Tuesday, September 29, 2015


There may be some SPOILERS AHEAD, but none you haven’t already seen on the Internet. Welcome to 2015.

Scream Queens stars Jaime Lee Curtis and that was reason enough for me to watch the two-hour series premiere. The premise is slasher movie basic: On the 20th anniversary of a horrible crime, an unknown killer is seeking vengeance by eliminating Kappa House sorority members one by one.

The execution - groan - of the show is darkly hilarious. From the seeming revenge motive of the devil-garbed killer to the absolutely awful sorority girls, it’s a funny love letter to those who love these movies.

I have a couple of concerns about the series. The slaughter mixed with satire was almost overpowering spread out over two hours. We might see a better balance when we’re only watching the series one  hour at a time.

The series has yet to give us a single character we can root for. To be sure, there are degrees of unpleasantness among the players, but every one of them has committed an actual crime or covered up a crime. Even if it’s a hero who must seek redemption,I need at least one hero  to emerge from the pack.

Will I continue to watch this series? The show scored points with a final scene I didn’t see coming...and that doesn’t happen often with me. Plus...there’s always the chance there will be scenes of Curtis in enticing stages of undress. Yes, I know that sounds more than a little creepy, but my feelings for the actress are genuine. Back when Curtis was a product spokesperson, I would even watch her Activia commercials.

Okay...a lot creepy.

Limitless is based on a Bradley Cooper movie I never saw. Despite that, I decided to check out the pilot of the TV series. Here’s the premise:

Brian Finch [played by Jake McDorman] is a musician who has drifted through life without achieving any success. Given a mysterious drug by an old friend, he’s suddenly able to access 100% of his brain. When that friend is murdered, Brian becomes the leading suspect. He ends up working with the F.B.I. to find the real killer. Since the drug eventually kills all its users and since Brian seems immune to that serious side effect, the Bureau decided to keep him around as a special consultant. He works with Special Agent Rebecca Harris, who is played by the very special Jennifer Carpenter. I love this actress, so this strikes me as excellent casting.

What I like about the series is Brian’s obvious love for his family and his eagerness to do good things to help people. Like comics, I think TV could use more “white hat” heroes like Finch. What I’m not as keen on is that usual vast conspiracy behind this drug and that the late father of Agent Harris might have been part of it. We are a sad country filled with scary conspiracies in our fiction and in our political discourse. Paranoia is the new black.

Limitless has earned my interest for now. If future episodes have as much going for them as this pilot did, I’ll be a regular viewer.

The Muppets is the newest TV show starring the beloved characters created by Jim Henson. The series is a behind the scenes look at a late night talk show starring Miss Piggy with Kermit as executive producer. It’s a more adult take on the former couple and the rest of the Muppet gang and, as such, it has generated its fair share of controversy...even beyond being deemed “perverted” by the moronic, math-challenged One Million Moms. A few thousand pseudo-Christian right-wing zealots do not a million make.

I understand the disappointment of the more reasonable Muppets fans who see the characters as strictly family fare. I think the series might be a more natural fit for HBO or Netflix. Still, even though there are jokes about drug use and sex, I found the material mild compared to most sitcoms.

The Muppets is just that: a sitcom starring comical characters who aren’t actually human but, like the ducks in the comics stories of Carl Barks and Don Rosa, to name two great creators, are generally treated as human. Fozzy is a bear and a concern to the parents of his girlfriend, but, in the world of this series, he’s just another kind of human being.

I found The Muppets funny and, at times, bittersweet. It really is sad that Piggy and Kermit aren’t a couple. It’s sad Fozzy and human girlfriend Riki Lindhome are forced to cope with the intolerance of her parents. But, woven into and around the drama, are funny lines about the band’s drug use, a catty rivalry between Piggy and guest Elizabeth Banks and the comical disrespecting of Tom Bergeron from Dancing with the Stars. I thought the show was fun. I’ll continue watching it as long as it remains fun.

Rosewood was an impulse watch. I happened to be in our living room with nothing to do but try not to think about how much I hurt from my dental surgery and decided to give it a chance.

The title character is a brilliant independent pathologist-for-hire with a congenital heart condition that could take him at any time. But he clearly lives a productive life to the fullest, is driven to find answers and help people, and takes a liking to a Miami police detective. The odd couple solve crimes together.

I thought the pilot episode was well-written and well-acted. I love that the leads [Morris Chestnut and Jaina Lee Ortiz] are people of color and thus more reflective of the United States as my country really is. Given my natural affinity for cop shows, I’m sticking with Rosewood to see how it develops.

The Simpsons received quite a bit of advance press for their season opener via their “leaked” storyline about Homer and Marge splitting up. That wasn’t exactly what happened in “Every Man's Dream,” but the episode was almost psychedelic in its shifting points of view. I found it amusing but uneven.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine launched its third season with a literal bang as detectives Peralta and Santiago finally gave in to their attraction for one another. It’s a heartwarming pairing and I hope the series keeps it going. There were other laughs from Captain Holt trying to endure the machinations of arch-enemy Madeline Wuntch and still more laughs from the precinct’s new captain. This is a well-acted ensemble show that makes me laugh week after week.

Look for more TV talk later in the week. I’ll be back soon with some other stuff. Probably comics, maybe politics, definitely not Cleveland baseball or football. I’m already in enough pain from my dental work.
© 2015 Tony Isabella


  1. I found the first episode of SCREAM QUEENS somewhat amusing, but it's hard to like a show with so many unlikable characters. I realize that is the point, but we've seen this all the SCREAM and SCARY MOVIE franchises. Really nothing new.

  2. Watched 1/2 of the Muppets' opener on Hulu. Meh. Couldn't finish it because it's just un-Muppet (which is the point). One Million Moms is a branch of the American Family Association, based in Elvis' birthplace of Tupelo, MS, which means they're from the Bible Belt, and they don't get the point of the parody.

    I will have to check out Scream Queens eventually. Like you, I didn't see Limitless in the theatres, and have little inclination to watch the TV version. Luckily, Flash & iZombie start their new seasons next week.