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The Goldbergs

Very disappointing
I had read good reviews. 8.2 average on IMDb as I write this...

I was very disappointed when I started watching and realized that it is a collection of the laziest family sitcom tropes, without much heart and no laughter. The idea of humor is actors shouting every time they speak.

It's supposedly inspired in the childhood of the creator, so that makes it difficult for me to understand why it is so generic and lacking personality.

A disappointment. I like family sitcoms, but this is very low quality. I mean, when you make a nostalgic family/childhood sitcom with the child character narrating as an adult, you are competing with The Wonder Years, and The Goldbergs can not hold a candle to that show. Don't lose time with this, just go watch The Wonder Years instead.

Battlestar Galactica

High production values, nonsensical plot
The production values, the acting, the character development is all very good. There are some great episodes, mainly during the first two seasons. However, the overall plot gets lost in pseudomysticism and religious visions and character motivation that do not make much sense, mainly during the last half of the series.

Star Trek

Powerful idea, aged show
This show was very influential in its time and created a successful franchise, but TV has changed a lot and, watching it now, the show seems aged. Even though it was advanced for its time, if you judge it with modern sensitivity you'll notice the implicit sexism. Still, that's not really on the show, but on society as a whole. Worse than that, too many chapters are just not very good. The budget was very small, but that did not prevent them from creating some memorable chapters. Most of the time, though, you have too similar stories: a more or less human-looking space jerk wearing a ludicrous costume causes some trouble, a scantily-clad woman throws herself in Captain's Kirk's arms, McCoy and Spock do some verbal sparring and everything is solved in time for the credits.

The actors, starting with William Shatner, do a lot of over-acting, although I don't really mind that, it feels like watching dramatic theater. What I mind is the mediocre scripts in many chapters.

The characters are likable, and Spock is simply great, although you have to wonder at how the small group of main officers do everything around the ship and happily leave the ship and put themselves in danger at any possible occasion.

Worth watching for some very good chapters and for historical reasons, to see the show that started the franchise and captured the imagination of countless teenagers, but compared with more modern shows in the franchise, like TNG and Deep Space 9, the age shows. It's just not as good. TV was just not as good then. Unless you are a big fan and want to watch the whole thing, I'd recommend watching only the best chapters.

Band of Brothers

Very high production values
World War 2, told from the perspective of a company of American paratroopers that were involved in a long campaign after the Normandy landings. High production values and a good story to tell make this a very enjoyable mini-series.

Fortunately I have never been in a real war, but this seemed realistic and down-to-earth, based as it is on a real story. At the beginning of each chapter, you get the comments of the real soldiers who fought in that company, now old men, and that adds a lot of moral authority to the story. That realism means that we do not get a continuous action fest, but for me it was very interesting to watch.

There is not an extremely spectacular sequence like the disembark in Saving Private Ryan. The budget here is not quite that high, but it's high enough to offer a quality production.

The Real O'Neals

Good concept but limited execution
The central idea is interesting, but once in season 2 the limitations of the show are evident.

There's not much that works beyond the gay jokes that seem repetitive by now. The secondary character are too conventional, too stereotypical sitcom material.

The Big Bang Theory

Excellent first two seasons, but it went downhill quickly
The original idea was excellent, with quirky characters who were very funny as smart but socially awkward nerds, along with their hot neighbor. However, after just two seasons it lost its freshness, unfunny girlfriends were added and it became a relationship comedy, Friends style, but with the dumb laugh track as the only laughter.

It gave us the exceptional character of Sheldon Cooper, so kudos for that.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Not as good as The Next Generation, but still enjoyable
Seven long seasons with their ups and downs. The great chapters were not quite as brilliant as TNG's best. Like in TNG, it had its share of so-so chapters.

The stuff about the Emissary and the Prophets was a mistake. It felt unearned and random for Xisco to be named the Emissary. Besides, for a show that was at its best when depicting the shadiness and moral grays of war and interstellar politics, this good vs evil stuff did not work. Some good characters, although nobody can equal the charisma of captain Picard.

One of the best things was the introduction of an ongoing narrative in the conflict with the Dominion, vs TNG's exclusively episodic approach.


Not good, but not as awful as some reviews make it out to be
As a song in the Ragtime musical said, "You can never go back to before". What made McGyver special in the 80s can no longer work in 2016. It's a product of its time, and the narrative energy and conviction of the original can no longer be there for a remake.

So they try to adapt it for a new time and they change the character, making him a James-Bond-style super-spy who looks like a new-age jerk compared with the original. That bothers fans of the old show and hence all the 1-star reviews.

Then we have the production values. No way around it, they are bad. The acting, the special effects, the cinematography... Not very good.

On the plus side, they do a relatively decent job when trying to show and update McGyver's technical brilliancy, they have an interesting plot twist in the pilot and they try to set potential for drama between the characters.

