Tag: tv review

‘Twisted’ leaves audience surprised after series comes to abrupt end

by Desiree Lopez

A troubled high school student has just been released from juvenile detention after five years. He hopes to make amends with his childhood friends, but his past keeps haunting him.

“Twisted” is a teen drama, mystery, and thriller television series. It came out in 2013 on the television network, Freeform. The show follows teenager, Danny Desai, played by Avan Jogia. When he finally gets to come home, he soon realizes that things are not the way they used to be in his hometown of Green Grove, New York.

Danny was convicted of murdering his aunt by strangling her with a jump rope when he was 11 years old. His best friends were in the backyard when the crime occurred, so they saw the aftermath and were then scarred for life.

His two childhood best friends, Lacey and Jo, have since parted ways and are no longer friends. Jo Masterson, played by Maddie Hasson, is a social outcast who is still haunted by the past. Lacey Porter, played by Kylie Bunbury, has a high popularity status that she tries to contain.

Throughout the series, Danny tries to earn back the trust of Jo and Lacey. Jo easily forgives him, mostly because she is in love with him. She is also his only friend. Lacey and Danny eventually begin to talk to each other in private, but strong, romantic feelings between the two interrupt their friendship. Lacey hides the relationship so that the news won’t hurt her social status, and Danny does also because it is what Lacey wants.

Things were going well for Danny. He was fitting in and his two best friends were on speaking terms with him. But then Lacey’s best friend, Regina Crane, played by Karynn Moore, is found murdered in her own house after a house party she hosted. Danny instantly becomes the prime suspect.

Danny denies the accusation, but he is in possession of Regina’s necklace, which is the only thing missing from the crime scene. Later, a murder weapon is found with Danny’s fingerprints on it.Twisted_intertitle

After all the evidence comes to light, Jo and Lacey become skeptical of Danny and question whether he killed Regina.

During this time, Danny’s mother, Karen, played by Denise Richards, seems to be the only person who truly believes that her son did not commit the crime he is being accused of.

Karen used to be very involved in her community and was very social. But after her son was convicted, her status plummeted. She’s gotten to the point where she no longer cares what others think of her. She loves her son and will stand by his side, no matter what.

Danny’s father passed away six months before Danny was released. Danny praised his father and thought nothing less of him. But as the series continues, speculation that Danny’s father may be alive comes to light.

“Twisted” is full of dramatic twists and turns that the audience would have never expected. The changes from drama to romance to mystery keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. The show easily can captivate the viewer’s attention.

One thing I began to notice while watching the series is that Jo seems to become more of the main character than Danny. She has more roles and lines, and the plot somehow begins to revolve around her. It eventually takes the spotlight away from Danny, which makes one question whether the show is about a boy who murdered his aunt or about a girl who is in love with a murderer.

Another thing that disappoints me is that the show only has one season. The show was canceled after ratings crumbled. It went from having more than 1.5 million viewers when it first started to less than 800,000 viewers by the season’s finale.

The fact that the series ended with a huge cliffhanger devastated me and left me with so many unanswered questions. I guess you can say that the rest is up to my imagination.

For these reasons, I give “Twisted” a 7 out of 10.

Experience provocative universes in ‘Love, Death, & Robots’

In a world where a bowl of yogurt takes control of the United States government and charges its leaders with fixing the economy via a strict, but perfect plan, the only fallacy, as it is in real life, is human greed.

“Love, Death & Robots” (or “LDR”) is a collection of animated short stories that reach into different genres such as science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comedy. Each episode debuts its own art style, actors, and universe, which kept me at the edge of my seat for witness2every episode.

The first episode in the Netflix series, “Sonnies Edge,” is a sci-fi, cyberpunk action episode where a female gladiatorial protagonist takes control of an alien to fight in what seems to be an underground arena for sport and money. “Sonnies Edge” is also a story about vengeance and strength. The visuals are stunning, with an incredible amount of attention to detail. Each character and monster has its own unique style that clearly sets them apart from the rest.

In the second episode, “Three Robots,” there are three sentient, deadpan robots exploring post-apocalyptic Earth trying to learn more about how the humans lived while on a vacation. Each robot has their own personality, and the humor between them is dark, unattached, and inquisitive. The truth about the end of the world is hilarious and plausible.

