The hits just keep on coming.
It seems like the Gallaghers continue to sink lower and lower into their respective death spirals (literally and figuratively) – will it ever end? (No). Frank, of course, is the literal example here. After his ill-advised stint in the sweat lodge last week, he wakes up in the hospital. His doctor is strangely upbeat, but he still tells it like it is: Frank doesn't have much time left, and his best option is hospice care. At the behest of Sammi, he agrees to take a look at some of the heavily-religious options (the only ones that in his price range – AKA free). Once he sees an unconcious stage 4 pancreatic cancer patient getting a foot rub and a woman in a coma (who does nothing but moan in pain) listening to an embellished folk version of "Amazing Grace," he's out of there like a shot. Guess he's hoping Sammi will be his hospice – and seeing the amount of narcotics she's loaded him up with, it might not be so bad.
Lip has it marginally better, but barely. Remember the ice in his eyes at the end of the previous episode? Well, it's still there. We see it when he tells the doctor he's the closest thing to a "responsible adult" that the family's got, and we really see it when Fiona uses her one phone call on him. He tells her that Liam was restrained and heavily sedated with possible brain damage without batting an eye at her subsequent hysterical sobs, and then hangs up on her to boot. It's a tough episode for him, though: he spends much of it trying track down Frank and keep the family together – two Herculean tasks rolled into one. Finally, near the end of the episode, he gets some victory (a hard-earned B+ on a paper), which gives him a brief moment of happiness, chased by a longer stretch of existentialism. A long shot of him camped out in the hospital lobby surrounded by textbooks tells us all we need to know: this is not a sustainable option.
Fiona has the toughest episode of all (even tougher than her cirrhosis-riddled, death-approaching father). She's transported like cattle, strip searched (the warden even ominously snaps on rubber gloves), and locked in a freezing jail cell – and after hours of begging for a phone call, she gets hung up on by Lip. Her public defender might just inch into competence (at least, that's the hint I got), but other than that, things are not looking good; she just barely manages to squeeze out the words "not guilty" for the judge – no meager feat, especially as she's spent the entirety of the episode wracked with soul-crushing guilt. The judge sets bail at $100,000, and Fiona knows that's not something her family (or Kev and V) can afford. But just as she's despondently poking at gray oatmeal and black toast, she learns that someone has posted bail. And that someone is Mike (I was genuinely surprised). With a promise of no further contact, he drops her off at the Gallagher house, and her homecoming may just be the toughest pill to swallow yet – she returns to a completely empty house. A bleak ending to an even bleaker episode.
Oh, and guess what we have to look forward to? Social workers (who were not impressed by a barely-conscious Frank) are coming back to the Gallagher home: buckle your seatbelts.
* I've always loved the fact that Sheila's the type of person that needs to be busy taking care of other people – it explains why she put up for Frank for so many years. The juxtaposition between a house full of Running Tree and his relatives and an empty one illustrates that perfectly.
* Also delightful: each separate Gallagher who needed introduction to Sammi and her weird son got a very truncated explanation – "new big sister" and "nephew."
* So Debs is back with her 20-year-old boyfriend. Where is that storyline going?
* I kind of love Kev. His simultaneous guilt for being a "responsible adult" in the room when Liam OD'd and absolution of Fiona is heartbreakingly sweet.
* Will Mike return? Let's hope so.
When the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie came out, it seemed Hollywood had hit peak pirate attractiveness levels — Johnny Depp wearing black eyeliner, Orlando Bloom and Jack Davenport sent the hearts of middle school girls (and women of all ages probably) around the world a-fluttering. Now, the new Starz series Black Sails totally outshines all the Pirates of the Caribbean films put together. Apparently there is room for more attractive pirates in Hollywood.
