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Jean-Claude Van Johnson (pilot)

tn_jcvjJEAN-CLAUDE VAN JOHNSON is a new 30 minute comedy pilot starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. You can watch it for free on Amazon – if it gets picked up as a series (if you like it, please fill out their feedback form and let them know) it will be available on Amazon Prime. Yeah, I don’t have that either, and I just looked it up and maybe they don’t put these shows (their most popular one is Transparent) on disc like Netflix does. But it is my solemn vow that if they make this into a full show and refused to put it in a useful format I will still pay to download it or go over to a friend’s house or whatever it is us old men are supposed to do now to watch these computer streams that they have now instead of real tv shows and movies.

If you’re like me – and I know you are – you take this shit seriously, and therefore are skeptical when you hear “Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself in a comedy called JEAN-CLAUDE VAN JOHNSON.” It sounds like it could be some How Did This Get Made? type shit – smug, smarmy, snark making fun of the movies we love for being old and absurd and joyful and awesome. I picture some kind of meta-action movie parody by people who only know action movies from other parodies of action movies, like how that movie THE FINAL GIRL is to slasher movies. Something for people who read BLOODSPORT as below them because in fact it is beyond them.

That’s not what this is! I’m so happy to say that this is a really smart and well-made pilot by people who understand and take full advantage of Van Damme’s acting strengths. It uses his persona and body of work for absurdity, but not, in my opinion, in a mocking way. In fact, the episode’s most despicable douchebag – a vaping, hipster movie director – proves his utter cluelessness by telling Jean-Claude that “that ’80s style of fighting, the style that you’re known for, with the kicking and the spinning, and the splits with the guys coming at you one at a time… it’s not realistic. And we all know that now. You know?” This is not a show for people who agree with that guy. It’s for people who know that guy deserves a spin kick to the giant scarf area.

mp_jcvjI say it’s not mocking in my opinion because, to be fair, it is clearly an in-on-the-joke-self-parody type deal. It does get laughs from Van Damme’s self obsession (he has JCVD monogrammed on virtually everything he owns) and at times from him and others talking in a goofy way about his movies being awesome. And I’m sure some non-fans will see him as a bit of a buffoon. But at the very least it can be interpreted two ways, because personally I know that his movies are awesome and I hope this is true that he lives in a house filled with posters of himself and talks proudly about TIMECOP. To me this JCVD character is more cool than silly.

The premise is that a heartbroken, bored, retired Van Damme (“real retired, not Nicolas Cage retired”) decides to return to movies, but only as a cover for returning to his other job as a secret black ops badass, code named Johnson. He receives assignments from his Hollywood agent (Phylicia Rashad!) and briefings and disguises from his onset hairstylist (Kat Foster), who is also his ex. He has to manipulate the movie shoot to allow for sneaking out to infiltrate drug warehouses and shit. It’s like JCVD meets Burn Notice. Or maybe Get Smart, since it’s a comedy, but it’s not that goofy. Tonally it reminds me a little bit of Ash vs. Evil Dead (which I really like), undeniably a comedy with an emphasis on jokes and silliness, but it does treat the story sort of seriously, looks and sounds cinematic (score by Joseph Trapanese of THE RAID 1 and 2), and has legit action in it. It’s definitely in line with the other work of director Peter Atencio, who did KEANU and many great Key & Peele sketches.

In fact, maybe its attitude relates in a way to Key & Peele’s most famous characters, the doormen who are obsessed with “Liam Neesons.” Yes, those guys are goofballs, and we are laughing at them, but partly because we relate to them, because we agree that Liam Neeson is awesome. Like, those guys clearly wouldn’t do that sketch if they thought it was stupid to enjoy Liam Neeson movies.

In the pilot, anyway, Van Damme’s type of movies are spared from any serious disrespect, since the new project he takes on is not a typical Van Damme vehicle, but a (I thought) really funny mockery of the worst type of bullshit that comes out of the studios. This is the first thing I’ve seen that makes a joke of The Black List, and I missed it the first time but if you look closely this still tells us everything we need to know about the stupid movie he ends up making.


Surprisingly the script is not by some comedy dude, it’s actually credited to Dave Callaham, who wrote DOOM and THE EXPENDABLES. Good for him.

But most of all good for Van-Damme. I know I’m not alone in noticing a late-career renaissance brewing for him in the last several years. While my man Seagal’s work has been deteriorating, Van Damme has been getting deeper and more interesting as an actor. Not all of his recent DTV movies are great, but between the self-aware JCVD, the two excellent Hyams UNIVERSAL SOLDIERs and turns like the one as the villain in ENEMIES CLOSER (review coming soon), he has shown a hunger to try new and interesting challenges and, most surprisingly, a wider range as an actor than we would’ve ever expected from the star of KICKBOXER. The former three take advantage of his weathered features and his ability to convey heartbreaking melancholy with very few words (or in one case a long, tearful, personal monologue). In the latter he shows a great comic gift, being funny and ridiculous with acute timing and not a hint of self-consciousness.

JEAN-CLAUDE VAN JOHNSON takes advantage of all of those things. While it’s mostly a joke machine, it ends on a sincere note of regret. I hope he gets a chance to continue from there.

And I think he will. I can’t claim to have my finger on the pulse of anything, but it seems to me like this has the potential to be a cult hit and maybe even minor cultural phenomenon. The danger in that is for Van Damme to turn into Leslie Nielsen and not be able to make Jean-Claude Van Damme movies anymore, because people would think of him as such a comedy guy that they would laugh at them. But I feel pretty good about that not happening. Young people may know of Van Damme from this show, but they won’t be able to watch the show without knowing that he’s the star of BLOODSPORT, TIMECOP, etc. And hopefully some of them will get the idea that yeah, actually those movies are pretty awesome.


Note: Daniel Bernhardt, star of the BLOODSPORT sequels, apparently does stunts in this. They should have him play himself in it in my opinion.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 19th, 2016 at 2:59 pm and is filed under Action, Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

147 Responses to “Jean-Claude Van Johnson (pilot)”

  1. I watched THE TICK this morning but not this yet. Prime was known for only charging 100 bucks a year, but now they do around 9.99 a month now I think. Very worth it if you, like me, got rid of cable completely but still want stuff like Showtime or Starz (not to mention their own movie catalog now).

  2. Crushinator Jones

    August 19th, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    It’s really fucking bullshit that they put this up against the Tick and made it a Highlander scenario.

    I like the Tick and Peter S, but we have enough Superhero shit. Voting JCVD.

  3. Oh god, I didn’t realize that. They made a somewhat bad idea even worse.

  4. Just watched it. It’s really something and I like the scope they’ve set up with potential future storylines. “Brown” has to be another real life actor playing themselves, right? But who?

  5. I love 80s action, I love this brand of satire (haven’t seen this, but love JCVD), and I also love stuff that’s a bit more mocking in tone.

    Thought Final Girls was a pretty cool take on the slasher thing for example.

    I can take a joke I guess. Never quite got why its bad to ironically watch something someone, even yourself, hold dear. There are different layers to everything, and those layers sometimes change with time. Sometimes stuff that was cool becomes funny, sometimes stuff that was all just a joke becomes disturbing in its bluntness. It all works out…ironically liking stuff is still liking it!

  6. I also love that the video player’s “X-Ray” feature (which lists the actors in the current scene) uses a photo from Hard Target as JC’s headshot.

  7. I totally get the concern about how the tone is perceived. I’m always worried that because I tend to be very jokey in my blog posts that it comes off like I’m making fun of the movies I talk about. I hope it comes across that it’s all the little gaffs and strange choices and absurd ideas that I love about those movies.

  8. It was no Looper, but pretty good. Lol. That mission scene with Philippe is priceless. Very pleased that they managed to include a scene with JC playing two different characters. Man, I hope this one gets some traction.

  9. caruso_stalker217

    August 19th, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    I’ve never found How Did This Get Made to be smug or smarmy.

    This pilot was awesome. Good to see JCVD finally coming into his own as an actor.

  10. I don’t think the Amazon voting is either/or. If all three get great ratings, they make all three. It’s more for them to see what customers want, and I believe I’ve also heard the took one low-rated pilot to series just because they wanted to, but I forget which one that was.

    I loved JCVJ.

