Average User Score: 7.1Oct 7, 2013People who watch ‘Low Winter Sun’ fall into one of two categories: those who enjoy the show because they like Mark Strong, and those who likePeople who watch ‘Low Winter Sun’ fall into one of two categories: those who enjoy the show because they like Mark Strong, and those who like Mark Strong but don’t enjoy the show. It starts well. The first episode opens in a dark room lit with candles (I have no idea why), an exotic leitmotif (which works despite its incongruity) and a close up of a weeping Frank Agnew staring at the camera. It’s a powerful scene that provokes instant sympathy for the protagonist, and justifies what he’s about to do. Unfortunately, in the episodes that follow, LWS conscientiously unravels both the sympathy and the heady atmosphere it set up in the first two minutes.
This show is giving viewers what it THINKS they want (a white middle-class antihero with no hair and some personal problems, a glimpse at a criminal underworld, stuff about drugs) without truly understanding what it was that made shows like Breaking Bad so appealing. LWS is too dark, too joyless, and MUCH too sordid. There is an excess of drugs, alcohol, prostitutes and (bizarrely) toilets. People talk about toilets, they use toilets, they shove people’s heads INTO toilets AFTER they have used them and the prostitutes FILM themselves using toilets. The whole fictional Detroit scene LWS sets up is so dark, so dirty, that it left me wondering why any of these people would stay in those jobs in that city. We were promised a theme of redemption, but I haven’t been able to find it.
The story is both overwrought and underdeveloped, with an awkward surplus of Serious Acting to compensate for the deficiencies of the plot. I wasn’t interested at all in the B-story with Damon and Maya, David Costabile is wasted here, and while I could happily watch Athena Karkanis reading from the phonebook, even she can’t lend the story some much needed beauty and moral relief from the relentless thematic and visual darkness of the show. I’d love to see Mark Strong in a sympathetic leading role. This isn’t it.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.6Feb 2, 2013Season 1 of 'Hart of Dixie' was pretty bad, but it had some charm. Zoe had her heart set on George, and she pursued him pretty aggressivelySeason 1 of 'Hart of Dixie' was pretty bad, but it had some charm. Zoe had her heart set on George, and she pursued him pretty aggressively even though it wasn't always obvious to the viewer why, especially when Wade seemed more interesting. Unfortunately, season 2 is absorbed almost entirely with Zoe and Wade's sex life. It's tacky, tasteless and unrealistic. Zoe is almost never seen to practice medicine, and everything in her life takes a backseat to her fling with Wade, who is usually shirtless. In fact, when they're not participating in some ludicrous town celebration, everyone seems to be sleeping around. It's a shame, as at its outside this series had potential to be sweet and engaging. Instead it's become sordid and just very silly.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.3Jan 17, 2013I'm torn about 'The Mindy Project.' It has its moments. It can be fun, it can be witty. On the other hand, it's cliched and unrealistic withI'm torn about 'The Mindy Project.' It has its moments. It can be fun, it can be witty. On the other hand, it's cliched and unrealistic with an unsympathetic lead. Kaling's character, 'Mindy Lahiri' is a 31 year old practising gynaecologist who talks like a 16 year old valley girl. While her teenage neighbour reads Jonathan Franzen, Mindy reads a novelization of the film Iron Man. Like most thirty-something women on TV, she's obsessed with finding Mr Right, and yet she's inexplicably nasty to all the guys she meets, including those she works with. At work, she and her two fellow doctors, both male, talk mostly about sex and Mindy's messed-up personal life. She takes time off work for "best friend's day" (lunch and shopping) and has no hesitation in hastily rearranging her schedule to visit her teenage friend at her high school to grill the girl's boyfriend about their sex life. She seems to spend the better part of an afternoon at work choosing a Halloween costume. It bothers me that Mindy is so shallow, that she talks in a high-pitched, dumbed-down baby-girl voice, that she's astonishingly self-absorbed and at times cruel. She says things to Dr Danny Castellano, her divorced co-worker and obvious potential love interest, like "no wonder your wife left you," comments that are followed by dead silence in which I'm waiting for him to break down in tears. When handing out condoms at the high school she gives one to everyone, two to an especially pretty girl and none at all to a plain girl with braces, saying "you I'm not worried about." It was a shocking moment, and unnecessarily unpleasant, especially as Mindy Lahiri was supposedly plain and single until her early twenties. There are numerous dissonant moments like these in the show that make me dislike Mindy Lahiri. She is carrying on a casual sexual relationship with her other coworker, Dr Jeremy Reed, and while the fact is accepted, it's rarely actually addressed. It's not clear why Reed, supposedly a ladies man, would need to carry on this relationship with Mindy, or why she thinks it's okay to casually sleep with someone she works with. In fact, it's not clear why anyone of the men she dates are drawn to Mindy. When Dr Castellano gives her a gynaecological check-up at work, the scene is alternately funny, cringeworthy and appalling. She teases him endlessly throughout and moans sensually when he tries to give her a breast exam. Frankly, it's offensive. She clearly doesn't take her work seriously. No decent gynaecologist would think of an exam as a sexual thing, and the way she talks incessantly about sex and her love life at work invites the kind of banter that would qualify as sexual harassment in most workplaces. I… Expand
