Tag Archives: Tv series

Stranger, Korean Drama series (2017)

Okay, I’m going to start this review with a small confession. No worries, it really isn’t anything as shocking along the lines of ” I am really a serial killer”. But, here it comes nonetheless: I can be a really emotional guy. When there is injustice I can become really annoyed, and sometimes even very angry. But on the other side of the spectrum I can also cry at things that happen in a movie, or even at certain very personal blog posts. But really don’t hold that against me, okay? Emotions, or lack thereof, can tell a lot about a person. It pretty much defines what makes a person tick, at least that is what I think in my humble opinion. I have always wondered what would happen if I would possess no kind of emotion whatsoever. Let’s just take a few seconds and try to grasp what that means. You would not know when to laugh at a joke. When someone close to you dies, you would shed no tears. Even though there are certain moments in your life you maybe would have loved to lose a few emotions, I for one would never want to lose any of them. Because it would completely change my personality. And that, in a roundabout way brings me to this Korean drama.

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Get used to it: that expression on the face of the guy is pretty much the only one he knows. 

Prosecutor Hwang Shi-Mok underwent a brain surgery as a child. This surgery has now caused him to lack any kind of emotion. He is a cold, calculated and very rational guy, that is very good at his job. His lack of empathy and social skills however, make it extremely hard for him to sometimes interact with other people. One day while investigating a new case, he finds the person he is looking into dead in his house. When the police arrives at the scene Shi-Mok doesn’t communicate with any of them, but instead focusses on finding the killer. This suspicious behaviour at first makes him a suspect. Police inspector Han Yeo-Jin is the one who is assigned the task of solving the case, and soon finds out that Hwang is innocent of the crime. Eventually the two of them team up to find the real killer. But when they find the alleged murderer, it soon becomes very clear that there is more to the case then both of them realise. A cesspool of corruption has been opened, one that is so deep that it goes to the highest levels of the justice department. Dark and dirty secrets are about to be revealed, and some people will stop at nothing to keep them buried….

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Run Forrest, run…..

Having just finished this Korean drama I have to say it has left me behind with mixed feelings. I certainly would not call this series bad, but there are certain things that I also didn’t like and that at the end kept me from really enjoying this to the fullest. As far as the story goes I have to say that it is incredibly complex containing many layers, and one could argue that it contains too many layers. Part murder mystery, part legal drama, with elements of corporate espionage, corruption and even soap opera thrown into the mix, Stranger has at times trouble in deciding what it wants to be. There were some truly intense and incredibly powerful moments in the show that really put a smile on my face. Some twists and turns where certainly unexpected, and added to the fun of watching this series. But then there were also episodes that were, for lack of a better word, rather dull, and just seemed to drag on and on. The story as mentioned is incredibly complex and because of it’s complexity there were moments where I lost track of things.

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Look at my fist: I have got your emotions right here! 

This last fact was only made even worse because of the huge number of characters that this drama contains. I usually don’t like shows or novels that contain such a huge cast of names that it becomes hard to remember who a certain person was. But despite that fact it’s the acting in this series that really is one of it’s strongest points. Hwang Shi-Mok, played by Cho Seung-Woo is a character that is hard to grow attached to. Because of his lack of emotions he walks around the series with pretty much the same expression on his face at every scene. At first this becomes very tedious, but then I started to realise what a brilliant job the actor is really doing. It is incredibly hard to just not respond emotionally to people that are laughing or crying. I came to really enjoy Shi-Mok’s awkwardness, especially around police detective Han Yeo-Jin. She was played by actress Bae Doo-Na and became my favorite character of the series. The complete opposite of Shi-Mok, she is a feisty and tenacious woman, who tries her best to solve the case but at the same time shows empathy when she needs to. And she is also in for a joke or two, often at the expense of her partner.

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Please don’t look at me that way: I won’t laugh anyway. 

Another thing that is worth mentioning is the music that supports this drama. It certainly ranks as the best background music I have heard in any Korean drama series to date, and helps bring the atmosphere of this series to life. In the end I can say that I do recommend the show. Even though there are certainly moments in it’s 16 episode run that really are pretty boring, there also enough things in it that balance the score in the end. The difficult and complex script, does eventually pay off, and the acting in the series alone is certainly worth watching it for. While there are definitely better dramas out there, it’s a good series if you are just willing to invest some time and patience in it. If you have become interested in the show after reading this, you can watch the series on Netflix. This concludes the first post for my theme month of Korean dramas. Thanks as always for reading and see you at the next post!

I give Stranger a 7 out of 10 score.

 

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Special Features Presents: Happy New Year & Blogging Resolutions

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first post of the new year. I wish each and every one of you that is reading this, especially all of you that are following my blog, a very happy new year. Last year was a rough year for a lot of people, and I truly hope that 2018 is going to bring only good and warm things for all of you and your loved ones. And of course a new year brings the inevitable New Year’s Resolutions. Well, I know a lot of people make these, but I never quite believed in them. So, I thought that this year I would call them Blogging Resolutions, as I will be spending a lot of time this year on my blog and all of your blogs as well. But let’s translate this into what this post is actually about: pretty much all the things you can look forward to (or at least I hope you will be looking forward to it lol), on my blog in this year. As I mentioned in my final post last year, I want to bring a bit more structure into my blog.

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Yup….a bit more structure can definitely be good at times 😅

That doesn’t mean I am going to be focussing on only one thing. This is still a multi-topic blog and that won’t change. What I do plan on doing is at least cover every main theme of my blog (Movies, Anime, Books, TV-series and Korean Dramaseries) with at least one post each month. In that way everyone should at least get coverage of one of the things they like viewing/reading the most. That said I also plan on having theme months. Which means that each month I will be focussing on one topic of my blog more than the others. Lastly, I have a few new features that I hope to add as well, but you can find more details about that below. As with all things in life, and as most of you also know, there is always the aspect of real life hiding in the shadows. Which means that plans can always change because of events that happen in the real world that are beyond your control. But that said, where would we be without any sort of plans? So without further ado, lets get cracking and see what 2018 is going to bring!

