The Path: Liminal Twilight and Dead Moon – The Burning of the Light (Review)

Hulu The Path

Things have gotten decidedly weirder and darker in The Path. Season two started with a two episode premiere. “Liminal Twilight” and “Dead Moon” take the storyline deeper than before and in many aspects the whole Steven Meyer plot has become convoluted and a tad confusing.

Eddie still wears the mantle of “Denier,” Sarah and he are still uneasily sharing time with their kids and Cal has gotten that little bit more out of control. Abe is now in Rung One training (undercover) and Steven Meyer woke up only to die. He was apparently pushed off the cliff by either Eddie or Cal.

(Eddie in the visionary state or Cal in real-life.)

In the first of two episodes we  re-live Eddie’s vision of Meyer. So far so good. However, the movement leaders, which includes Richard, are shown Steven’s body. He appears to have fallen off the mountain and died.

But…

A local deaf man drew a picture of Meyer’s fall and it looks like another white man pushed him. Richard believes it is Eddie. It could have been Cal, after all, the fractured and mentally unbalanced leader did visit Steve.

Or, did the deaf man actually see “spirit” Eddie arguing with spirit Steve? It is all a bit confusing. What is not, however, is the steady deterioration of Cal Roberts.  The self-made leader is getting out of control and despite asking Sarah to lead with him, Cal is struggling to maintain the reins of control.

In the first episode, he wildly overbids for a building he wants for the movement. By the end of this segment, he shows Sarah Silas’ body. She makes him dig her old mentor up and Cal then lies and tells Lane that the man’s death was an accident.

In the meantime, Eddie and Hawk are drifting further apart as evidenced by the boy’s indifference and hostility towards his father at each “illegal” visit. Summer, on the other hand, enjoys the time she spends with dad.

Sarah is visibly shaken by the truth of Silas’ death and it is this guilty knowledge of Cal’s murderous act that comes across as “leakage” when she has a session with Richard.

Abe continues to work undercover in the organization to bring Cal down and it is his efforts that keep the Meyerist’s from gaining tax exemption as a religion. This forfeiture of a religious tax status causes more problems and Cal insists that Mary and Sarah accompany him to a fund raising get together.

Once there, Cal blows it by simultaneously asking for money while denigrating the party members’ lifestyle and monetary worth. Sarah comes close to having sex with an invited guest and Cal punches the man in the stomach after he acts like a boor.

Out in the woods Hawk’s new friend (played by Hunters actress Britne Oldford) confesses that she fears the dark. After opening up, the two connect in a deep and meaningful way and the second episode ends with Hawk apparently levitating. (Or in the parlance of the Meyerist movement, floating up to the next rung of the ladder.)

Eddie sleeps with his dead brother’s wife. She does not notice the new “tree-like” red veins extending up his back and it looks like Lane may now have a new woman in his life. Cal is still somewhat obsessed with Sarah who may be warming up despite the fact that he killed Silas.

The Path has managed to shift gears and take things to another level.  It is now difficult to understand who killed Steven. The visions of him choosing Eddie to “be his son” intermingled with his protestations on the vision mountaintop, are confusing.

The Hawk levitation brings back a certain amount of mysticism but at the end of the day, we do not know whether the young Lane really lifted up into the air or whether he imagined it.

Clearly things are going to be heading south even faster now that leaders of the movement believe that Eddie went to Peru to kill Steven. Cal’s meltdown is also accelerating as is Sarah’s loss of calm. With Abe, hiding in the group in plain site, season two could turn out to be explosive.

The Path airs Wednesdays on Hulu.

Cast:

Guest starring Britne Oldford as Meyerist novice.

Con Man Season 2: Continuing the Laughs with Alan Tudyk (Review)

Screen shot of Con Man Season 2

Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion are back for the second season of Con Man. The tale of the “also ran” actor, aka Wray Nerely and his best buddy, Jack Moore “superstar” is continuing. Watching the first four episodes it is clear that the laughter quotient has increased exponentially.

There really is very little that we can reveal without entering spoiler territory, but suffice to say, Wray is still having difficulty living down the specter of “Spectrum” (The Firefly of this universe.).

The show’s star, Moore (Fillion) is working hard to bring the popular television series to the big screen. (This was part of the plot in season one.) Moore is focusing his efforts on reuniting the show’s cast while Nerely is still trying his best to avoid revisiting his past performances on the series.

There are some splendid cameos in the first four episode’s.  Dr. Ken regular Jonathan Slavin makes the most of his role as Wray’s agent. Returning season one regular Mindy Sterling returns to take up the reins of control, for her convention client and she is just as hysterically funny this time around.

