Sneaky Pete (Season 2)

This review has a bit of spoilers to explain how I feel.

To be honest, I wasn’t too keen on the show for several episodes. The actors are all still great but it didn’t have the same chemistry. Pete and most of “Pete’s Family” were not in contact so we didn’t have the same relationship or interaction as the first season. The premise was a very slow version of Ocean’s 11 and they started introducing too many side characters. Then the introduction of real pete, real pete’s mom and a bunch of other things made this pretty hard to stay focused on for several more episodes.

That being said it was still enjoyable, Giovanni Ribisi makes the show work (along with Margo Martindale). They are great to watch. When they start interacting again things pick up speed and it ends up not being too bad this season. It is a bit of a drudge to push through, but once I was on the other side I don’t regret watching it. I just wished had not gone this direction.

Pros: The storytelling is good but what sells it is the acting by everyone involved. Mostly this rests on Giovani Ribisi and Margo Martindale, but everyone else does put in a bit for it.

Cons: Doesn’t have the same chemistry as the first season, without that chemistry this makes the show just “meh”.

Mad Dogs (Entire Series)

Mad Dogs was given a single season before Amazon decided to not renew. While I did like the show, it is probably for the best.

A pretty dark comedy that is following 4 forty-somethings who go down to Belize for a reunion that evolves into a nightmare of lies, deception, and murder. Based on a British show of the same name.

Overall the people were pretty good in it, Billy Zane (of a dozen movies including The Phantom) and Michael Imperioli (of Sopranos) were the ones I specifically recognized and were my favorite characters in the show. 

It was an entertaining show, each of the ten episodes they would make the absolute worst choice, people would die, strange people would wander into the show (one example, a little person dressed in a cat mask). Unlike a lot of other shows like this, it didn’t let itself get too dark either.

The biggest problem was ten episodes was too long for the situation. The original British show (which I hear one of the other actors in this Mad Dogs played the Billy Zane part in the original) was four episodes the first season (and two additional seasons for a total of 10). Meaning this season was two and a half times longer then the British first season and had too much filler.

Pros: Funny and surprising regularly with decent acting.

Cons: The material isn’t enough for ten episodes, they should have cut it down a bit.

Maybe I will try the British version now.

Bosch (Season 3)

Bosch-Season-3The show surprised me again, it just got better.

Now don’t get me wrong, if you aren’t interested in a trope-y cop noire series, then you still don’t want to watch this. My complaints in the past though have been addressed in a few ways.

It isn’t just about Bosch anymore. He is still the main star, he will always be the main star, however we get to learn more about his partner, about the other cops and about Irving.

The plot isn’t just about his mother. Oh, it is about his mother, but there are so many other plots, relationships, and encounters that you don’t feel quite so overwhelmed by it. To be fair though, I really dislike his ex-wife’s plot involving working for the FBI. I could do without her completely, and definitely without it.

The show is very serialized, meaning the episodes bleed into each other. I know what happened in the season, but I would be hard pressed to point at the specific episode it happened in. The show is good at the long form of writing, but I am spoiled with most of my shows and sometimes wish there would be that “oh shit” episode.

Pros: The writing is getting better.

Cons: Repeat of season 2: Dear god can we stop with the murdered mother storyline?

I hear they are writing season 4. I am definitely in on it.

Bosch (Season 2)

It surprisingly got better.

If y0u are wanting big changes, you won’t find it here. If you want the acting and stories to get better and deeper then you do have it. Instead of a single individual, Bosch is investigating another case, lots of groups and a couple of relationships that intertwine those stories.

This time a pornographer, bad cops, the Armenian mob and an ex-wife that can’t stop getting in trouble add up to 10 episodes of a good police drama. I can’t say enough that I appreciate that the whole “thin blue line” thing isn’t necessarily a positive.

I also like how they have started wrapping the third season into the end of the second season. Although while I like his background, the murder of his mother was the impetus for Season 1, and evidently it will be the storyline for Season 3 and seriously could we stop with the murdered mother trope.

Pros: The story is better this season, the acting is still good.

Cons: Dear god can we stop with the murdered mother storyline?

Yes, I will watch season 3 now.


Bosch (Season 1)

Better than most police shows.

I will have to admit I was a little disappointed with the show. I had heard it was a great story, groundbreaking even. I wouldn’t say it was that good, and because of the hype I probably didn’t like it as much as I might have.

Titus Welliver though is a good actor, and he is what does propel the story. He did keep me interested during the slower parts of the story.

There is also a little bit of difference from the normal police procedural. Unlike shows like “Blue Blood” who are families of cops, and have no idea what it is like to not be a cop (because the writers are so far up the “blue line” ass they don’t know reality), this shows cops that are not up for being in the job and that Bosch himself will do the right thing. He doesn’t really pull the “think blue line” too much, and I did appreciate that.

Pros: Good acting overall, some interesting bits in the story.

Cons: Way overhyped. This was what made the negative issues that much larger.

It was good enough I will watch season 2.


Goliath (Season 1)

A good law procedural with my favorite subject… defense contractors. It lives up to the theme, David vs Goliath.

Billy Bob Thornton is back in this series as a washed up high powered lawyer. Once one of the leading lawyers in a large law firm that he helped create, he now drinks his troubles away and barely gets by. He picks up an accidental death case that reeks of fraud and conspiracy against a defense contractor.

The story is very well written and I think they did the right thing by running it only as an 8 episode season. It gave it enough time to tell a good story, but not drone on too far.

There was definitely a couple of “oh shit” moments, as it has action as well as legalese. In fact I would say it goes more with a layman’s view then trying to portray the intricacy of the law. It does this to great effect, keeping you interested.

