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The first series from “Lost” showrunner Carlton Cuse since Hurley was put in charge of Dharma Island, “Bates Motel” is a prequel to 1960’s “Psycho” but set in the present, with young Norman Bates listening to his iPhone with earbuds, and the locals involved with marijuana farming.
Freddie Highmore (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) plays Norman and Vera Farmiga (“Up In The Air”) plays Norman’s mom Norma. “Lost” player and Anthony Perkins lookalike Nestor Carbonell portrays the local sheriff.
“Bates” turned out to be surprisingly addictive, and Norman’s dog broke my heart. I give a lot of credit to Cuse, who kept the storyline hopping, and Farmiga, who made Norma quite a lot of fun to watch.
... this strange hybrid is weighted down by the fact that we know how this story ends. … The additions to the "Psycho" universe are understandable, in theory: Horror depends on the element of surprise, and new characters (unlike characters whose arcs are already mapped out) may be able to take part in unforeseen developments. None of the new characters are all that interesting on their own, however, and their pallor continually throws the focus back on the core Bates duo … All in all, the stories about the town feel somewhat contrived, and the lead characters' arcs feel predictable, despite the texture the actors are occasionally able to give the material. … what I've seen of the show makes me think that it's ultimately an example of Boba Fett Syndrome: When it comes to what we know about certain characters, sometimes less is more.
... The lead performances, and the way that relationship is written, are all excellent enough to stick around a little while longer in the hopes that “Bates Motel” as a whole becomes something more interesting. But a lot of that may also depend on what exactly Cuse and Ehrin want Norman Bates to turn into, and how quickly. But based on early episodes, the old movie version of Norman — who only had to inhabit a 109-minute feature (and not even all of it) — clearly had a better circumstance. …
... at its best it’s intriguing and enjoyably grim. But even more than Norman, the series itself has a split personality, a Hitchcock classic grafted onto a much more mundane brand of suspense. Each new twist moves it further from “Psycho” and closer to Nancy Drew.
... Three episodes in, the story is certainly serpentine, at times self-consciously so. But there does appear to be writerly method in the madness. More important, there is Farmiga, and she, like Norma, appears up to any task. …
... kind of a mess, but that's one of the reasons it's fun to watch. …
... I don’t give up easily, and I’m glad I kept going with “Bates Motel,” which turns out to be a worthy reimagining of the Norman Bates story. … I’m going to check in and take a shower. I have a feeling I’ll regret it in a couple more episodes, but I need the rest, and there’s something oddly comforting about all these creeps.
... takes a few episodes to get going as the writers build the world of White Pine Bay, and the story appears poised to really kick into a higher gear with a revelation at the end of the third episode. Up to this point "Bates Motel" is an OK character drama, but in building the broader world it inhabits the show begins to come into sharper focus. Creating a more fully realized fictional world offers promise that "Bates Motel" will grow into a deeper, more mysterious TV drama.…
... you won’t find the suspense or the thrills of such horror hits as AMC’s “The Walking Dead” or FX’s “American Horror Story,” much less any of the freak-out scares of the classic …
... sufficiently creepy … I should stress that “Bates Motel” isn’t for everyone, and not only because of the violence. The show offers little in the way of triumph, as least so far. If there are sweet moments, they are tinged with eeriness. And we know where this whole thing is ultimately headed, don’t we, and redemption is definitely not in the picture. …
... mostly serves to prove that the original already used up all the good parts of the story. What's left, sadly, plays like a remnants sale. …
... Expect a slow(ish) rollout for Bates Motel, as the first couple of episodes establish character and location, before things take an uptick during episode three. But there’s more than enough intrigue and entertainment -- on top of Farmiga’s outstanding turn -- to keep viewers wanting more of this new-style nonhomage to Psycho.
… looks fraught with peril, and destined to quickly strain credibility. ... Audiences have demonstrated a taste for even flawed horror, but after almost-certain sampling, keeping “Bates Motel” open should be its own nightmare.… To their credit, the producers do keep things interesting, for the most part without resorting to the cheap tricks that have characterized the vastly overrated “American Horror Story.” Nevertheless, the premise becomes its own creative prison, fostering a hurry-up-and-wait attitude …
“Arrow,” a new CW series based on DC Comics’ popular Green Arrow superhero character, comes to us from Greg Berlanti, the longtime “Dawson’s Creek” showrunner who wrote both ABC’s “No Ordinary Family” superhero series and the big-screen “Green Lantern” movie (also based on a popular DC comics franchise).
This is not the Green Arrow who became a regular character on “Smallville.” This Ollie Queen never met Clark Kent and, indeed, appears to exist in a world without superpowers.
In this version of the tale, zillioniare Queen not only learned his archery skills while shipwrecked five years on a remote island, he also apparently invented an arrow that can drain bank accounts of millions of dollars. Hopefully it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Queen also appears to have grown quite adept at parkour.
Queen is so good with his bow that multiple bad guys toting machine guns find themselves running away from him.
The guy who plays Queen looks like he does a lot of sit-ups.
… competently-made ... well-done for what it's trying to be. Perhaps in time it'll find its own distinct take on Green Arrow, even if it's not exactly what O'Neill, Grell and other writers did with him on the page. …
... pretty watchable, even for those who tune in agenda-free. …
... with executive producers Greg Berlanti ("Green Lantern"), Marc Guggenheim ("FlashForward"), Andrew Kreisberg ("Warehouse 13," "The Vampire Diaries") and David Nutter ("Smallville," "Supernatural," "Game of Thrones"), the quality of "Arrow" is not surprising. …
... There is absolutely nothing new about anything seen here — including Ollie’s “Hamlet”-like oedipal issues about his mother’s remarriage and the pomposity that lurks on every parapet in comic-book movies and TV shows — and yet “Arrow” has nice aim. Grade: B- …
... pure, action-packed fun worthy of the kind of longevity that "Smallville" enjoyed for 10 seasons …
... hits its target as an OK comic book-inspired show. …
... If that all sounds a little silly and yet fairly dark, it is. Both the tone of the pilot, in which this superhero is a killer and another character commits suicide, and the show’s look — it rains atmospherically on the island, at sea, and in Starling City — set a grim mood, even as Amell’s stilted narration keeps it in slightly cartoonish territory. …
... Granted, it's all standard superhero stuff. But the action scenes are well-handled, the emotions and the characters mostly ring true, and the plot offers enough twists to keep you intrigued. …
... proves to be both on-brand and entertaining -- if you turn off the snark detector and downplay the need for plausibility or logic. …
... there's only so much action an hourlong drama can afford, and the characters necessary to sustain the series are, initially, strictly two-dimensional …
A music-biz soap from screenwriter Callie Khouri (“Thelma & Louise,” “Something To Talk About,” “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”), “Nashville” follows a fading country music megastar who finds herself forced to open for a younger, hotter act.
It stars Connie Britton (“Friday Night Lights”), Hayden Panettiere (“Heroes”), Eric Close (“Without A Trace”) and Powers Booth (“Deadwood,” “Hatfields & McCoys”).
... It's a much better follow-up to "Friday Night Lights" for [Connie Britton] than "American Horror Story" was. … a smart mix of soap opera, music and political intrigue. …
... give "Nashville" a chance, but not just because Connie Britton is terrific in it. There are a host of other reasons to check out this ABC drama: The supporting cast is uniformly terrific, a series of political and personal dilemmas are depicted with thoughtful nuance, and this show isn't so much about country music as it is about a desire to communicate, be loved and be heard. …
... In the pilot most things that have to do with music and the music business are good, and most things that don’t are dull and sometimes worse. …
... you really don't have to love country music to love "Nashville." In fact, even if you find this kind of music corny and simplistic, you may find yourself coming away from the show singing an entirely different tune. …
... I half expect that “Nashville” may well be lured down the path of eye-rolling melodrama soon enough (like NBC’s “Smash”), but until then, I’d like to bask in its tender perfection.
... it's the clear writing and the blunt, brass tacks portrayal of Rayna's business dealings that give credibility to the characters and authenticity to the situations …
... The mix of music, political power-plays and pure soap promises to be addictive. …
... It’s not the “quality” programming found on HBO or Showtime, or a sensitively written saga in the vein of “Friday Night Lights.” But then it’s not quite a trashy, scandal-driven, operatic soap on the order of “Revenge,” either. “Nashville” falls somewhere in between the two extremes, a story that thrives on heightened melodrama and big twists but gives its characters more depth than you generally find in network lather-fests. …
... an entertaining hour of fine acting, writing and ambition. Even if you’re not a country music fan, the rest of Nashville is singing a different, intriguing tune.…
... While there's promise in the pilot and especially the casting, the show feels a trifle disjointed, as if compelled to load up on a surplus of elements and subplots. Better that, perhaps, than fumbling for storylines, but if there's this much crooning throughout, the series might lose some viewers who simply grow weary of "She done him wrong" songs. …
A CBS procedural set in 1961, “Vegas” stars Dennis Quaid as a rancher-turned-sheriff who takes on the mobsters who continue to infiltrate his county.
The big screen’s “The Godfather” and “Bugsy” made it pretty clear that gangsters had already begun to exert their influence on Vegas way back in the 1940s, but the new TV show may want us to think that it’s portraying the start of something.
All those “Mad Men” Emmys keep bored network execs thinking about the early 1960s, undeterred by the failures of “Playboy Club” and “Pan Am,” or the barely-there audience attracted by Starz’ “Magic City.”
The main mobster, Vincent Savino, is played by Michael Chiklis (“The Shield,” “No Ordinary Family”), who carries over the shaved head he sported in his earlier series, even though I’m not sure a lot of Americans bothered to shave their heads in 1960.
The series comes to us from “Goodfellas”/“Casino” writer/producer Nick Pileggi, who earlier gave CBS the short-lived 1998 David Caruso lawyer hourlong “Michael Hayes.”
Does the new series more resemble “GoodFellas” or “Michael Hayes”?
I’ve little memory of “Michael Hayes,” but “Vegas” does not much resemble the violent gangster movies Pileggi wrote for Martin Scorsese, nor does it stray far from the proven procedural format that brings high ratings to so many of CBS’ dramas.
Though the pilot deals mostly with the murder of one of Savino’s casino employees, I kept wanting to see Quaid (who seems to be morphing agreeably into Harrison Ford these days) share more screentime with Chiklis. Alas, there’s not a lot of that in episode one, and the opener’s mystery isn’t anywhere near compelling enough to make up for it.
… beneath the period details and despite a cast that includes Michael Chiklis, Carrie-Anne Moss and Jason O’Mara, “Vegas” is something profoundly ordinary: a CBS crime procedural, with all the professionalism and limited ambition that tends to imply. …
... the murder mystery that gets the story going is itself less than compelling — I was never moved to try to solve it on my own, nor did I ever really care who done it. But there is much else to see. …
... follows CBS’ tried-and-true crime-of-the-week formula but sets it against a larger saga chronicling a desert town’s transformation into the entertainment mecca we know today. …
... The murder introduces a standard whodunit into the action, of course, but the show never strays far from either the black-hat/white-hat wariness between Lamb and Savino, or from the theme of civilization versus the wilderness. … Whether you see the seams or not, though, what matters is that it all works, and we'll keep watching, if only to see Quaid and Chiklis square off against each other week after week.
... A large supporting cast — including “Terra Nova’s” Jason O’Mara as Ralph’s loyal brother/deputy, and “The Matrix’s” Carrie-Ann Moss as an assistant district attorney — helps “Vegas” appear to be compelling and classy. And then CBS lapses into its old habit, as Lamb and company squander all this intriguing potential trying to solve their first of many cases: The governor’s niece has turned up murdered in a ditch near the nuclear proving grounds. I say nuke the sleuthing and find the courage to focus more on the characters and drama.
... The murder mystery is less interesting than the prospective plots involving Las Vegas politics -- the mayor and district attorney appear to be in the pockets of Savino and other casino owners -- but this being CBS, the show's procedural elements will probably dominate. …
… Ralph leans on his younger brother Jack (Jason O’Mara, “Life on Mars”) and his randy son Dixon (Taylor Handley) to solve the murder, and what follows is typical of these CBS shows — convoluted and nonsensical. … The overheated dialogue seems cribbed from bad film noir. …
… just a lot of set dressing built around what looks like will be a standard police procedural. ... with so many exciting elements — top-notch cast, setting, and writer, not to mention a fantastic-looking re-creation of the old strip — why does “Vegas” feel so dull? …
... the weight of carrying the show falls on Quaid, and he carries it easily. From an early look of stunned surprise that quickly shifts to retaliatory anger, to a late-show mischievous grin when he chastises a suspect for being rude, Quaid reminds you he's a star -- and has been pretty much from the moment he hit the big screen. Don't bet on the small screen resisting.
