Comic Book Men (TV Series)- Recommendation & Review

Check out what we think of a unique piece of TV history that sadly ended a few years ago. For those of you who missed it make sure you check out why we recommend Comic Book Men

I recall when I first stumbled upon Comic Book Men and was excited by the concept of a semi-scripted reality show about comics produced by fellow fan man Kevin Smith. Having grown up with his movies and being a fan of his podcast I had a good feeling it could prove to be enjoyable viewing. Kevin Smith is a slept on talent from the era of nostalgia to many in my generation. He inspired a lot of people with his success in movies after releasing an independent film called ‘Clerks’ and the rest is a profanity laced joy ride in celluloid history.

Out the gate the first season had me hooked and my buddy Boris of the Bash Bros started watching shortly after we watched a few episodes at my place. The first season had longer episodes than most shows in that format but were funny and informative with a cast of ‘real’ people that made it feel like more of an authentic show on first watch. It did not feel like a reality show, it felt like Clerks with comics and their wacky and genuine humor always made me sad to see Kev call it an episode and pull down the faders on the mixer. The show would go on to have 7 seasons along with the companion podcast and would have guests ranging from from rap icon Method Man of Wu Tang Clan to Billie Dee Williams who played Lando in the original Star Wars trilogy.

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I would have to say the timing of the series cancellation was pretty cold blooded seeing that AMC would pull the plug 4 episodes shy of the 100th and not too long after Kevin Smith’s heart attack in 2018. Stating that it did not make much sense financially to the studio the show was taken off the air. In another move Fatman on Batman has seen Kevin also remove his first 50 episodes including the classic Conroy episode which is an all time favorite of fans of Smith and Batman the Animated Series. It is peculiar how with the fading of the Marvel and DC movies it is as if the whole wave is beginning to subside as I am finding it harder to find good shows on nerd culture on TV with decent production value.  Do not get me wrong, I enjoy YouTube content as much as the next guy but I still like the production of a network show and you will be hard pressed to replicate what Comic Book Men did because at it’s core it is about friends believing in each other and living a shared dream and that is what I think made me enjoy it as much as I did.

I am writing about this because I feel that the show was a cool way to get people interested in comics and their history. It made total sense having a show like CBM on TV what with Marvel and DC controlling the box office for the past decade Smith used the times to shoehorn in a show for us. Kevin and his gang at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash would give you the stories behind some of the best and most influential characters and artists in comics and the culture. Having a component like Pawn Stars the average person could also see the real price of certain items and learn some history in the process that would only add to the nostalgia of each episode. All in all the show is entertaining and informative and I truly recommend it if you can stream it where you are because you will get some laughs and it will take older viewers back to their childhood. For those of you outside of the United States make sure to check out some of the VPN options.

I can tell our readers who may not be familiar with Kevin Smith and his contributions to cinema that I cannot recommend enough the following films:

Clerks , Dogma, Mallrats, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back & Chasing Amy.

MANHUNT:UNABOMBER… Very Good But Could’ve Been Great

Our fellow reviewer Talon is back with another concise write up this time of Discovery Network’s MANHUNT: UNABOMBER..

– MANHUNT: UNABOMBER [Series Review] –

by Talon

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Poster for Manhunt: Unabomber

Manhunt: Unabomber released on August 2017 is a drama miniseries directed by Greg Yaitanes for the Discovery Network. Created by Andrew Sodroski, Jim Clemente & Tony Gittelson the series was nominated for the best original long form TV award by the Writer’s Guild of America and Tyler Huth for young Best Performance in a TV Series (Recurring Teen Actor) by the Young Artist Award. Sam Worthington plays FBI agent Jim ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald and Paul Bettany the titular character Ted Kaczynski and are supported by co-stars Jeremy Bobb, Chris Noth and Keisha Castle-Hughes.

Discovery and Yaitanes take certain creative license in an attempt to create a historical drama narrative about the FBI manhunt focusing on the cat-and-mouse dynamic between Kaczynski and his pursuer Agent ‘Fitz’. I feel while the show is entertaining and has you coming back to see what’s happens next, it did not really give the characters enough depth and failed to adequately link Kazcynski’s fears of misuse of industrial and technological advances to the reality of current issues and events which seems to be going in that direction.

The show focuses on how the tactics and technology used to track down Kazcynski came to be, demonstrating that previous methods failed and illustrating classic bureaucracy present even at the FBI’s highest levels of administration hindering efficiency and development of best practices. They touch on the creation and content of the manifesto itself but from a safe distance, not really expounding on the obvious correlations between Kazcynski’s theories rising from fear of the future and what has happened in the meanwhile to society due to reckless and hasty implementations of various technologies and industrial practices. Possibly things like certain major companies online always listening, increasingly watching and constantly learning about you and your habits? Was this idea really so crazy, as opposed to going deeper through the content of the manifesto and rationale of this criminal we merely get a glimpse into what maybe led him to become the way he was. There are notable manhunts the team could have chose to develop as opposed to one where beyond the tragic crimes perpetrated there is present a fleshed out philosophy and viewpoint of the ‘villain’.