In this second season times are hard in the “entertainment industry” and Wray’s romantic life is suffering as well.  Agents prove to be fickle in terms of loyalty to their clients and we learn that stuntmen do not get paid if they do not perform.

Tudyk continues to show that he has a definite flair for comedy, and not just the physical aspects of the job either. Tucker and Dale vs Evil, a tale of such dark hilarity that fans want to see it repeated in the guise of a sequel, proved that Alan has got comic chops for days.

(The actor has other comic roles but none were as nuanced as his character in the “Evil” film.)

Fans of Con Man season one will remember that Vimeo streamed the story of Wray’s uncomfortable life on the convention trail.  The second season has moved to Comic Con Hq and there will be a launch on December 6 over at the Paley Center in Los Angeles.

There will be a load of familiar faces. Geek pinup Felicia Day, video game actor Nolan North (who has featured in more video games than Carter has little pills) and Alan Tudyk, as well as a plethora of other stars, will be having a panel discussion about the new season.

It should be noted that Casper Van Dien and Mark Hamill will also be attending the special event.

Season two of Con Man delivers the same quirky and irreverent humor as the first season and promises to be even funnier. Nothing is sacred. From Brazilian waxing to other assorted attacks on the nether region, the comedy comes fast and furious with all the major players mercilessly taking part in self parody.

There appears to be another 13 episodes this time around and the show will most likely follow the four show format. (Last season featured releases of four episodes at one time, until the season ended.)

Since the plot line includes Jack Moore’s determination to make a feature length film of Firefly Spectrum, one can imagine that all the players will return.

Fans of Con Man will enjoy this newest installment of the series which premieres 8 December on Comic C0n HQ. Check out the trailer below and see if this second season tickles your funny bone.

Galavant: Season Two Premiere Kylie Minogue and Vinnie Jones? [Update]

Having missed the first season of ABC’s Galavant, it came a surprise to see not only Kylie Minogue, but Vinnie Jones in the season two premiere, which will air on January 3, 2016.

Kylie Minogue

[Update] After having disliked Galavant pretty much on sight, it was then decided to watch the entirety of all seven screeners on offer at ABC. After viewing said episodes,  the below vitriol has been redacted, somewhat, and for a “fairer” assessment  of this musical series read the other review  by MikesFilmTalk by clicking on this link. Thank you.

Having missed the first season of ABC’s Galavant, it came a surprise to see not only Kylie Minogue, but Vinnie Jones in the season two premiere, which will air on January 3, 2016. Created by Dan Fogelman  (Cars, Tangled) this odd “Disney-esque” type of musical offering, with a mixture of US, Australian and English performers, feels like a Mel Brooks (think The Producers, a’la the Bialystock song) song and dance without Brooks’ genius.

It is amusing in a sort of Monty Python-ish way, although the humor feels forced. There are funny moments, like Vinnie Jones…singing, for instance and the elfin Minogue as the landlady of a gay pub called the Enchanted Forest.  While all these gags are funny…ish, it is hard to believe that this show was given a second season.

Not having seen the first iteration of Galavant, which presumably had former bad boy footballer Jones but not Kylie, there are obviously a lot of jokes and routines that have been carried forward from season one.

The show comes over like an Abrahams and Zucker Bros production:

“I’ve got to stay its my destiny.”

“Meet Destiny…

Ha, bloody ha…

The clue may be in the title of the premiere episode of Galavant.  “A New Season Aka Suck It Cancellation Bear” may be meant as an “in-joke” but without seeing the first season, which may actually be much funnier than the season two opening episode, it is hard to tell.

Somewhat amazingly, on IMDb, the show pulls in huge 7.7 in rankings. This after offering up cardboard cutout character’s who all sing like the people in that furniture commercial on telly. Granted all the songs are a bit naughty and cater to  that inner child who still finds jokes about sex hysterically funny.

Galavant actually feels like a one trick pony that has worn out its welcome before the first act finishes airing. A Disney “wanna-be” for the more puerile in the audience.  Show creator, Dan Fogelman did after all write Cars…As Stan Lee would say, “Nuff said.”

Attempting to binge watch the whole eight episodes of Galavant, which are about eight episodes too many, one can only wonder how desperate Rutger Hauer must have been to take on three episodes as a “major” character. Of course the actor may be trying make up for the abysmal 2014 film 2047: Sights of Death.

None of the songs really deliver, in terms of being  genuinely funny  or delivering real laughs.  Each tune has the same tempo and beat,  despite  the different lyrics, each song still sounds amazingly like “Gal-a-vant…”  Even the furniture advert’s songs sound more impressive and individualistic.

