Herc’s Popular Pricing Pantry
Season one of “Alphas” (overseen by writer and “Deep Space Nine” showrunner Ira Steven Behr), $40.48 in 2012 and $30.27 last year, just plummeted to its lowest price ever: $5.00!!
New This Week
An unusually witty hourlong about a woman’s correctional institution from “Weeds” mastermind Jenji Kohan, “Orange Is The New Black” depicts a hot yuppie blonde who unexpectedly finds herself serving out 15 months in prison for her decade-earlier role in a drug-smuggling scheme.
Having hungrily consumed in one afternoon the first six episodes made available to critics, I think I’d have to go way back – maybe as far back as the premiere of HBO’s “Game Of Thrones” two years ago – to remember when I’ve had more fun with a new series.
So, well done, Netflix. I sense your subscriber base swelling even as we speak.
“Orange” is loosely based on the Piper Kernan memoir, but it feels like what we’d see if Kohan decided to finally depict the three lesbitastic off-screen years “Weeds” heroine Nancy Botwin served in prison on drug charges.
Though there’s a necessary darkness to the series, the prison to which Piper Chapman (“Mercy” vet Taylor Schilling) is exiled feels more like a shabby boarding school, with its own cliques, uniforms, classes, recesses and cafeteria food. There’s a decent amount of verbal conflict – some playful, some less so – but no actually shanking, at least in the early going.
The element of Chapman’s new life that seems to trouble her most, in fact, is that she’s locked up with Alex Vause (Laura Prepon, never sexier thanks to darkened hair and hipster eyewear), the estranged smuggling partner and scorned lesbian lover who provided the testimony that got Chapman tossed in stir.
So instead of “Born Innocent” shower rape and other types of unpleasant prison violence, we get a lot of entertaining and often likeable characters. One of my favorites is George “Pornstache” Mendez (Pablo Schreiber, who also played Nick Sobotka on “The Wire”), a guard who manages to be vulgar, cruel and truly funny all at once – much in the manner of R. Lee Ermay’s iconic drill sergeant in “Full Metal Jacket.”
More than a few of these beguiling characters sport recognizable faces, among them those of “American Pie” vets Natasha Lyonne and Jason Biggs (the latter gets a sight gag involving AMC’s “Mad Men” that got a huge laugh out of me), “Star Trek” icon Kate Mulgrew, “8 Mile” refugee Taryn Manning, and the great Todd Sussman (once Officer Shifflett on “Newhart”) – always hilariously deadpan as Chapman’s disapproving future father-in-law.
... At first the show felt merely like a pleasant surprise — Kohan and company surpassing the most minimal of expectations — but as I began buzzing through one hour after another after another in that addictive Netflix way where episodes are stacked appealingly in front of you like Pringles, I was feeling genuine enjoyment. "Orange Is the New Black" is perhaps the least-heralded Netflix original so far. It's also the most satisfying. … I had no plans for this series beyond the couple of episodes I expected to watch before writing this review. Now, I can't wait to find time to watch the rest of this first season.
... "Orange" is one of the best new programs of the year, and the six episodes I've seen have left me hungry to see more. … It is mind-boggling that so many disparate things hang together so well in "Orange," which manages to be both subversive and serious, sweet and viciously barbed. …
... You may come for the culture-clash cringe-comedy; it’s the real human stories that will have you captivated.
... As with the excellent first season of “Weeds,” the humor in “Orange” is often sharp, particularly when it focuses on Chapman’s self-absorption and neuroses. …
... this is the most impressive group of female characters ever assembled in a series, and it's not just window-dressing; each woman has a story and that story will be told. Netflix may wind up changing the world after all.
... In every case, there is an abiding feeling for character and authenticity that helps elevate Orange Is the New Black to a new definition of television excellence. …
... proves to be a smart, solid, entertaining effort for the online streaming service. No wonder this drama with comedic moments has already been renewed for a second season to debut in 2014. …
... Full disclosure: Netflix’s press site allowed this viewer to watch only one episode before crashing. Based on the premiere, however, the show appears to be an uneven hour that hesitates at going either for the full-throttle laugh or an authentic dramatic beat. …
... a funny, dramatically sound, poignant, and thoroughly addictive adventure …
... a true rarity: a deft mix of comedy and drama in which the prison feels like a real place and the women are actual people …
... And so it was with a welcome sigh of relief and a telling amount of optimism that the first four episodes of Netflix’s new drama series Orange Is the New Black, premiering July 11, not only surprised but at various points astounded. … Balancing both light and searing comedy with a serious, insightful attempt at drama is a tough road. It may eventually be the undoing of Orange, but for now, Kohan’s manipulation of tone is incredibly impressive. … by all means self-surrender to it.
... Although messy and at times uneven, the one-hour series feels like a bull’s-eye…
A terrible Starz hourlong about a hotel in 1959 Miami Beach, “Magic City” comes to us from Mitch Glazer, the writer-director of 2010’s “Passion Play” (3% positive on Rotten Tomatoes). His prior screenwriting credits include 2003’s “The Recruit (43% positive), 1998’s “Great Expectations” (38%), 1993’s “Three of Hearts” (56%) and 1988’s “Scrooged” (17%).
If you’re not expecting much from a man with that resume, your expectations will be met. “Magic” follows “Playboy Club” and “Pan Am” as a series set in the “Mad Men” era but bereft of anything approaching “Mad Mad” mastermind Matt Weiner’s genius.
The series stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan (“Watchmen,” “Grey’s Anatomy”), Olga Kurylenko (“Quantum of Solace”), Steven Strait (“10,000 B.C.”), Christian Cooke (the U.K. miniseries “The Promise”), Alex Rocco (the hotel owner in “The Godfather”), Danny Huston (“Wolverine,” the “Titans” movies) and Jessica Marais (“Legend of the Seeker”).
Morgan plays Ike Evans, owner of a lavish but financially troubled beachfront hotel, the Miramar. He is reluctantly partnered on the facility with mobster Ben “The Butcher” Diamond. One of Ike’s sons has political ambitions and wants to bone one of the housekeepers; the other is sleeping with the mobster’s third wife, and may have designs on his own young stepmother.
The scenery’s nice and the nudity is plentiful, but the dialog is awful and the characters are boring. This is a series that has nothing new or interesting on its mind.
... a mess, filled with paper-thin characters and clichéd dialogue and storylines. If not for the appealing lead performance by Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Ike, large stretches of the series would be unwatchable, even with all the lovely visuals. …
... Everything about "Magic City" shows a lack of depth, and the pacing is almost glacial. …
... The narrative is all mystique and not enough mystery, a moody melodrama that leaves no cliché of the mobster genre untouched, or improved. …
... the fate of Ike's hotel, and Ike, and everybody else here holds no sway or suspense. Glazer has built a beautiful edifice here, but he still needs to get some life into the place.
… the writing is a painfully failed attempt at replicating the dialogue of a 1940s noir film or classic crime fiction. You could tell the show creator to can the writer, except that they are the same guy: Mitch Glazer. … Huston is so bad, he actually makes his half-sister look good chewing scenery every week in "Smash." …
... becomes inexorably dull — a forced exercise in deceptions, killings, affairs and under-the-table deals. … suffers from endless predictability and a lack of creative storytelling. It’s too easy to get into — and get out of. …
... the show is gorgeous, but it needs to reveal some substance. …
... leaden dialogue … paint-by-numbers plot. ... Through it all, there isn't a plot twist you won't see coming, or a character you ever want to see again …
… Early on, there’s enough intrigue and style in Magic City to keep the viewer wanting more, but it’s not as fully realized from the get-go as shows like Mad Men, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad. …
… checking into the Miramar Plaza is an offer you can afford to refuse.
Adventure Time Vol. 6
The Andy Griffith Show 1.x (Blu-ray)
Ben 10 & Friends
China Beach 3.x
DC Super Heroes: The Filmation Adventures Vol. 2
The Honeymooners: The Classic 39 Episodes (Blu-ray)
I Love Lucy 1.x (Blu-ray)
Laverne & Shirley 8.x
Little House On The Prairie 2.x (Blu-ray)
Looney Tunes Center Stage Vol. 2
The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis 3.x
Poirot 12.x (Blu-ray)
Republic of Doyle 1.x
Rookie Blue 4.x
Transformers Energon: The Complete Series
Bob's Burgers 3.x NEW!!
Last Man Standing 1.x NEW!!
Last Man Standing 2.x NEW!!
Transformers Energon Vol. 1
Bron/Broen (The Bridge) (Blu-ray) 1.x NEW!!
Cimarron Strip: The Complete Series
Covert Affairs 4.x
Dragons: Defenders Of Berk Vol. 2
Longmire 1.x/2.x (Blu-ray)
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries 2.x
Pioneers of Television 4.x
The Universe 7.x
House of Cards 2.x
Power Rangers Megaforce Vol. 4
Red Shoe Diaries 1.x
Regular Show 3.x
Scott & Bailey 1.x
This Is America, Charlie Brown
Teen Wolf 3.x Vol. 2
Tosh.0 Vol. 4
Wilfred 3.x (Blu-ray)
The Witches Of East End 1.x
Helix 1.x NEW!!
Hell On Wheels 3.x NEW!!
Hell On Wheels 3.x (Blu-ray) NEW!!
How The West Was Won 2.x
Last Tango in Halifax 2.x
Now and Again: The Complete Series
Adventure Time Vol. 7
My Little Pony: The Keys Of Friendship
The Nanny 1.x ($9.98) NEW!!
Ninjago 3.x Vol. 1 NEW!!
Top Gear 21.x
Boardwalk Empire 4.x NEW!!
Newhart 4.x NEW!!
The Equalizer 2.x NEW!!
The Roosevelts NEW!!