New Fall TV 2015: The Darkhorses

The Bastard Executionerimgres-1

Premieres September 15th, on FX

Wilkin Brattle, played by Lee Jones, is a 14h century English soldier and under the charge of Edward the First. After the horrors of war follow him home and revenge is directed towards his loved ones, Brattle retires from being a warrior. The first season will revolve around Brattle’s forced return to the English court, as he claims the executioner title. He exchanges one blood-splattered sword for another; past burdens of guilt for new ones; and finds himself to be a different type of merciless weapon within this medieval political system.imgres

Beloved Sons of Anarchy show runner Kurt Sutter is the man behind this new period drama. He understands the early comparisons between his newest creation and HBO’s Game of Thrones. The 14th century English court system politics and Brattle’s newfound faith in the catholic religion will root this series in the history books. While characters like Annora of the Alders, played by Katey Sagal, is a mysterious healer who will entangle Brattle’s story with medieval mysticism. Much like it’s predecessor the Bastard Executioner’s first season will consist of ten episodes.

FX’s The Bastard Executioner trailer click here

Flesh & Bone

Premieres November 8th, on Starzimgres-2

An eight-episode miniseries structured as a look inside the lives of ballerinas and written in the vain of the critically acclaimed film Black Swan. The series tells the tortured tale of Claire (Sarah Hay), a talented ballerina who is running from a dark past and finds herself joining a New York City company. The trailer promises that this will be a brutally honest look at both Claire’s and her fellow ballerinas struggle for perfection. Filled with eating disorders, rigorous training schedules that result in self-mutilating practices and the self-esteem shattering competitiveness found in this chosen profession.

The most haunting image from the trailer is of a padlocked bedroom door. We don’timages see the intruder’s face from behind the door, but we hear his voice as he demands that Claire let him inside. This indicates that Claire is potentially running from an abusive childhood and was sexually assaulted by her stepfather (maybe). Therefore, Claire could possibly be suffering from PTSD as she joins this ballet company. Former Breaking Bad executive producer and writer, Moria Walley-Beckett is the series’ creator. Knowing that Walley-Beckett is directing the ship dispels my belief that the series could potentially fall more in step with the film Center Stage, than Black Swan.

Starz Flesh & Bone trailer click here

Into the Badlands

imgres-3Premieres November 15th, on AMC

Welcome to the Badlands. A six-episode series that combines the stylized-western
aesthetic of Django Unchained with, the graceful violence found in Kill Bill. This martial arts series is based on the Chinese tale Journey To The West. A fierce enslaved warrior (known as a clipper in the show) named Sunny, played by executive-producer Daniel Wu, stumbles across a young boy named M.K., played by Aramis Knight. They develop a mentor/protégé relationship as they journey together across the dangerous land run by feudal barons.

The most intriguing aspect of the series stems from the villainess named the Widow, portrayed by Emily Beecham.   We are introduced to her as the one behind images-1the attempted capture of M.K., for unknown reasons.  Throughout the Comic-Con trailer we see her deviously wonder the Badlands, as she seeks to claim power by overthrowing the mighty Badland baron, Quinn. Then in a stunning sequence we watch the petite baroness turn into a lethal weapon, as she takes on a slough of assassins in a western burlesque bar.  Much like how The Walking Dead brought new life to the zombie genre, Into the Badlands shows promise in resurrecting the Kung-Fu martial arts genre.  Plus, this maybe the closest thing we will ever have to a Quentin Tarantino television series.

AMC Into the Badlands trailer click here

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

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iZombie S1: Liv, Lilywhite, & Avoid

imgres“You’re a zombie well, you’ve been a zombie since that night at the lake.  Instead of telling me the truth you decided that it would be easier to break my heart.” -Major Lilywhite (1×13)

Liv Moore is a zombie.  A former doctor, now a mortician; formally engaged, now terminally single; former foodie, now eats brains drenched in hot sauce; a former healer, now psychic; formally alive, now mostly dead.  Throughout the first season we watch as Liv remains stuck in her former life, with her best friend/roommate, Peyton; pinning for her ex-fiance, Major Lilywhite and navigate a strained relationship with her mother and brother.  Meanwhile her new boss Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti almost immediately discovers Liv’s secret and becomes her confidant.  They form an unlikely partnership with Detective Clive Babineaux and help solve various homicides.    images

“You couldn’t ask that of me, but you turned me into a zombie without my permission.”-Major Lilywhite (1×13)

Blaine DeBeers is also a zombie…the one who turned Liv, along with a bunch of others.  During the first season co-showrunners Diane Ruggiero and Rob Thomas, masterfully retain the relevance of Major Lilywhite’s storyline in the show, while leaving him in the dark about Liv. They carefully allow him to act as the hero in this story as he discovers Blaine’s entire operation, from the “brains” running, to the turing of the city’s most wealthy and influential citizens into zombies.  Too bad Major Lilywhite is no match for Blaine, on his own, and winds up in a freezer for the majority of the finale.  Liv comes to the rescue where she finds herself for the second time, with the opportunity to kill Blaine once and for all.  If she kills him then what happens to all of thimages-5e zombies that he has created?  Yes, Blaine creates the demand for brains, but he is also the supplier too.

“That’s what helps you sleep at night?  What about me?  What’s the greater good for me?” –Major Lilywhite (1×13)

Liv decides to just shot Blaine, not kill him.  Only to the discover Major slowly bleeding out in the freezer, after Blaine shot him just moments before.  In a fit of rage, Liv uses one dose of the cure on Blaine.  Then selfishly scratches Major Lilywhite in an attempt to turn him into a zombie, instead of losing him forever. Ironically in the previous episode the writers began to set up a storyline of having Liv’s little brother work for Blaine.  We see her brother arrive for work the next day, only to have the shop blowup, with him standing right outside the front door.

images-1“It’s not what fate dealt me…You did, the same person who let me check myself into a mental hospital…who let me think I was crazy.” –Major Lilywhite (1×13)

The finale ends with Liv standing outside of the intensive care unit, as she watches her brother go into cardiac arrest.  The screen dissolves to black after Liv says, “No,” in response to her mother’s pleas for Liv to save her brother.  Overall episode thirteen was the best episode in the first season, as the writers ended the Liv versus Blaine storyline.  While allowing Major Lilywhite and Liv to have the first honest conversation about their relationship all season. The same one being quoted throughout this entire post.  This scene echoes the theme of “avoidance” that can be found in most shows dealing with supernatural creatures.  Liv was turned into a zombie, and in turn avoided death.  After someone finds a way around the finality of death, then their first instinct when confronting it again, is to avoid it…or prevent others from experiencing it as well.  Later, in an act of penance Liv gives Major Lilywhite the second dose of the cure.

images-2When you had a chance to play God and decide wether I die, or became this…Did you decide based on what you wanted, or what you thought I wanted?” -Major Lilywhite (1×13)

iZombie season two will premiere on the CW network on October 6th.  Liv, Clive, and Ravi will continue to work together solving various homicides. Viewers will learn through both Major Lilywhite and Blaine about the side effects of the cure.  I am particularly interested in watching how Blaine re-adapts to theimages-3 world without his power as a zombie.  Will Major Lilywhite ever make peace with Liv? Will Peyton not only forgive Liv, but Ravi too from keeping the secret from her? Hopefully the writers creativity will seep down from the over-arching story lines and into the case storyline found in each episode.  If you missed season one do not be dissuaded into just starting with season two…as things are just getting interesting here in this zombie land.

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

To Fear the Walking Dead, or Not

imgresThe Walking Dead phenomenon continues as AMC premiered Fear the Walking Dead last Sunday night.  The first season is set to consist of six one hour long episodes that will build up to the season six premiere date of The Walking Dead, on October 11th, 2015.  

