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What happened to Mr. Robot?

July 31, 2016
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Just like everyone else, I was enamored with the first season of Mr. Robot. Elliot Alderson, the unstable, ingenious, drug-addicted web hacker who dropped Evil Corp to its knees, captivated a nation and became the de facto hero of a debt-free nation. Elliot (and his Mr. Robot alter ego), along with his merry band of fsociety misfits, took down the world’s biggest capitalist conglomerate while capturing the attention of the FBI, making an enemy of an economic powerhouse, and dancing with a mercenary hacker group known as the Dark Army.

But….is that what really happened? Maybe…the truth is that season two has left too much up to the imagination. It’s already 4 episodes in and I’m more confused now than ever before. Some could say that’s the sign a good television show, where it gives you just enough so you keep coming back for more, but not enough to understand anything! Me — I’m on the fence about it! I loved season one so much that I’ll invest myself for season two even though the episodes are pretty boring and uncover things at an alarmingly slow rate!

Now, for those of you who are in the hacking world, or know a little bit about it, you’ll know that Mr. Robot brings to the silver screen a pretty realistic and accurate view of hacking. To read more about that, I’ll transfer you to a post here – The Unusually Accurate Portrait of Hacking on USA’s Mr. Robot — check it out, cool read! But I’m not here to talk about its accuracy, I’m here to ask what happened to it. What happened to Mr. Robot? Are people liking this second season, or are they hating it? Again, I’m on the fence, either it’s the worst follow up season to an award winning first one, or it’s the most brilliant sequel season to have ever graced television history. I’ve got thoughts on that later!

But before that, let’s recap season one of Mr. Robot…

Okay, as we all know, season one was just phenomenal. It. Was. Awesome. Period. It takes place in probably the greatest city on earth, NYC, and is riddled with shady characters, uncovered truths, and accurate hacking lingo, which just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Each episode is titled like a computer format file: eps1.0_hellofriend.mov, eps1.1_ones-and-zer0es.mpeg, eps1.2_d3bug.mkv, etc. The first episode we are introduced to Elliot, who’s the main protagonist. He’s a weirdo too, but hey, aren’t most hackers? He works for a company called All-Safe that does cyber-security for the biggest conglomerate in the world, Evil Corporation. More about them later!

elliot-alderson
Elliot in his ominous hoodie

Elliot also hacks people’s social media, email, and personal accounts, but he does it to “get close to them” like he eventually tells his therapist. But he also does it to take down rotten m*the#[email protected]!! like the one at the end of episode one who distributed child porn.

During the first few episodes, we are introduced to the merry band of eccentric outsiders that make up fsociety including:

  • Darlene – Elliot’s sister (that we don’t find out about until close to the end of the season when Elliot forgets she’s his sister and tries to kiss her, ewww!), she’s the elusive, dark, part-goth hacker who is kinda like Elliot’s right hand and has a strange connection with the unscrupulous Dark Army.
  • Romero – the weed-smoking/dealing, wily hacker who isn’t completely sure of Elliot.
  • Mobley – a DJ, a hacker, tech support for E. Corp, a trusted internet source who can post anything to Wikipedia, and a loyal soldier to the cause of taking E. Corp down!
  • Trenton – the Persian hacker who doesn’t say much, but believes in what fsociety is doing.
  • Mr. Robot – aha! The leader of fsociety, and Elliot’s alter-ego. But we don’t find this out until the second or third to last episode of the season. Wonderfully played by Christian Slater.

Now remember, in season one, Elliot was being recruited by fsociety. We don’t find out until later that he is the leader of fsociety. And that truth, that Elliot is kinda crazy, calls into question if any of it was really real? I mean, did they even take down Evil Corp.? I’m getting ahead of myself.

We meet some other people in the first season too:

  • Angela – Elliot’s childhood friend and co-worker, she got Elliot the job at All-Safe.
  • Terry Colby – the CTO of E. Corp. who gets set up for hacking into E. Corp’s system
  • Tyrell Wellick – The interim CTO after Colby gets arrested, and a hacker as well (or a guy who really knows his computers). When he meets Elliot he tells him he uses a “Linux box” which Elliot admires.
  • Gideon Goddard – Elliot’s boss at All-Safe
  • Shayla – Elliot’s neighbor and drug-dealer (sort of), they also end up having a relationship.
  • Cisco – Darlene’s ex-boyfriend and kind of a liaison between fsociety and the Dark Army.
  • Philip Price – the CEO of E. Corp. He’s super cryptic and really quite creepy. We see a lot more of him in season two.
  • Krista – Elliot’s shrink who is super nice and mild mannered. Elliot hacks her life and ends a relationship (in an illegal way) that could’ve been really devastating for Krista. She does not turn Elliot in to the authorities.

Each and every episode in season one unveils another piece to the puzzle. Another progression in the plot to take down a corporate giant. Another cog in the wheel that keeps the story spinning. Throughout the unfolding season one, there are so many surprises that keep you mystified yet makes you feel like you’re getting closer to the truth.

Crazy (and awesome) surprises in season one (if you haven’t watched season one and plan to, stop reading – NOW!!):

  1. Elliot meets the hacker group fsociety through a rudimentary hack of All-Safe systems to infiltrate E. Corp. and ends up leaving the file where it’s found (which fsociety asks him to do).
  2. Elliot meets Shayla’s connect and supplier of morphine, Fernando Vera (he’s a big asshat!), who abuses Shayla, so Elliot puts a stop to that by alerting the cops to his stash of drugs and his online social selling of them.
  3. Tyrell Wellick enjoys beating up homeless guys, but at least he pays them to do so — weird, man!
  4. Terry Colby covered up a toxic waste leak that gave hundreds of people leukemia including Elliot’s father and Angela’s mother, so that’s how we understand their tight connection.
  5. Angela infects All-Safe’s systems using her infidelious (not sure if that’s a word) boyfriend’s computer. His name is Ollie and he’s not really important. He’s an asshat too!
  6. Vera kidnaps and subsequently kills Shayla to get Elliot to hack him out of prison because someone puts a “hit” out on Vera. Which ultimately ends up being his own brother (Isaac Vera) who wants Vera dead. Vera kills his brother and escapes. My guess is that we haven’t seen the last of Fernando.
  7. Tyrell Wellick kills the wife of Scott Knowles (the new CTO of Evil Corp chosen for the position instead of Wellick) and eventually becomes a suspect in that murder, rightfully so.
  8. Angela does some shady shit to get Terry Colby to confess that E. Corp covered up the toxic waste leak. She essentially sells her soul to the devil (Evil Corp) to get a PR job there, which in season two, she excels at. I definitely want to know where this is going.
  9. Gideon (Elliot and Angela’s boss) is suspicious about the story Elliot spun about the hack on Evil Corp and turns the hacked server into a honeypot. Typically, a honeypot is a mechanism set in place to detect some sort of behavior or action. In this case, Elliot did not realize that Gideon was on to him and that kinda screwed up the relationship with the Dark Army.
  10. Elliot fixes the relationship with the Dark Army by meeting with Whiterose, a transgender woman who is obsessed with time, she allocates one minute for Elliot’s meeting and he pleads his case convincing her to resume the aid of the hack.
  11. Elliot Alderson is Mr. Robot, who is the persona of his dead father, but I mentioned this already! Darlene is Elliot’s sister.
  12. Tyrell Wellick (oh and I forgot to mention his wife is into BDSM, she scares me!!) ends up getting fired from E. Corp but starts to work with Elliot to take them down.
  13. Elliot blacks out for 3 days and ends up waking up in Wellick’s SUV. He has no memory of the hack on Evil Corp., which apparently succeeded throwing the world into chaos. And Tyrell Wellick is no where to be found!
  14. The final scene in the final episode in season one shows Elliot opening the door after someone knocks on it, but we never see the visitor. As the credits roll, we see Whiterose dressed as a man talking with Philip Price (E. Corp’s CEO) about the hack – very interested in this!!

As you can see, there were many surprises and they were spaced out beautifully in the first season. Each episode gave you answers, but also left more questions. It was really awesome to see the hack succeed. Now onto season two!

Season Two of Mr. Robot…does it make any sense?

Season two opened with an extended episode (or two episodes put together). And Elliot is out of the hacking game, he’s gone analog! He purposely took himself out of the game because when he’s not his alter-ego, he cares about the world and what happens to it. He doesn’t want to do bad (or what heElliot and Mr. Robot playing chessperceives as bad, because let’s face it, if the credit card companies got taken to their knees, it wouldn’t be horrible. Well, I’m not entirely sure about that!) things, and thinks that Mr. Robot is ruining his life and the life of others.

Elliot moves in with his mother, where there is no internet, no computers, nothing he could get his hands on except for notebooks that he writes in constantly. He is still seeing Krista, his mild mannered shrink, and is telling her the truth about what he feels, thinks, and sees. She is trying to help him through it. But we also see a few new players come in in season two:

  • Leon – what appears to be Elliot’s best friend from the neighborhood. Leon just discovered Seinfeld and likes to talk about it a lot to Elliot.
  • Ray – (played by the funny Craig Robinson, who isn’t that funny in this!) is a person from the neighborhood who recruits Elliot to do a migration of his website. We don’t know what type of a website Ray has, but it’s definitely shady because he employs some ruffian tactics with his previous web developer and has a tough-looking thug accompany Elliot while he’s doing the migration.
  • Dominique – the pretty, ambitious, young, and feisty FBI agent who is hot on the trail of fsociety because of her investigation into the E. Corp hack.
  • Elliot’s mother – she just sits on the couch and watches TV. But Elliot tells us she’s “tough.”
  • Susan Jacobs – E. Corp’s head council, she’s known as the “Madame Executioner” because she’s stops lawsuits from impacting Evil Corp and in a lot of those lawsuits people died.

I didn’t really like the first episode of Mr. Robot’s season two. Why? Because it didn’t really answer any questions. But apparently my opinion doesn’t really matter because based on this first episode, season two received critical acclaim. Huh? Really? Let’s recap the two-part episode one of season two.

Episodes 1& 2 of Mr. Robot’s Season Two…

Tyrell Wellick records an fsociety video that’s sent out to the world taking credit for the E. Corp hack. Tyrell Wellick has disappeared. Elliot maintains a really boring routine living at his mother’s house, he gets up every morning, has lunch with Leon, visits with his church group, then watches the basketball games at the neighborhood courts. He is essentially trying to beat his own mind, or Mr. Robot, from rearing his ugly head and doing anymore damage than he already has. So he doesn’t go near computers and writes everything down in his journals.

fsociety hacks into Susan Jacobs smart home, where they turn her music up, turn her temperature down, scold her with hot water in the shower, etc. She ends up leaving her posh New York house and goes to her other place outside the city. fsociety take up residence and make her smart home their temporary headquarters. They then execute a hack on E. Corp’s bank and ransom their money, making Scott Knowles burn 5.9 million dollars in the middle of Central Park donning an fsociety mask. 5/9 is significant because May 9th is when the E. Corp hack was executed.

Angela continues to climb up the company ladder at E. Corp by not making nice with her co-workers. She Angela at E. Corp officesis shrewd and different than she was in season one. She talks with news outlets demanding certian interview questions not be asked and the like. It also appears like she’s abandoned the lawsuit she really wanted to go after in season one.

Gideon meets with Elliot, he tells him that he needs to “do the right thing” and tell the FBI what he knows. Gideon has been cooperating with the Feds and Agent Dominique. While Gideon is at a bar, he meets a guy and they make small talk for a few minutes. Then the guy takes out a gun and shoots Gideon in the throat, killing him! The last scene in the two-part series opener is the phone ringing and Elliot picking it up. The voice on the other end of the line says “Bon-sour, Elliot” and is clearly Tyrell Wellick’s voice.

