Category Archives: Television Reviews

IR TV Review: PENNY DREADFUL – CITY OF ANGELS – EPISODE 10 (“Day Of The Dead”) [Showtime]

Finding the right conclusion that plays with the texture to uphold stakes is difficult in any series. Questions always arise. The manipulation from within becomes the true aspect of drama. With the season finale of “Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels” entitled “Day Of The Dead” the paths divergent become a messy train of broken souls but also resolve. Tiago Vega thinks he sees a path both correct and then apart. But then it comes undone. He thinks he knows the path of right and then he realizes that it doesn’t serve the greater good. Sister Molly thinks she knows what happiness could be but it becomes a shadow of reality. The key with this season has always been sketching the melting pot of life within this time in Los Angeles. It could define what it would become, both with its differences and similarities. The question the series brings up becomes who are the people that lose and what is the inherent collateral damage when all is said and done.

Unlike some of the episodes which make the words do alot of the walking, the season finale especially in its latter half lets the silences and the imagery speak. The diametric images especially in the last 10 minutes push the stories in ways that one would not expect. Granted one specific point does not make sense as it might be more metaphorical than literal. The stakes are still present but manufactured or perhaps regrouped in a different way. The joy that was prevalent in the previous episode lurks below the surface but with an element of pain which is what makes the best drama. Again the manipulation of the supernatural is done subtly but the battle of what the Goddess wanted versus her sister relates in very poetic terms. It foreshadows a crossroads that when discussed is both undeniable and yet tragic, poetic yet sad. Series creator John Logan who also wrote “Gladiator” understands the necessity of light and darkness. Lives are not neatly wrapped up. “Day Of The Dead” as a season finale works to highlight that the danger that lingers, lessons learned, actions taken and yet life moves on perhaps with a little more wisdom.

A-

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: THE CHI – EPISODE 2 (“Brewfurd”) [Showtime-S3]

The personification of masks both for professional and personal gain take on a sense of irony in Episode 2 of the 3rd season of “the Chi” entitled “Brewfurd”. Running in the background is the disappearance of a daughter of a couple at the end of the last episode. The interweaving story lines play in an interrelated form jumping in the matter of slice of life. One moves in getting ahead even in a neighborhood that seems focused on cutting through dreams. Another idea that keeps revolving is what necessitates the greater good despite question decisions or perceptions. A would-be businessman has dreams but is fronting a business that he has no talent for beyond the dream of it…but he has the ambition. He tries to recruit talent because he believes that this will make his business thrive and grow. He doesn’t understand that people see through his front. On the other side, his mother is too honest and in being her true self makes him front again when he should learn from her example. This essence of a hypocritical nature shows him on a path of burning brought but maybe losing all of what is behind him including his family.

On the other end is a man who has come back home to save his baby half-brother from what he got away from. What is interestingly unbalanced and well perceived is his own relationship which walks the boundary of identity, love and masks. He sees the line and can’t help what he feels but can’t come to terms with it in a real way beyond the surface. Unlike some of his peers, he is not a violent man but might be pushed to that level. The silent tome running in the background shows a man who is homeless and has a simmering facade compounded with rage that speaks to a darkness that has been seen before. “The Chi” is always effective in creating a pressure cooker situation where the characters are just trying to live their lives. Some of it is just coming of age. Others are matters of life and death. Whereas the last episode was anchored by a funeral, “Brewfurd” is about living life, whatever problems it might throw against the characters. The results are a matter of choice and consequence, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

B-

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: HARLEY QUINN – EPISODE 13 (“The Runaway Bridesmaid”) [Warner Brothers Animation-S2]

The intention of the second season of “Harley Quinn” was trying to reveal the true colors of many of the characters. As much as the series is a fun romp, the existential progression of what these people are going through reflects the adult themes that track in the messiness of life. While the idea of what Poison Ivy is going through is understandable in terms of expectation, the truth of Harley’s better nature is what fuels the episode and the season. The aspect of who is good and who is bad is obviously circumspect. The villains are villains more often than not when it serves the needs of the story so the whole archetypal aspect is slightly a kilter in terms of motivation. The adjusted “Thelma & Louise” structure and motif actually plays out quite well and the ending of the episode, without giving anything away, is undeniably cinematic and inventive using different angles and technology not seen in most of the season.

Unlike the big battle sequences which sometimes can be vague, the conclusion here uses exactly what is being seen to push the story and, as a result, gives the ending a much more emotional push. Granted many of the textures are soapy to a point. Clayman’s integration into it is quite telling and funny but it too plays to a trope of what it is. Truth and consequence is a paradoxical progression in this series and especially within this final episode: “The Runaway Bridesmaid” because Harley always leaps before she looks which is something that Ivy has to embrace but is reluctant to do so. Many of the other characters are trying to find their center. Jim Gordon begins a path to more of the dark side but again the stories sometimes shift so much that besides Ivy and Harley and maybe Joker in the last few episodes, the texture of the endgame is unclear. This, of course, doesn’t make the characterizations any less entertaining in their necessity and layers. It is just with understanding where the story needs to end, it is has to have plot connectivity. The season does, for the most part end, strongly but there are jagged spots in an overall view. A bit of control permeates the chaos.

B+

By Tim Wassberg

%d bloggers like this: