Mystery, law and Will Ferrell grace the screen this Spring

Reviews | The Channels Arts Pages

The Channels Staff

The Spoils of Babylon

Reviewed by David Ridings

Stars 5

 

 

Written by Matt Piedmont and co-directed by Andrew Steele, the IFC mini-series, “The Spoils of Babylon,” is a uniquely artistic parody of television itself.

What better way to introduce a mini-series than Will Ferrell playing an arrogant old, drunk, perverted writer?

In each pseudo introduction, Eric Jonrosh (Ferrell) sips multiple glasses of wine in an empty restaurant as he explains that he wrote, produced and directed the masterpiece soon to come.

Episode one tears open with a shootout.

After the guns blaze, you see a bloody man stumble away from a mansion as he flees in a toy car.

As he drives down the highway, the injured assailant throws back a bottle of painkillers and washes them down with a flask and bottle of wine.

Confidently dragging his cigarillo, the reckless man shows the viewer that they’re in for a strange ride.

Better buckle up.

“The Spoils of Babylon” is narrated by Devon Morehouse (Tobey Maguire) as he reminiscences the past events leading to the opening shooting.

Devon begins by telling the story of how he was given his last name after being adopted on a Texas roadside as a young boy by his stepfather to-be, Jonas Morehouse (Tim Robbins).

Jonas is an aspiring oil entrepreneur during the Great Depression who has an egotistical daughter named Cynthia (Kristen Wiig).

After striking oil just days before the bank foreclosed their land, the Morehouse family began to change as fortune and time affected them all.

Themes of good versus evil are deeply embedded in this divine comedy.

There are hints of Greek theatre which include incest, patricide and tragedy.

You will even get to see Maguire’s character strung out on heroin at the LSD Hotel.

The diverse cast includes: Jessica Alba, Haley Joel Osment, Val Kilmer and Michael Sheen, but it gets weird— there’s even a character played by a mannequin.

“The Spoils of Babylon” is a refreshingly creative mini- series with an amazing cast and anyone who likes satire will enjoy this one.

True Detective

Reviewed by Veronica Feyling

Stars 4

 

 

HBO has done it again. In this cunning crime fiction show, “True Detective,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, two dysfunctional Louisiana homicide detectives work together to catch what they believe to be a unique serial killer.

The writer does an excellent job of making the killer as peculiar and one-of-a-kind as possible – I mean come on, who puts deer antlers on a naked body?

Since its premier on HBO in January, it has reeled in great reviews. The show received an 88 percent positive review from critics on the ever so popular reviewing website “RottenTomatoes.” It’s safe to say that I am one of those positive reviewers.

McConaughey plays a very witty, estranged and mysterious detective named Rust Chole, while Harrelson portrays a clever, notable and by-the-book detective, Martin Hart in the series. The dynamic duo, create television harmony – even though the show is far from harmonizing.

McConaughey does an incredibly bizarre job portraying homicide detective Chole, who has some interesting ways of looking at things, giving his colleague Martin Hart a run for his money.

Harrelson performs with ease as Hart, who is a prominent detective that does his job well and helps raise a family at home with his wife Maggie. Chole on the other hand lost his daughter and with that lost his marriage years before.

As each episode continues to reveal more than meets the eye, I start to see the mystery of the serial killer unfold. This inventive, shrewd and nail-biting series has kept me on my feet – certainly wanting more.

“True Detective” can be found on the HBO network, or HBO GO. It is a highly recommended show for any person that likes crime, and drama series.

Rake

Reviewed by Giulia De Paoli

Stars 2,5

 

 

After Fox’s endless and international promotion of the show, the pilot episode of “Rake,” finally aired on January 23, 2014.

Already approaching the end of the third episode- each one almost a one-hour Odyssey- I snapped my laptop down.

Sorry show creator Peter Duncan, thumbs-down.

Duncan developed another superficial television show, shabbily gift-wrapped by a boring sense of humor.

The show’s plot wraps around the life of lawyer Keegan Deane, played by a lively Greg Kinnear. Keegan is an unreliable narcissist fond of gambling, booze and loose women. He always catches himself in some unthinkable troubles.

He is constantly in debt and residing as a permanent guest in his college friend’s house, who is married with family.

Keegan always manages to tick someone off.

At first glance, the character seems to be a hopeless loser, however he often ends up finding a way out from every bad situation. He hacks his way with a machete of lies, deceptions or mere strokes of luck. He is a dynamic and cheeky character, no doubt about it.

But what is the story behind Keegan’s chaotic world? What are the messages the creator is trying to send out through this new legal drama?

Aside from the tenacity of a rascal who barely works to sustain a decent life and who is engaged in some auto-destructive activities most of the time, I could not come up with anything positive.

“Rake” is another show for trash TV, aimed to please a bored audience for an hour a day and does not leave the public with anything inspiring.

In the era of massive television rubbish, I did not feel the need to have one more deficient television show.

Nowadays it is almost impossible to dethrone the magic formula of evil, sex and money from the screen. But if this is the formula that is supposed to gain my attention, my remote control screams revenge.

After all the promotion Fox set up for the show’s premiere, I expected something more refreshing and stimulating; something that made me impatiently wait to watch the next episodes.

If there is such a show out there, I feel personally guilty. The show is on the air because of me. Producers and media managers deal with the audience requests for entertainment, and if the public can feel satisfied only by watching lousy entertainment, the umpteenth media industry has responded to that for a matter of revenue.

Legend has it producers give the audience what it wants.

Well, I am tired of being part of the legend of trash.