Pros: Good acting, the story is kept short enough to be interesting without going too far.

 Cons: The character Brittany Gold, I hate the prostitute who can’t get her life together trope, the actress herself is fine.

I recommend it.


Sneaky Pete (Season 1)

I started watching it as a lark, I was bored and getting ready for work so I started it. Halfway through the first episode I was all in.

I have always liked Giovani Ribisi as an actor. From Saving Private Ryan to Dads, to Avatar. I realize he isn’t what is considered in the superstar status but he is one of those character actors that is great to watch. When you saddle him with Margot Martindale, another awesome character actor you get a lot of good show.

He plays a con man who goes by Pete, who is being hunted after tour in prison. He spent the last few years in prison listening to the stories of the perfect family from his cellmate. He gets out and infiltrates his cell-mate’s family as the cellmate (the cellmate hadn’t seen his family for 20 years or so) using the stories he was told. He does this to avoid the man he owes money to, the phenomenal Bryan Cranston.

The first season covers how he has to then save his brother from Bryan Cranston, while maintaining his new identity. Oh, and the kicker is that the family is a bail bond family, meaning they deal with criminals and are involved in working with the law. This throws even more stress on Pete.

Pros: The storytelling is good but what sells it is the acting by everyone involved.

Cons: Some of the plot lines are typical “keep your identity” shenanigans. It doesn’t handle it badly, I just hate that kind of thing.

Man in the High Castle (Season 2)

Still can’t do better than the Nazis, mysterious films, alternate worlds and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.

It’s the next season of the same world. We pick up almost immediately where we left off, having met the Man in the High Castle, the Nazi conspiracy and the drive to make a H-Bomb by the Japanese.

I can’t talk very much about the plot itself if you haven’t seen it. It does ratchet up the intrigue, who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. There is more of a focus inside New York (the Reich) and Mr. Tagomi opens up a totally new storyline that comes together at the end of the season.

It humanizes all the main characters, including  Obergruppenführer John Smith, and Inspector Kids. It doesn’t make what they do ok, so no apologism for their behavior, but it does show you why they do the things they do. Like all people, even villains, they are the hero of their own story.

This season was a little different, I found I didn’t like Juliana or Fink as much. Not acting or the writing. They were great, but their storylines took them into places I didn’t like and their character’s twists and turns made me not like the characters themselves as much.

Pros: Once again, great acting, immersive sets, an compelling story and I love Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Mr. Tagomi. I liked him last season, but he clicked with me a lot (well so did John Smith, but Mr. Tagomi took it away).

 Cons: Once again, I don’t think there is an overall con, but because there are so many roles you will probably hate someone… I still can’t stand Joe Blake, not the fault of the actor, he is good, just don’t like the character, this season he whines an awful lot and I just can’t stand it.

Hands down a great show, I still can’t recommend it more.


Hand of God (Entire Series)

It deserved more than two seasons.

The series can’t be anything but good when it stars Ron Perlman and Garret Dillahunt (and others). Perlman is Judge Pernell Harris, the corrupt judge has a breakdown after the suicide attempt of his son.

This breakdown results in him falling in with a con-artist preacher and his girlfriend, and gaining a loyal follower in Garret Dillahunt. The voices point to who is responsible for the attempted suicide and a whole host of intrigue begins from there.

Originally I was going to do reviews on the season level, but sadly Amazon notified the public that there was only two seasons, so I felt I could do it in one go.

The story starts off intriguing and just hits almost all the right tones. Perlman is always great, there are small hints of his character in SoA, along with other characters he has played. Garret Dillahunt is standout in this and the intensity of his character almost steals the show.

There were some less stellar parts. I found after the first six episodes I didn’t like the storyline with the preacher and his girlfriend, and in the second season I disliked how Perlman’s “faith” changed (I won’t go into details though). However, that being said I really enjoyed the series and I am saddened that it didn’t get a third season. I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed Ron Perlman especially.

Pros: With the name Perlman in the credits, it is going to be a fun watch, he doesn’t disappoint and neither does his “Benaiah” played by Garret Dillahunt. The scenes with just the two of them make it worth the time.

Cons: The preacher storyline I found annoying. However, that could be because I don’t have a strong attachment with that portion of religion and not the fault of the actors/actresses involved.

I am disappointed there wasn’t a third season.

Man in the High Castle (Season 1)

Nazis, alternate universe, resistance and a mysterious films showing alternate worlds, of course its great.

The world is different, the Axis powers won and split up America. The Japanese took the western third, the Nazis took the eastern half leaving a small strip in the middle that was a neutral zone. There are main characters in the resistance, in the Nazis and in the Japanese occupying force (and Trade Minister).

I don’t want to spoil it, but all the acting is really good. Their are two main Nazi characters, both very good at their roles, one who questions what he is doing and one who is a loyal higher up officer who does his duty but has to protect his family. There is a Japanese inspector and a Trade Minister both excellent with varying views, then of course there is a grouping of Resistance actors who are all great with various outlooks.

Its not set in World War II, its 20 years after and you get to deal with the politics of the two empires posturing over what is left of America with the threat of war (and surprisingly enough the only reason there is peace is because Hitler is still alive). There is a character in here that you will like no matter your outlook.

Pros: Great acting, immersive sets, an compelling story.

 Cons: I don’t think there is an overall con, but because there are so many roles you will probably hate someone… personally I can’t stand Joe Blake, not the fault of the actor, he is good, just don’t like the character.

Hands down a great show, can’t recommend it more.