Review : Orange is the New Black – Episode 1 (2013/TV-MA)

Netflix which started out as a movie rental house on the internet (take that blockbuster, shut down Mega Video will you) is now branching out into original programing (because yeah that’s what you should do when your name has Flix in it, do less in the way of movies.) Anyone who knows us (so like 8 people) knows basically since 1997 original series on premium channels have become the bane of our existence while for every Mr. Show, Tales From the Crypt, Camelot, and Penny Dreadful, you get the overrated, over blown, Emmy award ballot box stuffing, critics circle jerk marathon Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Leftovers, Torchwood, and Masters of Sex. Is it any wonder we dumped HBO in 2004! Now that we got the back story out of the way right at the beginning (by the way back story, structure, pacing, and all around confusion and vagueness of plots could fill volumes on how these shows are all text book examples of how NOT to do those things) let’s delve into why we are here, namely a review of Orange is the New Black.

Right off the bat the story starts and it’s some non sequitur line (ok probably will mean something but who will bloody well remember it 8 god damn episodes later at 32:45 in spoken by some day player no one has ever heard of.) Next hey there’s nudity because it’s premium content gotta have nudity just to show how creative it is and no way you ever see this bold and creative stuff on ABC or Fox. So after that pointless scene the painful opening credits of harshly lit ECU shots of people with bad skin. Aside from this making no sense, when one has a 40 inch HDTV and streaming this on their HD AppleTV, these are shots that you simply don’t want in your living room especially while eating. So that’s already an F for the editor of the sequence who should know in editing 101 you don’t do that many ECUs back to back to back, and don’t defend it as art, there’s a major difference between art and piss poor editing.

After that trauma it’s time to start the show, and it opens on a bar be cue. No someone didn’t sit on the remote and accidentally change it to a cooking show on PBS Create (which by the way does have ECU shots but that’s required as you need detail there) this is the first scene, there are having a bar be cue because the main character is going to jail tomorrow (um ok why) now yes it could be argued it is an hour show they will get to it, it can also be argued and correctly pointed out this is not proper story structure. You have to give a setup up to the plot, this should have started in the court room at the sentencing and clearly spelled out what happened and why this requires jail time. All hour long shows are guilty of this today (pardon the legal pun for a prison show) of confusing non linear story arcs. Stop wasting peoples time, it’s rude, selfish, and downright offensive for any show to insist you give it 10, 13, or 20 hours of your time. In today’s world people are far to busy and far to ADHD for any show to get to make that claim. Shows today don’t understand people have maybe 45 minuets to spare, it needs to all be wrapped up in that time span, now yes an underlying subtle story arc for a whole season is fine but the plot for every episode should be A to Z. Episode 1 should set up the tone of the series not just sit there being vague.

So after that scene is an awkward bedroom scene as it is their last night together (again why) so at this point you have to go look on Wikipedia just to figure what the hell is going on. This is another major issue, why does someone have to go look at Wikipedia to figure out the plot of the show this means we have to pause the show to go online just to find the plot so it can be understood, this is basically homework and is wasting more of your time.

Yet another awkward scene follows and there’s now a revelation that finally explains why the main characters is going to prison, well it’s trying to, but it’s awkward and trying to be funny. This raises another point with many hour-long shows today they’re trying to be a hybrid comedy drama the problem is the comedy is not really that funny and it makes the drama come off campy and forced. Yes one can argue The Love Boat was a comedy drama but it had a laugh track so that made it a comedy with it being three little stories that still wrapped up in the 45 minutes allotted. 

Let’s see where we stand here. The show started off non sequitur, you had to go to Wikipedia to find the plot only for the show  to try to explain the plot, and do it really badly, and now are only 14 minutes into the show! *sigh* This is going to be a long hour.

Remember when we touched on story structure well now we get to see it fail miserably. The episode starts going into flashbacks and more flashbacks with a pinch of present day, while some drive the plot most just don’t or do it really badly and kill the pacing (which is a linchpin of story structure 101.) At this point you’re already just going to yourself, ouch my head my head, only to see your now 22 minutes into the show, you got a half hour to go, start drinking.  The episode doesn’t tire of this bad structure and keeps going from flashback to present-day, think of it like family guy with cutaway gags that aren’t funny that have no set up. This causes confusion as it is like two different shows with the same actors trying to compete for the same time slot on the same channel simultaneously.

Moving on to the part where the episode it self says this isn’t Oz.  That’s right there is bad enough when your show has to say “Oh were not like that show on HBO in 1997 that pretty much is the reason why premium cable shows today suck!” Oh by the way episode is trying to be funny and failing miserably the whole time. Yes Rizzoli & Isles does this a lot but one can cut that program some slack as that show understands it’s not premium cable and actually has plot and story structure and can wrap it up in 45 minuets, plus no flash backs.