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Keisha Castle-Hughes, Jeremy Bobb & Greg Yaitanes

The series starts off in 1995 as Fitz is recruited to the Unabomb Task Force receiving no support from his colleagues regarding new ideas he brings to the table. Also we flash-forward to 1997 where he is being asked to confront his counterpart Kazcynski.

The second episode focuses on Fitz’s work on determining the validity of the Unabomber’s threat to bomb an airliner and also we have the two enemies meet for the first time.

Fitz teams up with linguist Natalie Rogers, played by Lynn Collins, together figuring out new clues which point in a different direction to the current profile but the FBI views the findings sceptically. In 1997 Ted begins explaining to his opponent Fitz that he will invalidate all the evidence produced against him.

Ted now demands that his manifesto be published if the authorities wish to see and end to the bloodshed. Fitz pushes his boss Don Ackerman, played by Chris North, to publish who decides to bring the proposal to FBI Divisional head Janet Reno played by Jane Lynch.

Agent Fitz fianlly finding the linguistic evidence he’d been looking for which points in the direction of Ted Kazcynski, tracks down Ted’s brother David, played by Mark Duplass, who is surprised at how precise the profile seems to match Ted.

The sixth episode focuses on a letter sent to David by his brother where he explains various events of his life which caused him to take up his current world view and engage in terrorist activities.

The bureau having a prime suspect goes deep under cover staking out Kazcynski’s cabin, racing the press cycle in hopes of capturing Ted before media chaos ensues creating opportunity for missteps on their end.

In the season finale, after Ted fails to have the evidence invalidated by the court, Fitz makes one last appeal for him to plead guilty.

Huth, Noth and Lynch
Tyler Huth, Chris Noth & Jane Lynch

I felt that Fitz as a character is relatable to a degree albeit riddled with cliches. Older than most his class and less educated, he earned his spot through old fashion elbow grease which I feel does endear the character the audience. His ideas though are met with low levels of enthusiasm and finds himself battling dated established conventions. Here the cliché begins, becoming so obsessed with the case it causes his marital breakup. Fit’z obsession believable grows to such an extent that he sells out his only true ally Tabby, played by Keisha Castle-Hughes, in an attempt to get back on the case.

Despite the afore mentioned you find yourself hoping that Fitz wins. The show did attempt to illustrate that Kazcynskis ultimate goal wasn’t to sow terror but bring the public’s attention to inherent risks of the technological and industrial progress. Beyond explaining Ted’s motives the show also provides possible causes for this extreme behaviour illuminating parts of his troubled childhood and youth in a ‘monsters aren’t born they are made’ approach.

Unabomber Text Published In The Washington Post
Industrial Society and its Future, Published by The Washington Post

I feel the purpose of this show was for Discovery Network to determine whether they can create a commercially viable scripted drama a now prestigious segment of the television entertainment market.

The show itself is rather cinematic and this is in no small part thanks to Zack Galler. The camera movement was precise, angles well thought out as well as were the distances of the shots.

The sound of the series was good, playing well with the narration of the story being told, and the score was solid both primarily courtesy of Gregory Tripi. Especially praiseworthy is how the sound greatly contributed to the few set pieces of the series.

I feel Donn Aron, Iain Erskine and Scott Turner handled their respective editing responsibility smoothly connecting all the pieces together.

One possible deeper meaning the team could have been trying for is a character study of both Kazcynski and Fitz, but they fail in this task as the characters seemingly lack depth. To be far Fitz is a composite of several different agents, and the real Jim Fitzgerald insisted on the show being more accurate but was ultimately overruled.

What could be seen as the shows argument regarding modernism and possible risks inherent in technological progress is grossly weakened which I will explain further in this review.

The show does do well with the ethical dillemas presented by the deciding on giving in to the demands of the Unabomber.

There is some repetitiveness throughout the show specifically – Fitz gets stuck, listens to someone talk about something unconnected, zones out and then makes a lateral leap based off a small slice of conversation after which he goes to his boss with the idea and is told to focus on what they tell him to do, for the boss to proven wrong.. That said Noth and Bobb serve the story solidly as the stubborn obstacles of the protagonist.

Bettany’s portrayal is praiseworthy and in truth the show doesnt get things cooking properly until his arrival on the scene, and he is great in episode six where the story be given to him we learn of his experiences at Harvard.