  11. Tigger – it’s not necessarily that I would be offended, but just that I have a hard time thinking parodies are funny when the people making them don’t know their shit. THE FINAL GIRLS had a really good premise and I can see why people like it, but to me the slasher movie world just did not ring true stylistically, and it bothered me so much I had to turn it off. So it was not surprising when I heard an interview with the director and he said he didn’t like horror movies (though the writers do).

    That’s my sensitivity, I’m not trying to say anyone else should feel that way, but the point is JCVJ passes that test.

  12. I still have an allergy against “Actors play supposedly funny over the top version of themself”, ever since shows like CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, EXTRAS, ENTOURAGE plus guys like Adam West and William Shatner ran the whole thing into the ground by doing it on a weekly basis*. So I will definitely watch this last out of the new Amazon pilots. But it’s good to hear that it seems to be pretty good.

    BTW, too bad that you seemed to have missed Shane Blacks (unfortunately not picked up) EDGE pilot. That one was pretty cool, despite its cheap looking digital cinematography.

    *Shoutout to THE SIMPSONS, who even in their weaker seasons and episodes are still the kings of that concept and somehow manage to make it funny. I mean, for some reason they did a few years ago a full episode starring Lady Gaga and the cartoon version of her was funny as fuck!

  13. Cool. I have always loved Mr. Van Varenberg and always will. I will check this out.

    But seriously, Vern, when is your review for STRANGER THINGS coming?


  15. I don’t get the Nicolas Cage joke. When did Cage ever say he was retired? Nice to know people are talking about him tho.

  16. Hey, when the Sheriff flashbacks to his daughter I was moved. SPOILER. Also, Synth Score Spoiler. And KIDS ON BIKES 80S MAN spoliers.

  17. Good to hear a review of ENEMIES CLOSER is on the horizon. His performance is only matched by his hair.

  18. CJ – Nah, I saw the Shane Black one, I just wasn’t into it – a surprise since it was a western by a writer I pretty much always like. I didn’t write about it because there was no point in anti-promoting a show that people might’ve wanted to see get made.

  19. VERN: Thanks for replying! I am a long time slasher lover, and I dunno…FINAL GIRLS rang pretty true. Kind of a PLEASANTVILLE sort of thing in an 80s sexed up slasher I guess. The ending gets pretty wild if you ever decide to make it that far!

    One thing I don’t like however, is modern fans dismissal of auteur’s cool stylistic flourishes just cause they’re there. This is talked about over and over again on different threads on here, so I’ll keep it short. But the sort of “EYEROLL, MORE GAUDY FANTASY FROM TIM BURTON!” or “YAWN, KEEP ZACH SNYDER AWAY FROM MY COMIC BOOKS BECAUSE HE MAKES THEM LOOK TOO MUCH LIKE COMIC BOOK!” and all the other blah, blah, blah.

    Having a hard time thinking of examples because my brain just isn’t wired that way, but I think you know what I mean. I actually like all the weird touches that make different movies…different. Pretty sure you do too, otherwise you wouldn’t give decent reviews to stuff like GALLOW WALKERS and the latest Ernesto Diaz Espinoza and Albert Pyun joints. Finding the misfit movies with a strange voice all their own is what its all about.

    So, that type of dismissal of artists…if THATS what you were talking about, I agree 100%. Thats my sensitivity and my achilles heel. But I am all for irony. I have been to dozens of “bad movie” parties. Its usually more SAMURAI COP than BLOODSPORT that’s watched, but whatever. If they decide to throw BLOODSPORT on and make jokes….so be it. Its still a good time, and at least the parties like that I go to, its still mega enjoyment of the art of filmmaking. Its a celebration of the absurd, and that should be championed. Ironic enjoyment is just a way to put a fresh coat of paint on something, nothing more, nothing less.

  20. I understand. It really had its qualities, but it seemed like it was made as an afterthought and maybe should have needed a bit more of either pre- or post production. (Or a higher budget for a better camera.)

    Anyway, despite what I said earlier, I watched VAN JOHNSON first and I hope they pick it up. And I hope it will focus more on JCVJ getting send on missions, that become more and more absurd, instead of easy jokes like “JCVD is a has-been who got old”, “Hipsters are dumb assholes” or “Hollywood is making shitty movies”.

  21. (Replying to Vern about EDGE: THE LONER of course)

  22. Fred, I think maybe the Nic Cage joke relates back to my comment in the TRUST thread: At some point in the last 5 years Nicolas Cage has been retired (by diminished box office appeal or something) from headlining theatrical films.

  23. Anyone Europeans/Scandinavians who figured out a way to watch this? Seems odd that Amazon’s original content would be limited to people in the US…

  24. Does your country has its own Amazon site? Because that’s how I watched it (On Amazon.de). These “Pilot seasons” usually happen all over the world at the same time.

  25. Sweden has no own Amazon site yet. I order from the british site. perhaps it is available to watch there.

  26. Apparently not. Some dumb licensing nonsense. Well, there probably are other means if it is not available legally.

  27. Great fucking pilot. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard a line to tow it must have been to shape this many seemingly conflicting and contradictory acknowledgements of nostalgia, cultural awareness, sincerity, humour and genuine badassery into something so fun, thoughtful and ultimately universally appealing.

    Fingers all the way crossed for this one.

  28. There are so many different things talked about here that I want to add in a few things:

    1. The only time I had to shut off How Did This Get Made was during the Hudson Hawk one. Most of the time they spend a lot of these movies like Bloodsport or Road House is about how awesome they are. Plus the companion interviews that Blake Harris does about the movies they review are really fantastic. Where else are you going to read in depth articles about Hell Comes to Frogtown with the director?

    2. The Final Girls was alright. I don’t agree with Tigger because the slasher stuff rang completely false. I would agree that it was made by people that have only seen like half a slasher movie or something. However, I don’t agree that if you have to like horror to make horror. I feel like I always read about directors of the horror films we enjoyed in the 80s who only made horror because it was a cheap way to show what they can do so they could try to make movies they wanted to make.

    3. CJ Holden, did you even watch Stranger Things? It’s fucking great and I think you’re a jerkface* if you didn’t like it. It was way more than just 80s nostalgia.

    *I don’t actually think you’re a jerkface.

  29. To clarify my feelings about STRANGER THINGS: I don’t hate it and was actually well entertained by it for most of its runtime. I just wish they would have been more subtle about their influences, instead of constantly name dropping them and rubbing them in our faces. It’s a mystery why they didn’t call it THAT 80s SHOW in the first place. Or the town wasn’t called “Amblinville”, with protagonists named Carpenter, King or Spielberg. It actually makes me a little sad, that the show got more attention for its references than its overall qualities.

  30. I didn’t write about it because there was no point in anti-promoting a show that people might’ve wanted to see get made.

    Fuckin’ A, Vern. This is why you’re the best. There are very, very few online writers that I can envision having the integrity to hold back, when trashing a new thing gets so many “clicks”. I respect the hell out of you for refusing to do that.

  31. Really liked the pilot and did my part and voted for it. It struck that good balance of being funny but being able to take the series’ world seriously.

    Not totally related but unfortunately those ads for The Tick pilot accurately sold how bad it was. I watched the whole thing waiting for the joke about how they made a Nolan-lite version of The Tick only to learn that is the joke and I should not expect them to make any jokes in the actual program, because the program itself is the joke. Is this what it feels like to be one of those guys who didn’t get the joke of the Joseph Kahn Power/Rangers short?

  32. So of coarse my post went up after KingNewbs really good post about NOT critiquing a piece of art that may or may not lead to something that other’s may get great enjoyment of. I have failed you all.

    Back on topic: the Looper jokes made me laugh because I remember telling people about Looper and EVERYone I try to recommend it to made snide “I liked it better when it was called Timecop.” *implied self-high-five*

  33. CJ – Did it really get more attention for its references than for its overall qualities when it initially dropped? I am asking that sincerely.

    I thought STRANGER THINGS was a well made, entertaining, narratively flawed mini-series with pretty much constant and really distracting references (both overt and oblique) throughout. Textual references aside, the intertextual tipping point for me (as someone who tried to turn a blind eye to all the poster art and marquee nods in the show even though most of them were pandering nostalgia service and also culturally inaccurate) was when a police officer sitting on a bench reading CUJO with the cover facing the camera had Jim Hopper acknowledge the book, and then extrapolate on the central conflict of the book, just to remind the audience that, yes, people are reading Stephen King books up in here and here is the plot of the precise book that they are reading and by the way the book they are reading is CUJO (by Stephen King).

    That’s some minor shit though. Overall it was well made, entertaining and fun and nowhere near as obnoxious as it could have been. And this is coming from someone who was fucking done with the whole 80s nostalgia resurgence well before BLOOD DRAGON dropped.

    Back on track though, please Amazon for the love of fuck greenlight JCVJ to full season thanks.

  34. Mixalot: It seemed to me like that. It was kinda hard to find legitimate reviews of it. Most articles seemed to be like “Here is a list of all references from STRANGER THINGS”. When people praised it, it often seemed to be more of the “It’s awesome, here is a list of all references.” It was like a new music album dropped and everybody would be like: “I love this album, because the artist sampled all the songs that I liked as a kid!”

    Talking about “culturally inaccurate” references. The THE THING poster that you see pretty much right at the beginning bothers me a lot. Maybe these kids were cool enough to recognize that movie’s brillance when it came out, but in 1983, when the show takes place, it was a universally hated box office bomb, so it’s not really certain if that poster would have hung in any kid’s room by that time.

    In the end, STRANGER THINGS is definitely worth watching and I’m up for another season and won’t hold a grudge against it becoming some modern classic. I just wish the nostalgia thing wouldn’t be so awkward. Say what you want about SUPER 8, but they did the whole thing in a less cringe worthy way.

    About JEAN-CLAUDE VAN JOHNSON. It’s too early to tell, but so far the reception has been seriously damn positive, so I can imagine that this might become a series. (But let’s be honest: Sometimes the whole “Amazon Pilot Season” thing seems like publicity gimmick and the audience reaction has nothing to do with which shows get picked up or not.)

  35. If anybody wants to conduct an insane double feature/comparative themed review series I suggest reviewing classic JCVDs alongside the works of actor Van Johnson, for the series “Jean Claude, Van Johnson”.

  36. CJ, that was a much more well balanced, less jerkface* response to Stranger Things.

    I loved it because I loved the characters. Obviously as an 80s baby and what not I was predisposed to liking it but I didn’t like it because of that. I liked it because I cared what happened to these characters. So that is the hallmark of a great show, imo. The people I talk to about it also felt the same way about the characters.

    Also, A, you’re fucking brilliant man.

    *you’re still not actually a jerkface

  37. CJ – Yeah the THE THING and EVIL DEAD posters in particular really rubbed me the wrong way too, but only because they pulled me out of the verisimilitude of the show. I saw later on that RLM brought a few of those instances up in their take on it but for me it wasn’t a Mark of Cain or anything. Just an annoyance in an otherwise decent show (that was way more problematic narratively than nostalgically in my opinion).

    I’m very much with you that they could achieve a fantastic second season, but possibly only if they branch out some more and stamp a legit Duffer’s claim on their chosen bedrock of influence.

  38. Loved this pilot so much that I watched it two times in a row despite being exhausted from having been at the Guns n’ Roses concert. It was a night of things being way more awesome than I expected them to be.

  39. Dtroyt – how you are still functioning after seeing G N’ R once and J C V J twice in the same night is beyond me but that is only because my callous ass stopped believing in miracles a long time ago.

  40. re: The Thing poster in Stranger Things – What kid would have had any movie poster in 1983? I sure did not know where to get movie posters (if printings outside of theater one-sheets even existed), not to mention relatively current posters, before places like Suncoast Pictures, and that was the early 90s, if I remember correctly.

  41. MIXALOT- it really was a night of miracles. I’m lucky my head didn’t explode Scanners-style.

  42. Wow, some of those survey questions. I made sure to tell Amazon that Jean Claude Van Johnson challenges my world view and makes me a better person.

  43. @World Eater

    There were various places to get movie posters in the ’80s (and ’70s) like Tower Records, and other music stores. You could also get them from the theater sometimes, either by knowing someone who worked there, or just by asking when the movie’s run was done. The theaters had no use for them & basically gave them away or threw them out.

  44. I’ve got to say Vern, I massively disagree with you’re one sentence summation of HDTGM. It has never been a show that disparages movies for the sake of doing so. Many of the films chosen are celebrated, many are not. Some, like The Odd Life of Timothy Green, promote wildly different opinions within the panel. Are you just pissed off that they maybe have not liked some stuff that you love? Not trolling I genuinely want to know why you clearly dislike the show.

  45. I just realized something: (mild JCVJ spiler) We never learn who the other secret agent, that van Johnson stole the mission from is. But since he had the same cover as him, he must be an action star too. And he is out for revenge. I wonder if the show gets picked up, they hire another authentic action star for that role. (Statham? Johnson?) Or maybe some award winning character actor, to poke fun at the trend how Matt Damon, Liam Neeson and Co took the place of Arnie, Sly, and JCVD .

  46. Fred, I hear you on the questions. Wow, no delusions of grandeur. “Yes, after the pilot alone, I am confident that this show is as good or better than my favorite show of all time.” I mean, it’s good, but let’s give this situation time to develop.

  47. So this is how cinema dies: With a bunch of movie fans talking about nothing except a couple of TV shows that reference old movies.

  48. In a comments thread about a TV show that references old movies, no less.

  49. Haven’t you heard? Marvel movies suck, so do DC movies and there is nothing else running, so of course we watch TV.

  50. Hey, heads up — I noticed that BLOOD FATHER (Mel’s new revenge film from Jean-François Richet [MESRINE]) snuck out into two theaters near me last week. If you leave dear DC, it’s at Hoffman cinema in Alexandria all week. If you live somewhere else, it still might be playing near you. I’ve been too sick to do anything all week but hopefully I’ll get to check it out sometime this week. Looks pretty solid, while we wait for his even crazier-looking directorial work HACKSAW RIDGE.

  51. @Zombo – nothing like Tower in my neck of the woods, and wasn’t cool enough to know cinema people until my sister worked at one in the late 80s. Still, it wasn’t like she was swimming in castoff posters that I could now profit from.

  52. Also, Van Damme has been photoshopped to look like Ben Affleck.

  53. Mixalot: Yeah, I know. I actually have nothing against either of these shows. I haven’t seen JCVJ (and will likely wait until/if it gets picked up so as not to get my heart broken if/when it doesn’t) and I actually just finished STRANGER THINGS last night after a month of hemming and hawing over the internet’s obsession with its retro fonts. Just thought it was a bad omen for the medium of film when all of the Recent Comments are movie nerds talking about TV shows.

  54. Skani, I instantly regretted telling them my favorite shows because now I have to say Jean-Claude Van Johnson is better than the Simpons or else maybe i won’t get made. And for the record, The Simpsons didn’t get great until season four.

    It’s that old corporate survey problem. Please rate our service on a scale of 1 to 10. Well, why didn’t we get a 10? What could we do to make you give us a 10? And ultimately you just give them a 10 so they’ll leave you alone. Then they brag, “Look at our great service! Customers give us 10 out of 10!”

    The automation of society is dangerous and should be fought. But I still hope they make Jean Claude Van Johnson.

  55. DirkD13, HDTGM is pretty much the only podcast I can say I am a genuine fan of, in that I make it a point to listen to all their episodes. Podcasts in general aggravate me because it’s usually long-winded people who fill two hours of time with nonsense, just because they can and there are no standards or editors or time and content restrictions. And that’s the professionals, let alone the amateurs trying to get a piece of the pie too.

    I like HDTGM because they talk about movies that interest me and they tend to be concise and to the point, partly because they are comedians going for the joke. I think they’ve actually become quite adept at studying film over the years too. I can see where Vern is coming from. He’s given it many chances and if it just rubs him the wrong way, how many more chances is he supposed to give them?

    I could say, “Try listening to the Cobra episode or the Stop or My Mom Will Shoot episode” but why? To try to get him to like something I like? This can be something we disagree on, and really it’s hardly a disagreement. It’s a podcast that entertains me but it’s not like trying to get someone to experience the magnificence of Hudson Hawk after decades of prejudice. Now THAT’s a cause worth fighting for.

  56. Mr. Majestyk – I’ve been thinking the same thing, that cinema is dying and in the future it will all just be TV shows.

    For one thing, only TV actually gets people talking for more than a few weeks, almost every movie that comes out now is pretty much forgotten after a month, but people have been going on and on and about GAME OF THRONES for over half a decade now.

  57. Griff: It makes sense, I guess. People have such short attention spans nowadays, plus they’re totally overloaded with stimuli. Movies have two hours to make an impression. TV has up to a couple hundred hours. It’s no wonder that no one can remember the movie they watched last weekend but they’re all about that show that gets beamed into their face every week. Me, I like efficient storytelling because it lets me fill in the blanks and makes me feel like an active participant, so I find a lot of TV belabored and sluggish. But maybe lots of people need to have the basic beats of a story or a character hammered into them before they can connect to it, so movies don’t really sink in for them. I prefer movies but I can see both sides.

  58. The increased production values in television has obviously helped in recent years, but it’s not like it’s smooth sailing for that industry either. There have been about a million articles about “peak TV.” There are some shows I really like, but I’m much more of a film person. One of the things that sucks about television is that it eats up so much time. I recently finished Stranger Things as well, which is only ten hours. I liked it well enough, but in the last episode they started setting up things for the second season, and it’s like who the hell has time for more of this.

    With film you get to sample so many different stories and styles because each film is usually only two hours long. Once I’ve finished a movie, I feel like I have accomplished something. I’ve added to my knowledge about a particular director’s interests and how the film is in conversation with the cultural time and place in which it was made. But after watching a season of television, there are usually more seasons. It just doesn’t end.

    And of course film is still far more interesting visually than television. There are some great directors working in television to be sure, many of whom used to work in film. But they’re still constrained by the house style of each individual series. There’s less room for a director to put his stamp on a show. Television is still a writer’s medium, which I guess I find less interesting (with the possible exception of shows that really pay attention to dialogue, like Justified). It’s not that I don’t like the English language. It’s just that I read novels for that.

  59. Mr. Majestyk – I’ve never been a big TV watcher, I’ve always preferred movies, so you can imagine how out of the loop I feel in the present day, I don’t watch any of these shows people obsess over, I just don’t have the time due to also being an avid gamer, the only show I made a note of watching was DEXTER and that show got so terrible at the end that I felt badly burned.

    I do intend on watching STRANGER THINGS though, Netflix does release their stuff on dvd eventually, right?

    Anyway I think it does come down to attention span plain and simple, modern culture is so rapid fire that there’s no way a two hour movie is going to stick around in people’s memory like a TV show that goes on for years will.

  60. Just last night my housemate said to me, after I asked her why she didn’t seem to go to the movies anymore, “I’ve been spoiled by TV to expect a standard of quality that most movies just don’t deliver these days.” I personally don’t agree with that statement at all but I hear it and sentiments like it from non-nerd friends pretty much on the regular.

  61. Griff: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Some of their in-house stuff has come out, through other studios because they don’t produce DVD/Blu-ray. Sony puts out HOUSE OF CARDS, and Lionsgate is putting out NARCOS this week. I believe Netflix has a hold on their Marvel shows which prevents Disney from releasing their stuff at the usual rate. The first season of DAREDEVIL is coming out later this year I think. I have no doubt that this show however will get a release, just depends on who gets the home video rights. Sadly BOJACK HORSEMAN, probably my favorite show on the network, hasn’t come out on home video yet.

    I finished STRANGER THINGS this weekend. I don’t have the kind of nostalgia for a lot that it references, but I nonetheless enjoyed it for the story and performances.

  62. MIXALOT, I’m afraid I have to agree there. There are still good films coming out, independently and from over the pond, and even some from Hollywood itself. But the standard set by nearly all the networks now is at least as powerful now.

  63. I remember my response to the The Thing poster was “I love the Thing but technically it probably doesn’t make sense to have the poster” and then I moved on because it was really minor and not worth throwing a tantrum over.

  64. A very long answer for Dirk:

    Maybe I’ve just listened to the wrong episodes. I enjoyed their FAST FIVE and PUNISHER WAR ZONE episodes, which were both very positive about the movies. All the other ones I’ve listened to I found condescending and often unfair toward the movies. I said on Twitter recently that it should be called “Describing Movies With Incredulous Voices.” They lean heavily on that comedian habit of pretending to not understand anything in the movie and to be completely amazed at how INSANE everything is.

    I thought the DOUBLE TEAM episode couldn’t bother me, because it really is INSANE. I love it for its ridiculousness. But then there’s this whole thing where they discuss this dialogue:

    Yaz: The last guy that made fun of my hair is still trying to pull his head outta his ass.

    Jack Quinn: I don’t want to know about your sex life.

    And they all (purport to be) convinced that it’s a total non-sequitur, that they have no idea why he would say that. And I have a hard time believing that they all don’t understand what the joke is supposed to be. It bothers me because that is such a legitimately crazy movie that you don’t have to make up fake weird things to be astounded by.

    But I like most of the people on the show and I’m interested in the type of movies they talk about, so occasionally I give it another shot, usually with the same results. The inspiration for mentioning it in this review was my recent mistake of listening to the THE PHANTOM episode. I saw the accompanying interview with Simon Wincer (I didn’t know about those until reading that one) and I really liked it, so I thought the episode would be more respectful.

    Obviously they don’t have to like the movie just because I like it, but it is a chore to listen to four intelligent adults spending more than an hour pretending to not understand that being a corny old fashioned super hero adventure was an intentional artistic choice that makes the movie appealing to the intended audience. It’s like making fun of the Christopher Nolan Batman movies by just listing all the “realistic” choices. “And the Batmobile is more like a tank. And the suit is like armor. And the cave was used for the underground railroad. I mean what the hell were they thinking!?!”

    And they spend the whole episode describing all these humorous things that Billy Zane and Treat Williams do in the movie, then talk about how the script was originally written to be funny but that they didn’t understand that when filming it and tried to make it serious. They just come at these movies wanting them to be bad, so Zane and Williams’ great comic performances are, to them, terrible performances that they’re laughing at.

    I gave the podcast still another shot with the COOL AS ICE episode. I have a much easier time on something like that, since I have no more respect for the movie than them. I do have some opinions about researching the filmmakers before wildly speculating about them, but that’s okay. What’s funny is to compare the tone of most of the episode, where they ridicule the movie, to the segment with Vanilla Ice, where all the sudden it’s a beloved cult classic that they thoroughly enjoy and admire. I guess I should send them a plaque that says “Always podcast like Vanilla Ice is in the room.”

    Anyway, thank you for asking, and I’m sorry to slag on a podcast you enjoy. I also know that I myself have been guilty of some of these attitudes that bother me so much now. I find things in the archives occasionally where I think “oh shit, I really used to think that?” But I’m always evolving and it is my mission to spread the gospel of appreciating (or not) weird movies without always assuming the people who made them are dummies that did it all by mistake and should be made fun of.

  65. Tried to watch this but not available in my country (yet). Dang geo-blocking! But I’m surprised too see so many luddites on here waiting for streaming services to chisel their TV shows and movies onto stone tablets or whatever. You waiting for this whole internet fad to blow over?

    I’ve given HDTGM a shot a few times and it’s never really caught on with me, but that’s due to the style of comedy rather than them being insufficiently respectful towards the movies they watch. Everybody is always shouting, stumbling all over each other in a bid to get their jokes out first, and they play up the craziness to an extent that seems phony and that the movie can never match.

  66. Sorry for railroading the discussion by mentioning STRANGER THINGS.

    Then again, with this many comments maybe it was inevitable.

    JCVJ HONEST OPINION: I think Van Damme is easily the best part, the length and pacing of the show is good, and that the last 10 minutes were solid, with a satisfying fight and funny scene about time travel that was foreshadowed early on. But I thought the female lead was . . . not that great at all – didn’t like her story, character, or acting – and I thought some of the jokes weren’t very funny. Mistaking him for Nic Cage and Val Kilmer? If they keep doing shit like that I hope Van Damme starts blowing up at people. Also, Spy Stuff > Movie Stuff.

  67. I broadly agree with Vern on HDTGM. I wont lie and say it doesn’t pass an hour or so acceptably when trying to go to sleep or something, and I certainly think the oral histories are a worthwhile contribution to the study of film history (as well as stuff like their interview with Mel Brooks about SOLARBABIES). I agree the TIMOTHY GREEN episode is good, mostly because Tim Heidecker (of all people) offers a very sincere defence of it. But the majority of episodes offer no analysis whatsoever, just summaries of the movie with the compare interjecting “it makes *no* sense”. Often they’re just dismissing something for being quirky or unusual, and that kind of attitude is why we have so many banal middling mainstream movies. It might be better if they weren’t reviewing what were very mainstream movies that a most people listening to this kind of podcast have already seen anyway. I’ve never really got MST3K or websites like The Agony Booth so maybe it was never going to be for me anyway.

  68. I like HDTGM ok, I don’t listen to it all the time or anything but it can be funny.

    I agree though that sometimes they’re too hard on the movies, in fact it’s indicative of something I’ve noticed in modern culture where people just don’t give movies the benefit of the doubt like they used to anymore, if there’s one little plot hole or moment they dislike then it pretty much ruins the entire movie for people.

    It’s almost like there’s a strange resentment against movies nowadays, like the only way many people can enjoy them is by watching them ironically and talking shit about them.

    I think back to in 2014 I read an article on Vice about the 15th anniversary of THE MATRIX where they called it “dated and embarrassing” and slammed the movie for daring to come from a different cultural era, a time when not every fucking thing had to be snarky and ironic.

    And yet everyone and their grandmother loved THE MATRIX at the time, so what changed in the ensuring 15 years?

  69. 9/11? Jason Bourne? Christopher Nolan? Hipster culture? YouTube? I don’t know.

  70. To be totally honest I think 9/11 really did have something to do with it, 9/11 was a huge dose of cold, hard, ugly reality and it’s like we’ve lost our ability to get as immersed in fantasy as we used to be able to.

  71. I mean can you imagine something like E.T. resonating with people in the post 9/11 world as much as it did with people in the 80’s? I can just hear modern people now joking that he looks like a turd and being cynical about the Reese’s Pieces product placement or whatever.

    This is why he have stuff like STRANGER THINGS that tries so hard to recapture the magic of that era.

  72. I think Griff is onto something about how people today treat film differently from television. There’s an entire economy of snark that’s risen around film. Things like How Did This Get Made (which I haven’t listened to even though it’s been recommended to me) and those Honest Movie Trailers.

    And I outright reject the idea that television has become better than movies. Like Griff I watched and was burned by Dexter. The common complaint is the show got bad after the fourth season, but, honestly, the show wasn’t very good from the beginning. It had a potentially interesting premise that was never properly explored. Similarly, after its first season, the Flash TV show popped up on a bunch of best of television end of year lists. If something of similar slipshod quality was released into theaters, then people would tear it apart. Even the first season of House of Cards was a dumb show. I could go on and on. But the point is, I constantly see mediocre to bad television being hailed as some sort of great achievement that it leads me to believe that critics are grading on a curve.

    In addition to what others have said, I also wonder if television gets a pass partly because it’s more disposable and thus you have lower expectations.

  73. For as much as movies get ripped on, it would be nice to see some harsh reviews of TV shows. Trouble is, there’s like 10 times as much material to analyze; I think the task seems too daunting.

    Like, I’d personally love a break-down of how LOST went to shit, but where the hell do you start? How long would a thorough review need to be?

  74. I think TV gets a pass, because the whole “high quality” thing is new. Compare the production values, star power and ability to experiment with most shows that came out before 2001. Even something as old fashioned as CASTLE at least looks now cinematic! Does all that shit make a show good? Hello no. For every BREAKING BAD or FARGO, we get 25 BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, GAME OF THRONES or THE WALKING DEAD, which fall into the same frustrating storytelling traps. (Nothing happens until the great cliffhanger at the end of every episode, random deaths of main characters to pretend your writers made a “brave decision”, cast a Hollywood star who is definitely good, but brings nothing to the character, that a “normal” TV actor wouldn’t…)

    Basically most modern TV shows are just Malibu Stacy with a brand new hat.

  75. Crushinator Jones

    August 22nd, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Stranger Things is pretty good, and I don’t regret watching it, but the adoration for it…I don’t get it.

    It’s a pretty nice period piece and a cool amalgamation of references and ideas that have worked well in other movies/shows and work well together. But it’s not this incredible work that people are making it out to be.

    I guess Internet Media People need something to write about, and an effective supernatural crowd-pleaser for 80s kids is a good topic.

  76. I gotta say, I’m a big fan of HDTGM (mostly for Jason Mantzoukis – I’m not gonna spell it right) and can generally tolerate their balance of snark:comedy, and I’ve been tolerating We Hate movies less and less lately because it seems clear the more they try to be mean the less they’re paying attention to the actual movie (stems back to Vern’s complaint about lack of movie research for your film podcasts) but I cannot stand those Honest Movie Trailers and CinemaSins. Something about them rubs me the wrong way. Too much snark, too much armchair quarterbacking, I don’t know. (I have a similar problem with Oscar Prognosticators).

    If I may, for a good podcast, check out Cargill (aka Massawyrm) and Brian Salisbury’s Junkfood Cinema. they appreciate the stuff we do, from a non-ironic standpoint, which is refreshing these days.

    And I can’t wait to watch JCVJ. I’m glad Vern finally saw Enemies Closer, because it’s damn fascinating.

  77. RBatty024 – DEXTER was always pulpy, but I think season 1, 2 and 4 were great entertainment.

  78. Wow, you guys are all being a bunch of grumpy cynics about STRANGER THINGS. I really enjoyed it. I didn’t care about the movie poster of THE THING or the security guard talking about Cujo. I thought the real nostalgia of it was the feeling of it. I can’t explain it better than that. I honestly thought it was a Stephen King story for the first several episodes. I didn’t clearly read the hype about it and thought it was his story being made into a series, not just something made in his style.

    Regardless of the nostalgia component, I thought it was a great show. I loved that the kids looked and acted like kids. They were quirky and awkward and had a weird charisma – especially that toothless kid. I thought the girl who played 11 was fantastic at hitting all the notes of that character – fear, poignancy, bubbling anger, being an outsider, finding friends and acceptance and sacrifice. Especially that poignancy. I loved that the mothers in the story were good mothers who really cared about their kids and wanted to be part of their life and help them, but were also caught up in the hustle of life and that they were all of these things and still completely different and original characters unlike each other. I loved that the older brother truly cared about his little brother and the older sister was caught up in her own life and thought her little brother and his friends were a bunch of dweebs, but when it came down to it she loved them and wanted to protect them. I love that the boys were so determined to save their friend. I loved Winona Ryder and David Harbour got a chance to play such meaty roles and both did an excellent job. I thought that while the Upside Down and the monster weren’t completely original, they were unique enough to be interesting and scary. I thought the filmatism, especially the scenes in the Upside Down and the facility with the gateway was beautiful.

    On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  79. Has anybody here seen Welcome to the Jungle? JCVD is so fucking hilarious in it.

  80. I really don’t get the backlash at STRANGER THINGS. Then again Faraci declared war on it because of THE THING poster and complains about it being a Spielberg/1980s riff.

    Meanwhile, he trips over himself praising PETE’S DRAGON. (A good movie, but it’s also a Spielberg/1980s riff.)

  81. Sternshein, I saw Welcome to the Jungle. I actually drove to Newport Beach to see it at a film festival. Totally worth it. Van Damme is a magnificent ham. He even makes the Bloodsport face!

  82. MaggieMayPie – So commenting on things about a show that personally irked me even while declaring it “well made, entertaining and fun” means that I’m a grumpy cynic? Jesus, I would hate to hear what you think about people who *really* have it in for STRANGER THINGS.

    If something bothers me in a movie or TV show I’m going to notice it. I don’t fixate on it or let it derail the overall experience but if we’re now getting into the business of declaring everyone who expresses any issue with something as a snarky, nitpicky, asshole cynic then there is even less wiggle room out here to communicate one’s opinions than I thought.

  83. Can I mention for moment how much I loved the pilot for the new THE TICK and how gleefully it parodies “dark, gritty and realistic” superhero movies? Not in the same 100% straight faced way like POWER/RANGERS did, but only because they didn’t change the character of The Tick at all. They just dropped him into a dark and joyless story of harsh violence and childhood traumata.

  84. Griff – I agree that you have three decent to good seasons out of eight. But at the time people were praising Dexter like it was some sort of major artistic achievement when it was, even at its height, dumb fun.

    And just to get back to my TV versus film discussion, take Stranger Things and compare it to Jeff Nichols’s Midnight Special. Both Stranger Things and Midnight Special owe something to Spielberg, but where Stranger Things is straight up pastiche, Midnight Special takes its Spielberg influence and filters it through Nichols’s sensibilities. The story moves at a more leisurely pace and is less interested in the suburbs than it is the rural South. It’s very much a Jeff Nichols film but with some of Spielberg’s DNA thrown in.

    Again, I liked Stranger Things. It’s an enjoyable, well done show, but if we’re talking about visual narratives influenced by 80s era Spielberg, then Midnight Special is the superior story. And yet no one saw it. I guess this is what gets me about the focus on television over film. There are some great movies out there that deserve the exposure so that these filmmakers can keep on putting out their artistic vision.

  85. Crushinator Jones

    August 23rd, 2016 at 9:24 am


    Sorry to be such a damn grump but I don’t really care that the kids in Stranger Things acted “like kids”, as though a 12 year old has a prescribed way to act (the bullies acted like kids, too). They were enthusiastic and cared about their friend but those are easy emotions to bond with and appreciate.

    The kid with the missing teeth is a professional stage actor with a singing voice like an angel. He doesn’t have “weird charisma”, he has actual massive amounts of real charisma and some missing teeth (not in real life, IRL he has a full set of teeth)


    ” I cannot stand those Honest Movie Trailers and CinemaSins”

    It’s because they are nitpicky shit that pretend to misunderstand movies in order to berate them. If you like Cinemasins get the fuck outta my life.

  86. It is obvious to me that most TV shows these days are overrated to a great degree, and I can’t tell you what a relief it is to see that so many of you share this opinion!

    I’ve tried to watch MAD MEN, GAME OF THRONES, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, WALKING DEAD, and several more, but they all seem mediocre at best. And then that mediocrity is stretched over a thousand hours, though the producers seem to be correct in thinking that if they pad the run time with naked people, the audience won’t notice. I for one don’t have the time nor the patience to sit through a whole lot of nothing.

    The serial format has legitimate appeal. It gives people something to talk about and allows for speculation about what might happen next. But there has to be a better way than taking what could be a pretty good or even great miniseries and then dragging it out over several years’ worth of episodes.

    On the upside, here are some serial shows I’ve really enjoyed lately: LADY DYNAMITE (Maria Bamford is a genius!). SCROTAL RECALL (a funny show with great characters now boringly retitled LOVESICK). DRAMAWORLD (I had no knowledge of Korean dramas, but it didn’t matter because this parody has such heartfelt characters). I plan to give STRANGER THINGS a try soon. And maybe BOJACK HORSEMAN, too, based on the positive things I’ve read about it here.

    In conclusion, thank you all for being willing to go against the mainstream.

  87. Mike: I second the BOJACK HORSEMAN recommendations. Really fell in love with the show but have to admit that a lot of hits too close to home (which for that show is a very bad thing).

    The only other current TV shows I’ve watched and liked are FARGO and RICK & MORTY. I haven’t given STRANGER THINGS a shot yet mainly because it’s one of those ones that every gushes over and recommends and ends up not doing anything for me.

    RBATTY/Griff – Thanks for not being as enthused with DEXTER as I was. Everyone gave me shit when I said that at best it was trashy dumb fun and horrible inconsistent (and again really stupid) and was informed that it was actually super intelligent and deep and was totally consistent in quality.

    CJ – I’ll have to give TICK another go. It took me the whole episode to figure out that the joke was the show itself. Maybe a second shot will let me warm up to it.

  88. I don’t get the hate for How Did This Get Made. They clearly enjoy the movies they talk about and it’s made me go out and watch a few that I hadn’t seen before (or rewatch ones that I have seen).

    I am not in the US and don’t have Amazon Prime so I don’t think I can watch this one sadly.

  89. If Dexter had ended with the John Lithgow season, that would have been pretty much perfect. Sadly, it continued on as a shell of itself. I didn’t even have the heart to watch the final season. Here’s hoping JCVD stays around long enough to become a shell of itself.

  90. The last season is a vast improvement on the penultimate one, if that’s any enticement.

  91. Really? Okay, maybe I’ll check her out.

  92. I mean, it’s not great TV (I agree that DEXTER was always just trashy fun, but Hall’s performance was so good that people didn’t immediately notice) and the finale only half delivers (like everything the internet despises, it’s not as bad as its reputation), but it’s about a thousand times better than whatever the fuck Colin Hanks thought he was doing with those terrible “tableaus” in Season 6, the only season I actively dislike.

  93. My three cents worth re: TV – Fargo season 1 is classic. Season 2 tried too hard to be quirky and didn’t quite get to the heights of 1, but enjoyed it nonetheless.

    I redact my initial praise from season 1 of Z Nation, since 2 was woefully boring and bad. I’m done with zombies for a while.

    Wayward Pines put me into a coma. I’m still coming out.

    Bosch is freakin hilarious, for Titus Welliver’s emotionless, stone-faced performance alone. I like the guy from the movies I’ve seen him in, but not sure what he’s doing with this role. Auditioning for something else?

    The Leftovers seasons 1 and 2 kicked me in the balls, hard, and is the best thing I’ve seen since Twin Peaks. Really.

  94. Reading a defense of the final season and the series finale of Dexter, even a tepid one, I feel like Skani must feel when he reads anything positive about the Star Wars prequels.

  95. Majestyk’s comment about Hall’s performance in DEXTER reminded me of something else that’s deceptive about TV shows: putting really exceptional actors in these shows make them seem like they have more substance. I think people are fooled into thinking a show is excellent when it’s really just a case of excellent actors performing mediocre-at-best scripts.

    You can add FARGO to my list of shows I’ve enjoyed lately, though I haven’t seen the second season yet.

  96. What a bunch of anti-TV hipsters you guys are :)

    My opinion is that I’ve enjoyed more TV shows than I’ve enjoyed movies in the last 5 years. That would include sitcoms in with the hour dramas. The thing I like about TV is that you can have a bad episode but then the next one could be awesome where I could watch a bad movie and it’s over and all I can think about is how bad that movie is.

  97. I never bothered with DEXTER’s last season, same with TRUE BLOOD. In both those cases I can see now, how early on those shows kind of disintegrated story-wise for me. Occasionally propped up by some great performances (Lithgow on DEXTER, and Denis O’Hare on TRUE BLOOD, for at least the 3rd season anyway), but the wheels went loose on them starting in their 2nd seasons. Especially DEXTER, having Miami Metro already investigate his murders could have been saved for a later season where the stakes would have felt a little higher. At the end of that season’s first episode, I knew how it would end.

  98. You knew he would fake his death and become a lumberjack?

  99. No, I meant how the 2nd season would end.

  100. I actively enjoy all this cool, hip TV. Some of it very much so.

    But one thing I find is there’s just too darn much of it. It used to be I could watch one, maybe 2 serious shows at a time, and maybe a handful of sitcoms and cartoons and Jerry Springer-esque trash to kill some time here and there, but that was pretty much it.

    Now it seems like I’m watching a ton religiously. And when one ends, two take its place, like a hydra. Just so much material…all of it to my liking, but not all of it so damn much of it!!

    There is something depressing about it. Even though its good, it all got a repetive feel. Even the shows with lots of diverse plotlines still have the same actors and overall look over and over… At some point it quits being entertainment…and starts to feel like work. Especially if you miss a few weeks and you have some catching up to do.

    I don’t see the bubble popping anytime soon. That binge watching became cool (instead of something shitheads with no social life do) is a sign its here to stay at least for a decade or so. Its a shame, because so much of it is great, most of it good, and absolutely all of it is well beyond yesterday’s standards.

    I remember being pretty young and wishing TV was better. Be careful what you wish for I guess!

  101. STRANGER THINGS has got to be the most-mentioned show on the net right now. You CANNOT escape the thing. All that hype makes me dislike it without having even seen it yet, which kinda saddens me. It’s the same every time a new season of GAME OF THRONES rolls around and all this stuff about is jammed down your throat and it’s apparently the best thing ever and then you watch it and it’s mostly just a bunch of people in very very dark rooms talking about shit you forgot about because you watched the last episode a year ago. Frustrating as hell.