So now 30 minutes into the show you see there are two people from the movie American Pie. Jesus christ was the casting director just bored one night and happened to pop in the DVD of the film and said “Oh let’s just cast everyone from this movie.” Make the show original don’t make your viewers get nostalgic and want to stop the episode to see a movie from 1999 where a dude humps a pie. Might as well start placing bets that Eugine Levy will make a cameo at some point the way this is going.

Finally after limping along for 51 excruciating minutes the episode finally comes to an end, is there a twist, yes, however because you can never engage with a story that flip-flops and goes back-and-forth so much it kills the over all tone of the episode and also any interest you have in the story. One cannot get invested if one cannot follow the story. Episode two awaits at this point but do you care enough to bother after nearly an hour of bad pacing and story structure? Maybe you should watch it if nothing else is on, but then again you do have Netflix go watch a movie because it’s called you know the service has word Flix in it’s god damn name!

On a scale of 1.0 to 5.9 this episode got a 1.7 out of 5.9

Review : The Interview (2014/R)

Wait your saying, isn’t this a very currently released movie (well very current as of this writing) doesn’t this violate the mission statement about being forever stuck in 1987? Yes your correct, however we’re supporters of free speech (and for once it wasn’t the MPAA’s fault when came to free speech.) So let’s see what all the fuss is about and review The Interview. First off, we think nothing will top Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg’s original screenplay that is the 2007 comedy Superbad. Yes in the credits of this film they didn’t write the screenplay but they did direct it and got a story by credit, so this is basically their movie. James Franco as TV personality Sklyark, seemes to sway between man child and first class interviewer.  That is one aspect where the film dropped the ball, yes this is a comedy and not high art, but constant character development is critical to make story work. Also the fuss about this film was over nothing, sure it’s topical right now, but will it still be topical a year or five years from now? Look at a film like Hot Shots Part Duex, it was topical when released in 1993 with Iraq and mid-east jokes and references, but in 1999 it seemed dated. However due to the political climate it became relevant again in 2003, but watching today it would feel dated. In our opinion, the humor and story would have been flawless if it was more like the film MASH, which is about war but doesn’t age. The Interview should have been about the leader of a nation but not a real one, it’s the satire and parody which is what makes the comedy funny and makes a story timeless. The other complaint is that it felt like the toilet humor and raunchiness were shoehorned in which gave the story an uneven feel. That type of humor works for a stoner movie which Rogan and Goldberg are known for, but here seems to dilute the main message and goal of the story being told. Bottom line do see it because it’s free speech, but don’t expect high art or a biting political satire.

On a scale of 1.0 to 5.9 it got a 4.0 out of 5.9

Review : Galaxy Quest (1999/PG)

Ok first off Trekkies, this is not a Star Trek movie so you can’t count it in the official movie ranks. Trust us we will tell you what we think the best Star Trek movie is (Hint: NOT Star Trek 2) but that’s another review. For now, it’s time for Galaxy Quest. Right off the bat this is a film that plain and simple works. Sure everything on the show is real, but the characters who are all burned out, and fed up being type cast  from the TV is what makes this work. Tony Shalhoub as Fred, is wandering through the scenes almost in a state of being high on pot. Now let’s talk about Tim Allen as Jason the star of the series, for years people said William Shatner has a giant ego (maybe he does, but that ego and nutty uncle personality have him laughing all the way to the bank since he still has die hard fans) which Allen is doing a spot on parody. Alan Rickman also gets high marks for playing a master british thespian turned resentful second bannana in a tour de force role. Every scene he is tired of being upstaged or being loved for a stupid catchphrase, the annoyance and disgust he has are comic gems. Finally this film features a young (well 20 years old) Justin Long, who himself is parody of Star Trek fans. The fact the actors never watched the show is what makes it funny (as Craig Ferguson jokingly said about his Late Late Show ‘I don’t watch this crap.’) as they’ve done it all before but know nothing about anything they actually did.

On a scale of 1.0 to 5.9 it got a 5.7 out of 5.9

One scene preview review: Cinderella (2015/oh let’s guess PG)

So do you visit MGM at Walt Disney World like we do? No. Ok that’s it leave the blog and go take a lap, we’ll wait. You take your lap? Good let’s move on. As we were saying currently (well January 19th, 2015) there is a 10 min preview of the live action Cinderella film playing. Can a movie be reviewed by just seeing one scene and 10 mins worth of content, we say yes and we’re gonna try. So what did they show, basically the scene where the fairy godmother gets Cinderella ready for the ball, you know pumpkin carriage, mice that turn into horses, you know that part. The effects were crisp, Helena Bonham Carter does a fantastic job as the fairy godmother (must have sucked after an 8 or 10 hour day having her breasts pushed up in that corset.) What raises the question we have, will this movie be a live action cartoon, where as Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent gave a new twist to there stories (however the later seemed to kind of pissed on its source material a little.) As for the director, Sir Kenneth Branagh will be at the helm. Now we liked him in Wild Wild West, The Road to El Dorado, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (hey WB why didn’t you hire him to direct any of the last four HP films maybe they wouldn’t have sucked) so well refrain from throwing any fruit just yet.

