Category Archives: television

Casual: Season One

CAS1_DVD_OCard_3DSkewDirected by Jason Reitman, Valerie and her 16-year-old daughter Laura move in with Valerie’s brother, Alex, a bachelor for eternity and maestro of casual relationships. Together, they coach each other through the world of dating while raising her teenage daughter.

Casual: Season One is for the arrival for contemporary minds, and it received a Golden Globe nominee for Best Comedy Television Series. My copy came with Digital Plus, and I popped it into my player and behold.

I find out it is a Hulu original that follows Alex, played by Tommy Dewey, and his sister, Valerie, played by Michaela Watkins, as they manage to live with one another while attempting to keep Valerie’s teenage daughter, Laura, played by Tara Lynne Barr, on the right track. Several episodes prove that both Alex and Valerie are weak on the point of keeping her on track.

If is obvious Alex and Valerie hardly set a good example for Laura with a house full of one-night stands, bizarre encounters, and attempts to master the art of dating. The series is a drama as well as comedy with bittersweet notes and sugary laughter.

With Reitman being an Oscar-nominated director for Juno and Up in the Air, which both are worth watching, the series is high on a pedestal as a comedy that explores the funny and awkward dynamics of modern families and relationships.  With that, I am curious by whose standards are “funny and awkward dynamics.”

The DVD includes all 10 episodes plus the “Creating Casual” behind-the-scenes featurette.

Perry Mason Movie Collection Volume 5

perrymasonV5Perry Mason Movie Collection Volume 5 continues to satisfy my viewer palate and is the final collection released by CBS Video. For a couple years now, CBS Video has been releasing the entire program of the Perry Mason TV series and movies.  That equals 271 episodes and 30 post series movies for television.

Growing up, Perry Mason was one of my family’s favorite television series to watch every week, and we were never disappointed by the stories because the writing never lets us down. The acting is first-class. There were no handheld camera shots or tight shots of beautiful women.  The series was pure plot-driven.  Perry Mason always found the real killer.

Some of you may have purchased the other Perry Mason Movie Collection Volumes, so you know what I am talking about. I hope you intend to purchase this final volume as well.  They are not cheap, but worth the value of good drama and priceless productions.

I was fortunate to be given a copy of Perry Mason Movie Collection: Volume 5.  The DVDs are in top quality condition with six wonderful and brilliant movies. Burr’s other co-star, Barbara Hale, had such wonderful rapport with him that can’t be reproduced in any other television show I have ever seen.

It can’t go without mentioning that Raymond Burr played a prosecutor in A Place in the Sun with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.  I guess, he was meant to be in the courtroom, though in Perry Mason he is on the other side of the court.

Below is the list of the final Perry Mason movies. The last four are without Raymond Burr and do not give the legendary series justice, but if you are going to collect these, you might as well have them all.

Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host (starring Raymond Burr)

Perry Mason: The Case of the Killer Kiss (starring Raymond Burr)

A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Wicked Wives (starring Paul Sorvino)

A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Lethal Lifestyle (starring Hal Holbrook)

A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Grimacing Governor (starring Hal Holbrook)

A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Jealous Jokester (starring Hal Holbrook)

Grace and Frankie

Grace and FrankieGrace and Frankie airs on Netflix and stars four legendary actors worth watching until it is obvious they have run out of material. Homosexually is not uncommon anymore. Nobody has to be in the closet because it is excepted now. I just wish the series moved forward more quickly with the story handling other situations that are funnier and not so sad.

Grace, played believably by Jane Fonda, is straight-laced and a former owner of a cosmetics company. Frankie, played over-the-top by Lilly Tomlin, is an open-minded hippie who tries to generate good vibes no matter if her life is falling apart.

The point to the series is these two women in their early 70s have nothing in common until their husbands, played by Sam Waterson and Martine Sheen, declare their love for each other and are leaving them to live as homosexuals.

All due respect, they are bisexuals and Waterson’s character clearly shows his attraction to his former wife, Frankie.

The series is a comedy with serious undertones, but it would have been much better in the 1980s with the issue a hot topic. Today, this is old news. Though husbands leaving a 40-year-old marriage for another man is not common, the idea is not shocking anymore nor is it funny.  Still the series has funny moments with more slow and off-beat situations.

The cast is what makes the series. They bring a lot of charm, verve and truth to their characters.  Sheen and Waterston are cast against type because they are not your usual eye-candies. Tomlin is as funny as ever as the flaky hippie, and Fonda timing is beautiful but a bit crusty.

