horror-movies-the-shining

Top 10 Horror Flicks to Kick Off October

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The horror genre has certainly matured over the years: directors are no longer slaves to jump-scares, torture, gore, or scary makeup to terrify their audiences. Even as early as the 1960s, directors began to employ creative techniques to scare the hell out of audiences in untraditional ways. Some of these horror movies have become so iconic over the years that they serve as role models for the next generation of directors. Now, the younger generation of directors take inspiration from the previous crop of directors, and routinely deliver some excellent quality horror movies. The following are our top picks of horror movies to kick of the Halloween season.

The Shining

horror-movies-the-shining

Stanley Kubrick’s take on Stephen King’s novel by the same name, “The Shining,” is probably the most unnerving horror movie in this list: it’s one of those masterpieces that are impossibly difficult to outclass. But then again, that can be said about anything with Stanley Kubrick’s name on it.

The Shining follows the events at an empty hotel where a writer, Jack (Jack Nicholson), facing writer’s block is working as an off-season caretaker with his wife and son. His son begins to get psychic premonitions, and a mysterious supernatural power’s presence forces Jack to attack his own family. The scene where Jack hacks at the bathroom door and screams, “Here’s Johnny!” will give you chills, even if you’ve seen it one hundred times.

The Ring

horror-movies-the-ring

“The Ring” is essentially a product of Hollywood’s obsession with Japanese horror movies. The American remake has now become an integral part of American culture, and you will hear references to the film in countless other movies and TV shows. If you haven’t already watched it, then be warned: do not watch it alone! It will give you creeps like nothing you’ve ever felt. The movie is a result of sweet love between Gore Verbinski’s directorial skills and Han Zimmer’s masterful music. The plot revolves around a VHS tape that leads to a viewer’s death in seven days if watched. The climax will be etched in your memory.

The Blair Witch Project

horror-movies-blair-witch-project

“The Blair Witch Project” is sheer talent at work. This movie was made by independent filmmakers who had no money, no acting experience, and certainly no limit of imagination. The ultra-low budget movie turned out to be a massive blockbuster, and brought into vogue an entire sub-genre of found-footage horror movies. The movie follows a group of friends who go into the woods researching the story of a witch who was executed centuries ago. There, they witness blood-curdling horrors that will scare the hell out of you.

The Exorcist

horror-movies-the-exorcist

Ask any horror buff: they will swear by “The Exorcist” as one of the scariest movies of all time. The movie used the classic possessed-by-evil-spirit theme, but its execution was masterful. It was released in 1973, yet it is still unwatchable for many weak hearted people among us. The story of a 12 year old possessed by a demonic spirit might sound typical, but nothing about this movie is typical. When it initially premiered, many theaters provided barf bags for the audience to throw up in during the movie. The head turning scene, the scene where the possessed child walks on all fours the wrong way, and other iconic scenes are classic. If you plan to watch this movie alone in a dark room, make sure you have enough bank balance for a couple years of therapy sessions.

The Conjuring

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“The Conjuring” is the story of a family who buys and moves into an older home in the country: unsurprisingly, the family begins to experience the presence of a supernatural power in the house. Eventually, the mother becomes possessed by an evil spirit who is forcing her to kill her own children. A husband/wife couple, who are basically ghost hunters, have to perform an exorcism to save the family. The story may sound run-of-the-mill, but here is the real kicker: the movie is based on true events. That little fact will have you thinking about the movie for weeks.

The Evil Dead

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This movie is another gem of a watch in the horror genre. It was made by completely untested filmmakers, and yet, they delivered a horror experience that is widely regarded as one of the best of all time. Despite being made over 35 years ago, this movie’s special effects and scary makeup are guaranteed to send chills down your spine. Make sure you see the original and not the 2013 remake.

The Mist

horror-movies-the-mist

“The Mist” is director Frank Darabont’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. The movie is based in a small New England town that gets shrouded in a mysterious mist that appears to emerge from a nearby military base. It soon transpires that the mist is full of dangerous creatures from a totally different dimension. The cast does not include any big names, but the performance was spectacular across the board. Forget those beasts from the mist: the most frightening thing in the movie is Marcia Gay’s religious zealot!

The Babadook

horror-movies-the-babadook

This movie focuses on a widow and her son; the son begins to act strange, which the widow promptly labels as behavioral problems. However, as the time progresses, she realizes that her son is being possessed by a supernatural spirit; it soon possesses her too. This movie ups the creepy levels of the horror genre. While most movies generally show spirits possessing one member of the family and use them to attack the others, or kill the possessed person, this movie shows both the mother and the son being haunted by the spirit. If you believe in the supernatural, then you are left with the question – what are you going to do if such a spirit targets you or your loved one?

Halloween

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The very title of the movie demands a watch during its namesake holiday. The movie made the careers of many people involved, including Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter. The movie features a mentally disturbed man, Michael Myers, who murdered his elder sister some 15 years ago, and has now escaped a psychiatric institution. This time, he aims to kill his younger sister. This movie spawned an entire sub-genre of slasher-horror feature films.

Alien

horror-movies-alien

This legendary original movie began a cultural movement that resulted in multiple sequels, prequels, video games, home videos, comics, and novels. “Alien” follows the events that occur after a distress signal is released from an unknown planet’s spaceship. When the crew members go to investigate, an alien face-hugging creature attacks a crew member; later, a far worse creature emerges out of the victim’s chest by breaking his ribs. This creature promptly tries to kill all the humans, and as the chances of their survival dwindle, you will be on the edge of your seat. This movie has been consistently ranked among the top horror movies of all time. To check out these flicks during the spooky Halloween season, all you need is a reliable satellite TV connection.


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truth be told

Can Truth Be Told Become the New Friends?

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There was a time when NBC used to be a giant in the field of comedy. It used to have a huge lineup of comedy shows that were actually laughable. Remember Friends, Seinfeld, The Golden Girls, Frasier, The Cosby Show, and many others? That was the golden age of comedy on NBC. But, that was long ago. In the recent times, NBC has been struggling hard with little success to bring back the magic that they used to wield in the 90s and 2000s. Over the past decade or so, they have not been able to replicate the success with comedy that they previously enjoyed. Now, Truth Be Told premiered in late 2015, and NBC expected it to be one of its crown jewels of the 2015-16 lineup. However, the response to the show has been dismal. For a network that is among the big four, this can be disastrous. However, some people are comparing Truth Be Told to Friends and are hoping that Truth Be Told will also become an equally big hit. Let’s have a closer look at the two shows.