Kim Dickens and Cliff Curtis play Madison Clark and Travis Manawa respectively; the heads of a blended Los Angeles family.  The first episode is a slow burn into an apocalyptic world, through the lens of an already dysfunctional family.  Madison Clark is the mother to Nick, an early twenty something year old drug addict, and Alicia “the perfect child” who wants nothing more but to leave.  “I don’t want to be crazy,” explains Nick to Travis, while in the hospital.   The first scene introduces us to Nick waking up in a drug den and encountering a walker for the very first time.  Since, he is a drug addict the writers use his unreliability to make both Madison and Travis hesitate in believing Nick.  Throughout the rest of the episode both characters begin to nimagesotice more oddities in the world around them.  For example Madison stares out the window on the way home and sees what appears to be a homeless man standing on the outskirts of a playground filled with children.  The longer she stares, the more peculiar the scene becomes.  Madison, Travis, and Nick all begin to truly believe in the final scene of the first episode, as Nick makes the first walker kill in self defense.  Frank Dillane brings Nick’s fear to life as he desperately cries out to his mother to back away from the walker.  Now that Travis and Madison believe that the threat is real, the following episode is an attempt to run away, together, as one complete blended family.

images-2“Things will fall apart now. No satellites, no internet, no cell phones. Communications will fail because no one’s there to manage the servers. The electrical grid will collapse for the same reason. It’s all gonna go to hell, and that’s what they don’t get. When civilization ends, it ends fast.”-Tobias (episode 2)

After Nick discovers the walker in the first episode, he runs out into the middle of the busy Los Angeles highway screaming.  His fear is cut off by the abrupt, harsh, eclectic sounds of every day life.  In contrast episode two begins with two slow motion shots, the worlimages-1d feels and sounds a lot quieter, which in turn adds tension on screen. Madison has another moment while looking out the car window as she sees two children in the back seat of a car passing by.  Both kids are wearing breathing masks with monster smiles drawn on them.  The situation’s horror combined with our innate inability to comprehend such a reality is clearly drawn throughout the second episode.

In a great sequence, referential to the LA riots, Travis’ son finds himself in the midst of a protest against the police.  As, chaos erupts around them Travis, Liza, and Chris find shelter with a mexican shop keeper animages-3d his family.  They peek out the storefront’s boarded windows as if they are caged animals.  Meanwhile Alicia and Madison witness their neighbors kill one another across the street, both unable to do anything.   As much as the first episode established Madison and Travis as a united front, the second one split them further apart.  Now stuck in different parts of LA, it would seem that the next four episodes would revolve around Travis’ family making his way back to Madison and her family.

Do not be afraid to watch Fear the Walking Dead, because at the very least we are not in Georgia anymore.

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

1.22 – No Screams Attached

The guys are back this week to talk TV and Comic Book movies! This week the guys talk Marvel’s Agents of Shield and if the show is still holding their interest. Then the guys talk the awesomeness that is The Flash and how they’re inspired to BBQ after The Walking Dead (Shish kaBOB anyone?). Then the guys talk amazing Avengers: Age of Ultro trailor and talk some Marvel cinematic universe. Then the guys end the show by talking about Halloween and their favorite movies, costume ideas, and candy! It’s here on an all new Scene ‘N Nerd!

 

My 10 Favorite TV Shows of 2014

One of the fun things about our Scene N Nerd podcast is we get to discuss our favorite TV shows and films on an “almost” weekly basis. We cram as much opinion and content about a few shows as we can in a short time frame. It’s not easy and if you heard our season finale episode, we did our best to talk more TV and give you what we thought were our favorite shows from the past year. Again, in a short time frame. So, I decided to do something about that. Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Give my own list of my favorite TV shows of 2014.

I titled this with, “My FAVORITE TV shows of 2014”, quite frankly, because I can’t watch every single TV show out there. Believe me, I wish I could. I truly feel that we’re living in a “Golden Age of Television” with so many great shows available. Streaming has become so huge with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu all providing you with the newest and most popular TV shows, even producing content of their own. No longer are we channel surfing and being stuck with limited options of awful scripted reality TV shows and another rerun of FRIENDS (Editor’s Note: There’s always time for another rerun of FRIENDS, just saying).

With that said, let’s get this party started……

EDITIORS NOTE: SPOILERS AHEAD

10. The Flash – CW

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As I said earlier, I don’t get to watch all TV shows. Especially, the rookie ones. I really have to pick and choose with them. With that said, The Flash has been nothing short of amazing during the first half of its inaugural season, from bringing in characters from the scarlet speedsters rouge gallery and teaming up with the Arrow a couple times. Every episode has been exciting, hilarious and wonderfully entertaining from start to finish. This show continues to show promise and I look forward to see what the second half of the season holds especially after the winter finale cliffhanger.

