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    Banshee: Season 3 (Blu-ray)

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

    “There’s always room for improvement.”

    Banshee is one of those improbable plots that finds a way to pull us into the action all the while ignoring how unlikely any of this might really be. Of course, we do that all the time. It’s certainly unlikely we’re going to face a zombie apocalypse or run into a super-powered hero. That’s a different kind of unlikely. This kind of real-world fantastic is usually a bit harder to accept. Credit folks like Allan Ball for keeping us engaged with some of the most entertaining sleight of hand on television.
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    Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 16th, 2016

    “Perhaps we’ve grown so used to horror, we assume there’s no other way.”

    Given the quantity and quality of death and destruction we’ve witnessed over the previous four years, the most shocking thing Game of Thrones could do in its fifth season was offer a tiny glimmer of hope. After all, optimism in Westeros and Essos is an even rarer commodity than dragons. Yet this batch of episodes probably gives us the clearest glimpse at the endgame of George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” saga. (Even as the author’s deliberate pace continues to drive book readers mad.) That being said, don’t think for a second the show has gone soft in its old middle age: Thrones still has the unmatched ability to dazzle and devastate in equal measure.
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    Manhattan: Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 14th, 2016

    “There’s always some variable you didn’t account for.”

    Manhattan is one of those variables. It’s one of those dramatic stories where mankind is altered forever. If it weren’t absolutely true, someone would have had to make it up. Every child in schools around the world knows about the atomic bombs that ended World War II. We’ve all seen the terrible destruction that exceeded even the expectations of the scientists and engineers who designed and built these bombs. We all live in the aftermath of these events.
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    The Americans: The Complete Third Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 9th, 2016

    They are hard to get…”

    Naturally, Elizabeth and Philip Jennings — the Soviet spies next door at the center of FX’s The Americans — have proven to be exceedingly elusive. Over the course of three seasons and 39 episodes, they’ve dodged numerous close calls from the federal government, enemy agents, and from within their own household. But while various parties have tried to catch the main characters in the act, the thing that makes The Americans one of the very best shows on TV is that it’s actually incredibly easy to “get” Elizabeth and Philip; their efforts to keep their (unconventional) family together are universal.
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    Strike Back : The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 4th, 2016

    “One last mission.” 

    That’s exactly what we’re talking about here. It’s the last mission for our brave Section 20 team. Strike Back follows the exploits that elite and secret British military team called Section 20. On paper they do not exist, but they’ve got all the best new high-tech toys, and they’re going to need every one of them. But after this season they will no longer exist. This is the fourth and final season of Strike Back. It’s time to say goodbye, but there’s a farewell party planned, and this release is it. Let me assure you that Strike Back is going out with a bang… literally.
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    Frankenstein – The Mini-Series (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 2nd, 2016

    When certain stories become public domain, you just have to expect that there will be a lot of people creating their own “unique” versions of the same tale all in the name of making a few bucks.  When it comes to adaptations of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, I think we can all agree every attempt to tell the story has not been in the name of preserving the art.  What I do find surprising: despite all the attempts to bring the story to the screen, there still isn’t a version that I can say is a perfect retelling of the tale, though each may have its pros, for the most part it just never seems to translate well.
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    Girls: The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 24th, 2016

    Taking the next step in a series of random steps.”

    Those words are part of a toast near the start of this season, as chronically neurotic and self-absorbed writer Hannah Horvath prepares to embark on a mini-adventure that will temporarily take her away from her natural habitat of New York City. They also double as a tidy summary of the entertaining (and appropriately messy) fourth season of HBO’s Girls, while simultaneously capturing what it’s like to progress through your 20’s.
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    Togetherness: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 19th, 2016

    “…Be like we were when we were 28. I think that would be awesome, right?”

    It certainly seems awesome to the four main characters in Togetherness, who are each dealing with their own set of anxieties as they hover around 40. If that previous sentence doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for laugh-out-loud comedy, then you’re on the same wavelength as this impressive HBO dramedy. Togetherness takes a bittersweet, refreshingly humane approach to portraying marriage and friendship.
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    From Dusk Till Dawn: Complete Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 9th, 2016

    Season one 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 two wastes no time in blazing its new path as it continues the blood-soaked adventure that departs from the famed Titty Twister and takes us deeper into the vampire syndicate.  How does season two fare?  After making it through the 10-episode season, I can say I survived this bloody, testosterone-laced thrill ride, but it does have a few missteps along the way.
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    Falling Skies: The Complete Fifth Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 5th, 2016

    Our final fight didn’t go as planned. But one thing was clear…this would be the bloodiest battle yet.”

    TNT’s post-apocalyptic, alien invasion war drama has never been short on casualties. So hearing that the last episodes in the show’s run would result in even more losses — human and otherwise — wasn’t exactly a shock. Following a fairly ludicrous cliffhanger, the final season starts off quite promisingly before falling back on some bad habits. Unfortunately, it all culminates with a semi-disastrous series finale.
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    Da Vinci’s Demons: Season 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 4th, 2016

    “It all begins with seeing. So what do you see?” 

    The term “Renaissance man” is often used to describe a person who has a very wide range of interests in which they have become quite skilled. It’s taken from the traits of the many artists, innovators, and writers of the 15th century. And while the term might well apply to any number of such historical figures, there is none for whom it is more apt than Leonardo DaVinci.
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    Show Me a Hero (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 4th, 2016

    “Justice is not about popularity…”

    “…but politics is.”

    The title of Show Me a Hero is taken from an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote: “Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.”  So it’s not a surprise that in the hands of David Simon — creator of an all-time great drama with The Wire — this HBO miniseries is short on conventional heroics and long on personal, political, and institutional tragedy.
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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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