Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein

Looking for a gem on Netflix?

Well, Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein may be what you’re looking for. It has everything. It blends comedy, romance, action, and drama all while holding the air with tension the entire time.

Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein is a show that begins with an unbeatable shootout against the main character, Vikrant (Tahir Raj Bhasin). By seeing the ending we have an expectation that our protagonist is going to do something that will land him in the iron sights of everyones guns. Next we see Vikrant as a normal child at school being pursued by Purva, a powerful politician’s daughter. Vikrant sees Purva as a source of bad luck for him and refuses her attempts at friendship. Many years pass and Purva is a long forgotten memory, as we see Vikrant having just finished college. At this point in Vikrant’s life he has found the love of his life, Shikha (Shweta Tripathi), although their relationship is being hidden as her parents share major political differences to Vikrant’s family. Without a well paying job Vikrant’s father brings him into the politician’s tendrils. Vikrant now finds himself working with Purva (Anchal Singh), who has been counting the days since their last meeting. Every time Vikrant pushes to escape Purva and her family, he is met with life threatening pushback, to him and his loved ones. Finally without his consent he is betrothed to Purva, and this is only the beginning of the story.

This was a show I knew nothing about and decided on it after seeing a preview for it while scrolling Netflix. Sometimes I challenge Netflix shows to captivate me in five minutes before I opt out, and this one certainly did. I finished it over two sessions. Due to the flash forward we see at the start of the show I thought it was going to be a one and done series. However, by the end we don’t see how Vikrant gets to we where we see him at the start. In hindsight it appears that producers saw the potential hit in their hands and opted for a second series to continue the story instead of finishing it off here.

I highly recommend everyone watching this fantastic show.

Robert Ring

Disney Plus

Disney Plus is finally here in Australia, and the age of the Disney Vault is behind us.

The line-up available mirrors most of the Disney Plus US titles. There are heaps of 4K titles on here and the price is covered in the subscription at no extra cost. I watched my Blu-ray edition of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace last week, so I scrubbed through the 4K edition on Disney Plus to compare and it absolutely pops in 4K. All the movies appear to be presented in at least High Definition while there are Standard Definition showings in the television series from the 90s.

They have already begun putting some of the Fox films into the Disney library like The Sound of Music, and Home Alone. I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more of these make the move over in the next couple of years. There is also a slew of classic live-action Disney films such as Babes in Toyland, Treasure Island, and The Shaggy Dog (1959).

Anyway, here are a few movies and shows that have me excited to revisit.

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First of all, I think everyone that has not seen the documentary Free Solo should make it their first pick on the platform. There is usually one stand out documentary every year, and last year it was Free Solo. The film is about a rock climber that dares to climb without the use of a harness and it’s an incredibly gripping watch that will have your body tensed to the max in that last half hour.

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Heavyweights is that movie alongside Good Burger that I loved watching on repeat. I haven’t been able to see it since I was a child, so I sure hope it holds up, and it’s the first movie I’ll be watching on there. Basically, this one is about a group of overweight kids that are sent by their parents to a “fat camp,” but it’s a fun, laugh-filled ride.

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DuckTales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp is another hard to find gem, I purchased the DVD from the UK because it hasn’t seen a release here since the original VHS. It is probably my favourite straight to video movie from Disney. This one is a movie to the tv series DuckTales and it involves Scrooge finding a genie in a lamp.

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The Love Bug is the classic live-action Disney movie that stands out to me the most. It’s been so long since I’ve seen it now, but I’m looking forward to seeing it again, and perhaps even the sequels too. It’s titles like these that I’m happy that children today will get to experience on Disney Plus.

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Return to Oz is one of my favourite childhood films. It’s the darkest take on the Oz story as Dorothy returns to find Oz in ruins. I own this one on DVD, but scrubbing through this HD version is like getting to watch it all again for the first time and I can’t wait.

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Quack Pack, like most of the television shows on my list, was a part of the Saturday Morning Disney in the 90s. Starring Donald Duck and his three nephews. The nephews are all teenagers here so they are even more mischevious then they were in DuckTales.

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Goof Troop is another terrific show that even spawned two Disney movies. It seems like an odd choice to have made a show about Goofy with a son, but it works.

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DuckTales is something I never really saw although if it’s anything like the movie I’m going to love it.

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Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears is another show with a peculiar premise that I adored as a kid. I’m not sure if my nostalgia for it matches how it’ll be for me today, but you never know. Get this, the show is based on the Gummi Bear sweets, and you wouldn’t know it because that’s as far as it goes, the name of the show.

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The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was something I watched on LaserDisc and it’s just charming.

The problem Disney faces with Disney Plus is the lack of content for adults. However, that will likely change in time as they begin feeding more Fox films into the mix, as well as the other film studios they own under the Disney umbrella. For now, this bodes well for Netflix and the rest of the streaming platforms as it becomes clear that Disney is not competition in the streaming space, just yet. The one gripe I have is how The Simpsons has been handled as they’ve zoomed in on the image to fill the screen. Since the outcry was overwhelming in the US they have decided to give us the option to watch it in 4:3 at a later date. The other problem I have is with the censorship of Stark Raving Dad in The Simpsons, by not having it available at all because of the presence of Michael Jackson. That one I’ll discuss at a later date.

Also, I’ve been reviewing some of the classic Disney Animated films listed on this page HERE.

For now, hopefully you enjoy the library from Disney Plus

Robert Ring

The Simpsons: Season 2

It’s fair for people to have been unaware of The Simpsons during its first season, however by its second the show was inescapable. There was merchandising, Butterfinger commercials, a music video, and The Simpsons even appeared at the Emmys that year. The show really had a sense of what it could do in the second season and the potential of what it already had. It didn’t seem like a cartoon anymore, it was now a sitcom that had more to say than any other sitcom on television. This was no longer a show with a core group of characters, what The Simpsons found was that they had a town full of core characters with plenty of stories to tell.

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Season 2 contains twenty-two episodes. Here are the highlights:

Bart Gets an F

I always love the spirt of Christmas episodes on sitcoms, they’re always about a lesson to be learned, and they are at the last moment with a wink of divine intervention. This episode is exactly that minus the Christmas setting. Bart is failing all his classes but doesn’t care until he is told he will need to repeat the school year and fall behind his fellow classmates. It’s an episode that we all relate to as school children. We see Bart actually trying to study and everything is trying to distract him from it. There’s a lot of emotion from Bart this episode that we don’t normally see that sets this one out from the rest in what becomes a rather moving episode.

Bart the Daredevil

If there’s an episode of The Simpsons I can recall being repeated on tv time and time again it’s this one. The Simpsons go to a monster truck rally where there are daredevils pulling wild stunts, which leads Bart on a quest to do the same. Bart keeps upping the danger to appeal to the growing fans he’s gathering, which eventually leads him to an impossible jump across a canyon. It’s at this point we see Bart and Homer’s relationship at its best as Homer is willing to do the jump in place of Bart so he won’t hurt himself. It’s an incredibly heartfelt moment followed by one of the funniest bits of the show to date as Homer misses the jump and tumbles down over and over again down the cliffside.

Itchy & Scratchy & Marge

This episode is striking for the fact that this episode is about Marge fighting for censorship against the violence in Itchy and Scratchy. The moral at the end of the episode is that it doesn’t really work because where do you stop and for her it was when people wanted to rally against the nudity shown on the statue of David. The hypocrisy of this episode comes in the form of next season’s episode Stark Raving Dad when a mental patient calls himself Michael Jackson and Michael Jackson did sing, but because of allegations against the man and having been thirty years since airing the episode has been pulled from broadcast. I’m for the original message of this episode and it’s a great episode that is relevant in today’s culture, but maybe the producers of the show should rewatch it too.

One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish

Homer decides to eat everything on the menu at a Sushi bar and unbeknownst to him, he orders a fatal fish that if prepared wrong could kill him. The doctor says he has a day left and we watch Homer deal with his mortality as he makes a checklist of everything he wants to resolve before he dies. It’s a terribly sweet episode that even today feels dire even with the knowledge that he won’t die.

Treehouse of Horror

Most children have probably first experienced the horror genre in the popular Treehouse of Horror segments. This is the first of what became an annual special that shows three spooky tales. At first, these specials are a little jarring because the characters become very different over the course of the episode. The very first segment, for example, has the Simpsons move into a haunted house that tries to get them to murder each other. And in the next segment they are abducted by aliens. This segment is particularly good as the aliens are showing hospitality to the Simpsons, who in turn think they are trying to fatten them up for eating. Finally, the episode ends with a segment recreating the famous Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.

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These five episodes are the standouts of season two for me, yet I could go on because Season 2 is jam-packed with so many other great episodes that you may have in here over my own selections. There are a ton of memorable moments like the naked portrait of Mr. Burns, Homer meeting his rich brother, the marriage counseling trip where Homer gives up the legendary fish for Marge, and so much more.

The Simpsons: Season 2 overall is fantastic.

Previously The Simpsons: Season 1

Next time The Simpsons: Season 3

Robert Ring

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

When Breaking Bad ended I thought it was the best we would get for years. Even with so many great shows out there, Breaking Bad is without any rivals. It gave us the landmark for perfection. Nobody wanted the legacy of the show touched or messed with as it could potentially take away from it. But then creator Vince Gilligan shortly after the show’s end decided to make a prequel series that starred one of the favorites from Breakin Bad, with Saul Goodman. Everyone was skeptical about Better Call Saul and for all the right reasons. It seemed as if it would be a cash grab as Breaking Bad in the last couple of years took off and this would be a way to further capitalize on the franchise. It turns out that wasn’t the case. For one, Vince Gilligan could have gone on to do anything he wanted when Breaking Bad ended, and yet he stayed because he had more stories to tell in this realized world he created. When Better Call Saul premiered it was overall positive with some hesitation. The same was said about Breaking Bad when it premiered, and the further the show goes along the bigger the stakes and investments we have towards it. Today, Better Call Saul is heading into its fifth season next year and is servicing the characters in ways we didn’t expect. It’s not more Breaking Bad, but it’s close.

'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie' film premiere, Arrivals, Regency Village Theatre, Los Angeles, USA - 07 Oct 2019

After the success of Better Call Saul, we were willing to go anywhere Vince Gilligan wants to take us and without question… until he confirms a movie post Breaking Bad. For a show that ended so perfectly, it’s sacrilege to us fans for him to touch it. As the movie nears we make exceptions for the movie if it’s bad, thinking we can just scrub it from our minds. However, when thinking about it the one person who would not want to ruin the magnum opus of a franchise is Vince Gilligan. That being said we know he would only do this if he had a great story to tell, and I’m happy he did.

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El Camino starts us off right where we left off in the finale of Breaking Bad. Walter White has just got his revenge against the men who killed Hank. Walt then saves Jessie. Jessie flees the scene as Walt dies. And here we are. The movie is about watching Jessie get himself away from the manhunt out for him. While Walt may no longer be with us he is still with Jessie. Jessie is using what he learned from Walt to access each problem head-on. Jessie is thinking three steps ahead and what we have with Jessie is still this sense of innocence. That’s something we lost with Walt near the end until he redeemed himself to us in the last episode. A lot of the movie is watching Jessie come up against dead ends and trying to escape. Every time it seems he may be stuck we see a flashback that helps give us context on how Jessie can see a way out. By the end, one may think this is it for Breaking Bad, but we’ve had so many returns to this world that I’m not so sure.

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There are many surprises to be found in El Camino and it keeps you nostalgic in a good way. It doesn’t hurt Breaking Bad whatsoever. If you thought you knew what happened to Jessie when he got in the car at the end of Breaking Bad, you would not have guessed this adventure. It made me so happy to see more Breaking Bad in every possible way.

El Camino is a perfect companion piece to the last episode of Breaking Bad and acts as a bittersweet epilogue to the series. Watch it on Netflix now.

Robert Ring

The Simpsons: Season 1

Remember when The Simpsons first aired and it was considered controversial television. Well, time’s have changed, so let’s jump in that time machine and pull back the curtain on the show that changed pop culture for the better.