Unsatisfactory Early Beginning

When Friends premiered in 1994, it is true that the show was not met with an immediate success. In fact, the response was average or mixed. There was both good and bad said about the show. One critic wrote that the show was trying to imitate the hanging-out style of Seinfeld, but fails completely. Another critic commented that it is another Seinfeld wannabe, but will never be as funny as Seinfeld. But, all said and done, the show went on to become one of the most successful shows ever in the entire television history.

Fans of Truth Be Told are drawing similarities between its dismal beginnings and that of Friends. But, this is not exactly a fair comparison. First of all, every show that performs badly in the first season need not necessarily become a huge success like Friends. Second, Friends registered mixed reviews. While it was not immediately liked by everyone, there were many takers for the show. Some people liked the show and supported it. In case of Truth Be Told, the response has been largely negative. Any support for the show is insignificant for a big network like NBC, who wants a hugely popular comedy show.

The crew gets into trouble all the time in 'Truth Be Told'
The crew gets into trouble all the time in ‘Truth Be Told’

Great Characters

David Crane and Marta Kauffman were onto something when they created Friends. They really knew their characters well. The idea for the series came to them, when they were thinking about the time when they had finished college and had just started living in New York. Thus, they created the characters, who were in their 20s something, and did not have much clue about where to go from there. The future was a big question mark for them. This is something that everyone has gone through. The characters themselves were easily recognizable. The ensemble consisted of a nerd, another was a playboy, one successful executive, an eccentric, a perfectionist, and a fashion enthusiast. All of these characters are very identifiable because such characters are present in real life too. Be it the situational comedy, or Chandler’s sarcastic comments, everything was hilarious. The characters of Truth Be Told were miserable in comparison. The two couples live next door to each other, and there is some situational comedy. But, the characters themselves have hardly anything to make memorable.

Excellent Material

Friends had some really amazing material to begin with. So much so that the show became a cultural icon. Who can forget Joey’s “How you doin’?”, or Chandler’s “I’m not so good with the advice… Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?”. Or perhaps, the best of all “We were on a break!” by Ross. Many a real world couple have broken up arguing the validity of this Ross’s statement. That show was pure gold. It had great content, which was delivered by a great cast.

Bresha Webb and Tone Bell both star in the series 'Truth be Told'
Bresha Webb and Tone Bell both star in the series ‘Truth be Told’

In comparison, Truth be Told falls flat on its face. Any comedy that the show tries to make feels forced, and utterly not laughable. Take that scene where Mitch creates drama outside a Chinese restaurant, just because the valet thought he owns the Porsche. Mitch accuses him of thinking that he owns it because he is white, while it actually belong to his friend, Russel. What was that? This is not an outlier. This is actually the theme of this entire show. To make a mountain out of a mole and expect the audience to laugh. It is nothing like Friends.

Risk Averse

It would be not wrong to say that Truth Be told brings nothing new to the table. The whole two couples living next door to each other, which results in misunderstandings and situational comedies, has been overused too many times. That is basically any sitcom show. Showmakers simply can’t milk this cow anymore now.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Vanessa Lachey are the two other stars in the show
Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Vanessa Lachey are the two other stars in the show

What makes matters worse for NBC is that there are many, much better competitor shows in the market. Television programming has gotten much better since Friends, when it was among the few shows that actually provided great TV time. Today, the competition is more severe, and if a show does not offer anything new to the audience, they don’t have to hesitate to change the channels.

There is another aspect to this that says more about NBC than about the show itself. The show’s lead men are Mitch and Russel, one white and the other black respectively. On the face of it, this might look like a well-balanced show racially, but the truth is that NBC has gotten too much self-conscious about their shows. To avoid any controversies, the producers and the network are not taking any big risks. When you start avoiding risk, you end up mediocre shows that won’t make a mark in any way. Sure, they will not court controversies, but they will not court any audiences either. This is what makes shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, as great as they are. The success formula, which worked for Friends worked well at that time because the ideas were fresh. Now, too many replicates have left nothing more to experiment with such premises.


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Angel from hell logo

Angel from Hell was cancelled, but this is what you didn’t know

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Angel from Hell is an American TV show that premiered on January 7, 2016. The single-camera sitcom is presently broadcasting its first season. The show is created by Tad Quill for CBS network. It stars Jane Lynch, Maggie Lawson, Kevin Pollak, and Kyle Bornheimer. Tad Quill is also the executive producer of the show along with Don Scardino.

Allison's best friend gets engaged again
Allison’s best friend gets engaged again

Premise

The show revolves around the life an Allison Fuller, who is a practicing dermatologist in her father’s clinic. She is a multitasker, perfectionist, smart and ambitious. While she and her father have been quite successful as doctors, her brother is inexplicably quite a mess in himself and lives above her garage. There are not many ups or downs in Allison’s life, which is another way of saying that she leads quite a monotonous life. In this life of hers enters Amy. Amy is a constantly inebriated nut, who claims to be the guardian angel of Fuller. To prove her story, she shares a couple of secrets of Allison’s life that nobody else could know – facts like where Allison got her first period, or that she farted when she got her first orgasm. This catches Allison’s attention, but she is not completely convinced of this either.

As Amy begins to start appearing (stalking?) in front of Allison time and again, she slowly starts letting Amy into her life. Amy claims that because of her shabby work as Allison’s guardian angel so far, she has been given one last chance to rectify it. Allison doesn’t completely believe her, but she is need of that “weird friend”, who is honest, caring and outspoken about her views on what Allison should and should not do.

Cast

Not even the performance of Jane Lynch saved the show
Not even the performance of Jane Lynch saved the show

Jane Lynch plays the role of the eccentric Amy with an absolutely unbelievable background story. She claims to be an angel, when everything about her demeanor suggests otherwise. However, her predictions inexplicably turn out to come true always. Jane is one of the most loved television actors and has to her credits shows such as Glee, and Role Models. She even appeared as a child psychiatrist in the CBS show, Two and a Half Men, in which she also occasionally treated Charlie. Her very presence in the show brings a bevy of her fans as the audience.

The role of Allison Fuller is played by Maggie Lawson, who has to her credits Psych, Inside Schwartz, It’s All Relative, and others. She is a successful dermatologist and leads an overall pleasant, if not monotonous, life. She has a brother, Brad Fuller (played by Kyle Bornheimer), and a father, Marv Fuller (Kevin Pollak). Her father is also her boss and a dermatologist himself.

Production

Tad Quill got the idea for the show when he was thinking about another show, Bewitched. He was wondering what it would be like if a real guardian angel would come into someone’s life in the twenty first century. He felt that the angel would be taken for crazy. Yet, people would have some hope in them that the angel was real. To make things funnier, Tad made the angel quite eccentric as well, to make her less believable to the person she meets. In fact, Tad even took the audience on a ride making them wonder whether Amy really is an angel or not. The show brings together Jane Lynch and Maggie Lawson again. They had previously worked together in Psych.

Response

Before its airing, the show had managed to capture the attention of many a people. The very presence of Jane Lynch and Maggie Lawson as the cast of the show had made it quite a hit among their fans. Over the years, Jane has delivered some pretty amazing performances and it was quite natural to expect quality humor from Angel from Hell too. However, the cast of the show remains the only highlight of the show. Since the show has premiered, it has steadily lost its viewership and it is not difficult to see why.

The show’s humor is quite bland, and it leaves the cast working hard, really hard, to bring some smiles on the faces of the audience. In fact, the cast does an excellent job of breathing some life and liveliness into this fantasy drama. Thanks to Jane’s voice and timing, the absolutely unfunny jokes tend to get some semblance of jokes. Moreover, Kyle Bornheimer and Kevin Pollack, who have also managed to give excellent performances, hardly have much screen time. The show fails to realize the potential of the cast too.

Maggie Lawson as Allison
Maggie Lawson as Allison

However, the biggest issue with the show is that it fails to give a good enough reason for Amy’s presence in Allison’s life. The much touted “boring” life that she is supposedly leading hardly makes the case for Amy’s sudden arrival. In fact, Allison has been quite a successful person, and leads a pretty happy life. Sure, she is not married, Big Deal! But that doesn’t mean that she is in need of any saving. She is a doctor, has an outstanding support system in her father and brother, and even supports her brother. She may say an angry thing or two to her friends occasionally, but who doesn’t! Granted, her taste in boyfriend recently isn’t something that deserves any praise, but if everyone starts needing a guardian angel for these silly problems, then there would be more angels walking this earth than the people themselves.

Conclusion

This is undoubtedly a Jane Lynch show. Yet, the rest of the cast has managed to make their mark felt too. So, in a nutshell the performances of the people involved have been great, but the showmakers should make it their urgent priority to improve the humor and plot of the show. Moreover, there are many gaping plot holes, which need to be fixed by the team.
It should also be noted that the show courted some controversy from organizations such as One Million Moms and Parents Television Council for its vulgar language. But, that is only expected from a show that was designed to replace Two and a Half Men. In fact, compared to it, Angel from Hell has been a very watered down affair.

 


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Read Moreby wpadminComments Off on Angel from Hell was cancelled, but this is what you didn’t know
The Muppets on ABC

The Muppets Address These Real Life Issues Better Than Ever!

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The Muppets have gone adult! That’s a statement most of us didn’t think we would hear in our lifetime. But the fact is that the latest premiere of The Muppets has the, well, Muppets playing adult roles. They are people, just like us, who are working on their own late night show. To go along with their adult personality, they also do a lot of adult-ish things. Okay, adult is not exactly the correct use of the word here, but there is none better than it. That’s because the Muppets have been discussing various issues that grownups face. Some of these issues can be considered by many parents crass for their children. But, the truth is that Muppets has never been a kids’ show. It has always been a family show. It appealed to the grownup part of the kids, and the child in grownups hearts. By successfully catering to both these audiences, the show has stayed relevant for well over half a century of television programming. Now, they are doing what they do even better, which is addressing the issues that actually matter. Here’s how the latest The Muppets is discussing things that you should as well.

Expression of Emotions

While women experience gender bias in many walks of life, there has been some monumental shift in the recent years in how women are treated in the workplace, politics, or at home. However, it is the men who have become the forgotten gender. They have it beaten out of them from the childhood not to express their feelings, and to bottle it all up. They are expected to always be like a rock to provide for their family, to support them, and never show an ounce of weakness. Even among men, expressing emotions is seen as a sign of weakness.
Kermit the frog, has never let society dictate who he is and how he should behave. He has always been able to express his emotions clearly and confidently, especially to Miss Piggy. Being open about one’s emotions gets rid of the mind reading and passive aggressive statements between any couple. Muppets have been able to show this to the families really well.

The muppets from the 'Never Seen Before Episode'
The muppets from the ‘Never Seen Before Episode’

Celebrity Gossip

Before the latest Muppets show premiered, Kermit and Piggy took to twitter and announced their breakup. Later, it was also revealed that Kermit was dating someone new, who is also a pig. Kermit then goes on to state that he and his alleged new love interest, Denise, are just friends. Each of these tweets was met with celebrity level gossip, with people discussing what could be the reason for their breakup, what would happen next, and so on. Although the showmakers might have intended to only take advantage of the marketing milestones this would achieve, it did more than that.

The Muppets 'Bohemian Rhapsody'
The Muppets ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

The teens and many adults today fill up their minds, and spend their precious energies in following garbage about things that hardly matter to them. Which celebrity broke up, with whom, and why – these things are given more importance than their very own career prospects or their children’s. This blind celebrity following culture is so strong that the fact that Kermit and Piggy are fictional characters did not even stop them from gossiping or reading about them. Who better to show this to us than the Muppets!

Diversity

Every character of the Muppets gang is different. There is a frog, pig, bear, dog, rat, king prawn, and what not. Despite all the differences, everyone is friends and are close together like a family. There is never any discussion about how different they are. The only thing that matters to them is how they behave towards each other. All the differences between them, including their unique ways of thinking and acting, are celebrated. This is something that everyone needs to learn more in the country. Xenophobia, Muslim persecution resulting from terrorism, hatred towards Mexican immigrants, racial judgements against the blacks, and a host of other issues are hell bent on taking this country into the dark ages. America, as a country, was built on the efforts, ingenuity, and hard work of a variety of people. Whether they are first generation Americans, or an nth generation American, whose ancestors came to this country, along with Columbus, contributions from everyone is what made America great. Muppets show us how we can look past our differences and achieve greatness together.

Maturity at Workplace

The Muppets are grown up, and their problems will be of the same gauge.
The Muppets are grown up, and their problems will be of the same gauge.

Kermit and Piggy have recently divorced. But, that doesn’t mean that they are going to not talk to each other. They are working together on a new late night show together. In fact, Piggy is hosting the show, which is being executive produced by Kermit. This is a typical problem that many people face in their everyday life. No matter how much we try, workplace relationships are not easy to avoid. When they do happen, they can be outright disastrous for some people. People changing jobs, and cities, or requesting their superiors to transfer them to a different department, just because they couldn’t work with their ex anymore, is not unheard of. Muppets tackles this in high spirit. Both Kermit and Piggy work together, regardless of their long relationship, and they are comfortable with it.

Feminism

The Muppets are back with celebrities making appearances in every episode
The Muppets are back with celebrities making appearances in every episode

Right from the start, the show has never been apologetic about its cast of characters. Sure, the number of men has always been higher than women. But, Piggy more than makes up for all of that. The writers have always given Piggy a powerful personality. She has never been shown to be subservient, or helpless. No matter what the situation, she can hold her fort. Now, Piggy has separated from Kermit. But, when they were together too, Kermit was never intimidated by her stature. Whatever she wanted to try, he always championed her, and helped her in any way that he can. This is a lesson for many men out there, who would not be comfortable with her aspirations. Piggy has not let her separation from Kermit become an impediment to her in any way, be it the career or life, which is something that women can take a leaf out of.
Now that the Muppets are adults, they are seen by viewers as responsible people, with maturity. So, whatever they say and do will have a subtle impact on the viewers’ character. By addressing these and many such issues, the Muppets are spreading awareness about them better than anyone on television right now.


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Read Moreby wpadminComments Off on The Muppets Address These Real Life Issues Better Than Ever!
Madam secretary logo

How Accurate is Madam Secretary?

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The Barbara Hall’s political drama, Madam Secretary, focusses on the life of a smart woman, Elizabeth McCord, who becomes the Secretary of State of the U.S. Government. She is shown balancing her highly complex job with her family life and it makes for an interesting watch. What has added to the appeal of the show is the notion that it is quite accurate in its depiction of many people, places and events. This adds a hint of intrigue to the show and makes it even more palatable. Morgan Freeman is also one of the executive producers of the show along with Lori McCreary. Madam Secretary has already completed its first season and its second season is currently on air.

Of course, the showmakers would have taken creative liberties with the plot and screenplay. This is necessary to make the show more entertaining and fit for television. Let us pass the show through a litmus test to gauge how accurate it is one the overall. We will be randomly picking some scenes and see if they pass the accuracy test.

In the show, when the incumbent Secretary of the State dies, the President of the United States comes in person to offer Ms. McCord the opportunity fill in the position. This is a little daring on the part of the writers to make the President fly over to make the offer. Definitely, Secretary of State is a high position and an emergency may well demand an unusual measure. But, The President, in real life, would have rather done it on the phone. There are many security arrangements that have to be made before a President decides to fly. So, this one does not really depict the reality.

Madam Secretary in bed
Madam Secretary in bed

The second thing that does not go well down the fact lane is the two months she is made a secretary. This is not easy to do because the Congress has to agree on all these matters and just getting their consent may take a lot more time than just two months.

The showmakers have to be given their due for designing the set perfectly. They are quite accurate. This has been confirmed by many people who have worked in the original offices. So, the show has been successful in creating the right backdrop and atmosphere of one of the most powerful offices in all of the United States. It also helps for the show to be taken more seriously.

The show has never claimed to be a biography or even a depiction of any of the female Secretary of States, who have graced the office. That doesn’t mean that the audience doesn’t get a taste of reality on the show. Medaline Albright, the Secretary of State from 1997-2001, made a cameo on the show. She is the first lady to have held that position under Bill Clinton. Apart from her, Condoleezza Rice under President Bush and Hillary Clinton under Barrack Obama are the only two other women to ever hold the position. However, the whole character sketch does not seem to resemble in any way to the three women who have held the office in real life, except for some happy coincidences.

Téa Leoni is Elizabeth McCord
Téa Leoni is Elizabeth McCord

For instance, when the show portrayed the blonde Tea Leoni as the Madam Secretary, the viewers’ first thought was that it was going to be similar to the personality of Hillary Clinton. Elizabeth generally takes off her glasses in a certain fashion while speaking and that resembles that of Hillary Clinton. Some of Elizabeth’s crew also has some similarity to the people in Hillary’s staff, including Huma Abedin and Phillipe Reines. Hillary Clinton is married with two kids and so is Elizabeth. However, Elizabeth’s husband is a professor and not a former president. There are also many other differences. Since it is not possible to pinpoint which female Secretary of State she is playing, there is no basis for measuring the accuracy of the facts presented for Elizabeth or her professional and personal life.

Also, the show depicts only a handful of staff running behind Elizabeth, with her secretary trying to keep up with the classified files most of the time. This almost never happens, because a Secretary of State has a ton of staff to take care of everything.

Morgan Freeman has an unbelievable cameo in the show
Morgan Freeman has an unbelievable cameo in the show

Since the show directs some limelight on one of the highest positions in the US political arena, the show is most certainly going to have lots of international problems at the fore. However, international issues are quite complex and simple answers from a superhuman Secretary of State simply dilute the importance of the causes as well as the authenticity of the show. This is where the show has made a departure from real life. The Secretary does solve various problems on the show, but not always in conjunction with how the real authorities would do.

However, a particularly interesting incident took place in November, 2015. The writers showed the drone hit on an ISIS executioner named Jihadi Judd. The very same week, America also ordered a similar strike to take out Emwazi, an ISIS operative. Emwazi was a British national and was nicknamed Jihadi John by the British media. However, in the show, the terrorist is shown to be of American origin. This episode was more of a coincidence than a factual insertion into the show’s script.