I know, right?!? WTF is going on???

The next two episodes are even more confusing. We find out the Romero is dead, it looks like someone shot him in the face. Did Elliot kill Romero, remember when Mr. Robot pointed a gun a Romero? Well…that was actually Elliot doing that! Dominque also finds fsociety’s arcade headquarters, that they threw a party at to cover their tracks. But the FBI finds a shell casing!

We see that Whiterose and Philip Price are clearly working together, Whiterose telling Price to “stay on schedule” – whatever that means. We see more of Joanna Wellick, Tyrell’s BDSM wife, who is trying to get Tyrell’s severance pay from Scott Knowles, who won’t pay up because of his grief over his wife’sWhiterose, Mr. Robot murder that really looks more like vengeance and not grief.

We have no idea what’s going on in Elliot’s head. He is kidnapped by government looking agents in black Suburbans that take him to a warehouse and shove wet sand down his throat. But it’s actually all in his mind and Mr. Robot is trying to get him to throw up the Adderall pills that he took that ultimately help him ignore Mr. Robot’s tempting pleas to get back on a computer.

Ray is super shady and is trying to recruit Elliot, but we’re not sure what type of business he’s in. We don’t know how Leon and Elliot met, but they are best of friends (if Elliot could really have friends) and they hang out pretty much all the time. Mobley finds Romero’s body and thinks it’s the Dark Army hunting fsociety down, so he (along with Trenton) start to doubt Elliot and also Darlene.

Philip Price invites Angela to dinner with a few of E. Corp’s executives. At the end of that dinner, Price gives Angela a disc that contains incriminating evidence on the two execs they went to dinner with and implicates them in the toxic waste leak coverup. Elliot and Mr. Robot play chess for the ultimate price of Elliot’s mind and control, nobody wins! But Elliot finally gets back on a computer and helps Ray, only to find that he’s doing some shady stuff! Oh boy, here we go again!

Thoughts on Mr. Robot…

I’m not sure where this will lead. As seen in season one, there were so many twists and turns (in a good way) that really kept you guessing, but it also gave you something every episode. Season Two just seems to take. It doesn’t give you much of anything, but I’m still invested because I need to know what’s going on.

Evil Corp definitely doesn’t seem to be out of the game. And with fsociety needing new digs, they seem to be on the defensive. They really need to be on the offensive and continue to clobber Evil Corp. In the Evil Corp's logo - Mr. Robotfourth (last) episode, Elliot (in a flashback) said that the hard part would be after the attack. Not the attack itself, but the fallout. That fsociety would have to keep up the pressure. The only problem is that Elliot isn’t keeping up the pressure, Darlene is trying to do that. But as we all know, there is no better hacker than Elliot Alderson.

I think there was a turning point in the last (fourth) episode of season two. Elliot finally got back on a computer. That’s what this season needs—Elliot online!!!!! Because let’s face it, without Elliot doing what he does best (hack), the balance wouldn’t work. We need Elliot online to get this season going again. Elliot needs to let Mr. Robot take control, and conquer the big bad wolf that is Evil Corp. That’s the only way I see this show getting to where it needs to go. But the writers might have different plans.

I know this — if Elliot doesn’t get hacking again soon. People are going to get hurt, more so than the ones who’ve already been hurt. People are going to get caught too! But, I guess you could say that if Elliot gets back to hacking as well.

Again, I’m not sure where this season is going, but I want to tell Elliot one thing: Elliot, for the sake of your viewers, get yourself up and get yourself together, it’s time to hack the world!

Tarantino’s Film Ride

July 11, 2016
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I just finished watching The Hateful Eight and I had to write this post. I was NOT a fan of The Hateful Eight, it didn’t quite hit me like Inglorious Basterds or Jackie Brown did. Let me start by saying I think Quentin Tarantino writes and directs some really phenomenal movies! They’re hip and non-linear, a little violent and outrageous, and just plain fun to watch. Tarantino has directed 8 films (which, a few he also wrote, and acted in), they are the following in chronological (or linear, hehe!) order:

  1. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
  2. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  3. Jackie Brown (1997)
  4. Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)
  5. Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)
  6. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
  7. Django Unchained (2012)
  8. The Hateful Eight (2015)

Now, just so you know, Tarantino has written and acted in other films. True Romance being one of my favorite Tarantino-penned films, but also Four Rooms and Dusk til Dawn.

Before I get in to my top 3 Tarantino films, I’d like to talk a little about his style over all. He’s definitely over-the-top, but I find most of the time, it’s over the top in a good way. Either with the ultra-violence where you know a head would never explode like that or super long fight scenes where there’s no way any one could endure for that long, Tarantino’s films are novel, to say the least.

He also surrounds himself with a lot of controversy, mainly around a certain racial slur. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the N* word used more times than in his films Jackie Brown and Django Unchained. He’s gotten a lot of criticism from African-American film directed Spike Lee, who believes that Tarantino is infatuated with the N* word. Honestly, I think he might be too. But no matter how you look at it, Quentin Tarantino’s films are pretty damn good!