Movies

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Well, it goes without saying that my movie reviews will of course return for the next year. If there would ever come a year that I don’t watch any movies, I have probably been replaced with an evil clone body. In 2018 we will get an enormous amount of different films that I am looking forward to very much. One of the biggest events will of course be Marvel’s Avengers Infinity War. With the largest superhero cast ever created for the big screen, this movie is set to take over the box office by storm. But there are more things to look forward to. The inevitable sequels such as Jurrasic World Fallen Kingdom, Pacific Rim:Uprising, The Equalizer II and a new Predator movie will hopefully bring us more of the same goodness that we loved in the originals. But three films I’m particularly looking forward to seeing are Meg (Jason Statham taking on a huge pre-historic shark), Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg’s new film, that looks like a geek’s dream come true) and Alita Battle Angel (the live action version of my favorite manga). These, and probably many others, are all going to make an appearance at some point on my blog.

Anime

imageLast year I started for the first time with watching seasonal anime (I usually only watched shows that were already completed), and it was something I enjoyed very much. The main reason for this being I could exchange thoughts on episodes right after they showed. It goes without saying that I will continue that in this year. Attack on Titan season 3, and hopefully the third season for Sword Art Online are definitely the two shows that I’m looking forward to the most. But of course, as I am pretty much behind on almost every anime in existence, there are some older shows that will get their reviews as well here. First up is the long overdue Girls und Panzer (and what a wonderful surprise that turned out to be), but you can also expect reviews for  Ganz, Psycho Pass season 2, Tokyo Ghoul and many others both old and new. I also hope to attend Animecon 2018, where I will give you a full report of that incredibly wonderful event just like I did last year.

Books

imageLike anime I have a list of books that I still need to read that will probably be enough to build a skyscraper of a 1000 floors with. But I love reading, and I definitely want to get to that part of my many hobbies a lot more this year. I own every Karin Slaughter book that has been published to date, but have yet to read her final three offerings. She is just about the only writer that I read that doesn’t write about science fiction and fantasy. The Warhammer 40000 universe has always held me interest and I plan on reading the twelve part novel series The Beast Arises in it’s entirety this year. Besides fiction I also love reading making of books on movies, and you can expect reviews for a few of those as well, including Big Trouble in Little China, Ghost in the Shell and Bladerunner 2049. And then there are of course comics and manga, which I’m sure will also get hit with my hard hitting reviews (ahum….right…moving on).

Tv series

imageThe world of television changes each year. New shows keep being added and quite honestly it’s become pretty much impossible to follow every show. But I’m pretty sure that I will in all likelyhood be able to discover some new shows this year along the way. But that’s not to say the old favorites are going anywhere. One review you can definitely expect from me is the eight season of The Walking Dead, that no matter what anybody says I still love to death. The second season of the science fiction series The Expanse is also still on my review list as well as Homeland season 6, Lethal Weapon season 2, and 24 Legacy. If all goes well, and this is a big if, I also hope to revisit one of my favorite alltime science fiction series Babylon 5. An amazing and truly highly underrated gem that some of you might never have even heard of.

Korean dramas

imageI love watching Korean dramas but one of my biggest problems with them, is that so many of the cool ones aren’t available for me to watch. Luckily Netflix is beginning to get a few of these as well now, which is awesome. Two of the dramas that I failed to complete last year are Pinocchio and Missing Nine. I hope that if all goes well, these will be featured on my blog in january. Two of the dramas that Netflix have on offer are Black and Stranger. I have already progressed about halfway with Stranger, and I’m really looking forward to Black. The story for that about a grim reaper that tries to uncover a serial murder mystery while at the same time falling in love with a mortal woman, sounds intriguing to say the least. I can’t wait to get started on that one. But I’m pretty sure that new shows will also enter my to watch list, as just with regular tv series, Korean Dramas continue being developed as well.

The New Stuff

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Can you please stop talking now?

For those of you that have made it to the end of this post, I thank you for your patience. I know this post is pretty long, but I am almost done. (What do you mean you don’t believe me?) So, as I mentioned I also have a few new features planned for my blog. Curious about what they are? Well, here they come:

  • Bloggers in the spotlight: Last year the number of new bloggers I have met were astounding. Some of them have become great friends, not to mention the ones that I already knew. As I am running a multi-topic blog I plan on doing a monthly post that will cover 3-4 bloggers that either write about anime, movies or books in order to put them in the spotlight. I have always said that the most wonderful thing about blogging is exchanging thoughts and meeting new people, and this is my way of showing my appreciation for that.
  • Competition time: My blog is starting to creep slowly towards the magical number of 1000 followers. I honestly still can’t believe this, but I really could not have done this without all your terrific support and love. That’s why I want to give back some of that love to all of you. As soon as I will hit the 1000th follower I’m going to run a competition giving you a chance to win some (hopefully) amazing prices. More on that later in the year.
  • The monthly choice: Starting in February, depending on the theme of that particular month, I want to give you all a chance to present me with a suggestion for a review I should be doing. I will choose one of these suggestions completely at random and the blogger who “wins ” will of course get an honorable mention.

Phew…..this was one heck of a long post, and to think that the year has only just started! Hopefully, despite it’s length, you still enjoyed reading this one. Let me know what you think of all these plans and what you are excited about the most in the comments section (or if you don’t like anything that was mentioned here, feel free to let me know as well lol). As always, thank you for reading, and let’s make 2018 a wonderful year!

Special Features Presents: And now…the end is near!

Don’t worry, I am not going to be closing down my blog. This is just the final post that I am going to be writing. For this year that is. Everyone has been saying it: “Wow, has this year flown by”. And it certainly has. For me this year has had it’s ups and downs. More downs than ups if I am going to be honest, but I don’t want to write my final post of the year as a depressive one. In short I want to make this a cool and fun post to celebrate the end of this year. And what better way to do that, than in showing you all my favorite things that I read, watched and played in 2017. But before I start on that I also want to say that this first full year of blogging has been amazing. I have seen my blog grow in ways that I really did not expect. I have met an awful lot of new bloggers along the way, and some of them have turned into a couple of really amazing friends. Combined with the people I already knew I can really say that I could not live without my blog anymore. It’s become a part of me, and I want to thank each and every one of you that has ever read a post, left a comment or a like. You really are all amazing, and I hope the new year is going to bring you all only fun and good things. And now, let’s kick off this end of year post shall we?

