‘Fresh Off the Boat’ WWJD: What Would Jessica Do? (Review)

 CONSTANCE WU, IAN CHEN

This episode of Fresh Off the Boat is perhaps the cutest one yet. ” WWJD: What Would Jessica Do” focuses, for the most part on Jessica and Evan. The two are Costco buddies who shop every Sunday for all the bargains they can find. Suddenly, Evan is invited to church by his friend Zack and Jessica is lost.

Louis gives friend and neighbor Marvin a friend’s discount on their latest meal (aka, free) and the dentist returns the favor. He gives Louis neon white teeth during his cleaning appointment.

Both mother and father of the Huang clan have difficulties for very different reasons. Louis hates his “glow in the dark” teeth and Jessica misses her shopping buddy.

Meanwhile, Eddie and Emery make “Bad-A** Cereal Bars” out of all the left over cereal from the multi-packs that Jessica bought at Costco. Sadly, as the boys learn to their dismay, not all  cereal is created equal when it comes to making cereal treats.

The mixed up cereal gets harder and harder to chew. Emery breaks off small pill sized portions to wash down with water and Eddie breaks a tooth.  The eldest Huang child goes with Louis to Marvin’s office to get the thing sorted and he orders a crown like his rapper idol.

(On a sidenote: There was a brilliantly funny gag at Marvin’s dentist office. Five dentists, including Marvin are all standing  and looking a tube of toothpaste. It looks suspiciously like Colgate. Four of the group says yes and the fifth shakes his head and says he just cannot. The punch line is, of course, that “four out of five dentists” recommend Colgate.  This was the best comedic sequence of season three so far.)

Evan is quite taken with church and even though Jessica tries to dissuade her youngest from going, he continues to attend with his friend Zack on a regular basis.

(The second gag of the show had Jessica using the voice altering  megaphone to play “God.” She tries telling Evan to stop going to church. Louis overhears and he and Evan find Jessica hiding in the pantry. Very funny.)

Eventually Evan decides that he can do Costco and Church, alternating between the two. Jessica agrees to this solution.

Yeardley Smith has a cameo role as a sampler in the Costco who dispenses some advice to Jessica about how to handle Evan’s defection.  Smith proves once again that she does not need Lisa Simpson to be funny. Her Costco shelving “confessional” was brilliantly funny.

Marvin and Louis make up after the latter’s angry outburst over the whiter than white teeth his dental neighbor set him up with.  The only loser in the show is Grandma Huang.

Grandma makes fun of her own son mercilessly. Calling him a muppet and  using every opportunity to laugh at his shiny white teeth, his discomfort is her clear delight.

Fresh Off the Boat keeps pushing the comedy envelope.  Ian Chen and Constance Wu make the best comedy double act ever and Forrest Wheeler and Hudson Yang were spot on in this episode.

Ray Wise, as usual, makes the most of his time on the show.

The final punchline in the episode had Jessica making a “stock” out of the giant cereal bar, much to the chagrin of the two Huang boys.

Fresh Off the Boat airs Fridays on ABC. Stop by for some addictive fun and Stay for Constance Wu.

Cast:

Guest starring Luke Judy as Zack and Yeardley Smith

Aftermath: Episode 9 and 10 – Hard Truths and Adepts (Review)

 Aftermath - Season 1

It was all too tempting to label episode 9 “The Barbarous King” as “Trouble in Paradise” just for the locale of this segment.  While there were some excellent revelations and a reluctant family reunion of sorts, this week in Aftermath we learned more about Karen’s lineage. There was also some character evolution in the family Copeland.

The survivors run into a  road block where a grizzled ex-biker is demanding a toll from the family to cross through his territory. To his followers, the biker is known as Ewan. To Karen he is dad.  The capable woman introduces her kids to the bandana wearing chieftain, “Kids, meet your grandpa.”

There is no love lost between father and daughter and the old renegade is in the “tetra” (or medicine) manufacture business.  He swears that he has gone “legit” but Karen is not buying it.

Josh stumbles onto the truth of the matter, Ewan is making substandard medication and people are dying.  He caught snooping and, after being bopped over the head with a shovel, is given peyote and death sentence.

As usual, the villains in this apocalyptic world underestimate Josh. Even as he trips out on the hallucinogen, Copeland kills his executioner easily.  The male head of the family is becoming quiet adept at dealing out death.

He learns from his dead father that adept is exactly what he is.  Josh’s young father reveals that he and his family are all “Adepts.” They will, the vision says, survive because of this “trait.”

Meanwhile Brianna, Dana and Levi go on a job with Ewan’s right hand “Rafaela” and Raf.  they go to a bar for a delivery of ethanol and after a few drinks, Dana drops some hard truths on her sister. She finds out that the Brianna gave her non-alchololic drinks and rips her sister a strip for lying to her.