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You wouldn’t know it, but The Simpsons started off as a series of short skits that played on The Tracy Ullman Show. The creator Matt Groening was at the time primarily known for his comic series Life in Hell. Life in Hell was more mature than The Simpsons and primarily followed a rabbit staring down the absurdities of life. The comic already contained a lot of the DNA that would come to be found in The Simpsons including the art style. They’re worth a read if you enjoy comics like Dilbert. After The Tracy Ulman Show, Fox ordered a season of the show and thus turning those little skits into one of the finest sitcoms ever made.   

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Season 1 contains thirteen episodes. Here are the highlights:

Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

From the very beginning, the first episode is a representation of the best The Simpsons has to offer. That’s heart and humor. The episode is similar to Christmas Vacation. We see that Homer doesn’t receive his Christmas bonus at work and has to take on a night job as a store Santa so his family can celebrate Christmas. Even with all Homer’s hard work things don’t go as planned. By the end we see Homer may not be the smartest man or the richest but he is the man we admire for trying.

Homer’s Odyssey

Already by episode three, you can tell this is definitely not a children’s show. Why? Well, Homer writes a suicide letter and sets himself in motion to kill himself after losing his job and believing himself to be a failure. Homer changes his mind when his family come out to stop him and are almost killed from a speeding car through a busy intersection. This arc ends with Homer becoming the safety officer of the Nuclear Plant.

Life on the Fast Lane

This is the first episode we see Marge and Homer’s marriage on the rocks, and Marge actually gets close to leaving Homer. There’s a lot of subtlety between Homer and Marge when she’s out every night “bowling” in the acting. When animation typically can become outrageous this episode relies a lot on human emotion… err Simpson emotion. Homer not being able to come straight out and say how much Marge means to him decides to say it in an offhand way by explaining how much the sandwiches Marge makes every day are like no other, essentially saying she’s perfect.

These three episodes are the standouts of season one for me and really go to show why this show became the enduring hit it still stands to be.

Next time The Simpsons: Season 2

Robert Ring

Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling

Spoiler Alert: There is a trans storyline in this special.
At least I gave you the warning… It’s just weird seeing that a great little kooky show from Nickelodeon’s stellar 90s catalog is being applauded for dealing with a trans character, and not much else. Every news article I’ve seen has ‘trans’ in the title. I went in completely blind, and it was a neat surprise, but it wasn’t even that big of a character. I’m unsure of why it’s such a big deal considering it’s done in the most clique way. Ok enough of that, and now on with the review.

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Nickelodeon in the 90s had this particular style in each of it’s animated programs. Shows like the Rugrats and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters had a Russian influence in the animation. Shapes are always more obtuse looking, most notably in the character models. For me, I loved how different they felt from the more realistic scalings of Loony Tunes and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Nickelodeon also had a lot of pastel colors used throughout all of its shows, which I liked. Rocko’s Modern Life was like a more child-friendly Ren and Stimpy. The show aired between 1993 to 1996 and follows a wallaby named Rocko. Rocko being a wallaby comes from Australia, and essentially works his way through the modern world. Along the way, he finds himself in chaos usually from being led by his friend Heffer. Now, after twenty-three years Rocko has returned in an interesting fashion. For one it’s a special that runs for about forty-five minutes and not a feature-length. It also becomes very clear that this special has no interest in appealing to new audiences, which is odd considering the original series is not available to watch on Netflix. This special is purely for the fans.

I didn’t see the last episode that aired of Rocko’s Modern Life, however, the movie begins right where the last episode ended. Rocko and his two best friends Heffer and Filburt are launched into space inside Rocko’s house. Twenty years pass and nothing has changed for these characters as all they have done is rewatch the same videotape of The Fatheads every day. After the videotape becomes warn out and breaks they discover the control to get them back to Earth has been stuck to the backside of Heffer all along. Cleverly, the show essentially has kept these characters in stasis this whole time as they have no idea how the modern world has changed in all those years. All the changes Rocko and pals see are shown as quick gags, and it would have been more enjoyable if we got to spend a bit more time poking fun at today through the lens of yesterday. Quickly Rocko finds that The Fatheads was canceled years ago, so he quickly rallies to have it brought back. The second half of the special is Rocko clinging to The Fatheads revival because he can’t accept change. The moral than for the special is that we must accept change, and we even have a literal character named The Winds of Change telling Rocko as much.

