[For Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll‘s “Supercalifragilisticjuliefriggingandrews” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Supercalifragilisticjuliefriggingandrews Gigi meets Johnny’s mom and finds out why Mary Poppins ruined her career in show business.

Johnny’s mom, Elizabeth, calls to notify him she’s dying of cancer and thus, she’s decided to really live these last few months of life to the fullest. So, Elizabeth’s getting married and wants Johnny’s band to play the wedding all gussied up in 70s attire. This gives him the opportunity to tell his mom about her grandchild – Gigi. Elizabeth’s even more excited about his band playing the wedding after googling Gigi and finding out, “She’s gorgeous!” Johnny tells Gigi her grandma has cancer and she expresses how awful that is so he replies, “You haven’t met her yet.”

The band congregates to explain to Gigi why Johnny hates his mom. Turns out he was the reason Elizabeth had to give up her best opportunity, playing Mary Poppins, because she was pregnant with Johnny. She then left his Dad for leaving showbiz to become a doctor and took Johnny on her failure after failure chase for stardom down the back alleys of Broadway. Johnny never got over it and we see where he gets that trait because Elizabeth’s still hella bitter toward Julie Andrews. In fact, it turns out she’s pretty angry with Johnny about it too and Gigi gives her a bit of the bitch right back when she sees this flare up.

At the reception Johnny wrote a special song for his mother and when the band plays it’s an awakening to the room that Gigi’s a spectacular performer. Johnny’s song “Put it on Me” isn’t just a hit with the crowd, it even suits the seventies theme and shows off Gigi’s special gift. Instead of appreciating it, though, Elizabeth takes a stage nearby and has the spotlight transferred to her just when the applause should have been starting for Gigi. She can’t stand to be out of attention’s center, even for her granddaughter to shine. When we hear Elizabeth sing we realize that maybe Johnny’s Dad was right about her not losing the part to Julie Andrews because of baby Johnny… maybe she just wasn’t a good enough singer.

Truths are tumbling out at this point and Elizabeth is such a junkie for all eyes on her that it turns out she doesn’t even have cancer. It was just a ploy to get Johnny to drop everything and suit up 70s style for free in her wedding reception. This news along with her insistence upon mispronouncing Ava’s name time after time bring an aha moment in the last bit of the episode that wait-a-minute, Johnny doesn’t hate her because of his childhood… maybe it’s because she’s just AWFUL. Period. On the bright side, Johnny’s Dad, Captain Serious, is a cool cat who plays tenor sax and, we learn in this episode, has already developed a warm, loving bond with Gigi.

There are funny sexploit subplots in this episode; Flash gets an ass grabbing from Elizabeth’s brand new husband, Bam Bam does sexual favors for barbeque, and Rehab goes to the geriatric boneyard. These scintillating asides coupled with amazing costumes and a plethora of Billy Joel jokes make for a particularly sparkly fun ride in this episode of Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll especially with the family fireworks crackling throughout.

–Katherine Recap

[For The Jim Gaffigan Show‘s “My Friend the Priest” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

TVLand Summary:
My Friend the Priest. When Jim is finally invited to do “The Tonight Show,” Jeannie invites Father Nicholas.

Jim finds out he’s finally booked his dream gig on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show and immediately tells his best buddy, Dave who tries to place what show that is.
“Struggling a bit, right?” says Dave after pretending not to know who’s been hosting it lately. “Huge among every demographic except my bitter friends,” Jim replies. As Gaffigan leaves disgruntled Dave behind on the sidewalk he spies Father Nicholas nearby and crosses the street to avoid him. Unfortunately Father Nicholas also has crossing the street privileges and he really wants to talk to Jim. Then it turns out he’s coming to dinner – oh joy.

“I’m not interested in a bromance with a member of the clergy,” Jim attempts to explain to baffled Jeannie after she’s just gone on about how normal and everyday a person Father Nicholas is. We’ve all been in this boat where we just don’t click with the the other guy in there but he’s got the steering wheel and access to all the life preservers… such a fun day at sea. And for Jim, it’s truly a never ending showboat of an episode.

Next thing Jim knows “weird” Father Nicholas tags along to his gig that night and his mere priestly presence shuts the laughs down. All comics seem to agree that priests are audience poison. It’s apparently a universal truth – a Platonic ideal, if you will, of toxic comedy sets. So, inevitably, Jim gets the dreaded news the next day just as he’s leaving for the dream gig. Father Nicholas will be joining him on set at “The Tonight Show” and there’s nothing Jim can do about it.

Father Nicholas glows with a beaming naive sincerity through the halls of NBC. He grins and introduces himself to everyone as “famous comedian, Jim Gaffigan’s priest” then makes so many friends that by showtime he’s playing tambourine with the Roots. Father Nicholas ends up playing ping pong with Julianne Moore and the seemingly ever-present-on-The-Jim-Gaffigan-Show-these-days Macaulay Culkin. Jimmy and the audience adore having him on the show so much that Father Nicholas ends up bumping the last guest. Yes, that’s Jim, watching it all from his sad sack green room with his resident sidekick, Bitter Dave. The episode ends on Macaulay Culkin asking Father Nicholas who Jim Gaffigan is – indeed.

Kudos to The Jim Gaffigan Show’s Tongayi Chirisa. The actor playing Father Nicholas nails his character’s awkward sincerity so perfectly that he doesn’t just steal “The Tonight Show” from Jim… Chirisa slips in lines with comedic ease, like when Dave and Jim are fighting bombastic and he gleefully says, “You comedians are so funny all the time. It is very enjoyable!” He maintains a stilted manner that serves his character while remaining completely real and believable in sincere emotional moments like when he thanks Jim for bringing him to Jimmy Fallon and, for just one fleeting flicker of a moment, touches the Gaffigan heart buried deep beneath all those food jokes.

–Katherine Recap

Lots of Fetchland readers already subscribe to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, or even Marvel Unlimited.

… Which begs the question: When you have access to an almost limitless plethora of entertainment options, which ones should you pick?

“What’s Free Wednesday” is a weekly Fetchland feature spotlighting something great to read or watch available on one or more entertainment services. “Free” once you’ve paid for it, if you grok 😉


Free on:

  • Amazon Prime
  • Netflix

Sometimes you just want to see a feelgood movie that’s smart and captivating… but still actually entertaining. Chef hits all these targets! By virtue of its title you’d think Chef might appeal mainly to foodies but it’s for everyone. It’s not deep in the gourmand realm like Babette’s Feast or Big Night but there’s still plenty of food porn for the eater in all of us.

Jon Favreau goes back to his indie roots with this one, writing, directing and starring – like a boss. Chef feels small but combines several movie genres with ease including: feelgood comedy, road movie, and even upstart-becomes-underdog a-la Jerry Maguire. The charismatic amalgam of stars like Sofia Vergara, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johannson, and John Leguizamo add spice to this already delicious story.

Appropriately titled, this is truly the tale of a chef; Jon Favreau’s character, Carl, is happiest in the kitchen. He loves what he does especially when there’s nobody telling him what to cook. Unfortunately, he works for an old school restaurateur who keeps the menu on ice – as in back to the ice age. Carl’s got dreams about serving pork belly, figuring out Twitter, and winning over the food critic who’s soured on him over the years – Oliver Platt. He’s also got a ten year old son he’s been semi-ignoring over the years who ends up Carl’s social media angel as the story rolls deep into the Interwebs.