Top 3 Tarantino Films

 

Jackie Brown pointing a gun

 

  1. Jackie Brown: I consider this film Tarantino’s sleeper film. It was an homage to 70’s blaxploitation movies like Foxy Brown and Shaft. The movie follows Jackie Brown (played by Pam Grier in a revival of her old roles of the 70’s), an airplane attendant who smuggles money for a man named Ordell (played by the charismatic and frightening Samuel L. Jackson), he’s a gun-runner. But Jackie gets picked up by the feds while smuggling in some money and cocaine, she gets arrested, and Ordell is afraid she might “roll” on him. He bails her out of jail using Max Cherry, a bail bondsman, who picks up Jackie and starts to fall in love with her. Jackie, being the smart woman that she is, devises a plan to double-cross Ordell, get the charges against her dropped, and keep most of the money for herself. Spoiler alert — she does just that! Ultimately this movie is about romance, a romance that was lost between Jackie and Max Cherry. But it’s also about a strong woman, who against all odds comes out on top, and finally gets the life she deserves. Jackie Brown is number 3 on my list of Tarantino films, if you haven’t seen it, definitely check it out!
  2. Pulp Fiction: Could you not see this one coming? Pulp Fiction gets a lot of praise and I’m about to give it some more. It’s one of those non-linear movies that Tarantino is known for. It follows a few different stories that ultimately intertwine in the end. Wikipedia calls it a “neo-noir crime black comedy” — I call it awesomeness wrapped up in 154 minutes. The opening Vincent Vega and Jules in Pulp Fictionscene to this movie is a couple (played by Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer) sitting in a cafe who decide to stick up the joint and rob everyone in it (the film cuts out, but it eventually cycles back to it). Then the film introduces Vincent Vega and Jules (two of Marsellus Wallace’s hitmen) who are sent to retrieve a briefcase. There’s an iconic scene where Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Jules, recites a bible verse then shoots a guy. They get the briefcase, but (and this is a recurring theme) no one knows what the briefcase holds. Every time someone opens it, there’s this gold-ish, red hue that illuminates from the briefcase. There’s been lots of speculation as to what’s in the briefcase, but you never really find out. Butch, a boxer, then meets with Marsellus, who is an L.A. gangster. Butch is told to take a dive in the upcoming fight, but ends up double-crossing the most dangerous gangster in Los Angeles. He goes on the run and the two hitmen are sent after him. Butch ends up killing Vincent Vega, who was the root cause of Marsellus’s wife overdosing on heroin. Vincent works with Jules and while they killed the man who stole the briefcase, they were also shot at several times but with every single bullet missing them, this makes Jules have an epiphany and he vows to leave the gangster lifestyle. The two hitmen end up in the diner while the couple at the beginning of the movie are robbing it. Jules let the couple go free, but not without retrieving his wallet that says “bad mother*cker” on it. I haven’t even gotten into talking about The Wolf, or Vincent and Mia winning the dance competition, or the gimp!! This movie is an all around adventure, and one that will most likely stand the test of time!
  3. Inglourious Basterds: That’s right! This is my favorite Tarantino film, it’s just really really well done. It’s well written and well-acted. This movie is about World War II, and a group of Jewish-American soldiers who travel light and kill any Nazi they see. They’re lead by the all-wise Aldo “The Apache” Raine (played by Brad Pitt), he manages this merry band of Nazi-killing troopers into enemy territory to hopefully end the war. The opening scene in this movie gets you right from Inglourious Basterds holding a knifethe beginning. There’s a man chopping wood at a tiny little farmhouse somewhere in rural France. Nazi jeeps are seen coming up the road and he tells his daughters to go inside. Then we meet Hans Landa (played by Christoph Waltz – he’s amazing!!), the Jew Hunter, who knows that the man chopping wood is hiding a family of Jews under the floorboards of his house. He orders SS soldiers to shoot them, but Shoshanna, the youngest family member, gets away. Years later (and the war is in full force), Shoshanna owns a movie theater where high up people in the Third Reich want to view a movie that depicts the Germans in a good light and killing a bunch of Americans. She starts to devise a plan to kill all the high-members of the Third Reich. Ultimately, this movie is not even close to being accurate surrounding the events of World War II, but it is quite entertaining. It’s a long movie, but there is excitement at every turn. The Germans have given the Basterds nicknames and there’s a violent scene where the Bear Jew beats a German with a baseball bat. Hans Landa strangles a well-known German actress for helping the Americans, and then Aldo carves a swastika into Hans Landa’s head (the end scene), it’s a great scene! In the end, the movie theater gets burned to a crisp along with all the top members of the Nazi party (they make great villains!) This movie is an up and down ride from beginning to end and Hugo Stiglitz is awesome!

Tarantino makes some really unique movies. I know not everyone likes his style of film, but I find them refreshing, fun, and edge of your seat good! However, I did NOT like The Hateful Eight, that’s originally why I decided to write this post. It’s in non-linear fashion, but I didn’t think the story line was that great and the use of violence seemed to be there because it could, not because it added to the movie. Of course, I won’t let one movie deter me from watching more of his films, I’ll continue being a Quentin Tarantino fan.

Top TV Shows Ever!

June 17, 2016
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And the top T.V. shows list continues…

Only this time, it’s the top tv shows ever, of all time! I know, I know..how can you really tell what the greatest tv shows of all time are? Well…I’ll start by saying this… these TV shows are the ones I love the most and have watched them over and over again.

So, a few guidelines for this:

  • The TV shows have to be over, that means no more episodes to come, otherwise it could end up sucking well after this post is already written
  • There will be no sitcoms in this list, not to say there might not be comedy (actually there probably won’t be), but no sitcoms
  • This can be both cable network TV shows and premium channel TV shows, obviously channels like HBO and Showtime have some really kickass shows

That’s it for the guidelines. But one quick note, I couldn’t get the ordered list to go from 5 to 1, so it goes from 1 to 5, however, this is a countdown. Out of my top five favorite TV shows, number 1 here, is actually my number 5, get it? Ok, cool! Without further ado, let’s just get right to it.

The Top TV Shows Ever

  1. Sons of Anarchy (2008 – 2014): Hands down, the best motorcycle club TV show ever. I actually think this might be the only motorcycle club TV show ever, but I’d have to think about it. Well, there is American Chopper and CHiPs, but those don’t compare to the ultimate motorcycle club show. SOA was just awesome! It follows the lives of the men of SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Originals), yeah…it’s a mouthful. Sons of Anarchy Everything rotated around a little town called Charming (a fictional town located somewhere outside San Fransisco), it’s where SAMCRO was headquartered and their fearless leader, Jackson “Jax” Teller (well, not until season 5), took care of business. This show had just about every known criminal element in it: Motorcycle gangs, the IRA, the Mexican Drug Cartels, street gangs, white supremacists, and more! As the seasons progressed, we see a lot of crazy shit happen. The club kills its own president, Jax kills his own mother because she killed Jax’s wife. Oh, the bloodshed! But it was well done, and well worth the hours I spent watching it! Bravo, FX, bravo!
  2. Carnivàle (2003 – 2005): This is one you may not be familiar with because it was only on HBO for 2 short seasons, but man, it had quite the impact on me! Carnivàle takes place amidst the Great Carnivàle tv show Depression and Dust Bowl era. It follows one lone carnival team of misfits, weirdos, bearded ladies, psychics, and more (aptly named Carnivàle). In the first episode, the carnival stops in a town called Milfay where they pick up a young man named Ben Hawkins. Ben is a healer, but doesn’t understand the magnitude of his power until Management (the unknown entity that runs Carnivàle) tells him what’s he’s capable of. The other story line follows a preacher that has his own special powers, which are seeing people’s darkest secrets and bringing them to light. The ending episode brings these two stories together and culminates in a show down between good and evil! It’s just a super cool exploration of the powers that man could possess if they weren’t actually men, lol! And the fact that it’s got Carnies, and takes place during the Great Depression, just makes this show so much worth watching. It’s cool, creepy, suspenseful, and has an awesome ending!
  3. Dexter (2006 – 2013): Ah — the killer of killers, the man of all men, Dexter! Yeayah! This show was awesome for a couple of different reasons. 1). Dexter gets soooo much justice. I mean, he really does. He goes after the bad guys!! Granted, he’s a bad guy, but not really. 2). Dexter is a serial Dexter's face wrapped in plastic wrapkiller…with morals, he’s got a moral code. Granted, his father had to instill that into him over years and years of practice, but he finally got it! The show really does make you root for the serial killer. Dexter works as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department, where each season he encounters new enemies and serial killers. He also has to keep an eye out for his crazy sister, played by the lovely Jennifer Carpenter, and his girlfriend who has her own baggage as well as some kids that love Dexter. But every season brings another overarching story line, while Dexter still manages to kill on a weekly basis. Scouting out killers, he gets absolute proof of their ungodly deeds, and then wrapping them in plastic on a murder board where he usually yields a weapon that’s fitting for that particular prey. All in all, it’s provocatively suspenseful and wonderfully amusing. And I must say, I didn’t mind the ending. Everyone seems to have hated this ending, but not I! I actually thought it was rather befitting. Everyone thinks Dexter dies in the hurricane, but he fakes his own death and gets to continue doing what he does best…kill killers!
  4. Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013): Say my name…I’m the man that killed Gus Fring.  Walter White, the most deadliest chemist to ever have graced our living rooms! This TV show was almost number one, almost! When it first started, I didn’t know what to think of it. Here’s this high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with cancer, and he wants to leave his family with some cash before he dies. Well…we all know how that turned out. Instead of doing what he set out to do, Walter White became the meth kingpin of Albuquerque. Going up against mid level dealers first, then taking on the cartel themselves, and finally ending in a hail of gunfire with the white supremacist gang he hired for muscle. Wow, was this show just fantastic. The acting was phenomenal. WalterWhite&JessePinkmanBryan Cranston was superb in his role as the unassuming chemist morphing into the bad-ass Heisenberg. And then there was Aaron Paul, as Jesse Pinkman, so conflicted about his role in Walter White’s transformation and the bodies that start dropping, he starts using and abusing the drug they’re cooking up. The dynamic between the two of these characters really made for great television. I believe they both won some Emmy’s, as well they should! I’m not sure America will ever have a show quite like this for years, if not decades, to come.
  5. The Wire (2002 – 2008): And the number one spot goes to…..The Wire! If you haven’t seen this series, then you really have no idea what you are missing out on. This TV show is by far, hands down, the best television show ever written in the history of TV. I know, bold statement, right? Just watch the show. It’s an in-depth character study of the people and life on the streets of big bad Baltimore. the police of the tv show 'the wire'All 5 seasons follow the players of the West Baltimore drug trade and the street level dealers. But each season is a different aspect of Baltimore infrastructure; Season 1 is the police, season 2 is the Baltimore port (the docks), season 3 is the politics, season 4 the school system, and season 5 the newspaper. So each season we see new faces and new characters among the old ones. Major characters will die off halfway through a season, it’s crazy. But for the most part it shows the efforts the police take to stop the drug dealers and the discipline the dealers adhere to to not get caught. It’s written by a guy who used to work for the newspaper in Baltimore and report on the police beat. It’s such a realistic view of life in Baltimore (actually, I have no idea because I’ve only driven through Baltimore), but from what I’ve heard The Wire hits really close to home for Baltimore street life. The series even uses real reformed criminals as some of the characters. There are literally dozens and dozens of characters in this series to name. But here are a few: McNulty – the hard drinking and whoring police detective that constantly pisses off his bosses; Bubbles – the drug addicted street merchant with a heart of gold who runs around all day selling whatever he can to get his fix; Omar – actually based on a real person, is the homosexual stick-up artist who robs drug dealers and whistles “the cheese stands alone” as a mantra when he’s on the warpath; Herc and Carver – the two street busting cops who are stupid yet smart at the same time; Avon Barksdale – the drug kingpin of West Baltimore whothe drug dealers of the tv show 'the wire' gets sentenced to prison time in season one; Bodie – one of Barksdale’s soldiers; Ronnie – the pretty DA woman who litigates the drug dealers and falls in love with Lieutenant Daniels, the African-American rising star of the police force, but still has a little dirt on him; Kima Greggs – the lesbian cop who isn’t ready to settle down; Stringer Bell – the gentleman business gangster and the right hand man of Avon; Lester Freamon – the real police who got put into the “evidence unit” after he ran afoul of his bosses; Marlo Stanfield – the young kingpin who takes over the Barksdale territory; Snoop – the weirdest talking Baltimore woman gangster you’ll ever hear; and the list just goes on and on and on…. But as the seasons tick by, you’ll be surprised at every turn because those who deserve it in this show, rarely ever get it in the end, but isn’t that how life goes? I’ve watched this series a few times and every time it gets better and better! Oh, and Method Man’s in it and he plays a real prick….he gets it in the end!

