Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

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I woke up this morning to the news that one of my favorite actors, Alan Rickman, had died of cancer. This is the second high-profile acting death from cancer this week (David Bowie passing a couple of days ago), and again a case of someone being taken far too young, at 69 years old.

While most of the news outlets are saying he’s most famous for his role as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, for me, Rickman will always be Hans Gruber, the master thief and arch-villain to Bruce Willis’s John “Yippee-ki-yay” McClane in Die Hard. His odd German/English accent, his goatee, his slowly boiling-over frustration – he stole the show in what is one of my favorite Christmas films.

And then I saw him in Galaxy Quest as cynical British stage actor Alexander Dane, permanently cursed with being associated with one small (to him) role in an American science-fiction series, and his place as a personal go-to became firmly entrenched. Watching him ease a gentle soul to his final rest (“You shall be avenged”), and then turning, hair flying wildly from his prosthetic head piece, yelling and charging at the alien who had shot the fatal blast and bludgeoning it to death – I knew then that this was a rare actor indeed, with a tremendous range from quietly menacing, to full-on comedic mania within his repertoire. From then on, just knowing he was in a film made me want to watch it, which is something I can say about very few actors.

Besides Die Hard and Galaxy Quest, some other films which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching Rickman in are Bottle Shock, Love Actually, and the oft-forgotten Quigley Down Under with Tom Selleck. Even in the truly bad films he was part of – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – he was clearly the best thing about them, stealing every scene he was in. Another that didn’t do terribly well at the box office, but which I enjoyed, is Blow Dry, which plays off as a sort of modern-day Romeo and Juliet set in a British hairdressing competition, with Rickman and Bill Nighy facing off as the fathers of a pair of star-crossed lovers. Worth a watch if only for the Rickman/Nighy factor.

And of course there are the Harry Potter films. Severus Snape could simply not have been played by any other actor. Rickman combined the ability to make you both love and hate him at the same time, with a wonderfully charming screen presence that was impossible to ignore. A lesser actor would not have been able to pull of the big twist with this character and make it both believable and sympathetic. Loved him in that role.

But again, for me, Rickman will always be Hans Gruber. To quote: “This time John Wayne does not walk off into the sunset with Grace Kelly.” Rest in peace, Mr. Rickman.

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The first four episodes of the highly anticipated Season 5 of Game of Thrones have been leaked online in the past twenty-four hours. Before reading any further, let me just say: You will NOT be getting any spoilers or links to those episodes here. I’m going to go into the details and share my thoughts on the leak following the break – click through if you want to read more.
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How many?

How many?

The last month and a half has been a particularly busy one for me, and as a result, I’ve fallen behind in my reviews of all the shows I’ve been covering, save for The Walking Dead. This happens about three times a year (the nature of teaching at a semester-based college – is there any other kind?), and while I’ve usually been able to catch up, some semesters take longer than others (in fact, as I was going through my notes this morning, I realized that I haven’t actually written up a review for one episode of Game of Thrones from last season – talk about overdue!). The good news (for me) is that I’ve been mostly keeping up on the viewing – it’s just the actual writing that needs to be done.

Just a few notes to help me catch up...

Just a few notes to help me catch up…

Over the next month or so, I’m going to be doing my best to catch up on my reviews, one show at a time, until I’m back up-to-date on all counts. This will mean that there will be “new” reviews being posted that are actually of old shows. You’re welcome to read them, but I understand if you don’t – they’re there more or less because I want to have complete seasons posted for when, eventually, I begin to archive posts on this blog.

So please bear with me for a bit longer – I will be catching up on all the shows I review. I’ll be beginning with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is having a strong second season so far; doing Z Nation next, which is a show I love to hate; following that with Forever which, while not as strong as Agents, is still a fun little procedural with a twist; moving on to Gotham, which has been getting progressively better as it grows; and finishing off with old reviews from the summer that I simply never got to (for The Leftovers and The Last Ship). I’ve also been taking notes on Constantine, as I had high hopes for it – unfortunately, it’s never quite lived up to those hopes, and looks as though it might be cancelled shortly – I may or may not get to those notes last.

And as always: thanks for reading!

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This is just a quick note to let anyone who is looking for these reviews know that they’ll be up in the next two days – I’m in the midst of mid-term essay grading, and work must needs come first! Come back later tonight or Tuesday (or apparently Thursday or Friday…) for my take on this weekend’s episodes.

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Whether it be as a stable worker at Winterfell, a companion and bearer of Bran Stark, or as a warg’d fighter of incredible strength, Hodor is one of my favorite characters in Game of Thrones. He doesn’t have a lot of lines, but Hodor actor Kristian Nairn manages to put a whole bunch of emotion into it every time he says his name. Below, I’ve collected several shots of Kristian Nairn both in and out of character, and have an interesting take on the title song that fans of Hodor will appreciate. Click through for some Hodor facts and fun.

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Last week I posted a set of ten pictures of Game of Thrones stars in candid and out-of-character moments. It proved quite popular, so I decided I’d track down a few more for your enjoyment. Click through after the break for ten more shots of your favorite characters as you’ve likely not seen them before.

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Game of Thrones deals with some serious subject matter, and you never know who’s going to die next. It’s good to know, then, that the cast and crew are still having fun behind the cameras. Click through after the break to see some candid shots of your favorite characters, out of character.

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Made it! I have a cunning plan...

I have a cunning plan…

Reviews by Steve turns one today, and I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed watching it grow and change as the year has progressed. What began as a place to write the occasional book review quickly grew to encompass television, and then movies as well. To celebrate, I’m going to review the past year, as well as make some suggestions as to where the blog might be headed in the next. Thanks for reading!
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Struggling to find time to write is like fitting the helmet strap over my double-chin

Struggling to find time to write is like fitting the helmet strap over my double-chin

For the last couple of months, I’ve been reconsidering how I write my reviews for television on this blog. My first two reviews, for episodes nine and ten of Season Three of Game of Thrones, followed a pretty basic format, wherein I briefly examined a few key scenes, and then wrote my thoughts – you know, a typical review. Come September, when I started working on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I initially followed this same format; but things soon changed.

I decided to start taking copious notes of each episode I was reviewing as they aired, beginning with my addition of The Walking Dead to the series I was covering. With this change in approach, my writing also changed. Instead of focusing on a few key moments and then airing my thoughts, I began to write extensive recaps of the entire episode, interspersed with a few thoughts here and there, some interpretations of events, and a couple of paragraphs of actual review at the end. This meant that my reviews, already a hefty 1500-2000 words, quickly grew to over 4000 words. To put this in perspective, back when you were writing essays for school, a typical 1000 word paper would weigh in at about four typed pages. Thus, my reviews were edging up into the twenty page range – and I was trying to get this done the night of the show. Unfortunately, this meant that on occasion reviews got pushed back, sometimes several days, and writing them became more of a chore than a pleasure.
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If you want to read my review of Episode 22, the season finale, click here.

With the end of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tonight, the fact that the show has been renewed for a second season may come as a surprise to those who gave up on the show early on. There are some very good reasons for this renewal, so for those of you that stopped watching, and anyone else who is interested, I’m going to address some of the issues the show suffered from in the beginning, and how they have been dealt with in the interim. There will be spoilers ahead – click through if you’d like to read more.

<<Spoiler Alert: This article will be addressing events and issues that cover several episodes throughout the whole of Season One of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read on if you dare.>>
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