy my new Sunday evening calm. All 10 episodes are available on Netflix, but I carefully watch one per week so savor each moment.  Check it out at:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5254162/?ref_=ttep_ep7.

TV Show Review: “Scream Queens” – S2E9: “Lovin the D”

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4 stars to “Scream Queens” Season 2 – Episode 9 “Lovin the D.” The long-missed well-balanced camp in this week’s episode was on back with a vengeance. And I was thrilled. Where else can I laugh at the silliness of so many characters that actually remind me of some people I know!

Story

Season 2 picks up with several of Season 1’s survivors back in action, but at a new special hospital where they “cure the incurable.” The Green Meanie is exacting revenge for a wrongful death at the hospital over 25 years ago — and the sorority girls need to figure it out before they become its victim. If you don’t want to read any spoilers, skip this review!

In this episode, the fantastic Brooke Shields plays a daytime television talk show hostess who wants to be the first to have an on-the-air surgery to remove a 20 lb. tumor off of someone’s face. Yikes! The Chanel’s quickly jump into action to get a part of their favorite actor’s TV show and help perform the surgery. It’s a success and they get their own show out of it! Well, of course they do, they’re just perfect for this kind of drama.

Meanwhile, there are actually 3 Green Meanie’s all out to kill the hospital staff for different reasons.  Hester calls a summit to organize which one can kill which remaining victims. I do love a well-planned, well-organized murder where each of the killers tries to be fair in divvying up the remaining deaths! 🙂

A few more characters die, the hospital wins some awards and 1 of the Green Meanie killers is killed! Only 2 left to murder the final remaining cast: 4 Chanels, Hester, 2 doctors, 1 administrator, 1 mother, and 1 head nurse.  Who will survive!!! Oh yeah, the looney cop turned FBI agent (LOVE Niecy Nash) is still on ice being kept alive. Now you know she’s coming back to life!

Strengths

  1. The camp was fantastic this week, especially when it’s been way overdone or lacking the last few weeks.  From the last-minute requirement for the Chanel’s to take the MCATs, the medical board’s visit, the 3 killer summit and the mother gone crazy, it was totally ON-TARGET! Some weeks, the actors just miss the fine line between campy humor and silly parlor tricks. Not this week. I was glued to my TV.
  2. The ode to the death by grease fryer oil is back! And the one we thought was gonna burn to a crisp survives another week… but unfortunately, 1 of the Green Meanie’s doesn’t!

Suggestions

  1. I wish they would have held out the identify of all 3 killers until the last episode.  We learned one in episode 6, one in episode 7 and one in episode 8. It was still fun to figure out how everyone would die and in what order, but I wanted a big reveal. Maybe it will still happen.
  2. They better set the stage for a season 3. I was iffy along the way if I could take another season, but if it keeps the same level as it did in this episode… then it better be a rockin’ season finale next week.

Final Thoughts

I now have some new fun names to call my friends… you boozy old hag! To check more out about this series, go to http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4145384/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt.