TV Review: The Keepers (2017)

Original Run: May 19th, 2017
Created by: Ryan White
Directed by: Ryan White
Based on: Murder of Catherine Cesnik
Cast: various

Film 45, Tripod Media, Netflix, 7 Episodes, 60 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

This Netflix true crime documentary featured an incredibly interesting story about the mysterious and unsolved murder of a nun more than fifty years-ago and how it seems as if it is associated with the sexual abuse committed by a priest at a high school.

Sadly, that priest is dead and can’t suffer for the things he did to several children. However, this documentary does serve as an avenue for these victims to speak about what happened to them and how it may very well relate to the murder of the young nun, who many of the female victims saw as their one true confidant in the school.

This documentary series is seven episodes long and while each is chock full of details, this did seem like it was dragged out much further than it needed to be, especially since the case is still unsolved, even after all the information that is shared in these seven hours.

Like many of the other Netflix true crime miniseries, though, this is well-produced and well-presented. 

This is a tragic and honestly, infuriating story. Hopefully, this sheds enough light onto the case that it can actually be solved some day. As is the nature of these things, though, the more time passes, the less likely that seems possible.

Rating: 7/10

TV Review: Berserk (2016-2017)

Original Run: July 1st, 2016 – June 23rd, 2017
Directed by: Shin Itagaki
Written by: Makoto Fukami
Based on: Berserk by Kintaro Miura
Music by: Shiro Sagisu

Liden Films, GEMBA, Millepensee, Universal, Sony, Wowow, MBS, TBS, CBC, 26 Episodes, 24 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

So I’ve heard people rave about the manga Berserk for years. I’ve wanted to read it for awhile now but there’s like 40 volumes and it’s going to be a real undertaking. However, I figured that I’d check out the anime, as it’s streaming on HBO Max.

I found out, after being a half dozen episodes deep, that this actually takes place after a trilogy of anime films and an earlier anime series from the ’90s. So I guess I started at the end but even then, I found this pretty easy to get into and never felt like there was a lot of context or knowledge missing.

For the most part, I dug the hell out of this, especially the first of the two seasons. I guess some people found the animation style to be off-putting but I actually liked it.

I’m also not a big fan of the mixture of CGI with traditional hand-drawn animation but for whatever reason, I liked how they blended together, here. I think that has to do with the style of shading in the art, which looks like thin-lined pencil shading.

I think most of all, I really liked the character designs. Everyone was distinct and pretty damn cool in their own unique way.

I also found the stories to be pretty solid and interesting. However, it really just left me wanting more, so I’ll probably try and check out the previous anime releases and then start reading the original manga, at some point.

All in all, this was dark, twisted, really fun and pretty damn entertaining.

Rating: 8.25/10

TV Review: The Staircase (2004-2018)

Original Run: October 7th, 2004 – June 8th, 2018
Created by: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
Directed by: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
Written by: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
Cast: Michael Peterson, various

Canal+, Netflix, 13 Episodes, 44-55 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I heard people rave about this documentary series a few years back. Since I’ve recently been binging the shit out of Netflix true crime documentaries, I figured that I should finally give this one a watch.

Well, I was really underwhelmed by it and I think it’s just another case of hype blowing something up to an unrealistic level.

I will say that the story here is damn compelling and there are a lot of holes in the investigation or so it would appear, based on how this documentary reveals the details.

However, it’s the presentation of this series that made it somewhat of a bore to get through.

This follows the investigation and spends a lot of time in the court room during the trials. However, most of the show is shot and presented reality TV style, following around all the members of the family and legal team, as they constantly pontificate on that day’s activities and developments. It’s just not that interesting when you realize that all of the accused killer’s kids (minus one) are going to believe his innocence no matter what.

“Not my dad! There’s no way he could do that! I know my dad!”

“Did you know he had gay sex with male prostitutes?”

“What? I didn’t know my dad was gay! But he could never kill my mom! I know my dad!”

I also feel like this documentary was obviously biased towards the family and towards the sentiment that author-possibly-turned-killer, Michael Peterson, was innocent. Looking into that after watching this for myself, there are a lot of other people that feel like this was a biased documentary and that it omitted things that didn’t support its narrative.

In the end, I was initially captivated by the story but from a production standpoint, this wasn’t as polished and well-paced as the more recent Netflix true crime documentaries. I also don’t feel confident in the details provided by this documentary.

