The Couch Potato Chronicles
By Jim Murray
A Bi-weekly review column that provides eye opening editorials and
honest reviews of movies, video, TV shows and sporting events.
KNOW YOUR SPUDS
TWO XL SPUDS Absolute Must See
TWO SPUDS Definitely Worth Checking Out
1.5 SPUD Worth Checking Out, But Don’t Expect A Ton
ONE SPUD Not Worth It, Except For The Hardcore Fan
NO SPUD 4U Just Plain Sucks
I have always had a hot and cold relationship with this column. Sometimes I just love writing it and other times, well it seems a lot like work. The times when it feels like work are at the end of the year when I’m tired and the holiday season is approaching and there’s not much in the way of movies or TV to write about. And the other time is right around now, when I’m suffering from spring fever and there’s not much in the way of movies or TV to write about. Are you starting to sense a pattern here? I am. So I have decided that if I have
little to write about, then I will just write a little column and learn to live with it.
I write this column in Word and never seem to feel it’s done until I have filled up 4 or 5 pages. Very seldom have I written any less than that. I have somehow felt that anything less than that would be inadequate. But I‘m here to report that I have since revised my thinking and come to the conclusion that it really is quality and not quantity that governs The Couch Potato Chronicles. So this issue will probably be a little shorter than the others. This will have the benefit of giving you a little more free time…so use it wisely.
OUTLANDER (2 SPUDS)
Outlander is a strange sort of sci-fi movie in that it takes place in the seventh century. It’s kind of a left field take on the old Norse Beowulf legend. The highly versatile Jim Caviezel plays an alien human who has crash landed his space ship on earth and accidently brought something nasty with him.
Outlander is very clever in the way that good sci-fi films have of being very clever and very rough hewn which is a characteristic of big budget European period pieces. This film is beautifully orchestrated, photographed and edited. It never flags or gets too wrapped up in itself. It’s full of clever stuff and neat characters. It’s scary, because the monster in the movie is a real bad-ass. So it’s got just about everything you look for in a sci-fi period piece including a bit of a love story. But with Jim Caviezel, the love story parts are always a bit odd.
This movie is also notable because the writer/director team are relatively inexperienced in the making of big time movies, having really only worked on one other cinematic release (Underworld-Rise of the Lycans). Just goes to show you how much talent there is out there in movieland.
Now you should know there are a lot of pretty brutal effects in this film, so if you’re not a big fan of blood and gore, well maybe this isn’t for you. But if you like your sci-fi with a good healthy doze of 7th century Viking testosterone, well this could be right in your wheelhouse. I loved it.
NEW IN TOWN (1.5 SPUDS)
This is one of those real American films that are just right for the times. In it, Rene Zellweger (who looks very hot in parts of this movie) plays a food company exec who is sent to Minnesota to oversee the downsizing of a food processing plant. From there on in it’s all kinda predictable, but pleasant to watch, mainly because of the characters. They all, except for Renee and her co-stars Harry Connick Jr , are no bullshit people and talk with these charming Northern US accents like the characters did in Fargo.
It’s a cute little story with the underpinning of a morality play about American ingenuity, and of course, romance. This is not a very funny romantic comedy, but as the wife says “at least nobody got murdered”. The Wife’s Threshold for murder and mayhem, is quite a bit lower than mine.
New In Town is a charming little film with some big time stars in it. It’s worth checking out, especially as good stuff to watch on video becomes harder and harder to come by.
MENTAL (1 SPUD)
IN A NUTSHELL: This is about the mental health wing of some great Metropolitan Hospital in La La Land. There’s this Aussie shrink who just got hired to run the wing and he’s one of those new age guys who believe that crazy people are people too, unlike most of his staff, who believe that crazy people are just nutbars. Anyway each week is just another object lesson in how right the Aussie shrink is. There’s also a back story that has something to do with his ex-wife who keeps calling him on the phone and not saying anything. Guess she’s some sort of nutbar too. FEARLESS FORECAST: All this really amounts to is some little explored area of medicine that’s never had a TV show created for it. Everything about it is clichéd. The characters aren’t particularly endearing, and the stories are kinda lame. But it’s got real slick production values which will fool some of the brain dead idiots all of the time but not all of them all of the time, and probably fewer of them as time goes by. It’s also seems to have shorter segments and shorter but more frequent commercial breaks, which pisses me off to no end. I don’t think this show has much of a chance of surviving the six eps they probably bought. But who knows. The prime time TV cupboard is pretty bare these days.
THE LISTENER (1.5 Spuds)
IN A NUTSHELL: This thoughtful looking young paramedic somehow has the ability to read peoples’ thoughts. this, in turn forces him to become a spontaneous liar, involuntary good samaritian and reluctant hero all at the same time. FEARLESS FORECAST: This is not the greatest series I’ve ever seen. But is unabashedly set in Toronto and it tries really hard to be as interesting as it can. The paramedic guy played by Craig Olejnik is very interesting and will probably grow into a big Canadian TV star a la Paul Gross. But that and $3.50 will get you a double decaf latte at Starbuck’s. The simple fact is that this series lacks a lot of the punch of even mediocre American series’ such as Mental. The real breakthrough here is that this is the first ever (or so I’m informed) CBS/CTV co-production. So I’m hoping that it gets better just to keep that relationship alive and kicking. But at the end of the day, if I had to choose between the Listener or The Mentalist…it would be a no brainer.
VIDEOS THAT DON’T SUCK BLOG
You all got this message about a week or so ago, but evidently the more links I post on this blog the better it is for yours spudly. So here’s the news again.
OK…it’s been a long time coming but I have finally put up my Videos That Don’t Suck Listings on a blog so everybody can get at it easily, and I can update it along with the posting of each new column. I’ve put the URL in the email that accompanies this posting announcement.
Please bookmark it and use it for reference.
RIP Denver Nuggets. Nobody would have believed you would have gone this far, cause nobody really took you seriously. Guess you showed them. And hey, there’s always next year.
Congratulations to the Lakers. I know this final series isn’t over yet, but hey, I can see the writing on the wall. They may even throw the next game so they can get back home to win and have all the big time celebs at their celebration. I still hate the Lakers. But I can still feast on the pure joys of having watched them get devoured by the Celtics in last year’s final.
Congratulations to Sid The Kid and the rest of his Penguins for giving us all one of the best Stanley Cup series I’ve seen in quite some time. Outside of the Junior Tournament that starts on Boxing Day, this is the only hockey I watch or really give a shit about. I know that sounds UnCanadian. But not so much when you live in Toronto and have the world’s most underperforming/underachieveing hockey club for your home team. Hockey is a great game when it’s played well. So I just choose to watch the best and leave the blood sport regular season out of my life. I get enough gratuitous violence from TV and movies.
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