Television Show Review: Orange Is the New Black: Season 1

Orange Is the New Black

Orange Is the New Black: Season 1 created by Jenji Kohan (Netflix, Lionsgate Television) Starring Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning, Jason Biggs, Kate Mulgrew, and Pablo Schreiber. Set Setting On its surface, a series about life in prison doesn’t seem too compelling. Most viewers need some sort of action or changes in setting to pique interest. There’s not much design to a prison setting. Everything is drab. Everyone is locked up. Movement is limited. How can plot develop? Yet, rejecting Orange Is the New Black due to setting limitations would be doing it a great disservice. The series works so far because of its commitment to relationships between its characters. Yes, Orange Is the New Black is… Read More →

Television Show Review: Getting On: Season 1

Getting On

Getting On: Season 1 created by Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine, and Joanna Scanlan (BBC Worldwide Productions, Home Box Office, Anima Sola Productions) Starring Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein, Niecy Nash, and Mel Rodriguez. Far from the Curse Is Found In the theological narrative of the fall, God curses humanity in two distinct ways: God makes childbirth incredibly painful and physical labor toilsome. While drugs have attempted to remove some of the sting from childbirth, the birthing process remains quite the ordeal. Likewise, our work seems to be unrewarding. Many people can’t stand their jobs. In fact, some statistics even suggest that number might even nudge up against 70% of the workforce. Even if we can’t possibly apply the notion of hard… Read More →

Television Show Review: Homeland: Season 3

Homeland Season 3

Homeland: Season 3 developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa (Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet Broadcasting) Starring Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Morena Baccarin, Morgan Saylor, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend, F. Murray Abraham, and Tracy Letts. *Spoiler alert for previous seasons in effect* Utilitarianism Noted in the ethics world, utilitarianism is a system devoted to the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people. It means if 99 people earn 5 “utils”—the metric for happiness created by the system’s founder, Jeremy Bentham—and 3 people receive -3 utils, then the action is valid and worth pursuing. The system is pretty popular. It seeps into everyday language—like when someone rationalizes an action because it limits harm, or the consequences… Read More →

Television Show Review: Boardwalk Empire: Season 4

Boardwalk Empire Season 4

Boardwalk Empire: Season 4 created by Terence Winter (Home Box Office, Leverage Management, Closest to the Hole Productions) Starring Steve Buscemi, Michael Kenneth Williams, Shea Whigham, Stephen Graham, Michael Shannon, Jack Huston, Jeffrey Wright, Gretchen Mol, Brian Geraghty, Margot Binham, and Ben Rosenfield. *Spoiler Alert for Previous Seasons in Effect* “A” “B” “C” “H” I’ve never seen so many stories at once in serialized television. The standard sitcom includes “A,” “B,” and “C” stories. And most often, three stories can be too much. But this season of Boardwalk Empire finds a way to execute not only “A”, “B,” and “C” stories, but also the show finds a way to an “H” story. Despite the complexity, Boardwalk Empire still creates riveting… Read More →

Television Show Review: Breaking Bad: Season 6

Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad: Season 6 created by Vince Gilligan (High Bridge Productions, Gran Via Productions, and Sony Pictures Television) Starring Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, and Aaron Paul. The Golden Age of Television Critics everywhere want to anoint the last decade as the “Golden Age” of television. Why? Well the rise of cable drama has allowed writers and actors with an opportunity to push boundaries without the shackles of bloated networks pulling the plug too early. Let me put it this way: Arrested Development may very well have been the greatest show on earth had it originally aired on a cable channel. Instead, it faced cancellation after three seasons. The freedom of cable not only let writers dredge for depth in character,… Read More →

Television Show Review: Boardwalk Empire: Season 3

Boardwalk Empire Season 3

Boardwalk Empire: Season 3 created by Terence Winter (Home Box Office, Leverage Management, Closest to the Hole Productions) Starring Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Shea Wigham, Michael Stuhlbarg, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza, Michael K. Williams, Gretchen Mol, Jack Huston, Bobby Cannavale. *Spoiler Alert for Previous Seasons in Effect* Breaking Bad… So to Say It was always coming to this. An anti-hero caught in between upstanding citizenry and the power and prestige of the underworld. Because of the Volstead Act, the 1920s represent an intriguing illustration in legislating morality and forcing morally ambiguous characters off the deep end. How far would you go to protect those you love? To make sure your life is secure? It’s a question phrased in… Read More →

Television Show Review: Arrested Development: Season 4

Arrested Development Season 4

 Arrested Development: Season 4 created by Mitchell Hurwitz (Imagine Entertainment,  Hurwitz Company) Starring Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, and Jessica Walter. *Spoiler Alert for Previous Seasons* That One Time He Studied Abroad Even if it hasn’t happened to you, surely you’ve encountered the story where a best friend moves halfway across the world for a season, only to return a completely different person. The friend you made no longer exists, replaced with somebody with new passions and convictions. For me, Season 4 of Arrested Development represents that long-lost friend returning after a prolonged sabbatical. After years of maneuvering to return the cast of this cult classic for a… Read More →

Television Show Review: Homeland: Season 2

Homeland Season 2

Homeland: Season 2 developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa (Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet Broadcasting) Starring Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Morena Baccarin, Jackson Pace, Morgan Saylor, Mandy Patinkin, David Harewood, Diego Klattenhoff, Rupert Friend. *Spoiler Alert for Season 1 in effect* The Writers’ Conundrum I don’t envy television writers. In a serialized format, and hopefully over the course of many years, writers must pen consistent characters while simultaneously breaking barriers to keep the viewer interested. Just as the public grew weary of Creed’s act after 3 identical albums, so too will shows lose eyeballs if there isn’t a continual push for shocking developments in overarching narratives. Often times, this phenomenon carries the label, “jumping the shark.” But… Read More →

Television Show Review: Hannibal: Season 1

Hannibal: Season 1 created by Bryan Fuller (Dino De Laurentiis Company, Living Dead Guy Productions, Gaumont International Television) Starring Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Laurence Fishburne. *Minimal Spoilage Within, But Be Cautious Nonetheless* Hannibal The Cannibal The character of Hannibal has been one of my favorite “bad guys” for quite some time. From The Silence of the Lambs, to Hannibal, to Red Dragon I’ve enjoyed the exploits of Hannibal “the Cannibal.” So, when NBC announced its plan to launch a prequel to the book and movie franchise entitled Hannibal, I was pleased to say the least. Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) was once in the field as an FBI agent. We, however, meet him at FBI headquarters as a lecturer on homicides. It’s evident that there’s something we don’t know… Read More →