Rating: 6/10

TV Review: Cowboy Bebop (1998-1999)

Original Run: April 3rd, 1998 – April 24th, 1999
Created by: Hajime Yatate
Directed by: Shinichiro Watanabe
Written by: Keiko Nobumoto
Music by: Yoko Kanno
Cast: Koichi Yamadera, Unsho Ishizuka, Megumi Hayashibara

Sunrise, TXN, Wowow, 26 Episodes, 24 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Decades upon decades of hype and Cowboy Bebop just didn’t live up to it for me. But this is what happens when people, for years and years, claim that something is the “best ever”.

In those situations, I think that a lot of people who hear that, repeat it, as they don’t want to be the asshole that disagrees with everyone else. It’s just this effect that happens with things that are grossly overhyped by a passionate few who are able to push something beyond cult status.

Now that’s not to say that Cowboy Bebop isn’t enjoyable, it certainly is. I also wasn’t quite ready for it to be over when it was.

I like that it’s unique, features an incredibly jazzy score and finds itself wrapped up in several genres not really committing to any of them fully. It’s a mix of noir, western, cyberpunk and space opera. But it also features real human drama, comedy and often times plays like a crime thriller.

Essentially, I like it for all the reasons that other people do. I just don’t think it’s the greatest anime I’ve ever seen and just because it was unique and fresh when it came out in 1998, doesn’t mean that its some sort of masterpiece.

The show has some weak, forgettable episodes, some of the characters begin to grate on you like the shrill little kid with the barky dog.

However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not game to check out the animated film that came after or any potential sequel or animated reboot.

In the end, this is still high tier anime and much better than the norm. I’d even call it a classic. However, I can’t look at it as the greatest thing that ever existed in anime. It simply isn’t. But that’s also subjective and doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

Rating: 8/10

TV Review: Don’t Fuck With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer (2019)

Original Run: December 18th, 2019
Created by: Dimitri Doganis, Adam Hawkins
Directed by: Mark Lewis
Written by: Mark Lewis
Music by: Blue Spill
Cast: various

Raw TV, Netflix, 3 Episodes, 60 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I knew vaguely about this story from headlines that I’d see pop-up on social media from time-to-time. However, I never knew all the details and how big this investigation by regular people online had grown in an effort to catch this sick, sadistic, narcissistic fuck.

Overall, this was a compelling documentary miniseries and one of the best that I’ve seen from Netflix. Weirdly, I’m starting to get addicted to these things, where they weren’t my cup of tea before. Maybe that has something to do with getting older or maybe it’s just because Netflix creates some high quality, really well produced material in this regard.

Initially, the story starts out with a group of people on Facebook trying to discover who is behind a video that features the murder of a cat. Things escalate to the point where the cat killer challenges these people to find him, as he’s obsessed with the attention its getting him. He then kills more cats and hints that he’s going to turn to people next. Eventually he lures in a guy for sex but murders him on camera, as well.

All the while, the authorities are of no help and don’t really believe the warnings of the people from the Facebook group. Ultimately, once a human is killed, the real authorities get involved and take all the previous evidence more seriously.

By the end of the story, the scumbag is caught and brought to justice.

This was presented in a compelling way and all of the key talking head interviews were pretty damn stellar, as they were able to recall all the details and help paint a picture of who this killer was and what they feel were his motivations.

In the end, this is an incredibly disturbing story that is hard to get through, at points, due to the nature of the crimes and the details, but it does have a happy ending considering that such an evil piece of shit is off the streets.

Rating: 8/10

TV Review: Chōjin Sentai Jetman (1991-1992)

Original Run: February 15th, 1991 – February 14th, 1992
Created by: Toei
Directed by: Keita Amemiya
Written by: various
Music by: Kazuhiko Toyama, Hironobu Kageyama (themes)
Cast: Kōtarō Tanaka, Rika Kishida, Tomihisa Naruse, Sayuri Uchida, Toshihide Wakamatsu

Toei Company, 51 Episodes, 25 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

It’s been ages since I watched a Super Sentai series and because of that, I’m now way behind on the stuff that Shout! Factory has released in the United States. So I figured I really needed to jump on it and experience more of this great, classic tokusatsu program.

