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Wednesday, 01 September 2021 11:43

‘Only Murders in the Building’ one killer show

Few pop culture phenomena have been as pervasive in recent years as true crime podcasts. Even if you don’t listen to them yourself, odds are that you know at least one person who listens obsessively to one or more. “Serial,” “My Favorite Murder,” “Dirty John, “Dr. Death” – the list goes on and on. Hell, the latter two pushed so fully into the zeitgeist that they got TV adaptations.

But while some of these programs have made the leap across media, a new Hulu show has a different idea about how to bring true crime podcasts to the small screen.

“Only Murders in the Building” is a 10-episode series on the streaming service; the first three episodes dropped on Aug. 31, with subsequent episodes landing every Tuesday from September 7 through October 5. The show was created by Steve Martin and Dan Fogelman; it stars Martin alongside Martin Short and Selena Gomez.

The fundamental question is simple – what if true crime enthusiasts were presented with an opportunity to go in-depth on a murder of their own? The result – thanks to great performances, strong writing and a genuine affection for the genre – is a show that is funny, smart and sincere, managing to parody this very specific world while also crafting a great example of that world.

(Note: Eight episodes of the show were made available for critics.)

Published in Style

Haven’t you ever thought that the self-help and wellness realm is just a little … sinister?

We live in a world where the notion of improving one’s health – physical, emotional or otherwise – has become a billion-dollar industry. Yet we ALSO live in a world where, if there’s a way to make money through duplicitous and/or unsavory means, someone will do so.

Unsurprisingly, we’re seeing a lot of creative work that addresses that particular slice of the self-actualization pie.

The latest offering along those lines is “Nine Perfect Strangers,” the new limited series from Hulu. Created by John Henry Butterworth and television icon David E. Kelley and based on the 2018 novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty, the show offers a look at a secretive high-end wellness retreat that – surprise! – might be considerably more than it appears to be.

With an absolutely stacked cast – Nicole Kidman leads the way, but there are exceptional talents scattered all over the call sheet – and a setting that looks both bucolic and expensive, the show has a lot going for it. And when you toss some weird and mysterious narrative developments into the mix, well … you’ve got something.

I’ll put it this way: for the most part, “Nine Perfect Strangers” gets the dosage just right.

Published in Buzz

True crime has become a thriving subgenre of programming across all media. Podcasts, TV shows, books, articles – we as a people love engaging with the deconstruction of heinous acts. What that says about us, well … your mileage may vary.

One of the hallmarks of true crime content is the idea that what we think we know can be upended at any point. The supposed truth at one point in the story can easily veer in an entirely new direction. It’s all about the deeper surprises dredged up once we delve beneath the surface of a story.

And when you throw Bigfoot into the mix, then all bets are off.

“Sasquatch” is a new entry into the true crime oeuvre, a three-episode docuseries on Hulu. Directed by Joshua Rofe, the series begins as an effort by one man to uncover the truth behind a decades-old murder whose initial explanation defied belief. But as he digs into the bizarre-on-its-face story, he begins to learn far more than he ever expected.

You’d be forgiven for expecting that this series is about, well, Sasquatch. And for stretches, it is. But what it’s truly about is the shadowy and sinister reality of the world of cannabis farming in Northern California, as well as the fact that the most frightening monsters of all are the ones that look just like us.

Published in Adventure

Full disclosure: I f---ing LOVE swearing. I have a notorious potty mouth, using curse words as every conceivable part of speech in my coarse discourse. I swear in front of friends and strangers. I swear in front of kids. Hell, I even swear in front of my mom.

But while I love swear words, I’ll freely admit to not necessarily knowing that much about them. Their origins, their etymology … their history.

Happily, Nicolas Cage has got my back.

Cage is the host of the new Netflix series “History of Swearing,” currently streaming on the service. Over the course of six 20-minute episodes, Cage – along with a cavalcade of celebrities, historians and academics – walks us through the history of various swear words. Each of the six episodes is devoted wholly to one specific swear word.

(For the record, the six in question are: f—k, s—t, b—ch, d—k, p—y and damn.)

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 09:16

‘High Score’ puts in its initials

While there may still be those out there who happily dismiss video games as kid stuff or somehow niche, the truth is that anyone in this country born in the last half-century likely has some connection to them.

Obviously, gaming is big business in 2020, a multibillion-dollar industry that economically outperforms the music industry and the movie industry – combined. But it was definitely a rollercoaster ride of booms and busts along the way.

“High Score,” the new six-episode docuseries from Netflix, is an exploration of that ride, a look back to the early days of the industry evolved from the domain of a few into a world occupied by billions. Along the way, we hear the stories of assorted successes (and a few failures) as told by the people responsible.

By necessity, the filmmakers must pick and choose the people and places on which to focus. With just a half-dozen episodes – most coming in at around 45 minutes, give or take – it’s all about snapshots; there just isn’t time for a deep dive into video game history. But these glimpses are what makes the series work, looks at with the people involved, whether as designers and developers or simply players. Seeing their passion for the medium is what really makes “High Score” soar.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 14:14

Amazon’s latest a Van Damme good one

“Jean-Claude Van Johnson” an absurd action parody

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 30 August 2017 10:46

When destiny calls, ‘The Tick’ answers

New Amazon series revives beloved cult superhero

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 22 March 2017 12:40

Another Amazon pilot season

Amazon Video premieres five new pilots 

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 14:39

A return to Stars Hollow

'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life'

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 27 July 2016 11:21

'Stranger Things' have happened

Netflix miniseries offers exceptional entertainment

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. So powerful, in fact, that many have sought to find ways in which to commodify it. The result of those efforts at monetization is a general thinning of quality across the board far too many of these memory-fueled projects wind up as disappointments on some level or another.

And then you have something like Netflix's 'Stranger Things,' which succeeds in ways many of us likely didn't even know we wanted until they were placed on the screen before us.

Published in Buzz

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