From the first episode, “LDR” makes it very clear that some of the episodes are going to be very risqué. The third episode, “The Witness,” is a complete mind-bender that tells the story of an exotic dancer who witnesses a murder. The entire episode is a thrilling chase through a city with lots of blood, nudity, with an intense twist at the end.

The rest of the episodes include anything from stories of Dracula, how Yogurt came to rule Earth, alternate histories where Adolph Hitler died at a younger age, mech suits, cyborgs, and an immortal robot artist searching for the most beautiful thing imaginable. By the end of the show, expect to have seen full frontal nudity of male, female, and infernal bodies alike, and copious amounts of blood, red or otherwise.

Episodes range from 6 to 17 minutes. You can watch a handful of episodes in the time it takes to watch the new “Game of Thrones” (Who wants to pay for HBOgo anyway?), and there is so much more to enjoy.

ldr_yogurt

Some episodes are adaptations of popular stories such as a rendition of “127 Hours,” titled “Helping Hand.”

The show sports different directors and artists for most works, and differ greatly from one another. The two Alastair Reynolds adaptations, “Zima Blue” and “Beyond the Aquila Rift,” are both solid sci-fi stories. With good twists and beautifully-realized plots, both of these episodes rank among my favorites in the series.

“Love Death & Robots” is the quintessential series to watch in 2019. It’s raunchy, beautiful, intense, scary, and filled to the brim with strong messages that relate to the world around us.  I give “Love, Death & Robots” a nine out of 10.

‘The Umbrella Academy’ series unmasks different breed of heroes

On first day of October in 1989, suddenly 43 women give birth to gifted children. But none were pregnant when the day begin.

Once again, Netflix surprises with a new movie based on a comic book, “The Umbrella Academy.” The adaptation of a comic novel, “The Umbrella Academy” by Gerard Way, the vocalist and co-founder of the rock band ‘My Chemical Romance,’ and Gabriel Bá, is a classic story of superheroes trying to save humanity from an apocalypse with a little bit of family drama.

the-umbrella-academy-netflix-1550864234The series starts with the reunion of the superhero family after the father Sir Reginald Hargreeves (played by Colm Feore) is announced to be dead.

Sir Reginald Hargreeves is a philanthropist and a very wealthy inventor who adopted seven of  thoses 43 children and raises them to basically save the world.

The story shows how Hargreeves was more focused on the children’s powers and only caring about the results that they could bring, instead of caring for them as children. His inability to get involved in the kids’ lives is evident when he does not even take time to name them. That leads the kids to grow up to be dysfunctional and psychologically damaged heroes.

The characters have a pretty strong presence of the heartless father in they lives, but they also had two nurturing figures to count on in Mom, played by Jordan Claire Robbins, and Pogo, voiced by Adam Godley, a super intelligent talking chimpanzee and loyal server to Sir Hargreeves.

umbrella-academy-sir-reginald-1550238393The characters have unique powers and life experiences that are shown in the development of the episodes. Number 1 is Luther, played by Tom Hooper, who has superhuman strength. Number 2 is Diego, played by David Castañeda, who has the ability for super-precise knife combat and also can breath underwater. Number 3 is Allison, played by Emmy Raver-Lampman, who can manipulate a rumor to become reality by speaking. Number 4 is Klaus, played by Robert Sheehan, who has the power of telekinesis and can levitate. He also can posses and talk with the dead. Number 5, played by Aidan Gallagher, is the only son who was not given a name. The reason that he got stuck in a different period of time during time traveling, and when he finally came back, he is stuck in his 13-year-old body.

Number 6 is Ben, played by Justin H Min, whose power is to have many layers of skin. He died at a young age but is present in the series through interaction with his brother Klaus.

Number 7 is Vanya, played by Ellen Page, who is the mysterious piece of the Umbrella Academy. She is the ordinary child of her superhero family.

Other characters who add a lot of action to the show are the time traveler hitman, Cha Cha, played by Mary J. Blige, and Hazel, played by Cameron Britton. They bring extra mystery to the show that is developed and explained during a few episodes, which make it more interesting. As the show progresses, you start to see the reason the characters are present.

