This ‘n’ That – Netflix, Godzilla, Penny Dreadful

Netflix

 

* Netflix put out a press release announcing the fee change of their streaming service from $7.99 to $8.99. I find this to be quite reasonable. Actually it is still remarkably cheap for what you get.

The remarkable part is that current subscribers are locked into the old rate for another TWO YEARS. Who does that?

* Netflix streaming is really pushing promos of the new season of Orange is the New Black (premieres next month). If you haven’t watched the first season, you should (unless you can’t stand profanity).

Godzilla

 

* I reported on this before but since the new Godzilla opens Thursday night, it bears repeating. Rialto Pictures has brought back the original Godzilla at a slew of big cities. Sadly nothing near Asheville but there are a lot of venues. Participating theaters can be found here.

Penny Dreadful

 

* Penny Dreadful recently premiered on Showtime. The pilot episode is available on Hulu. I love horror movies, particularly Victorian ones, so I couldn’t resist.

I also love Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the first two series, after that it became ridiculously esoteric). The movie version is a travesty but remains a guilty pleasure for me. Fu Manchu and several extraneous characters are dropped and two new ones are added. Dorian Gray is an excellent addition to the movie and fits in perfectly thematically. The addition of an adult Tom Sawyer who is now a sharpshooter is a boneheaded move – especially since it turns out that Quatermain is the sharpshooter, Sawyer is just along to bring the guns.

I only mention this because the three main characters in Penny Dreadful are explorer Sir Malcolm Murray (our Allan Quatermain substitute played by Timothy Dalton), the mysterious Vanessa Ives (our Mina Harker substitute played by Eva Green), and, naturally, our American sharpshooter Ethan Chandler (played by Josh Hartnett). Not only that but Dorian Gray appears in the series.

Time will tell if this series proves worthwhile or just a League ripoff.

Netflix & Vudu & Regal & Godzilla Oh My

Netflix

 

* After binging on the wonderful season two of House of Cards, I am looking forward to the second season of Orange is the New Black on June 6th.

Vudu

 

* I love my Vudu account and their disc-to-digital program but they always try to start the movie in HDX. My internet can’t handle that load at night so I often have to poke it down to HD and occasionally SD. I’d really like for them to take a page out of Netflix’ book and adjust settings on the fly.

* On the other hand, I have to give Vudu props because none of the other UV services appear to be able to handle over a hundred personal movies. Vudu also has the best sorting methods and interface.

Godzilla

 

* The new Godzilla will be released on May 16th. In anticipation of this, Rialto will be releasing a restored version of the original Japanese film to tour theaters starting April 12th. So far it is just the big cities but I’ll keep my fingers crossed and my eyes open.

Regal Cinemas

 

* On Thursday, March 6th, at 5:30 p.m., select Regal Cinemas (no list as of post) will be playing a double feature of 300 and 300 Rise of an Empire. The double feature is $18-$22. Regal Crown Club members will receive the usual coupon for a $5 medium soda and popcorn combo. Fingers crossed for my area and not having to babysit that night. Woohoo!

EW Top Ten TV Shows

The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly is their end of year Top 10 issue. Of course the Top 10 Movies are not available on instant Netflix, some haven’t even hit the theater. Between the two critics, the top films were 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Before Midnight, Fruitvale Station, Gravity, Blue Jasmine, The Past, World War Z, Prisoners, Inside Llewyn Davis, Captain Phillips, Enough Said, All is Lost, Out of the Furnace, The Conjuring, and Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay.

Orange is the New Black

On the other hand, their year’s best TV shows (again between two critics) include American Horror Story (2 seasons on Netflix), Parks and Recreation (5 seasons available), Breaking Bad (all but the final episodes available), Orange is the New Black (Netflix exclusive), Mad Men (5 seasons available), House of Cards (Netflix exclusive), The Fall (first series available), Arrested Development (4 seasons – the 4th is Netflix exclusive). With results like that I’d argue that Netflix has changed the face of television. They are even bringing back the cancelled police drama The Killing.

Game of Thrones

TV shows not available on Netflix from the best of list: Time of Death, Orphan Black, Game of Thrones, Enlightened, Please Like Me, The Good Wife, and The Returned show Netflix’ weaknesses: Lack of premium channel content (HBO, Showtime) and CBS shows. Of course these aren’t just Netflix weaknesses as these aren’t available on Amazon Prime or Hulu either.

I have yet to watch Parks and Recreation and The Fall is still sitting in my queue (I tend to put off watching shows involving rape as I’m looking to be entertained more than enlightened). The other Netflix shows though are amazing and I concur that they are the best series on TV. I’m hoping that they’ll put the final episodes of Breaking Bad on before someone spoils them for me.

Copper Orange is the New Ripper Black Street

The wife and I have been indulging in some adult television on the nights where we don’t watch our precocious grandchild. First let me cover the one that we only got two episodes into.

CopperCopper (2012) – TV-MA

Set in 1860s New York City, this gripping crime series centers on rugged Irish cop Kevin Corcoran, who works the notorious Five Points neighborhood — and who’s on a mission to learn the truth about his wife’s disappearance and his daughter’s death.”

When I first read about Copper, I thought, “Wow! A police show taking place in the same era and location as Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. That will be awesome.” The reality is…not so much. I intend that to have a double meaning as Copper’s major weakness is its unreality. In the 1860s, during the height of the horse and buggy, not to mention urban expansion, the streets of New York, including the notorious Five Points, are pristine.

Okay I immediately realize that this will be some idealized version of New York circa 1864. They immediately touch upon child prostitution but they treat it in an exploitative manner, as though it were mere window dressing. This extends to the Paris-trained African-American doctor who feels very out of place, especially as he is the only doctor they can rely on as all the other doctors are hacks.

The main character, Corcoran, engages in James Bondian derring do and  fisticuffs in the second episode WHILE sporting a freshly broken leg and taking drugs. This was the point at which, for us, there could be no suspension of disbelief. The ending of that episode, going against all common sense, was the finisher. Jenny and I found that episode both laughable and groanable and gave up on Copper, which is a shame because the lead actor is quite likable in his role – too bad it was so poorly written.

Orange is the New BlackOrange is the New Black (2013) – TV-MA

From the creator of “Weeds” comes a heartbreaking and hilarious new series set in a women’s prison. Piper Chapman’s wild past comes back to haunt her, resulting in her arrest and detention in a federal penitentiary. To pay her debt to society, Piper trades her comfortable New York life for an orange prison jumpsuit and finds unexpected conflict and camaraderie amidst an eccentric group of inmates.”

Another of Netflix’ productions, Orange is the New Black lacks the familiarity of Arrested Development or the dizzying chutzpah of House of Cards (with a bravura performance by Kevin Spacey). What it does have is a wonderful authentic feel, quirky but real characters, and an uncomfortable sense of humor. We’re thoroughly enjoying this and are about halfway through.

Ripper StreetRipper Street (2013) – Rated TV-MA

In April 1889 — six months after the last Jack the Ripper killing — East London is emerging into a fragile peace, hopeful that the murderer’s reign of terror might have finally run its course.

We tried Ripper Street after bailing on Copper. We were afraid that it was going to end up being about Jack the Ripper but were thankfully surprised when it wasn’t, although the Ripper’s presence and legacy can be felt throughout the season.

Ripper Street does suffer from some of the unreality that plagues Copper. The English police are well written but the American is a doctor, forensics wizard, crack shot, thief, gambler, rake, and former Pinkerton agent – did they just fold several characters into one to save money on casting?

Other than the American and an unfortunate tendency to try and show us the first case of x (no spoilers but there are several different x’s), Ripper Street is entertaining and engaging.