Wallis Currie-Wood also stars in the show
Wallis Currie-Wood also stars in the show

The show will definitely have the elements of the US polity, and will also, on occasion, showcase personalities resembling important people in the US Senate. However, the show does not claim any factual correctness and that should be kept in mind. Madam Secretary is not necessarily a political satire, but a drama series that highlights an intelligent woman making her way through one of the toughest jobs in the world. She is a good negotiator and has her head in the right place. With such a strong female character in the lead, a good plot and impressive performances from the actors makes for good television entertainment. How close it is to reality? Well, not too close apparently.


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The Shannara Chronicles

The Shannara Chronicles

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Created by Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, Shannara Chronicles is based on the Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara Trilogy. The show premiered on January 5, 2016 on MTV. It is a fictional drama series that has received mixed reviews. However, the show has just gotten started and may have some surprises for the audiences, which can eventually tilt the scales in its favor, or otherwise, for that matter.

Amberle, played by Poppy Drayton
Amberle, played by Poppy Drayton

The show is set in a mythical time, 300 years after the Race Wars ended. After the war, all kinds of magic have ceased to exist and the demons have been sent to The Forbidding. In The Forbidding, an ancient tree by the name of Ellcrys is what contains all the souls. The story follows the journey of Amberle, Wil and Eretria, who are being led by the last of the Druids, Allanon. They should go to Ellcrys and prevent it from dying to keep the demons from being released on the Four Lands.

Austin Butler plays one of the lead roles, Will Ohmsford, on the show. However, his character is not the most impactful among the pack. His character can be a little annoying, but then again, this may be a conscious move in order to show his growth over time. Amberle, played by Poppy Drayton, is a gutsy and innovative character and her relationships with all the other characters are interesting to watch. She is the princess of the Elves and the first woman to be picked to protect the Ellcrys tree. The character of Eretria is portrayed by Ivana Baquero. At first, she comes off as a petty thief, but as the show progresses, her past and her complicated relationship with her father together give her character great depth. She is an intriguing character and captivates the audiences.

Manu Bannett of The Hobbit and Spartacus fame, plays the role of Allanon on the show. He is a fantastic actor and has not disappointed in this avatar either. Allanon is a no-nonsense guy, but likeable. John Rhys-Davies plays the role of Eventine Elessedil, the king of the Elven Kingdom of Arbolon. He has two children, Arion and Ander, and a granddaughter, Amberle. The actor has also played the iconic role of Gimli in the Lord of the Rings franchise. He is an amazing addition to the show and is very similar to the character in the book. What does strike as odd is his British accent, when his family has an American tone. The roles of Arion and Ander are played by Daniel MacPherson and Aaron Jakubenko respectively. The brothers do not see eye to eye. Prince Ander was one of the most lovable characters in the books, but his personality is slightly different in the TV show, but not in a bad way.

Allanon, played by Manu Bennett
Allanon, played by Manu Bennett

Of course, there is always “the” bad guy and for The Shannara Chronicles it is Dagda Mor. This role is played by another veteran from fantasy movies, Jed Brophy. The actor has been a part of both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. He definitely has the look and the acting skills to scare the audiences. It will be interesting to see a showdown between the ferocious warriors indeed.

Other than the main character, there are many notable recurring characters as well. James Remar is seen as Cephelo in the show, who has adopted Eritria. The role of Catania is played by Brooke Williams, who is a very close aide and a dear friend of Amberle. The other members of the cast include Emelia Burns, Mattias Inwood and Marcus Vanco, among others.

The television adaptation of the Shannara series is quiet close to the book, but does not follow it exactly. Many main characters have quite different personalities, and some of the characters on the show weren’t there in the book. However, the show has delivered excellent results overall.

The show has a good pace, often leading towards frenetic. At some points, the show feels like it is being rushed through, although not often. This can be really distracting for the audiences, since it does not allow them enough time to connect with the backstory of the characters.

Ander, played by Aaron Jakubenko
Ander, played by Aaron Jakubenko

The series airs on MTV. Naturally, it does come with its own versions of love triangles and multiple romantic storylines throughout. It also has a plethora of female characters in it and all of them play distinct, recognizable, and strong roles. The show is also designed in a manner that it will appeal to a younger audience. It is an epic fantasy – similar, but not equivalent to Game of Thrones fans (GoT), with a lot of provision for romantic stories.

The Shannara Chronicles is really beautiful to watch and is shot really well. The action sequences in the show are also well-choreographed and are nicely executed. The show also features some mean special effects and all these factors do play together to make it an overall likeable experience for the viewers. Not surprisingly, this series has also been shot in the New Zealand, just like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. The picturesque mountains and the natural beauty of the region has been captured nicely by the directors. The executive producers of the show include Stewart Till, Jon Favreau, and Jonathan Liebesman, among eight others.

So far, whatever episodes have been aired, have received an average response. On both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, the series has received a 50% positive response. However, most of the reviewers have not completely written it off, since the show is still running. Moreover, given the good execution and the confidence that the showmakers have placed in the series, it is very much possible that it may become much better as more episodes are aired.

The show seems to be right up the alley of GoT. The performances are good and the background is intriguing. However, it is not as exciting or thought-provoking as GoT. But, people who are a fan of the genre should give it a try.


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The Shield's Shawn Ryan is the name of the pilot episode

Mad Dogs Revived in America

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The new TV series Mad Dogs is based on the U.K. series of the same name. The original British black comedy aired on Sky1 from February 10th, 2011, to December 29th, 2013, concluding after 14 episodes. The plot revolved around 4 middle-aged long-time friends: Baxter, Quinn, Rick, and Woody. The friends unite on a vacation with another one of their friends named Alvo. Alvo is eventually killed and before long the four friends find themselves increasingly deeper in a network of criminal offenses.

After Alvo is murdered the three begin cleaning a drug boat that is connected to Alvo’s death, so as to protect their own names. During this process they are mistaken as being drug dealers and paid a small fortune. The group of friends learn that they are a part of a Servian mafia drug operation which Alvo was involved in. The series continues on with corrupt police, kidnapping, explosions, more drugs, violence, money, and much more.

Romany Malco stars in Mad Dogs
Romany Malco stars in Mad Dogs

The original Mad Dogs was relatively popular and garnered a few different spin-offs. In 2011 Mad Cats was imagined which would feature a very similar plot, except instead of men the primary characters would be women. What everyone is talking about right now, of course, is the 2015-2016 new American version of Mad Dogs. Last year on January 15th the pilot episode was released by Amazon, and the season finally aired again this last January.

The pilot was written by Cris Cole who was also the creator of the original series. Shawn Ryan, creator of The Shield, worked together with Cole on the pilot episode. Additional executive producers include Marney Hochman, Suzanne Mackie, Andy Harries, and Charles McDougall. Directors include: John David Coles, Uta Briesewitz, Randall Einhorn, Craig Zisk, Guy Ferland, Ted Griffin, Charles McDougall, Mark Piznarski, Clark Johnson, and Alex Graves. Sony Pictures TV and Amazon Studios gave the series life.

The American Mad Dogs stars Billy Zane, Michael Imperioli, Romany Malco, and Steve Zahn. Other members of the cast include: Allison Tolman, Maria Botto, Rachael Holmes, Phil Davis, and Adria Tennor. Ben Chaplin is another star in the show, and he played Alvo in the original British series. In the American version Chaplin will have the role of Zane. Although the two versions may have a lot of things in common the American pilot takes a different turn at the end of the episode.

Coby Bell is another star in the main cast of the show
Coby Bell is another star in the main cast of the show

Mad Dogs, the American version, also follows a group of friends all in their forties. All of the men feel like they are at a crossroads where they must make important life-decisions. Married, single, and recently divorced, the friends are all at different stages in their lives. The characters from the British Mad Dogs had been friends since high school, and those from the American Mad Dogs were friends since college. In the new series the group again go on an exotic and exciting vacation which leads them on an adventure of sorts. They unite together as part of a celebration for their friend Milo as he retires early. The celebration quickly turns sour and becomes quite dark.

Soon lies, deception, and even murder infiltrate the friends’ lives. The shocking voyage leads to a roller coaster ride that puts their friendships and identities to the test. Now the group will be forced to trust one another, even though they perhaps shouldn’t. Anyone who has had a long-time friendship–and who knows the evolution and challenges associated with such a relationship–will be able to relate to Mad Dogs.

The original series was given a rating of 15 and the new pilot episode was rated 18. The American version was given a rating of 7.6/10 stars on IMDb. So far it seems to be doing fairly well and has been retrieving a lot of interested fans. A few different reviews have said that this TV show provides everything when it comes to entertainment. Some individuals call it realistic and believable. It has also been called intriguing, mysterious, unpredictable, excellent, and even a masterpiece. The actors, writing, plot, location, and virtually everything else have been praised in regards to the series. Although the series is set forth in a beautiful area some who have actually been to Belize were slightly upset that it was not filmed there—but this seems to be a minor issue. The show promises violence, sex, dark comedy, drama, and mystery. The characters are also praised and it has been said that they are multidimensional. According to some reviews the series gives the audience an opportunity to connect with the characters rather than jumping straight into action sequences.

Mad dogs comes to Amazon Prime
Mad dogs comes to Amazon Prime

There is no doubt that the original and the new version will be compared with one another, especially by those who have already seen the British version. Some individuals scoff at the fact that Amazon calls the series an “original” when it is so tightly based off of another show. There are quite a few people who seem to like them both especially if they liked one or the other. It is important to keep in mind that they were each made for a different audience and that they also have set distinctions. There are other people, however, who claim that the new version isn’t nearly as good as the original and that it didn’t need to be remade. Many people claim that “it’s never as good as the original” and they are “sick of the remakes” which is understandable.

Some of those who disliked the series didn’t like the characters and didn’t think the events which took place were believable. All of the characters seem prone to making extremely unwise decisions which in turn lead to horrible outcomes. According to some this seems very unrealistic, especially considering the fact that the men are middle-aged and have decent jobs. It has also been said that they are trying “too hard” to be young and reclaim their earlier years, which also prompts them to make bad choices. If you enjoy dark comedies like Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul chances are slanted in your favor that you will enjoy Mad Dogs–unless you would rather just stick to the original.


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Mary's Date is Interrupted

Reality TV shows’ biggest secret is UnREAL

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Unreal is a dark comedy series that made its debut on Lifetime in June, 2015. Created by Sarah Gertrude Shapiro and Marti Noxon, the show received rave reviews from the critics. The critical success of the show made it possible for the show to be picked up for a second season that will be airing sometime in 2016.

The series showcases the reality of what happens behind the scenes on reality television shows and portrays that it is actually the producers calling more shots than the viewers would like. It is the story of a reality television producer, Rachel Goldberg. Rachel has been through a massive meltdown in the previous season of her show, Everlasting, a reality dating show. With her demanding boss, Quinn King, always standing on her head, Rachel has to do everything she can to make the show a success. Even if it means, manipulating the participants, twisting the stories, and what not. Anything that entertains the audience is okay, and it being real or not, is not a concern at all.

Adam in unREAL
Adam in unREAL

The first person to be cast on the show was Shiri Appleby, who is playing the lead role of Rachel Goldberg. The show very briefly touches on Rachel’s past. She is the protagonist of the show and the viewers see the story from her eyes. The one good part about her character is that she has a conscience, which may be her only saving grace. She is aware of what she is doing. Her struggle and her response to different situations are interesting to see.

The part of the executive producer, Quinn King, is played by Constance Zimmer. She is all about the television ratings and has no reservations about how her team makes it happen. Basically, she has no moral compass, but has her priorities in place, which is a successful show, period! After all, it affects her reputation if the show does not do well.

Another important character on the show is Chet Wilton, who has been portrayed by Craig Bierko. The creator of Everlasting, Chet, is a self-indulgent and vulgar man, who also has a stormy affair with Quinn. He knows the pulse of the audience, which has earned him a lot of wealth. The money has only made him dive deeper into his self-destructive habits.

Then, there is the character of Adam, the suitor on their show, Everlasting, which is played by Freddie Stroma. He is shown to be a rich guy and a playboy. The show is actually a tool for him to mend his public image. So, he is nice to the girls on the show, because he has that agenda on his mind. But as the show progresses, it is hinted that he might have developed a liking for Rachel. Given the format of the show the list of regular on the show is pretty long. There is Jeffery Bower Chapman, who is playing the role of Jay, the producer of the Everlasting. Then there are the contestants, who have been played by Johanna Braddy, Aline Elasmar, Nathalie Kelley, Josh Kelly and Ashley Scott, among others. Everlasting aired for a second season and Darius Hill is the new bachelor, played by B.J. Britt.

The Girls Confront Adam in unREAL
The Girls Confront Adam in unREAL

A lavish mansion, intimate moments, cat fights, betrayal and everything that makes for good reality television, is part of the show. The show promises to lift the veil and bring the messed up world of reality television to the viewers. The show showcases how the producers on the set create situations to make the contestants react in a certain way.

It is also a satire on the audience. There is a Quinn King or a Rachel Goldberg, because it is the viewers who want that kind of television. If that is what the people buy, then the people who sell it cannot be blamed for selling what people want.

The show aims at shining light on reality tv shows like 'The Bachelor'
The show aims at shining light on reality tv shows like ‘The Bachelor’

The satire does not spare the contestants either. The people who participate in these shows seem to trust people whom they have met at the most, once or twice in their entire life. That is not a healthy thing to do either. This is the main reason why a producer or another contestant is able to manipulate them easily and make them do whatever they want to. Also, the way the series shows women being manipulated to shred other women is a sad reality.

The satirical nature of the show makes it really interesting. There is no direct comedy in the show, but the situations are so ridiculous and yet real that they give birth to the humor. The show has been liked by both the audiences and the critics alike. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has managed to receive a high rating of 97%, while on Metacritic, its score is a solid 77/100. The show has also garnered a lot of good publicity with Forbes calling it one of the best new shows. The show touches on the reality of reality television. So, it is definitely an interesting one for people who watch shows like The Bachelor.

Anna's Tantric Flirtation on unREAL
Anna’s Tantric Flirtation on unREAL

In the brief time that the show has been on air, it has slowly climbed the ratings and has also won awards and accolades. In 2015, it was declared one of the Top Ten TV shows by the American Film Institute. The same year, the show also won the Critic’s Choice Television Award for the Most Exciting New Series. 2016 also brought good news for the show and Constance Zimmer, in particular, who won The Critic’s Choice Television Award for the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

Overall, the show is a good watch. It is fast paced with ample twists and turns to keep the audiences interested. Not only this, it is also shows the constant inner struggle many people face at their jobs and also what the pressure of a job can make people do. The second season is just around the corner and it will be interesting to watch how the moral dilemma that Rachel is facing plays out for her and the other characters.


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Read Moreby wpadminComments Off on Reality TV shows’ biggest secret is UnREAL
Rectify logo

Before you die, you will get the chance to ‘Rectify’

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The first original TV series from SundanceTV, Rectify, was created by Ray McKinnon. The show debuted on the network on April 22, 2013. The second season was aired in the June of 2014, while the third season was broadcasted on July 19, 2015. Even before the third season ended, the channel had ordered the fourth and final installment of the show. This season is expected to premiere in the fall of 2016, although an exact date is yet to be announced.

Clayne Crawford is Ted Talbot Jr
Clayne Crawford is Ted Talbot Jr

The series is about the life story of Daniel Holden from Paulie in Georgia. When he is a teenager, he is convicted for the rape and murder of his 16-year old girlfriend. However, after spending a good 19 years in the prison on death row, some new DNA evidence comes to the fore and he is acquitted of all charges. But, there is still some doubt about him being completely innocent. Anyway, he is released from the prison and returns to his hometown. Rectify is an account of the new lease of life that Daniel gets, his adjustments with the society after 19 years in prison, and the new events that are now unfolding in his life.

Aden Young is amazing in the lead role of Daniel Holden. He is not angry for what has happened to him, but is rather trying to adapt to the society. His character is more nuanced than that. Abigail Spencer has played the role of Daniel’s sister, Amantha Holden. She is the one person in Daniel’s life, who never doubted the innocence of her brother and his acquittal is an achievement for her. Spencer has delivered a fascinating and engaging performance in the series. J. Smith-Cameron is equally amazing as Daniel’s mother, Janet.

Clayne Crawford as Ted Jr. and Adelaide Clemens as Tawney Talbot have done justice to their roles. The same can be said for the entire cast actually. Whether it is Bruce McKinnon as Daniel’s step dad, Jake Austin Walker as Jared, Daniel’s half-brother, or Luke Kirby playing his lawyer, Jon Stern – each one of them is impressive.

Aden Young is known as Daniel Holden
Aden Young is known as Daniel Holden

Season 1 of the show is really slow. In fact, many people might find it quite boring. But, the pace is important for the character development, which will pay off later in the next seasons. It explores the consequences of spending so much time in prison. In all probability, he was not a monster before he went to prison. However, the prison time did make sure that he got a little twisted in the head. It is psychologically stirring and makes the viewers think and reflect on life. The intelligently crafted show has been well-received by the audience as well as critics. It got great reviews across the board. While Metacritic gave it an average rating of 82/100, the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes were even better and got this season an awesome 90% score. However, the disclaimer was reiterated by everyone that the show only rewards who are patient.

The first season of the show was like a Litmus test for SundanceTV and therefore, only 6 episodes were ordered. Even when the season ended, it felt like that it was just the first act of an otherwise longer story. The success of this season ensured that the complete story would be told in the later seasons of the show.

Adelaide Clemens is Tawney Talbot
Adelaide Clemens is Tawney Talbot

The 10-episode season 2 of Rectify is the longest in the series yet. This season impressed upon the audience that the show may be following Daniel’s life, but it is not completely focused on him, and instead, sheds some light on the life of the people around him too. Many relationship dynamics are explored. Whether it is Abigail’s distress over Daniel’s misery or it is Ted’s growing problems with Daniel that are pulling the family apart, it is all there. Then there is the incident where vigilantes beat Daniel to the limit where he lands in a coma. The sheriff investigates the case, but he also understands why the vigilantes behaved the way they did, although he does not support their actions. Then, there are the vigilantes who do not think that they have punished an innocent guy, but also get that the sheriff will have to investigate them. This is the kind of depth that the story has. There are no in-your-face dialogues, there is no black or white, there is no absolute right or wrong and that is what makes this season even more interesting.

This is why this season received even better reviews that its predecessor. Metacritic gave it an outstanding ranking of 92 out of 100 and on Rotten Tomatoes, the season fared even better with a rating of 95/100. The nuanced understanding of how people think and act resonated with the audiences. It was delightful to see that the pauses in the show said much more than multiple dialogues and that audience appreciated the approach.