I know what you are thinking, it must have taken me a long time to watch all those episodes, and you’re right, it did. But every hour sure was worth it! I live vicariously through the characters on these television shows as I imagine most any of us do. I hope you enjoyed the list I put together for you and I hope you agree with at least one of these TV shows being on your top 5 list of all time! Let me know!

Top 5 TV Show List – The 1990’s

April 27, 2016
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A new series on my favorite TV shows, aww yeah!!

*Disclaimer: Friends will not be on this list*

Hahahaha – I can’t stop laughing!! Why didn’t I think of this sooner! I’m not sure, I guess my first love has always been movies. What you can’t wrap up in an hour and a half, shouldn’t be filmed, ya know? Wrong!! There are some really great TV shows that I remember growing up. They carried me through my childhood, were my best friends, also my worst enemies, and at times my most non-judgmental babysitter. They are my top 5 TV shows – The 90’s – yup, that’s right!

MUPPET BABIES, 1984-1991
Muppet Babies!

But let me clarify – I’m going to call out TV shows between the years 1990 and 1999 with a grace period of 2 years – because let’s face it…if I do shows pre-1988, well…I was 7 (and younger), I’d most likely reference shows like Thundercats, He-man, and the Muppet Babies. Which, mind you, were all great TV shows, but maybe that’s a post for another day—my Top 5 TV Show List – The Toddler Years.

So, moving on to the list! And let me start by saying there were some real contenders here. My So-Called Life, Dawson’s Creek, The Wonder Years, Party of Five, Martin, Quantum Leap, the list goes on. I had to dig deep, way back to the fringes of my pop-cultured subconscious to come up with this list. Read on, my friends, and prosper. Let the journey begin.

Drum roll…..please….no particular order.

The Top 5 TV Shows:

The 1990’s
  1. Seinfeld (1989-1998): Could you not see this coming? Well, you should have! It’s a show about nothing, so how could it not be the best? Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer. Some of the most sincere people I ever had the pleasure of watching from the outside. I mean, these guys are really pitiful. They complain, they nitpick, they can’t settle down, they push kids and old ladies out of the way when the kitchen’s on fire. They are, in essence, all of us…..well, maybe that’s harsh. But they’re most of us, and man are they right on!seinfeld crewSo – here is the whole crew, in their own craziness, but by God, I love them. Each and everyone of them! For those of you who don’t know, they all end up in prison for one year for violating the Good Samaritan law (they taped a fat guy getting robbed by another guy with his hand in his pocket, while making fun of the guy who was getting robbed). Seinfeld, hands down, one of the best TV sitcoms ever!
  2. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1991 – 1995): ….In West Philadelphia, born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days…I pulled up to a house about 7 or 8 and I yelled to the cabbie “yo, holmes, smell ya later..” Man, I could sing that song all day. And I did…and it drove my mom crazy! But here was a show that caught me right between my adolescence and early teenage years. I wanted to be Will, I was in love with Hilary, Uncle Phil was cool in his own way. There were two Aunt Vivian’s, which I always thought was weird, but that wasn’t really the focal point, was it? No! It was Carlton, the whitest white person ever! Just kiddin’! Overall, this show was full of laughter and joy and comedy. But there were some serious ones. Like the episode when Will got shot and Carlton started packing, but it was still kinda funny! Also the episode where Will’s dad comes back and then doesn’t take him on the road trip. I think this has been classified as one of the saddest Fresh Prince scenes ever!
    But it was still a great TV show, great show! And I’ll still haven’t stopped singing the theme song!
  3. The X-Files (1993 – who knows): The X-FilesDo—doo—do—doo—do—dooo (*insert whistling). Scully and Mulder are so hot right now! Yeah, buddy! I always knew they would bring this show back. It was just too good to let go. Aliens, the supernatural, El Chupacabra, more aliens, weird stuff, more weird stuff, this show was (is) awesome! With a capital AWE!! On every episode some mystical, unexplainable thing would take place, it would usually start with a murder or an abduction – Fox would come up some crazy theory on how it actually happened (and he’d be right!), then Scully would defunct it with her own scientific train of thought (which would be bullshit!). Now, on top of the cool, mysterious episodes there was this overarching storyline of Mulder’s sister who was abducted by aliens, but….well now that I think of it, I can’t remember what happened. There was a guy who smoked a lot, I know that! Ah… who cares—cause it’s back now! Sah-weet!!!
  4. Home Improvement (1991 – 1999): Tim “The Toolman” Taylor and his grunt (Ooo, oough, ough) was the only reason to watch this show because, let’s face it, he was a man’s man! Tim has Tim "The Toolman" Taylor and Alhis own home improvement show within the sitcom. Kind of like a show within a show. He would try to fix things, break stuff, and then Al would come to the rescue! Al was cool too, but in a square kinda way. And Mr. Wilson (I think his name was Wilson Wilson) who would solve all of Tim’s problems, but we would never see his face! And there was Jill, played by Patricia Richardson, she was an intelligent woman and we have no idea what she was doing with Tim (well…that’s not true, he was the man and he had his own show called “Tool Time”). The show dealt with all types of issues especially surrounding the 3 children. I stopped watching this show like halfway through the series because I got to a point where I feel like I out grew it, but from about 91 to 95, I totally dug it! And I think it won some awards, like Golden Globes. I wonder where the kids are now!
  5. Ally McBeal (1997 – 2002): I watched this show in my high school years, there was something other worldly about this show. Something…special. It was out there, if you know what I mean? Ally, she was this young lawyer working at the Boston law firm, Cage and Fish. On her first day of work she finds out that she’ll be working with her ex-boyfriend (who she’s still in love with) and that he has a fiancé who is also a lawyer! Oh boy!! But there was weird stuff going on in this TV show like a unisex bathroom (weird, right?), Ally fainting when she met people, the fantasy sequences, and then the endless romance and dating of everyone in the firm, man!! But when I was 17, I loved it! Absolutely loved it, and then in walks Lucy Liu – and I still love her, to this very day (can’t get enough of Elementary). Ling Woo was apparently not only a breakout role for Liu, but it signified the beginning of a strong Asian woman in television, so that’s cool!Cast of Ally McBealEither way, the show was enjoyable to watch and different than anything I had seen on TV up until that point. If you haven’t had a chance to check this show out, see if Netflix is streaming it!

