New Articles for the Week of May 20th: TV's Over Forever Addition

You hear that faint, dying buzz coming from your TV, the one that's getting fainter and fainter the nicer the weather outside gets? Yes, it's the sound of reruns, because TV is now officially over for the year. There's no more, it's all gone; it's time to unplug the cable box and start being a productive member of society again. Reruns are all that's left, which is actually worse than blizzard static, because at least randomly bouncing white and black pixels are bound to make something new appear every now and then. Might as well take the batteries out of the remote, because it's not like you'll need to turn on the TV for another four months.

And THANK GOD. I might not get summer vacations anymore, but Jesus Christ, I need a vacation from TV, or rather, new TV. There are a few stragglers hanging about (I'll keep reviewing Mad Men, of which the last two recaps can be found here, and here, and will follow up my 2nd Hannibal recap with a few more this season), and some summer series that will definitely be worth checking out, but any sort of halt to the rising tide of great TV is a godsend to someone already so far behind shows they'd normally be up to date on (I'm 5 episodes behind on Parks and Rec for crying out loud). So with so much more time these next few months available for getting caught up on what's been on and off my radar (it's time to finally see if the fuss about New Girl is justified, and the new Arrested Development season is mandatory), now's the time to do a bit of house cleaning, and wrap up a few series and season I've finished in the last few weeks. We're going have to lightning-round things this week, so let's not waste another minute.

-Arrow: This is a mini-milestone for me, as Arrow wrapping up its first season these last two weeks makes it the first show I've ever covered from pilot to finale. While I never thought my first consistent TV reviewing gig would involve writing more than 30,000 words on a show I originally had no interest in watching, you gotta start somewhere, and I'm glad Arrow was such a starting point for me. It's really, really tempting when you do freelance writing to only concern yourself with shows that align with your tastes, and tunnel-vision can develop as a side effect. Biasing your viewing habits only towards programs that are critically well-regarded will make you lose perspective on the wide range of stories available on any given night of TV. I would never argue in favour of someone watching Arrow instead of The Wire, or Louie, but it's important to give a change to shows that aren't inherently your type of jam, and to be able to recognize their strengths just as readily as their faults. Speaking of which...

-...Spartacus!!!!!!!! If ever a truly excessive number of exclamation points were warranted on this blog, this would be the case, because Spartacus, on its surface, ignores all the classically accepted hallmarks of great television. It's violent, libidinous, grimy, gory, unabashedly sex-crazed, and honest to God Great Television. There is so, so much worth celebrating about Spartacus, the most important thing being how it defies expectations at every turn; over its first season, a 300-knockoff looking like it was shot on a shoestring budget, morphed into one TV's best dramas, at once lean and spectacular. The show never looked back after that meteoric rise in quality, even after the untimely death of its star Andy Whitfield; Stephen S. DeKnight, his writing staff, the incredible production team, and a host a talented actors made every single minute of this series count, bowing out after their fourth season last month, and going out on their own terms. I've never watched another show that could dazzle the action-living, lizard part of my skull, while keeping the rest of my brain so engaged by the momentous plotting and unforgettable cast of characters. Oh, and it also happens to be one of the most sexually progressive shows of recent memory, just to round out why it is I'm so in awe of everything Spartacus has accomplished. Make no mistake; this brawny jock has more brain and heart than many of TV's most praised series.

-The ShieldWhere Spartacus is bloody opera, The Shield is Shakespearean tragedy. I was sadly unable to follow up my digestion of the first two seasons with complimenting thoughts on the rest of the series, so i'll have to give the 10 cent review instead. Long story short, while I don't think I would argue The Shield is essential viewing for your average audience, for fellow TV writers, I'd consider it a must. With each season, The Shield added another act to its tragedy in six-parts (with the scattered Season 1 acting as a prologue), and the further you step back from the show, the more you have to applaud how Shawn Ryan and company managed to tell a complete story that had almost no fat to it. Rock solid consistency across 70+ episodes is a nigh impossible feat, but really, it's the finale that gave the show its legacy, as that final hour gave weight and meaning to all those that came before it. Take note, showrunners: a bad ending won't necessarily ruin your show, but a great one can change the narrative completely.