Though generally a realistic story anyway, the tipping point scenes in Chef are welcome doses of uber reality. The first is when Carl completely loses it screaming at the reviewer while oblivious to a multitude of cell phones recording the spectacle. This is the scene where Carl wakes from his upstart slumber and realizes he’s being held back creatively by working for the man – in this case Dustin Hoffman in the tiniest role imaginable. That’s it for Carl! He straps on his rocket propulsion boots ready to change his whole life, bootstraps and all. Another great awakening happens soon after when Carl and his son clean their future food truck of the hardened filth crust from its former inhabitants. Suddenly we see how the kitchen work ethic can translate to parenting lessons that last a lifetime when he later explains to his son that he earned his chef’s knife and nobody can ever take it away.

Chef takes off a fabulous foray from this point on, crossing the southern states in a food truck named El Jefe. Carl and son sell scrumptious cuban sandwiches from El Jefe arousing a litany of tweets with each sale. Carl’s sandwiches gain social media momentum thanks to the savvy of his son who’s also surreptitiously making vines of all their artisanal escapades. He’s only ten, officially their marketing guru, traveling cross country, and bonding with Dad like a bro – it’s a tween dream. Along the way the El Jefe food truck establishes such a following that by the time they reach their final destination, LA, the town’s rolling out those Hollywood red carpets for them.

The characters are the most refreshing aspect of Chef and not just because they’re captivating in their respective roles. There’s been a trend lately in movies where tons of characters are just nasty for little reason related to story and it gets old pretty fast for those of us still clinging to Anne Frank’s winsome words about people really being good inside. The antidote for this loathsome practice lies in Chef where the people are hilariously funny without being mean; in fact they’re especially awesome. Carl happens to be blessed with the coolest most beautiful ex wife in the world, the sexiest girlfriend, and the world’s friendliest and true blue coworkers. It’s packed with good eggs and that makes it all the more fun to go along the ride with Carl.

The exuberant soundtrack also gives this flick a delightful boost – an effervescent mix of cultures that perfectly augments the colorful food and feelings onscreen. The scenes where Carl cooks and all we hear is the pan sizzle and music are some of the most delightful screen moments thanks to these carefully selected songs. A fantastic date night movie, there’s a big bow on top of Chef at the end, so if you like your conclusions tied up in the neatest, most perfect packages – you know what to watch next on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

–Katherine Recap

Italian Poutine

In this week’s Kitchen Table Gaming, I and my guests actually play a game of Arena of the Planeswalkers!

Arena of the Planeswalkers is the board game version of our old favorite, Magic: The Gathering. So for this week’s episode, I put some different / unexpected twists on other favorites.

Italian Poutine – Inspired by my recent trip to Canada for Pro Tour Magic Origins in Vancouver. This “Italian” Poutine (pictured above) combines some very different ingredients than your classic plate of disco fries.

Elvis Banana Pudding – Whenever anyone comes to visit New York City, one of the most sought after food destinations is Magnolia Bakery (where they make a very good banana pudding). Ours is super charged with a particular ingredient to make a Banana Pudding fit for a King 😉

Check out the recipes — and our Arena of the Planeswalkers play — and see what Kitchen Table Gaming is all about:

Me and my guests:

[For Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll‘s “Tattoo You” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Tattoo You Gigi asks Johnny to get a tattoo of her name as a sign of true fatherly commitment.

As this episode of Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll begins Gigi shares her new bicep tattoo of Johnny’s name in red but he’s not appropriately grateful. All Johnny can think is needles needles needles which he hates – so it musta hurt. When Johnny starts to shift and say it’s kinda cool all of a sudden Gigi’s mother, Cat, is at their door – finally revealed! She loves Gigi’s tattoo and asks why Johnny doesn’t have a Gigi tattoo. Cat has one on her wrist that she got on the way home from the hospital after giving birth to Gigi.

When Cat pulls a cigarette out of her bag, revealing her waist, they all spy a tattoo on her hip. It’s Flash’s lightning bolt symbol, apparently indicating that Gigi’s mom already slept with him. Uh oh. Gigi pulls Cat into a back bedroom to accuse her of muffblocking – it’s kinda like cockblocking but for ladies. She’s outraged that Cat is trying to keep her from sleeping with Flash. It’s gotta be a brand new tattoo just for her sake! Then she calls Cat a bitch as her mother leaves in a sweep of black leather and hotness saying that she’s just trying to save the band.. Gigi immediately calls Flash and confronts him but he claims Cat and he only ever just fooled around. They didn’t sleep together. This is oh so very comforting to Gigi who advises Flash not to allow himself to get spellbound and Titnotized by Cat, “Watch out for ‘em!”

Then Gigi’s mom joins the band for rehearsal at the studio and plays them a song she wrote. Flash spontaneously pitches in, snuggling up next to Cat on the piano bench and singing cheek to cheek. Gigi huffily takes him out to the hallway where Flash says having her mom around does make him think maybe Gigi’s too young for him. BUT he had a “sack jack” – surgical ballsack tightening – so he’s not so old in a physical way and also, yeah, he’s attracted to Cat. Here we catch the first glimpse of the Johnny genes in Gigi when she thrashes an amp to bits with a guitar. Bad but undeniably rad, Gigi’s officially a rockstar.

Ava and Gigi’s mom have a bonding session. Cat sadly says that Gigi is her song and Ava’s getting all the royalties. This is especially poignant because Cat actually is a famous songwriter. She just sold a song to Sheryl Crow and even if she lives in Ohio she’s the real deal in the music world – Cat knows the biz. So, that’s why Gigi has so much money!

Johnny finally agrees to get Gigi’s name tattooed on his butt and then throws in Ava’s name on the other cheek because, hey, she’s earned it over the years.. Cat and Flash sing together in the studio so she can remind him of their attraction. But then he ignores that boner to go and get Gigi’s name tattooed on his behind anyway. Yes, it covers up the regrettable Gaga tattoo he got when he was crushing on his former boss… But at least it’s a real one, unlike the Johnny tattoo Gigi has on her bicep. That one gets smudged by Cat when she hugs Gigi goodbye after deciding her job here in HeathenTown is done.

Now Johnny’s sad that it turns out Gigi just got a temp henna one while he got a real tattoo. Gigi explains that she was afraid to commit and needs more time to see their father/daughter bond grow. He rose to the test, yes but she’s really only ready to get a flaming dice tattoo on her lower hip right now. “Those are a lot of flames,” Johnny says, looking at the picture she shows him of her potential tat. We can almost see the flames rising around him as Johnny starts to experience the first pangs of what parenthood is really like.

This episode rocks a double dose of the usually singular parenting theme but stays funny and sexy still. In this sixth episode we’re starting to see cracks in the blossoming romance between Flash and Gigi while at the same time she’s finally admitting to doubts about her connection with Johnny. So, the honeymoon phase of Gigi and the band is officially over. The bloom’s off the rock n’ roll rose but thanks goodness the jokes keep rolling forth and every new character introduced is cooler than the last. Cat went back to Ohio but here’s hoping she shows up again this season because that double dose of parenthood really hit the spot under her cultivated care.

–Katherine Recap

Deadly Prey

Welcome Marc V. Calderaro to Fetchland. In addition to being a regular member of the Magic: The Gathering event coverage team he is a film critic, attorney, and is obsessed with fringe cinema. His first piece for us laments the passing of straight-to-video auteur David A. Prior — BDM

To most people, Tuesday was just another day. But to a very small community, August 18, 2015 was a tragedy. Legendary director David A. Prior passed away, after battling various health failures for a long time. He was 59 years old.

There’s earnest in the low-budget, high-concept genre rips off that graced the early video-store shelves—video stores who were starved for content, any content. Directors like Prior answered the market call for movies on tape, and delivered in spades. Since Prior’s first film Sledgehammer (1983)—the first “shot-on-video” horror film—Prior made flick after flick full of grit and grisly spectacle, all for the lowest production costs possible.

