Herc’s Popular Pricing Pantry
The Blu-ray for the stunning first season of "Rome," $60.99 in April and $39.99 last month, has just plummeted to an all-time low of $23.99!! (66% Off!!) The Blu-ray for the magnificent second season of “Rome,” $39.99 last month and $32.99 last week, has also just plummeted to an all-time low of $23.99!! (66% Off!!)
New This Week
For those underwhelmed by the “Arrested Development” reunion at Fox’s “Running Wilde” last fall, the good news is there’s a second reunification of “Development” brothers-in-law David Cross and Will Arnett this fall via an IFC sitcom titled
“The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret.”
It’s about a weak-minded temp (Cross) who unexpectedly finds himself dispatched by his half-wit of a new boss (Arnett) to market to the British a vile Korean energy drink called Thunder Muscle. While “Wilde” is masterminded by Arnett and “Arrested” creator Mitch Hurwitz, “Margaret” was co-created by Cross, whose earlier endeavors as a screenwriter include HBO’s “Mr. Show” and Comedy Central’s animated “Freak Show.”
I believe Cross one of the funniest comics alive, but not every stand-up transitions to other media as brilliantly as did Woody Allen and Albert Brooks. “Mr. Show,” a sketch franchise, deserves its following.
“Freak Show” a bit more of a sitcom, was a bit less of a laugh generator. “Margaret” again demonstrates that writing situation comedies – even TV-MA ones – may not be Cross’ strongest suit. Todd Margaret is a mammoth boob, smart enough to recognize a good job when it lands in his lap, but too stupid to realize locking his cat in his apartment for a month with a giant dish of tuna and a bucket of water is not preferable to boarding the pet. (Margaret’s new salary is $120,000 annually so he really should have been able to swing that expense.)
Margaret also knows somehow that Leeds is a municipality in England -- but doesn’t know The Who didn’t play there every Saturday.
The character of Todd Margaret, like a lot of sitcom characters, doesn’t always make a lot of sense. Margaret is assigned a cruel and unpleasant young British assistant who seems to take great joy in exploring just how dim his new boss is.
The series is repetitive and often wearing, determined to make the point over and over that Margaret has not much of an intellect. The set pieces that demonstrate this almost always overstay their welcome.
But it’s not all bad. The thousands of boxes of the energy drink shipped to Margaret’s London office from Korea are labeled “Bad Sanitation!” I also enjoyed checking in with Margaret’s cat at the end of each episode. American guest stars on the series include Amber Tamblyn and Janeane Garofalo.
Despite the promising talent and amusing title, the poorest decision pertaining to "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" was the one to greenlight it. … it's a very one-note joke, adding a second creative disappointment (the other being Fox's "Running Wilde") to this fall's Cross-Will Arnett team-ups … A more fundamental problem lies with Cross, whose mixture of wide-eyed innocent/ugly American/myopic moron has no nuance to engender even a trace of sympathy for his plight. And haven't we seen Arnett play the same blowhard over and over again, to the point of becoming tiresome? …
… though it has moments of sublime satire and a typically memorable performance from Mr. Cross’s “Arrested Development” colleague Will Arnett, it still has the feel of a dish that has been sitting on the table well past the point of cooling. … all about its own ad-hoc lunacy, and yet it holds up as a pretty funny take on American corporate arrogance and as a symbol of the shift the workplace comedy has taken in recent years from an emphasis on relationships toward illustrations of dopey mismanagement. …
… not altogether successful … His attempts to speak the local lingo — "Hello, hello, if I could have a wee minute of a brief spot tinkling of your time" — are as strained as his conversations with women, where he is both elaborately courteous and helplessly gross. … This is fun at first, but it becomes tiring to see him continually swatted down. It isn't until the glimmer of a plot finally emerges, after Todd stumbles into a Middle Eastern market with a can of Thunder Muscle, eliciting sudden mysterious interest — that the series inches past mere mockery to the promise of more muscular misadventure. …
… by far the funnier of the two David Cross-Will Arnett series airing this fall … He's an idiot (after he hears a British waitress say "raison d'etre," he says, "Aww, I love raisins") but the situations are pretty funny and hilariously profane whenever Arnett is on screen. …
… It’s not must-see, but worth a half-hour, if you like Cross. …
A new Showtime drama about the family of the rich, lusty fellow who “ascended” to the Papacy around the time Columbus “discovered” America, “The Borgias” was written and directed by Neil Jordan (“The Crying Game,” “Interview With The Vampire,” “The Brave One”) and stars Jeremy Irons (“Brideshead Revisited,” “Reversal of Fortune,” “Die Hard With A Vengeance”), Joanne Whalley (“Willow,” “Scarlett,” “Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis”), Colm Feore (“24,” “Thor”) and Derek Jacobi (“I, Claudius,” “The King’s Speech”).