On the other hand despite his masterful subtle delivery, you find Worthington as Bettany wanting more from there characters and script. Fitz’s character is intended to be Kazcynskis match, but we can find a correlation between Fitz’s awkwardness and lack of niceties evidence his compulsive personality, Barring this what really bothers is how the team fail to rationalize the notion they convey early in the series that Fitz managed to catch Kazcynski because of a shared obsessive world-view as they do not deepen the character portrayal.

The supporting cast complete the show and are probably one of the highlights, especially the a fore mentioned Castle-Hughes is a standout, Duplass, Brian d’Arcy James and Jane Lynch feel somewhat underplayed and underdeveloped but none the less handle their assignments as the seasoned professionals they are.

Jame, Galler & Duplass
Brian d’Arcy James, Zack Galler & Mark Duplass

In closing I feel that both lead actors despite their visibly high levels of commitment were left wanting more to work with in regards to their characters. There is some awkwardness inherent in the beginning of the show, though tension steadily builds, but they manage to build momentum as it progresses.

Manhunt definitely makes it hard to not continue watching as it does engage the viewers and the fact it is based on real people and events (albeit creative license was used) makes it all the more enthralling.

A major failing of the series is we never really get to know Ted Kazcynski or what makes him tick. But by far the biggest mistake they made was failing to deliver on the key argument I mentioned earlier in this review. Something starring you in the face is that we now know (at least most of us) that Kazcynski’s deep paranoia in regards to the dehumanizing side of technology in the modern era being not only sociologically ahead of his time but is also almost certainly correct.

All being said this is one of the best shows produced in recent years, it is engaging, tense and hard to not binge watch. The writers approached this series a little differently than most, the direction is efficient and Bettany does provide an intense portrayal of the titular character. This all might sound paradoxical considering the gripes listed and explained but that is because this a a very good show which could have been a great show.

This show will be most appealing to criminal history buffs and those who enjoy criminal procedurals or process themed series.

I give this series a score of

4/5

All images used are property of Discovery Communications, Trigger Street Productions, The Washington Post their associate/affiliates and various media outlets and I claim no rights over them.

Something good for the Fantasy Horror genre. Nerd Dimension recommends : Grimm (TV Series)

The Emmy nominated series is our new recommendation from Nerd Dimension so make sure you checkout why we think it is one of the best shows in recent years.

It seemed for a while that every network were throwing their hat into the fantasy/sci fi genre in recent years with the successes of Game of Thrones, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.and fan favorite Supernatural in the ratings. To be honest I think it would have started even sooner were it not for the slew of crappy teen vampire shows which left a lot of people loathing nightly programming. It was as if good writers quit and producers were looking to glue sniffing feminists for cues and applied the ‘how crappy can we make it before they change the channel’ philosophy to their script grading process. Every week some pale poser struggled with some petty problem involving a buffer poser with a lousy attitude and an androgynous female love interest while dealing with his lethal reactions to UV rays. For a while I felt studios would just give up on the whole concept of releasing an authentic show with some depth and brought something new to the table.

Grimm has proven to be that much-needed breath of fresh air I was looking for. At the time I decided to stream it they were shooting the second season which told me that there would be more to watch yet I did not see anyone discussing it on blogs and the forums I frequented. So I did what every normal person does when trying to make up their mind, visited IMDB and two other specific reviewers who made the show sound like it was worth giving a shot.


Nathan Burkhart ( David Giuntoli, 13 Hours ) is a tall, dark, Portland PD detective solving crimes in the small city with his partner Hank Griffin ( Russell Hornsby, Meet The Parents, Suits, Shameless) and seems to be living the dream. He likes his job, gets along with his boss and loves his beautiful longtime girlfriend Juliette Silverton ( Elizabeth Tulloch, Concusion, The Artist, Parkland). As you all guessed it, things start to change and change fast.

Nathan starts having what he believes are hallucinations early on in the show just around the time his Aunt and former guardian  Marie Kessler returned to Portland in her RV. She had raised him after he had lost both his parents in a car crash when he was still an infant and left after he joined the academy. The more frequent his visions the crazier he thinks he is going until his aunt tells him the truth about the family. She reveals to him the family curse and that he is descendent of monster slayers who are born with sight to see monsters in their true form. She tells him how the Grimm brothers were actually ‘Grimms’ and the stories were all true. Witches, Wolves and Trolls to name a few. He learns that these creatures, Wesen functioned as normal members of society and nobody can tell what they are unless they themselves choose to reveal true face. Naturally he is forced to keep this a secret from his girlfriend and colleagues and finds a new friend in an antique clock repairman Munroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) who also happens to be a Blutbad which is something like a werewolf. It is then he learns that Grimms are feared throughout the world by Wesen and are considered cold-blooded killers. As he struggles to keep his new-found powers and life in check our detective must fight the very beings of our nightmares while leading a double life which seems to spiral further out of control with each scene.

