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    True Detective: Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on January 10th, 2016

    Popular opinion and so-called critical opinion often seem to careen off cliffs like lemmings in increasingly unpredictable ways guided by whims and subtle shifts in the proverbial winds. I find myself shocked by things praised and things condemned. Sometimes I feel like a little boy who sees a naked emperor while everyone else is shrieking how much they love the new elegant ensemble. In this case, I’m seeing a lovely presentation while there are many who are whining. Part of the problem is that Season 2 of True Detective is considerably distinct from Season 1.
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    Ray Donovan: Season 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 7th, 2016

    “A good family business is not the same as a good family.” 

    You can say that again. The television landscape is changing, at least on cable. Ray Donovan is the latest in the string of new shows that are attracting talent once thought out of reach for television. A show starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight: this Showtime series looked to be something very special… and it has gotten better… perhaps a lot better.
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    Getting On: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 16th, 2015

    The geriatric care wing of a hospital — where the employees are undermanned and overworked, and many of the patients are in a near-catatonic state — is not the most obvious sitcom setting. That’s partly the reason it took me a while to warm up to the first season of HBO’s Getting On, an adaptation of the British series of the same name. The biggest drawback, however, was that those initial episodes didn’t seem very interested in shaking the grim specter of the original show. But what a difference a year makes!
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    Batman: The Complete Third Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 9th, 2015

    Why, this is getting more farcical by the moment!”

    It’s easy to point at the 1960s Batman TV series and laugh. For Dark Knight loyalists who insist their hero be gritty and tortured, the show is (at best) a campy amusement. At worst, it’s an embarrassing atrocity. The two most important things to note are 1.) the show is very much a product of the Swinging Sixties time period in which it was made, and 2.) the series is *supposed* to be funny. (Batman picked up an Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy nomination during its run.) Keeping those two factors in mind is crucial to enjoying this entertaining, monumentally bizarre run of episodes.
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    Black Sails Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 6th, 2015

    “My father told me about these men, about their natures. All I knew were the stories I was told of monsters and the valiant men sworn to slay them. I fear the stories I’ve heard may have been clouded, the truth more than clouded. It would seem these monsters are men, sons, brothers, fathers. And it would seem these men face their own monsters…”

    Move over, Captain Jack Sparrow. There are some new pirates on the block, and they sail into our living rooms on a regular basis in the Starz sophomore series Black Sails. The high seas adventure series combines historical people and places with the fictional characters of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island.
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    Haven: Season 5, Vol. 1 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on November 6th, 2015

    For me Haven has always been a quiet-storm series. It was a show that I had heard nothing about when I first started watching, but when I got started, I found it compelling. It’s a mystery series (or at least it used to be) based off a novella from Stephen King. In the beginning, one question was paramount to the series’ lead character: who is the Colorado King? That question took many seasons to answer, but now that the show’s time is limited due to Syfy announcing its decision to cancel the series, with the final episodes to air later this year, another question has arisen as the paramount question: who is Audrey Parker?
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    Vikings Season 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 27th, 2015

    When Vikings Season 1 first arrived a couple of years ago, I have to admit I was pretty excited. I was particularly eager to see footage from their very first game. Fran Tarkenton came off the bench, and the Vikings went on to become the first expansion team ever to win their very first game. OK, as Baby, our shepherd/chow mix dog film reviewer would say: I made that last part up. You’d have to have been living under a pretty isolated rock to have missed all of the buzz over the History Channel’s drama series Vikings. Now season 3 is out on Blu-ray, and it’s certainly a season to remember.
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    Mad Men: The Final Season — Part 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 20th, 2015

    This is the beginning of something, not the end.”

    There weren’t any Lost-style mysteries to be resolved here. And unlike The Sopranos or Breaking Bad, this particular series never really hinged on whether the lead character lived or died. (Although a moment in Ep. 5/“Lost Horizon” seems to nod toward fan speculation that Don Draper would take a tumble similar to the silhouette from the show’s iconic opening credits.) Instead, the final season of Mad Men — more than any other all-time great show I can remember — is directly about the end of things.
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    “31 Nights of Terror” Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 17th, 2015