-Top of the LakeA nice little Jane Campion mini-series breaking up all the macho stuff, Top of the Lake is not the sort of show you will devour like candy, and leave you hungry for more. It's a slow, winding, but intensely intriguing and ultimately rewarding bit of mystery fiction set in the New Zealand countryside. Elizabeth Moss is terrific in the lead role as detective Robin Griffin, kiwi accent and all, as her investigation into the seedy side of a lake-bound small town uncovers numerous oddballs and dark secrets across the seven episode series. The off-beat pacing will be off-putting to many, and there's a noticeable wonkiness to how the show's original six episode length was split into seven for Sundance Channel. I can't say I'm terribly well-versed in Campion's work other than The Piano, but her talent for spoiling gorgeous landscapes with disturbing sexual undercurrents is on full display here, making for a hypnotic, and unsettling little series that will likely find a place in my year end list of best series. I'm looking to taper off of the show's uniquely low-key high with a similarly contemplative series from Sundance, Rectify, the pilot of which I watched last night and see plenty of promise in.


New Articles for the Week of May 6th: Playoffs Edition


You know it’s been a while since you added an update to your blog when actually making one gets delayed further by forgetting your Wordpress login info. Here’s what I've had time for writing up in the last couple weeks, in between stuffing myself on the smorgasbord of hockey that is the first round of NHL playoffs:

-Two Arrows, no waiting. With the season wrapping up a week tomorrow, the recap load each week is about to get a lot lighter. The rest of May is barren for new show premieres, but June should pick things up, so their might be something worth covering weekly around that time. In the meantime, I might have to start popping in for check-in reviews, like the one I did for…

-…Hannibal, which, surprisingly, is turning out to be one of the best new shows of the year. You wouldn’t think a series based off a successful novel and film franchise would be an underdog, but considering it’s the umpteenth serial killer drama in recent memory (and on NBC no less), Hannibal entered the scene with bomb bunker-low expectations. Leave it to wunderkind showrunner Bryan Fuller, a strong cast, and the show's capacity to be legitimately creepy, to make this 2013’s most pleasant surprise. My review catches up with the show midway through its first season, and I’d recommend you do the same. Seriously though, despite being on network TV, this is not one for the squeamish. The jury’s still out for me on whether the show is making a commentary on senseless and gratuitous violence that you'll find in drek like The Following, or if Hannibal is just better at making said violence entertaining, but check it out for yourself, and see how it settles your stomach.

-Mad Men manages memorable moments mourning Mr. MLK, and major movements are made, as magnificently manic merger melts away morbid motifs.  I’m now realizing almost no one on this show has a name that starts with “M”, and I think that’s to prevent sentences like the last one from being even more tempting to write. 

This goes against my proven policy of improving productivity (okay, fine, I'll stop the alliteration) by not making any promises, but expect a big ol' hashout post about a number of series I just happened to finish within spitting distance of one another. Nothing super in-depth or all that analytical, mostly just a little baggage unpacking. The shows? I'll leave it a surprise, but the article's working title at this moment is Snakes, Lakes, and White-Male-Antiheroes. Now if you'll excuse, I need to get back to watching the Canucks lose. 

New Articles for the Week of April 8th

Ain't no party like a Jenkins-Whitford party, cause a Jenkins-Whitford party don't stop! Whooooooooo! Break out the champagne everybody: it's the second update in as many weeks! What'd I tell you: zero promises=unstoppable productivity. Alright, well, admittedly it doesn't look like much has changed; there are only two recaps to spotlight this week, but one's a new addition to the weekly rotation, and it's a biggie. And in between all that, the groundwork for a much bigger, rambly-er article was laid, on a topic transcending genres, mediums -the very fabric of time and space! Prepare to be dazzled, and set expectations to genuflect!

Shit. Now I've gone and promised too much...Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. On to the update!

-Old business first: the weekly Arrow recaps keep on keepin' on...except this coming week, and pretty much the rest of the month, thanks to a brief hiatus for new episodes.  That's for the best though, because I need focus every iota of critical juice I've got right now on...

-Mad Men: Yeah, this was a bit of a surprise for me as well, seeing as I thought someone at the site was already going to be covering it. But in a dramatic turn of events, the big red phone rang Sunday morning, and coach put me in! As a lover of both mixed metaphors, and drinks, I was ecstatic at the chance to review Mad Men...and then legitimately kind of terrified that most of the practice I'd had in TV recapping was from covering a CW superhero soapopera. Considering Mad Men is in the running for All-Time Best Drama of Ever and Always, this was like deciding to try your hand at cracking Saturday's New Yorker crossword after months doing the word jumbles on the back of Cap'n Crunch boxes.

