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    Getting On: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 10th, 2014

    It’s noble work. It is useful. You are angels of mercy…I just never thought that I would end up here.”

    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. As a result, HBO’s comedy series Getting On isn’t exactly what I’d call a gut buster. But even though much of the humor seems hyper-specific to this particular circle of workplace hell, anybody who has ever been underpaid to do a hard, crappy job should be able to relate.
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    The Newsroom: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 7th, 2014

    “We don’t have the trust of the public anymore.”

    - “Get it back!”

    The Newsroom took a pretty decent beating during its first season. Sure, plenty of people praised the show’s exceptional acting and ambition, but too much of the conversation seemed to revolve around its flaws and its polarizing creator. In this Blu-ray set’s bonus material, Aaron Sorkin cops to being “overly earnest” and “aggressively uncool” in his work.
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    Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 22nd, 2014

    Billy Crystal has built a legendary career as one of the most multi-faceted entertainers in all of showbiz. He’s a successful actor, comedian, writer, producer and director. At various points, Crystal has been a major star on television, on stage, and at the movies. He’s entertained everyone from musicians to movie stars, thanks to his gigs as a three-time Grammy host and nine-time Academy Awards emcee. But what works best about his return to the stage in 700 Sundays — Crystal’s Tony-winning one-man show — is how it illustrates the idea that virtually every entertainer gets his or her first round of applause in the family living room.
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    Boardwalk Empire: Season 4 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 27th, 2014

    “It’s like Prohibition never happened but for one thing. Prices will increase twenty-fold. We got a product a fellah’s gotta have. Even better is that, we got a product he ain’t allowed to have.”

    The fourth season of Boardwalk Empire began pretty much the only way it could have after the bloodbath that ended the previous season. It was an explosive season that delivered the best gangland war in television history. Now there has to be some kind of peace or at least status quo after the end of the violence. Nucky is making his peace with Arnold Rothstein and his people. He also owes Chalky White for saving his behind when war broke out.
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    The Normal Heart (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 26th, 2014

    “Could you please reduce your level of hysteria?”

    There is a lot of yelling and a lot of outrage in The Normal Heart. The film chronicles the confusing, terrifying onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in the early 1980s and how a group of gay men (and one intrepid doctor) in New York fought to draw attention to the deadly disease. Their efforts are alternately frustrating and futile, which leads to a higher decibel level for much of the movie’s second half. Thankfully, The Normal Heart is shrewd enough to note that there’s more than one way to make a point.
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    True Detective (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 12th, 2014

    “You got a chapter in one of those books on jumping to conclusions?”

    It’s easy to jump to conclusions with a name like True Detective. The moniker conjures up images of the true crime pulp magazines of the 40′s and 50′s. You might get a sense that this is one of those “based on a true story” type of shows. There was even a second when I expected we might have our first “found footage” television shows. Whatever ideas you have going in, expect your perceptions to change.
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    True Blood: The Complete Sixth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 3rd, 2014

    I don’t know why death still surprises me.”

    As someone who’s seen every single episode of True Blood, I suppose nothing should surprise me by now. HBO’s vampire drama has given us more than its share of head-turning sex scenes and a hearty helping of over-the-top violence. However, the further the series ventured from Bon Temps and its core group of characters, the more it seemed to lose its way, even as a satisfying guilty pleasure. This penultimate season still relied on an overly-crowded cast of supernaturals. But it was ultimately an encouraging sign that the show might get back to basics as it prepares to end its run this summer.
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    Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 22nd, 2014

    Jackie Mabley, the trailblazing subject of this HBO Films documentary, earned plenty of superlatives during a comedy career that spanned more than 50 years. She was touted as “the funniest woman in the world.” The DVD cover art crowns her as “the Original Queen of Comedy”, and one of the film’s interview subjects calls her “the original cougar” thanks to her on-stage predilection toward younger men. Of course, Mabley would probably prefer it if you just called her “Moms.”
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    Eastbound & Down: Season 4 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 15th, 2014

    “This is the story of a man who won by choosing love over fame, fortune and countless adventures…”

    Danny McBride managed in inhabit the role of Kenny Powers to such an extent I do appear to have trouble keeping them separate. Now the countless adventures continue for McBride who is going to have to get us all to see him in a new light as he leaves troubled Powers behind and moves on to other things. For fans it’s a bittersweet goodbye to Eastbound & Down. The final episodes have aired and now they are available on this 2-disc Blu-ray swansong.
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    Veep: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 27th, 2014

    “…I’m the f—ing Vice President of the United States, and I have something to say.”