Average User Score: 6.2Nov 4, 2012Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell both have some appeal as actors and deserve a decent vehicle for their talents. This isn't it. There areMelissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell both have some appeal as actors and deserve a decent vehicle for their talents. This isn't it. There are some really endearing moments between the two of them, and their romance sometimes transcends the sloppy material, but the writing is for the most part abysmal, saturated with overbaked fat jokes and typical sitcom clichés. In an attempt to be edgy and distinguish themselves from the vast body of homogeneous 'family sitcoms,' 'Mike and Molly' also stoops to new lows of unfunny smuttiness, with constant references to people's "Johnsons," "weiners," "sausages," and "junk," not to mention the requisite b**bs, a*ses, b*lls, diarrhea, farts, erectile dyfunction and countless euphemisms for sex (such as "a trip to the boneyard"). While Mike and Molly between them draw some genuine sweetness from a wasteland of material, Swoosie Kurtz is meant for better things. She never says anything that isn't a lame joke, which she delivers in a brassy monotone while gazing innocently into middle distance. This is not dry, sophisticated comedy. It's Lucille Ball Lite. I don't understand why Katy Mixon (as Molly's sister 'Victoria') squeezes her lines out in a contrived baby voice with a faux-Southern twang, and why she hams it up to the point of idiocy. Few of the actors in this laboured show understand the comic power of subtlety. Despite this, it will probably be on the air indefinitely. A lot of people seem to like 'Mike and Molly," presumably the same audience that keeps 'Two and a Half Men' on the air.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.8Sep 28, 2012So far, Last Resort looks like it has the potential to be the best TV since Lost. With a solid ensemble cast, a dramatic South Pacific localeSo far, Last Resort looks like it has the potential to be the best TV since Lost. With a solid ensemble cast, a dramatic South Pacific locale and an intriguing premise, it has all the ingredients for a pretty compelling show. The first ep was fast-paced, tightly edited and action packed, so we lost no time meeting the core characters and getting straight into the story. The concept of a US sub with nuclear capabilities annexing a small tropical island to take a stand against dubious orders to attack Pakistan may stretch the limits of plausibility, but it was actually executed pretty persuasively in this premiere episode.
Andre Braugher makes a convincing captain, and Scott Speedman is a sympathetic and likeable second in command. There are a few too many tough, fast-talking, generically attractive twenty-something women in this show, although Daisy Betts stands out. She's believable in the role of Lieutenant Grace Shepard, and she seems complex and interesting. The only issue is that she's eminently better suited to married Lt. Commander Sam Kendal (Speedman) than his wife, played by Falling Skies' Jessy Schram, an ordinary weepy blonde, who seems too young for the role. I'm not sure how they're going to manage Speedman's character in future episodes. He's the most eligible and interesting potential love interest on the sub - he should be available. Camille De Pazzis makes a lame NATO communications officer, gushing over spooonfuls of Nutella and sobbing over Pakistan, and Autumn Reeser (whom I last saw in (The OC') is utterly unconvincing as a sexy weapons designer who flashes her lingerie in a completely gratuitous almost-sex-scene in the first 15 minutes. People called "Kylie" don't design high tech military devices for the US government. I hope we don't have to see too much of her. Dichen Lachman is potentially interesting as the exotic islander Tani Tumrejak, although in this episode she mostly stands around displaying a single emotion which is actually quite hard to read (Shock? Anger? Fear? Sadness?) until the end, when she soulfully embraces the creepy soldier who is storing a body in her freezer, has been slamming shots of scotch all afternoon and just threatened to execute 5 men in her bar. I hope they don't simply turn her into the submissive geisha-type who falls in love with the macho American GI.
These issues aside, the cast seems to gel together, and the dynamic in the sub is compelling. In fact, the action among this crew, both in the sub and on the island, is the most engrossing of the show - much more so than the stuff that happens in Washington. We've seen enough back-room DC politics in '24' and failed shows like 'FlashForward' and 'The Event' - it's hard to make it fresh and original. Among the crew, Robert Patrick is intriguing as a loose cannon, and the mysterious Navy SEALs have some interesting stories to tell that they're not telling yet.
