Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Quick Television Review

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (10 episodes) | Status: Renewed
Rating: 3.5/5

So, this is that other Ryan Murphy project on my list to watch and potentially review. Fortunately, it doesn't seem like he had too much of his hands in this series compared to the American Horror Story franchise and Scream Queens. I was but a wee kid when the O.J. Simpson trial aired on TV. I was aware of the crime in question and could easily pull bits and pieces of information from my past as well as references from pop culture related shows. Upon the airing of the show, I had the opportunity to watch the real trial in action, but I honestly didn't have the time or huge interest in investigating the accuracy of the show compared to reality. Plus, the timing wasn't the best and it's a really lengthy court case. As I write this review, there is currently a series on ESPN covering the case and I believe the background of O.J. Simpson. Anyway, it took me some time to get into the show as I was really distracted by not being able to separate the actors and the characters from each other. Sometimes it was hard not to see Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr., John Travolta, Nathan Lane, or David Schwimmer when they were on screen. It's not like they were bad actors or the make-up crew failed, but having such big or at least recognizable names and faces, it's hard from me to fully realize they are these real life characters. It took me a few episodes though to really fully realize this isn't Cuba this is O.J. On top of getting into the characters, the story took me some time to immerse myself in and once it got to the jury conflicts, I finally got hooked. I wasn't too invested in the case or the character conflicts, but it did keep my interest throughout the trial. Whether it was an accurate adaptation of the book it was inspired by or portrayal of the real case, I cannot say, but it made me think of current events in the black community, how law works, and the process of the O.J. trial. According to Wikipedia, the next installment of this anthology will be the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

States of Undress (6 episodes) | Status: Completed?
Rating: 4.5/5

Much like Gaycation, this show was another interesting premiere on VICELAND. I'm not that into following fashion trends or anything on TV aside from watching Project Runway every season, so this might be something of a surprise to some people that I was excited about seeing. There was a webseries on VICE's YouTube channel that covered Fashion Week around the world while discussing cultural situations. This show does pretty much the same thing with a different host and a slightly different format. Model Hailey Gates is our host for this show and much like Ellen Page in Gaycation, she does a great job voicing what us westerners (read as: Americans) would say or think and breaking down the cultural views for us. I like how she tries to be as respectful as possible, whether it's changing to more appropriate clothing or learning proper mannerisms for a woman in front of a man. There's a lot of insight and care that goes into each episode and the show finds a way to incorporate fashion and culture or tradition. Sometimes the politics and current events do tend to take over, but, in the end, it all comes back to fashion. Hopefully, this isn't the last I see of this show as it's just as enjoyable, entertaining, and informative as Gaycation. I have not found any information on a second season, but I'm really hoping there will be some news soon.

Make It Pop Seasons 1-2 + Special [40 episodes (41 with Special)] | Status: Unknown
Rating: 3.5/5

I first heard about this show on a little Asian pop culture site called Asian Junkie and they, among other online outlets I've heard blurbs from, were very...concerned. This was marketed as a kpop show produced by All That alumni and host of such shows as America's Got Talent and Wild N Out Nick Cannon. From what I can tell leading up to the first season, I didn't see much kpop. Maybe some influences, but other than that, didn't seem like a "threat" to the genre as a lot of fans viewed it as. I currently don't watch Nickelodeon or Disney Channel as often as I used to as a child or even a teen, but I am aware that there are quite a few musical based shows out there and this is one of them. I've seen glimpses of these types of show and it pretty much falls in that category, perfectly aimed towards that demographic. It's cheesy, cutesy, and meant for tweens, so I can't see kpop fans really getting into it. For me, obviously, I was entertained by it, despite those cheesy and cutesy parts. The show has some dorky, high energy characters and they deal with tween situations. I think the only reason I made it through both seasons (and I think I saw the winter special) are the characters and music. Sun Hi, played by kpop hopeful Megan Lee, was probably the most annoying out of the main cast, but even then I found her hyperactive personality kind of charming and by season 2, she did calm down a little. A brief commentary on the musical numbers presented to us: I thought they were mostly enjoyable. Like most music, I didn't like all of it, but these actors definitely have vocal talent and great charisma. The second season did hint at a third season to come, but I couldn't find anything (mostly Wikipedia) to confirm anything, hence the "unknown" status. I'm hoping that it does get a renewal on Nickelodeon as I did enjoy it and I can see tweens enjoying these characters and their daily shenanigans.

Peaky Blinders Season 1 (6 episodes) | Status: Renewed
Rating: 3.5/5

Ophelia pointed this show out to me on Netflix and I finally got around to checking out the first season of it through my work...because something about seeing a physical DVD in my face that isn't mine makes me want to watch stuff a little quicker. Honestly, I would've passed this show up because of its historical and international setting. I'm just really picky about period pieces and what have you. I have nothing against it, just takes a lot of adjusting if it's something I want to watch and the genre just never really interested me. So, I can shamelessly admit that I watched this show for the handsome and charming Cillian Murphy. *swoons* Aside from good looks, he is a terrific actor as well. I'm not that shallow. XP Similar to Penny Dreadful, I had two barriers to cross to really immerse myself in this universe of gang wars and crooked cops: the historical elements and the language. I know BBC shows have been extremely popular in America with Downton Abbey and Sherlock, but I never could fully jump on that British train. With some time, I did manage to get into this world and somewhat attach myself to the characters. Unfortunately, I don't think I could confidently explain what I watched to someone, if we had some sort of discussion, but I could try my best. I am looking forward to going further with this series as it is very action packed, entertaining, and has some great characters. Hopefully, I'll feel a little more confident and comfortable in 1919 Birmingham, England.

Empire Season 2 (18 episodes) | Status: Renewed
Rating: 4.5/5

You might be surprised that I'm not doing a full length review for the second season like I did for the first, but there's so many things you can say when a great show continues to be...great! Much like the second season of How to Get Away With Murder, the twists, turns, and drama does not stop. In fact, there's so much more of it. I can honestly say that my jaw dropped a few times on these reveals. The music quality stays pretty consistent, which is a very good thing, although I'm not sure if there might be maybe...less of it? I could be perceiving or remembering it incorrectly, but the soundtrack is still worth getting your hands on. In this season, we learn more about Lucious' past and how it links to the raising of his sons. Obviously, our characters have to deal with this revelation among some other unexpected situations that include, but are not limited to, Jamal's complicated love life, the future of Andre and Rhonda's family, Hakeem learning to take responsibility for his actions in and out of business, and, of course, Cookie keeping the family together no matter what the crisis and pushing them forward. Some bigger events occur in this season and the story proves that they are not holding back any punches. I'm really looking forward to the third season, especially to find out the results of the cliffhanger finale. The Lyon family will be returning on September 21, 2016 on Fox.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

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