The Undefendable Defenders

August 19th, 2017

This post is about the Defenders series on Netflix. No major spoilers in the post (I think), but just be warned!

Yesterday saw the release of the somewhat anticipated The Defenders, the so-called Avengers of the small screen. It was supposed to represent the culmination of the same formula that worked so well on the big screen, bringing all your favourite heroes together all at the same time. I’m saying it was supposed to, because it really wasn’t the experience I took away.

For those who don’t know who the Defenders are1, let me give you a brief history. The collective of heroes known as the Defenders is made of the four New York City protectors: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. These names should sound quite familiar to Netflix’s viewers since they all had at least one season of independent stories each before joining forces this summer.

Daredevil was the one that kicked off the MTU2 and is the one so far with two singular seasons under his belt (with Jessica Jones currently filming the next one) and he’s one of the most popular of the four, closely followed by Luke Cage. I personally liked Jessica Jones more than Cage, but it was a close fight between the two.

The most problematic character of the four is certainly Danny Rand, a.k.a. the Immortal Iron Fist. His singular season was a bit of disaster, with a terrible critical response. The writing was certainly of a lower quality when compared to the others, but mostly in my opinion was the actor’s performance that brought down the character.

Unfortunately for us, the story of the Defenders heavily rotate around Danny Rand and his relationship with The Hand, the evil organisation headed by Alexandra, portrayed here by Sigourney Weaver. If the character of the Iron Fist was a terrible one in his own series, in the Defenders he shines for how dumb he is at every possible occasion and cross road along the way. He doesn’t seems to be able to make a good decision and he gets pounced by both the enemies and his own friends, while they try very hard to reason with him.

Speaking of his friends, the Defenders doesn’t only bring the heroes togheter, but also all their respective supporting cast, making this show more crowded than the airport scene in Captain American: Civil War3. Due to this over abundance of characters, we spend the first three of the eight episodes catching up with everyone’s lives while the underlying story doesn’t really progress that much. By episode four we have all the heroes together and we can finally proceed, but it still feels three episodes too many.

The more the story proceed the more the dynamic between the four heroes solidifies and you can summarise it as follows:

  • Luke Cage is the moral compass of the team. He’s strongly aware of their responsibilities toward the innocents people gravitating around the story and never fails to reprimend the Iron Fist for all of his stupid actions.
  • Daredevil keeps struggling with his own soul. At the end of season two of his own show he had kind put the red suits away seemingly for good and even here he struggle with putting it back on, but when he does, he starts to shine.
  • Jessica Jones feels under-utilised in the show, mostly playing a supporting role. She keeps her usual attitude of being in the action without actually wanting to be there. In the end she saves the day, but still I would’ve personally loved to have seen her a bit more active as she’s an awesome character and Krysten Ritter does a great job with her.
  • Iron Fist. He’s just to dumb. Have I said already? Still he’s very dumb. His greatest scene in this series is when he gets schooled by Luke Cage about white privilege. He embodies everything wrong with the show but unfortunately we are stuck with him.

The other dynamic in the show is the relationship between Elektra and Daredevil. Their love interest is the second underlying thread in the story which will put the Devil of Hells Kitchen in very difficult positions until the very end. What you also realise is that him and Iron Fist are the real protagonists of the story, leaving Jessica Jones and Luke Cage as more supporting parts of the cast. With so many people on screen it was to be expected that someone was going to fall of the order, still I wished it was Iron Fist. He’s really so dumb.

Now, what’s the takeaway from the Defenders? All in all it was a good series, showcasing once again the ability and the depth of characters that Marvel is able to play with. The writing on the show wasn’t the finest we’ve had ever seen, but it has prepared for what is coming in the future. We know more Jessica Jones is coming, we hope for more Luke Cage and Daredevil, we are happy to say goodbye to Iron Fist4.

An enjoyable few hours, a recommended watch, but far from being unmissable.

  1. Why would you read this article if you are among these people? 
  2. MTU as in Marvel Television Universe as opposed to the MCU: Marvel Cinematic Universe. I don’t know if MTU is a thing, but it sounds good to me. 
  3. And possibly even more crowded than the upcoming Infitiny Wars. Who would have thought it was even possible? 
  4. He will easily be replaced in our minds by The Punisher who just released an awesome trailer. 


March 29th, 2016

Last night we had the latest in a series on cross-over episodes in the CW universe of super heroes. This time it was The Flash invading the Earth protected by Supergirl (hence the amazing title of this post). I think it’s just fair to say that this has been the best super hero event in the DC universe in quite a long time.

And I’m not the only one that thinks that.

I especially like the title of IGN’s article about the episode: The Flash/Supergirl Crossover Is The Perfect Antitode To Batman V Superman. I’m saying this because that’s exactly how I felt after watching the TV show.

During the weekend I went to the cinema in order to watch what was supposed to be the biggest super hero movie of the year. Turns out they should’ve called it Boredom V Sleepiness, a title that would be much more representative, albeit a bit of a spoiler 😉

Anyway, back to Supergirl/Flash.

In these action-packed 40-something minutes, we get to see two completely stranger immediately get to know each other, bonding on what is making them special, being heroes. The Flash brings his two-season wisdom and teaches Supergirl how being part of a team is the best thing you can hope for in this or any other Earth. On the other hand Supergirl brings her positive attitude and joy and making look everything so simple when it’s really super hard and difficult.

They immediately complement each other, and it’s clear how the two actors clearly had so much fun while filming this episode. The interaction and the chemistry between the two characters was immediately palpable, since the first scene they come in contact. Much more than The Flash and The Arrow. These two are very much the opposite and they just barely keep each other in balance.

The Lady of Steel and the Red Scarlet are very much amplifying each other’s auras on screen, even though they are not really that great at fighting crime together. But that wasn’t the point of this epiosode in the first place.

This wasn’t at all about fighting crime together. This was all about the two heroes needing a way to recharging the positive battery, trying to restore the faith in humanity and the good that always was the distinguishing factor for them. Previous to this episode, both The Flash and Supergirl had to go through some really tough times and I believe this encounter was needed to turn the tide around.

I’m liking the approach that The CW is taking toward the DC Universe, and I really believe that Warner Bros. could learn1 a thing or two for their upcoming movies in the Expanded Universe.

  1. They probably won’t as they already announced that they’ll be using a different actor to portray The Flash on the big screen. 

Horace and Pete – My Views So Far…

March 21st, 2016

If you’re not a close follower of Louis C.K., you might have missed his latest creation. And I’m here to fix that.

On January 30th, out of the blue I’ve received an email from Louis C.K. as all the members of his mailing list did. It went like this:

Hi there.
Horace and Pete episode one is available for download. $5.
Go here to watch it.
We hope you like it.

That’s it. Simple and direct to the point, pretty much in Louis style in recent years. No explanation of what Horace and Pete was, no premise or trailers. A very orthodox move in a world where we now have teasers of trailers for movies and TV shows coming out in a year time. Regarding this point, Louis had a good explanation on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

The following week we then got a bit more of information about this new web series:

Horace and Pete is a new show that I am producing, directing, writing, distributing and financing on my own. I have an amazing cast: Steve Buscemi, Edie Falco, Alan Alda, Jessica Lange, Aidy Bryant, Steven Wright, Kurt Metzger and other guest stars. Also Paul Simon wrote and performed the theme song which is beautiful.

The first that has to be mentioned here, is how wonderful the cast is. Steve Buscemi and especially Alan Alda are providing the show which such a level of intensity that will make you want to come back for more. In addition to that, the show will attract you because of his dark but always on the point tone. To fully enjoy Horace and Pete I believe you need to have a slightly darker sense of humour and you can’t be easily offended. As with almost everything that Louis CK does, this show has a firm grasp on reality, which is then presented to you without any filter.

When things are going good, the show is relaxed. When the “shit hits the fan”, the show enters a downward spiral of which you don’t see the end.

To me, this is by far the most interesting aspect of this show; there’s no false sense of security, you must be prepared to ride this rollercoaster of emotions that can turn you upside down at any given time.

The best example would be Episode 3. The episode opens with a fairly innocuous 10 minutes monologue from Laurie Metcalf (playing Sarah, Horace’s ex-wife). First of all, the quality of the execution of this monologue are stunning. Not many actors could hold a single camera on them with such a grace. Second, there’s the aforementioned safety net, slowly but surely disappearing from underneath the viewer. This monologue it’s a very good example in which she start telling a seemingly normal story, but then the expression on her face starts changing, and the voice starts breaking up and suddenly the viewer starts piecing all the parts together and you realize that you’re about to hear something very uncomfortable.

This very peculiar rhythm is what hooked me up on this show. Most of the TV shows out there have to please to a sizable audience if they want to stay on-the-air and so they have to play it safe. Being a web series, and being written/directed/produced by Louis CK and being basically crowdfunded, Horace and Pete has the freedom to explore the darker corner of human relationships, giving you the good and the bad on the same level, without any filters.

The set and filming technique used also have an immense influence on the feeling and the vibe of the show. It looks like live theater being recorded. And as Louis CK said in the above interview, they are playing like if they were on a theater stage, without an audience in front of them. Plus, there’s no laugh track and the music is only used to transition from a scene to another. Is a tangible clue that we are closing the curtain on something and once they re-open we’ll see something else. There’s even an Intermission black screen from time to time and the entire show seems it’s going to be divided into different acts all together.

I guess technically you could call it an hybrid between theater and television, populated by a list of flawed character, quickly evolving in front of our eyes.

In a way, if you were a fan of the TV show Louie, than you’ll find yourself almost at home. There are many common elements shared by the projects, but Horace and Pete delves deeper in the world of inter-personal relationships rather than presenting the entire world as viewed from the perspective of one single pair of eyes.

As there are no trailers or clips I can point you to, I can only leave you with the words of the show’s creator, to give you a final push toward buying the first episode of Horace and Pete:

Warning: this show is not a “comedy”. I dunno what it is. It can be funny. And also not. Both. I believe that “funny” works best in its natural habitat. Right in the jungle along with “awful”, “sad”, “confusing” and “nothing”. I just think it’s fair this one time to warn you since you have every right to expect a comedy from a comedian. I will not warn you again.


Send To All – With James Corden

October 13th, 2015

This is quite an old video, but it’s still one of the funniest I’ve ever seen. Once you’ve got a 15 minutes break, have a look. You will thank me later.

Sherlock – The Christmas Special

October 8th, 2015

Suggesting that viewers are in for something creepier than previous installments of Sherlock, Moffat said: “Ghost stories work better in a Victorian setting. This strand of Doyle original stories that are creepy and scary, and the chillers, we haven’t done much with in the modern show. But putting it back into Victorian times, you think it’s a chance to do a ghost story, really – a creepy, scary one.”

The stage is set. The curtain rises. We are ready to begin.

Comedy Actor Roundtable

August 25th, 2015

Comedy acting Emmy nominees Ricky Gervais (Derek), Don Cheadle (House of Lies) and Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) join Fred Armisen (Portlandia) and Jordan Peele (Key & Peele), who write and produce their Emmy nominated shows, and actor Thomas Middleditch who stars in the Emmy nominated Silicon Valley for The Hollywood Reporter’s Comedy Actor Emmy Roundtable where the actors share how and when they discovered they were funny.

An absolute must watch. Actually, while you are there, you should check the entire new season of the THR’s Roundtables.

Fall 2015: What’s New On My TV Watchlist

August 16th, 2015

It’s now mid-august, which means that a brand new TV season is awaiting us just around the corner. Fresh of the disappointment of Season 2 of True Detective, I’m now watching the upcoming schedule with mix hopes.


Alongside the usual suspects of The Big Bang Theory, The Flash, Homeland and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (just to name a few of them), there are a numbers of newcomers that will want to challenge those household names for a span of your attention.


It’s always difficult to decide what to invest in, speaking of TV shows. In today’s world you know that a show that you like can be abruptly cancelled after just one season, despite good critics and viewership numbers1. This is why every summer I carefully go through my list of shows and I try to find out what else I can add to replace gaps left by others, but also to try and diversify the type of shows. It’s always good to have a good mix of comedy, drama and sci-fi, so as to keep it interesting week after week.


So, without further ado, let’s have a look at what’s coming new in my TV watchlist


1. Minority Report



Based on the Spielberg blockbuster with main character Tom Cruise, this tv show will explore the return of one of the Precogs few years after the Prerime programme was stopped. Judging by the trailer above released by FOX, it seems the Precog is still being hunted by his visions which are now incomplete, having to rely of just one instead of three twins, so it has to rely on a cop help to try and prevents future crime to happen.


As with all the productions inspired by a massive blockbuster, there is always the risk for it to tank immediately. It don’t see it as becoming a massive thing, so this one goes into the “watch without attachment” list.


2. Limitless



Different show, same concept. CBS is trying its luck on the TV adaptation of the 2011 movie of the same title. Here the ties between movie and TV seems quite strong as we see the narrator of the trailer being Bradley Cooper (the protagonist of the movie).


From the pilot trailer the story seems the same. A pill that can literally open your mind way beyond what humans can currently do. Once again, the “superhuman” abilities are then lent to the police in a bid to solve a serious of crimes.


This one currently goes in the same category as Minority Report.


3. Lucifer



Looks like FOX is going to have a busy autumn. Lucifer is another premiere on the channel and by the looks of it we are in for a treat! The concept seems simple: the Devil himself comes to L.A. to run a club. A lady gets killed. He starts helping the LAPD solving crimes.