Or at least that's what I was worried about, as the actual writing turned out to be less of a struggle than initially feared. It was surprisingly fun to take a run at, and I actually think my recap for the premiere turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself (and I do). We'll see how that enthusiasm holds up for the rest of the season; I mean, jumping into the Mad Men review game is basically setting a weekly reminder for yourself of how decidedly not hot your shit is compared to the dozens of amazing recaps being done elsewhere, but it feels good to be a part of the conversation.

And finally, one conversation I won't be getting in on is the passing of Roger Ebert. Don't get me wrong; the guy embodied everything about the career of "critic" that makes it legitimate, and the worlds of cinema, critical thought, and general human spirit are lesser places without him in them. But you can't look both ways crossing the street without spying another deeply heartfelt, and moving tribute to the man from critics and writers more skilled than I. I'll simply let my condolences join their's in celebrating Mr. Ebert's life, by doing my damnedest to live up to the high-bar for productivity, insight, and passionate love of shared experiences that he set for the rest of us.

Roger Ebert

New Articles for the Week of April 1st

Seeeeeeee them tumbling dooooooown  

......Oh, hi there.

Things have been a little slow 'round these parts for the last month, due to the new job, the holidays, and inordinate amounts of time being spent looking for the right tumbleweed GIF. I figured if I didn't update soon, the Kentucky Fried Chicken rant might have made that last post look like a suicide note, and that would have made following it up kinda awkward.

Anyway, here's an all too brief catch-up for the month:

-A pair of Arrow reviews, on the 1s and 2s. I'm not really sure what that expression means, but it rhymed, so there. I think it has to do DJ-ing or something. Or maybe traffic and weather reports for a news station. It probably wouldn't be a very good one if the report every ten minutes always required an immediate followup.

-Yo Joe...and everybody else reading this: I reviewed the new G.I. Joe movie, Retaliation, and might be the only critic out there legitimately disappointed by it. There is an art to making a stupid movie enjoyable, something the first G.I. Joe understood, and the sequel did not. And yet, I still think it's probably the best franchise Hasbro has going for it.*

*Sidebar: This was the part where I was going sarcastically snark about being super excited for a Tonka Trucks movie, but then I remembered that, holy shit, there might actually be a Tonka Trucks movie. How are we supposed to make to make jokes about bad movie ideas using comedic hyperbole, when the actual ideas for movies these days are this hyperbolic?*

Aaaaaaand that's it for now. I'd say my plan for the month is to really throw some coal on the TV coverage fire, but science says claiming you'll do something just decreases the likelihood of you actually doing it. So, in the interest of actually being productive this month: I promise nothing. Let's see how that turns out.

New Articles for the Week of March 4th: Colonel Sanders, in the TV Parlour, with the Stoker


You ever have that moment hit you, when you're walking down the street, loving and living life, and suddenly, out of the clear blue sky, it dawns on you that you haven't had KFC in, like, a year? Before you know it, you're back home, holding a plate of undercooked drumsticks, a cup of brown, motor oil gravy, and a greased through box of stringy potatoes that are to french fries what stubbing your toe on the cafe table is to a foot massage. As even your most base cravings flee the pleasure centres of your brain, you realize this is all too familiar. The stumbled upon stroke of gastro-genius, the thrill of putting thought into motion, the dreamy anticipation that follows on the way to the kitchen, and the cold, coagulated reality that greet you there are all part of a mistake you've made again, and again, year in, year out. You knew this was going to be the end result, because this is what happens every time you order KFC, and you've gone through these same motions more times than you can count. You should know better by now, you do know better by now. But you went through with it all anyway. You let the money change hands, and knowingly brought seven herbs and spices worth of sheer, southern-fried disappointment into your home. You see yourself as Memento's Leonard Shelby, having chosen to willfully ignore the truth of your own unchanging, self-destructive nature, and chase the glimmering mirage that's better left out of reach. Alone, you stare into the depths of the red cardboard bucket of chicken, and the chicken stare back.


