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If you haven’t seen the series finale of AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, Ten of Swords, read further at your own risk.  I’m going to do this review assuming that either you’ve seen it, or that you don’t mind spoilers.  If you’d like to catch up, go here to the website to see the season four episodes.

It’s a shame that Halt never got the audience it deserved.  It got plenty of love from critics, especially in the last two seasons, but it never became a ratings blockbuster.  It had an amazing cast, with Lee Pace (one of those actors whom I believe is capable of doing literally anything), as Joe MacMillan; Scoot McNairy as Gordon Clark; Mackenzie Davis as Cameron Howe; Kerry Bishe as Donna Clark, and Toby Huss as John (Bos) Bosworth.

It started with Joe as almost a literal wrecking ball, manipulating others into buying into whatever his vision of the moment was.  The character was an unlikeable brute when the show first began.  Cameron was a genius programmer but working with her was like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall.  Donna and Gordon, married with two small girls when the series first started and later divorced with teenagers, were supposedly the grounded ones.  Hardware was their specialty; they had invented a computer themselves, but it never got off the ground commercially.

And that seems to have been the theme with Halt.  The foursome worked on great ideas that were either never successful, or that worked for a while until someone else came up with something better.  That is, if frayed relationships between them didn’t sink a project first.

In the 1990’s technology was moving fast, maybe too fast for small companies like Mutiny and Comet to compete.  Every time they’d get their product out there someone else would come up with another that made theirs obsolete.  The company where Donna becomes the managing partner has money and isn’t dependent on just one piece of software, so it survives where Comet fails.  Rover is just one piece of the pie for them, one they can afford to jettison when it gets eclipsed by something with a funny name – Yahoo.

But Halt was not just about the emerging technology.  It’s about connecting with other people, via the Internet (remember Mutiny’s Community?), as well as the personal connections they made with each other.  As Joe liked to say, computers “weren’t the thing, they were the thing that gets you to the thing.”  And the “thing” was connecting with people.

By the second season the Cameron and Donna characters were coming to the forefront of the show.  In the last episode we see just how intertwined those two had become, when Cameron first brings up the idea that she and Donna work together again, and Cameron isn’t talking about joining Donna’s firm.  When Donna asks her if she has an idea for something new, Cameron tells her the idea will come later, she just wanted them to work together again.  In a scene where the two of them visit the now vacant Comet offices they run through the possibility, but decide that it would end up like Mutiny.  Cameron tells Donna that this time, though, it wouldn’t break their friendship.  Donna pushes the idea away, until Cameron is getting ready to pull out of town with her Airstream, and then she rushes out of the diner to stop her, with just four words: “I have an idea.”

We never find out what the idea was (something akin to Facebook maybe?), but it’s great that their friendship and partnership is going to continue.

Then we come to Joe and Gordon.  Joe needed Gordon to help carry out his ideas, and Gordon needed Joe to give them to him.  When Gordon died Joe was lost.  His relationship with Haley (Susanna Skaggs) was sweet, particularly when he recognizes that Haley is gay and gently tries to tell Gordon how to help her.  Being bisexual Joe understands the difficulties of navigating that minefield, particularly in the 90’s.  By series end Joe is almost the opposite of how he started.  He’s a big ol’ softie who realizes that his relationship with Cameron isn’t working and he’s lost his best friend Gordon.  I think he also realizes that his ideas were big, but that maybe he’s not capable of making them come to fruition, particularly now that he no longer has Gordon the hardware guy and Cameron the programming genius.  His original idea for Comet wasn’t going to work – Haley was the one who devised the actual software.  He needs a reluctant Cameron to put a fix in for Comet as he can’t do it himself, but when she does so they realize Yahoo has – gasp – toolbars, making Comet instantly obsolete.

So Joe ends up as he began, teaching.  Humanities courses of all things!  He starts the class as he did with the one where he found Cameron, with the words “Let me start by asking a question.”  He’s come full circle, but he’s not the same Joe he was then.  On his desk there are pictures of Gordon, Cameron and Haley, his makeshift family.  Also in his office is an old Cardiff computer.  He’s starting over, but this time he’s taking with him things from his past that wouldn’t have mattered to the old Joe.