I would say that this concept is very similar to Forever, which is great for me. It’s not just the drama and the crimes, but it’s also the witty comedy of a brit, challenging the american paradigm. This one goes into the “watch it closely” list, with potential for future runs.


4. Supergirl



This is the series that has got me the more excited of all. Supergirl, the story of Superman cousin which finally decides to reveal her powers to the world and starts her journey as the savior of the world.


Being a big fan of sci-fi and comics, these combines the two and keeps on expanding the DC Comic TV Universe. If it turns out to be like The Flash, this has clearly the potential to become a multi-years household name in the TV industry.


Again, this one goes in the “watch it closely” list.


Bottom Line


Every year there are many TV shows coming and going and I said earlier is very difficult to keep track of all of them, but it’s also difficult to follow them all. This was a very quick selection and I’ll be reporting again at the end of the year, looking back at this article to see full filled its promises and who didn’t.


  1. I’m looking at you Forever 

Almost Everyone Made It Out Alive

August 13th, 2015

Please note: as always when I’m writing about a TV show that just ended, this piece will be likely full of spoilers. You’ve been warned


So, I’ve just finished watching the last episode of True Detective, and now a question is stuck in my head: who the f**k killed Caspere?!


Well, ok, truth being told we know who killed Caspere, but still the question remains. What have I watched for the last eight weeks of my life? To that question I don’t really have an answer. This season of True Detective for some weird reasons decided to build an impossible puzzle of incredibly twisted and messed up stories and I fear that even the writers on the show lost track of where they wanted to go.


For six out of eight episodes almost nothing happens. We are spectators of seemingly completely unrelated stories, which remain so until the penultimate episode when suddenly things collapsed together, to leave viewers in an even greater confusion.


Mid-way through the season the three protagonists find themselves with all the pieces of the stories on the table and they clearly have no clue about what they should do with it. That’s not a good sign. Not at all.


This season clearly had many problems, first of which was having to follow the majestic season one. The build up that led to the big reveal at the end of season two represented a major obstacle for the second instalment since the casting got announced.


Colin Farrell. Ok.
Rachel McAdams. Mm-ok.
Taylor Kitsch. Mmmm-ok.
Vince Vaughn. Oh come on….


How can you take four actors mostly known for their roles in romcoms and/or straight comedies and put them into what was supposed to be the finest drama series of the year? You can try to do that, but don’t be surprised if the common reaction is just an outcry of desperation and incredulity about the delivered result1.


To me it wasn’t just about the cast. At the end of the day Farrell kind of saved himself, Kitssch remained in total anonymity, McAdams tried her best and Vaughn…well he’s a comedian…the problem was the story. There was no alchemy between the actors on screen. They all had arcs to follow to evolve their characters, but they all got erased from the story abruptly (well, almost everyone).


What made season one so beautiful was the slow build up that brought us week after week closer to the truth, while getting to know the dark side of the two protagonist. In season two we had four of them to keep track of and of course there wasn’t enough time to tell everyone’ story in a meaningful way. Plus the main story had way to many up and downs and consecutive cliffhangers that didn’t actually led to anything of sort. I can give you two examples: the street massacre and the orgy. Both extremely full of drama and emotions, both absolutely meaningless and useless. They were good to attract some newspaper headline the day after broadcast but they didn’t contribute to the story. Cut them out and you won’t see any difference.


It is kind of bad when the most meaningful quote of the season is from Frank (Vince Vaughn) during the last episode:

Everything’s ending. Time to wake up.

Yes, finally time to wake up. But to what? He’s dead, Ray’s dead, Woodrugh’s dead, Bezzerides’ on the run with a child (I’m guessing he’s Ray’s) and a new generation of bad guy is replacing the old generation of bad guys (because they are all dead too).


Season One gave us some hope toward the end, Season Two brought us down into a spiral of death and suffering where nobody seemed to have emerged as a victor. Yes admittedly they left the door open to a possible future where the Times journalist may reveal the story to the press or maybe not.


The only tangible legacies are one again of complete sadness: there’s an highway named after Woodrough and then there’s Ray’s paternity test that shows how he’s the legitimate father, implying that his history of violence was for nothing.


I had very big hopes and expectations for this TV show and I felt like I’ve been let down. I’ll be curious to listen to the TeeVee panel to see if and how they’ll be able to make some sense of all of this.


The only real consolation is that every season is a self-contained story, so we can just put this one behind us, thinking positively toward the future.

  1. I don’t have enough space to link all of the complaints. Just do a quick search and you’ll see for yourself.