Whoops, sorry bout that. Just cleaning fried chicken skin out of the keyboard. I wanted to start this week off with an extended metaphor for how finding stable, gainful employment after months of searching is like drifting onto an island moments before starvation...except then the very thing keeping you alive becomes a comforting deathtrap, and you wonder if it's worth sucking down coconut juice for the rest of your life. You know, the ol' "be careful what you wish for," type deal-y, except filtered through the universal disappoint that follows the five minutes each year you spend thinking, hey, I could really go for some KFC. Guess that sorta got lost in all the dramatics, my bad. And what the hell do I know about fried chicken anyway, I like Popeye's for God's sake.

Martin Freeman

Oh, right. Articles.

  • Like clockwork, a new Arrow review materializes. I may have been assigned covering the show, but that just means I appreciate its recent hot streak all the more.
  • And speaking of wooden objects that can be driven into the heart of a person, animal, or Dracula, the latter of which was created by late-Victorian-era author Bram Stoker (BOOM, SEGUE): here's my review for Stoker, the new movie from Old Boy director Park Chan-wook. I was lucky enough to catch it in limited release, and thoroughly appreciated its gothic style, and general fucked-up-idness. Plus, I think I've finally committed the proper ordering for Park Chan-wook's name to memory.   

I also had the very industrious goal of rattling off some thoughts on the shows I'm watching right now, but KFC-slamming slam poetry got in the way. Here's the five-second appraisal for a few of the things I'm keeping tabs on:

-Four episodes after reviewing the pilot, I'm still playing the Homeland game of "is this the week a tightly constructed spy drama goes to shit for being to plot-heavy?" So far, it hasn't happened, and the great character work, combined with the beautiful, insane setpieces, make this a challenger to Justified's Stetson crown as FX's best show.

  • Justified: One sawed off foot out of a pair of Walton Goggins bug-eyes.

-I might not have expressed this clearly enough when I reviewed the premiere for season 4 a few months back, but on the level of TV as entertainment, Justified is the best thing out there right now. Even the background music for the "Previously On" intros gives me more pure pleasure in 2 minutes than most shows manage in an hour. That it's a hoot every week, while also being consistently pretty great as a showcase for drama, acting, directing, writing, and all that, is just gravy.

-I don't know if I've fallen for an animated family sitcom like this since The Simpsons. Okay, so there haven't really been too many shows that fit the profile, and I didn't really fall in love with The Simpsons, so much as devote an entire childhood to it, but I stand by the inaccurate hyperbole. Bob's Burgers lands in a perfect sweet-spot between low-key, and zany, and the voice cast is really something else.

  • The Walking Dead: Thirty Walkers-appearing-from-literally-nowhere out of every furrowed brow Michonne gets to deliver instead of actual characterizing dialogue.

-I should more thoroughly hash out my near complete falling out with this show these last few weeks, especially after last Sunday's episode, which, while a significant step up from what the latest half season has brought, convinced me that The Walking Dead and I may soon be parting ways. And that's coming from a guy who enjoyed 50-odd issues of the comic, and reads The Ultimate Zombie Survival Guide at least once a year. "The Problem with Post-apocalyptic Programming" will wait for another time, but for now, I'll just say that between the two minutes of zombie action breaking up the tedium each week, and AMC's relentless efforts to Walking Dead-ify every waking moment of your life, I'm pretty strung out.

  • EnlightenedOne epiphany-inducing sea turtle out of a dozen ironically self-involved existential voice overs.

-Again, I wish I had more time to write this one up properly. Then again, just about everything worth saying about how insanely precious this show is to TV as a whole, has come gushing out of the critical community these last two weeks like an African rainstorm, so I don't know how much I have to add. It's a show that's hard to really do justice in a paragraph, or even find an easy point of comparison, so let's settle for this: it's the opposite of Breaking Bad, and that's a compliment. Maybe everyone on Game of Thrones just wears sweat pants for a week, and HBO can spare the change to give one of the best things to happen to modern TV a third season.

  • Wordpress Shortcuts: 0 intuitive rulesets for font modification out of FUCK-YOU-I-JUST-WANT-THE-LAST-PART-ITALICIZED-WHY-IS-EVERYTHING-BOLD-NOW?!!?!