It’s interesting that the writers, after the first series, started concentrating so much on the Donna and Cameron characters.  This last episode in particular was all about women in technology.  Donna has a party at her house for all the ladies in her firm, and gives a moving speech about how she has made it in that world.  Haley is taking college-level C++ classes.  Cameron’s software expertise along with Donna’s hardware know-how come into play when Haley has a problem with her computer.  Even in 2017 women can relate to how hard it can be to make it in a male-dominated field.  That co-creators Chris Rogers and Chris Cantwell are men makes an important statement.

So the series ends after four years with the best episodes of the show.  If there’s any justice in this world, there will be Emmy nominations forthcoming.

#HaltAndCatchFire #LeePace

 

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Fall is coming, and with it the anticipated premieres of some television shows that will hopefully get us out of the late summer doldrums.  There hasn’t been much going on in the theater.  I did see The Hitman’s Bodyguard, but didn’t end up reviewing it.  (Long story short: if you really need to go to the movies it’s OK, but the scene stealer in that film is Salma Hayek.)

Anyway, below are some series (and mini-series) I’m looking forward to or that I thought you might be.  Hit the Calendar page also for other upcoming dates of interest.  Entertainment Weekly has a comprehensive list here.

Outlander – Starz – Sunday, Sept. 10

Star Trek: Discovery – CBS All Access – Sunday, Sept. 24; Netflix will show the series outside of the U.S. and Canada, including the U.K., the day after it airs here

The Voice – NBC – Monday, Sept. 25/Tuesday, Sept. 26

Lethal Weapon – Fox – Tuesday, Sept. 26

LiarSundance Wednesday, Sept. 27, ITV Monday, Sept. 11

The Blacklist – NBC – Wednesday, Sept. 27

Will & Grace – NBC – Thursday, Sept. 28

Marvel’s Inhumans – ABC – Friday, Sept. 29

Poldark series 3 – PBS Masterpiece – Sunday, Oct. 1

Marvel’s Runaways – Hulu – Tuesday, Nov. 21

#Fall2017TV #LethalWeapon #StarTrekDiscovery

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As reported in Radio Times, Allison Williams (Girls) has been cast in the five-part series Melrose alongside star Benedict Cumberbatch.  Cumberbatch will also executive produce under his SunnyMarch banner.

Also in the cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh and Hugo Weaving.

The series is based on the Edward St. Aubyn Patrick Melrose novels.  Melrose was born into the English aristocracy, but struggles with an abusive father and a feckless mother.  He becomes a womanizer and substance abuser, but eventually comes out on the other side.  While this sounds like a very depressing read, the novels are also said to be very funny at times and gives the reader a look into the peculiar world of the British upper classes.

Melrose will be shown in the U.K. on Sky and in the U.S. on Showtime, where it’s expected to premiere sometime next year.

If you would like to read the novels, be aware that there are five, not four.  There are compilations out there of the novels, but some fail to include the final one, At Last.

#Melrose #BenedictCumberbatch

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I’m not bitter at ABC for cancelling Ioan Gruffudd’s Forever, nor for cancelling Pushing Daisies, a perennial favorite on the list of Shows That Were Cancelled Too Soon.  OK, maybe a little bitter.  Scratch that – still a lot bitter.

Anyway, the stars of those shows went on to other things (in Lee Pace’s case, he became an elf king, not a bad gig).  As mentioned in the post below, Ioan Gruffudd will be starring in a six-episode series on the Sundance Channel with Joanne Froggatt.

ABC is redeeming themselves a little bit in Gruffudd’s case.  He will be making a series in Australia for ABC Studios International, Harrow.  The show is in partnership with the Australian Broadcasting Company.  Gruffudd will once again be playing a forensic pathologist with a secret to hide.  The series will be shown here in the U.S.  You can find additional info here on Deadline.

If you haven’t been watching Halt and Catch Fire on AMC, you should go to their website and catch up before the fourth and final season starts on Saturday, August 19th.  Set in the early 1990’s the fourth season centers around a Really Big Thing that is about to happen… something called the internet.  The show stars Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis and Kerry Bishe.  Below is a teaser.

#IoanGruffudd #LeePace #HarrowMorgue #HaltAndCatchFire

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If you’ve been missing Joanne Froggatt  (Downton Abbey) and Ioan Gruffudd (Forever) on your television screens, you’re about to be a happy camper.

According to USA Today, the two will star in a six-episode series called Liar for the Sundance channel.

The synopsis is described in the article:

Froggatt stars as Laura Nielson, a school teacher who goes out on a seemingly innocent date with Andrew Earlham, a surgeon played by Gruffudd. When something goes wrong, the two of them get caught in a mix of accusations, lies, secrets and possible crimes.

