Zach’s Zany…Broadway? Reviews: HAMILTON (yes, that one, no spoilers)

So the Broadway touring of HAMILTON is in Texas, and since is the most buzz I’ve heard about a play since The Book of Mormon, obviously it peaked my interest (the next one to do that might be Harry Potter and The Cursed Child). And since I’m seeing less movies in the theaters nowadays, I thought I could write a short review on my thoughts. Is it worth the hype and all the awards it has won? Absolutely. And now other than The Book of Mormon, it would definitely be a play I could see multiple times and neither feel bored and also like I got my money’s worth. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a masterpiece. Nothing short.

Hamilton is about the life of Alexander Hamilton. But everything is either sung or rapped, incorporates R&B, pop, soul, hip hop, show tunes, and also casts color-consciously of non-white actors as historical figures. The play songs through his early life as an orphan through the intro song and then we start out with him as an adult through his death. The play is in two acts, and I don’t think there is a word spoken that isn’t sung. But everything works so perfectly well. Apparently it took Miranda years to write it and do all the songs, and perfect every single note, and it shows. It is one of the most intricate things I’ve ever heard, so much so that, like Book of Mormon, might be finding and buying the CD to it. Every song is great and catchy, and there are absolutely no lag moments in the play. My favorite part? Probably like a lot of people, I do enjoy when King George III takes the stage.

The stage itself is pretty standard. It consists of a lot of wood and stairs and rope, and then some fake brick to look like old buildings. And it doesn’t change. Not that its a bad thing at all, in fact, I would be shocked if it was intricate as how long it took Miranda to write and perfect the whole damn thing. However, what is pretty cool about it is that the stage rotates in the middle constantly to convey movement, and is very impressive when mixed in with the choreography to song and dance numbers. As for the acting? It is all impressive. I didn’t take a Playbill from the April 28th, 2019 showing, but if you were one of the actors/dancers in the play, you did a tremendous job. Especially the leads like Hamilton and Burr, the way they could memorize all those songs, movements, and words and make it look like another walk in the part is nothing short of masterful.

So if you are on the fence about seeing this, why? Don’t be. It’s amazing and truly a thing that should be on your bucket list. Whether you are a history buff or even scoff at history, there is something in this play for everyone to enjoy. The play is 2 hours and 55 minutes (including a 15 minute intermission) but you could’ve fooled me, the time just whizzes by extremely fast and furious. If this is the one thing that Lin Manuel Miranda is remembered by, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing. If there is real magic on the planet, this Broadway play, is the closest that it gets to seeing is believing.

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Zach’s Zany TV BINGE Reviews: The Twilight Zone (2019) The Comedian & Nightmare at 30,000 Feet

Since I am seeing less movies and want to keep writing up reviews, I think I am going to start writing up two episodes at a time for the new reiteration of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Why? Because I remember watching episodes sometimes when they had marathons on sci-fi with my dad. And if I remember something like that fondly it must’ve been an important part of a great childhood I had. Anyway, so I’m signed up for CBS Access for two months and will review two episodes at a time. So 5 reviews since there are only ten episodes this first season.

Now to review Jordan Peele’s narration separately real quick. He’s the real deal. The best since Rod Serling. But if you take that into account I guess there wasn’t much competition when it came to Twilight Zone’s hosts. Serling was the only one in the original series. There was only narration in the first revival, and then Forest Whitaker in front of a shitty green screen in the second revival. Peele here does it kind of like Serling, mostly on set or in a different shot as part of the set. His diction and prose is too perfection, and whenever he welcomes us to The Twilight Zone, opening and closing, I get goosebumps. Whoever gave it a bad review saying there isn’t enough Peele can go fuck himself. Peele has projects up his sleeve and they are lucky to even be getting these small snippets of him introducing these fascinating twisty stories.

The Comedian (Episode 1)

If The Comedian is my least favorite episode of the entire 10 episode run, then call this revival an absolute success. While I probably would’ve gone with Nightmare for the first episode and The Comedian be a little bit of a sophomore slump then a gradual rise, I think they went with this to ease the audience into it more. The Comedian stars The Big Sick and Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani as a comedian that doesn’t get a lot of laughs because he tries to get political with his jokes. None of them come from the heart. After his set one night he runs into J.C. Wheeler, played by Tracy Morgan, who gets some advice (makes a deal with) that he needs to get more personal with his act, or he’ll never be successful. So Nanjiani does this, but what he doesn’t realize is, that whoever he puts in his act, disappears from existence.

This episode is a little bit of a slow burn and maybe a tad bit too long. But there is a lot to like. The cinematography, tone, and mood set within the film is absolutely gorgeous to look at. The music is wonderful as well. This is probably the best acting I’ve seen from Kumail Nanjiani, and I really liked him in The Big Sick. But what the episode actually did, which I thought nothing could ever do, was for the first time not make me look at Tracy Morgan in an annoying as shit light. I’m sorry, I’ve never found him funny. I feel sorry for that terrible accident he was in, but I’ve always considered him overrated on his comedy. But here, he’s a creepy older more famous comedian, and the very limited screen time he is in, he’s actually pretty fucking good.