    Anyone here watching Soderbergh’s THE KNICK? I’m some way into season two and I don’t know, sometimes it’s perhaps a bit boring but I still keep watching it, mainly for the crepuscular mood. It’s even worse than GoT in the way it keeps about a dozen storylines running simultaneously and you have to keep up with each strand to get the whole picture even though you’re only invested in roughly half of them. But it’s also got Clive Owen functioning on cocaine and heroin cutting pieces out of peoples’ brains and experimenting with hypnosis, close-up shots of quicksilver being injected into tumours, doctors torching off their own faces and a lab-kept pig being infected with syphilis and malaria. It’s a good show.

  102. I’m not one of those who thinks their is a tremendous quality discrepancy between film and TV today. TBH the only recent shows I feel are worth a damn and anybody’s time are MR. ROBOT and THE NIGHT OF as well as my go-to sitcoms like ALWAYS SUNNY and SOUTH PARK.

    In defense of THE FLASH (which is the only other show I watch along with it’s sibling series’) though to some of you it seems no better than superhero movies and has shittier acting and bla bla bla. I do think however most people are going really wild over it because UNLIKE most superhero movies it embraces ALL the superhero storytelling tropes unapologetically. It doesn’t try to be ironic or meta it just earnestly presents time travel and shark people and intelligent gorillas whether you accept it or not because the show itself BELIEVES in those concepts unlike a lot of it’s potential fans. It has no problem organically accepting out there concepts and implementing them for further world building. This is a show who’s universe will have Superman and supposedly Aquaman doing Superman and Aquaman shit without a need to “ground” any of it this coming fall.

    It’s the one piece of comic book media that week in and out FEELS like a living comic book because it juggles all the imaginative and outlandish stuff with genuine characterizations and relationships. Which are the hallmarks of successful comic book storytelling. The fact that it has done that 2 years in a row in a manner superior to even most superhero films (most glaringly the DCEU which for the record I do appreciate unconditionally) is why so many people can’t stop singing it’s praises. It’s the one piece of superhero media where people go “Hey X comic book concept is dumb and will never work in live action” as they always do and actually proves them wrong by executing said concept successfully. For pete’s sake the SUICIDE SQUAD movie avoided King Shark despite him having a major role in that one cartoon that the mainstream knew the Squad from prior to Big Willie’s movie but this show said “fuck it” and not only included him once but twice and quite successfully at that. There in lies the charm. It’s a piece of superhero media that LOVES being a piece of superhero media.

    I will definitely check out JCVJ. Not sure about this STRANGE THINGS stuff yet though. You guys make it sound alright and lord knows I grew up loving Winona and Amblin movies but I’m just kinda scared that it ends up being an extended SUPER 8. With that said: it can’t hurt to roll the dice.

  103. RBatty024 – MIDNIGHT SPECIAL is I think one of the best movies of the year and one that perfectly tows the line between “influence” and “inspiration”. Also I think I mentioned this before (god knows where) but I thought the car chase photography, staging and stunts in MIDNIGHT SPECIAL were worthy of serious commendation.

    CEPE – THE KNICK season two finale, no spoilers of course, is some of the best TV I’ve seen in I don’t know how long. Close calls – BOJACK season 2 episode 11 and BOJACK season 3 episode 6. BOJACK HORSEMAN is pretty much the best written character drama on any kind of screen right now and has been for a long ass minute.

    MaggieMayPie – I responded like an asshole in my reply to your comment and it was completely unwarranted. I’m sorry for that. I’m just exhausted by the notion that personal umbrage taken with a particular aspect of a work of art can automatically cast the decreer as a joyless cynic without allowing them to engage in considerate criticism of the work as a whole. I think what I’m trying to say is that a lot of loudmouth jerks out there have dirtied the waters for all of us so it’s no surprise that issues and opinions end up getting conflated and mangled in the ensuing dredge on both sides. I’m not phrasing any of this correctly but I felt bad about responding the way that I did and I just wanted to say that I’m sorry for that.

    Anyway, about FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS…

  104. JTS, having now acknowledged some appreciation for elements of BvS, I have more appreciation for Vern’s and others’ stance on the Star Wars prequels. They certainly do some interesting things, take some risks, and pushed the technological envelope. Lucas really did try to do something different, whereas it’s true that JJ Abrahms essentially spliced some of the most compelling aspects of the OT into a kind of mixtape for the newbies. That’s all fair. I think where I am a little more incredulous is when people try to say that it is better to attempt something bold that fails (in terms of compelling characters, dialogue, look, narrative cohesion, momentum) than something a bit derivative that mostly succeeds on those fronts even if it is less original than one would like. I give the creative risk-taking merit badge to George Lucas, while I give the “I actually enjoyed the film and would watch it again” to JJ on this one. JTS, you’ve proved Godwin’s Law of this website which is, if the thread goes on long enough, I will start talking about the prequels.

  105. I watched the first season of THE FLASH. I didn’t hate it, but its enthusiastic embrace of its comic book roots is about the only thing it’s got going for it. The cast is Disney Channel bland, the characters are one-note (the main villain being the one exception), the plotting is entry level, the dialogue is perfunctory, and the production values are merely adequate. People who think this version of the character should have moved to the big screen are delusional. It’s the XENA of its day: Fine for what it is and undeniably filling a niche, but come on.

    That said, its guileless good nature and lack of cynicism go a long way toward making it watchable in a have-on-in-the-background kind of way. I can roll my eyes at all the obvious plot revelations that anyone with a brain figured out six episodes earlier and generic character dynamics that could have been ported in from any hour-long drama made in the last 30 years, but the fact of the matter is that this is a show where at any point a giant telepathic gorilla can and will show up, which automatically makes it better than, say, MAD MEN, which I have been told often went six or seven episodes without any gorillas at all, even normal ones.

  106. 2 thing Majestyk’S comment about THE FLASH:

    1.) “the production values are merely adequate”
    You should look for some VFX breakdown videos of that show. You will be surprised how many invisible special effects this show has, next to the more obvious TV level ones.

    2.) XENA is a lot better than its reputation. When most people hear Xena, they think of women in leather bikinis, fighting cheesy video game monsters and yes, that WAS a huge part of the show, but they also got dark as fuck in their stories, give the protagonists more depth than the whole cast of GOT together and most of all, really liked to go meta and experimental when they randomly felt like it. I mean, they ended one of their darkest storylines with a musical episode, before anybody else did musical episodes, for fucks sake! I’m not saying that the show fully holds up, but the parts that do, outshine even lots of stuff from today’s “golden age of television”.

  107. I like the Flash is basically fine, and don’t disagree with any of Majestyk’s Jon Lovitz’s The Critic-like criticisms — except the production values one. Maybe there’s an occasional all-CG shot of Grodd or King Shark that’s less than effective, but I still think you gotta give The Flash and its production team some more credit than “adequate.” Especially since they’re on a TV-schedule, doing 23 episodes a year. I’d say they do a good job.

    But like you guys, I do appreciate the fact that it’s willing to indulge earnestly indulge in wackiness ]like Grodd and King Shark in the first place.

  108. All I meant by “adequate” are that they get the job done without being particularly impressive. I get that what they’ve managed to accomplish on a not-HBO TV budget is commendable, but the show can’t coast on spectacle the way a superhero movie could.

    That’s honestly the least of my concerns. The other things I mentioned are what’s holding the show back from ever being more than a colorful time-waster. Which is not a bad thing. I’d still rather watch it than most of the prestige shows that are on now.

  109. MIXALOT: BOJACK is getting all the acclaim it deserves, but I get the feeling people don’t give it equal credit for being as funny as it is too. There were plenty of clever and funny moments to outweigh the more serious depth. It’s like some of the early SIMPSONS episodes to a degree, showing incredible dramatic depth without losing it’s funnybone.

  110. Thanks Mixalot, I appreciate that. I thought I was being pretty innocuous with grumpy cynics and was surprised by the responses. I certainly didn’t mean it to be anything more than a lighthearted tease. It just goes to show how passionate we are here in Vern’s world and that’s a good thing.

  111. THE FLASH is one of those shows that I really enjoy, but wouldn’t blame anyone for turning it off in disgust. It’s a CW show through and through, full of bland, pretty actors and contrived soap-opera drama. I roll my eyes at a good 25% of each episode, but the other 75% has super-intelligent gorillas and shark-men, so what can you do? I’m not made of stone.

    I love THE KNICK. Even when the show meanders around aimlessly, it’s an absolute joy to watch. It’s a perfect example of impeccable direction elevating a decent script.