    If you’ve seen Veep, you know it’s almost impossible to quote the show without including an f-bomb or any of the show’s crassly creative put-downs. The sitcom’s central joke remains that the vice presidency might be the most high-profile unimportant job in the world. As a result, the second season of HBO’s caustic comedy sees VP Selina Meyer making moves to improve her political standing. Of course, she and her harried staff can’t avoid the humiliations and indignities that come with the job.
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    Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 20th, 2014

    “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”

    Even if Game of Thrones had inexplicably wrapped its run after two stellar seasons, the HBO series would’ve gone down as a landmark in television history because of its unprecedented scale and audacious storytelling. But then fans wouldn’t have gotten season 3, an adaptation of (roughly) the first half of “A Storm of Swords”, the third novel in George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. “A Storm of Swords” is considered the “Empire Strikes Back” of Martin’s novels, which is a terrifying prospect considering the “Empire” in the world of Thrones has been “striking back” since the very first episode.
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    Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 11th, 2014

    “I know many of you are probably wondering, ‘What the hell is Mike Tyson gonna do up here on stage tonight,’ right? Frankly, I’m wondering the same thing too.”

    If you or I decided to get a face tattoo, it would almost definitely be the craziest thing that’s ever happened to either of us. On the other hand, I’m not sure Mike Tyson’s now-infamous facial ink even cracks the Top 5 list of most insane things he’s ever said or done. That very unpredictability is what makes him an ideal, endlessly compelling subject for a one-man show.
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    Treme: Complete Series (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on January 29th, 2014

    Creator David Simon (The Wire and Generation Kill) has never been a show runner concerned about cliffhangers or plot twists; instead he thrusts his viewers into the day-to-day life of the everyday Joe and shows that real life generates more conflict than most fiction can ever deliver.  Ever since I first watched The Wire I’ve considered myself a fan of Simon’s work, and I feel it could be argued that what Simon did with The Wire is a large factor in why we have the quality of television that we do today
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    Treme: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on November 21st, 2013

    Creator David Simon (The Wire and Generation Kill) has never been a show runner concerned about cliffhangers or plot twists; instead he thrusts his viewers into the day-to-day life of the everyday Joe and shows that real life generates more conflict than most fiction can ever deliver.  Ever since I first watched The Wire I’ve considered myself a fan of Simon’s work, and I feel it could be argued that what Simon did with The Wire is a large factor in why we have the quality of television that we do today.
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    Clear History (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 6th, 2013

    You think you had a bad day? This guy lost a billion dollars.”

    Clear History is ostensibly about hot-shot marketing exec Nathan Flomm, who misses out on a billion-dollar payday after a petty disagreement. But really, this HBO Films original comedy is basically a 100-minute, all-star episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm with prettier scenery. As such, it’s another opportunity for writer/star Larry David to profanely and incredulously sound off on a fresh set of social landmines, including insincere apologies and birthday e-card etiquette.
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    Parade’s End

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 6th, 2013

    “It’s not a good thing to find oneself living by an outmoded code of conduct. People take you to be a fool.”

    Christopher Tietjens, the furiously principled Englishman at the center of this early 20th century drama, is simultaneously a man ahead of his time and part of a dying breed of gentleman. The most frustrating part of Christopher’s predicament is that he also has enough intelligence and self-awareness to realize exactly how out of place his behavior is.
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    Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 21st, 2013

    “Everybody’s got guns.”