Both season one, and now two, sound like a musical version of Leslie Neilson’s 1982 small screen Abraham and Zucker Bros Police Squad!.  Although the focus on English,  real and faux, or just annoying like, say, Ricky Gervais, does make the show feel like a tepid homage to funnier Brit comedy shows like Fawlty Towers or Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

(It is hard to outdo the original chaps, with or without musical accompaniment, who can come near the off-beat humor of the “Dead Parrot Sketch” or “No expects the Spanish Inquisition!”  Just to point out the obvious.)

Repetitious songs, jokes that feel like retreads from other, funnier, comedic situations and a cast trying too hard to please and be funny all sum up the parts of Galavant which do not really gel.  Still, there must be some who find the show irresistible, as proven by its returning for a second season.

Perhaps American audiences are drawn to “mockney” accents stridently calling out “Fat A**.” It has to be said that the appearance of Kylie Minogue, who unfortunately was forced to sing songs that sounded similar to “real” songs sung by the tiny star with the huge voice,  was enough to make one giddy for a split second.

The fact that this show has been developed for a US demographic who most likely recognize Vinnie Jones from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, or more recently as the gritty, two dimensional baddie from Awaken,  says volumes about this unfunny and stale musical comedy. (Or even those who recognize Minogue as “The Green Fairy” from the 2001 film Moulin Rouge!)

Vinnie Jones
Vinnie is funnier when he plays it straight…

Galavant tries hard to be wildly funny and it is this that lets the show down, along with all the songs that sound pretty much the same.  This show is not big and it’s not clever, just annoying and rather flat, like the humor and jokes in each episode. Give this one a pass and watch reruns of Monty Python instead.

 

The Expanse: Space is Dirty and Biased (Review)

Not having read the novels that The Expanse is based on, the pilot feels a little like the subplot of Total Recall (1990). Where “Cohaagen” (played with suitable smarmy menace by Ronny Cox) punishes the local Mars denizens by shutting off their air. In this new SyFy space drama, the cosmos is dirty and full of bias. Extreme opposites mark the opening episode.

The Expanse - Season 1

Not having read the novels that The Expanse is based on, the pilot feels a little like the subplot of Total Recall (1990). Where “Cohaagen” (played with suitable smarmy menace by Ronny Cox) punishes the local Mars denizens by shutting off their air.  In this new SyFy space drama, the cosmos is dirty and full of bias.  Extreme opposites mark the opening episode. 

The “subway” system on Ceres, where the series begins more or less, is loud, like real subways, or the tube in England, and compared with the relative calm and low level decibel emissions on the surface, is too loud.  The show’s main protagonists are, thus far, Detective Miller (Thomas Jane) a “Belter” cop, Holden (Steven Strait) acting XO on an ice freighter. 

There are other characters in and around the periphery and the most important of these is Julie Mao, played by Florence Faivre, who we see at the very start of the premiere episode. This young woman, first encountered in a locked room which she has to escape from, is the motivator of this story. Detective Miller is assigned the job of locating and returning the rich girl to her home.

The Expanse follows recent popular ideas of what space in the future will actually be, an uneasy alliance of miners, companies and a certain hostility between same.  In this instance, Mars, Earth and the “belt” are at odds and the currency is powered by air and water; precious commodities in the future.  There are also  other nods to existing science fiction themes and films.

The splendid character actor Jonathan Banks has a minuscule cameo in the pilot as the stressed out XO who suffers a breakdown.  In the scene where Holden has to break into the executive officer’s room,  Banks’ character is treading  barefoot in dirt;  from his plants, and softly singing “Daisy, Daisy.” (The character is also muttering other things, not least of which is the oft seen “why did we not bring more light” from teaser trailers.) This singing of “Daisy”  is a clear nod and wink to the Stanley Kubrick film A 2001 Space Odyssey and HAL’s singing of Bicycle Built for Two.

*Sidenote* It has to be pointed out that only Banks could so solidly steal an entire episode from the rest of the cast with his killer breakdown. 

The Expanse - Season 1
James Holder, Earther and reluctant hero?

In this future world of mankind’s move to the stars, people who are born and live in space, i.e. the Belters, suffer from birth defects because of the minimal oxygen levels and dirty air, along with the lower gravity and smaller G forces.  Michael Jane’s character has “spurs” at the top of his spine where the bones did not knit properly.

Later in the opening episode a Belter is taken to Earth for questioning. The too skinny prisoner is held up against a wall. The suspect is in agony as his lungs and body cannot cope with the crushing gravitation forces that are killing him.