    BOJACK is great, but it doesn’t make me laugh all that much (which is not necessarily a mark against it). RICK AND MORTY makes me laugh consistently AND it might be the best science-fiction show on TV.

    I also love GAME OF THRONES, because I am a filthy hive-minded plebian with prosaic tastes, apparently.

  112. Is this pilot going to be in trouble because Van Damme isn’t out selling it? Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Hahn are all over the talk shows for their show, though I don’t see The Tick shilling himself either. Hope the material speaks for itself. I’m certainly pushing it in my writing.

  113. I can imagine it’s because Bacon and Hahn are more mainstream and make more valuable talkshow guests.
    Also “I Love Dick” gets a lot more mixed reactions (I hated it for example) than the other two pilots, so maybe this is the one that is in trouble and needs its stars to sell it to the mainstream.

  114. I’d kill to see JCVJ go to series (is that the expression?)

    I absolutely loved it. And it was written by the guy who wrote the first draft of THE EXPENDABLES with sly? Holy moley.

    Just a work of minor genius.

    THE TICK was OK, but if it’s a kumite situation we’ve got here between the two then I hope JCVJ delivers a nutpunch and gets to keep on keeping on.

  115. I honestly don´t care if it becomes a series, for the simple reason that I would probably not be able to watch it. Too bad really.

  116. Shoot – I’m sure if it does go to a full series it will come to JCDVD/Blu ray eventually.

    It sucks that you can’t check out the pilot due to licensing issues or whatnot. That’s not cool.

  117. Yeah, it is annoying. But I just found the pilot on Youtube so I´ll give it a watch right now.

  118. Shoot – Awesome. Hope you dig it. Think you will.

  119. I did, thanks! Loved the use of double/triple cut in the fight at the end. Shit like that seemed to be standard in JCVD movies likE UNIVERSAL SOLDIER AND KICKBOXER.

  120. Shoot – Great to hear. It really is fantastic, isn’t it?

    The idea of this being a full series is just too amazing to comprehend.

    And the next time someone tells me JCVD can’t act, I’ll just show them the last minute or so of the pilot.

  121. The solution is for you foreigners to move to America. We might get Donald Trump to be President soon. That can’t lead to problems.

  122. Sternshein, if Shoot and others come to America they are going to steal all of our jobs! All of them!

    Shoot and others, have you guys looked into using a service like Tunnel Bear to get around region-locked stream issues?

  123. Tunnel Bear? That sounds like something for smuggling Mexicans.

  124. Also, TIME COP is better than LOOPER. Because fuck that movie.

  125. Just picked up for a full season

  126. Yeeees. The other two were also picked up. I didn’t watch I LOVE DICK but maybe this new version of THE TICK will grow on me. Even if it does not, if JEAN CLAUDE VAN JOHNSON is able to keep up the entertainment value and weird vibe (that seems to be turning some off) then we should all be good.

  127. I know, I cross the line of being a popculture conspirational theorist here, but I believe I LOVE DICK was only picked up, because Amazon wanted to keep the creator of their biggest prestige show happy. (It’s from the creator of TRANSPARENT.)

    But whatever. At least we get for now a season of JCVJ and THE TICK, so I don’t care that an inferior show, that plays like a sitcom parody of an arthouse romance drama, gets some extra screen time. It’s not like it took any of the more deserving shows away from us.

  128. The only problem is how the hell I am going to watch it.

  129. Wait for home video or

    TunnelBear: Secure VPN Service

    Really simple VPN to browse the web privately & anonymously. Unblock websites around the world with applications for Mac, PC, iOS, Android & Chrome.

  130. I´ll look into it. Thanks!

  131. This is great news as I honestly didn’t think it would go to a full series.

    I caught THE TICK – and thought it was pretty good, but my Amazon vote for JCVJ was not in any doubt.

    I have no idea what I LOVE DICK is even is.

    Or I LOVE THE TICK’S DICK, which I believe never went past the script stage.

  132. Finally started this but haven’t gotten very far (family life). I’ll always have a soft spot for ol’ Jean Claude; nice to see him in an Amazon series. I hope it continues. (I’m getingt tired of the meta-ness of modern entertainment, though.)
    JC’s has really aged in his face but 1) he’s not trying to hide it and 2) physically he looks phenomenal. Puts one of his competitors to shame.

  133. So it got picked up?


    JCVD sidenote: I think I’m in love with his daughter.

  134. Well, the trailer was already uploaded in 2016. But it WAS picked up, although I haven’t heard anything about it since then, other then a tweet by Peter Atencio saying that they were working on it.

    Unfortunately since it’s Amazon, I’m a bit worried. They never advertise their own shows and then randomly cancel them. I hope this is still coming.

  135. Season 1 comes out December 15th – looking forward to it. JCVD is doing the publicity tours now – he had an entertaining interview on Conan last night.

  136. The show is now on Amazon (apparently it has only 6 episodes, though) and I finished episode 2 before bedtime yesterday. It’s even better than the pilot. Can’t wait to watch the rest, although I don’t wanna binge it all right away like some basic Millennial. Could be difficult.

  137. Has anyone else checked this out? I watched it over the weekend, and though I thought it was good, it was still a bit underwhelming. This is pretty funny at times, but I don’t recognize the film industry they’re satirizing here. I also lost interest after the first four episodes, and found the last two a notch below what came before.

    I suppose I sound rather negative, so I should point out that I still had lots of fun with it. The references to JVCD’s filmography where mostly very funny – in particular everything involving Timecop. And – mild SPOILER – the timetravel stuff in ep 3 or 4 was pretty terrific. And the idea of Van Damme starring in Huck Finn retold as an action movie was a great idea that they got a lot of good stuff from.

  138. I loved it and it should be a HUGE hit with some real award show chances, but we all know how Amazon shits the bed when it comes to advertising and award-campaigning their shows, if they don’t involve “woke” topics.

    While I do admit that the last two episodes should’ve been cut down to one, because there was a bit too much filler in there, I love how it mixes straight faced drama spoof (everybody has a dark past or gets traumatized at some point, only to come out stronger) with action movie cliches, sometimes clever, sometimes silly Hollywood satire (Where are the thinkpieces about the subplot involving “N-word Jim” and his replacement?) and completely ridiculous bullshit.

    Too bad that most people don’t even seem to know that this show exists and the “Best comedy” slot at the next Emmys will be again filled with a-list movie stars and dramas, that throw in a chuckle or two per episode, so that they can say it was funny.

  139. I really enjoyed it. The Blockbuster gag had me laughing so hard I had to pause the thing.

  140. Happy to see you enjoyed it, and I do hope the series reaches a wide audience. And I hope we see a second season down the line. I wouldn’t mind a second season that builds one the final scene!

  141. I liked the whole series but agree the first few episodes were much better. They got away from the humour too much and the action scenes were pretty crappy. I think the best parts were whenever he was filming Huck (I hope that gets made for real). And I was waiting all season for “Brown” to show up -was expecting a good cameo so that was a let-down.

  142. The Undefeated Gaul

    December 27th, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Just binged this and agree with what you guys have said. First four eps are definitely better, with the third one being the highlight for me with two huge belly laughs – which honestly is very rare for me. The first was the opening scene with the Bulgarian guy talking about his shitty day to Filip (the “Like a Turk!!” and “I’m sorry about your shoelace” lines killed me) but the biggest one was at the end when only the one stressed out assistant seems to notice that Van Damme has just actually killed three guys in front of the cameras. The delivery of the line “these men are dead” was fucking gold.

    So yeah, was disappointed to see that it was all a bit downhill from there. Van Damme was actually great at the faux dramatic stuff but I wanted more comedy and fights.

    Also disappointed that we never got to see Brown. That seemed like such a promising story thread they threw in there in the pilot, and it made you happily speculate who they could cast for the part, but instead they just dropped it completely.

  143. Well, looks like Amazon has cancelled it. Too bad, but despite its final scene, it felt like a limited series anyway, so I’m not too sad about it. Still: Fuck you, Amazon!

  144. Just read. Disappointing but I’m happy with what we got. Yeah I’ll agree with others that the later half wasn’t as good but that half had the Blockbuster joke which was the funniest thing I saw in a long while so I’ll take it (also I seemed to like the second half way more than most anyway).

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