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    The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Tenth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 23rd, 2017

    Mixing science with comedy appears to not only be funny; it also has some serious staying power. It’s been 10 years since Big Bang Theory first exploded on our television screens. The show continues to be one of the highest-rated comedy shows on television and seems to be going strong. The show takes the time and money to employ actual science consultants, so you might even learn something along the way. The secret to the show’s success is that it’s a situation comedy that really manages to be about the characters. All of that geek and science talk is background music to the main theme, which continues to be the characters and their relationships.
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    Silicon Valley: The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 22nd, 2017

    I don’t want to be just guys in a house.”

    Since its debut, Silicon Valley has brilliantly lampooned the tech industry by showing us both the proverbial “guys in a garage” and the self-important, aggressively eccentric billionaires obsessed with staying ahead of the curve. The show’s central tension (and cruel joke) is that the ultimate endgame for the scrappy underdogs is to become…self-important, aggressively eccentric billionaires obsessed with staying ahead of the curve. Season 4 pushes the limit of the immoral behavior our alleged  heroes will justify while continuing to deliver the best mix of brainy and bawdy laughs on television.
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    Lethal Weapon: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 22nd, 2017

    When I first heard that the Lethal Weapon franchise was moving to television, I had very mixed reactions. Like most fans of the films, I remained hungry for more. My hopes of future films were dashed around the time Mel Gibson began his career as a Hollywood pariah and was abandoned by many in the industry. I guessed almost immediately that the films were over, at least for a very long time. You go through the usual stages of grief, and about the time I reached the acceptance stage, Matthew Miller comes along and decides to revive the franchise for the small screen. At first I was thinking, yes, this is great.
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    Supernatural: The Complete Twelfth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 21st, 2017

    “Don’t you get it? This is all meaningless. Heaven, hell, this world if it ever meant anything, that moment is passed. Nothing down here but a bunch of hopeless, distraction addicts, so filled with emptiness, so desperate to fill up the void. They don’t mind being served another stale rerun of a rerun of a rerun.”

    No stale reruns here. Season 12 of Supernatural picks up exactly where the previous year left off. The brothers are not together at the moment. Dean has just helped out God’s sister and gets a pretty sweet gift in return, while Sam’s at the bunker and is surprised by a British lass with a gun.
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    The Flash: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 19th, 2017

    “I made a big mistake…. I wanted a new life. I wanted to start over, and that’s what I did. But somehow I made things worse. So I reset everything. I put everything back to the way that it was before, except some things weren’t the same any more. Not even a little bit.”

    That something is called Flashpoint. It’s one of the biggest events not only in the Flash comic universe, but it had ramifications across the DC landscape and led to more than a few changes in that world. This season of The Flash uses that story arc to guide Season 3, but like everything else in these comic shows, it is quite different than the printed event.
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    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 15th, 2017

    What can you tell me about African Americans and science?”

    Anyone who even halfway paid attention in their high school science class knows that a polio vaccine was developed in the 1950s. And if you were especially attentive, you even know the vaccine was developed by American researcher Jonas Salk. Unfortunately, the story that is far less commonly told in classrooms is that of Henrietta Lacks, the poor black woman whose “immortalized” HeLa cell line gave birth to the biomedical industry. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks takes a curious approach: instead of merely shining a light on its worthy subject, this powerful (and overstuffed) HBO film is about *the quest* to bring Henrietta back to life.
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    Gotham: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 1st, 2017

    “Enjoy the trip. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

    It has been six months since the second season ended. A herd of creatures and experiments rained down on Gotham City. They were the product of experimentation by Dr. Strange, played by B.D. Wong. This, of course, is Dr. Hugo Strange, mad scientist, and not Marvel’s Stephen Sorcerer Supreme. Jim Gordon (McKenzie) is no longer a member of the police force but has found a niche as a bounty hunter rounding up the creatures and bringing them in for cash.
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    Supergirl: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 30th, 2017

    “When I was a child, my planet Krypton was dying. I was sent to Earth to protect my cousin. But my pod got knocked off course, and by the time I got here, my cousin had already grown up and become… Superman. I hid who I really was until one day when an accident forced me to reveal myself to the world. To most people, I’m a reporter at CatCo Worldwide Media. But in secret, I work with my adoptive sister for the D.E.O. to protect my city from alien life and anyone else that means to cause it harm. I am Supergirl.”

