Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #27



5760Cleverman, airing on Sundance Channel Wednesdays at 10PM (EDT), takes place in a slightly futuristic, slightly alternate Australia where another group of humans, the “Hairies,” emerges from the outback and are discriminated against by the government. These people are covered in fur, are much stronger than the average person and because of this have to live in ghettos away from regular Aussies.

Regular humans feel threatened by the “Hairies” because — well I’m not sure? Because they’re stronger? Because they’re covered in hair? Because they kill when threatened? Otherwise they seem pretty normal to me so I don’t totally get this.

I feel like if I lived in Australia and were familiar with their culture Cleverman would make more sense to me. I was never sure if the “Hairies” were supposed to be stand-ins for how the Aborigines were (are?) treated in Australia or something else. But some of the main characters of Cleverman are Aborigines, so I suppose not. And some of the characters, the “Cleverman” actually, can summon monsters up from the sea and reattach severed fingers— which maybe in their culture is something they can do?

Not being Australian and not understanding the underlying culture I was totally lost in most of Cleverman. The series looks nice and is well-written, it’s just so specific to people living in Australasia I don’t think outsiders will have a hard time connecting with the show.

Grade: No ordinary man can judge the Cleverman

Feed the Beast

Jim Sturgess and David Schwimmer in Feed the Beast

Jim Sturgess and David Schwimmer in Feed the Beast

The new series Feed the Beast premiered on AMC last Sunday, with a second episode airing Tuesday night where the show will regularly air.

Feed the Beast is about two friends and restauranteurs Tommy Moran (David Schwimmer) and Dion Patras (Jim Sturgess) who’s lives fell apart one year ago. Tommy’s wife was killed in a car accident which sent Tommy and his son’s lives spiraling out of control and then Dion was sent to prison for burning down the restaurant both worked at. Now, out on parole and owing $600,000 to the mob for the fire, Dion wants to open a new restaurant with Tommy that they, along with Tommy’s wife, were planning before everything fell apart.

Feed the Beast has an interesting concept but it’s got a few things going against it. First, it seems like everyone in the cast from Tommy to Dion to Tommy’s father Aiden (the wonderful John Doman from The Wire) is damaged in some way. Tommy started drinking too much after his wife’s death and has become an alcoholic. Dion is addicted to cocaine. Aiden is a racist. Tommy’s son TJ (Elijah Jacob) was so scarred after his mother’s death that he stopped talking…

In a world where most people are pretty good at hiding their pain and sins from outsiders, it seems as if everyone in Feed the Beast wears their pain and sins proudly on their shoulders.

Also, there was way too much going on in the first episode. There’s Tommy dealing with his son acting out at school. Tommy’s alcoholism. Tommy dealing with his wife’s death. Tommy meeting a woman at a grief counseling session. Dion’s drug addiction. Dion being threatened by a mobster who pulls other’s teeth when he doesn’t get what he wants that would seem more at home in Daredevil than Feed the Beast. Dion wanting to flee to France. Dion wanting to open a new restaurant to clear his name with the mob. And that’s just what I can remember in a jam packed first episode.

It seems like rather than taking the simple approach here the creators of Feed the Beast decided instead to throw every story idea they had for the season into the first episode.

The second episode does back off of this jam-packedness somewhat, but there’s still a ton going on and probably three too many characters for a show like Feed the Beast to be able to realistically support on a weekly basis. Still, I enjoyed the show and am interested to see where it goes this season.

Grade: B

Animal Kingdom

MV5BMTQ4MjU4MDU0M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzU5NzU5ODE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1499,1000_AL_Based off an Australian movie of the same name, the new series Animal Kingdom is set to start airing this Tuesday at 9PM (EDT) on TNT.

If I were to use one word to describe the Aussie film that word would be “brutal.” In the movie, teen Josh “J” (James Frecheville) moves in with his grandmother (Jacki Weaver) and his four adult uncles after his mother dies of an overdose. But while J’s home life might have not been ideal, life at grandma’s is dangerous with the family business being bank robbery and the local police having a tendency of shooting first and asking questions later when they find a suspected robber.

After the police murder one of the uncles the others kill two cops in revenge. Things really get bad when psychotic uncle (Ben Mendelsohn) realizes that the only person tying the family to the murders is J, and if he and his girlfriend disappear they’d be nothing liking them to the killings.

The crimes of Animal Kingdom aren’t pretty or cool looking. They’re dark and disturbing and I’m not sure how that would translate to TNT’s version of Animal Kingdom, the super-sized first episode of which is currently available to view on iTunes with new episodes airing Tuesdays.

In the first episode, much of the core of the movie from the grandma, now played by Ellen Barkin, to J (Finn Cole) to the family business being robbery remains intact. What’s different here is that much of the brutality of the movie has been replaced with action. In fact, TNT describes the series as being “adrenaline-charged.” It’s not a totally negative change since I’m not sure how a long running TV version of Animal Kingdom could do the things that are done in the movie version and sustain any sort of long-term story that doesn’t involve most of the main characters dead or in jail in a season or two.

To me, this first episode of Animal Kingdom felt like parts of the movie Animal Kingdom — the dysfunctional nature of the family, the family business… — mixed with parts of the movie The Town (also from 2010). More specifically; the spectacular nature of the robberies in The Town and some of the character dynamics of the robbers there too are mixed into the TV version of Animal Kingdom.

That being said, I actually enjoyed the TV version of Animal Kingdom a great deal. My worry about the show is that it’s going to turn into something like Sons of Anarchy-lite where it’s a lot about these outsiders doing these spectacular crimes on a weekly basis. And since much of the plot of the first episode came directly from the movie, it’s tough right now to see where the series is headed. I guess we’ll have to wait for the second episode and beyond after the creators of the TV version of Animal Kingdom run out of story from the film and have to start coming up with their own plot.

Grade: B+


img_25333_001_1082_r_0The TBS series Wrecked premiers this Tuesday at 10PM (EDT) and, like with Animal Kingdom, the first episode is available for viewing on iTunes.

If the first episode of Animal Kingdom was quite good, then the first episode of Wrecked was mostly dreadful. This spoof of the ABC series Lost with castaways stuck on a deserted island after a plane crash comes off as being a few years too late since Lost has been off the air for six years and audiences have moved onto new and different things.

Even so, Wrecked might be interesting if the comedy in the series weren’t so broad with almost every joke being delivered at a LOUD VOLUME to connote, I guess, WHAT I’M SAYING HERE IS A JOKE! Which is extremely annoying to say the least. It doesn’t help matters that it seems like every character on the island is cribbed from other characters from other series don’t feel realistic in the least. These characters feel like they were ordered out of a comedy catalog rather than having any traces of humanity.

Wrecked, like the series Angie Tribeca, seems like they were originally developed for Adult Swim yet somehow ended up on TBS. Which makes me wonder if this is a new model for TBS to try and get in on a younger demographic of viewer, moving away from being known as the place to see re-runs of Family Guy and Big Bang Theory? Which is fine when they develop a show like Angie Tribeca that’s quite good. But isn’t so great when a real stinker like Wrecked gets through.

Grade: D

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This week in pop-culture history

  • 1973: Battle for the Planet of the Apes opens
  • 1983: Superman III premiers
  • 1987: Predator opens in theaters
  • 1990: Gremlins 2: The New Batch is released
  • 2008: The Incredible Hulk premiers in theaters