Sounds intriguing.

The series premieres on September 27th.

#JoanneFroggatt #IoanGruffudd

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Emmy nominations came out yesterday.  The big winners were Westworld (although the biggest snub, in my opinion, was Ed Harris being left out) and SNL.

Sherlock: The Lying Detective was nominated as well as star Benedict Cumberbatch.

The late Carrie Fisher was nominated in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series category for her appearance on Amazon’s Catastrophe.

The awards show will air on September 17th and will be hosted by Stephen Colbert.

You can see the entire list of nominees here on the Emmy website.  Congrats to all!

#Emmys2017 #Sherlock #BenedictCumberbatch

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It’s been a month since I posted!  With all the crap going on around the world and at home I wasn’t particularly inspired, plus there wasn’t a lot of news to report.  I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 but after a lot of other folks, and frankly I didn’t write up a review on it because I actually liked the first one a lot better.  I imagine that’s a minority view, but that’s my opinion!

So now I’m going to post a couple of news tidbits from the last few days.

The first is a sad bit of news.  Sir Roger Moore has passed away at the age of 89 from cancer.  Moore was, of course, the third James Bond.  He did seven of the films, including Live and Let Die, The Man With The Golden Gun and The Spy Who Loved Me.  Prior to playing 007 he was Simon Templar, The Saint, for six seasons.  It was his work as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, however, that earned him his knighthood in 2003.  He leaves his wife Kristina and three children.

There are four Star Wars magazine covers I want to mention, and they’re not from EmpireVanity Fair will release in early June covers of The Last Jedi actors in costume, photographed by Annie Leibovitz.  One shows Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill; the second is of Gwendolyn Christie, Domhnall Gleeson and Adam Driver; Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran grace the third cover, and the fourth has the late Carrie Fisher by herself.  You can see the covers here on VF’s website.

For Downton Abbey fans there’s news of two of the show’s leading ladies.  Joanne Froggatt plays a serial killer in Dark Angel.  The first episode was last Sunday, but you can still catch it online here on PBS’ website.  Elizabeth McGovern will star in The Chaperone, a film written by Downtown creator Julian Fellowes.  After its run in theaters it will be shown on PBS.

#RogerMoore #StarWars #TheLastJedi #DowntonAbbey

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The BBC and ITV have teamed up to start a new streaming service, BritBox, according to Variety.

For us Anglophiles stuck here in the U.S. this is good news!  Many of us have been able to watch some British TV through, say, Netflix (hello, Midsomer Murders!) or if PBS decides to collaborate with or piggyback onto the BBC’s content, but have been frustrated that we’re unable to get ahold of some shows that are up online in the U.K. but are blocked for us viewers here in the States.

Enter BritBox, which brings a mixture of classic and current television.  Old favorites such as Blackadder, Fawlty Towers and The Office are available now, as are back episodes of current shows such as EastEnders and Casualty.  New episodes of those are loaded up the day after they air in the U.K.

If you like detective stories and mysteries, there’s Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes, Helen Mirren’s Prime Suspect, Joan Hickson as Miss Marple and Rosemary and Thyme, among others.

Bleak House, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and Upstairs, Downstairs (both the original 1971 version and the 2010 remake) are part of the historical drama contingent.

Right now the offerings are a little thin, but I would imagine that’s due to the BBC and ITV wanting to see if this takes off before adding more.  I would love to see Coupling on here, maybe Graham Norton, and possibly some game shows.

The service starts with a 7-day free trial and is $6.99 monthly thereafter.  To sign up go to BritBox.com.

#BritBox #BritishTelevision

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Actor Bill Paxton passed away yesterday from complications after surgery.

He had a long list of successful films, including Titanic, Apollo 13, Twister, Aliens and The Terminator.

Paxton also did a lot of television work.  His current small-screen project was the CBS television series Training Day.  His son James was to co-star with him in an upcoming episode.  He had also appeared in several episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and miniseries Hatfields & McCoys and Texas Rising, among many other roles.

His last film was The Circle with Emma Watson and Tom Hanks, which is in post-production.  That film will be released in the U.S. on April 28th.

Paxton leaves his wife Louise and a daughter in addition to son James.  Condolences to all.

#BillPaxton

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Some snippets of news for your Friday…

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Fox has given Lethal Weapon a renewal for season 2.  If you haven’t been watching this show you’re missing out.  And if someone doesn’t give Clayne Crawford some kind of award then there’s something wrong somewhere.  He’s done an incredible job all year taking on a very difficult role.  Love the rest of the cast also.