The Expanse may spotlight a future that is dirty and full of biases based upon which world one is born on, but it is, thus far, an intelligent mystery.  Unlike other futuristic settings in space, there are no aliens, unless one counts that large bulging mass that envelops an unidentified crew member while Julie Mao screams in horror.

In some ways, the Julie Mao character feels like a McGuffin, or at the very least like the female character of Laura Palmer in David Lynch’s Twin PeaksTime will tell whether this new offering really is a space age “TP” or not…

This hungry “mass” could well be a ball of energy or some space anomaly, there is no real indication that aliens are part of this verse. Once again, not having read the novels that the series is based on, any observations are from this version of  James S. A. Corey’s world  (aka Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck).

Clever nods and winks to other science fiction works aside, this world appears bleak and life is, apparently, cheap and very disposable.  This is pointed out when the ship that Holden is on received Julie Mao’s SOS.  The crew on the bridge, consisting of the ship’s captain and the new XO all vote to ignore the distress beacon and erase it from the freighter’s logs. All done in a matter of seconds.

Only later does Holden rethink what he has done and recovers the erased log entry forcing the ship to answer the beacon.

The Expanse - Season 1
Jay Hernandez and Thomas Jane as Havelock and Miller two of Ceres’ finest.

Viewers expecting a fast-paced,  action-packed space opera will be disappointed. The Expanse is moving slowly forward taking its time introducing the players and the plot. The series premiere, which can be seen now via the Internet with VoD and on SyFy’s site, will debut properly Monday, December 14.

This looks pretty impressive, if not a bit slow, tune in and see what you think.

Mr Robot: Hello Friend USA Network Equals Falling in Love Again

Still from Mr Robot with Rami Malek
With all the substandard shows on offer across the plethora of television networks, the appearance of Mr. Robot and its premiere episode of Hello Friend on the USA equals falling in love again. This first look at the new series introduces viewers to Elliot, a gifted schizophrenic, who appears to have a bit of autism in his makeup, who works in cyber security by day and hacks users as a past time.

The hero of the piece, played by Rami Malik (Night of the Museum 1,2,3, Need for Speed) is all “deer in the headlights” wide-eyed and spacey. Not all the time, but at the start of the show his look is a bit disconcerting. Despite this socially inept man’s odd appearance and the fact that he is speaking to an invisible mate, Hello Friend, which is the excuse for Malik’s voice over narration of events, thoughts, and plot line directions; Elliot is likable and the audience are drawn to him. While in real life he could be a bit off putting, in the show the character works.

The computer whiz self-medicates by snorting morphine, which he obtains illegally from a “pusher” whom he sleeps with later on after indulging in some “pure Molly” with her. This is one of the more amusing moments in the show. The camera pans back from a close up of Elliot smoking to reveal the bare bottom of his dealer as she sleeps next to him. His line about not making decisions while high is delivered perfectly.

The plot, in the premiere segment, has a mysterious chap dressed in white paint-spattered blue jeans, a work coat and white baseball cap following Elliot around. Carrying a paper cup with change in it, the man (played by Christian Slater in yet another try at television) “bumps into” the computer tech expert several times before finally introducing himself, sort of.

The whole series revolves around a group of hackers whose aim is total anarchy through the mechanization of big conglomerate account tampering. The first step is taking down the E corporation, which Elliot refers to as “Evil Corporation” and each time the logo appears that is how it looks, Evil vs E. Nice touch.

The premiere episode is helmed by none other than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev. This goes a long way toward explaining why the show works so incredibly well. Fast paced, splendidly put together and perfectly photographed by Tim Ives, this first episode goes beyond brilliant in catching and keeping the viewer entertained throughout.

Rami Malek is brilliant as the young challenged man who wants to change the world, punish the wicked and free himself of his delusions. Christian Slater, in his role as Mr. Robot, appears to be almost a McGuffin in this series and as such does what he does best; play himself. Slater is always an infinite joy to watch in anything as he brings much to the table playing various versions of himself.

Portia Doubleday is not allowed to do much. Her character walks around with a “smacked arse” look stamped on her face and has abysmal taste in men. She is also Elliot’s best friend and has been since childhood. Angela does appear to have some romantic inclination towards her pal but does not act on it.

With one filming location at Coney Island, and who wouldn’t want to take their coffee break at a ferris wheel that still works, the show looks very in the “now.” With the plot and the way that Elliot sees the world of the Internet, Mr. Robot may become one of the best shows on television, beating Stitchers, Wayward Pines and Bates Motel as the new “must see TV.”

Mr. Robot premieres properly June 24 on USA network but can be seen now on the Internet. This is one new show to be excited about, it certainly got my pulse racing and made me fall in love with American television all over again.