Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/customer/www/ticevision.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/Builder-Cohen/lib/builder-core/lib/layout-engine/modules/class-layout-module.php on line 505

Archive for Friday Finds – Page 2

Friday Finds: “The Shape of Water”

Friday Finds shares a piece of content I’ve recently discovered on broadcast, cable, or streaming TV.

Today’s find: The Shape of Water
Genre: Sci-fi drama/romance
Origin: Fox Searchlight
Find it on: your local movie theatre

The Shape of Water posterWhile Friday Finds is nominally an occasional column on TV content, I was so impressed by The Shape of Water that I feel I must include it here as a recommendation.

With an appreciation for Guillermo del Toro as well as a weakness for period pictures set in the mid-50s to mid-60s, I had an interest in The Shape of Water to begin with. With the ads already giving away the main plot line – woman falls in love with fish-man – I had expectations of a film that was going to be weird but made interesting enough by GTD’s talents.

I came out of the theatre thinking this may very well be the best movie I saw in all of 2017. The story, characters, and acting all were a surprise to be experienced. The main cast of Sally Yates, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Doug Jones do a great job. GDT does a fine job directing with some impressive sequences, especially the first few minutes that introduce us to Yates’ character and her world. As usual, GDT also imbues his creature with empathy and life in partnership with his long time collaborator Jones.

Despite Jones’ resemblance to the monster from the Black Lagoon, the film does not include anything horrific. There is some “standard” violence and  blood, but nothing worse than any other contemporary action movie. It’s a romance crossed with action crossed with caper, and a most enjoyable two hours.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
Get notifications of new posts – sign up at right or at bottom of this page.

Friday Finds: “Counterpart”

Friday Finds shares a piece of content I’ve recently discovered on broadcast, cable, or streaming TV.

Today’s find: Counterpart
Genre: Hour sci-fi drama
Origin: Anonymous Content
Find it on: Starz, season 1 (10x)

Counterpart posterAlthough not officially premiering until January 21, last Sunday Starz offered a sneak peak of the first episode of its new series Counterpart – and if you like your sci-fi layered with mystery, action, and alternative worlds, it looks like a winner.

Starring the inimitable J. K. Simmons in a dual role, Counterpart‘s premise is that during the Cold War, the Soviet Block somehow opened a portal under Berlin to a parallel world. A world which was identical to our own but which took a divergent path after the portal opened. One of the big initial mysteries left after the premiere episode is exactly what that means – although I would guess it means the Cold War ended in a very different way than we know it.

Simmons pulls off the dual role well, as to be expected from his excellent previous body of work. “Our” Howard (Simmons) is a rather meek, low-level drone working at the building housing the portal – although he has no idea what is really there. In contrast, the Howard from the “Other Side” is a deadly, high level intelligence officer. You can seen in the episode that each starts to learn from the other, likely a theme for the rest of the series.

The overarching theme may be implied from several conversations in the pilot – do we end up who we are by the choices we make, or by the circumstances we live in? What will we ultimately find out led each Howard down his path?

The exploration of the Other Side and the alternative histories of both sides is something that could be really interesting – again, if layered sci-fi like that is of interest to you, recalling series such as Lost or Fringe.

The one minor drawback to me comes out of this being a German co-production. Simmons, an American, seems plunked in the middle of Berlin without any reason and without any other American around. Perhaps they will explain this at some point. The Berlin setting is different but the combination, at least to me, gives it a little bit of a weird vibe.

Thumbs up!

That aside, I highly recommend giving Counterpoint a try. The pilot is available on demand from Starz and is also in rotation on its networks. And, as noted above, the full series premieres January 21.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
Get notifications of new posts – sign up at right or at bottom of this page.

Friday Finds: “Knightfall”

Friday Finds shares a piece of content I’ve recently discovered on broadcast, cable, or streaming TV.

Today’s find: Knightfall
Genre: Hour drama
Origin: A+E Studios
Find it on: History Channel, season 1 (10x)

Knightfall poster

Rounding out a gory Wednesday double feature with Vikings, Knightfall recounts a story framed around the latter years of the Knights Templar.