To almost everyone’s surprise, NBC has given Days Of Our Lives a renewal for its 52nd season.  Low ratings, Megyn Kelly and writing team shakeups notwithstanding, there will be more sand flowing through the hourglass!  While I only check in on my old soap occasionally, I would be very sad to see it go.  It’s like that old teddy bear in the box stuffed in the back of a closet… you may not look at it often, but you know it’s there if you want to.

Benedict Cumberbatch has another new project coming up, and surprisingly, this one is for the BBC and PBS’ Masterpiece.  According to Deadline, he will star as Stephen Lewis in The Child In Time, adapting the novel by Ian McEwan.  Benedict will also executive produce under his SunnyMarch TV banner.  The plot revolves around Lewis and his wife, and the difficulties they face after their daughter goes missing.

Benedict is filming The Current War, where he plays Thomas Edison to Michael Shannon’s George Westinghouse.  He’ll also be putting on the Cloak of Levitation again in Thor: Ragnarok and the sequel to Doctor Strange.  One busy man.

If you’re a Dan Stevens fan (and you’ve forgiven him for leaving Downton Abbey) then you can catch him in FX’s Legion as David Haller.  This is one of the more obscure X-Men characters.  The role is a big departure for Stevens from Downton and his upcoming princely role in the live-action Beauty and the Beast.

#LethalWeapon #DaysOfOurLives #TheCurrentWar #BenedictCumberbatch #LegionFX #DanStevens

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Last night the film La La Land and the television miniseries The Night Manager brought home some Golden Globes.

La La Land, the throwback musical film starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, won all eight Globes it was nominated for, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and best performance nods for Stone and Gosling.

In the film drama category the winner was Moonlight.  Isabelle Huppert took home the Best Actress award for Elle and actor Casey Affleck won for Manchester By The Sea.

Zootopia won the award for Best Motion Picture – Animated.

Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie won Globes for their performances in the AMC original miniseries The Night Manager.

The legendary Meryl Streep received this year’s Cecil B. DeMille Award.

You can see all the winners and nominees on the official Golden Globes website here.

#Golden Globes #LaLaLand #TheNightManager #TomHiddleston

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Please note that this review of the first episode of Sherlock series 4, titled The Six Thatchers, contains all kinds of spoilers.  If you haven’t seen the episode don’t read any farther.  Fair warning!

I’m also not going to hold back in this review.  As much as I loved the first two series of Sherlock, it started to go off the rails in series three and it has now completed that unfortunate detour.  I wish I could say that after two years Sherlock is back and it’s great.  But unfortunately I can wipe this episode off my DVR and feel no pain.

When we last saw Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) he had killed villain Charles Augustus Magnussen and it looked as though our hero would be banished from Britain.  Just four minutes later, however, he gets a reprieve and it turns out his brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss, who also wrote the episode) and three others in the British government devised a plan to doctor the security footage of the deed to make it look as though someone else did it.  The reason they do it is that it appears villain Moriarty has made some plans from beyond the grave and they need Sherlock to save the day (brother Mycroft’s spies seem to never be enough, apparently).  Despite the many mentions of Moriarty, however, he really has nothing to do with the episode and is just thrown in for… well, I’m not sure why he’s thrown in.

There is an actual case to be solved, the case of The Six Thatchers, which is a takeoff on the original Conan Doyle story The Adventure of the Six Napoleons.  In the original story six identical busts of Napoleon are shattered and Sherlock works out that a missing and valuable pearl was placed in one of them during manufacturing while they were still wet.  After the busts had been sold the thief had to hunt down and break them all to find it.  This story is speedily dispensed with in The Six Thatchers, with busts of old Maggie standing in for Napoleon.  Instead of a pearl, though, what’s found in the bust is a duplicate of the flash drive that was destroyed in the last series that has details of Mary Watson (Amanda Abbington) and her former assassin team’s info on it.

And here’s where we go off the rails.

(more…)

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One day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, passed away, her mother, legendary entertainer Debbie Reynolds, has also died.

debbie_reynolds_via_wikipediaDebbie Reynolds suffered a stroke while at her son Todd Fisher’s home and was rushed to the hospital where she later passed away, according to Variety.  She was 84 years old.