After continuing in the horror genre with Aerobicide (aka Killer Workout), in 1987 Prior made the film he’s most remembered for, Deadly Prey. Full of Prior’s regular tropes—a Vietnam vet haunted by the past, a group of baddies that underestimate the vet’s capabilities, a whole lot of violence—Deadly Prey became the pinnacle of the straight-to-video, Z-Grade action subgenre (Cannon Films were the pinnacle of the B-Grade). It has over-the-top dialogue, low-quality effects, and a veritable shit-ton of heart.

Deadly Prey was my entry way to Prior’s work. In high school, my friends and I trolled the flea markets for whatever VHS tapes looked the craziest. When we saw the Deadly Prey box staring back at us from the dollar bin, we knew we had a winner. And boy did we.


The film is everything you could ever want it to be. Shot in the Alabama woods as a stand-in for Vietnam and everywhere else required (as were most of New Jersey-native Prior’s films), it’s an obvious First Blood rip that cuts out all the boring parts, and has Prior’s brother, Ted Prior, rip the throats out of a bunch of mercenaries while spouting one-liners like, “You’re dead.” And yes, the same Ted Prior who was a Playgirl centerfold.


To this day, I have never scene a kill quite like when Ted Prior’s character, Mike Danton, cuts off an opponent’s arm, beats him with it, then scalps him.

Little wonder this film blew all of our little high-school minds, and furthered my deep obsession with auteur, almost-outsider filmmaking.

Prior went on to make tons of films including directing David Carradine in Future Force and Future Zone, Robert Z’Dar in The Final Sanction, Brigitte Nielsen in Watership Warrior (aka Hostile Environment), Pamela Anderson and Stacey Keach in Raw Justice, and plenty more. Prior has made over 30 films in total.

My personal favorite, one of Prior’s most underrated, is Night Wars. A Rambo-Nightmare on Elm Street hybrid, Night Wars tells the story of two Vietnam vets haunted by their dreams of the POW they had to leave behind. But their dreams seem to be more and more realistic, so they start going to bed armed to the teeth, attempting to save their fallen comrade from the Vietnam camp in their dreams.

There’s a sweetness to the crazy affair, and there’re are plenty of insane, joyful discontinuities. For example, while cutting between the dreams and reality, when the solider shoot in their dreams, they’re actually shooting their weapons in real life too, decimating the ceiling above them. However, the soldiers also throw grenades in their dreams. Where are the grenades going?

Oh, and look out for Grizzly Adams himself, Dan Haggerty.

Of all the niche film communities, 80s straight-to-VHS aficionados are among the fiercest. And to this day, Prior’s contributions are regaled throughout the world within our little group. Even as the internet has all-but subsumed the want of VCRs, the VHS tapes of David A. Prior are still passed along from person to person like a rite of passage. Copies of Deadly Prey still fetch high prices on Ebay, and are often hard to come by because no one who owns it wants to sell. Our high-school dollar-bin find is paying dividends.

Heck, Night Wars still doesn’t even have cover art on IMDB. His work is seems to stand defiantly analog.

David A. Prior is a large part of the reason I’m where I am today. And his untimely passing yesterday has hit me a bit harder than I thought it would. In a world of slick digitization, Prior is a testament to the grit of DIY filmmaking, being stuck in the past (even if that past haunts you), and the fact that with enough imagination, the Alabama woods can be just about anywhere in the world.

David A. Prior, you will be missed.

[For The Jim Gaffigan Show‘s “Go Shorty, It’s Your Birthday” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

TVLand Summary:
Go Shorty, It’s Your Birthday. Jim celebrates Dave’s birthday instead of Jeannie’s, and Jeannie gets upset.

It’s Jeannie’s birthday and she says she doesn’t want anything. This is a sitcom, after all, so it appears that Jim’s biggest problem may just be that he believes her when she says this, though Jeannie seems sincere. The episode synopsis also seems to indicate this plot trajectory. So, strap yourself in for a hilarious birthday carnival ride. There’s a lot of funny here tonight.