For those that might not know, this series was originally intended to be the one that they were going to use to create the first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. However, producers of that show ended up using its successor, Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger.

With that, this is the first Sentai show that I’ve watched that wasn’t turned into a Power Rangers series. This also makes it the oldest show that I’ve seen in the franchise.

Overall, this was damn enjoyable if kid friendly tokusatsu is your thing.

The thing I liked most was the characters. For the most part, this set of heroes were well-balanced, pretty well developed and they had great chemistry with each other. I especially liked how the bond evolved between Ryū a.k.a. Red Hawk and Gai a.k.a. Black Condor evolved over the course of the show. By the end, these two guys were complete badasses and honestly, either of them could’ve been team leader.

I also really liked Ako a.k.a. Blue Swallow. She was a cool character with some good stories and she might be my favorite female hero that I’ve seen out of all the Sentai shows I’ve watched, thus far.

Like the heroes, the villains were a really cool team that also had solid chemistry. I love that they were only really unified in trying to destroy the Jetman team and to dominate the world. I loved the power struggles between them, how they evolved over the series and ultimately, how they probably could’ve won had they not allowed their egos to make them work against one another.

Looking beyond the cool characters and story, I also dug the hell out of the look of the show. I thought the Jetman team’s costumes were superb and they are definitely one of the best looking Sentai teams of all-time.

This series also had some cool monsters. The real standout, I thought, was the ramen cup noodles monster. He just had a cool design and any monster that shoots out shrimp boomerangs is going to leave an impression.

Chōjin Sentai Jetman is pretty high up on the short list of the Super Sentai shows I’ve watched. However, this is only my fifth and there are a lot more to experience. I think that this one will maintain a spot close to the top, though.

Rating: 8.25/10

TV Review: Only Murders In the Building (2021- )

Original Run: August 31st, 2021 – current
Created by: Steve Martin, John Hoffman
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Siddhartha Khosla
Cast: Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez, Aaron Dominguez, Amy Ryan, Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, Sting, Jane Lynch

Rhode Island Ave. Productions, Another Hoffman Story Productions, 40 Share Productions, 20th Television, Disney Platform Distribution, Hulu, 10 Episodes (so far), 26-35 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

When I first saw the trailer for this, I was pretty excited about checking it out. I love Steve Martin and Martin Short, especially together, and from what I’ve seen of Selena Gomez, I’ve been impressed simply because I only really know of her as an ex-Disney child star and a pop artist.

These three come together wonderfully well, though. Martin and Short being paired up was a no-brainer but adding Gomez to the mix was an x-factor. She did a superb job and I really like this trio and hope to see more from them in season two and hopefully beyond. Hell, round up Chevy Chase and go make a Four Amigos movie.

I thought that the murder mystery plot here was well-crafted and had a good amount of layers and twists like a classic film-noir. I can’t quite consider this noir, tonally, but it is very much inspired by some of the great noir works of yesteryear.

The show is well paced, well acted, has characters you’ll love and gets right down to business from the get go. There aren’t any filler episodes and things move briskly, not wasting time on anything unimportant. Even when a character pops up and it feels like some sort of distraction or the show is getting lost on itself, there is always a reason behind it that helps with the overall payoff.

I like the simple visual style of the show but it could’ve probably used a bit more panache. However, things are overproduced these days, to the point of everything being generic and milquetoast. Luckily, there was enough passion behind this project and within its stars, that it stands out.

My only negative was that I knew who the real killer was almost immediately. Granted, that’s not a bad thing, as the story still surprised me.

All in all, not a bad effort and I hope the second season just adds more to this pretty solid foundation. I feel like it’s a show that can actually improve. It was searching for its footing in the early episodes but found it rather quickly.

Rating: 7.5/10

TV Review: Making A Murderer (2015-2018)

Original Run: December 8th, 2015 – October 19th, 2018
Created by: Laura Ricciardi, Moira Demos, Lisa Nishimura, Adam Del Deo
Directed by: Laura Ricciardi, Moira Demos
Written by: Laura Ricciardi, Moira Demos
Music by: Kevin Kiner, Jared Forman, Dean Kiner
Cast: Steven Avery, Brendan Dassey, Kathleen Zellner, various

Synthesis Films, Netflix, 20 Episodes, 47-77 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Being that I’ve been binging the shit out of Netflix crime shows, I figured that I’d finally delve into the longest one, which is also probably responsible for Netflix leaning so hard into this type of content.

