Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Alcatraz (Pilot Episode):
If J.J. Abrams were really serious about distancing Alcatraz from LOST, he would have hired a different composer. There's nothing wrong with Michael Giacchino's score, other than the fact that he's reused it several hundred times now -- three note violin motives don't build suspense, they just irritate everyone. This sci-fi show is about prisoners in Alcatraz who all mysteriously disappeared in 1963 and are returning now without any signs of aging. In other words, it's LOST meets The 4400 meets Fringe with Hurley thrown in. I gave the pilot a chance, but the whole time I was watching, it felt like a paint-by-numbers book where everything was already painted in. Everything in it had been done before with less rote, from the oddly paired leads to the mysterious hatch in a bag that will let the writers out of any plot corners they back into later on. I turned it off just as the second hour was getting underway, in favour of watching "Jack Sparrow" again on YouTube.

Final Grade: D+

The Office, Season Six:
This season felt unnecessary, like one of the later seasons of Scrubs. I was never completely bored, but I never really had any urge to watch several in a row. A few hearty laughs in a thin broth of tedium.

Final Grade: C-

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II:
The saga ends about as well as it could. I always felt like the underlying story was needlessly complex at the end, especially in the part where they chase down a million knick-knacks, and the movie doesn't help that much. The visual palette is still very dark -- I'd hate to see this in 3D where the screen is probably 100% black all of the time. In the end, it's well done and satisfying, although I was hoping they would take the LotR approach of having seventeen different endings, because you can never fade to black enough times in a single movie.

Final Grade: B

Malcolm in the Middle, Season Three:
This is the season where Francis quit military school and moved to Alaska in order to provide a nice eight minutes of filler material every episode. It's not great, but pleasant enough to enjoy.

Final Grade: C+

The Bird and the Bee by The Bird and the Bee:
This is a two-person group that started showing up on Pandora after I started listening to Lenka and Bitter:Sweet. The songs are catchy and pleasant to listen to, with a lot of emphasis on major seventh chords (which you can never have enough of) and shifted rhythmic motives. Other than the unfortunate yet hilarious lyric of "I'm lying prostate on the ground" which is actually spelled correctly in the liner notes but sung as shown, this is a decent album, if a tad Lilith Fair.

Final Grade: B

The Guild, Season Five:
The fifth season of this web show finds the guild attending a gaming convention. Though it had some highlights, I actually didn't enjoy this season much -- they spent too much time on cameos and non-gaming-related humour. It was easy to enjoy when the show focused on gaming and human relationships, but this season requires a little more specialization in comic books and geek stuff, which I lack. I guess when Microsoft starts sponsoring your show, you have to start throwing a little money at famous people.

Final Grade: C+

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