Jim meets his BFF for their usual lunch at Katz’s and it turns out Dave shares a birthday with Jeannie. It’s a two birthday day for Jim! He’s dealing with opposites, though. Dave certainly does want a present and it turns out John Varvatos is having a sale! He also wants a party and isn’t shy about that either. After lunch Dave calls Jim over and over in seemingly two minute increments to ask about the party though Gaffigan keeps telling him nothing’s gonna happen on Jim’s account. Eventually Dave just ends up planning his own party in the Bowery Ballroom basement and inviting Jim. “No gifts! OK, well if you insist,” Dave says, not taking a breath between sentences.

The Gaffigan nanny, Blanca, brings a Dora pinata and birthday card for Jeannie when she comes to work that morning. But Blanca finds out quick that Jeannie really wants to pretend it’s not her birthday. So, they end up pretending it’s Blanca’s birthday for the sake of the kids, who pound Dora to smithereens until she’s just a giant head on a stick like a mammoth cartoon lollipop. This pushoff of her “special day” onto Blanca is an indication that Jeannie just might be sincere in her desire to pretend her birthday isn’t happening. She reinforces this antipathy of her own birthday later in the kitchen with Jim saying if he goes to Dave’s party she can more easily pretend it’s not her birthday, so he should go. Again Jim takes her at her word.

Then Daniel shows them an apartment – which Jeannie hates like always. While she’s out of the room, Daniel advises Jim to get Jeannie a gift. Daniel tells him to “Stop being the cliché of the fat ugly guy who knows nothing.” He lists a bunch of things Jeannie would love including a Cartier tank watch. Daniel knows the perfect guy to buy it from and gives Jim the info. So, Gaffigan buys it. But then when he gets home with it Jeannie asks if he “went against her wishes and got her a present.” So, Jim realizes she probably means it and decides not to give her the watch. Then Daniel sweeps in with sticky fingers and gives her that exact watch (literally taking it out of Jim’s hand) for a giftie and she LOVES it. On his way out, Daniel whispers that Jim wasn’t going to give Jeannie the watch anyway, was he? Grumble Grumble. Maybe. Possibly, OK, no. He also reassures Jim he’ll reimburse him the dinero for the present.

Dave’s birthday party bursts with tons of funny jokes and famous comics including Colin Quinn, underage girls that need rides home to Jersey, and Macaulay Culkin making yet another guest appearance. Fab one liners are dropping like it’s hot every second at the party where champagne is $100 a glass and it’s open bar – so partaking’s aplenty. On his way out Jim says goodbye to his glum birthday boy friend and finds out he’s also expecting Jim to pay for this lavish bash. Then Dave says, “This party sucked and you know what that means… the whole year’s gonna suck,” to which Jim replies, “Hey, look on the bright side. At least you’re not superstitious,” – just one of the many hilarious jokes in a fantastically fun scene.

But then Jeannie ends up bummed out at bedtime, a real crankypants McGee. Turns out, though, that it’s not because Jim didn’t get anything for her, though the episode synopsis would have us all expecting that requisite ending. No. She’s upset because her birthday signifies that they’re getting older and one day the kids will grow up and she’ll die and he’ll die… etc. It’s real truth time in the marital bed and thus on TVLand too. Then Jim cheers up his tearful wife with plans for his hilarious funeral and makes Jeannie laugh so much she forgets how sad she was. So, Jim gave Jeannie what she really needed for her birthday, a laugh.

It’s awesome that Jeannie really meant what she was saying about ignoring her birthday all along and somehow also perfect that the TV synopsis urges the audience toward a false inevitable conclusion. These things make it all the more an awakening at the end when we’re refreshed by a new way of ending this familiar tale of womanly birthday woe. The fresh and thoughtful writing on Go Shorty, It’s Your Birthday is exactly the antidote sitcoms need right now. This isn’t the same old BS sitcomland where women are manipulative beyotches that say they want one thing but really want another… and isn’t it freaking hilarious? Actually no, it’s hackneyed, boring, and misogynist to boot. And not all women are hypocrites, especially not Jeannie. She doesn’t want to die – just like the rest of us. Jeannie’s got real feelings and fears as if she were an actual human and not just some lame sitcom paper doll who wants one thing and says another. Fist pump to the Gaffigan crew for some uproarious jokes in this one too. This episode was yet another home run for The Jim Gaffigan Show.