    A lot of things have changed with the second season of Supergirl. The series spent its first season on CBS but was always considered somewhat a part of the DC Television Universe.
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    Big Little Lies (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 10th, 2017

    Big Little Lies — HBO’s star-studded and (deservedly) Emmy-nominated limited series — is structured like a typical murder mystery. We know someone has been killed, but we don’t know the perpetrator or even identity of the victim. On top of that, the limited series format promises that we’ll actually have an answer by time these episodes wrap up (**cough** The Killing). But the reason Big Little Lies shines— other than top-notch performances and stellar direction — is because beneath the murder-mystery veneer lies a darkly funny drama about all manner of adult relationships: husband/wife, ex-husband/ex-wife, mother/daughter, mother/fellow-mother, and so on.
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    Crashing: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 4th, 2017

    It’s not all it’s cut out to be…it’s not about being on stage all the time. It’s about the killing of time.”

    There certainly hasn’t been a shortage of sitcoms starring stand-up comedians. Many of them (Roseanne, Home Improvement, Everybody Loves Raymond) have grafted the comic’s persona onto a family-friendly format. Even the shows that have depicted the life of a comic tend to take a surreal approach (Louie) or fast-forward to the part where the star is an established comedian (Seinfeld). HBO’s Crashing stands out because it honestly (and painfully) depicts the struggle of an aspiring stand-up…and makes it look very, very funny.
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    Girls: The Final Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 3rd, 2017

    My persona’s very, like, witty yet narcissistic.”

    These self-aware words are spoken by Hannah Horvath, the on-screen alter ego of Girls star/creator Lena Dunham during the premiere of the show’s final season. Of course, anyone who’s watched Girls knows the “witty yet narcissistic” label applies to practically every character in Dunham’s often flawed (and even-more-often brilliant) HBO dramedy. So while this final batch of episodes includes some superb moments, it’s not a total surprise that this polarizing series concludes its run with a frustrating finale that is more satisfying for the show’s creators than it is for its fans.
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    Prison Break: Event Series (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 14th, 2017

    “Freedom has a price. I died 7 years ago. Left behind a brother, a wife, a son, but the dead talk if you listen. They’re there with you. Reaching out. Trying to tell us something. Because not all deaths are the same. Some are real. Some are a story. Question is: do you believe the story? Was the man who died who you thought he was? The dead talk. If you listen…”

    The same can be said for dead series. Fox has been riding a wave of series revivals that have brought shows back from the dead in a limited-run event series format, and it has actually been doing well for the network
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    South Park: The Complete Twentieth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 21st, 2017

    “Going on down to South Park and meet some friends of mine.”

    After 20 years or more, they really do feel like friends. I’ve known Cartman, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny longer than most real people in my life. Only the Simpsons have been around longer these days. Over those years, South Park has always been a series of stories that rarely connect with each other in any significant way. There have been multi-part episodes, and certain experiences have come back up over the years. Still, we’re talking about a universe where killing Kenny had become a running joke and happened pretty much in every episode.
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    The Young Pope (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 15th, 2017

    “Have you ever seen two priests wearing tracksuits?”

    The highest praise I can offer for The Young Pope — the staggeringly extravagant and deeply strange co-production between Sky Atlantic, Canal+, and HBO — is that I can guarantee you will see something you have never seen before. (A pair of priests in tracksuits is the least of it.) The show is bold in both its style and storytelling, although it only unequivocally succeeds in one of those two areas. Given all the Vatican-centric politics and power plays, it’s easy to see why this show was dubbed “House of Cardinals.”
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    Divorce: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 17th, 2017

    Look, as lousy as the marriage is, the divorce is going to be much, much worse.”

    The subject of divorce isn’t exactly a laugh riot in real life, so the makers of HBO’s comedy series tracking the dissolution of a decade-long marriage had their work cut out for them. Divorce (not surprisingly) takes a darkly comic approach to the hostile material; the problem is the show seemingly forgot about the part where we’re supposed to want to spend time with these people every week. The series also marks the HBO return of star/executive producer Sarah Jessica Parker…call this new show No Sex in the Suburbs.
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    The Affair: Season Three

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 4th, 2017

    I thought it was dull…unless it was supposed to be a satire.”

    Television has been trending toward shorter, more self-contained stories. Successful shows like American Horror Story, Fargo, American Crime, and others reboot themselves every year with new characters and storylines in an attempt to offer viewers something fresh each season. The Affair seemed ready-made for that formula: each season could’ve followed different adulterous encounters in a wide variety of settings. Instead, the perspective-shifting Showtime drama is determined to chronicle the far-reaching effects of a single Long Island dalliance. So while the show brushes up against some interesting relationship dynamics, it feels like it has stretched a thin concept beyond its breaking point.
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    Animal Kingdom: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 28th, 2017

    “Everyone outside the family is a mark. Family comes first.”