On a scale of 1.0 to 5.9 these 10 mins got a 4.5 out of 5.9

Review : Wayne’s World 2 (1993/PG-13)

It doesn’t matter who you are, well actually let’s rephrase that, it matters who you are if your Gen X, then your most likely a fan of Wayne and Garth. As Bill and Ted were in the 80s, Wayne and Garth were in early 90s. So when your first movie makes over $100 million at the box office, your gonna get a sequel. Honestly Wayne’s World 2 will never beat the first film in pure quality and originality, but it seems time and more or less everyone forgot about this movie because of its bad release date. Had this movie been released on Feburary 18th, 1994 (like the first films Feburary 1992 release) instead of December 10th, 1993 it would have made way more then $48 million at the box office. Wayne’s World 2 is actually rare sequel that delivers, and at the same time functions as its own stand alone story. Wayne and Garth are idiots, and that’s what makes it funny, they are perpetually teenagers who spend there time listening to rock music, and playing hockey. Yet just like the first film the story managed to do something creative with the characters. This film also took parody to the next level by pretty much having its last 10 minuets mirror The Graduate, and of course it knows it’s a movie with Wayne requesting they get a better actor for a bit part, which shows a film crew member rushing in Charleton Heston. Bottom line this film will make you laugh and that’s all you want today. See the original first of course but if you’ve already have then see this one.

On a scale of 1.0 to 5.9 it got a 5.0 out of 5.9

Bad Writer Showcase : Ilana Wernick

It’s the premire of a new feature Bad Writer Showcase (we’re more than just movie reviews you know) where we will call out a screen writer when we feel they have royally screwed up a franchise or TV show. 

We’re busy here at E-Mod 116 Online just like you. That mentality is the reason behind one of our iron clad rules “Movies and TV shows must be greatful, and respectful of your time and viewing. Not the other way around.” On January 14th, 2015 the “A Quarry Story” episode of The Middle broke this rule. The sole person to blame, the writter of episode, Ilana Wernick. So what did she do that was so wrong? Simple, she took 130 episodes of character development, shredded it, burned it, and flushed it down the toilet. This was was the most unpleasant and terrible 22 minuets of television we’ve ever seen. Mike screaming his head off at Sue who was bawling in tears over the reaction to a stupid sub plot that would never happen in real life. Sitcoms are designed to make you laugh and let you escape from reality, but this episode made Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, feel like an episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. This leads us to mentality of another rule we have “Everyone gets one disaster over looked.” (We’re looking at you Pixar on this rule when it comes to Toy Story 3.) Thanks to this terrible written, thought of, approved, and produced episode, The Middle used its one. That means if another episode of this piss poor quality airs, the series is automatically deleted from any future recordings on our DVR, in short… canceled (much like we did with Suburgatory, Dallas, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.)

On a scale of 1.0 to 5.9 this episode got a 1.2 out of 5.9 

Review: Inspector Gadget 2 (2003/G)

Back in 1999 when E-Mod 116 Online was a website (edited and maintained by using Netscape Composer for Windows 95) we reviewed Dark Frontier, a Star Trek: Voyager TV movie. That set the rules that films could get a review even if they were not originally released into theaters first. That said, on with the direct to VHS/DVD film Inspector Gadget 2. So the main question did we review the first film that got a theatrical release in 1999? The answer is yes, we also gave it a positive review, and did note it was based on the cartoon. When it comes to based on the cartoon this is where Inspector Gadget 2 actually excels at, it feels like a true live action cartoon. What about French Stewart now playing Inspector Gadget vs Matthew Broderick of the first film. In all honesty French Stewart is a better fit for playing Gadget you could feel him channeling Don Adams, while he didn’t have the Don Adams style voice used in the cartoon he did have a that silly, Get Smart quality silliness you saw in both shows. The plot is hackney typical kids movie, which in this case is fine as thats what it is, most films fail when they try to be more then what they are not with there plot. Other highlights are Penny and Brain having a bigger role in this film then the first, Dr. Claw being more menacing like the cartoon. The Gadgetmobile is back thats a big plus as he (well it) stole the show in the first film. Weaknesses however are the one note style Chief Quimby and City Mayor characters, and that story is set in Riverton, Ohio and not Metro City, USA like the cartoon. Bottom line if you see it on demand like Netflix, give it 90 minuets and watch it, if your Gen X you grew up with the cartoon so its instant nostalgia.

On a scale of 1.0 to 5.9 it got a 4.0 out of 5.9.