So, all in all, those are the top 5 TV shows I remember from the 90’s. You may not like anyone of these, and that’s okay! Some of you may like every single one of them, and that’s okay too! But, on another note, it was difficult to whittle down this list, so I think this will be a series like I said in the beginning. Greatest TV shows – The Toddler Years. Top TV shows on Netflix streaming, etc. – I can do a lot there!

Peace out!

 

 

My Movie List – The Top 5!

September 4, 2015
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I was coming in from New York last week with two of my co-workers when, unfortunately, the train we were on lost all electricity. We slowly glided into a small outdoor station somewhere in the middle of the Connecticut coastline and we had several hours to kill. So, what did we do? We decided to look at all these top movie lists – Top 100 Movies of All Time, Top 250 Movies, 100 Year List, and so on.

All the classics were up there like Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind. And those are all fine, I mean, they are great cinematic period pieces that will forever be loved and admired. There were other ones like E.T. The Extra-TerrestrialBack to the FutureJawsRaiders of the Lost Ark. And those are also very fine movies too! But I have a top 5 list of movies that I absolutely love. You might say that at the time I watched these following films I was either going through a certain phase, maybe feeling nostalgic, or just liked the story line, but I’ll explain my love for each of these movies and hopefully you’ll understand why they are my top 5. My co-workers did not agree with all of these films.

IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER

1. Big Trouble in Little China

This movie is awesomeness wrapped up in 1 hour and 39 minutes

Lopan

It starts with a truck driver named Jack Burton (good ole Jack Burton always says….) who is in San Francisco with his big rig. He’s playing dominoes (or the Chinese version of it) with a friend (Wang) of his who ends up losing and owing Jack a lot of money. But the friend has to pick up his fiancee at the airport and Jack, not trusting his friend, decides to go with him. Then chaos ensues.

It’s a great story about mystery, intrigue, black magic, good magic, good vs. evil, love, romance, and adventure.
Goons ThugsAfter Jack’s friend’s fiancee gets kidnapped at the airport by some hard looking (geeky looking) Asian gang member thugs, Jack and his friend run all over San Fran’s Chinatown looking for her.

They end up face to face with Lo Pan (that scary looking character above) and basically have a good vs. evil showdown with him, but in the end… SPOILER ALERT …they end up kicking his ass, getting the girls (there’s another one that comes into the picture) and surviving the mean streets (and underground) of Chinatown. In short, this movie is amazing.

It’s a combination of the great one-liners Kurt Russell’s character (Jack Burton) says, the seedy streets of San Francisco, and the fact that good over powers the evil (and unbeatable-but-actually-beatable) Lo Pan is just great. There’s also a scene where one of Lo Pan’s foot soldiers (aka one of the Three Storms) gets soooo angry, his head actually explodes, it’s awesome!

Two thumbs up, I’d give it three if I could!

 

2. The Goonies

Hey youu-ooh, guy-eyess!! Sloth was the man, Chunk was the man, Data was the man, Mouth – the man! Mikey and company brought us on a spectacular journey filled with pirate fights and adventurous nights.  Hands down one of the best PG movies of all time, The Goonies had it all.

Goonies

Mikey is an asthmatic kid who uses his inhaler all the time and can’t speak the right words (“I’m dictating myself…..You mean, dilute yourself, dummy. Yeah, that’s what I said”), but this was one hell of a cinematic experience. The Fratellis are a family of criminals and they own a small restaurant on the coast in a town called Astoria (maybe somewhere in Oregon). Mikey and his older brother, Brand, along with all of Mikey’s sidekicks (see above) are messing around in their attic when they find a treasure map. Mikey and friends tie Brand up while he’s working out (exercising) and take off in search of buried treasure. Goonies Fratellis

The Fratellis come in when the kids find their restaurant as the starting point for their adventure. In the basement they also find something else – Sloth, the horribly disfigured mammoth with a heart of gold! Yes sir, it’s a movie for all ages and all kinds! But the kids go on the hunt and they are also running away from the Fratellis, they need to find the treasure to save their neighborhood from being turned into a golf course and escape the clutches of the evil Fratelli family!

My love for this movie is twofold. One, it reminds me of my childhood. I used to play in the woods next to my house and I was always looking for adventures and buried treasure. Two, it’s a super feel good movie. It’s suspenseful, but it ends up just fine. People get what they deserve in this film and it’s just such a happy movie to watch. Well done Richard Donner, well done, sir!

 

3. The Last of the Mohicans

More on the dramatic side than the humorous, The Last of the Mohicans is a story about Nathaniel (aka Hawkeye) who’s the adopted son of Chingachgook, a Mohican Indian. Along with his son, Uncas, the trio roam the countryside hunting for food and living off the land. They are real men, with real survival skills, and they can fight!