    Lately, you might have heard a lot of folks talking about getting home for a little Nucky. Well… it’s not what you think. They’re talking about Nucky Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi on HBO’s latest gangland series, Boardwalk Empire.
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    Girls: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 13th, 2013

    “Well, when you love someone you don’t have to be nice all the time.”

    In this current age of message boards and morning-after recaps, the pressure is on to make your voice the loudest if you want to be heard in the wilderness of the Internet. For snarky TV critics, that often means declaring something is either the “Best ____ Ever” or the “Worst ____ Ever”, with little room for anything in-between. But even within these sharply-divided times, I believe HBO’s Girls — which is brilliant just as often as it is maddening — stands out as the most polarizing show on TV.
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    The Newsroom: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 12th, 2013

    “In the old days, we did the news well. You know how? We just decided to.”

    Sounds simple enough, so what’s keeping everyone from doing the news well? Well, other than a country that feels more politically polarized than ever and a population that mostly seems interested in cherry picking the “facts” they’d rather hear, I can’t think of a single thing. In fact, HBO’s The Newsroom pointedly compares the idea of putting on a quality news broadcast that educates the electorate and earns great ratings to Don Quixote embarking on one of his foolish quests.
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    True Blood: Season Five (Blu-Ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on May 20th, 2013

    Well, it is that time of the year when we must see what the blood suckers, shape shifters, wolves and the faeries are up to. No, I am not talking about the State of the Union address; I’m talking about the latest season of True Blood. Season Five to be exact. In these twelve episodes, we again travel to the land of Bon Temps, Louisiana and see exactly what delicious trouble and dastardly deeds our characters can get themselves tied up in.
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    Hemingway & Gellhorn (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 2nd, 2013

    “The important thing for a writer is to tell a good story.”

    Martha Gellhorn, considered by some to be the greatest war correspondent of the 20th century, was extremely adamant about not wanting to be a footnote in someone else’s life. So I’m thinking the writer — who died in 1998 — may have had mixed feelings about Hemingway & Gellhorn. On one hand, her life story gets the prestigious (and mostly sympathetic) HBO Films treatment, and Gellhorn is played by Oscar winner Nicole Kidman in a sensational, searing turn. On the other hand
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    Veep: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 25th, 2013

    The great, central joke of Veep — HBO’s sharp, profane political comedy — is that no self-respecting politician aspires to become the Vice President of the United States. (Just like no self-respecting kid dresses up as Robin for Halloween.) It’s no accident the POTUS is completely MIA from the show, leaving his second-in-command and her beleaguered staff to deal with the countless indignities of a job described on “The Making of Veep” featurette as “so close to being important.”
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    Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 19th, 2013

    “There’s a king in every corner now.”

    Game of Thrones is definitely one of the best shows on TV right now, and it might be the most ambitious television series ever produced. Ambition and quality don’t always go hand in hand. (See, Cloud Atlas. No, seriously…watch it. I’m one of the people who really enjoyed that convoluted mess.) The second season of Game of Thrones — a massive undertaking that took its cast to Iceland and Croatia, in addition to its Belfast base — performed a minor miracle. It deepened, expanded and improved upon an already excellent show.
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    Eastbound & Down: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 6th, 2012

    “I’m back. You’re welcome.”

    I didn’t see the series during either of its first two seasons on HBO. When the second season arrived to be reviewed I was more than a little nervous about jumping in without knowing what had come before. Certainly, I checked out the buzz on the show and got an idea of what it was about. But nothing could have prepared me for what I finally encountered when I popped that first disc in my Blu-ray player. It’s safe to say that you can join this show for the third season without having seen the first two.
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    My Big Fat Greek Wedding (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on November 15th, 2012

    “Nice Greek girls are supposed to do three things: marry Greek boys, make Greek babies, and feed everyone until the day we die.”

    If ever a movie could be negatively affected by monstrous box office numbers, it’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding. When a five-million-dollar film rides a tsunami of critical buzz and excellent word-of-mouth past the two hundred million dollar box office gross (finally ending somewhere over $230 million), it’s impossible to see it for the first time completely free of expectation.
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