by Alea Jeremiah
Netflix’s “Stranger Things” is pretty much my all-time favorite show and it's perfect for Fall viewing. It's creepy, feel-good and totally binge-worthy. I'm sure everyone has seen it by now but if you haven't, GET ON IT!
“Friends” is an absolute classic. There’s not much of an explanation needed. “Friends” includes a ton of great holiday episodes and it's just easy to binge watch all 10 seasons of the classic NBC sitcom on Netflix. And this year is the 25th anniversary so it's the perfect time to relive all the greatness the show has to offer, or experience it for the first time!
The Haunting of Hill House
With only one season (so far) Netflix’s horror series “The Haunting of Hill House” would be so easy for you to binge! The perfect Halloween show that includes ghosts, scares, family drama and mind twisting elements. I watched this show so fast last year and can't wait to watch it again and look forward to season two. And speaking of, all we know so far is that ‘The Haunting’ is said to be an anthology so who knows what season two could bring us!
American Horror Story: Coven
Who doesn't love a good show about witches?! All of you guys can FIGHT ME but ‘Coven’ is the best season of FX’s anthology horror series “American Horror Story.” There I said it. It's just freaking awesome. The cast of girls is everything and I just love anything witch related so it makes sense why I would want to re-watch this season during Halloween time. What's your favorite ‘AHS’ season? Let us know in the comments section below!
You can hate on me for putting this on my list. I don't really know why but every year when it starts to get cold outside, for some reason I feel an urge to binge watch this old CW series. It's by no means one of my favorite shows of all-time but it's so good to binge in the Fall.
by Julian Spivey
I’m not much of a made-for-TV movie kind of guy, especially when it’s of the Lifetime Channel variety, but when I heard the network was making an original film about the fascinating friendship of two of my favorite country music legends: Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, I knew I had to give it a shot.
“Patsy & Loretta” premiered on Lifetime on Saturday, October 19 and featured the Broadway star power of Tony-nominated actress Megan Hilty as Cline and Tony-winning actress Jessie Mueller as Lynn. Mueller is no stranger to playing American singing legends, as her Tony win was for the original performance of Carole King in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” in 2014.
The cast, that primarily featured just four actors – the two leads and their husbands Charlie Dick and Doolittle Lynn – was rounded out by Kyle Schmid (Dick) and Joe Tippett (Doolittle Lynn).
The acting in “Patsy & Loretta” is better than I assume your typical Lifetime original movie would be with the producers going out and getting Broadway standouts to play the main roles. This led to Hilty and Mueller’s performances being the biggest highlight of the movie. Hilty played Cline’s brashness brilliantly, as did Mueller with Lynn’s awe-shucks, haven’t yet been to town demeanor.
My biggest issue with “Patsy & Loretta,” written by Angelina Burnett and directed by Callie Khouri (who’s no stranger to country music stories as the created the ABC drama series “Nashville” earlier this decade), was that it took such a fascinating story in one of music’s biggest and most interesting friendship and essentially turned it into a cliffsnotes version. I understand it would be incredibly hard to get this multi-year friendship completely in what amounts to a 90-minute film built around commercials on television, but I think elongating it to a full two hours or even longer would’ve helped a lot. It just felt like we went from friendship struck up to Cline’s tragic death in a plane crash at age 30 in the blink of an eye. This brisk pace really took me out of the movie. It wasn’t hard to keep up with by any means, it simply made it unable to really enjoy one scene without immediately being thrust into another one. Part of the problem with the story is it feels like something that should have the big Hollywood treatment, a la “Walk the Line” and suffers because it didn’t.
While “Patsy & Loretta” is a good snapshot of a friendship between two female performers I didn’t feel like I learned anything new about their friendship or careers – in fact, I believe I learned more in much shorter segments of Ken Burns’ recent PBS documentary “Country Music” on these two than in this entire feature length movie. I understand movies are more for entertainment than learning, but when it comes to historical figures, I’d like to have a bit of both.
One thing “Patsy & Loretta” didn’t shy away from was that both Cline and Lynn dealt with husbands who were frankly assholes and coat-riders of their famous spouses and neither performer really did anything about the terrible men in their lives, in fact Lynn would remain married to Doolittle until his death in 1996 despite his alcoholism, womanizing and violent behavior. It’s kind of disappointing that a woman who was so tough in her music would remain with a man like this, but the movie remains true to how her marriage happened in real life.
Ultimately, “Patsy & Loretta” was most likely an above average made-for-TV movie (but, I really don’t have much to compare it with) with good lead performances but didn’t give me quite what I was looking for out of this famous country music friendship.
by Preston Tolliver
It’s been six years since Walter White rigged a military-grade machine gun to a remote-controlled swivel and killed a group of meth-peddling Nazis in a fashion so gruesome that it would make each of the Inglorious Basterds proud. The final season of “Breaking Bad” marked the end of most of the series’ main characters; who wasn’t dead had their stories wrapped up in a neat, bloody bow. White, the Nazis, “that dead-eyed Opie fuck” Todd and the entire Heisenberg meth empire were left dead in a hail of bullets and pseudoephedrine. Those left alive were arguably the worse for it: the fates of Skyler, Walt Jr., Marie and even Saul Goodman were sealed by the time the credits rolled for the last time. The only character who lacked closure was Jesse Pinkman, who was last seen speeding down the highway after gaining his freedom from Walt’s slaughter.