The show starts off with action but gradually gives decent info dumps so that the viewer gains more insight into the setting and creatures that inhabit this secret world. The acting is spot on featuring a cast that carry the roles convincingly and breathe life into the dialogue. The special effects and CGI are good and not over done and the backdrop of Oregon forests only add to the visuals. The team behind the cameras also do a good job as the show is shot well and the fight scenes are captured with realism and only get better as the show moves on. The producers did bot shy away from blood and obscenities and the mix of surprising plot twists and suspense building scenes make this show a must watch for someone who enjoys their action with a heavy theme and intriguing back story. The more you watch the more you feel like you are accompanying Nathan and his allies as they grow in strength and closer forming believable relationships. The interactions and intensity in some scenes create a viewing experience that is not only memorable but truly enjoyable. Honestly I am surprised that more people don’t watch this show but the three people I did manage to get to stream it were happy and have almost caught up with me. Another thing I simply loved was how they launched a webisode miniseires online entitled Grimm: Meltdown which was creative and truly awesome as I have not seen somebody pull it off as well as NBC did.

I would recommend this show to anybody who enjoys Super Natural, Fringe, Sleepy Hollow and the X-Files for it has something for each fan whether it be mysteries, conspiracies or evil beings that you crave. If you like relatable characters and your darkness with a small splash of perfectly timed humor this is the show for you. The protagonist is as much the ‘everyman’ and never comes across as an over the top hero like in most shows and the twists will have you lining up he next episode regularly. If you are looking for a show you can binge watch this summer with your girlfriend or after work with take out and a beer  be sure to check out Grimm.


Score: 8.5 out of 10 (loose 0.5 for leaving me on a cliffhanger too often lol)

#grimm
Remember that Nerd Dimension welcome all feedback and encourage readers to follow and share our content as well as invite them to submit their projects for review. So til next time don’t double dip the Doritos and the last Mountain Dew is always mine !!!

Farscape TV Show Review

A cult classic for some, be sure to read what we thought of the tv-show which launched the careers of several actors in the mid 00’s.

 

Farscape was a show I started watching in the early 00s and became a fan instantly. I loved how at the time they managed to blend great make up and creature creation with CGI without one detracting from the other. I realized how a lot of people I spoke to online at least from Eastern Europe were not familiar with the series and decided I should do a write up so something new is online for people to check out. Some of the things that drew me into the show was their interesting spin on living in space, engaging characters and did I mention Claudia Black was in it?

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Wrong Turn meets the Fugitive…but in space !

The story starts out with US astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder; Stargate SG-1) is launched into space for what he believes should be a straight forward mission. While out there he looses control of his craft before getting sucked into a wormhole and comes out in the middle of a space dogfight. He helps save ‘Moya’ a living spaceship (yeah, I know pretty cool) that is home to an outlaw group all on the run for their own reasons. Having aided them they allow him to crash with them until he can figure out how to get home but they all wind up going into uncharted space meaning returning might prove to be a lot harder than expected.

John has to play nice with D’Argo (Anthony Simcoe), a lethal Luxan warrior with a mean temper who enjoys a fight as much as a tumble in the sack. Aeryn (Claudia Black) the renegade peacekeeper officer is clinical in her interactions towards John and being gorgeous did not make it any easier on the poor guy having to deal with her feminist ways. The voice of reason is the Delvian Priestess Zhaan (Virginia Hey)  who has a somewhat budistic approach to everything and the most welcoming to our human traveler. Other crew members include the exiled Hynerian ruler Rygel (Johnathan Hardy) zipping around on his floating armchair with lavish eating habits and a selfish attitude. However the most interesting character would have to be Pilot (Lani John Tupu) who is pretty much an alien lobster from the waist up but from the waist down is part of the actual vessel, Moya. The latest to join is the the young and attractive Nebari stowaway Chiana (Gigi Edgley).

Together this unlikely fellowship float through space with the Peacekeepers and a vast assortment of galactic baddies on their tail. They do odd jobs, trade and engage in mercenary work just to stay alive while John struggles to survive in this new reality whilst trying to find his way back home. The villains are interesting and the show is quiet unlike any other space science fiction shows out there, definitely at the time it aired. The show has a small Star Trek vibe but with more adult content and has some Firefly to it with less powerful graphics. All in all the show has 4 action packed seasons with a great TV movie to cap off the memorable series. If you are looking for something new to watch that is different, well written and boasts a very talented cast then look no further than Farscape. You will be glued to your screen and is a show you can either binge watch or enjoy episodically, either way you will not regret watching this series. We do stress watching the Peacekeeper Wars movie to know how it all ends !

Our all overall score for this gem is 7.5 out of 10

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Let us know what you think in the comments section and please feel free to email us suggestions for our next review. Check out the contact guidelines and be sure to like our NERD DIMENSION FB Page prior to reaching out.