That's all for this week. To close up shop, please once again reflect on this picture of two-time Oscar-winner Ang Lee eating at In-N-Out Burger. I don't think we as a people have given the photo its proper due:

Ang Lee

New Articles for the Week of February 11th

Hey-hey, everybody! Happy belated February, one and all. It's been a hectic one over on my end, but for celebratory reasons. After months on the hunt, I've finally locked down a job, so the lights at my humble abode will remain on for the foreseeable future. Theoretically, anyway -the electricity bill is going to take a nosedive, as my new gig is mostly night work. It's got really good pay, with some really bad hours, but it'll free me up to write more extensive features during the daytime. Already cooking is my previously mentioned Oscars guide, as well as an opinion piece on Netflix's recent entrance into the heavyweight division of TV programming. Here's some stuff to tide you over until then:

-Old business first: Not one, but two Arrow reviews. Don't I just spoil you?

-New business: I reviewed the pilot for The Americans, a very promising new show on FX that can be best summed up as Cold War-era Homeland. As with Showtime's twisty conspiracy drama, I'm waiting for this one to go off a cliff at any moment, but through two episodes, it's been terrific. If nothing else, watch the first ten minutes of the pilot, which is fantastic, and might make a Fleetwood Mac song your new pump-up jam.

-Off my mind: I like having this blog because it lets me write pieces that don't really belong on other websites. For instance, I recently decided to take on The Shield as my next big TV drama, and wrote my thoughts on it through two seasons a couple weeks back. Ditto for my not-review-but-still-kinda-review-sounding think-piece for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which was supposed to only run a few hundred words, but quickly took on a life (and length) of its own. See, Peter Jackson: you're not the only one who can turn a small, simple project into a gigantic, shaggy monstrosity that runs waaaaaaay too long.

That's all for this update, but be sure to check back regularly, or subscribe to the site. As always, you can see an orderly list of my recent published work by checking out

New Articles for the Week of January 20th

Greetings and g'days everybody. Got plenty to log this week, so let's not waste time on pleasantries and get on with bulletpointing this bad boy:

  • First up, a movie review! For the new Schwarzenegger movie! That was released in January! And made $6 million on a three day weekend!  Yes, The Last Stand sounds depressing, but it's actually better than it has any right to be. You might have already part of my review actually, because one of the perks of writing for We Got This Covered is seeing your work selected by Rotten Tomatoes! That's right, I am one of the critics who said this "rotten" actioneer was "fresh". I AM THE 58%! 
  • Second, is another movie review! I did the honors of pulling double-feature duty last week, and the second review is for Broken Citywhich also has a blurb on Rotten Tomatoes from yours truly. Yup, I finally have work appearing on one of the biggest review aggregators in the world, and in both cases, they clash with the consensus (I'm coming for your troll crown, Armond White). This one split me pretty much down the middle, but I give it a gentle recommendation. Save it for an airplane, or a rental.
  • Last review of the week is for Arrow which can be found, along with all my other WGTC work, by following the link.
  • Next up, is my ranking order of the Best Picture nominees, which I teased in last week's update. This was a ton of fun to write, and is just a taste of something I've got cooking for when Oscar-hype proper starts to build next month. Check it out, see what you make of my list, and let me just how wrong I am about the order in the comments.
  • Last, but not least, a feature over at a new website, What Culture. I had never heard of this publication until they got into contact with me after I published my Skyfall analysis a few months back. It seems like a site with a very active readership, so it was a fun challenge to write an article like What Your Favourite Star Wars Movie Says About You. It was a bit like coming up with a roast for your boss at work...only you're the newest hire, and the boss isn't a person, it's a legion of fans that stretches across a 30 year history. Definitely a different kind of piece than I usually write, but one that was thoroughly enjoyable to generate. Expect more like it in the future.

That's all for this week, hope you all have a good one.

New Articles: Week of November 26th

Happy end of Movember everyone. Seriously, i'm not even a guy who can grow much facial hair, but I've never felt more in need of a shave. A fair bit to add to the update this week, as in addition to recaps for Parks and Recreation and Arrow, two articles of mine got published over at wegothiscovered, and it was a blast writing both of them. The first was a fun little list about the worst storylines in the best shows. Okay, so including Dexter and The Walking Dead in that list might have been a stretch, but it was oddly fun reminiscing on plotlines that seemed either out of place, or major warning signs for my favorite shows.

On the movie end of things, I saw Skyfall twice and loved it. Rather than write a standard review, I decided to write a little piece about the themes (WHAT?) of the latest James Bond movie. And by "little", I mean, "5000 word thesis". No joke, I've had to turn in final papers in university shorter than this thing, but I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

So check my stuff out, rate, comment, link, all that good stuff.