TV Review – The Sopranos Season 5

The Sopranos Season 5 (HBO)
Written by Terence Winter, David Chase, Matthew Weiner, Michael Caleo, Toni Kale, Robin Green, Mitchell Burgess, Michael Imperioli
Directed by Tim Van Patten, Alan Taylor, John Patterson, Rodrigo Garcia, Allen Coulter, Peter Bogdonavich, Steve Buscemi, Mike Figgis

Season five of The Sopranos begins with what might be seen as some retconning or lore building. A group of convicted New Jersey & New York family members are all released around the same time after serving their sentences and prove to be an injection into the current system that threatens to spin things out of control. Tension has been building between Tony and New York’s liaison Johnny Sac since the last season, and now it appears as though their friendship will be shattered by these new arrivals and some shake-ups in New York’s leadership. In some ways, the new arrivals are taking threads of new versus old ways of operating seen between Tony & Ritchie in season two and allowing them to be explored and developed even further.

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TV Review – The Sopranos Season Four

The Sopranos Season 4 (HBO)
Written by David Chase, Terence Winter, Michael Imperioli, Maria Laurino, Robin Greene, Mitchell Burgess, Nick Santora, Lawrence Konner, David Flebotte
Directed by Allen Coulter, John Patterson, Tim Van Patten, Jack Bender, Henry J. Bronchtien, Steve Buscemi, Dan Attias, Alan Taylor, James Hayman

Season Four of The Sopranos is one of those brilliant artistic constructions that begins with such nuance and then dazzles in the finale. The season close has one of the best scenes between Tony & Carmela the show has ever presented, more on that a little later. So many of the plot threads here were seeded in season three and very carefully cultivated and developed over that season and this one. Once again, Ralph is an ever-present pest and a reminder of what Tony is/could become.

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TV Review – The Sopranos Season Three

The Sopranos Season 3 (HBO Max)
Written by David Chase, Todd A. Kessler, Henry J. Bronchtein, Robin Green, Mitchell Burgess, Terence Winter, Salvatore J. Stabile, Lawrence Konner, Michael Imperioli, Frank Renzulli
Directed by Allen Coulter, Tim Van Patten, John Patterson, Jack Bender, Dan Attias, Steve Buscemi

The first thing I immediately noticed watching this season’s premiere was that the look & tone had changed. In my review of season one, I noted that I had a sort of confusion when seeing promos for the series about whether it was a dramedy or a mob show. I think in season three, David Chase has become very comfortable with the creativity afforded to him by being on HBO and starts leaning into the darker moments even more. That doesn’t mean the show’s sense of humor goes out the drain; it’s just that the show really starts to show us how bad Tony’s world can get. The shadows and darker lighting also serve as a metaphor for how Tony is sinking further into his habits, chained to his position of the boss and actually less free now.

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Comic Book Review – Teen Titans by Geoff Johns Part 4 (of 4)

Teen Titans by Geoff Johns Part 4 (of 4)
Reviewing stories found in Teen Titans v3 #32-46
Written by Geoff Johns and Adam Beechen
Art by Todd Nauck, Tony S. Daniel, Carlos Ferreira, Peter Snejbjerg, Al Barrionuevo

This is around the point that Johns was spread pretty thin at DC. He wrote The Flash, JSA, Hawkman, Action Comics, Infinite Crisis, and was part of the collective that penned the weekly series 52. Even though he’s one of my favorite writers of the pre-New 52 era, I have to admit this Titans work feels very rushed. I get the sense he had some big stories he wanted to tell and was trying to get them all out but possibly got burnt out on the book. Significant changes were happening with DC on the multimedia front, so I think his attention was shifting to other things.

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Comic Book Review – Teen Titans by Geoff Johns Part 3 (of 4)

Teen Titans by Geoff Johns Part 3
Reviewing stories found in Teen Titans v3 #20-26, 29-31 & Outsiders #24-25
Written by Geoff Johns (with Judd Winick)
Art by Mike McKone, Marlo Alquiza, Tom Grummett, Matthew Clark, Art Thibert, Tony S. Daniel, Carlos D’Anda, Scott Shaw, Scott Roberts, Nelson, Richard Bonk, and Todd Nauck

Johns jumps into these issues, which serve as the bridge between the Identity Crisis & Infinite Crisis periods in the DC Universe. The company had gone all-in on centering its shared universe around the fallout of the former and the lead-in to the latter in a way that didn’t always flow. Johns was the chief architect of the whole thing, and I’ve always found it interesting how his writing during this time can feel very in sync with the larger picture but then have moments where he appears to be overwhelmed with how many plates to keep spinning. The opening issue here is a direct tie-in to the events of Identity Crisis and is one of the few epilogues to that event that seamlessly transitions into new stories.

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TV Review – The Sopranos Season Two

The Sopranos Season Two (HBO)
Written by Jason Cahill, Robin Green, Mitchell Burgess, Frank Renzulli, David Chase, Terence Winter, Todd A. Kessler, Michael Imperioli
Directed by Allen Coulter, Martin Bruestle, Lee Tamahori, Tim Van Patten, John Patterson, Henry J. Bronchtein

In the wake of season one’s success, it becomes clear that David Chase is pumping the brakes. While he adds new characters and explores the backstories of his characters, thematically, he stays put, preferring to mine deeper into these ideas. The result is one of the best seasons of television I have ever watched, my investment in the characters at some of the highest levels I’ve ever experienced. Chase has expressed a strong disdain for television grown out of his experiences working with networks in the 1980s & 90s. The constant focus on surface-level content like sex & violence worked prohibitively against exploring human existence. Free from those restraints, he was able to produce something as remarkable as The Sopranos, a show which has been copied again & again by showrunners across the spectrum.

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Comic Book Review – Teen Titans by Geoff Johns Part 2 (of 4)

Teen Titans by Geoff Johns Part 2 (of 4)
Reviewing stories found in Teen Titans v3 #13-19, Beast Boy #1-4, Teen Titans/Legion of Super-Heroes Special, Legends of the DC Universe 80-Page Giant #2, Teen Titans: Beast Boys & Girls
Written by Geoff Johns (with Ben Raab & Mark Waid)
Art by Mike McKone, Tom Grummett, Justiniano, Joe Prado, and Ivan Reis

This second round of Geoff Johns-penned Titans tales jumps back a few years to his Beast Boy mini-series. Around the same time, Johns was handed the reins of JSA and The Flash; he also co-wrote this four-issue story with Ben Raab. Beast Boy, aka Garfield Logan, had been strongly associated with the Titans since joining the team in the early 1980s. Johns leans into the character’s lengthy history in the DCU to write a story about a former child star trying to figure out who they are as an adult. This involves going back into Beast Boy’s time with the Doom Patrol and teaming him up with Bette Kane, the long-forgotten original Bat-Girl. 

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Comic Book Review – Teen Titans by Geoff Johns Part 1 (of 4)

Teen Titans by Geoff Johns Part 1 (of 4)
Reviews stories found in Teen Titans v3 #1-12, Teen Titans #½, Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files 2003
Written by Geoff Johns (with Judd Winick)
Art by Mike McKone, Tom Grummett, Ivan Reis, and Carlo Barberi

Geoff Johns has been one of my favorite DC Comics writers of the 21st century, especially his work on the Justice Society and The Flash. I definitely think not every character is suitable for him and his work on Teen Titans is undoubtedly some of his more mid-tier writing. That doesn’t mean it’s terrible, but I just don’t find it as exciting as those other properties. There are some interesting character arcs and plots during his tenure on the book, but it suffers from being interrupted by the Infinite Crisis event. You would think that crossover would blend better as Johns wrote it, but it awkwardly breaks up some storylines he had going at the time. However, Johns does manage to deliver some strong development for Conner Kent, aka Superboy, that has become a significant part of who he is in the stories being told today.

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Movie Review – 13 Going on 30

13 Going On 30 (2004)
Written by Cathy Yuspa & Josh Goldsmith
Directed by Gary Winick

There are movies with trailers that are locked in my mind being films I never got to watch for some reason or another. Being the youngest sibling or sometimes the odd person out, I missed out on movies.

Or maybe I thought the moment I had a chance to view it, I was too cool for it. Let it be known. I will be removing all sense of coolness.

13 Going on 30 was one of those movies for me. I just assumed it would be a female version of Big or other movies where a teenager wishes to be flirty and thirty.

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TV Review – When Was SNL Funny Part 7 (of 9)

Saturday Night Live changed in some subtle cosmetic ways, but it didn’t really do much in terms of content. You had the same recurring character sketches and one-off bits, with those often tucked away in the show’s latter half. Commercial parodies would usually be played after the host’s opening monologue with a digital short after a musical guest. Weekend Update came in the middle of the show, and this is just the formula the show continues to this day. Season 31 was the first year the feed was changed from video to digital, leading to the show being presented in a widescreen format.

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