Favorite movie of the year: Bladerunner 2049

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If someone would have told me a few years ago that Blade Runner 2049 would end up as my favorite movie of the year I would have flat out laughed out loud. As I really thought that this sequel to such a classic science fiction masterpiece would be doomed to fail. But I was proven wrong. This beautiful movie had everything in it. It expanded the story of the original film, and combined with breathtaking visual effects, some solid acting and a brilliant score this one is simply the reason why I love movies so much. I can’t wait to own this one on dvd, to watch it over and over again. My absolute number one film for this year.

Favorite anime of the year: Your Lie in April

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One of absolute highlights of 2017 was the watch-a-long with Weekend Otaku for the breathtaking animeseries Your lie in April. I know this one was released in 2014,  but for me it was the first time I saw it this year. What can I say about this beautiful show that has not already been said? It’s an emotional roller coaster that this show takes you on, but it’s one well worth taking. You would be wise to stock up on numerous boxes of tissues because I guarantee that you are going to cry multiple times. But this is a show that is simply put: perfect. I had never thought I would like a slice of life show as much as I ended up enjoying this one. It’s still my number one alltime anime series to date.

Favorite Korean Drama of the year: Goblin

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On the front of Korean dramas I have had a very disappointing year. As in: I saw way too few of them (Sorry about that Kay). I plan to really watch more of these next year, as there are quite a number of them that I still want to see. My favorite pick for this year was really easy though. Goblin was an amazing drama with high production values, a beautiful and heartwarming story but best of all were the characters. They really made this series into an incredible fun watch. I’m not one that usually likes comedies, but the humor in this drama was just hilarious. I really had to laugh at so many scenes. But this certainly wasn’t a comedy as there were also many exciting, tearful but also quite horrifying scenes. If you have never seen a K-drama before this might be a very good place to start.

Favorite Tv Series of the Year: Stranger Things 2

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When a first season for a series is highly succesful and a second season gets announced, fans look forward to it, but obviously are very anxious for it at the same time. What if it sucks? Stranger Things is a show that proves that a second season can be just as good, if not at times even better than the first one. While overall I did think the first season was just a tiny bit better, this second season was just a blast from start to finish. The entire 80’s vibe, the wonderful characters (both old and new), and the storyline combine to make this a show that you can’t stop watching until you have finished it. It was an absolutely amazing watch, and I am already looking forward to next year where season 3 will hopefully give us that same experience again. Stranger Things is simply put: awesome!

Favorite Book of the Year: Sisters of Battle

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Ugh, as with Korean Dramaseries, reading books this year has really been underwhelming. I have such a huge pile of books that I still need to read, and because of the wonderful Dani ,Kim and Didi my Good Reads to read list has completely exploded. (Thanks for that girls 😢 Just kidding, you know I love you 😊). And now there are the wonderful Lashaan and Trang that also keep adding books to this seemingly never ending list. But I did read some books this year, and my favorite was also one that I finished quite recently the Sisters of Battle Omnibus. This one was just a blast to read from start to finish. Great characters, explosive battlescenes and just a terrific science fiction setting are just a couple of the things that made this novel so much fun. But the girlpower is what gave this book it’s real edge. This was a pageturner and a book that I could hardly put down.

Favorite Boardgame of the Year: Eldritch Horror

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When it comes to boardgames it simply doesn’t get any better than this. Eldritch Horror is a fantastic horror/fantasy boardgame that I gave a well deserved perfect score. It’s a joy to play, even when playing it solo, because of the great narrative components it contains. You will find yourself racing across the world trying to prevent an ancient evil from awakening. In the meantime you will experience all sorts of adventures that are always different whenever you play this game. If you love reading books or watching adventure movies, this is a game you should definitely consider adding to your collection. Trust me when I say that you will not be disappointed by this in any way.

Final thoughts

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Well people: that’s it. Time for me to call it a day. At least for this year that is. I hope you will all enjoy the upcoming final day of the year. If you are going to be using fireworks please make sure you aren’t going to blow any of your hands off. I do want to see each and everyone of you back safely next year. Speaking of next year, I will continue to write about the things I love the most, but I do want to bring a little bit more structure into my blog, as it has sometimes been going all over the place. I have also been thinking of a few new features I want to add, but that is a story for later. As always thank you for reading this and for your amazing support the past few months. See you all next year! 😀😀

Erased, Japanese Tv series (2017)

Last year I saw an anime that ended up being one of the best that I have ever seen to date in my life. It was called Erased and I gave it a perfect score at the time. Having not yet revisited it I don’t know if I would give it the same score today that I gave it back then. The review for it was written in the early days of my blog, but I do know that I absolutely loved it. So when I heard they were going to be producing a live action series based on the manga/anime, the first thought that went through my mind was “Oh God, please not this again”. As most anime fans will know, the reputation for these kind of shows/movies that are based on our beloved animated series isn’t one to be very proud of. In fact, it’s downright abysmal if you look at it closely. But, since I loved the anime so much I decided to at least watch the pilot for this one and give it a chance……So, I guess you are all waiting for what I eventually thought of it huh? Okay, I will get to that after I present the plot, but how about when I say that this might just be the best live action anime adaptation ever. Did that catch your attention? Right…as I was saying let’s start with the plot first.

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Hey! No pictures please!

The aspiring manga artist Satoru has a gift. Or a curse depending on which way you look at it. With the ability called Revival he is able to travel back in time to prevent bad things from happening. He always experiences it just before some kind of calamity occurs, and he usually has a short time window to stop it. But Satoru is always able to save the day just in time. But then one day he arrives home and finds his mother dead on the floor with a knife sticking out of her back. With his hands covered in blood Satoru becomes the prime suspect for this grissly deed. Just when he is about to get caught by the police his Revival ability kicks in. But this time it takes him back farther in time than ever before. To his childhood to be exact, 18 years in the past. Now with his adult mind in the driver’s seat of his 11 year old self, he has to find a way to prevent his mother’s death and that of three of his classmates. Most notably the young girl Kayo Hinazuki who he has grown very close to. But his opponent is a very cunning and brutal serial killer that will stop at nothing to achieve his goals…….

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Are you going to eat that cake?

One of the things that live action adaptations, or any adaptations as a matter of fact usually get wrong is that they stray too far from the source material. Or don’t even use it at all. And that’s where Erased really shines. This 12 part Netflix series captures the heart and soul of what made the original so great in the first place. Things like friendship, never giving up, but also it’s darker themes such as child abuse all make an appearance. In the first 6-7 episodes the people who have seen the anime will find it follows the storyline very closely. They throw a few other things and twists in the mix but other than that it resembles it’s anime counterpart almost exactly. In what can be called the second act, it diverges it’s story into other directions without going completely off the rails. In fact I liked that they also devised some original storylines as well, because else the outcome would have been very predictable.

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Did I mention there were some heartwarming moments in this series?

Another thing you will notice when you start watching this is how gorgeous everything looks. The cinematography is stunning in this series. From the bleak factories, to the snowfilled landscapes and beautiful sunsets, everything almost looks like a painting. It really helps in setting the overall tone and atmosphere for this. The acting for this is also pretty good with one noteworthy exception. The children especially are extremely well cast, particularly the girl who plays the young Hinazuki. Just as in the anime she really is going through hell in this show, and the tv series doesn’t shy away from that subject either. Even though Hinazuki appears to be a little bit older than her anime counterpart, the actress that portrays her does a great job making us care about her character. In fact the only actress I didn’t like in certain scenes was the one who plays Airi, the girl who has a crush on the older Satoru. There were a couple of moments that were a bit cringeworthy in the way she portrayed them, but they don’t cause enough trouble to really become a problem.

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Erm, I would change my shirt if I were you. It looks like you had an accident with the ketchup bottle.

If I want to be nitpicking I can also point out that there is a certain character that at one point has a fake beard that looks so stupid it is almost laughable. In fact I found myself wondering who on Earth came up with that. But that’s a relatively minor issue in what is otherwise a truly awesome show. With the episodes being only 30 minutes long, Erased has the name bingewatch written all over it. If you have not yet seen the anime I think you are going to enjoy this series even more than those who did. As the show basically tells the same story there are not many surprises in store for the fans of the anime. But as a fan I can say that I still enjoyed this one immensely. This is without a doubt the best anime live action adaptation that I have ever seen and I highly recommend this series. It is not as good as the anime, in that I can be honest, but it does come very, very close. Erased is a really terrific series that tells a heartbreaking, exciting and sometimes downright chilling story. I dare you not to finish this one in one go.

I give Erased a 9 out of 10 score.

 

Special Features Presents: Christmas Tv Series Episodes

Well, it’s that season to be jolly. In other words Christmas is almost upon us. Tomorrow a lot of people around the world are going to be spending this holiday in a variety of ways. I always love Christmas despite the fact that I also get a bit melancholy around this time of year. I tend to reflect on the things that have happened the past few months, and besides the good stuff there is also the inevitable bad stuff. But I’m not going to be turning this into a depressing post but rather one that will hopefully put you in the Christmas spirit a bit. We all of course have our favorite Christmas movies, and you have probably noticed quite a number of these being shown on a variety of other blogs these past few days. But instead of focussing on movies, I wanted to do something a bit different and focus on the small screen instead. There are a lot of television series that have had some kind of Christmas episode in them, and I thought I would showcase a couple of them here. Minor spoilers are ahead, so you have been warned. Okay, in no particular order lets see what Santa has in store here….

Robotech: Episode 35, Season’s Greetings

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Robotech is an animated series that is composed of three unrelated Japanese anime, that were combined in America into one show. It is a terrific science fiction series that I have been a fan of for more than 30 years now. Robotech featured a really beautiful Christmas episode. In it, one of the show’s main villains the maniacal Khyron, unleashes a devastasting attack on Christmas eve, in an attempt to demoralise the human race. But instead of losing hope, the survivors band together and start to sing Silent Night. It is a very powerful moment, and one that really shows that one should never lose hope, no matter how bleak things might get.

Knight Rider: Episode 211, Silent Knight

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Who doesn’t remember Knight Rider? The 80’s, The Hoff and a talking car called K.I.T.T. It really doesn’t get any better than this. In the second season Knight Rider got into the Christmas spirit with the Episode Silent Knight. Michael is on his way to the annual Foundation Christmas banquet, when he runs into a gypsy kid called Tino. He is unaware that Tino has stolen a gold watch from a trio of bankrobbers that are now hot on his trail, as they are afraid he might indentify them. Well, this one was certainly entertaining and a bit of goofy fun. And of course this being a Christmas episode, everything eventually works out.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Episode 310, Amends

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a highly succesful television series created by Joss Whedon (Yes that guy again). It starred Sarah Michelle Gellar in the titular role, playing a young highschool girl that was the Chosen One with the power to fight vampires and other things that bump in the night. Her great love was the vampire with a soul, Angel. In this really warm and beautiful Christmas episode, Angel is haunted by terrible visions of his past where he was still the evil vampire Angelus. He hears that the only way to get rid of these visions is by killing Buffy. Angel can’t bring himself to do this, and prepares to sacrifice himself by waiting for the sun to rise and burn him to a crisp. But the sun never comes, instead it begins to snow and Angel and Buffy enjoy each other’s company walking through Winter Wonderland. Awwww………

Bones: Episode 309, The Santa in the Slush

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Bones was a really fun C.S.I. type show where the forensic doctor Brennan teamed up with F.B.I. special agent Booth to solve a variety of crimes. Where C.S.I. was very serious for most of the time, Bones usually threw a great amount of humor into it’s episodes that distinguished it from the rest. In this really fun Christmas episode Brennan and Booth investigate the death of a Santa Claus that was found near the sewers of a mall. One of the funniest scenes of this episode is when their investigation leads them to a “Rent-A-Santa” business where they have to interview a bunch of Santas. And of course another great scene is where Booth and Brennan end up beneath a mistletoe. Yes, you can say it again: Awwwwwwwwww.

Supernatural: Episode 308, A very Supernatural Christmas

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Ah, Supernatural. Such an incredibly fun show. One could almost say that this is the Buffy of our time and you would not be very far of the mark either. Now entering it’s 13th season, the show tells the story of the two brothers Sam and Dean Winchester. Both of them have been raised by their father as “Hunters” to fight supernatural evil ranging from demons, spirits and pretty much every other horrible entity you can think of. Supernatural did it’s own version of a Christmas episode in season 3. The two brothers investigate a series of grissly murders where victims get pulled up through the chimney. Their search leads them to a kind of Anti-Santa, who is actually an ancient demon. This episode has a number of great scenes especially the one where the two brothers exchange Christmas gifts.

Chicago Fire: Episode 110, Merry Christmas, Etc.

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Chicago Fire is one of my favorite binge worthy shows. We follow the lives of the brave men and women of the Chicago firedepartment, as they go about their daily routines. Featuring very memorable characters and high octane action and danger, trust me when I say that once you start out with this series you can’t stop. In this Christmas episode a few of the firefighters get accused of stealing a high value necklace after putting out a kitchen fire. I have to be honest that while there are some Christmas activities in the background, this is the only episode on this list that won’t really give you that warm Christmas feeling. But that’s okay, as it’s still a fun and exciting watch.

Merry Christmas!

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This list could go on forever, as there are so many great TV series over the years that have done Christmas episodes. But it has to end somewhere, and these were certainly a few of my favorites. Most of you will probably spent the upcoming days celebrating Christmas, as I am going to be doing myself as well. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas. All of you are amazing, and this blog certainly would not be the same without your continued support and kindness that all of you have shown me. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas I hope the upcoming days will be fun for you as well. As always thank you for reading, and see you at the next post!

The Walking Dead Season 7, American tv series (2016/2017)

I recently read that one of the executive producers for The Walking Dead can see the show running for about 25-30 more years. Let’s let that sink in for a minute. A television series about a post apocalyptic world where zombies have taken over, could potentially reach a season 30. Now, as much as I am fan of this series (it still ranks as my alltime number one show), even I have trouble believing a statement like that. There are only so many places you can go to with a concept like this and keep it interesting. It’s still a great watch, but from an objective point of view I have to admit it just isn’t as strong as it used to be anymore. Season 7 is a great example of this as the series is now definitely beginning to show a few cracks in it’s otherwise shining armour. But before I’m already going to head into full review mode, let’s just see what the storyline for this season is all about.

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One has to admire a man that gives a name to his baseball bat. 

This season starts where  season 6 ended, right in the middle of a pretty big mess. The new bad guy, Negan, looms thriumphantly over our heroes with his pet bat Lucille promising to bash someone’s brains in. Yes you heard that right, this guy actually gave his bat that has been wrapped in barbed wire a name. And more horrifyingly he really keeps his promise as two people of the main cast don’t survive the encounter. It is the first time we see a truly broken Rick, that comes to the conclusion that he isn’t in charge anymore: Negan is. It is a truly depressing fact, and one that carries over for most of the rest of the season. And Negan really puts the screws on everyone, as he gives orders to find as much supplies as they can for him, or else suffer the consequences. It seems that this time there really is no way out for our heroes as Negan and his army are all but invincible. But there is always hope. Slowly new alliances are formed and plans are being made to take the fight to Negan. But in this world no one can be fully trusted, and Negan’s spies are everywhere. The rebellion against him might just be over, before it even has a chance to start…..

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I smell something rotten…..

The first episode of this season has got to be the most heartpounding, stomache churning and quite frankly most horrible 45 minutes of television that I have ever seen. I went into that episode with a heart rate that must have raised quite a number of alarmbells if it would have been monitored at the time, and left it as a broken man. It was truly and utterly devestating, and that’s what the creators of course went for. One has to wonder though if things did not go too far, as the level of brutality in that episode really was completely off the charts. Whatever your thoughts are on that episode, one can’t deny the fact that it contained a few incredibly tense and nailbiting scenes, that really managed to create a level of fear that all bets are now truly off. The rest of the season however, never even once came close to that level of fear again. It was almost as if the writers did not know how to proceed forward from this point on.

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This season they really went full out to make sure the dead wear the latest trends in fashion.

Most of the cast is seperated from each other throughout this season, and we get episodes that at times focus on a single character, or small groups of them. While this is not a bad thing in itself, the execution for it leaves much to be desired. Some of the episodes in this season are just plain dull, with not much of anything really happening. We get introduced to a couple of new characters, of which the most noteworthy of these is King Ezekiel. Played by the relatively unknown actor Khary Payton, Ezekiel seems to have walked straight out of the Middle Ages into the modern world. And even better he has a tiger that accompanies him. It makes for a great character that unfortunately was a bit underused in my opinion. But that’s pretty much the problem with this entire season: it really serves as a build up to something big and as such really takes things slow, and at times a bit too slow.

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The lions, the tigers, the bears…..oh my…..

But not everything in this season is bad though. The real saving grace is the character of Negan played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Wow, will you grow to hate this man with a vengeance, but at the same time laugh at him as well. Because really, Negan is funny. He is deliciously evil, and some of his (bad) jokes are just seriously funny. You don’t want to laugh at them, but you just can’t help yourself in doing so. Negan really is a terrific villain and the absolute highlight of this season. Most, if not all of the scenes he appears in are a delight to watch. And then there is Rick. Andrew Lincoln has always been a very impressive actor, but this season he plays Rick to the fullest, and some of his scenes will leave you with goosebumps on your arms. He really still is the driving force of this show, and if he were ever to leave the Walking Dead, I would say it’s time to pull the plug.

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25 more seasons? Really? Please somebody just shoot me now! 

This season leaves me with a lot of conflicting emotions. It starts off with a bang, but then seems to fizzle and never can quite rediscover it’s momentum. While there is still enough for me to enjoy being an enormous fan of the series, more casual viewers will probably find the pacing too slow in order for them to really have fun with it. The season’s finale also wasn’t as big as in previous seasons. So one has to wonder what this means for the future of the show. Season 8 has just reached it’s midseason episode (and I have heard it rumored that it again contained quite a shock), and also promises to really start the war between Rick and Negan in earnest. But what then? Where can the show go after that war concludes? As much as I love this series, it is a concept that I think can’t be taken much further than it already has. It was the same problem that 24 eventually faced: the show just became a rehash of things that we had already seen in previous seasons. Still, I will never stop watching it, right up until the end. I just love it too much for that. The score below for this season represents watching it as a fan. If you are a more casual viewer you might want to deduct one or even two points from it.

I give The Walking Dead season 7 a 8 out of 10 score.

Deadman Wonderland, Anime tv series (2011)

I’m beginning to have a small luxury problem. And I’m sure I’m definitely not the only one that has this particular problem. Ever since I started my blog, now more than a year ago, my love for anime has resurfaced. Shock of all shocks, it might even surprise you that before that, I had not been watching anime for a period of more than five or six years. I know right? How on Earth did I even survive that? Now though I have so much anime to watch, that I don’t even know where to start anymore. Besides my own rather formidable dvd collection, I now also have Crunchyroll and more recently Netflix, that have such a great variety of anime series on offer. So what to do about this problem? I’m just going with the flow I guess. I now try to watch a series from my own dvd collection, and then one from either Netflix or Crunchyroll. Just to keep some kind of balance. Erm, yes I guess I can be weird like that at times. Anyway, it was Netflix that was next in line, and after browsing through their considerably large animelist, my eyes were drawn to Deadman Wonderland.

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This brings a whole new meaning to the term papercut. 

In Deadman Wonderland the life of the seemingly ordinary highschool student Ganta Igarashi is about to take a turn for the worse. When his class is preparing to take a school field trip to the privately owned prison Deadman Wonderland, that at the same time serves as an amusement park, a mysterious being suddenly appears. The being that is known as The Red Man, slaughters the entire class, with the exception of Ganta. Being the only survivor, Igarashi soon gets charged with mass murder. Things get even worse when overwhelming evidence is presented that can’t be explained and soon young Ganta is sentenced to death and sent to the Deadman Wonderland prison. Once there he meets a mysterious white haired girl called Shinto, that saves him from a bunch of bullies that were about to kill him. All of a sudden a large explosion rocks the prison and brings down a large object right on top of Ganta and Shinto. Just when it is about to crush them, a mysterious power awakens in Ganta that allows him to take control of his own blood. In this way he manages to keep the object from falling on their heads. With the awakening of this power it is beginning to become apparent that Deadman Wonderland holds many secrets, and not all of them very friendly…..

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Hey, I told you Shinto could get a little crazy at times

Well, let me start this review by saying that this series is not, I repeat not, for the faint of heart. To call this series rather gory is quite the understatement. The blood flows freely in this anime, and I am not talking about a few small drops either. No we have buckets full of blood that are spilled, including several mutilations, and a rather nasty removal of an eyeball, that makes this a really brutal show. But before you all turn the other way, let me tell you that this show also kicks ass (pardon my French). I have never seen an animeseries that featured such a unique power. Ganta, and a rather large cast of other colourful characters, can use their own blood to form  weapons like swords, whips or even projectiles. And this makes for a couple of incredibly cool fightscenes between the inmates, that while at times rather bloody, really are highly entertaining to watch. It’s almost as if you are back in Rome during the days of gladiator fighting.

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Don’t worry these are all special effects, he is fine. 

As mentioned the cast is rather large, and more and more are added with each episode. This eventually results in quite a few them being rather bland, and not ones that you can form an attachment to. But one character I guarantee you will in love with is Shinto. This free spirited girl that has a special, and really protective bond with Ganta is a truly fun character. Sometimes a little crazy, at other times seemingly innocent, but more than capable of taking care of herself she is the absolute highlight of this anime. Ganta, the hero of the series is your typical innocent young boy character, that you have seen in quite a number of other shows. That is not to say that you don’t feel sympathy for him though. Not only is he wrongfully accused, he also gets confronted with a mysterious power and is placed in the most awful place one can imagine. It is enough to drive most men or women insane, but Ganta keeps fighting the good fight, and you have to admire that.

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In case you were wondering, no she is not naked, she is wearing a suit. 

For those of you that are observant, you might have already taken a glance at the final score I have given this anime. Made you look didn’t I? So why the low score for a show that I haven’t been really negative for yet? Well, it’s unfortunately one of those anime series that wraps things up in a really bad way. Or maybe it’s even better to say it doesn’t wrap up anything. After 12 episodes you are left with so many unanswered questions, and no real resolution that you end up feeling rather frustrated. I absolutely hate it when something like this happens. I can honestly say that I had a lot of fun watching this, up until the final few episodes. And this is really such a shame. The storyline for this was very good, the animation more than decent, there were cool fightscenes and some very interesting  characters. And then it all went to hell in a handbasket. Whether or not you want to give this a try depends on the fact if you don’t mind shows that end with with no real resolution. I do have to admit that the fightsequences alone are worth seeing at least once, so there is that. All in all, despite a pretty big list of positives I can’t really bring myself to fully recommend this one. So watch at your own discretion.

I give Deadman Wonderland a 6 out of 10 score.

 

 

Prison Break: Event Series (Season 5), American tv series (2017)

Don’t you just hate it when your favorite television series gets cancelled? It’s bad enough when something like that happens, but it’s even worse when it ends on a bad note. There have certainly been quite a few examples of tv series that were incredible but wrapped up with an absolutely horrible ending. I still remember the end of Dexter and how that really made me wonder how on Earth the creators of that series managed to completely ruin an otherwise brilliant show. Luckily there are also tv series that do end on a high note, and manage to give closure to the fans that have been following it. Prison Break was a televisionshow that ran for four seasons during a time that I always like to call “The Reign of the Big Three”. Yes, I know that sounds quite dramatic. The “Big Three” that I am talking about are three television series that really made an impact on the world of the small screen, 24, Lost and the aforementioned Prison Break. The final episode of that show aired just about seven years ago. It ended the series in a pretty satisfactory way, and I was quite happy with it myself.

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Never bring a gun to a fistfight…or was that the other way around? 

Lately there has been a renewed interest in resurrecting old television properties with small new seasons. The X-files and 24 already had a go at this, and this year it was Prison Break’s turn to continue the show with a 9 episode event series. This fifth season picks up the story seven years after Michael Scofield’s death. His brother Lincoln Burrows has tried his best to make a living, but has fallen back into some of his past criminal behaviour. One day when he arrives back at his home, he sees an old familiar face sitting on his porch: Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell. Apparently he has just been released from prison, but he brings with him a message that is kind of hard to believe. Bagwell shows Burrows a picture of Michael sitting inside a prison in Yemen, alive and well. Lincoln at first thinks this is all a trick. But soon certain events are starting to happen that are beginning to make him doubt. Reaching out to Michael’s former wife Sara, who is now remarried, he says he is going to Yemen to find out the truth once and for all. But why has Michael not reached out to them once in all those years? And is Michael still the same man he was or has he turned into someone who is all but unrecognisable……

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Let’s see you break out of this one…I dare you. 

 

So the question I guess that is very valid to ask for this fifth season is: Do we really need this? As I mentioned before I was quite happy with the way the show ended. It gave closure to all the storylines and characters and nothing was left untouched. When you do something like this, you of course run the risk of ruining things. But before I get into that, let’s first start with the positives. It was awesome to spent some time again with all the old familiar faces. Fan favorites T-Bag, Sucre and C-Note all returned for this, and played in a few critical events. However the main focus was on Michael, Lincoln and Sara, and that was a good thing. It’s almost as if they never left, and it was great to see the actors play again and reprise the roles of these beloved characters. The cast is joined by a couple of new characters as well, of which the most interesting one is Whip. There is a revelation about him later on in the season which I certainly did not see coming. He is a great character and played very well by actor Augustus Prew.

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Looking at this picture it’s kind of hard to tell if this is Prison Break or the Walking Dead.

Another thing that was very positive was that this season takes us all over the world. Most of the time is spent in Yemen and these were definitely the best episodes. They don’t call this series Prison Break for nothing, and of course a jailbreak is again part of the story. But the location itself adds a pretty cool element, and gives it a bit more flavour. The problem I had with this event series is that it all started very well, but then something just went wrong. The first couple of episodes were full of action, had a lot of tension, and some nice twists and turns. But by the time the series hits episode 7 it all started to drag a little bit. It’s almost as if the money ran out, and the writers were told they had to finish it all. As such we end up with a really rushed finale that just did not leave a lasting impression and left me feeling a bit hollow. It again brings me back to my original question, did we really need this?

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Please tell me that we are not doing another season after this one. 

It’s a tough question to answer. I can honestly say that this certainly wasn’t a bad season. For fans of the series, there was enough in it to certainly make it a worthwhile watch. It was nice to see most of the original cast returning for this, and in the beginning it recaptured a lot of the magic of what made the show so awesome in the first place. But the wrap up for this event series did leave a lot to be desired. If this season would not have been made, I would not have felt left out in any way whatsoever. I’m going to leave it up to you to decide whether or not you should watch this. If you are a fan I guess you will enjoy it, I won’t lie to you there. To give you a little bit of an impression for this season I’m going to leave you with the trailer.

I give Prison Break Event Series a 7 out of 10 score.

Ergo Proxy, Anime tv series (2006)

Have you ever felt the pressure when you are writing a review? A cold sweat that the things you are about to write might not go over so well with everyone? I’m feeling that pressure right now. A certain amount of dread for a review that I have been promising for quite a while now. Namely that of the anime Ergo Proxy. And now that I’m actually starting my first draft for this, I don’t really know where to start. Because honestly I have no clue what to make of this series. When I first started watching this, and that was weeks ago, I really felt this was a anime that contained a lot of elements that I usually enjoy quite a lot. A dark dystopian future, a very unusual but utterly terrific style of animation, and characters that at first I thought I would really like. But at some point, it all started to go wrong. At least for me it did. So what happened? Let’s first talk about what this series is all about, before I am going to dive into the review itself.

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It was a dark and stormy night….unfortunately it was like this every night, and day.

Ergo Proxy is set into a future where thousands of years ago the planet was all but destroyed by a global ecological disaster. What is left of humanity lives on in a domed city called Romdo. It is supposed to be a utopia, but as is so often the case beneath all the shine, dark secrets are being kept from the general public. The humans that live in Romdo coexist with androids called AutoReivs. The AutoReivs serve humanity in different kind of ways either as Companions or Entourages. The peace is soon shattered when a series of grissly murders take place. Re-L Mayer is the investigator who is assigned to look into the case together with her AutoReiv partner Iggy. While at the site of one the murders, Re-L encounters an unknown entity. She has never seen anything like that before and later she is attacked at her house by a similar being. Her investigation eventually leads her to a young immigrant called Vincent Law that seems to be involved with these mysterious creatures called Proxys. But just how is he connected to them, and just what exactly is a Proxy? All the answers to these questions might be more than Re-L can handle, and might shake Romdo to it’s very core….

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You meet the strangest people these days while donating blood.

Ergo Proxy starts very promising. The first ten or so episodes tell a very interesting supernatural mystery, with some intriguing moments that will have you guessing at every turn. Re-L’s investigation into just what exactly is going on is a fascinating journey to follow, with many twists and turns. Eventually she ends up outside the city of Romdo together with Vincent Law and a young AutoReiv called Pino. And that is the point where it all started to go wrong for me. Every episode afterwards sees the three of them travelling across a dark and very depressive landscape aboard an airship. And almost nothing happens. The time is spent with a lot of talking, and talking….and more talking. Okay, this is maybe a bit of an exageration, but it is not very far of the mark. I don’t mind slow series at all. I certainly watched quite a few of those that were incredibly entertaining. But I do mind it, when a show goes into very deep philosophy mode about subjects that I can really not make heads nor tails of. And it becomes even worse for me when all of a sudden an episode is inserted that is just complete and utter crazyness.

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Woohoo….at least one character is happy in this show!

Let me explain that last remark. Episode 15 sees our three leads enter a quizshow completely out of the blue. Yes you read that right, a quizshow. It is so incredibly out of place when compared to the rest of the series that one just had to wonder what the point of it was. Another thing that I was not satisfied with, was the wrap up of the story. Everything just goes into full on speed mode in the last 3 episodes. It was almost as if the creators were thinking we don’t have any time left, let’s finish this as quick as we can. The result is an unsatisfactory conclusion with quite a few things just not fully explained. And then there are the characters. Both Re-L and Vincent are just not really people that I would love to make friends with. They are incredibly dull, have an expression on their faces most of the time as if someone has died, and quite frankly were not people I could feel any sympathy for. Which is a real shame because the design for Re-L especially is really beautiful. She looks bad ass so to speak, and could have ended up as a truly amazing character.

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Yeah, I just had to include another picture of the happy character.

This is turning a bit into a rant, for which I am truly sorry. Is there nothing positive? Yes there is. The animation style is really unusual but also very beautiful. The dark city of Romdo looks amazing, and so do the truly dark backgrounds. And then there is the character of Pino. This young childlike AutoReiv was a joy to watch, and one of the only shining lights in a series that consisted of characters that at any point seemed almost ready to take their lives. Or at least that was what they looked like at times. Pino was infected with the so called Cogito virus that makes her self aware. It only made her more human, and quite luckily a very welcome happy note in this very depressive series. The storyline itself, besides the for me truly poor execution, was still very intriguing. Especially in the beginning it contained some very cool elements that were a joy to watch and at times had me on the edge of my seat.