I just wish the four of them would get on with their lives and deal with situations that are more entertaining for this day and age.

Gangland Undercover Season 1

ganglandHistory Channel produced an excellent series when they decided to capture the life of an undercover informant who was brave enough to sneak into three outlaw biker gangs. The fact that he lived to relate his story to the world is awe-inspiring as well. Charles Falco, the author of Vagos, Mongols, and Outlaws, goes from convict to infiltrator as he secretly documents the Vagos’ illegal activities and ultimately brings them to justice.

History Channel transports Falco’s story to real life in this fact-based series that sees him work as an informant for the Feds on a covert mission inside the dangerous Vagos world of violence, murder, and drug trafficking. Having climbed the gang’s ranks while facilitating 62 arrests, Charles Falco exposes how he crippled the criminal enterprise from the core of the biker underworld in this mind-blowing true story.

The series is by no means the same old thing about biker gangs but rises above the other motorcycle gang TV shows and movies.  Gangland is nothing like Son’s of Anarchy, so I will not bother to compare them.

Gangland will ring true for those who are familiar with bikers in the 70s. History Channel avoids soap opera characters and sensationalism. Instead, the show hits on the truth and scores a strong fan base.

Ari Cohen’s acting is good, and the writing is even good. What is interesting about this true story is that Falco was a meth cook, and he had a choice of jail or being an informant, which makes him and anti-hero in real life, but History Channel doesn’t depict him that way. That is Hollywood. The trailer below doesn’t do the television series justice.

The Royals Season 2

The RoyalsS2The Royals is a great TV show, and I reviewed season 1 last year, I believe. In general, the series is great. Elizabeth Hurley is the big star of the show and really brings a lot to the storyline. The entertaining aspect about the storyline is the fact that it is not real.

The overall story is completely dramatized and over the top.  The Royals has everything to make it a great series with mystery, murder, scandal, and love. You just enjoy it and not take it seriously. Set back watch the royal family and all their fictitious tittle-tattles.

The first season I didn’t notice the soundtrack, but season 2 the soundtrack is rather entertaining. The artists are new and worth looking into like Midnight (Giorgio Moroder Remix) – Coldplay, Sirocco – Terry Blankenship, and Ragamuffin – Silversun Pickups. The music is pretty much Techno and Remixes.

Season 2 has cast changes, which might cause some fans to frown with Sophie Colquhoun and Hatty Preston gone from the show. Still, the Liam and Ophelia relationship spins still back and forth – will they ever get together.

Alas, there are only 10 episodes, so milk it for all it’s worth because it is so much fun to watch.

Shaun the Sheep: Season 2

shaurnsheep2I was going to post this review in the Kids section of Movie Roar since it really is safe for kids to watch and is really silly.  I changed my mind when I realized it really is funnier from an adult’s point of view.

Shaun the Sheep: Season 2 is hilarious. The short episodes are not too long nor too short – about 7 minutes. They are just right for any rainy afternoon or boring evening with nothing to do. My favorite one is about the bagpipe. The sheep and dog think it is a goose. I have never laughed so hard in such a short amount of time.

The package comes with two DVDs. If you have a free moment or two, just pop in the DVD and peruse the menu for an episode that catches your eye. The set has a total of 40 episodes. There are plenty of choices.

Let’s face it. These cute little sheep and the dog are hilarious. Each episode has no dialogue, just music and some grunts here and there. It is produced so well that I didn’t even think about the fact there was no dialogue.

Another funny aspect about the storyline is the dog and sheep try to steer clear of the farmer, who is as blind as anyone with a pair of opaque eyeglasses.  I just laugh thinking about it.

I recommend the DVD set for the whole family. Any age will enjoy these short stories. Just thinking about the sheep, the dog, and the farmer puts a smile on my face.

Manhattan: Season 2

WGN’s Manhattan is clearly a great period drama since Madmen. In season 2, three new cast members are introduced. William Petersen plays Col. Emmett Darrow, who is not a nice guy. Mamie Gummer plays Nora, who is also very dark, and then Neve Campbell, who plays Kitty Oppenheimer.

If you watched season 1, then you might be bothered by the fact that Frank Winter, played by John Benjamin Hickey, doesn’t have as much screen time in season 2 as in season 1 because the story follows the other main characters more this time around.

The opening episode is a little confusing because it opens 45 minutes before the season finale and then flashes back to a year before the night they test the bomb. I had a hard time following the time frame, but it does smooth out, hopefully.