... if the premise sets up a promising square-off of titans, the premiere retreats to a rather predictable, time-killing murder mystery, which serves to establish Lamb's new role, but also smacks more of CBS' stodgier procedurals than a character-driven drama. …
... The trick to whether Vegas ultimately can reach its potential (which might not happen even if it’s a runaway hit) is getting the audience to identify with Lamb to the extent that they see the transformation of Las Vegas through his eyes. That means the ongoing cat-and-mouse game with Savino must be real and have patience. If it devolves into Lamb busting up bikers each week or a killing-of-the-week at various casinos, then it will fall short on ambition. …
Army Wives 7.x
Arthur C. Clarke Collection: Mysterious World
Arthur C. Clarke Collection: Mysterious Universe
The Big Bang Theory 6.x
The Big Bang Theory 6.x (Blu-ray)
Blue Bloods 3.x
Chicago Fire 1.x
Hell's Kitchen 9.x
Homeland 2.x (Blu-ray)
Hullabaloo: Best Of Vol. 1
In Search Of ... 5.x
In Search Of ... 6.x
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia 8.x
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia 8.x (Blu-ray)
The League 4.x
The League 4.x (Blu-ray)
Mama's Family 1.x
Mama's Family 2.x
The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis 1.x
Nichols: The Complete Series
Parade's End: The Complete Miniseries
Parade's End: The Complete Miniseries (Blu-ray)
Scooby-Doo: 13 Spooky Tales Run for Your Rife
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Star Trek: Into Darkness (Blu-ray)
Star Trek: Into Darkness (3D Blu-ray)
Star Trek: Origins (Blu-ray)
Supernatural 8.x (Blu-ray)
Tales From The Cryptkeeper: Myth Conceptions
Tales From The Cryptkeeper: Transylvania Express
Wanted: Dead or Alive - The Complete Series - Special Edition
Two and a Half Men 10.x
Beauty and the Beast 1.x
Beetlejuice: A Halloween Spooktacular
The Big Bang Theory 1.x (Blu-ray)
The Big Bang Theory 2.x (Blu-ray)
Cagney & Lacey Vol. 4
Cagney & Lacey Vol. 5
Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
New Girl 2.x
Phineas & Ferb: Mission Marvel
Silk Stalkings 6.x-8.x
Snoopy's Holiday Collection
Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters: The Complete Series NEW!!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 3
Tom & Jerry's Winter Wackiness
Wings 1.x/2.x NEW!!
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series
Adventure Time Vol. 3
American Horror Story 2.x
Doctor Who: Terror of the Zygons
An Evening At The Improv: Best Of
Inspector Gadget 1.x
Inspector Gadget 2.x
Inspector Lewis 1.x-6.x
MacKenzie's Raiders: The Complete Series
The Middle 3.x
My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: A Very Minty Christmas
Super Friends 6.x
Super Mario World: The Complete Series
Totally Spies 2.x
Totally Spies 1.x-3.x
Transformers Prime: Predacons Rising
Transformers Prime: Predacons Rising (Blu-ray)
White Collar 4.x
Anger Management: Episodes 11-32
Anger Management: Episodes 11-32 (Blu-ray)
Arrested Development: Three Original Seasons NEW!!
Beverly Hills Teens Vol. 2 NEW!!
Defiance 1.x (Blu-ray)
DeGrassi The Next Generation 12.x
Gentle Ben 1.x
Gravity Falls: Six Strange Tales
Hart of Dixie 2.x
Highway To Heaven 2.x NEW!!
The Honeymooners: The Classic 39 Episodes (Blu-ray)
Nikita 3.x (Blu-ray)
Primeval The New World: Complete Series
Primeval The New World: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
Transformers Rescue Bots Vol. 3
The Young Riders 2.x
Burning Love 1.x
Damages: The Complete Series
Family Tree 1.x
Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas
Absolutely Fabulous: The Complete Series Special Edition
Ben 10 Omniverse Vol. 3
Beverly Hills 90210: The Complete Series
Boy Meets World: The Complete Collection
Weeds: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray)
Combat: The Complete Series
Grizzly Adams: The Capture Of
Mad TV 4.x
Merlin: The Complete Series Gift Set
The Paradise 1.x
The Paradise 1.x (Blu-ray)
Twilight Zone: The Complete Series (No Extras)
Downton Abbey 4.x NEW!!