The whole thing seems a bit routine, though, making the motions in an attempt to offer a dignified entertainment product but without much conviction.

The Brady Bunch

Nostalgic, innocent, feel-good family series
This was a sitcom that became a household name in reruns, after it was already canceled. It was innocent fun from a different time, very tame by modern standards, and did not bother with heavy topics.

Nostalgic, innocent and feel-good, it became a model of family series. Other series would borrow from it or rebel against it. It has also become ingrained in popular culture. Those six kids and two parents, along with a live-in maid, who "must somehow form a family", will forever be part of the history of TV in the US.

Several generations of children grew with the Brady kids and envied them for having such a large family, where something fun was always going on.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

This worthy successor ended up surpassing Star Trek TOS
This was quite a trip for Star Trek fans. It has all the good things that made TOS work. The optimism in humanity's future, the sense of wonder and adventure, the charismatic characters... It successfully updated the concept.

In such a long run, it had its share of weak episodes, but in general the level was high, and there were some completely outstanding ones.

Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard and Brent Spiner as Data deserve special praise for their career-defining performances.

TOS was cut a bit short, but TNG had time to develop and reach its full potential. The first season was not the best. The show was finding its feet then, and the characters were not yet as well-defined as they would become. That first season is still worth watching, though. It has good things to offer, and the show would get even better.

About a Boy

Very good first season, it ran out of steam in the second one
It follows the steps of the 2002 Hugh Grant movie. It's not a laugh out loud comedy, but it's endearing, funny and has a lot of heart. Or at least it did in the first season.

In the second season it seems that the writers ran out of things to say, and the situations became too forced and not that funny. It still had its moments, but there were too far between. Rates plummeted and the last season was swiftly canceled, with the last 6 episodes being released months later on video on demand.

The series finale was quite good, although all in all I prefer to keep the memory of the fresher first season.

Dawson's Creek

Soap opera with
I kind of like the concept of a teen series where the characters talk in an unrealistically sophisticated way. However, the story is too much like soap opera for me, and the characters kind of annoying, difficult to believe in. And speaking of that, the fact that the actors are supposed to play 15-year-olds when they look much older really takes away from the experience, particularly because the age is important for the plot. For example, we have one of them flirting with his teacher, which is quite creepy given the ages of the characters. However the actor looks like a college graduate, so it's difficult to feel like this is a 15 year old we are talking about.

Girl Meets World

Pretty awful
Where to begin? There seems to be an unwritten rule that Disney Channel sitcoms must be mindless and badly-written. Yes, I know they are not intended for adults, but children are actually intelligent beings. As a kid I loved Wonder Years, which was an excellent show, very well-written. I also liked Boy Meets World, although even back then I could see that it was clearly worse than Wonder Years. Still, it was meant to be sillier and it had enough heart and integrity to make you care about the characters and be willing to accompany them as they grew up and learned life's lessons.

Now there comes this spin-off and I tried watching for nostalgia's sake, but I had to give up after forcing myself to watch a few chapters. Girl Meets World is bad even when compared to other Disney shows. It just has no redeeming features. Sure, it's nice to see Cory and Topanga again, but I still spent the time cringing instead of remembering fondly. They decided to make a spin-off of a beloved old show, and they took the trouble to hire the original actors... couldn't they have taken the trouble to hire decent writers too?

The writing is bad, and I would feel sorry for the actors for getting so little to work with if they did not do a bad job too, either overacting or being expressionless. Cory's classes are a mess, Farkle is a creep with no nuances, Lucas is inexpressive and vacant, Riley is all about making overacted faces, with no personality...

If you are interested in this because of Boy Meets World, sure, give it a try and form your own opinion, but be warned that you'll probably decide this is a painful waste of time.

Red Band Society

Could be better
I have just watched the first chapter, but since I'm not going to continue watching I'll tell you my opinion.

I was expecting a bit more of this show, with such a sensitive subject matter. However, I felt they went the easy way. They made it a rather conventional teen drama. The characters were too stereotypical, did not seem real to me. Except for the tough but golden hearted nurse (see? another stereotype), who did a good job.

Then there were the absurd situations. Like the horny teenage kid who runs around without difficulties but asks the young nurse to give him a sponge bath, and she just does (OK, let's accept she is very naive and does not notice the obvious motivation, but does she just do whatever procedure a patient asks for without instructions from their superiors? does she have so much free time during her shift?). Or like the cheerleader whose roommate is a boy (yeah, he is in a coma, but still, people get roommates of the same sex). Or the doctor discussing with the cheerleader's parents her difficult prospects right by her room where she can easily hear. I could go on, but you get the idea. This is a TV show, I don't expect too much realism, but so many absurd details make it difficult for me to suspend disbelief and makes me think the writers are not even trying too hard.