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Erm, no I am sorry. I am not going to shut up about my feelings for this show.

I really wanted to like this anime. I’m sure a lot of you reading this review might even be surprised at my reaction. But in the end the series just didn’t work for me. It unfortunately happens at times, and sometimes even with shows that contain elements that normally should have you bursting into joy. Another note of warning I also want to give to you is that this really isn’t a happy show. It can really affect your mood, turning it into something very melancholy. I know some people can be overly sensitive for things like this, and that’s why I’m at least mentioning it. So, in closing I want to say that this is my own opinion on an anime that really has some very high ratings. Don’t take my word for it, but just go and watch it yourself and maybe you will be someone that is going to really enjoy it. I hope not everyone is going to bite my head off after posting this. So with a few drops of sweat on my brow I guess I’m going to press the publish button.

I give Ergo Proxy a 5 out of 10 score.

 

Lethal Weapon Season 1, American tv series (2017)

One has to wonder why things that were already good in the first place, have to be remade, rebooted or whatever else kind of term you want to put on it. Television seems to all of a sudden have a disturbing fascination with creating new shows that are either based on older ones, or Hollywood blockbuster movies. And the track record isn’t very good. Let’s see: Minority Report, cancelled after 1 season. Rush Hour, cancelled after 1 season. Training Day, cancelled after 1 season. Blade, cancelled after….well, you get the idea. Why, oh why do they continue to try? Almost every time fans of the original property don’t accept a new version of their beloved franchise. You see how I did that? I very carefully changed my tune slightly by adding the word almost. Because there are exceptions to the rule. When I first heard that they were going to make a tv version of Lethal Weapon I was horrified. That film, and it’s sequels rank amongst my alltime favorite action movies. I was already condemning the series before I even saw it, thinking this was just going to be another stupid remake attempt prone to become yet another epic fail. But…..I was wrong.

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Come on….you are making it too easy, how can you miss? 

Lethal Weapon the tv series is keeping a lot of the story elements from the original movie intact, while at the same time adding a few new ones. Detective Martin Riggs has become pretty much a loose canon after the death of his wife and his unborn child in a car accident. Riggs grabs the bottle whenever he can, and while on the job he pretty much doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. One day he get’s a new partner one Roger Murtaugh, who is almost the complete opposite of him. Roger has a loving family, that is very supportive of him, and is just a by the book cop. He just came back to the force after having had an open heart surgery. At first the partnership is going terrible, which should not really come as a big surprise. Eventually though, the two cops are gaining a mutual respect for each other, and slowly develop a friendship. Although that friendship definitely has quite a few ups and downs. The first season sees the two handle a lot of different cases throughout it’s 18 episode run. Most of the stories are selfcontained, although there are a couple of developments that carry over from episode to episode.

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I guess some people just desperately want a parking space.

Well, as I said above, I was quite wrong about this one. When the first few clips of the series started showing on YouTube my curiosity got the better of me. My initial skeptical response, soon began to evaporate. It actually looked quite good. And even better, the series began to gather some very positive feedback as well. At present the series has been renewed for a second season of 22 episodes, that has just started airing. So why does this series work, while so many other shows based on existing properties failed? One of the main reasons for this I think is that the series doesn’t try to be an exact copycat. In no way are the actors involved trying to duplicate what Mel Gibson and Danny Glover tried to do. The Riggs from the television series, played by actor Clayne Crawford, is at it’s heart the same character. But Clayne is no Mel Gibson, and it seems both the creators of the series and Crawford himself know that fact. He plays Riggs, but brings his own style to him and it works, well most of the time. At some points in the series Crawford overacts just a little bit, but luckily not to the point where it starts to become annoying.

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Now…I’m sorry, but he does have a point, you are bald. 

The other part of the duo, Roger Murtaugh, is played by Damon Wayans. As with Riggs, the tv version of Murtaugh is also a somewhat different character. He is a little bit more quiet and doesn’t always get as worked up over things as Danny Glover did in the movie version. But for a buddy cop show like this to work, there needs to be chemistry between the two leads. And on that front the show definitely succeeds. We get lots of comedic banter between Riggs and Murtaugh, and that creates some of the best moments in the series. And that is another things the creators seemed to realise. The original movies worked because of the great and memorable characters, and their interaction with each other. And that is also the heart of this show. In between the comedy and action, there are enough moments to further develop the characters with quite a number of heartfelt scenes. Most of the supporting cast also add their own weight to the table.

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No idea what they are staring at, but it appears to be something very cute. 

Worthy of note is Jordana Brewster, who most people should recognise from the Fast and the Furious franchise. She plays the psychiatrist Maureen Cahill, who is assigned to Riggs to help him deal with his inner demons. Some of the sessions between them are very entertaining and give a welcome reprieve from the action. So let’s talk about the action. This being a tv series, it of course doesn’t have as big a budget as a Hollywood blockbuster. Still, they did manage to include quite a number of spectacular stunts, car chases and gun battles that will give all you adrenaline junkies out there enough bang for your bucks. With 18 episodes in this first season are all of them of the same quality? No, but then again I don’t think that anyone can name a tv series that does have this. But honestly I also haven’t seen a single episode where I got bored or that was just horrible in some way.

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Don’t worry I will go call a tow truck.

So, with almost everything that is based on something people are going to compare. That might not be entirely fair, but it’s common practice. Is this series as good as the original movies? No, it is not. But those were very big shoes to fill in the first place. What we do have here, is a very fun series that gives a great homage to the classic movies. Fans of the franchise will find enough things in it to make them smile, unless you are an absolute die hard fan that isn’t open for seeing different actors portray the beloved original characters. Lethal Weapon the tv series has been an enjoyable ride so far, and I hope the second season is going to maintain this level of quality. I for one would love to see this series go on for at least a couple of more seasons. I’m going to leave you with a trailer of the show, that was released just before the first episode started airing. It wil give you a nice impression of the series.

I give Lethal Weapon Season 1 a 8 out of 10 score.