    Oh Hell No! is the cheeky subtitle for the latest entry in SyFy’s made-for-TV Twitter Sharknado franchise. Coincidentally, “Oh hell no!” was also the response the creators of the first film got from everyone they approached about starring in it a few years ago. Flash forward to 2015, and things have changed dramatically. Now Sharknado auteur Anthony C. Ferrante needs a stick to beat away the washed-up actors, reality stars, and politicians(?!) angling to serve as chum for some comically unconvincing sharks.
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    Tut (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 15th, 2015

    It wasn’t until I settled in to watch Spike TV’s three-part/six-hour miniseries based on the (relatively short) life of King Tut that I realized we hadn’t really seen his story depicted on screen before. I mean, it’s probably a bad sign that the most famous on-screen portrayal of the ancient Egyptian monarch comes courtesy of…Steve Martin. Given the liberties this miniseries takes with casting and storytelling, I reckon some historians would’ve preferred Martin as the famous pharaoh here. However, I still found this to be a suitably entertaining and attractive (if somewhat overstuffed) melodrama.
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    Blood & Glory: The Civil War in Color (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 13th, 2015

    “We have known them only as shadows, gazing at us from a ghostly world of black and white. But now the American Civil War can at last be seen as those who lived and died experienced it…in vivid color.”

    It was the bloodiest conflict in American history. Maybe because Americans fought on both sides of the brutal conflict. It might have been because it was a deeply personal war, often between brothers. The cause was one that cut deeply in both the hearts and minds of the men fighting.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” Penny Dreadful: Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 12th, 2015

    I grew up on the horror comics of the 1970’s. Eerie and Creepy were two of my favorites. My father would buy them and pass them down to me when he finished reading them. They were black and white so that they could take advantage of a loophole in the Comics Code and often featured lurid and gory stories of horror and depravity. Probably not the most appropriate reading for a young boy, but I ate them up. Before those comics there were the EC horror comics from Bill Gaines in the 1950’s. Titles like Tales From The Crypt and The Vault Of Horror called out to readers with gory and hideous covers. But it didn’t really start there.
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    Reign: The Complete Second Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 12th, 2015

    It is upon us now…an old and faceless foe.”

    In the second season of Reign, that foreboding statement refers to the plague and ensuing famine that lay siege to the court of King Francis II, Mary Queen of Scots, and their subjects. But in real-life terms, the most dangerous “old and faceless foe” for a promising series entering its second season is the “sophomore slump.” That’s why I’m pleased to report the CW’s sumptuous period drama was able to maintain the shamelessly soapy momentum from its guilty pleasure first season.
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    South Park: Season 18 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 8th, 2015

    “Listen, my friend. This is going to be very hard to comprehend, but none of what you are seeing is real.”

    Of course it’s not real. It’s not really that hard to comprehend at all. This is an animated show, after all. And the figures look like cut-out pieces of construction paper. Of course, we’re talking about South Park. What is hard to comprehend, however, is that we’re talking about the 18th season of South Park. Few television shows last this long, and only The Simpsons has been around longer when it comes to scripted animated shows running today. That’s rare air, indeed
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” Sleepy Hollow: Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 1st, 2015

    “My name is Ichabod Crane. In 1781 I died on the battlefield, but I was saved by a mysterious spell cast upon me by my wife Katrina. Now I’ve been reawakened 250 years later in a land I no longer recognize. And fate has led me to Miss Abigail Mills., a young police lieutenant. Investigating baffling mysteries, our real mission is in danger, and the apocalypse may be upon us, our destinies entwined.”

    Fans of the tale The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow will recall that Ichabod came to encounter the headless horseman in one of the first American horror tales ever written.
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    Jane the Virgin: The Complete First Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 1st, 2015

    “Jane’s life was now the stuff of telenovelas.”

    As someone who grew up in a Spanish-speaking household, I have a love-hate relationship with telenovelas. Most of the time, I can appreciate — and heartily laugh at — their inspired, over-the-top campiness. But sometimes I honestly feel a little embarrassed that this broad, ridiculous junk easily represents the most visible outlet for stories featuring Hispanic actors/characters. I’m also insulted by the implication that Hispanic audiences don’t want more nuanced TV options. The great thing about The CW’s Jane the Virgin is that it works both as an outrageous nighttime soap and a sharp, good-hearted satire.
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    The Flash: Season 1 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 29th, 2015

    “To understand what I’m about to tell you, you need to do something first. You need to believe in the impossible. Can you do that? Good. Because all of us, we have forgotten what miracles look like. Maybe because they haven’t made much of an appearance lately. Our lives have become ordinary. But there is someone out there who is truly extraordinary.” 