With the first and second season doing exceptionally well, the third season of the show that came out in 2015, had to match some really high expectations. And match it did. This season was as impactful as the first two. It maintains the slow pace of the show and does not overlook any of the main storylines. The show sees Daniel moving out of his hometown to a new abode. This one also concentrates more on the investigation of the case and Jon’s constant efforts in setting Daniel completely free. Again, a huge amount of time is invested in how the different relationships among the siblings are emerging and the individual paths they are taking in life.

Abigail Spencer is Amantha Holden
Abigail Spencer is Amantha Holden

The third season of the show was highly acclaimed by the critics. But, the audiences loved it the most. On Rotten Tomatoes the show got a 100% rating from them. Its Metacritic score stood at a solid 87/100.
Given the shining credentials of the show, the fourth season has a lot to live up to. The pressure is more here, because it is apparently the last season. The story of the show is something which can go on forever and it will be interesting to see how the showmakers choose to wrap it up.
The show is without a doubt one of the best shows on television. However, it has not been able to rope in as much audiences. Though anyone who watches the show goes gaga over it, the word of mouth has not been that strong for this gem of a show reasons that are beyond understanding.


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Read Moreby wpadminComments Off on Before you die, you will get the chance to ‘Rectify’

Is it a catastrophe, or the best thing in the world?

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Catastrophe is a British TV show that is broadcast on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom and is available on Amazon Prime Instant Video in the USA. The sitcom is created by Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, who are also the lead characters of the show. Rob Delaney stars as Rob Norris, while Sharon Horgan as Sharon Morris. The show has already completed two of its seasons. The show also features Carrie Fisher, Mark Bonnar, and Ashley Jensen.

Rob Delaney in Catastrophe
Rob Delaney in Catastrophe

Catastrophe’s Plot

The show is half an hour in length, including the commercial break. In that half hour, it is hardly possible to introduce the characters, build up a story, have people connect with it, and leave them laughing hilariously on the ground. But, Catastrophe manages to do all of that and much more, thanks in no part to the incredible duo that is Horgan and Delaney. The show begins with their characters – Rob Norris and Sharon Morris, meeting by chance. Morris is a teacher in London, while Norris is a New York businessman or an executive, or something like that, in London. Their meeting starts in a cute way, and within the next couple of minutes invariably ends up in bed. That’s it, after some four odd minutes of this circus, they move on their separate ways. They have some affection for each other, but manage to underplay it. There is not much sentimentality to this whole affair, no cheesy parting lines at the airport and such. It’s clear both of them treat it as nothing more than a casual encounter.

Fast forward a few weeks in time, and Rob is having dinner with a date in New York. Things are fine until he receives a call from Sharon. She is pregnant! Well, Rob could have played this in many ways, but he decides to take a direct flight to London, to find a solution to this. As to why, the only plausible explanation is the “underplaying affections” theory that was discussed before. So, back to London again, and they are now discussing as to what they should do about it. The discussion is not some in-depth listing of pros and cons of each scenario. In fact, the actual decision takes place in a park bench, where they throw crisp and condensed one-liners at each other, leaving the audience feeling as if they are watching a tennis match. At the end, they decide to keep the baby. What’s more, they even move in together, fall in love and eventually get married too. By the end of the first season, however, Morris is yet to deliver the baby.

catastrophe logo

The second season shows Morris still pregnant, but the appearance of a toddler announces that the show has taken a time leap, and Morris is pregnant with a second baby. The nappies in the trash are hers and not her baby’s. There is some depravity, hard hitting comedy, eerily familiar situations, and the showmakers have not left any stone unturned to make it as realistic as possible. The writing is excellent and the comic timing of the cast is simply superb.

Catastrophe’s Cast

Sharon Horgan makes her character Sharon Morris completely believable. That’s not surprising coming from the actor, director, and writer, who has to her credits the likes of Pulling. Horgan has won multiple awards and is hilarious in her role as Morris. Rob Delaney, her character’s husband, Rob Norris on the show is no less either. He has been sending people into laughing fits on Twitter and a remarkable stand-up comedian, which his performance on the show clearly justifies.

Star Wars fans would love to see Carrie Fisher on the show. She plays the role of Rob’s mother, Mia. In the first season she was confined to appear on the other end of the phone. But, in the second season, she is firmly in the life of Sharon and Rob. It seems her visit in not a fleeting one, and is bent on being a part of their lives. On Sharon’s side, Gary Lilburn plays the role of her father, Des. Des is the most Irish dad ever. It has been suggested that he has dementia, and has a hard time remembering the names of the very people he love. However, Des has managed to win the hearts of the audience, especially during that one scene, where he slips a tenner for the baby. Classic Irish dad.

The other members of the cast include Ashley Jensen, Mark Bonnar, Jonathan Forbes, Daniel Lapaine, Tobias Menzies, Sarah Niles, Emmanuelle Bouaziz, Seeta Indrani, Marta Barrio, and Amanda Hale.

Catastrophe’s Production

Sharon Horgan helped write Catastrophe
Sharon Horgan helped write Catastrophe

Rob and Sharon had been trying to get the show happen for more than a year, before it actually commissioned by Channel 4. In fact, the showmakers had first approached the BBC, which had turned down the show after reading the script. Avalon Television came forward to produce the pilot for the show in 2013. The pilot was a quite a success, but it would be another year before Channel 4 picked up the show for their TV lineup. Finally, in May 2014, the show received the go for the production of the first season. The first season premiered on January 19, 2015. The show was an immediate success and has been gaining momentum ever since. In fact, within 10 days after the debut of the first season, Channel 4 commissioned another season of the sitcom, which was to be broadcast in January, 2016. However, the show’s rating and performance compelled the network to do away with the waiting and instead, they ended up premiering the second season on 27 October 2015. Each season of the sitcom has six episodes.

Catastrophe’s Conclusion

The producers of the show have not made it clear whether there will be another season of the show or not. However, going by the ratings, it can be safely assumed that the couple – Rob and Sharon – will be back with more gags. So far, no date has been announced for the season 3.


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Read Moreby wpadminComments Off on Is it a catastrophe, or the best thing in the world?