A lot of the series happens afters years of the separation of the family. During the reunion, there are flashbacks to childhood experiences. Also, the siblings attempt to reconnect as a family after the father’s death. It show how their personalities end up creating conflicts while trying to prevent a global apocalypse.

One of the aspects that makes the series very engaging and entertaining is not only is it about superheros, you can find a lot aspects of crime, science fiction, romance, and mystery in many of the episodes.

At first, the series did not look extremely exciting, since the first episode starts a bit slow. But before the episode ended, they definitely got my attention and made me ready to see what else was to come.

I give “The Umbrella Academy” a 8.5 out 10.

‘the Good Doctor’ delivers inspiring messages of self worth

by GEVEVA NATAL

A young autistic surgeon battles stereotypes and prejudices from his patients and coworkers in “The Good Doctor”.

The popular ABC-TV show is about Shawn Murphy, played by Freddie Highmore, who is most known for his work in “Bates Motel” as Norman Bates. Highmore is an outstanding actor, praised by colleagues,who is fluent in French, and a graduate of the University of Cambridge. It comes as no surprise that Highmore successfully portrays a character who copes with autism.

CHUKUMA MODU, ANTONIA THOMAS, BEAU GARRETT, HILL HARPER, FREDDIE HIGHMORE, RICHARD SCHIFF, TAMLYN TOMITA, NICHOLAS GONZALEZMurphy is a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome. Murphy moves from his isolated town to the big city to work at San Jose Hospital, which is a training hospital for new surgeons.

The first episode kicks off with a dramatic twist that proves the talent of Dr. Murphy, who witnesses an accident at an airport. The person who had the accident needs help fast, and Murphy makes a contraption out of a borrowed knife that he got from TSA, a straw, and a bottle of booze. The contraption saves a boy’s life and shows the talents of Murphy. Despite his autism, his differences make him successful.

Murphy uses his photographic memory and intense evaluation skills in every surgical situation. His autism is accurately portrayed to the best of Highmore’s ability. There is no certain way that an autistic person will act. But the robotic speech, detachment from society, and blunt way of speaking are common traits that Highmore portrays wonderfully.

Despite Murphy’s amazing abilities, when getting the job he is forced to prove himself first. The board in charge of the hospital is hesitant to risk their reputation on him because of the baggage he brings and the risks that face the hospital if Murphy were to mess up. So his friend, Dr. Aaron Glassman, president of San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital, played by Richard Schiff, puts his job on the line. He promises that if Murphy messes up or proves to be less than exceptional, he will resign as president.171106-ira-good-doctor-tease_pb8otc

Glassman is an old friend of Murphy, and later audience sees that he was the one to help Murphy after his brother died. There are flashbacks to explain Murphy’s past, which is littered with traumatizing events, including his bunny dying by his father, living in a bus with his brother after they left their home, and his brother ultimately dying.

His brother, Steve Murphy, played by Dylan Kingwell, dies when he falls off at a train when playing hide and seek with the other children. When he falls and Murphy sees him die, it was the end of his world, and a devastating loss that he never forgets. However, sad as it maybe, it is revealed in later episodes that Murphy became a doctor because he didn’t know what to do when his brother was bleeding out.

When he gets the job, Murphy meets his new coworkers who soon become family. That is, until Season Two, when they must compete to keep their spots at San Jose. Through trial and

error, the residents at the hospital save as many lives as possible. Murphy shows his dedication to saving patients when he goes above and beyond protocol.

In many instances, Murphy takes it upon himself to fix a problem no one believes is there. In one episode, he shows up at a patient’s house in the middle of the night because he believes that there is something terribly wrong when no one else thought so, and he was right. He saves the patient’s life, and through this he finally starts earning some respect from his colleagues and mentors.

Just because he doesn’t understand feelings very well doesn’t make him any less of a surgeon. Each character slowly comes to believe in Murphy and respect his abilities as a surgeon. Slowly but surely, the casts does an amazing job of realistically reacting to the strange things that Murphy does or doesn’t do.