–Katherine Recap

Fall TV season is almost upon us and for the first time in more than half a decade I am looking forward to the season premiere of The Good Wife after my wife and I completely devoured six seasons on Amazon Prime. Both the lovely KDM and myself had long dismissed the show despite the loud protestations from advocates for Julianna Margulies and partners. While there is plenty of old and new television looming on the horizon there has been some great summer fare to give my DVR something to do before we get into the Fall months of recording conflicts.

Hannibal: Red Dragon

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I have been a staunch advocate for this show since it started airing three seasons ago. At the time I was terrified it would be cancelled before the only hate-watchable The Following that starting airing during the same year. I won’t even get that much out of the show as the last handful of episodes are playing out on NBC over the next couple of weeks. In the end Joe Carroll got more episodes than Hannibal Lecter (although both shows are in streaming limbo for a potential fourth season) and while it is not on the same level of depravity as making Osso Bucco from the shanks of your enemies it is still a crime.

Hannibal food stylist Janice Poon's osso bucco concept sketch.

Hannibal food stylist Janice Poon’s osso bucco concept sketch.

The last six episodes of this season are taken from Red Dragon, the first Thomas Harris book to introduce us to Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter. It is an odd departure from the first two and a half seasons of the show which all served as preamble to Lecter’s capture and Will Graham’s pursuit of The Great Red Dragon aka Francis Dolarhyde. The story has been told twice before in movies; once with Bryan Cox playing Lecter in Manhunter and the second time with Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins reprising his role from Silence of the Lambs.

So far this has been my favorite of the three adaptations and — and this is going to be heretical to many — Mads Mikkelsen has ascended to the top spot of the three men to portray Lecter. In all his previous incarnations we only get to meet Lecter in prison first and are told his backstory. Seeing the backstory play out and building up the relationship between Will Graham and Dr. Lecter makes their consulting scenes in the asylum much more chilling.

What has been shocking about this final act of the show is how faithful it has been to the source material. The episodes leading up to this last half season have played fast and loose with the timeline for Lecter. They have taken elements of Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Hannibal Rising and strewn them about the build up to Lecter’s apprehension and incarceration. Once we arrive in the attic of Dolarhyde’s childhood home and the Red Dragon arc begins there is very little deviation. The trajectory of several characters in the earlier episodes leads to divergence in these remaining few; a rather arch Dr. Alana Bloom running the asylum being the most notable displacement of the book’s characters.

There is a nod to some of the differences when Hannibal won’t reveal how he and Dolarhyde are communicating and he jokes about personal ads and messages written on toilet paper, which was the method used in the book and in the first movie.

You can watch these six episodes without having seen the previous ones — although I strongly urge you to go back and watch it from the beginning if you haven’t seen it already. Bryan Fuller’s vision for the series is much more clear — albeit dark and twisted — than anything else that has been done with it in the past. Be warned that those episodes are particularly gruesome, I still cannot believe they were aired on network television, but always shot with a sense of purpose. The motif of serial killers as artists is hit upon time and time again and we see human bodies turned inside out and bent in unnatural ways to become totem poles, recreate scenes from works of art and literatures, and to become a human color wheel. If you are not squeamish it is well worth watching. Red Dragon has much less gore with the good doctor behind plexiglass although there are still a couple of episodes left and one Freddie Lounds still to be accounted for.