The episode though does have some problems slowing it down. The jokes from the comedians aren’t really jokes per say, they are more just lashing out truths, and they aren’t funny. Maybe that was the point? But I would’ve liked to see a few really good comedic jokes when an episode is called The Comedian. I didn’t understand what the audience thought was funny. Also, it is predictable. I bet you can just guess the ending from what I said. However, the pros edge out the cons, and I still enjoyed watching a new episode of The Twilight Zone. In time, a lot might not be too kind on this episode, but I have a feeling it was a small, un-filling appetizer before we get to the delicious main course.

Rating: 3/5

Nightmare at 30,000 Feet (Episode 2)

A play on the classic episode, and the only good remade segment in The Twilight Zone movie: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. Now this isn’t a sequel just because the plane might be 10,000 Feet higher (although there is a blink and you’ll miss it nod to the classic Gremlin “THERE’S SOMEONE ON THE WING…SOME…THING!” segment). This is a totally different beast and story and no monster eating a plane wing. It plays on paranoia, self-fulfilling prophecies, and civility. It’s a heavy reflection on what has happened since 9/11. It stars Parks & Recreations Adam Scott, a journalist going to Tel Aviv for a job after he laid low for awhile seeing some heinous shit elsewhere. He finds a little device behind his seat that has a podcast on it. He plays it, and it’s a podcast episode detailing how the plane on which he’s a passenger will disappear in an hour.

Pretty cool concept right? Kind of a mix of Final Destination’s fate themes and Non-Stop’s detective investigation work. Adam Scott gets up from his seat, going about the cabin, trying to listen to the clues in the podcast and stop whatever bad thing is going to happen, from happening. This film has multiple twists in it. I saw the first one coming from a mile away. But the film doesn’t stop there, it has another gut wrenching twist, which was just the cherry on the suspenseful, really entertaining episode that I just witnessed. Some are harping on that second twist, however, if you re watch the episode and just focus on the themes, it is brilliant and totally makes sense. Never take anything for face value with The Twilight Zone.

Like The Comedian, everything technical is there. The cinematography, tone, lighting, music, fucking masterful. The acting is top notch as well, with Adam Scott and Chris Diamantopoulos giving some of their best performances of their career. I love that it was a tight 37 minutes. It wasn’t too short, and it didn’t overstay its welcome. It’s a fast paced thriller sure to keep you on the edge of your toes. This is one episode I’d watch over and over, so many layers to peel back, and once you think your done, you have several more.

Rating: 4/5

Zach’s Zany TV BINGE Reviews: Santa Clarita Diet Season 3; Arrested Development All of Season 5; and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt All of Season 4

SANTA CLARITA DIET Season 3

How in the hell is each season of this better than the last? This show is better than it has any right to be. The first season is okay but showed potential. The second season took that potential, found its stride and kept pushing, with hilarious results. I am happy to report, in my opinion of course, and after having a couple of days to digest it all (I watched all ten episodes in one day), SANTA CLARITA DIET Season 3 is the best so far. They kept on their stride without losing any footing, and I laughed out loud more times than I can remember. My favorite moments have to be a text gone wrong, Timothy Olyphant’s character filming himself on a tryout for a cult, and every situation where “God dammit” is muttered to unique perfection.


While Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore were okay in Season 1 (they are pretty bad in the first episode), I think that with Season 2 and beyond, they know what kind of humore and zaniness that this series is trying to pull off. Especially Olyphant. The first time we see his face in Season 3, I muttered to myself, “yep, this is going to be a fun ride.” That one facial expression, you know that he has finally figured out the weirdness of this show, and just embrace it. To the brilliant over use of profanity, to the situations that just keep piling up and piling up on them, and the solutions they have to try and figure out. Amazing.


But let’s not forget the daughter played by Liv Hewson and her (maybe/maybe not) love interest played by Skyler Gisondo. Liv Hewson has much more to do this season which makes her performance much juicier and she seems to have found her stride. But the MVP of this series is Gisondo, and he just proves yet again this season why he is the best thing about this weird zombie tale. I thought they might over use him after all the praise he got form season 1 and season 2, but they don’t. They use him just enough and perfectly yet again. Yes, this season has another cliffhanger, yet a really good one one that will push the story yet again next season, and I for one cannot wait until 2020 (assuming that it gets renewed, which it should).


ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT Season 5

Can we all agree that ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT really only has two great seasons and an okay third? Can we maybe pretend that Season 4 and 5 don’t exist and is one giant April Fool’s Day joke? Just like Season 4, Season 5 is God damn terrible. I didn’t laugh once and I kept rolling my eyes when you could completely tell that they couldn’t get a bunch of the actors on the same set so they shot them separately and edited them together to make you think they are all there (it is done so terrible it took me out of it every time they did it, which was a least 3 or more times per episode). If you can’t get them all together, why fucking even do it in the first place? And Portia Di Rossi is credited throughout all 16 episodes, but shows up only twice, and for less than 5 minutes each. The story continues from season 4, which was a bad decision all by itself. That story sucked, so the suck-age continues and doesn’t stop until the final minutes of the last episode.

I can only give Season 5 two minor praises. Everybody working on this thing seems to (finally) think that their time is up, and they basically wrapped everything up into a little bow, and gave us the ending we thought how it would end back in Season 1 (if you don’t know what that is, especially what Jason Bateman keeps repeating what he ultimately wants in Season 1, you aren’t a Arrested Development fan) and the MVP of this season is again Alia Shawkat, and her disguise as an older woman throughout most of the episodes. She brought mild amusement to the dreadful 16 episodes a just binge watched (but notice no laughs).

Yeah, stick a fork in them, they are done. I really really hope they don’t come back. Not even with better writers. They wrote an ending, the ending really is the only thing that worked, it’s over. What was once a fantastic Emmy Award winning series has been utterly destroyed by Netflix. Imagine watching Dexter Season 8 twice in a row. That is what Arrested Development Season 4 and 5 are.

UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHIMDT Season 4

To be honest, I’m glad this was the final season. UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHIMDT was a literal roller coaster of productivity and amusement. The first season is fantastic (and still it’s best). The second season was fucking awful. The third season almost got back to its first season roots if not quite reaching its heights. The first half of season 4 was fucking awful (the first 6 episodes were released last year). The second half, while a bit funnier and zanier than the first half, still was a utter disappointment. The wrap up felt forced and stupid, and we get an hour episode on a “what if Kimmy never got kidnapped type of scenario.” I HATE those kinds of episodes. Just like I hated when Friends did it. If it didn’t happen, then who fucking cares? We don’t need to see an ultimate reality in anything (I’ll give a minor pass to things like the Star Trek 2009 reboot) let alone comedies.

When the show (and first and third seasons) focused on Elle Kemper and her character of Kimmy Schmidt, it was excellent. That’s why the first season was so great. And those little bits of Titus Andromedon were perfect too. But then starting in season 2 and beyond, the side characters were way too point of focus. And they started using Titus too much to the point of annoyance. I hated Carol Kane and Jane Krakowski’s characters. And every season, we just got more bullshit with them and the show failed, in my opinion, in doing so. In fact, I think the secondary characters were used the most in this current season. I really felt like they reduced Kimmy to a side character, because I don’t remember seeing her all that much throughout the 12 new episodes (possibly because she was pregnant in real life? I don’t know). She was the best thing about that show, and it is sad they really under utilized her talent in Season 2 and now this Season. BTW, they wrap up her story line too fast, and too stupidly.

Anyway, yeah, this season, while not the worst, was a disappointing conclusion to a so-so series. This whole thing could have made one great one run limited series. Instead it stretched its concept thin, and got too fucking zany. So much weird shit happens this season it was hard to keep up with. We do get a couple of funny bits with some guest stars, such as Greg Kinnear, and Zachary Quinto stole the whole second half of the season with the two episodes he is in. But, yeah…I’m glad this show has ended (I heard their might be a Netflix movie but God I hope not), yet I probably won’t ever, ever revisit it.

Zach’s Zany TV BINGE Reviews: THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY Season 1; TURN UP CHARLIE Season 1; TRUE DETECTIVE Season 3

finished a couple of full seasons of some new shows, didn’t want to write full reviews so here are my thoughts:

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY (Netflix):

Very solid, very well acted, very cool first season. Uses music well, but after Guardians of the Galaxy and Baby Driver, everyone else are just copy cats. Hopefully they know where they are going. If you can remember, Heroes had a great first season…and look what happened to it.

TURN UP CHARLIE (Netflix): I really like Idris Elba as an actor, but he deserves better than this. It falls into all kinds of cliche traps that we’ve seen in “grown adult man child that used to have fame but is now a nanny looking for a comeback” films. It avoids some, but not enough to make a difference. Thankfully, it’s only 8 episodes and they are all less than 30 minutes, so it was a quick watch and time passing by watch. Some humorous moments. I’ll see where they go if there is a season 2, but if it’s just another cliche-ridden mess I’ll stop there.

TRUE DETECTIVE SEASON 3 (HBO): Much better than season 2, although I was kind of disappointed in the ending. I was guessing a bunch of stuff out of left field that would’ve made for some juicy television, and the answer to everything was a lot simpler than I was hoping it was. I guess I got the “Lost” effect, where I shouldn’t have. Should’ve just enjoyed the ride more, maybe with a second viewing I will like it more. The first half of the season is very strong, but the second half of the season is just good, not great. Give Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff Emmy’s though. Like I said above, at least it was better than the awful, abysmal second season.