More backstory is given to each character, which makes the season 2 more interesting, and the acting is still strong and impressive.  The history during this time is really interesting with the music and some authenticity to the clothes.  If you are sharp, you might notice some production flaws with modern pops here and there or modern electric wires not fully erased out of the film.

All in all, Manhattan has a hard message as a social commentary. The Cold War existed, and these people were a large part of it.

Mountain Men, Season 4

mountainmenMountain Men is a decent reality TV show, and they are DVDs are worth getting, so I believed, until Season 4. Season 4 DVD has only 8 episodes, and the other half of the season is not available yet. The earlier seasons are all in one DVD package. When I bought Season 1, 2, 3, I got the whole season in each DVD package, so the change in packaging is confusing. It appears to be a bait and switch.

The promotion isn’t clear on what I am actually buying because it appears to be the whole season since there are on two discs. How can 8 episodes fill two discs?

Don’t get me wrong. It is a great program, but it is so disappointing to only have half the season in the DVD package. I looked at Amazon and most of the reviews state the same thing. They are disappointed because they only received half the season.

Despite the change in packing, Mountain Men is a great show. My favorite episode is when Marty finishes his cabin in time for his family to arrive.  Rich, in Montana, has dogs that are in danger after pursuing a bobcat too far. Then, Tom gets the once over after receiving a risky commission. In the beautiful North Carolina, a mishap brings Eustace’s lumber operation to a sudden halt.

As an afterthought, some of you might be happier viewing the streaming episodes on Amazon or History.  If you do the math, you might find it a better deal.

Little House On the Prairie, Season 8

littlehouse8Many of us have spent our younger years watching Little House On the Prairie. It debuted in 1974 when a majority of families still watched television together. Today, most networks, streaming websites, and cable companies compartmentalized programs for age groups. Thus, getting the family to watch one show together is a bona fide miracle.

Today, we have DVDs, so television shows like Little House On the Prairie can be watched by the whole family. This series is about decency and wholeness, celebrating the concept of right and wrong.

Now, you can get the series in full broadcast length and completely digitally remastered. The entire eighth season is on 6 discs, with the very last disc having two Little House On the Prairie movies. The movies are from season 9: Look Back to Yesterday and The Last Farewell. Now, that is a treat and something worth enjoying.

You can select episodes from the menu, so if you have a favorite you want to see, it’s easy to maneuver around and select the episode.  You can even select individual scenes from episodes. Subtitles are available as well in different languages.

Instead of listing all the episodes like a catalog, I am going to highlight some favorite episodes of mine from the DVD package. A Christmas They Never Forgot is where the family gets snowed in on Christmas Eve, The Ingalls family and Esther Sue exchange family stories when they were younger. I just love flashbacks.  No Beast So Fierce follows Charles and James as they go on a business trip together. James becomes friends with a wild dog that follows him everywhere after he feeds it. Stone Soup is kind of a silly title but is about three town kids coming together after a drought comes to Walnut Grove. Laura is pregnant and can’t keep up with the newly planted orchard while Almanzo is away.

All in all, this is a great package and a must for any family’s library.  If you are not sure you want to purchase the DVDs yet, search Amazon Prime and watch a couple of episodes and see if your family likes the programming.

For Better or for Worse

For Better Or For Worse DVD 3D (1)For Better or for Worse brings former TV series The Facts of Life co-stars Lisa Whelchel and Kim Fields together again in two very different roles for each actress. If you like the former TV show, then you should find these two women together again a scream. Antonio Cupo also stars in the movie and is a regular in Hallmark movies, appearing in Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade and I Do, I Do, I Do.

Based on the novel by Diana Hunt and directed by Marita Grabiak, Wendy (Whelchel) is a wedding planning coordinator. She is coming to grips with her grief of losing her husband.  In walks charming, and a bit of a thorn in the side, divorce attorney Marco (Cupo). He establishes his practice next door to Wendy’s wedding chapel. Rosanne (Fields) works for Wendy, is a good friend, and offers sage advice to the two business conflict with each other. A feud emerges as it becomes clear that weddings and divorces are like oil and water. When Wendy’s son and Marco’s daughter meet, fall in love and get engaged, Wendy and Marco are forced to team up and plan the kids’ wedding.  Opposites attract and well…you need to see the movie and find out how the romance blossoms between the two.

The movie is fresh and delightful as a romantic comedy and is a little too predictable for my tastes.  Yet, if you are a fan of Hallmark movies, then you will love this happy, go-round, and up and down movie.