Their idea of making these kids act like "real" kids is to have them smoking marijuana, taking a doctor's car without permission and buying alcohol, but it felt forced, like they were trying too hard. They did not seem real to me. Because of that, the emotional scene in the roof felt unearned, particularly considering that some of the kids there had just arrived and did not really know the others.

With me talking about the flaws all the time, you might get the impression that I hated it. It's not that bad, however. There are hints that they want to develop the characters from those stereotypes, there are still emotional moments that rang true, like the conversation between Leo and Jordi when they were in bed the night before Jordi's operation... I kind of would like to follow some of these characters and see what happens, but there are so many good shows to watch that I don't think I will.


It could have been done better
I'm watching the first season, and although I will stick till the end of the season, that will be all for me. The defects of this show are already too apparent. I like the idea of this series much more than the actual execution.

I like the music (although they abuse the digital enhancements, that make all the voices sound "perfect" but too similar and without personality). I also like the components of underdog individuals and team competing against prejudices and strong rivals.

However, the drama is very low quality and far-fetched. It is really bad among the teenage characters (teenage, although they are played by much older actors), but among the adult characters it's even worse. No one acts or talks or has problems like that in real life.

As a comedy, the scarce best moments are provided by Sue Sylvester (played by Jane Lynch), although again in a very over-the-top manner.

This is an optimistic series, that gave voice to some underrepresented segments of the audience. However, it could have been done better. Enjoy the music and try not to wince too much at the drama.

The Bernie Mac Show

Unpalatable unless you are a fan of Bernie Mac's persona
The title is "The Bernie Mac Show", and it lives up to that name. It's all about Bernie Mac and his antics. In fact "Bernie Mac" are the most often used words, since Bernie always talks about himself in the third person when he breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience directly. Another gimmick is that on-screen scribbled text and arrows are used as captions. None of that will make this palatable unless you happen to enjoy Bernie Mac's whiny musings about how he is a manly-man and should not be expected to look after kids and about how he is going to instill discipline in the children, while in reality he loves them and they run all over him.

Very hit-and-miss, and I suspect that for most people it will be more miss than hit.

Anger Management

We saw this, done better, in early "Two and Half Men"
Charlie Sheen is back as the unprincipled but funny womanizer. It's not awful. Some of the jokes work. However, it feels like something we have already seen too often. When you compare it with the first seasons of "Two and Half Men" this is more of the same but not as good. Jon Cryer was there to play the straight man and here we get nothing as good in his place. It may be funnier than what we are getting in the last few years of "Two and Half Men", but do we really need to set the bar so low?

Also, Sheen looks prematurely old and that makes it difficult for us to accept the premise of the show.

All in all this show is watchable, but you can probably find something better.

Growing Up Fisher

Old-school family sitcom, with heart but a bit cliché-ridden
The story is told from Henry Fisher's (Eli Baker) point of view. It uses the same grown-up main character narrating his (pre) adolescence in voice-over technique as The Wonder Years. Of course, this show is not as brilliantly inspired as Wonder Years, but it would be unfair to judge a new TV show by such high standards. Eli Baker has a lot of boyish charm and does a convincing job.

Nowadays, it feels a bit old fashioned to have a traditional family sitcom. It's true that the parents are divorced, but they have such a good relationship that there's not such a large difference.

Any new show needs a differentiating element, and here the Mel's (J.K. Simmons, playing the father) blindness plays that role.

One problem is that, for a comedy, Growing Up Fisher is not very funny. A lot of jokes are made from Mel's blindness and how he doesn't let that keep him from any activity. Some of those are enjoyable, but that premise only takes us so far.

Another problem is that it relies too much on clichés. Henry starts awkwardly noticing girls, which is a reasonable plot point for a protagonist this age but one we have often seen. Joyce (Jenna Elfman), his mother, has gone back to the university and is obsessed about being cool and being friends with the other students and with her teenage daughter and her friends. There's nothing wrong with her interpretation, but beyond this not too promising plot element she is not given much to work with. The same can be said about Katie (Ava Deluca-Verley), who plays Henry's older sister. She does fine, but is not given much to do. Henry's best friend Runyen (Lance Lim), is an Asian mouthy kid who also feels like a sitcom cliché.

The show is at his best with heart-warming family lessons, like when Katie stands up for his father when he is almost expelled from a musical where she is starring because his guide dog started barking. This came after Mel had told her that he was so obnoxious and outspoken because when he was a teen his rowing coach had not liked having a blind kid in the team and had asked him to leave. Mel had left and he had always regretted it. Katie standing up for him in spite of being mad at him for spoiling her date was a nice moment. I fear that in our cynic times such simple feel-good messages are seen as too corny.

It's a pity this show was cancelled so soon. I enjoyed it and felt that it had potential to grow beyond the clichés that were holding it back. Unfortunately, we won't have the opportunity to see whether that's the case.