9. Veep – HBO

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I’ve really enjoyed Veep each season. It’s always funny and entertaining. I’ve thought of it as “The Office” but with cussing. Which makes it that much funnier. Not because of the foul language but because it’s well-written. The writers aren’t just throwing “shit” and “damn” in the dialogue for shock value. It works well with how discombobulated the cast can get. This past season of Veep was my absolute favorite. Watching Selina Meyer become president, her staff scramble as usual and evade hilarious scandalous rumors about her professional relationship with her “personal trainer”. Now, with Selina Meyer becoming President you have to wonder how much crazier the show will get. With her staff operating out of the West Wing, I can only imagine things will get funnier.

8. Silicon Valley – HBO

Silicon-Valley-poster-HBO

Another rookie show makes my top 10 list and it can be argued it deserves a higher ranking. Silicon Valley hit the ground running with its pilot and never looked back. It’s smart, funny and filled with hilariously interesting and crazy characters. I’d have no problems sitting down and stating the case that T.J. Miller’s character, Erlich steals almost every scene he is in. If you want to gauge the comedy of this show I would recommend watching the season finale titled “Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency” where you’ll watch one of the funniest dick jokes ever made played out in a mathematical equation. Trust me.

7. Game of Thrones – HBO

Game-of-Thrones-Season-4-Trailer

I felt Game of Thrones really had a good bounce back season. Show runners said before the season began that every episode would have a season finale feeling to it. I don’t think that necessarily rang true for the most part but there were a few episodes that did leave that feeling. For example, in “The Lion and the Rose” we saw one of the craziest and most unexpected endings of the series, the death of King Joffrey. I remember sitting there and thinking “I’m not prepared for this, I’m not prepared for this.” Believe me, I wanted Joffrey dead just as much as everybody else did, I just didn’t expect it to happen in the SECOND episode of ANY season. But, hey, that’s why we love this show. I look forward to more of this next season, hopefully. Especially, with the way things were left.

6. Homeland – SHOWTIME

Homeland Season 4- Poster

This was not a show I expected to have this high on my list. Hell, I didn’t expect to even have it on my list let alone even watch it after last season. I’ll be honest, I got really sick of the Carrie/Brodie storyline to the point of where I sleepwalking through the third season. Seriously, I remember waking up during the season finale, saw Brodie hanging and went back to sleep. It was all “meh” to me. But, I wondered where the show would go from here? How would they move on since their key story revolved around a character who was now dead? Well, I’ll give it to you guys over at the writer’s room, Homeland. You got me. This season has been like an energy shot straight to the arm and never letting up. The characters were great, the intensity and suspense was rock freaking solid and the overall story arc for this season was AMAZING! This show is back to being great again. However, I will say that the season finale was a bit anticlimactic. But, that’s ok. It wasn’t terrible, it just left us with a few cliffhangers that they can certainly build on for next season.

5. The Walking Dead – AMC

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So many great things this season, so many. I could devote an entire article to this season, but I’ll keep this short and sweet. Terminus was handled very well. Bringing in the cannibals storyline was a great way to start the season. It built up to a crescendo in the third episode with a showdown that didn’t let anyone down. Rick doesn’t care anymore, he just kills when he needs to and doesn’t give his foe a second chance. I don’t know about you guys, but I love it. The guy is doing what is necessary for the group to survive and if it means being stone cold and killing then so be it. Hey, we’re talking about the zombie apocalypse here. Now, if you don’t mind, let’s take a moment for Beth………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Okay, I wanted to let that out. What a sad death that I didn’t see coming. Did you?! Yea, well, you’re freaking psychic then. Cause, I didn’t think it was something that people saw coming or had any inkling of happening until that moment when she stabbed Dawn. Then all bets were off. Even Dawn’s reaction to blowing Beth’s head off was crazy, she looked shocked beyond words. But, it happened and then Daryl took absolutely no time in offing Dawn for retribution. It was justice, but it didn’t make anyone feel better. We ALL lost Beth, a character who had grown into a strong young women. Such a stark contrast to the young girl we met in season 2. It was great character development and someone the show will truly miss. To put it simply, as said on twitter, “When Daryl cries the world cries”. Yup.