After their argument, Brianna leaves and is stopped by a skin walker. The woman steals the truck and returns to the bar looking like Brianna.  Levi is discovering that he has an unpleasant side to his personality.

The eldest sibling takes after his Grandpa Ewan and the locals at the bar fear him.  Back at the camp, as Josh is being set up for the kill, Karen goes with her dad to check on the kids.

As they arrive, the real Brianna returns and fights with the skin walker. Karen aims at the two figures fight on the floor and it is Dana who kills the imposter. The kid who hates guns just used one to save her sister.

Episode nine revealed some hard truths about the Copeland clan. A lot of what makes Karen tick is revealed in this episode. She obviously takes after her father in the “tough” department but did not inherit his nefarious streak.

At the end of the episode, as Josh is coming down off his trip, he begins coughing and Karen sees that he may have blood coming from his mouth. This is a symptom of the “fever” and it looks like Grandpa’s offer of the Tetra was not an idle offering.

Aftermath - Season 1

Episode 10 of Aftermath “Hieronymo’s Mad Againe”sees a family of four, bar one, dead and “stretched” and Josh is still coughing out blood. Karen starts searching for Tetra in earnest while her husband’s condition worsens.

Josh is hearing voices and interacting with people who are not there. Dana finds a Tetra box and the family head off to search for the drug.  First, however, Karen takes Josh’s gun and Brianna reminisces with Matt about video games.

As the women in the family search the pharmacy for Tetra, Josh is handcuffed in the RV and he tries to communicate with Matt. He tries to give his son some reassurance but his speech is riddled with nonsensical words and phrases.

In the hospital pharmacy, the women are not alone.

An man infected with the plague, aka fever,  jumps out to attack the three Copeland women,  but another woman (Willes) shoots the man dead. She asks the trio for help with the wheelchair patients on the upper floor.

The women are asked to leave their weapons in the lobby as the patients are frightened of guns. Partway up the staircase, Brianna and Dana are sent to collect the  Tetra while Karen and the woman proceed further up the stairs.

Josh’s symptoms get worse. Oddly enough, he begins to have intuitive flashes, matching the times of death (of the three corpses found at the start of the episode) and the destruction of Seattle. As he verbal skills deteriorate further, Matt takes his dad for a drive.

The wheelchair  bound patients are a ploy. Karen discovers that the elevator works just before the woman knocks her out cold.  When Karen wakes up she learns that the “patients” are dead, and have been stuffed, and that both her girls have been locked in on the second floor.

Dana and Brianna try to break out as Josh’s condition worsens. Karen, who has been drugged, is on the roof with the woman and as they watch, the moon is hit by a number of asteroids.

The woman starts coughing blood and as the moon sends debris into space, the fever infected woman tells Karen, “I don’t know how I feel about that.” She is referring to the blood and not the parts of the moon which will obviously start raining down on earth.

Josh has another vision, “The One is Many” has been written on the wall by the missing boy.  Brianna and Dana get out of the second floor trap that the woman set and Karen is given a paralyzing agent.  She learns that Ewan, her father, killed the woman’s family and stole supplies from the hospital.

The trio of Copeland women manage to kill the woman and escape with antibiotics but there is no Tetra.  Josh is still having  visions and Dana tell the family that the debris from the moon will hit in about two days.

This episode of Aftermath has been the most macabre of the season. With “Kathryn” aka “the Woman” wearing the face of the patient she kicked down the stairs, (a bit reminiscent of Otis in The Devil’s Rejects) this whole segment was about as twisted as can be.

As both Taylor Hickson and Levi Meaden pointed out in two separate interviews with Mike’s Film Talk, all the family are going through some intense changes in the show. The last two episodes have indeed proven that the entire family are changing as the season progresses.

It seems pretty grim for Josh right now, but his condition seems to be more focused on visions of some sort versus the wholesale madness that most fever heads seem to suffer from.

Karen is still the strong member of the family, but the Copeland clan are rapidly catching up. Brianna finishes off the crazy in the hospital, that Karen shoots first with her hidden weapon.  Dana has also gotten tougher.

Aftermath is upping the stakes in each episode.  The show’s theme has changed somewhat from “mythical” creature of the week to the family surviving each obstacle placed in their path.

Show creators Glenn Davis and William Laurin have turned this apocalyptic series into an addictive experience.  

Aftermath airs Tuesdays on SyFy. Tune in and get caught up in the end of the world as we know it.

Cast:

Guest starringTimothy Webber  as Ewan, Dani Alvarado as Rafaela and Christine Willes  as Kathryn.