All in all, this is the most promising new show of the season, and I was pretty much on the edge of my season for most of this impossibly jam packed first episode. I can't wait for the next.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.7Sep 17, 2012A lot of the reviews of this show seem to hinge on where you stand in relation to Zooey Deschanel's unique brand of hipster adorability. FansA lot of the reviews of this show seem to hinge on where you stand in relation to Zooey Deschanel's unique brand of hipster adorability. Fans of Zooey either love the show because she's so cute in it, or hate the show because her interminable cuteness can't save it from banality. Those who can't stand Zooey Deschanel hate the show because they can't stand Zooey Deschanel. Before watching "New Girl" I was completely ambivalent to Zooey Deschanel, and I still am - this show is successful because of the chemistry between its ensemble cast including Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris as new girl Jess's room-mates. These three provide the comedy, and Jess's adorkability is satirised rather than celebrated. Jake Johnson is hilarious and immensely likeable as Nick, the guy you laugh AT, not WITH; Lamorne Morris's Winston is witty, flawed and endearing, and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is wickedly funny, a compelling blend of madness and mania: think Tom Cruise when he's jumping on couches or talking about Scientology. Jess is exactly what you expect her to be; an eccentric, creative, doe-eyed, hair-twirling ingénue whom the boys instinctively protect and nurture. Jess sort of mothers them in return, and there are some genuinely heart-warming moments among the four, five if you include the beautiful Hannah Simone as Jess's best friend Cecilia. I actually can't stand Zooey's haircut, and I wish she wouldn't wear so many tiny skirts and high-waisted shorts. I find some of her interactions too eccentric to be credible - at times she seems to go out of her way to be quirky and unconventional - but I did find myself liking Jess, largely because of the way she seemed to electrically charge the group dynamic. Regardless of how you feel about Zooey Deschanel, the best thing about this show is that it's funny. I haven't laughed out loud so much since Arrested Development, and I don't often laugh out loud watching sitcoms. But this is no standard sitcom rehash. It's witty, modern, sharply edited and well paced. It's quality comedy. At the very least, you can't not laugh at Schmidt.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.8Apr 29, 2011If this film didn't contain so much violence, sex and violent sex, it would be absolutely hilarious. The story is contrived and overwrought,If this film didn't contain so much violence, sex and violent sex, it would be absolutely hilarious. The story is contrived and overwrought, the acting laughably melodramatic and the characters universally unlikeable. Rufus Sewell and Matthew McFadyen turn in admirably understated performances, but they can't redeem a story so convoluted and anachronistic it's virtually comic; ecclesiastical Days of Our Lives, or Muppets do Medieval. McFadyen's accent is inconsistent and, as far as I can tell, totally made up (is it Welsh? Is it Midlands? It's both, and more!). Eddie Redmayne is an odd-looking Jack Builder (pretty weedy for a stonemason) with an affected working class accent that really begins to grate after the first 3 hours. His mother, a witch who distributes curses pretty liberally, somehow comes off as a gutsy heroine with an exotic foreign accent. We're supposed to adore Aliena, and to understand why everybody else adores Aliena, but she's an unrealistic and crabby female character, unsustainable over the painfully extended 6 part story. With a bad temper and cheekbones that could cut glass, there's little warmth to her character. She also miraculously gives birth within about 3 minutes after the cathedral roof collapses on her, which is almost as unlikely as using a jerry-built wall manned with peasants, monks and witches to a repel an invading army. If the producers are to be believed, people in the Middle Ages generally were overly dramatic, seriously perverse, depraved, violent and sex-mad, prone to randomly slaying, strangling, impregnating and embezzling one another. This epic is saturated with rape and blood-shed, with insinuated incest for good measure. While "loving" relationships are contrasted with unloving, it's all very lusty and rather disgusting.
Ultimately I think we're expected to sympathise in this film, but I don't. Prior Philip is presumably one of the good guys (while Bigod is plainly bad) but he's still superstitious, a peddlar of relics and of an archaic and oppressive form of religion. The church at this time was corrupt, manipulative and exploitative. Prior Philip was complicit in this, offering absolution in exchange for manual labour. It's impossible to view the weeping virgin or Saint Adolphus's skull with anything other than derision: they're tricks of the trade, smoke and mirrors, justified because they're perceived as miracles, and therefore edifying. The film ends with a sweeping shot of a modern-day cathedral, but it isn't terribly effective. Are we marvelling at the building itself? The enduring (albeit waning) influence of the church? The crucial social infrastructure of the Church of England? I gather that's what Ken Follett was aiming for in the book, and it's a worthy topic, but surely the church is (in theory) a monument to God, the one character who doesn't get a look-in in this bloody, brawly, sexy, embarrassing epic.… Expand