    It’s become so much easier to believe in the impossible in recent years. The guys over at Marvel have created an amazing theatrical universe where we escape into the comic book world of heroes at least a couple times a week. DC hasn’t managed to wow us in our theater seats so much recently.
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    The Last Man on Earth: The Complete First Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 28th, 2015

    I just realized that having other people around is what makes life worth living.”

    This lesson doesn’t come easily — or quickly — for Phil Miller, the Last Man on Earth. On the other hand, having other people around doesn’t do a heck of a lot for The Last Man on Earth, the dementedly inventive Fox comedy that becomes considerably less interesting the more people start to show up. That being said there’s plenty to like and admire here, starting with the show’s comedic, refreshingly non-bleak look at post-apocalyptic life.
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    The Red Road: The Complete Second Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 25th, 2015

    Season 2 of The Red Road, SundanceTV’s tense drama about warring communities, opens with a foreboding shot of blood being spilled on the ground. It’s a conspicuously symbolic image when you consider that the show follows the lives of the (seemingly all-white) residents of fictional Walpole, N.J. and their strained relationship with the Lenape tribe that resides in the neighboring Ramapo Mountains. (You don’t even have to squint to see several centuries’ worth of wounded feelings in this scenario.) It’s also no major spoiler to say that opening shot isn’t the last instance of bloodshed in this batch of episodes.
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    Arrow: Season 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 24th, 2015

    “My name is Oliver Queen; after five years in hell, I have come home with only one goal, to save my city. Now others have joined my crusade. To them, I’m Oliver Queen. To the rest of Starling City, I’m someone else. I am something else.”

    That someone, that something more …that something else is the DC Comics character Green Arrow. Not to be confused with the same-colored Hornet or Lantern. In season 2 Oliver Queen finally shed the name and reputation of the Hood or Vigilante. He vowed not to kill, and he no longer has the list to guide him.
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    The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 23rd, 2015

    If ever a show were more aptly named, it would have to be HBO’s The Jinx. It’s a documentary on Robert Durst, who had been charged with three murders and never convicted. The title comes from his own description of why he never had any children. He believed he would be a jinx to any child as a father. It turns out that this HBO series would be a jinx for Durst himself, because he couldn’t quite keep his mouth shut and ends up making potentially incriminating statements.
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    Big Bang Theory: Season 8 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 23rd, 2015

    Finally a situation comedy for geeks. Ever since Urkel went from being a one-off character on Family Matters to the star of the show, the geeks have been looking for their own series. With The Big Bang Theory you get plenty of geek factor with a healthy dose of laughter. I honestly haven’t laughed this much at a situation comedy in decades. Meet Sheldon Cooper (Parsons). He’s a brilliant young scientist working at a Pasadena university. His field was string theory but now he’s shifted to dark matter.
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    Supernatural: Season 10 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 21st, 2015

    “‘Tis the season for Demon Dean.” 

    It’s almost like some twisted holiday season. Each season finds the Winchester Brothers in some way divided following an apocalyptic event. The world might be saved once again, but Either Dean or Sam is in Hell or Purgatory. One might be living in an alternate reality or just in a coma. This season starts with the tradition very much alive as the Mark of Cain has finally turned Dean into a demon, albeit one who loves to do bad karaoke. His partner in crime isn’t his brother Sam, but the King Of Hell himself, Crowley.
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    Homeland: The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 17th, 2015

    “You need to promise…something goes wrong, you need to drop a bomb on this whole mess.”

    The biggest literal bang on Homeland came courtesy of the explosion that wiped out CIA headquarters in the season 2 finale. However, many fans and critics would argue the subsequent third season was an even bigger bomb. (I thought season 3 at least finished strong following that dismal start.) Nevertheless, season 4 of Showtime’s cracked, crackerjack spy drama represents a soft reboot for the show. It’s also a return to its Emmy-winning season 1 form.
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    Gotham: Season 1 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 16th, 2015

    Gotham City. You know the name just as you know the names of Metropolis and Smallville. These are important places in the DC comics universe that have existed as part of modern American mythology since the 1930’s. Warner Brothers has decided to tackle Gotham in much the way it spent 10 years bringing us to Smallville. But there is a decided difference to be found here. Smallville was indeed the origin story of Superman, and while the obvious answer might be that Gotham serves the same role for Batman, I found that to be a bit of an oversimplification.
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