Z Nation: Doc’s Angels – The One That Got Away (Review)

Z Nation - Season 3

The latter part of Z Nation has been concentrating on Doc. “Doc’s Angels” sees him being threatened by a menace much worse than Z’s. He stumbles into a nest of what seems to be devil worshiping women who list doc as “The One Who Got Away,” after he desperately outsmarts them.

This episode felt like “The Witches of Eastwick” meets The Devil’s Rejects meets Leatherface from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” It was certainly an interesting journey for Doc and beat his “Cuckoo Nest” adventure in episode six.

Addy is still, presumably, chasing after The Man and an older Lucy, roughly around five years old now, and Doc is trying to contact Citizen Z to help out Warren.   The three women he encounters after following their radio transmission are all creepy and damned scary in turns.

Each one competes with the other and they all end up in Doc’s bed at one point.  After the impromptu orgy, Doc tries to escape in a feather lined robe and a pair of cowboy boots. The trio chase him down and even when Doc sends their trained Z’s to slow the women down, they continue their pursuit.

Doc does eventually outwit the women and he gets in touch with Simon, aka Citizen Z, aka “C Z.”  The women believe that Doc is trapped at the top of their ham radio transmission tower but he kicks a line loose and falls outside the fence of their compound.

“Doc’s Angels” is easily one of the strangest episodes in the third season.  With so much weirdness in every scene, this could become a highlight in this year’s offering.

The guest stars, made the most of their “sister act” and Hodgkinson was beyond brilliant. This episode showed just how much Doc has evolved since the series began. Although he does fall prey to his own weaknesses, smoking the “home-grown” weed and becoming stoned enough to “go with the flow.”

Warren and her shrinking team are still on the way to Murphytown and it looks like there will be a final confrontation very soon. Doc’s escape sees him without a weapon, still wearing those boots and that feathered robe. He does steal a bike from a trapped Z but it looks like he will be on his own for a while yet.

This episode, for all its innate oddness, was another change from the very grim appearance of this season’s Z Nation. Last week’s “They Grow Up So Quickly” also put Doc in peril, as well as Addy, but this marks his third time of being in a life or death situation this year.

The show’s makers seem to be hinting at his possible demise. Hopefully Doc survives, and the rest of the team as well. It would be too hard to have another Michael Welch type death this year.

Z Nation airs Fridays on SyFy. Tune in and catch this marvelous alternative to TWD.

CAST:

Guest starring Debra Wilson as Linda, Annette Toutonghi as Sarah and Nadine Velazquez as Camilla

Secrets and Lies: The Racket – Thrown Under the Bus (Recap/Review)

 ANNALYNNE MCCORD, CHARLIE BARNETT

Secrets and Lies “The Racket” does indeed throw someone under the bus, a few someone’s actually.  Apart from learning who is actually running the Mint Hill brothel this episode allows Detective Cornell to actually focus on the case. Her new partner Detective Ralston is a lot more hands on this week and Danny helps Eric with his passcode problem.

As Cornell and Ralston look over the whore house that Eric’s wife runs, they discover hidden cameras and the hard drives. The drives have been wiped clean but vice have a sleeper camera outside the premises.

The cops have no warrant but they do have probable cause and later, when Ralston takes  Cornell to his old Vice stomping grounds, a colleague reluctantly agrees to hand over the pictures taken from outside the residence.  Cornell agrees to reciprocate by returning the favor.

Eric throws Patrick under the bus by giving his illegal activities and the proof of same to Cornell.  The detective arrests Eric’s brother and he then throws his “trashy” wife under the same vehicle.  She, in turn, promises to give up Kate’s murderer to Cornell.

This was an interesting episode. The finger of suspicion pointed to Patrick last week. The evidence found at the Mint Hill bordello sealed his fate in this episode and  prompted his removal from S.E.G. as well as his arrest.

Melanie was also taken in, Eric’s wife was picked up from her yoga class mid-stretch. Ralston, somewhat amusingly, says “Namaste,” to the instructor as they lead the handcuffed woman from the room.

Danny is still desperate to find his daughter Rachel. He comes within a gnat’s whisker of kidnapping Melanie Warner. Just as he posies himself to take her, Danny spots two Vice cops watching Patrick’s wife.

The New York detective was spotted by Ralston’s former colleagues on the sleeper camera footage and the detective who helps Andrea smiles at the obsessed father.  Patrick learns that Melanie has been sleeping with his lawyer and when the man enters the interrogation room, Warner attacks him.

Eric believes his brother and Melanie were blackmailing him and after Danny breaks the passcode on Kate’s iPad, they find that the tracker on the money moving.  Eric knows that both Eric and his wife are in custody so it cannot be either of them.

