Category Archives: HBO

DVD Review: TRUE DETECTIVE, Season One

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson

Nic Pizzolatto, the showrunner for HBO’s “True Detective,” deserves credit for creating and writing a genuinely entertaining show. There was a certain amount of controversy over Pizzolatto borrowing from other writers, notably cult favorite Thomas Ligotti. At this point, that literary baggage is part of the show. This is not what Nic Pizzolatto would prefer given his backtracking on any connection to Thomas Ligotti to where you wonder if he’d like to claim to have never heard of Ligotti. At first, he readily acknowledged the Ligotti influence. Later, he disavowed it.

But Pizzolatto did more than know about Thomas Ligotti. Pizzolatto enbued one of his main characters, the otherworldly Rust Cohle (played by Matthew McConaughey) with a Ligottian charm and turn of phrase. The Rust Cohle character says: “I think about the hubris it must take to yank a soul out of nonexistence into this meat … Force a life into this thresher.” While Thomas Ligotti, in “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race,” refers to people being “stolen from nonexistence,” and says “we are meat.” I’ll tell you something, it all works on this show but you really have to thank Matthew McConaughey’s stellar performance for sealing the deal.

Anyway, at this point, Ligotti is as much as part of the first season of “True Detective” as Matthew McConaughey is a part of the first season of “True Detective.” There is no other way. To be honest, it was the best, and only, way that I got through my binge-viewing of all eight episodes. I kept looking forward to what else Pizzolatto would do with his Tarantino-like borrowing from various sources. If he’s going to do it, then he needs to own it, so to speak, and not backtrack. That said, this pastiche technique is intriguing. What may be less intriguing is how much this series resembles any other police procedural. Pizzolatto does save us from something too obvious by giving us a couple of quirky leads in this decidedly character-driven drama. Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey are the dream team and they do not disappoint. I especially like how Harrelson’s character Marty Hart, a no-nonsense detective, is not going to put up with another of his partner’s nihilistic soliloquies. Marty tells Rust to just button it.

Much of our story is about these two guys and their nearly twenty years together, off and on. There’s a very long off period but highly unusual circumstances bring them together. No doubt about it, this is both a credible mystery and thriller. And it makes for quite a compelling study of two men’s struggles to exist on their own terms with dignity and purpose. Marty Hart seems like the simple straight shooter but he is just as vulnerable to go completely off the rails as Rust Cohle who seems to be the one with only a weak link to reality. That proves to not be the case at all as Rust is far more capable than given credit for. But no one ever said that life is fair, certainly not Rust Cohle. Part of what drives Cohle and Hart is to seek out a little fairness. It is one of the oldest stories ever told and this is a good one.

I happened to get Season Two of this series by mistake. I knew when it started out with Colin Farrell driving his nerdy son to school, that I’d taken a wrong turn. That is the thing with this show, each new season is a whole new story. Apparently, Season Two left fans cold. And it looks like this quirky series will not be moving forward much longer. Rumor has it that Season Three has been cancelled. And so I come full circle with the Ligotti connection. Had Pizzolatto chosen not to distance himself from his use of Ligotti that could have led this show down some interesting paths. It would have been roads less travelled sharing in the true spirit of the dark world of Thomas Ligotti. For more of Ligotti, all one need do now is go to the source and read Ligotti along with other masters of weird fiction.


Filed under Dark Fantasy, HBO, Nic Pizzolatto, Television, Thomas Ligotti, Weird Fiction

Comic-Con 2014: Craig Ferguson and ‘Game Of Thrones’


We’ll have to wait until next year for Conan O’Brien at Comic-Con. But Craig Ferguson has got Comic-Con covered for 2014 in a most appropriate role. The Scottish-born late night host is set to moderate HBO’s Game of Thrones panel Friday at Comic-Con.

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Filed under Cable, Comic-Con, Comic-Con 2014, Game Of Thrones, HBO, Television

Interview: Steve Kriozere and FEMME FATALES


"Bad Medicine" episode: Director Darin Scott, Actress Christine Donlon, Writer Steve Kriozere

“Bad Medicine” episode: Director Darin Scott, Actress Christine Donlon, Writer Steve Kriozere

Steve Kriozere is a writer/producer with an impressive resume that includes work on “NCIS,” “Castle,” and “Femme Fatales.” If you have not gotten a chance to try out “Femme Fatales,” it is a show worthy of your consideration. You can leave any preconceived notions at the door, and start out with “Femme Fatales: The Complete First Season,” which is now available and you can purchase here. You can read a recent review of the show here.