Making A Murderer is the story of Steven Avery, a man who was released from prison after eighteen years. He was falsely sent to prison for a rape he didn’t commit. However, not too long after his release, he was arrested once again for the murder of a young photographer.

The thing is, the system targeted Avery and had no interest in any of the other people who were obviously suspects, as well. And as more and more details are revealed, it appears that Avery is possibly innocent of this crime, as well, and that the police and the legal system are trying to lock him back up, as he was on the verge of successfully suing them for his previous false imprisonment.

As twisted as that all sounds, there are so many other layers to the story that come to light with each episode. There is also Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, who was possibly duped into giving the police a false confession. With that, Dassey has also been sitting in jail from the first time that he ever talked to police.

The first season of the show goes through the details of the case and the investigation with a fine tooth comb. However, after it aired, it was criticized for leaving out key elements of the story.

The second season addresses these criticisms and it switches gears, focusing more on the lawyers trying to free both Avery and Dassey from imprisonment.

While I liked the second season and seeing the sloppy police investigation being torn to shreds, I think the show was strongest during the first season. It’s honestly two very different shows and also, despite season two being focused on freeing these two men, things are still left pretty unresolved. Because of that, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was eventually a third season if any significant changes were to occur.

I binged the hell out of this and blasted through it in a few days. I wanted to absorb it all in with the details being fresh in my mind. I think that the scariest takeaway from this story, is how easy it is for the system to try and make an example out of someone that they’ve targeted over their own biases. The level of narcissism and ego that the prosecutors and police officers had was astounding.

Rating: 8.5/10

TV Review: The Ripper (2020)

Original Run: December 16th, 2020
Created by: Netflix
Directed by: Jesse Vile, Ellena Wood
Cast: various

Netflix, 4 Episodes, 60 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I’ve been going through a weird phase lately where I’ve been binge watching Netflix crime docu-series. This generally isn’t my genre but I like the way that Netflix tells these stories. They’ve developed their own style and it’s both effective and done in a way that keeps you glued to the screen.

This one is about a serial killer that dopey, idiot detectives just assumed was a Jack The Ripper copycat and thus, named him The Ripper. However, many of the victims were later discovered to not be prostitutes and the theories the authorities had were thrown out the window, once it was clear that they were dead wrong and had also been jumping to conclusions based off of their own biases.

Beyond that, this also covers the gender-focused fascism that this part of the UK employed to keep women “safe” based off of completely false assumptions.

There were a lot of interesting layers to this whole story and I thought that the sections of this documentary were well organized and generally well presented. I was also surprised that they covered this pretty thoroughly in just four episodes.

While this isn’t my favorite of these type of Netflix shows, it’s still damn engaging and was a good way to spend four hours in an afternoon sick in bed.

Rating: 7/10

TV Review: Arcadia of My Youth: Endless Orbit SSX (1982-1983)

Original Run: October 13th, 1982 – March 30th, 1983
Created by: Leiji Matsumoto
Directed by: Tomoharu Katsumata, Masamitsu Sasaki
Written by: Leiji Matsumoto, Hiroyasu Yamaura, Hiroyuki Hoshiyama
Based on: Space Pirate Captain Harlock by Leiji Matsumoto
Music by: Shunsuke Kikuchi

Discotek Media, Toei Animation, Tokyo Broadcasting System, 22 Episodes, 22 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

This second Captain Harlock series served as a loose sequel to the Arcadia of My Youth feature film that came out in the same year.

Following the events of the film, Harlock and the crew of the Arcadia are exiled from Earth, which has been taken over by the Illumidas, along with several other planets.

For much of the series, Harlock explores space while also having battles with the Illumidas. He’s also searching for the mythical “Planet of Peace”, a place where all intelligent species can live free of war and interplanetary conflict.

The show was originally planned to have double the episodes that it got. It struggled in the ratings due to competition from new series like the original Gundam, which was a quicker paced, more action oriented show.

Still, this did have a proper and good conclusion, even if production was cut short.

I also liked this show a hair bit more than the earlier Captain Harlock series. I enjoyed the stories, the characters and the overall style of it.

Rating: 8.75/10