Murphy is still human, and he makes a mistake that almost cost the life of a young man. The man lived despite Murphy’s mistake in surgery, but Murphy doesn’t want to lie. He chooses to tell the truth, despite the consequence of Glassman losing his job, because it is protocol. Murphy knows his obligations and duty to the job are the most important thing to him. He doesn’t do this to hurt his longtime friend, but to be true to the hospital and himself because he made a mistake and wants to own up to that.

Along with saving lives and making mistakes, there are typical personal problems from each of the characters, such as the romance of Dr. Clair Brown, played by Antonia Thomas, the personal struggles of Dr. Marcus Andrews, played by Hill Harper, or the very big problem faced by Glassman.

At the end of the first season, Dr. Glassman receives terrible news, and there is a cliffhanger. At the start of the second season he has options, but the stakes are high. Being a surgeon himself, he is hesitant to let anyone else do the procedure. He tells Murphy, who in his own way, is heart stricken. Murphy doesn’t want him to die and stresses out trying to find a solution. On top of that stress, Murphy’s Season One love interest returns.

the-good-doctor-season-2-1534883713Lea, played by Paige Spara, returns after hurting Murphy by leaving him to go home with her brother. She returns in the second episode, which ends on a cliff hanger with Glassman on the surgical table and Lea being told to leave.

Throughout Season One, we see that Murphy has to deal with being his own person. His biggest problem is not being able to understand people on a deeper level. However, he surpasses expectations and grows as an individual to become a semi-independent person.

The show’s fanbase is smitten with Highmore because of his abilities as an actor and cute face, making it a popular show on television.

I love that the show is about something different. It has realistic problem solving. I rarely see shows that accurately portray a person on the autism spectrum. He is more than what society says he should be, which is particularly inspiring.

This inclusive show accurately portrays a person beating the odds and succeeding in his dreams despite his obstacles. I love the odd, quirky couple of Murphy and Lea. Even though they are different, they make it work by being understanding, especially on Lea’s part. However, the autism isn’t focused on with their relationship. It’s cute and funny, and it fits in a dysfunctional way that is different from other relationships on screen. It seems more realistic.

The show is awesome, from the highs of Murphy’s successes to the lows of his failures, I feel it each time. I love the way he is, because the show includes this side of him as he tries to understand normal behavior, such as smiling. He went around smiling at people to see their reactions. It was the funniest, craziest, and cutest thing I have seen that definitely made me smile.

Murphy brings the show together with his different traits that differentiate from other hospital shows. I will continue to watch new episodes and I give “The Good Doctor” a 10/10

Continue reading “‘the Good Doctor’ delivers inspiring messages of self worth”

Retro sci-fi series delivers severe mind warp

In the dystopian futuristic city of New York, one man feels that his purpose of saving the world is dawning.

The new Netflix original limited series, “Maniac,” tells a story of what could become our future. “Maniac,” created by Patrick Somerville and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, is based on the Norwegian television series of the same name.

The series follows Annie Landsberg, played by Emma Stone, and Owen Milgrim, played by Jonah Hill, two strangers drawn to the late stages of a pharmaceutical trial, each for their own reasons.

maniacAnnie is fixated on broken relationships with her mother and her sister. Owen, the fifth son of wealthy New York industrialists, has struggled his whole life with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Neither Annie’s nor Owen’s life has turned out typical and happy. A new radical pharmaceutical treatment created by Dr. James K. Mantleray, played by Justin Theroux,  promises to repair anything about the mind, whether it is mental illness or heartbreak.

Neberdine Pharmaceutical and Biotech draws Annie, Owen and 10 other strangers to their facilities for a three-day drug trial that will, they’re assured, solve all of their problems, permanently, with no complications or side-effects whatsoever.

The series has a “Black Mirror,” another Netflix original series, feel to it, as each episode has a different storyline with a futuristic dystopian spin. Although un-like “Black Mirror,” “Maniac” pulls each episode into the overall story arc.

In contrast to this seemingly advanced society, it’s running on some old technology. The PCs in an office building look like desktops from the late 1980s. Landline phones with large buttons are installed in city apartments, while billboards speak their pre-recorded promotion to passers by, the images appearing on rotating panels rather than flashy LED screens.

Additionally, in this future there are odd jobs/services that appear, such as an AD buddy, and Friend Proxy. An AD buddy is a form of payment that allows users to obtain goods and services by letting an actor recite ads directly to them. Both Annie and Owen use AD buddy when they are low on funds, which is what draws them to the trial. A Friend Proxy can be hired to be used as company when a person is lonely or feeling down.

The first few episodes focus on telling the stories of who Owen and Annie are in the world. The series starts off with Owen seeing an imaginary brother named Grimsson, who looks like his brother Jed with a moustache, both played by Billy Magnussen. Grimsson keeps reminding him that he is on an important mission and that he will save the world soon.rs_1024x759-181002093254-1024-maniac-netflix.ch.100218

Meanwhile, his family is protecting Jed, his actual brother, from accusations of sexual misconduct. Owen is planning on defending him by claiming to have witnessed the event. He is fired from his job and refuses his father’s offer of working with his company and his money. He hears about Neberdine and signs on to test their new drug to earn some money.

While there, he meets Annie, which he has been hallucinating in advertisements before he even met her. Grimsson explains that she is the agent he needs to see. After speaking to her, Annie confirms her association to him, but tells him not to “blow their cover.” Owen complies and prepares for the trial. Owen feels that this is the beginning of how he is meant to save the world.

As they begin testing, they are taken to where they will stay for the duration. The room looks like something out of an ‘80’s science fiction movie. There are pods for them to sleep in and a table to have meals at, with screens above the table to inform them of when testing is. From the color scheme to the computers, you can’t put your finger on if it is the past or not.

The participants of the trial take a series of tablets, the A, B, and C pill, and are hooked up to a supercomputer, named G.R.T.A., voiced by Sally Field. G.R.T.A. has artificial intelligence and controls the simulations that the participants go through. The trial room looks similar to the rest of the trial area and the general feel of the show. There are chairs around the room, facing a control room, with each having two microwave plates on the sides.

The trial begins with the A pill, which stands for Agonia, which means “struggle” in Greek. The A pill’s effects are the most tangible. The pill is meant to reveal the patient’s most raw and significant trauma that has shaped his or her life. Before the computer begins the simulation, Owen throws his pill across the room. He doesn’t take the pill, because if this is his mission, is he really supposed to participate?

In Annie’s vision, her and her sister Ellie, played by Julia Garner, are traveling to Salt Lake City, where Ellie’s fiancé lives. Annie behaves almost cruel toward her sister the entire time. The vision shows why Annie has struggled during her life. Her regret has destroyed her.

The next pill, B, stands for behavioral. After identifying a participant’s source of trauma, G.R.T.A creates a personalized pill meant to bulldoze his or her defense mechanisms. This is when the experiment starts to go off the rails. The hallucinations of Annie and Owen become intertwined, which isn’t supposed to happen. They experience two sequences together. In the first, Annie and Owen are reimagined as Bruce and Linda, a happily married Long Island couple. Annie convinces Bruce to track down a lemur that belonged to a dead patient of hers. In the second, Annie and Owen are estranged spouses and con artists trying to track down a missing chapter of “Don Quixote” during a 1940s seance.

maniac-hill-stone-copertinaThe final pill, C, stands for confrontation. A and B pills are about acknowledging trauma, but the C pill is about moving on. A lot happens during this pill, and it is shown over several episodes. When the simulation begins, Annie is a half-human, half-elf guiding the ailing elf Ellia towards healing waters. Owen is watching Annia and Ellia’s elven journeys on a TV show.

Owen is a gangster with braids being pressured by his father to be loyal to the family, even if it means committing crimes. Owen also connects with Olivia, played by Grace Van Patten, his high school crush in the real world. Years after running away from his family and marrying Olivia, Owen awakens to realize he’s living in a simulation and needs to track down Annie, intertwining their simulations again.

The C pill has tangible effects on Annie and Owen. Annie is able to talk to her sister and finally process her devastating loss. Owen is able to realize that his family is terrible, more or less, and it’s not worth lying on the witness stand for his brother in the real-world trial.

The series is a mix of retro science fiction and a dystopian future we might soon face. It was incredibly well written and filmed. Each episode, although having different plots, flowed perfectly together. I give “Maniac” a 10 out of 10.