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The special overall isn’t all I had hoped for in a new Rocko. The biggest problem was the pacing at the start that hindered it, and by the time it was near the end I was just warming up to the world again. I wanted more time surrounding Rocko with his friends, and especially Spunky. What we got was a nice taste of Rocko after all these years. It doesn’t set up future stories, instead, it’s just a nice little bonus for kids who adored the show.

I liked it and if you were a fan you will find some nostalgia in it too.

Available to watch on Netflix now.

Robert Ring

The Boys

We are spoilt when it comes to superhero films, it’s a genre that keeps on pushing film after film, and each one isn’t that distinguishable from the last. Often there is no social commentary we can linger on, although, maybe Thanos is the exception of late. Good typically is good and bad is bad. The Boys shows us that public perception and reality are not always hand in hand. In The Boys, the world is full of “supes,” a somewhat derogatory shorthand for superheroes. The ones at the forefront are essentially the Justice League; from Superman to the Flash. They are the product of a company that is utilizing their powers to endorse everything from movies to books and more. The company is also trying to rent them into the army. However, the more we learn about these superheroes behind closed doors, the more we see these men and women are morally unhinged. That’s where the boys come in.

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The boys are a team of mismatched personalities working towards exposing the supes because each of them has a vendetta against them. You would think the series would be told more from the point of view of the boys, but it’s equally split between the supes. The biggest star of the series is Karl Urban (Star Trek, Dredd) who plays Billy Butcher, the leader of the boys. Butcher’s story is the throughline of the entire series, and the twists and turns they take are surprising, to say the least. There’s a lot throughout the show that will make you feel surprised, and uncomfortable much like a show on HBO. But the awes and uhs just have you more excited to see where the story goes next.

The Boys is an Amazon exclusive show and a great ballsy choice to their original line-up. The series is based on the comic book series by the same name created by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. The television series has been created by Eric Kripke, who also created Supernatural. I’m actually glad he packed it in after the first five seasons of Supernatural, otherwise, he’d still be on that show as they shoot their FIFTEENTH season. The casting for this show is surprisingly good. I buy each of them living in this very gritty world. Also, the costumes look superb. This show has something very special to it, and I’m excited to see where the show goes in the second season after this excellent first season.

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The Boys is the counter-programming we need from everything superhero! The show is deeper than it should be given the subject matter, and hopefully, it opens us up to more avenues within the superhero genre like Kick-Ass and Watchmen did before it.

Robert Ring

Game of Thrones – An Overview

(Spoiler Free)
When you think of landmark television today, most people will point towards George R. R. Martin’s epic series Game of Thrones. There’s no dispute that Breaking Bad is still the king of television, but Game of Thrones is altogether a different beast.

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In the beginning, most people were not aware of A Song of Ice and Fire. No, we were drawn to the studio that gave us hit after hit with shows like The Sopranos and Six Feet Under. Although once the show started getting promoted, it was a question of whether there would be substance behind the fantastic look of the show. The first episode was enough to see that this show was going to be the Ben Hur of television. Then the first season showed us that it was willing to sacrifice the main characters, so every confrontation going forward was spent clinging to the edge of your seat. Every one of these characters died without closure and a sense that there was much more to their story. Several seasons later and the cast we started with was now far smaller than we would have guessed.

Once the series had surpassed the book material, it turned away from the shock deaths and the qualities that had made it what it became in its DNA. The last couple of seasons became safe and followed the conventions of the genre. In these last two seasons, the main stars that had survived to this point were all given closure and in turn, a happy ending. The final season was met with a lot of criticism from fans because what they had expected would happen did not. It could be looked at as though Game of Thrones conformed to its conventions by switching the DNA of the show at the end, and therefore continuing to surprise us.