Let’s start with the men: in the main cast we’ve got Luke Arnold as John Silver, Tom Hopper as Billy Bones, Zach McGowan as Captain Vane, and Toby Stephens as Captain Flint. For those who love tall guys, Hopper is 6’5” (yes, I absolutely looked that up). McGowan is shirtless in the first episode and has the body of Chris Hemsworth in the Marvel films. Stephens is a mix of Michael Fassbender and Damian Lewis (it’s a deadly combination). Meanwhile, Arnold has the bad boy smirk down, reminding us of that elusive older guy we crushed on in high school.
However, as much as the men of Black Sails are attractive, so are the ladies (though there aren’t quite as many). Hannah New plays Eleanor Guthrie, a take charge kind of woman who isn’t afraid to get in a guy’s face; Max, a smart and cunning prostitute, is played by Jessica Parker Kennedy; and the mysterious Anne Bonny, who hides under her hat most of the time, is played by Clara Paget. The women of Black Sails could definitely give the men a run for their money.
No matter what you’re into, it’s likely you’ll be attracted to at least one character on Black Sails — or all of the characters, that is totally possible as well. It has us wondering if a cast could be anymore attractive (we think not).
Maybe the Gallagher family on Showtime’s Shameless is a little rough around the edges — they curse like sailors and keep their savings in a jar — but they make for good entertainment. The new season of Shameless premieres on Jan. 12, a mere month away, and we can’t control our excitement.
When last we left the Gallaghers, bad-dad Frank was hospitalized with a long list of possibly life-threatening medical conditions while Fiona was acclimating to full-time employment and a respectable boyfriend. (Also, Jimmy the car thief is definitely dead despite his vague exit from the show.) Lip had graduated high school and planned to go to college, but younger brother Ian used Lip’s identity to enlist in the army when his relationship with Mickey Milkovich went sour.
Since season four picks up only a few weeks after the show left off, we’ll be able to get right back into the lives of the Gallagher clan. Based on the first promo released for the new season, it seems Fiona, Frank, and Lip will be rebelling against employment, health care, and education. Meanwhile, based on casting announcements, Debbie, the youngest Gallagher girl will continue her transition to adulthood that began in season three.
However the biggest surprise of the third season finale was Ian enlisting and leaving his siblings behind. If there is one Gahllagher rule, it’s that you don’t abandon the family. Plus, we really wish Ian and Mickey could work out their relationship issues. (That’s going to be hard since Mickey is married now, but we’re still hopeful.)
If nothing else, at least Fiona officially has custody over her siblings now. We wonder if that will actually change anything though. We’ll have to tune in on Jan. 12 to find out.
Rumer Willis Heads to Hawaii: Masi Oka and Rumer Willis may be finding love in paradise. Willis is set to guest star on an upcoming episode of Hawaii 5-O as a potential love interest for Oka's Dr. Max Bergman, a bank teller named Sabrina. Sabrina gets held up in a botched robbery, so we're not quite sure that it's going to last. [EW]
Guys With Kids Defies The Odds: Well, the guys with the kids have officially escaped the ax, for now. NBC just ordered four more episodes of the critically panned comedy, which recently brought in 3.8 million viewers and a 1.3 in its demo. While 17 episodes is not a complete vote of confidence, it's generous considering they axed Animal Practice with similar numbers. [TVLine]
MTV Takes on a Hot Mess: After the critical success of Awkward, MTV has picked up Hot Mess — a comedy created by Awkward showrunner Lauren Iungerich. The show will focus on Annabelle Stephenson's Amanda, a hot mess who basically is terrible at dating just like most other girls in their 20's. Her personality sounds a bit like Jess from New Girl, but we'll give it a shot. [Hollywood Reporter]
Pirate Casting, Ahoy: Zach McGowan, Luke Arnold and Jessica Parker Kennedy (of The Secret Circle fame) have joined the cast of Starz‘s upcoming original series Black Sails, an eight-episode pirate adventure set 20 years before the events in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. The boys are pirates, she's a prostitute. The first season is set to debut in 2014. [Deadline]
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[PHOTO CREDIT: DailyCeleb.com]
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The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.