Reynolds was a fixture on screen in the 1950’s and 60’s, with such films as Singin’ In The Rain, Bundle of Joy and Three Little Words.  She was nominated several times for a Golden Globe as well as other awards, and in 1965 was nominated for an Oscar for The Unsinkable Molly Brown.  She was recently presented the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.  Her career as a singer included several albums that went to the top of the charts.

Reynolds married three times, but only had children with her first husband, Eddie Fisher.

Condolences to the family and friends of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

Image via Wikipedia.org

#DebbieReynolds #CarrieFisher

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Is everybody jolly out there?  Well, if not, I’m here to give you some ideas how to spend your time off from work.

  1. Go to a movie.  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the big one out there that you may have trouble getting tickets to.  Order them online if necessary.  I haven’t had time to check this one out yet, but I probably will in the next few days.  Chris Pratt’s Passengers is also out, but with a big ol’ Rotten Tomatoes splat (31% – yikes!) I’m not sure if I’ll put out the coin for that one or just wait for it to show up for rent online.  If anybody’s seen it feel free to let me know how it is by posting a comment.
  2. Watch Sherlock series 4.  This will premiere on the BBC and PBS on January 1 with the next two episodes on subsequent Sundays.  The last episode, The Final Problem, will also be shown in certain theaters.  See my previous post for more info.
  3. Do some charitable work and/or donate to your favorite cause.
  4. Catch up on Lethal Weapon.  Episodes are available for free online.
  5. Play with the furkids.  You got the felines and canines and any other animals in your lives presents, right?  Mine are getting a some-assembly-required new cat tree.  Cross your fingers I get this one put together before I have to go back to work.  I have 10 days.
  6. Rewatch all the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films.  That’ll take you a while.  Be sure to get up and stretch once in a while.
  7. Write down your New Year’s Resolutions.  Then put them in an envelope, tear them in half, and throw them away.  Seriously, who needs the pressure?
  8. Watch all the old Sherlock Holmes films with Basil Rathbone.  There were 14 of them.  Personally I’d skip the ones where they’re chasing Nazis (outside of the first two they were all in what was then present day.  No, BBC’s Sherlock wasn’t the first to do that).
  9. Listen to all 26 episodes of BBC radio’s Cabin Pressure.  With Benedict Cumberbatch and a crew of very funny people (including Anthony Head in some later episodes), it’s my go-to comedy series when I need a laugh.  You can order the CD’s or an Audible version on Amazon.

Everyone have a very happy whatever-you’re-celebrating, and hug the furkids for me!

#Sherlock #CabinPressure #LethalWeapon #StarWars

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The nominations for the Golden Globes are out, and there are some surprises as usual (Deadpool!! Ryan Reynolds!  Tom Hiddleston!)  Mostly this consists of a lot of stuff I haven’t seen, so I can’t say I’m particularly invested in who wins, but hey! Deadpool got nominated, so there’s that.

Highlights are below:

Best Motion Picture – Drama:

  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Lion
  • Manchester By The Sea
  • Moonlight

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy:

  • 20th Century Women
  • Deadpool
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • La La Land
  • Sing Street

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

  • Amy Adams, Arrival
  • Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane
  • Isabelle Huppert, Elle
  • Ruth Negga, Loving
  • Natalie Portman, Jackie

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama:

  • Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea
  • Joel Edgerton, Loving
  • Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
  • Denzel Washington, Fences

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy:

  • Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
  • Lily Collins, Rules Don’t Apply
  • Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen
  • Emma Stone, La La Land
  • Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy:

  • Colin Farrell, The Lobster
  • Ryan Gosling, La La Land
  • Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Jonah Hill, War Dogs
  • Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

Best Motion Picture – Animated:

  • Moana
  • My Life as a Zucchini
  • Sing
  • Zootopia
  • Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Television Series – Drama:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Stranger Things
  • This Is Us
  • Westworld
  • The Crown

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made For Television:

  • American Crime
  • The Dresser
  • The Night Manager
  • The Night Of
  • The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made For Television:

  • Riz Ahmed, The Night Of
  • Bryan Cranston, All The Way
  • Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager
  • John Turturro, The Night Of
  • Courtney B. Vance, The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

In addition, Hugh Laurie won a nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a  Supporting Role in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (whew – can they get all that on the statue?) for The Night Manager, where he played a very chilling villain.

A full list of the nominees can be found on the Golden Globes website.  The awards will be presented on January 8th.

Congratulations to all the nominees.

#GoldenGlobes #Deadpool #TomHiddleston #RyanReynolds

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