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The fan outrage Game of Thrones is suffering at its conclusion will not hurt the legacy of the show in the long run. The show has raised the scope of television and will remain in top ten lists for a long time. For those who have never seen the show don’t let the outrage stop you from watching the show. I, for one, think the ending was rather good.

Robert Ring

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Erased (2016)

I’ve started to take an interest in Anime. I’ve only seen a handful of them over the years although it was playing narrative-rich anime games that finally made me enjoy the genre. Thanks, Danganronpa and Yakuza! I did a quick browse of some good anime shows, and this one caught my eye. Little did I know, that I would find this show to be exceptional.

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Erased is about a twenty-nine-year-old guy, Satoru. Satoru is a guy who’s been working a pizza delivery job while trying to make it as a manga artist. Satoru is also gifted with an ability he calls ‘Revival’. When he sees a blue butterfly move past him, he is taken back one to five minutes. In that time someone is going to die, and Satoru is the only one who can change the outcome if he is quick. Sometimes this will be detrimental to his health because he will throw himself on the line to save someone. By the end of the first episode, we see a tragic event happen that sends Satoru back to when he was ten years old. We find out when Satoru was ten; three girls were kidnapped and murdered over a couple of months. The serial killer is believed to be in the present, and for some reason, the ‘Revival’ has brought him back to try to change things, if he can.

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I watched Erased like a long movie across two nights. There are only twelve episodes, and the whole series can be viewed in under five hours. Whenever I see Anime, for the most part, the style seems absurd and unbelievable. However, in Erased the story feels real and natural, even with time travel as a significant factor. It can jump from cute and romantic, to suspenseful at the drop of a hat.

If you’re still on the fence, think Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl with school kids, time travel and a serial killer. The show can currently be found on Netflix in Australia and the UK, and Hulu in the US.

Robert Ring

AHS: Murder House

Back in 2011, American Horror Story was getting a ton of Emmy buzz. There was no subtitle attached to the original series, and it was simply American Horror Story. The nominations pegged the show as a miniseries, which intrigued me as the series was twelve episodes long, a number that is rather absurd for the format. As the next couple of years progressed the show became a series that entailed a new standalone story each year with new characters, while the cast largely remained. Now that the latest entry (Apocalypse) goes back to the beginning and combines itself with the third series (Coven), I thought I would give it a shot.

The story centers around a family that moves into an old house that has a history of people dying, by murder and suicide. The family has a few secrets of their own when they come to the house as they are looking at the purchase of this house and city as a new start. Before long we understand that the house is inhabited by ghosts that freely walk the halls, and can choose to be corporeal at their choosing. The ghosts become key players after each of their backgrounds are played out over the course of the season and influence the family’s arc. The arc is fairly original as far as haunted house stories go, yet I did find myself predicting the outcome of most story twists.

After the first few episodes, I believed the show was a mess. The biggest problem for me that continued throughout the show was the close-ups. About seventy percent of the show was shot in close-ups and I was pained by it. In the show’s defense, I believe it was to not give too much of the house away. If the entire show is mainly set in a house it would feel very stale after twelve hours. Another messy point for me was a lot of the weird things they have the ghost do in the early episodes that make no sense until further on in the series. My problem here was I was not enthralled to find out what each of these things meant, whereas David Lynch can do something of his own ilk and I am deeply fascinated to see where it goes. Overall, I’m not sure what the message of the series was, if there was one at all.

From what I can tell it seems as if the target demographic is mostly women, and after seeing the first season I presume it comes to a lot of the soap-opera acting throughout. The main cast does a fine job at portraying their characters, but the flashback scenes involving actors for a bit role are atrocious, and to me, cheap. The scary scenes in this are pretty tame, but that might be to television sensors. I will probably continue watching the further entries in American Horror Story and ultimately hope that the problems I have with Murder House are not extending to the rest.

I love The Twilight Zone, and I think American Horror Story is like an extended episode of that. I would caution people to be wary of jumping into this show because it was a battle for me, in the beginning, to become invested in the story.

Robert Ring