Based on the premiere episode, Knightfall is, in and of itself, moderately interesting and decently produced. It has its proper mix of heroes and villains, along with nice looking sets and costumes.

Unfortunately it pales a bit in comparison with Vikings, which rampaged onto the screen with an original setting (how many viking or Norway-based series can you name?) as well as a grimy and dirty immersion in the period (aside from the apparent availability of eyeliner, mascara, and eye shadow in 9th century Norway). Adding to the mix were some compelling unknown actors, led by the electric Travis Fimmel as Ragnar Lothbrok.

In contrast, Knightfall features some familiar tropes (knights in armor, the Holy Grail, a farmboy seemingly destined to be a squire) and a roster of the typical English actors seen in historical dramas – including no less than three from Downton Abbey. One of these Abbey veterans, Tom Cullen, carries the lead as a Templar named Landry. He’s perfectly capable but doesn’t reach through the screen and grab your attention. Knightfall just seems less special than Vikings.

However, enough is there to keep me around for at least the next few episodes to see how the series develops. Hey, I’m in History’s sweet spot demo (older men), so how can I not? But in this age of peak TV, just being good may not be good enough.

The cross-over I want to see

Unknown as yet is if there will be a cross-over episode with History’s The Curse of Oak Island – among the myths is that the elusive “money pit” on the island is actually the final repository of the Templars’ greatest treasures. Now that would be corporate synergy!

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
Get notifications of new posts – sign up at right or at bottom of this page.

Friday Finds: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Friday Finds shares a piece of content I’ve recently discovered on broadcast, cable, or streaming TV.

Today’s find: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Genre: Hour dramedy
Origin: Amazon Studios
Find it on: Amazon Prime, seasons 1 (8x)

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel posterI’ll admit this isn’t much of a rare “find,” considering the wide coverage of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel‘s full-season release this week on Amazon Prime. Ever since falling in love with the pilot episode on Amazon last March, I’ve been waiting to see how the series would turn out once it got the green light. Based on the first few episodes, I can say The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel carries on the potential seen in the pilot.

The brief logline for Maisel is that it follows the adventures of a housewife-turned-comedienne in the late 1950s/early 1960s – think a Mad Men aesthetic mashed up with a mythical version of a Joan Rivers/Phyllis Diller origin story. The eponymous Miriam “Midge” Maisel (played by Rachel Brosnahan) is the engaging lead. Supporting cast includes her parents (played by the always-enjoyable Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle), manager Susie (Alex Borstein), and Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby).

Set design and costuming is of a high quality, recalling Mad Men‘s similar dedication and, at least for me, providing a rich backdrop for the story. Some anachronisms inevitably sneak in as period characters occasionally are attributed today’s attitudes but none so outlandish to suspend belief.

Given that Midge tries to out-“blue” Lenny Bruce at some points, the series is not for the whole family, or at least not without some supervision. Give it a sample or a binge this weekend!

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
Get notifications of new posts – sign up at right or at bottom of this page.

Friday Finds: “Detectorists”

Friday Finds shares a piece of content I’ve recently discovered on broadcast, cable, or streaming TV.

Today’s find: Detectorists
Genre: Half hour dramedy
Origin: BBC
Find it on: Amazon Prime, seasons 1 (6x) and 2 (7x)

Detectorists imageDetectorists is a very engaging half hour that follows the exploits of two metal detectorists in rural England. Set in the present day, there are no murder mysteries or elaborate period sets here, only a story about our quirky leads Lance (Toby Jones) and Andy (Mackenzie Crook) as they navigate their lives as they search for Saxon treasure in English fields.

I call this a dramedy (albeit more comedy than pathos) because both men are also trying to discover where relationships are going as well as treasure. In season 1, we see Andy has a girlfriend who seems devoted although constantly mildly mocking his passion for detecting. Lance pines over his lost love, who still lives in town and has a new boyfriend, thinking he’ll win her back. And several twists bring unexpected consequences in both relationships and detecting.

If you like subtle, character-driven content – and don’t mind navigating some mild English accents – then give Detectorists a try.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
Get notifications of new posts – sign up at right or at bottom of this page.