Category Archives: TV

Stranger Things 2 — Final Trailer

But first, the teaser for the trailer:

It’s Halloween, 1984, and all is not well in Hawkins, Indiana. The kids are still in trouble, a big ugly monster with a lot of tentacles is creeping around, and Wynona Ryder is freaking out again. It’s almost time for Stranger Things 2.

The conventional wisdom is that the sequel is never as good as the original, but there are exceptions to the rule. There are arguments to be made, for instance, that The Godfather Part II, Aliens, and The Empire Strikes Back improve on their predecessors.

Stranger Things, Netflix’s homage to the Steven Spielberg/Stephen King version of the 1980s, was the big television hit of the summer of 2017, and one of the most talked-about media events of the year.

In two weeks, we’ll see if lightning can strike twice in the same place. (Hint: It can.)

On Friday, 27 October 2018, Netflix will make all the episodes of Stranger Things 2 available for streaming.


A Little Bonus

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Murder on the Orient Express — New Trailer

I posted an item about the new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express back in June, when the first trailer was released. Today we got a new one.

That earlier posting has a good deal of information about the 2017 version, and a video of the trailer for the 1974 film, as well, so I won’t repeat it here.

Instead, a personal note:

When I was a kid, I had three Dream Trips:  A cruise on the Nile, a ride on the Orient Express, and a visit to Schloss Neuschwanstein.

The inspiration for the first two is pretty obvious. At a certain age, Christie’s books were much more interesting than my earlier favourites, the works of the great Franklin W. Dixon. Her detectives had more depth than Frank and Joe Hardy, too, although, in retrospect, not all that much.

I know now that I’ll never cruise the Nile, because I’ll never go anywhere in the Middle East, for obvious reasons.

The ride on the Orient Express is out as well. The original Orient Express is long gone. Its successor, the Venice-Simplon Orient Express train, tries to remind passengers of the glamour of international train travel in the early 20th century. Its London-Venice trip, leaving at 10:30 AM and arriving at 6:25 PM the next day, costs £2,365 ($3,205). I’m just not that nostalgic.

But one dream came true. I spent Thanksgiving Day 2005 at Neuschwanstein. You can walk up the winding road to the castle in about 30 minutes, or you can do as I did, and pay €5 to be carried up in a horse-drawn carriage.

It was off-season, with few visitors and no lines. Because of the sparse crowd, Neuschwanstein’s tour guides let us linger in the magnificent rooms as long as we wanted.

An unforgettable experience. It was one of the highpoints of my life.

MTV’s The Real World: San Francisco House Is on the Market

When I heard that the house that was the setting for The Real World: San Francisco was on the market, three things surprised me:

  1. It’s been 23 years since that third series of MTV’s Real World franchise was televised. Season Three was undoubtedly The Real World’s high point, focusing as it did on the tragic, charismatic Pedro Zamora, the 22-year-old AIDS educator who died a few hours after the last show of the series was televised. MTV gets a lot of well-deserved criticism for the coarsening and dumbing down of the culture, but there have been times when it redeemed itself, and this was one of them.
  2. I had no idea that The Real World is still on the air. I’m well out of the demo and haven’t watched MTV for years, so I was unaware that the network has been cranking out its saga of drunken bad behavior, narcissistic fame whoring, and pixelated nudity for 32 seasons. That means the children of the earlier cast members are now old enough to be on the show.
  3. The asking price for the RW house, at 953 Lombard Street on Russian Hill, is $5,800,000. It was originally listed at $7,999,995 in May, dropped to $6,999,000 this month, and dropped again a few days ago. If you’re interested, you can view the listing, with pictures, at realtor.com.

Little Evil — Official Trailer

All I know—all I need to know—is that Little Evil was written and directed by Eli Craig, who wrote and directed the delightful 2010 horror comedy movie, Tucker & Dale vs Evil, which had great and gory fun tweaking the old “inbred backwoodsmen terrorize innocent young adults” trope. Looks like here he’s taking on The Omen’s Damien, and the countless other Spawn of Satan urchins who followed in his path.

Adam Scott and Evangeline Lilly star.

It’s coming to Netflix on 1 September 2017.

The Crown — Season 2 Teaser

A Christmas gift from Netflix to all of us Anglophiles: The Crown returns on 8 December 2017.

It looks like we’re jumping ahead to the early 1960s by the end of Season 2, which is good news, since Season 1 often felt like it was taking place in real-time.*

The new season will begin with the Suez Crisis in 1956 and end with the fallout from the Profumo affair of 1963. The teaser features a brief look at Michael C. Hall, aka “Dexter,” as President Kennedy.

The Crown, with its solid performances, was one of my favourite shows of 2016.


*Not that I minded. For me, the more detailed, the better, when it comes to getting my British fix. I was only worried that at the pace the first series was playing out, I’d be celebrating my 100th birthday long before The Crown made it to the Diana years.

Ready Player One — First Trailer

Ok, now about that other key trailer from Comic-Con: The trailer for Ready Player One.

Ernest Cline’s science-fiction novel, Ready Player One was the fanboy must-read book of 2011. It’s set in the unhappy and decaying United States of 2044, when a decades-long recession, a trashed environment, and the general collapse of civil society have driven many people to spend much of their time hooked into a virtual reality universe called the OASIS. When there’s a two-year waiting list for jobs at Burger King, escapism is a logical choice.

As our hero and narrator, Wade Watts, known in the OASIS as “Parzival,” points out:

“Now that I was eighteen, I could vote, in both the OASIS elections and the elections for U.S. government officials. I didn’t bother with the latter, because I didn’t see the point. The once-great country into which I’d been born now resembled its former self in name only. It didn’t matter who was in charge. Those people were rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and everyone knew it. Besides, now that everyone could vote from home, via the OASIS, the only people who could get elected were movie stars, reality TV personalities, or radical televangelists.”

[Keep repeating, “It’s only a movie. It’s only a movie. It’s only a movie.”]

Anyhow, the now-dead creator of the OASIS was a man named James Halliday who, not unlike many of the readers of this book, was a 1980s obsessive. You know, the kind of person who goes nuts over spotting the 80s allusions in Stranger Things….

OASIS made Halliday very, very rich. When his will was read, it revealed that he’d hidden three “keys” in OASIS, and that the first person to find them, and solve the puzzles linked to them, would be the sole inheritor of OASIS and of Halliday’s massive fortune. All that would be required to solve the puzzles was an encyclopedic knowledge of the movies, music, video games, and TV shows of the 1980s.

Enter Parzival.

I liked the book, but didn’t love it. It’s a fast, easy, enjoyable read, full of Easter eggs for those of us who have, well, “an encyclopedic knowledge of the movies, music, video games, and TV shows of the 1980s,” but it was definitely light reading, without much depth or meaning. It’s a book that’s the perfect source for a big spring/summer movie.

Steven Spielberg (who else?) is directing. The film is scheduled to be released on 30 March 2018.