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Review – Boss (Season Two)
Rating 4 (out of 5). Kelsey Grammer continues in a second season of “Boss” after last year’s Golden Globe winning portrayal of corrupt Chicago mayor Tom Kayne. While some find “Boss” too harrowing and inaccessible, most appreciate the show’s depth, ambition and style. Returning viewers will find Kayne reaps perhaps even more than what he sowed in the first season, even as he battles a fatal, hallucination-inducing brain disease.
The Chicago Tribune summarizes Grammer’s work as “a spellbinding, brooding force that will surprise those who think of him only as Frasier.” Clearly absorbed by the show’s drama, the reviewer tosses out juicy tidbits from both seasons, mentioning that Kane’s “estranged daughter (Hannah Ware) was dating a gangbanger, maybe using drugs again” and Kitty O’Neil (Kathleen Robertson) assesses “herself, all of herself, in the mirror in the new season’s first episode.”
While finding it “smart, absorbing and particularly well done,” Newsday explains that “TV’s best series that no one’s watching” remains so because “’Boss’ wants to crush you under the sheer weight of Kane’s brutality. It wants to jab your brain with the mendacity of the Chicago machine…”
The Huffington Post finds the show unforgiveable with a “sour atmosphere.”
Despite political controversy surrounding the Emmys passing Kelsey Grammer over for a nomination, the New York Daily News proclaims this fact “more unfathomable than the Cubs’ inability to win a World Series for 104 years.” A “triumph” of the show, the Daily News states unequivocally that viewers will “care … about what kind of Chicago [Kane] will leave behind.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s reviewer revealed his complicated feelings toward “Boss”: “still hooked” despite the show having “lost” him last season when its “last vestige of a crusading good-guy agreed to look the other way on a Kane story…” Describing season 1 as “super-frustrating,” season 2 “pulls viewers back on board with intriguing plot twists, more light moments and strong performances.”
The Australian refers to it as “the best new drama around” – the “full-on Shakespearian study of power and mortality.”
The San Francisco Chronicle refers to the show as “a gift to discerning TV viewers.” Saying that while “the characters have only scant or fleeting redeeming personal values, we continue to buy into their machinations…” But it did criticize the illustration of Kane’s Lewy body dementia hallucinations as “gimmicky,” while still granting that they “work in part.”
HitFix seems to find the show too cerebral. The reviewer says despite “flashy incidents,” “all of it tends to wash over me without generating a response beyond, ‘Interesting.’” Even so, “Grammer is outstanding enough on his own to merit watching.”
USA Today’s headline reads “’Boss’ employs new stars, dirty tactics.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer describes “Boss” as “perhaps the first series since HBO’s groundbreaking The Wire to attempt an in vivo dissection of the complex political and economic workings of a modern city.”
The Daily Herald quotes Grammer as saying “I’ve heard from other mayors,” “saying that they basically can’t watch the show, because it’s just too true. It’s a little unnerving, isn’t it?”
Slant Magazine says “though the series has its share of larger-than-life moments that ring hollow, its knack for extracting quiet beauty from all the mayhem lends Boss’s best scenes the precision and artistry of a monstrous ballet.”
The Wall Street Journal concludes the show is “not flawless.” But grants that it is “buoyed by strong performances and a haunting score,” making “for deeply affecting television nevertheless.”
The Winnipeg Free Press finds the show “entertaining,” labeling Gammer’s work “some of the most compelling of his long and stellar … career.” The show is “a unique undertaking that has the epic ambitions of a Shakespearean tragedy and … bloody-knuckled nastiness…”
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Our daily TV show pick for tonight, Friday, March 7, 2014 is "Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration," part of Great Performances on certain PBS stations at 9:00.
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When not busy performing stand-up or taping his new TV show, Saint George, here's what George Lopez like to watch on TV:
For more insights from the actor/writer/comedian, check-out our interview with George Lopez.
Jim Jefferies is the co-creator and star (and writer) of FX's Legit. When not busy working (which is rarely), here's what he's watching:
For more, check out our interview with Jim.
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New on VOD
Here are the new VOD films for the week of March 4, 2014. Click on a movie title for more information, trailers and reviews.
12 Years a Slave. Rating: 5 (out of 5). Solomon Northup, a free black man living in upstate New York, is abducted and sold to slavery in the 1800s. This year's Oscar Winner for Best Picture (amongst other awards) comes to VOD on March 4. Critics loved this movie, New York Post calls it “The "Schindler's List" of slavery films.” Reviews, video and more.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Rating: 4 (out of 5). Katniss Everdeen is back on the big screen in this second installment of the Hunger Games series. She returns home safe with fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark, but their reunion with their families and friends is cut short when they learn that they have to compete in the Hunger Games for the second time. The film premieres on VOD on Friday, March 7, and has been positively received by critics. The Boston Globe thinks, “Book’s good. Movie’s better.” Reviews, video and more.
After The Dark. Rating: 3 (out of 5). A philosophy teacher challenges his class of twenty students with a thought experiment: faced with a nuclear apocalypse, they must determine which ten of them would take shelter underground and reboot the human race. The experiment turns deadly as everyone in the group turns against each other in a fight for survival. The film comes to VOD on Tuesday, March 4. It has received mixed reviews from the critics, but Los Angeles Times thinks, “While the story's conceit brims with metaphor and symbolism, it rarely comes off as didactic or heavy-handed. Instead, it's smart and provocative. The movie's late-breaking twist also feels about right.” Reviews, video and more.
Oldboy. Rating: 3 (out of 5). Joe Doucette, an advertising executive, was kidnapped and held in solitary confinement for 20 years. When he is released without any explanation, he begins to search for answers as to who and why he captured, only to find out that the bigger question is to why he was released. The film will be available on VOD starting Tuesday, March 4. The critics gave Spike Lee’s remake of a South Korean film mixed reviews, with inevitable comparisons to the original Oldboy. But according to Chicago Sun-Times, “It’s generally a respectful homage that has every bit as much stylishness and visual flair.” Reviews, video and more.
The Bag Man. Rating: 1 (out of 5). Jack is hired by Dragna, a legendary crime boss, to complete a simple but unusual task, and is made to wait for the latter’s arrival in a remote location. While waiting for the crime boss, Jack meets Rivka, a stunningly beautiful woman who becomes emotionally and physically entangled with Jack. When Dragna finally makes it to the location, there are sudden and extreme consequences for all involved. The film will be premiering on VOD on Tuesday, March 4. Most critics were not pleased with the film, and Los Angeles Times thinks, “"The Bag Man," starring John Cusack, Robert De Niro and Rebecca Da Costa, is a brutally violent, misogynistic mind game gone wrong.” Reviews, video and more.
Perfect Sisters. No Rating. Tired of their mother’s dependence on alcohol and abusive boyfriends, two sisters devise a plot to kill her. The film premires on VOD on Monday, March 10. No critic reviews are available as of writing.
Missing William. No Rating. A 30-something artist based in Rhode Island, Abby, is caring for her husband, William, who got injured in a bar fight. While nursing her husband back to health, her childhood sweetheart, James, tries to show her that life can be enjoyable again. The movie will be available on VOD starting Friday, March 7. No critic reviews available as of writing. Video and more.