We are used to seeing popular U.K. shows stateside. Series of Downton Abbey, Absolutely Fabulous, Skins and Dr. Who have all aired in the US in enough time to capitalize on their wild success across the pond. However, some shows slip through the cracks. Miranda is a wildly successful sitcom that first premiered in 2009 has only now become available on Hulu.
Miranda (Miranda Hart) is posh, yet utterly awkward. She’s tall, socially inappropriate, and a grown child. She spent the bulk of her wealth buying a joke shop that she runs with her Type-A best friend Stevie (Sarah Hadland). She is terminally single much to the dismay of her haughty and marriage obsessed mother, Penny (Patricia Hodge). She occasionally has run-ins with her former boarding school pal Tilly (Sally Phillips). Her latest obsession is her longtime friend and restaurant chef, Gary (Tom Ellis) who can see beyond her 6’1 frame and social ineptitude yet can’t seem to get a moment alone with her.
Hart is a comedic genius. Each episode has Mr. Bean-like physical antics, insanely well-crafted wordplay, and completely absurd situations. Hart is so likable and the pain, tension, and discomfort of being tall, romantically challenged, and stunted in youth is completely relatable. Plus, Hart will occasionally look at the audience and give commentary on what’s happening.
Hart represents an everywoman, but not necessarily in a Chaka Kahn/Whitney Houston kind of way. Her issues with men, her mother, and her friends are so much like what people have to deal with on a daily basis. However, Hart is able to say and do what we wish we could do in a given situation. She also has an incongruously attractive crush in a will they/won’t they relationship. The series is semi-autobiographical and it seems like Hart is living out her fantasies through her charcter.
Anglophiles, Brticom addicts, comedy lovers, and people with a pulse must check out this series. The first two series are available on Hulu. See what people in the UK have been obsessing over for years.
Leverage brings the heist movie genre to the small screen. Each episode, the team of Leverage Consulting & Associates takes down a fat cat or crime lord that has hurt one of their clients. Whether it’s a high-stakes grift or an elaborate theft, this cadre of ex-cons rights wrongs, Robin Hood-style.
Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton) is a former insurance fraud investigator. He gets drafted into an elaborate con with thief Parker (Beth Riesgraf), hacker Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge), former black ops agent Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane), and his ex, an experienced grifter, Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman). They decide to combine their unique set of skills on the right side of the law to help the helpless: to provide them with some leverage...get it?
The show takes all the twists, turns, and shocking misdirects from movies like Ocean’s Eleven or The Italian Job and takes it to a local level. It’s insane that the series is able to come up with so many smart reveals and elaborate capers for each episode.
If great writing isn’t enough, the casting of the series is genius. The characters are more than just their heist skills. Each character brings a different layer to their character. Hutton may play the moral voice of the show but he also has a drinking problem and a self-destructive impulse. Riesgraf and Hodge may play expert thieves but they also have a dorky vibe. The British-born Bellman showcases all of her accents and unique vocal tricks as she plays a grifter playing a character during a con.
Movies like Oceans Fifteen: Still Wet, are fun to watch for the satisfaction of a well-played con. Leverage provides all that satisfaction combined with likable characters and unique writing.
Netflix has all five seasons of the series, which ended last winter.
Sad news for fans of TNT's Leverage — the network has announced that the Season 5 finale, which will air on Christmas day, will be the show's final outing. The hour-long drama, which stars Timothy Hutton as a former insurance fraud investigator who leads a team of modern day corporate fraud Robin Hoods, had a small but loyal fan base. Creator Dean Devlin reached out to that fan base over the weekend on his blog, to give them an early warning about the show's fate.
"It has been decided today that this Tuesday’s episode of Leverage 'The Long Goodbye Job' will be the series finale as TNT has decided not to renew the show for a sixth season," Devlin wrote before thanking the network for the show's five seasons. He had anticipated this news, so "The Long Goodbye Job" was shot as a series finale. "I’m so happy we were able to film the series finale we had always envisioned and I’m happy we’re able to present it on Christmas as our gift to you. It’s a bittersweet goodbye."
Hollywood.com reached out to the network for comment:
TNT’s Leverage has thrilled audiences with its delightfully intricate plots, its “stand up for the little guy” attitude and its terrific performances from stars Timothy Hutton, Gina Bellman, Christian Kane, Beth Riesgraf and Aldis Hodge. But after five wonderful years, it’s time to say goodbye. Leverage will come to a close on Christmas, Tuesday, Dec. 25, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT), with a series finale that stands as one of the show’s best episodes.
We are honored to have worked with executive producer Dean Devlin, Electric Entertainment, creators John Rogers and Chris Downey, and all the cast and production crew on Leverage. We look forward to exploring new opportunities to work with them again in the future. We also want to thank the passionately devoted fans of Leverage, who have been the driving force behind its success.Not happy news to receive during the holidays, but Season 5's sharp ratings decline was looming heavy. Tell us, Leverage fans — will you tune in on Christmas to say goodbye?
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: TNT]
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While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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