4. The Newsroom – HBO

Newsroom-Ending-After-Season-3

I’ve enjoyed the few seasons that The Newsroom has been on. It’s had me from day one and never let go. Season 1 was super intense, taking you into the lives of a news room and how crazy it can be to deliver not only the right story but the FACTUAL story. Season 2 stuck to one storyline, a lawsuit played out over an entire season. It was a good follow up. Then, it was announced that season 3 would be the final one. Then it was announced that the final season would run for only six episodes. SIX.EPISODES. Such a bummer especially with how they ended the series. It was a tremendous send off for the series delivering one strong episode after another leading up to the shows series finale. If you didn’t catch feels I’m not sure what to tell you. The dialogue was amazing and Charlie’s funeral brought about even more amazing dialogue from the characters as they reminisced about their former boss. When Charlie’s wife tells Don not blame himself for Charlie’s death, I mean, how could you not get emotional during that scene. I’ll admit it, tears were building up. I’m going to miss this show, it was truly one of the greats that in its short time frame delivered every time it hit the screen.

3. Ray Donovan – SHOWTIME

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This is one of my personal favorites. This is a show I was looking forward to when it premiered last year and it fully delivered. So, I wondered, after such a strong start would it maintain its strong presence or fall into a sophomore slump of boring yet staying afloat stories? As it turns out, neither! It was even better than the first season. The characters were all amazing again. Jon Voight was still great as Mickey Donovan, a father who does nothing but think about himself and leaves everyone around him in the dust, even if they’re his own sons. While I enjoyed Voight’s performance again I believe it was Liev Schreiber who truly shined. As he should seeing that he is the main character. He was good during the first season and it lead to many award nominations. But, in season 2 he got even better. Continuing to battle his personal demons, fight through his marriage, fend off a feisty reporter and be a father. The story arcs for each character in the show were handled well and all intertwined in some way that paid off at the end. This show continues to grow in the right ways and can only get better going into season three.

2. House of Cards – NETFLIX

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When Walter White went out in grand fashion last year I wondered who would take the mantle as the TV anti-hero you found yourself actually rooting for. Without hesitation Frank Underwood stood up and said “I got this” (he didn’t actually say this). Season 2 of the hit Netflix series provided plenty of bang for your buck as Frank single handedly went to work destroying anyone and everyone in his path as he looked to claim the Presidency. Kevin Spacey once again turned in another amazing performance as Frank Underwood. A man so hell bent on revenge that he’d even go as far as ruining the credibility of The President just to get what he wants. He’ll go toe to toe with the toughest business men and even kill a person to make sure none of the skeletons in his closet make it out into the open. Poor Zoe. With Frank now taking over as The President we can only imagine what he’ll do as the most powerful man in the world. One things certain, if you question him he’ll make it known that you don’t do it again. I don’t know about you guys but I can’t wait till next February.

1. True Detective – HBO

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You can’t end a list like this without including the best show on television of 2014. This show was outstanding in every aspect. The acting was stellar (see what I did there), the story was great, the dialogue was sharp and the characters were excellent. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are great as two detectives who are drawn back into a homicide case they originally thought they solved. While the story overall was great, I found the interaction between the two characters equally interesting. From the outset you could see how the two men could work together and use their own tactics to complement each other but at the same time rub each other the wrong way. Often putting the two at odds. This along with back stories of the men were a nice balance that didn’t overtake the key storyline going on throughout the series. By the end I found myself wishing that we were getting more than one season out of these characters. But, if True Detective can find the magic that made it successful this season with its new cast then I think we’re all in store for some more amazing television.

Honorable Mention: Justified (FX), The Mindy Project (FOX), Red Band Society (FOX)

Thanks for reading the list and look for our podcast to return in 2015! Happy New Years everyone!

PacingPete