    Meet the most dysfunctional crime family since The Sopranos. Not quite at the same level either on-screen or in quality, but once again we’re drawn toward another dangerous clan with criminal intent. I guess we could call them The Baritones. Actually Animal Kingdom is an apt description for television’s latest baddies. They’re about to head into their second season of mayhem on TNT where the series was the network’s top ratings winner during its run. Now that first season is out on Blu-ray from Warner Brothers, and it’s one crazy ride, of that you can be certain.
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    Veep: The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 20th, 2017

    As it turns out, there’s a virtually unprecedented tie in the Electoral College.”

    If you thought the latest U.S. presidential election cycle was a soul-crushing and unpredictable mess, you should take a peek at what’s happening on Veep. (At least we got a definitive real-life result…eventually.) The show’s outstanding fifth season begins with President Selina Meyer — who assumed the office after her predecessor resigned — locked in a frustrating Electoral College tie as she seeks to become the first woman to be *elected* to the highest office in the land. President Meyer sums up her predicament in a manner befitting HBO’s caustic, constantly-cussing comedy: “didn’t those Founding F—ers ever hear of an odd number?!”
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    Silicon Valley: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 13th, 2017

    “Think inside the box.”

    One of the major through lines in season 3 of Silicon Valley is that our heroes at Pied Piper have created a product so ahead of its time that it is failing to connect with consumers, which puts the start-up company in peril. Fortunately, HBO’s brainy and bawdy tech comedy hasn’t had any problems connecting with its audience: the show’s confident and hilarious third season seamlessly mixes talk of “compression algorithms” with outrageous sight gags involving horses getting, um, familiar with each other.
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    Insecure: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 24th, 2017

    “Black women aren’t bitter. We’re just tired of being expected to settle for less.”

    When people talk about racial and gender equality, they typically point to notions like everyone having the right to vote or the same opportunity to pursue their personal or professional passion without fear of discrimination. The premise of Insecure — HBO’s funny and insightful comedy series about modern relationships — is not quite that lofty, but no less worthy: black women reserve the right to be just as neurotic and lead love lives that are every bit as messy as their white counterparts.
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    Quarry: The Complete First Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 22nd, 2017

    I’m not as comfortable as you are with the notion of killing other human beings.”

    Remember that time about six months ago when NFL star Colin Kaepernick set off a firestorm of controversy by repeatedly kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest? A big part of the outrage was tied to the notion that Kaepernick’s actions were disrespectful to members of the U.S. military. One of the most striking things about Quarry — Cinemax’s compelling, well-rounded Vietnam War-era drama — is how it depicts a period not that long ago in our country’s history when veterans were openly treated with venom and vitriol that went way beyond someone taking a knee.
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    Vice Principals: The Complete First Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 10th, 2017

    Danny McBride managed to inhabit the role of Kenny Powers to such an extent that I do appear to have trouble keeping them separate. I thought that the arrival of a new series would finally put that issue to rest. I’m discovering there was a reason I had trouble telling them apart. They are indeed the same person. Add to the situation that Vice Principals uses the same writing and production team headed by McBride and Jody Hill, and there are moments when you will think that you’re still watching Eastbound And Out. The wild card that changes things up enough happens to be Walter Goggins. Goggins came to notice as the cold Shane in The Shield and the quirky Boyd Crowder in Justified.
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    From Dusk Till Dawn: Season 3

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 10th, 2017

    Season 1 of From Dusk Till Dawn gave us a ten-episode remake of the hit original movie while setting up a mythology to stretch its story over numerous seasons. Season 2 took us deeper into the culebra syndicate, and we got to see how they operate in their world as Carlos (Wilmer Valderrama) searched for an ancient blood source and sought to sit at the throne as the leader of all the culebras (a snake/vampire hybrid of sorts).  All while the baddest outlaws North and South of the border, the Gecko brothers Seth (D.J. Cotrona) and Richie (Zane Holtz) were forced to work out their differences ever since Richie was made a culebra.
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    Ballers: Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 2nd, 2017

    American football has been making the news of late, and not just in the sports pages. For the last couple of years there has been an increasing concern for players’ safety. From our former president declaring he wouldn’t let his fictional son play the game to the hard-hitting Will Smith film Concussion, football has taken some heat over its violent nature. Players are retiring early, and the subject of life after football becomes more of a social question than ever before. That’s where HBO’s Ballers comes in. It’s a half-hour look at the NFL from the player perspective, both current and retired. It’s intended as a light bit of dramedy, and it certainly is that. Even so, the series doesn’t hide from some of the brutal realities of the sport, from the trappings of fame and fortune to the realities of its eventual end.
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    Broad City: Season 3

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 23rd, 2017

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: single gals looking for love — among other things — in the big city. On television, the trope dates back to the days of Laverne & Shirley and continues with more contemporary entries like Sex and the City and Girls. It’s an effective, timeless story hook that has gotten a funny, druggy, tremendously weird spin thanks to the queens kweens of Comedy Central’s Broad City.
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