Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? by Paloma Faith:
Paloma Faith is another singer like Christina Perri or Gabriella Cilmi with a unique, memorable voice that makes you stop and take notice the first time you hear it. This album is short and fun, but like Christina Perri or April Smith, the songs are better mixed into a broader shuffle because the timbre of her voice should be taken in small doses. One of my favourite songs on the album is Upside Down.

Final Grade: B

The Office, Season 9:
Seasons one, six, and seven were my least favourite seasons of this show, although I felt that it actually improved a great deal in season eight. The ninth season starts out with three of the worst episodes ever, but then course corrects and hits every single funny and poignant moment you would expect from a final season. I was very satisfied with the direction and resolution of this season, especially the decision to stop forcing Andy Bernard to be a weak impersonation of Michael Scott -- less Ed Helms is more in this case.

Final Grade: B+

Breaking Bad, Season 6:
This is alternately called Season 5 Part 2 or "The Final Season", depending on who's trying to make the most money through audience confusion, so I'll do my part to aid capitalism by calling it season 6. These final 8 episodes are a great ride without the sometimes-too-slow burn of previous seasons. It's akin to torching an acre of the rainforest after wasting a lot of time watching that stupid tropical tree grow from a seed. The plot still goes to the opposite extreme from reminding the audience of previous minute plot points (I would have liked a "Previously On" occasionally), but every single plot and resolution has grown organically from things introduced in the very first season.

Taking the series as a whole, I would definitely recommend a full watch, but you may want to be multitasking during a few arid sections of the middle seasons.

Final Grade: A-

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't by Jim Collins:
I read this for a germinating book club at work. It works backwards from historical data about company growth to distill observations about what it takes to become a great company and sustain it. The lessons are nice talking points, and the company sidebar stories are very interesting, although the book is held back by some of the company choices. For example, Fannie Mae and Circuit City were both hugely successful at the time of writing (2001), and we all know how they turned out in the aftermath. Despite that, this is a breezy read that never gets too scientifically pendantic about its conclusions.

Final Grade: B-

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