It lacks the full-bodied characterizations that made “Rome,” set 1,500 years earlier in the same general locale, such a ripping yarn.
I think Jordan means to shock us with these tales of a ruthless, fornicating Pope, but the papers now so bulge with tales of Christian clergy availing themselves of pre-teen genitalia, the idea of a power-driven, mistress-indulging Vicar of Christ is rendered almost quaint.
I will say Irons is fun to watch, but the series drags during the stretches that too often pull him offscreen.
… a lavish but joyless affair. Maybe in this kind of drama, trying to be too good is the cardinal sin. …
… Jeremy Irons plays the ruthless head of the Borgia clan with almost campy relish. It may the most villainous fun he has had on screen since he played Claus von Bülow in “Reversal of Fortune” …
… though Jordan has worked to make the Borgias understandable in human terms, it's hard to deeply care for them … it doesn't matter, finally, what becomes of them, we watch less in suspense than in wonder: wonder at the cheek and gall of these characters; wondering how true any of it is; and wondering, most profitably, at the performances, the least of which are good and the best of which are good fun. That, more than the story — which, notwithstanding the curlicues of palace intrigue, is in broad strokes easy to anticipate, so clear are everyone's intentions and options — is what makes "The Borgias" worth your while. …
… a bit pell-mell and almost cartoon-like … has a somewhat talky, two-hour premiere Sunday night, but it also moves through history at so fast a clip that character motivation is sacrificed. Borgia is crowned pope within the first hour, but the show never bothers to show viewers why, power grab aside, he wants it so badly. Also, he appears to take a mistress within hours of becoming pope when a young woman shows up from seemingly out of nowhere.
… tiresome … the ongoing identity crisis of "Camelot" is a tiny bit more entertaining than the more consistent tedium of "The Borgias," which tells the tale of the infamous 15th century Spanish family, whose patriarch Rodrigo became one of history's most controversial popes. That show has a more impressive pedigree - created by "The Crying Game" director Neil Jordan, and starring Jeremy Irons as Rodrigo - yet it would be hard to imagine a Hirst-penned version being any different, and Irons seems surprisingly bored by the whole project …
… has Jeremy Irons' steely portrayal at its core, and his velvety magnetism allows the viewer to pardon quite a few of this period drama's lesser sins (even if a few serious sins remain). …
The name alone conjures up images of depravity and debauchery. So why is “The Borgias” so dreary?…
… Irons doesn’t bring a lot of nuance to the role, but he nonetheless manages to balance his monster with a hint of godliness and a passion for diversity. But still, the story lines in “The Borgias’’ are terribly flat. … has all the surface requirements you’d expect from a prestige production. Now all it needs is a beating heart.
… captured by a sterling cast led in marvelous high style by Jeremy Irons, and presented with all the brio, flair and sumptuous design TV can muster, the infamous family is almost addictively entertaining. …
… The fact is, these kinds of grand historical reimaginings can be a scrumptious combination of costume drama acting, soap opera theatrics and pay cable promiscuousness. That’ll make the hours fly by. And it doesn’t mean your pleasure needs to be all that guilty.
“Shameless,” Showtime’s American version of a long-running British series, follows the scam-happy family of a hard-drinking, welfare-squandering patriarch. John Wells (“ER”) and John Abbott (“State Of Play”) handle scripting for the American version.
It stars Emmy Rossum (“The Phantom of the Opera”), William H. Macy (“Wild Hogs”), Joan Cusack (“What About Joan”), Joel Murray (“Mad Men”) and Marguerite Moreau (“Parenthood”).
The series is certainly better than its promos let on, though Macy really does chew too energetically on scenery. Happily the pilot puts a lot more focus on the sexy Rossum, who is fetching parading around in her undies in the second scene and indulges some Showtime-style nudity before the pilot’s 20-minute mark.
Some of it is a little predictable; a lot of it is too cute. The photography and direction are strong, as is a lot of the acting. It’s more entertaining on the whole than Wells’ “Southland” over on TNT if that’s any measure.