He and Danny follow the signal and Eric sees his father driving down the road where the tracker was pinged by the software. Once again, we are privy to the sadness and pain behind the carefully maintained facade that the Warner’s previously projected to the public.

Eric raised both his siblings since their alcoholic mother was unable and their father was away so often.  Patrick has always been desperate to be as able and clever as his big brother and father.  Melanie, is indeed, “trashy” as she worked in a brothel before she met Patrick.

Secrets and Lies has done a pretty good job of peeling back the layers of deceit and it looks like the Eric’s company and many of its main players  will end up doing jail time. Between the money syphoned off by Eric and the house of prostitution, S.E.G. will definitely be going down.

Juliette Lewis was spot on in this episode. Her character’s taunting of Patrick was crucial in forcing the man to turn over his wife. The writing this week was taut and followed a lot of trails that seemingly all ended up with the prime suspect(s) being a member of the Warner family.

Michael Ealy is splendid as the widower who is doggedly searching for clues while watching the company he inherited from his father crash and burn.

There are two episodes left in this season and it will be interesting to see who will actually wear the mantle of murderer.

Secrets and Lies airs Sundays on ABC. Tune in and see who actually killed Kate Warner.

Cast:

The Brothers Grimsby, aka Grimsby (2016): Utter Rubbish (Review)

Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong

One can only surmise that 2016 has been a rough year for Mark Strong and Penélope Cruz The proof in the pudding is their participation in this debacle masquerading as a comedy film. The Brothers Grimsby, aka Grimsby is complete and utter rubbish from start to finish. The fact that the only real laugh comes at the very end of the film speaks volumes for this complete waste of celluloid.

Written by Sacha Baron CohenPhil Johnston and Peter Baynham; directed by Louis Leterrier and starring, personal favorite, Mark Strong, Cohen and his wife Isla Fisher, Aussie actress Rebel Wilson and a few familiar faces to British television audiences in the form of cameos by Johnny Vegas and Ricky Tomlinson, The Brothers Grimsby is an assault on the senses of such catastrophic poor taste that one feels the need to have a shower and a colonic cleanse after viewing. 

The film is, essentially, a classic Cohen satire/parody of the northern city and its inhabitants. Former Grimsby denizen Sebastian Graves (Strong) is an agent for MI6, sports a contact lens which records his every deadly move while on missions and he is a bald “007.”

His long lost brother, Nobby (Cohen) is a lazy, piss artist and football mad Grimsby native who picks out a mattress by shagging a “bird” on the thing in the shop.  At least Cohen’s script never rises above genitalia, ejaculatory and bottom jokes, which run throughout the film.

Cruz plays master criminal Rhonda George. The villain masquerades as a charity head who plans to release a virus that will kill all the common folk of England. This means, of course, that every Grimsby citizen is doomed.

Scott Adkins is the violent assassin who has targeted Graves, and he also works for George, who has the thankless job of being the only other “straight” character in the film. 

The movie starts as it means to finish and never deviates from the persistent toilet humor and bad taste jokes that fill each and every scene. Just as it seems that Cohen has managed to hit heretofore unheard of depths of bad taste, he manages to top himself.

It really is a tie between the “sucking out the poison” gag and the “hiding in an elephant’s vagina” schtick, complete with Strong and Cohen being assaulted by giant elephant penii and both men being covered in a white viscous substance, as to which is really the most offensive.

Other jokes are aimed at Donald Trump, no real crime committed there as the real Trump is beyond deplorable; so no harm, no foul, charities and the film really is a massive leg pull of the lower working classes.

The real crime here, beyond the consistent bad taste of the film’s “comedy” is that this could have been funny. Mark Strong is a skilled performer who has massive comedic chops. (Anyone who has seen his performance in Kick-Ass can attest to his comedy skills.)

Granted, Cohen is an acquired taste.  Fans of his brand of comedy, Ali G Indahouse and Borat may well find the film hysterically funny.  Anyone  over the age of 11 will find the film a complete waste of time.

Even the action scenes with Strong’s character are diminished by the toilet humour on offer.  It has to be said that the one redeeming thing about the film was the “first person shooter” gaming POV aspect of Graves’ action scenes.  There was a touch of Kingsman, a’la FPS that could have been the film’s highpoint since the comedy was so dire.

Sadly the movie never moves past its dire start and the sight of Cohen with long Liam Gallagher sideburns and fake teeth.

This is one to avoid. A shaky 2 out of 5 stars only for the presence of Strong. Cruz looks as though she has wound up on the wrong filmset and even severe re-editing could not save this stinker.  It takes a lot for this reviewer to savage a film, but The Brothers Grimsby has rightly earned its drubbing.