My favorite Stephen Colbert-Jon Stewart clip

I must have watched this Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS) clip about 30 times already but I still can’t get enough of it. LOL!

Jon Stewart is seemingly a teeny bit rusty here, but it just adds to the total impact of the clip. And, of course, nobody does it better with Jon Stewart than his ol’ buddy Stephen Colbert.

And the topic? Take a wild guess. It’s just priceless, with punch lines raining all over the place and the audience reaction is the perfect icing for this particular cake.

Enjoy, folks.

How to Get Away with Murder (TV) — Episode 1

How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)Early this evening, while I was having my documents printed at National Bookstore (NBS), I overheard a couple of yuppies talking, in their distinctive urbanspeak, about their favorite TV shows. My ears perked up when I heard one of them describe his latest TV obsession, How to Get Away with Murder, as a show that only “intelligent” viewers would appreciate.

Superlatives aside, I figured the show must have something going for it to merit such praise, so I decided to check it out.

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Whoah! That was literally my first reaction after the ending credits have rolled. The stunning debut of How to Get Away with Murder, ABC’s latest legal drama series, leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat as you careen from one emotion to another.

How to Get Away with Murder - cast

Unlike most legal/crime drama series that leaves you a clear picture of who the bad/good guys are, this show doesn’t leave you with a comfortable feeling for long because you will soon realize that there’s always more than meets the eye, and each character has multiple layers that will keep you perpetually off-balance. Just about the only character you can easily relate with (at this stage, at least) is Wes Gibbins, an earnest law student who is grappling with multiple dilemmas as the show progresses.

The plot of How to Get Away with Murder (produced by Shonda Rhimes) focuses on Annalise Keating, a brilliant Philadelphia lawyer/law professor (played by Viola Davis) who recruits several of her students to work for her law firm. In the initial stage of the selection process, she prods her students to prove themselves by presenting an effective defense for a difficult murder case she was currently handling.

A major factor of what makes this first episode (“Pilot”) particularly compelling is Viola Davis, who is nothing less than commanding as a tough-as-nails married lawyer who has an affair with a police detective. She projects various emotions effortlessly, and when she is onscreen it is very difficult to focus on anything else. Alfred Enoch (Wes Gibbens), Aja Naomi King (Michaela Pratt), Jack Falahee (Connor Walsh), and Karla Souza (Laurel Castillo) play her students. The rest of the cast include Billy Brown (as Det. Nate Lahey), Katie Findlay, Charlie Weber, and Liza Weill.

The other actors are no mean slouches either, which makes this series a joy to watch. The pacing is tight, and the frequent use of cross-cutting between scenes only heightens the doubts and tension simmering below the surface. Hopefully, How to Get Away with Murder can manage to maintain the quality with which this episode was handled, because even this early it looks like ABC has stumbled on another winning formula — and the critics love it.

This hour-long pilot episode was directed by Michael Offer (each episode has a different director) and written by the show’s creator, Peter Norwalk.

Waiting Patiently for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell cast

At last! I am so excited that the production stage of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (JS&MN), a seven-part TV series produced by BBC America, has wrapped up, and the show is slated to be aired sometime this year (2014). Filming for this series, which is based on Susanna Clarke‘s bestselling lengthy fantasy novel of the same title, began in October 2013 and took place in England, and parts of Croatia and Canada.

The cast for this drama series includes Bertie Carvel (as Jonathan Strange) and Eddie Marsan as the fussy elderly magician, Mr Norrell. Arabella (Jonathan Strange’s wife) is played by Charlotte Riley and Stephen Black is portrayed by Ariyon Bakare, while Alice Englert plays Lady Pole and Samuel West plays Sir Walter Pole. The cast also includes Paul Kaye (Vinculus), Enzo Cilenti (Childermass) and Marc Warren (the gentleman with the thistle-down hair).

JSMN

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke’s first book, is a superbly written revisionist (fantasy) tale of two English magicians during the Napoleonic wars in the late 19th century. JS&MN, which took Ms. Clarke roughly 10 years to finish, was published in 2004 and was a critical and popular literary success (it stayed in the New York Times bestsellers list for several weeks). It received numerous awards and citations, and won praise from many industry figures including Neil Gaiman, who called it “Unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last seventy years.”

JS&MN is directed by Toby Haynes (Doctor Who, Sherlock).

I think it is also fitting that Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is to be presented as a multi-part series rather than a lengthy film because a novel of this magnitude really deserves to be shown with all its layers intact (along with its built-in ambiguities and complexities), which would be downright impossible to fit into a 2- to 3-hour movie.

By the time this TV series airs, I will be tucked and ready in my comfortable chair with a hot cup of coffee in my hand. 🙂

 

The Little Rascals: 20th Anniversary

well, what do you know — it’s been 20 years since The Little Rascals (1994) came out.

Before we go any further though, here’s little background. The Little Rascals was actually a film adaptation of Our Gang (created by Hal Roach), a series of kid-friendly short films released from the 1920s to the 1940s that were later repackaged as a TV show called The Little Rascals.

Fast-forward to 1994, Amblin Entertainment decided to round up a group of kid actors to form the cast of this well-loved nostalgic film. Although largely panned by critics, it was warmly embraced by its fans. What made it special though was that a group of well-known actors signed on as support cast — Mel Brooks, Daryl Hannah, Lea Thompson, Whoopi Goldberg, Reba McIntyre, the Olsen twins, and even Donald Trump.

And now 20 years have passed! So some enterprising folks decided to gather the cast of the 1994 version to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Naturally that prompted a lot of picture taking and inevitable comparison of the cast’s Before and After versions. From the poster below, it fairly leaps to your attention that some of these faces still bear traces of their younger selves.

Little Rascals Then and Now

It’s rather nice to see that the guy who played Alfalfa has grown up and turned into something of a “hunk” — in spite of his funny name (Bug Hall). Pretty little Darla (Brittany Holmes, who is married now I think) has certainly filled out, and Spanky (Travis Tedford) has… lost his hair! The guy who played Waldo (Blake Ewing) looks just like a slightly older version of his old self. I won’t go into details but it’s kind of nice to see the old gang again: Stymie, Buckwheat, Porky, Butch, Uh-huh, and yes Petey — their iconic American bulldog — again.

I still feel a special fondness for this film (so do most people, I imagine — particularly those who were too young or who weren’t even born yet to see the original films), and I’m pretty sure that in the near future I will be watching The Little Rascals again.