But this movie is set around the French-Indian war of the 1750’s, and Hawkeye along with his adopted family get tangled up in Britain occupied New York, where the French were trying to reign in on the Brits’ territory (or tear-eh-tree, said really fast).

Hawkeye

 

What I can say about this movie is that Daniel Day-Lewis is phenomenal as Hawkeye, he gives an awesome portrayal of a man torn between his love for this new woman in his life and his life as a frontiersman (and also someone who doesn’t get involved with wars, especially other’s). As the story progresses, we realize that the trio has a huge bond between them, but Hawkeye finds true love with a colonel’s daughter and that women gets taken by bad Indians, the Mohawks – the mortal enemy of the Mohicans (I’m not sure if that last part is true). The Mohawks take the kidnapped girls (the one that Hawkeye fell in love with and her sister – who Uncas ends up falling for), and brings them to the sachem. The sachem is a very wise tribal member and tells the Mohawks what to do with the girls. Needless to say, Hawkeye and his band of brothers is not a fan of the outcome and goes out to rescue one sister.

There is this awesome fight scene with Magwa (a Mohawk Indian leader) killing Uncas. Chingachgook gives a serious ass-whooping and kills Magwa ever so splendidly. But not before one sister jumps off a cliff to her death. It’s a super sad movie, but well worth the watch if you have not seen it! Mohicans Running

I like this movie for a few different reasons. One is the cinematography, it’s awesome, these sweeping shots of the Black Mountains (I believe it was filmed in North Carolina, but I could be wrong), the cool forest shots and lake scenes. Two, is the music! This movies has got one of the awesomest scores I’ve ever heard. It’s theme music is really cool to listen to – violin and then symphony!! Three, is the chase scene when Hawkeye is running up the face of a steep rock – it’s just a really cool scene and any time I’m in the woods I look for a rock like this and run up it humming the theme song.

 

4. The Crow

Now this was a cool movie. Granted, it may have been better had Brandon Lee not been killed while filming this movie, but none-the-less, it was still superb! But the fact that he died was kind of odd because the movie is about a guy who dies then comes back to life as a crow. Hence, The Crow. Now, what made this movie really good are a few key scenes, they are pretty much all the revenge scenes.

Eric Draven - The Crow

To give you a little back story, Eric Draven (Brandon Lee’s character) was engaged to his very beautiful fiancee, but because they lived in an almost condemned apartment building and complained to management, they got “taught a lesson” by some Detroit thugs. “Does it get you sweaty” said by T-Bird, the leader of the gang, who rapes and beats Eric’s fiancee and kills Eric by throwing him out a window. This sets the scene for Eric Draven’s awesome revenge scenes.

AGAIN, SPOILER ALERT …The first to go is Tin-tin, a knife wielding maniac, who has a knife fight with Eric and comes out on the losing end, big time! “He put his knife’s in all his major organs in alphabetical order, man” another line said by T-Bird. Then comes Funboy, and Funboy likes to play with needles. Draven shoots him full of morphine and all Funboy can say as he slowly dies is “stop, you’re wasting it.” – Seriously!?! Then comes the best scene of all with the revenge on T-Bird. There’s a nice long intro to T-Bird flying off a dock into Lake Michigan in his T-Bird car. There’s a point where he realizes who Draven is and his acting is pure genius. “No, man, it’s you. It can’t be you. We put you threw a window, man. This is the really real world. There ain’t no coming back. THERE AIN’T NO COMING BACK. Abash the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is. How awful goodness is.” Check out this awesome seen here on YouTube. And then Eric lights the sketch of a crow on fire!!

I would have to say that I would watch this movie over and over again for this one scene, it’s that fantastic!

5. The Shawshank Redemption

And last, but certainly not least – The Shawshank Redemption. Originally, a short story by Stephen King called Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, because Andy Dufrane used Rita as his coverup to a long tunnel through the prison. This movie starts off with a falsely convicted man who ends up in prison being accused of murdering his wife and her lover. He did not do it, he was going to do it, but decided not to. He goes to prison and doesn’t make friends right away. The prison guards are tough, the warden is even tougher, not to mention “the sisters”, but Andy manages to find a friend in Red, one of the wise ones of the prison and a guy who knows how to get things.

Andy and Red

This is a story of redemption, obviously! But it’s also the story of one man’s struggle to make it and survive in an unlikely place and one that he never should have been privy to. It’s got some great scenes from Andy getting 3 beers a piece for everyone tarring the hot roof of a new prison building, to Andy getting a month in the hole for playing an Italian opera on the loud speaker to everyone in the yard. It’s a story of friendship and perseverance, survival and hope, and finally escape and peace!

I could sit and watch this movie over and over again too just for that one scene at the end where we realize he’s not dead in his cell, but that’s he’s actually escaped! I remember the feeling of adrenaline I had when the warden’s finger went through that poster of Rita Hayworth and he ripped it down with the pull of his arm. Thus exposing the tunnel and the secret Andy had been keeping from his prison buddies. A great feeling of pride and relief swept over me when I saw that scene.

Then the end of this movie made it the perfect ending. Red skips out on bail, finds a tin can in a hayfield and takes a bus to Mexico where he finds Andy working on a boat. I imagine the two best buds living out their glory days on the Pacific ocean and it’s magnificent! “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Honorable Mentions…

There were many films I did not include in this list but will say their names briefly. Glengarry Glen Ross, Goodfellas, PeeWee’s Big Adventure, In the Name of the Father, The Neverending Story, Office Space, The Town, Flatliners, Young Guns I & II, Real Genius, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, L.A. Confidential, Aliens, The Matrix, Carlito’s Way, Groundhog Day, man, I could go on and on!

I LOVE MOVIES!!

I hope you enjoyed the breakdown of my top 5 movies list, feel free to give me a shout and let me know if there is anything I missed!!