Category Archives: TV Review

Flashback Friday-Odd Girl Out (2005)

Bullying in school has unfortunately been a part of many people’s educational experience for quite a few generations. The question is, can the young person being bullied rise above it or will the bullies win?

In the 2005 television movie, Odd Girl Out, (based on the book of the same name by Rachel Simmons) Vanessa (Alexa PenaVega) is part of the popular crowd. She is best friends with Stacey (Leah Pipes), the queen bee of the school. When Stacey finds out that they both have a crush on the same guy, Vanessa is not only kicked out of the popular crowd, but is also mercilessly bullied by her former friends. Can Vanessa regain her sense of self or will her bullies win?

The thing that strikes me about this television movie is that unlike other television movies about the high school experience, this movie felt real, raw and frankly quite painful. It is a reminder that bullying, especially in the school setting hurts and can potentially have life long negative consequences.

I recommend it.

 

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Throwback Thursday-No One Would Tell (1996)

The statistics about spousal/partner abuse can only be defined as scary. 1 out of every three women and one out of every four men have been physically abused by their spouse or romantic partner.

In the 1996 television movie, No One Would Tell, Stacy Collins (Candace Cameron Bure) is a shy teenage girl who somehow attracts the attention of Bobby Tennison (Fred Savage), one of the most popular boys in her high school. What starts out as a fairy tale high school fantasy come true turns into a nightmare. Bobby becomes possessive of Stacy and starts physically abusing her. Can Stacy walk away from Bobby before it’s too late?

While there are some “message” movies that get on their soapbox instead of using the narrative to get their message to the audience, this television movie does not fall into that category. Spousal and partner abuse is an epidemic that has existed for most of human history. The message in the movie reaches the audience in a way that hits home without said soapbox.

I recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-Rock Of Love (2007-2009) & Flavor Of Love (2006-2008)

Among the more popular sub-genre that lies within the reality television genre, the celebrity dating show is an interesting one.

For a few years in the mid to late 2000’s, VH1 dominated this sub-genre. Two of their more popular shows were Rock Of Love (2007-2009) and Flavor Of Love (2006-2008).

The concept was like any reality show dating contest, with the difference being that the man at the center of the show was a famous musician. In Rock Of Love, the musician was Poison front man Bret Michaels. In Flavor Of Love, the musician was Public Enemy hype man Flavor Flav. Both men had around twenty to twenty five women vying for their affection. As the season wore on, one woman would be eliminated at the end of every episode until one was chosen as the winner.

If nothing else, these shows were mindless entertainment. Brain cells were not needed to watch the train wrecks that Rock Of Love and Flavor Of Love.

Do I recommend them? Not really.

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Throwback Thursday-High School Reunion (2003-2005)

Going to one’s high school reunion, for some, is like a blast from the past. For others, it is a night to dread.

For two years, between 2003 and 2005, the WB aired High School Reunion.  The concept of this reality was basically a one night high school reunion that lasts longer than any standard high school reunion. And, like any high school reunion/reality show, the archetypes play a role in the storytelling: the outsiders, the jocks, the popular kids, the band geeks, the goof balls, etc.

In terms of reality television, I appreciated the novel concept. I also appreciated that like any high school reunion, it gave the participants a chance to reveal who they are as adults outside of their high school personas. But, at the end of the day, it was just another reality show.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

 

 

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Flashback Friday-Orphan Black (2013-2017)

Science and the ability to play with nature has always fascinated humanity. But there is dark side to science that sometimes creates more problems that solutions.

In the television series Orphan Black (2013-2017),  Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) is a street hustler who finds herself at a train station the moment another woman takes her life by jumping in front of an incoming train. Eager to make a quick buck by pretending to be the dead woman, Sarah notices that she and the woman are mirror images of one another. What starts out as a quick con job reveals that she and the woman are not long-lost twins, but clones. As Sarah discovers the truth about the many clones, she also discovers that someone is making a concerted effort to kill these women.

Can Sarah find out the truth or will the secret forever remain a secret?