The critics are all over the place:
The New York Times says:
… surprisingly appealing, crude, funny and also touching …
… strangely unlikable … seems determined to knock viewers on the head by turns with sledgehammers of grittiness and preachiness, never a good combination. …
… one of the best things I've watched on TV in many months. … The last dysfunctional family drama I can recall getting off to such a good start was "Six Feet Under," with which "Shameless" shares a certain vibe. …
… Not only is there honor among the members of the nimble-witted Gallagher family on Showtime's "Shameless," but a lot of love, smart writing and simply extraordinary performances … In its own, yes, quirky way, "Shameless" is irresistibly heartwarming. It's also great television. …
… the family's scams, adventures and predicaments are interesting enough to keep things perking along, though the episodes occasionally feel a bit long (their running time is generally around 52 or 53 minutes). The danger of a sprawling ensemble show is that there are sometimes too many characters to service adequately. Not all of them pull their weight here, but most are at least mildly interesting. Still, if there isn't a season-long arc to pull us in, establishing empathy for a few central characters is even more important. …
… a remake of an inexplicably popular British series … Joan Cusack wastes her talents as a tightly wound neighbor who doesn’t realize what her teenage daughter is doing just inches away from her. …
… For all the show's flaws, you can see the attraction for an actor of Macy's quality, with the kind of showy, outsized role that wins awards. But as fine an actor as he is, Frank just comes across as loud and empty. Much like Shameless.
… excellent, compelling television from the first moment. As long as it stays true to the roots of the original, it's going to be essential viewing.
… wallows in dreariness without offering enough dramatic compensation in return. … For the most part, there's nothing here to be ashamed of. It's just that at a time when TV drama is so flush with riches, "Shameless" plays like a poor relative. …
The Donna Reed Show 4.x
The Franchise 1.x
Futurama Vol. 6
Futurama Vol. 6 (Blu-ray)
My Life As A Teenage Robot 1.x
My Life As A Teenage Robot 2.x
One Tree Hill 8.x
Justified 2.x (Blu-ray)
Mildred Pierce: The Complete Miniseries
Mildred Pierce: The Complete Miniseries (Blu-ray)
Only When I Laugh: The Ultimate Collection
Royal Pains 3.x Vol. 1
SpongeBob's Frozen Face-Off
That's My Boy: The Complete Series
Boardwalk Empire 1.x
Looney Tunes Showcase Vol. 1 (Blu-ray)
Pacific Blue 1.x
Pacific Blue: The Complete Series
Penguins of Madagascar: Operation Blowhole
Primeval Vol. 3
Primeval Vol. 3 (Blu-ray)
thirtysomething 1.x Vol. 2 ($9.98)
Adam 12 6.x
Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipmunk Valentine
Babar: Out Of This World
George Gently 1.x (Blu-ray)
Mad 1.x Vol. 2
Waking The Dead 6.x
Ancient Aliens 3.x
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century 1.x
Kojak: The Complete Movie Collection
Meet The Browns 4.x
Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated 2.x Vol. 1
Agatha Christie's Poirot 1.x
Agatha Christie's Poirot 2.x
Agatha Christie's Poirot 1.x (Blu-ray)
Agatha Christie's Poirot 2.x (Blu-ray)
The Comic Strip Presents: The Complete Collection
Diagnosis Murder Movie Collection
Hey Dude 2.x
Leave It To Beaver: 20 Timeless Classics
Poldark: The Complete Collection
Downton Abbey: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
The Father Dowling Mysteries 1.x
Hell's Kitchen 6.x
Mayday 3.x/4.x (Blu-ray)
New Tricks 6.x
Police Woman 2.x
Rocko's Modern Life 2.x
The Adventure Of Chuck & Friends: Friends To The Finish
Beavis & Butt-Head Vol. 4
Beavis & Butt-Head Vol. 4 (Blu-ray)
Doctor Who: The Sensorites
Dog the Bounty Hunter: Taking It to the Streets
Family Matters 2.x
Frederick Forsyth: Six Movies
Jem And The Holograms 2.x
Murder, She Wrote: 4 Movie Collection
Overland Trail: The Complete Series
Robin of Sherwood Vol. 2 (Blu-ray)
Storage Wars Vol. 2
They Came From Outer Space: The Complete Series
Todd and the Book of Pure Evil
Top Gear 17.x
Top Gear 17.x (Blu-ray)
Adventure Time: It Came From the Nightosphere
Best of Cheers <--- NEW!!
Best of Frasier <--- NEW!!
Best of Happy Days <--- NEW!!
Best of Hogan’s Heroes <--- NEW!!
Best of the Honeymooners <--- NEW!!
Best of MacGyver <--- NEW!!
Best of The Odd Couple <--- NEW!!
Game of Thrones 1.x
The Virginian 6.x <--- NEW!!
Wagon Train 5.x <--- NEW!!