The following is an interview with Steve Kriozere where we discuss what “Femme Fatales” is all about from various points of view. We also talk about “Elvis Van Helsing,” (review here) an offbeat horror graphic novel that Steve co-wrote with Mark A. Altman, who is also a writer/producer involved with, among other projects, “Castle” and the co-creator, with Steve, on “Femme Fatales.” We wrap up with a discussion on the writing process and what lies ahead for “Femme Fatales.”

We begin by discussing the tricky position that this show finds itself in. It’s a show on Cinemax. That carries a unique set of issues. For instance, the concept of “less is more” can be a hard one for the network to grasp. The creators and writers on the show must find ways to deliver the goods, the sexual content, in new and creative ways while also building up a show. Here’s the thing, this is, at its heart, a clever show. There are so many things going right with this show, from its charismatic host, Tanit Phoenix, to its exploration of genres and, well, embrace of geekdom. The show, at the end of the day, retains its potential which, by all rights, should remain forever elusive.

The full interview with Steve Kriozere follows and includes the podcast at the end.

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Filed under Cinemax, comic books, Comic-Con, Comics, Entertainment, Femme Fatales, HBO, Noir, pop culture, science fiction, Superheroes, Television


Red Flag Alex Karpovsky 2013

Rubberneck Alex Karpovsky 2013

If you’re in New York, you won’t want to miss a double feature of Alex Karpovsky films, “Red Flag,” and “Rubberneck.” One is funny; the other is not funny and a lot scary. The double feature will take place at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center starting February 22nd, complete with opening weekend Q & As with Mr. Karpovsky.

Mumblecore fans know and love Alex Karpovsky for a long list of films. His fan base continues to grow as part of the hit HBO series, “Girls.” He also just completed a role in the upcoming film by the Coen Brothers, “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

And, of course, “Red Flag” and “Rubberneck” will also be available on VOD starting February 19.

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Filed under HBO, movies, mumblecore

Aaron Sorkin’s THE NEWSROOM: Olbermann/Lou Grant Mashup?

“THE NEWSROOM” will do for broadcast news what “THE WEST WING” did for true believers in good government. Bravo, to Mr. Sorkin for what looks like possibly another HBO hit. Let’s consider what we’ve got here starting with the best thing going for this show. We all loved what Sorkin did with behind-the-scenes White House drama. What we need to know is will this new show really fly. What’s the hook? Well, it’s not totally about idealism in journalism. What finally got me was seeing some sparks fly between the two lead characters, Jeff Daniels, as Will McAvoy, a grumpy and volatile news anchor, and Emily Mortimer, as MacKenzie McHale, his demanding (and rightly so) girlfriend. Just view this clip. It’s fabulous to see MacKenzie trap Will into making an intimate admission with the threat of hijacking his broadcast.

Honestly, I don’t know if the entire show, week after week, can live up to that little moment but here’s hoping it can. In reality, if a girlfriend pulled a stunt like that, it doesn’t seem likely a relationship would actually survive it. I’m also annoyed that the these two have Mc-names. McAvoy and McHale? It takes you out of the realism and reminds you of ’70s TV shows, “McMillan & Wife” and “McCloud.” Was the intention to yank us out of the moment and remind us it’s all artifice? I think not.

You know, at first, I thought this show was going to be something like a retread of “Broadcast News” and “Network,” and it probably is more than Sorkin cares to admit. Perhaps artifice does rule supreme and would that be a bad thing? Well, God knows, I don’t need to see Sam Waterston add to the countless hand wringing scenes in televsion drama over the decades. And I’m not that interested to see  Jane Fonda as a latter day Nancy Marchand in the role of Mrs. Pynchon on “Lou Grant.”

Then there’s the whole Keith Olbermann thing. Mr. Olbermann made a wisecrack that “The Newsroom” is the second time his life has been used for a TV show, the first being Sorkin’s “Sports Night.” Sorkin is irritated by that and stated, rather caustically, that “Newsroom” has nothing to do with Olbermann, “a man who I’ve spent about five minutes with in my entire life.” Huh? There really would be no shame in basing MacGyver, I mean McAvoy, with Olbermann. In fact, the more merging of fact and fiction, the better, it would seem. Frankly, a show loosely based on a bunch of other stuff, old TV shows, our own idea of what the world is like or should be, with a dash of Keith Olbermann, sounds like a winning recipe for success.

UPDATE: I have seen the pilot, which is available for anyone to see for free on YouTube or the HBO site. It does provide some good moments of entertainment but it comes at the price of it just messing with you. In the end, it seems like a big tease since the premise is flawed. We don’t live in a world that pays attention to the evening news like we once did in the era of Walter Cronkite but Sorkin believes we should.

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Filed under HBO, Television