This show was one of the most entertaining, intelligent and provocative science fiction dramas of the past few years. It also helped immensely that star Tatiana Maslany played all of the clones in their various incarnations.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-Merlin (2008-2012)

The hero or heroine’s journey is a common narrative. For some, that journey is the rocky road from youth to maturity.

The television series Merlin (2008-2012) told the story of the young man who would become one of the greatest wizards in mythology. Starring Colin Morgan as the titular character and Bradley James as the future King Arthur, Merlin is initially a servant in King Uther’s (Anthony Stewart Head) Camelot. As time goes on and Merlin grows up, he will become a friend, a companion and a trusted adviser to the man who will be known as King Arthur.

I wasn’t a huge fan of this series, but the fact that it lasted four years says something about the quality of the program.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Man in an Orange Shirt TV Review

In 2018, we have much to be grateful for. That includes (for the most part), the open acceptance of those who are part of the LGBTQ community.

But it wasn’t so long ago that being gay not only considered to be immoral, it was also illegal.

The TV movie Man in an Orange Shirt is the story of two men fighting against their own inner nature to fit in with the rest of the world. In post World War II Britain, Michael (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and Thomas (James McArdle) are very much in love. But because they are two men, their love can never be publicly accepted. Michael marries Flora (Joanna Vanderham) and lives like any heterosexual married man. But Flora finds out about Thomas and her marriage is never the same.

Years later, a much older Flora (Vanessa Redgrave) is now a widow and living with her grandson, Adam (Julian Morris). On the surface, Adam appears to be ok. But he to is fighting his own sexuality and trying to shame himself via meaningless sexual encounters with strange men. Then Steve (David Gyasi) enters his life and Adam must not only face his demons, but learn to accept who he is. While her grandson is facing down his own demons, Flora is still dealing with decades old open emotional wounds that have not healed.

I think this is one of the more interesting and thought-provoking TV movies that I have seen in a long time. It’s  addresses head on the pain that comes with hiding your true self, even if you live in a world that is tolerant of those who are different.

I recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-Growing Up Gotti (2004-2005)

Every genre has their own sub-genre. The reality television genre is no different. One of the more popular sub-genre within the overall concept that is reality television is the show about the personal life of someone who is rich and/or famous.

In 2004 & 2005 A&E included Growing Up Gotti on their schedule. The show took the audience into the everyday life of Victoria Gotti (daughter of the late crime boss John Gotti) and her sons. Set in the suburbs of Long Island, NY, Victoria was then a single mother trying to raise her boys while dealing with everything else that life throws at you.

While the show was mildly entertaining, I can look back and see that it relied a bit too much on stereotypes to draw the audience in.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Throwback Thursday-The Adventures Of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends (1959-1964)

For the most part, cartoons are geared to children. These cartoons can be divided into two different categories. The first category contains cartoon that only a child would appreciate and be entertained by. The second category contains cartoons that are appreciated by both children and adults.

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends was originally on the air from 1959-1964. While Bullwinkle has the size, Rocky has the brain. The basic premise of each episode is that the titular characters have to outwit Russian spies Boris Badenov & Natasha Fatale, who refer to their targets as “moose and squirrel”. Between the main act, there were short bumper cartoons such as “Fractured Fairy Tales” and “Aesop and Son”.

While the animation is not the slickest and certain elements are dated, Rocky and Bullwinkle still holds up decades after the show left the air. While much of the content is targeted toward a young audience, there are jokes within that content that only an adult would understand and get a chuckle out of.

I recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday-Beauty and the Geek (2005-2008)

It is obvious to many reality television viewers that producers more often than not rely on archetypes or stereotypes when casting.

A perfect example of this type of casting is the reality show Beauty and the Geek (2005-2008). The premise of the show was to bring two distinct groups together: women who were known for the looks and not their brains and men who were known for their brains and not their looks. Each “beauty” and “geek” are paired together to help their partner out on areas where the other is lacking. The “beauty” would help her partner in the social arena and the “geek” would help his partner in the academic arena. Each week, a couple is eliminated until one remains and wins the competition.

The premise was certainly interesting and I certainly appreciated the social experiment aspect of the program. However, at the end of the day, it is just another mindless reality show.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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