With “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” Aaron Paul has gone from co-star of “Breaking Bad” to the lead of his own movie, reprising his role of Pinkman in a film that details the events immediately following - and preceding - the carnage at Uncle Jack and Co.’s hideout. Paul is joined by other actors who represented different stages of Pinkman’s growth throughout the series: Matt Jones and Charles Baker are back as Badger and Skinny Pete, respectively, along with the late Robert Forster and a couple of cameos from Jonathan Banks and Bryan Cranston; and working immediately opposite is Jesse Plemons in his role again as Todd, who, though dead since the “Breaking Bad” finale, is still alive and well in Pinkman’s story.
There are a couple rules we’ve learned in television. The first is that if you don’t see someone die, then you can’t count them dead. Anything short of seeing a person’s ghost exit in their body leaves the possibility of a return. The final shot of the “Breaking Bad” series was ambiguous enough to leave audiences guessing if Heisenberg - despite his mortal gunshot wound and the cancer that had been killing him for years and the tons of armed cops heading in for him - would make his way out of that meth lab. The other rule is that if someone is lucky enough to ride off into the sunset, it’s generally the viewer’s responsibility to determine what’s next. Television is great in the way that it gives a visual interpretation of a story so we don’t have to strain our imaginative brain cells, but it’s even greater when it forces us to anyway. The way the series ended with Pinkman screaming (in grief or relief, we should never know) as he sped off from the cage that left him a shell of the person he was at the beginning of the show wasn’t just fodder for fan-fiction sites the world over. It was an invitation from creator Vince Gilligan for viewers to write their own ending for the character.
With “El Camino,” Gilligan again takes the role of storyteller to answer all those will he/won’t he/how can he questions. Sure, the final scene of the film still leaves some of Pinkman’s fate to the imagination, but the icy road he exits on is a lot more linear than that dark New Mexico highway.
That’s not to say that the film isn’t bad or even a good extension of the series - Gilligan and Paul are still able to captivate an audience as well as they could six years ago - but perhaps the best ending for Jesse Pinkman was no ending at all.
by Preston Tolliver
It’s been nearly 20 years since the last episode of WCW Nitro (and any wrestling program, for that matter) aired on TNT, and with it the last gasp of the only real competition to Vince McMahon’s sports entertainment behemoth, WWE. It was the end of an era that brought about weekly ratings wars between McMahon and Ted Turner, as the two traded figurative blows while their performers traded literal (sort of) ones in the ring.
Since then, McMahon’s ratings competition has been null, and his product has suffered for it; after all, competition brings out the best in people. McMahon’s quest to increase his shows’ number of casual fans - the channel surfers scrolling through their guide to find something better to watch on a Friday night than whatever comes on Friday nights - has left the lifelong fans wanting more.
Now, for the first time in 18 years, McMahon has to step up his game again. Sure, there have been other wrestling promotions since the fall of WCW - TNA/Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling - but none ever threatened to pull the mainstream wrestling fan away from WWE. With All Elite Wrestling’s debut Wednesday, Cody Rhodes and Shahid Khan have given McMahon a foe worthy of going toe to toe against. McMahon and WWE were seemingly prepared for their new competitor’s debut - the company’s C-show (and preferred show for the longtime wrestling purists), NXT, made its debut on USA a couple weeks ago.
On Friday, months of anticipation and planning culminated in the premier of Friday Night Smackdown on Fox - the result of the company’s first broadcast network deal. However, for all the money that McMahon must make per second in T-shirt sales and TV contracts, he’s never been so out of touch with what his most loyal fans want, and he proved that by turning what was supposed to be a landmark week for the company into a colossal disappointment, rife with weird booking and storylines about infidelity. McMahon has traded entertainment for wrestling fans for cheap tactics to get a new audience - the kind of audience he hopes MMA standouts Tyson Fury and Cain Velasquez will bring with their debuts on WWE television Friday.
For the wrestling fans who have chomped at the bit for years for less entertainment and more sports in their sports entertainment, there’s AEW and NXT, the latter of which is, while operating under the WWE flag, run by McMahon’s son-in-law and former WWE champion, Paul “Triple H” Levesque. That McMahon has allowed his flagship shows - Smackdown and Monday Night Raw - become rivaled by another program he owns (but has little involvement in) shows not just that he doesn’t know what his fans want. He simply doesn’t care anymore.
While WWE fell flat in its “premier week,” a new era of professional wrestling is upon us. AEW Dynamite premiered not with the whimper of the WWE shows, but with the bang that its own name promised, and at least Levesque and the talent under his wing recognized that there’s a new war again. While Monday and Friday nights will remain dull for wrestling loyalists, Wednesday nights have both a new life and an old; it’ll be a struggle not to flip between USA and TNT like we did 20 years ago (unless you have DVR and have mastered the art of dancing around spoilers on Twitter). Wrestling is good again, even if WWE’s flagship shows aren’t. And that’s more than we could say a week ago.