The Andy Griffith Show: The New Housekeeper
Episode 1, Season 1

Just perfect
I'm not going to repeat the plot description, but I'll say this is an excellent first episode and introduction to the characters. Andy Griffith is full of human warmth and is funny without seeming to make any effort. He also has great chemistry with the rest of the cast. Don Knotts has a couple of opportunities to shine as Deputy Barney Fife. Ron Howard is adorable as little Opie and he steals the show in this episode.

The father-son relationship between Andy and Opie shines here. Highlights include the moment when Opie tells Andy that he is planning to run away. The ensuing conversation is both hilarious and heart- warming.

The story manages to be funny and touching at the same time. It doesn't need to steal cheap laughs by resorting to off-color humor. The humor is just there, but above all there's a heart to the story: you want to spend time with these characters not just because they are funny, but because you like them. This is the opposite of shows like Family Guy, that desperately try to be funny by resorting to the lowest kind of humor and the most despicable characters they can make.

Easy Virtue

Not awful, but should have been much better
This could have been a great movie, but the script was not witty enough, and the main actress (Jessica Biel) is miscast and out of her depth. She is pretty to look at, but she is not convincing as Larita Whittaker. She fails to convey a fascinating and sophisticate image, and some of her scenes with Kristin Scott Thomas (playing her mother in law) are almost painful to watch, since the latter so easily outshines her. We only find out she is more mature and with a much more painful history than her fiancé because she tells us so near the end of the film.

Then the script... one of the highlights of the film is when Jessica Biel accidentally sits on her mother in law's little dog and kills it, and then she buries the body in secret with the help of the servants. By then, I was wondering whether I was watching a (supposedly witty) period piece or a Ben Stiller movie. And let's be frank, if we are going to get in this territory Ben Stiller does it better. Also, let's not talk about that cringe-inducing scene where Jessica Biel joins a traditional hunting party riding a motorbike. Or about the butler, drinking right in the middle of the party, in front of the guests.

There are some ingenious remarks, but not enough of them. The scriptwriters try but they seldom succeed. Besides, I could never truly believe in what I was watching. Mrs. Whittaker was too nasty and insulting, instead of being subtly sarcastic (not Kristin Scott Thomas's fault, but the script's). We never understand why Jessica Biel's character doesn't just leave, instead of allowing herself to be insulted constantly, or why Ben Barnes' character doesn't stop it, since he is supposedly in love with his wife and his mother insults her right in front of him, (with lines like 'straight from the bordellos...').

Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas are the best of the film, very good as John's parents. Ben Barnes, Kimberley Nixon and Katherine Parkinson supply adequate performances. They don't shine, but there's not much more they could have done with their roles.

In spite of my review, this was more enjoyable to watch than many blockbusters, it's just that it's such a wasted opportunity.

Les aiguilles rouges

Unpretentious but pleasant movie. Gorgeous views of the Mont Blanc massif
A group of French boy scouts go on a hike in the Alps, in 1960. They go without adult monitors, guided by an older boy who is supposed to prove his leadership skills. However, what was supposed to be an easy hike goes wrong. The boys get lost, and their inexperience and several bad decisions put their lives at risk.

It's a simple, unpretentious movie. Nothing too fancy here, but it's pleasant enough for viewers to enjoy the 90 minutes it lasts. The views of the Mont Blanc massif are really beautiful. I thought the rivalries and disagreements between the boys, as well as the moments of comradeship, were well done.

La guerra de papá

Some will find it boring, some will find it fascinating
Based on a novel by one of the greater Spanish writers of the XX century (Miguel Delibes), "La Guerra de Papá" (Dad's War) tells the story of a typical day for a 3-year-old boy in 1964. The little boy, played by Lolo García, spends his day running around playing with his 5-year-old brother and interacting with the adults in the household (mother, servants...). Through his innocent eyes we see a portrait of Spanish society in the 60's (with its many conflicts and contradictions). The film is also a very good character study of the adults and of the boy himself, who feels jealous because he is no longer the youngest child in the house, since he has a 1-year-old sister.

Milk Money

Entertaining feel-good comedy
Very conservative people might not like the plot of this film (kid tries to get his widowed dad and an ex-hooker to fall in love with each other), but actually everything is quite harmless and fun.

The story gets sometimes a bit silly (especially when the boy takes Melanie Griffith to school as part of his "science project"), but the acting and the comedy is good. There was always a smile on my lips as I watched the misunderstandings between Harris and Griffith, when the dad believes that she is a math tutor and the hooker believes he knows her true job.

Ed Harris does a good job as the shy father, and Melanie Griffith is believable as the golden hearted hooker. But it's the kid (Michael Patrick Carter) the one who steals the show, with his winning smile and his mixture of innocence and curiosity.

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