Mr. Robot

This has quickly shot up the charts into my top five shows right alongside the aforementioned Hannibal. There are just a couple of episodes left this season but USA Network has them all available online and they are well worth the investment of your time. The show is an unreliable accounting of events as told by the show’s antihero Elliot Alderson a security consultant by day and a hacktivist by night. He is also a morphine addict and suffers from an antisocial personality disorder.

Elliott is drawn into the web of an hacker terrorist organization called fsociety by Mr. Robot, played by Christian Slater who may or may not be a product of Elliott’s drug addled imagination. After watching the first episode of the show I called it a mix of Heathers, Fight Club, and The Conversation. The first two have been used extensively to describe the show but the paranoia of The Conversation (or Enemy of the State for you young ‘uns) is thoroughly steeped into every second of this show.

Twitter exploded after the most recent episode and I don’t want to reveal too much but if you do not watch this soon you will find yourself on the wrong side of the Ned Stark is dead (oops!) discussions as this show becomes one of the most buzzed about between now and the start of Season 2. As unlikely as Hannibal seems on NBC this seems even more unlikely on USA Network the home of the frothy Suits and Royal Pains. This seems more likely to have languished anonymously on Sundance for a couple of seasons.

There are plenty of great character performances throughout the season but Martin Wallström and Stephanie Corneliussen are threatening to steal the show as the Machiavellian power couple striving to get Wallström the CFO title at Evil Corp. Oh yeah, since we are relying on Elliott as our narrator whenever anyone refers to the conglomerate at the heart of the show’s conspiracies it is simply called Evil Corp. Just trust me and watch the first couple of episodes and get all caught up before Ned Stark’s head hits the basket.

Show Me a Hero

I watch a lot of television and yet somehow I missed out on David Simon’s Treme when it first aired on HBO. I consider The Wire to be at the very pinnacle of TVs accomplishments but I was not ready to wade into Treme until recently. I am halfway through and it has cemented David Simon as someone who will always get my attention when he has something that makes it to the small screen.

I was pretty excited to watch the first episodes of Show Me a Hero, a six part miniseries that he created from the book by Lisa Belkin (which I have not read but will remedy shortly) starring Oscar Isaac. The show is classic Simon as it follows a handful of ordinary people played by extraordinary actors through their lives in the late 80’s Yonkers. When we pick up the story the town had already been embroiled in a years old court case about integrating affordable housing into the white, blue collar community that is terrified and angry about their property values.

Oscar Isaac, who reminds me of a young pre-Hooowaaah! Al Pacino, plays Nick Wasicsko who ascends to become the mayor of Yonkers by taking a populist position against the federal push for integration. Once he gets there he must cope with the reality of the federal court’s mandate which includes the potential of bankrupting fines. When he switches his position to save the city from the financial hardship of being in contempt of court he loses the love of the people and reinvents the White Russian as a cocktail made from Stoli and Maalox.

The two episodes also followed the lives of multiple Yonkers residents on different sides of the struggle. It is reminiscent of the middle seasons of The Wire that focused on the travails of teachers, stevedores, and newspaper columnists as much as it did the cops and drug dealers who shared their city. Which is basically the highest recommendation I can give a show.

Let the Right One In

Lots of Fetchland readers already subscribe to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, or even Marvel Unlimited.

… Which begs the question: When you have access to an almost limitless plethora of entertainment options, which ones should you pick?

“What’s Free Wednesday” is a weekly Fetchland feature spotlighting something great to read or watch available on one or more entertainment services. “Free” once you’ve paid for it, if you grok 😉

Let The Right One In

Free on:

  • Amazon Prime
  • Netflix

When you try to convince someone they should see some movies the biggest initial hurdle can sometimes be that irksome question – What’s it about? This is especially the case with the Swedish stunner Let the Right One In. Especially given the past few years of Hollywood and primetime TV’s obsession with all things sexy vampire, it works against this spectacular movie that it just happens to have a vampire at the center. Still, this one’s definitely not sexy and the movie’s not even really about vampires either. It’s about loneliness. Don’t you want to see it now? Seriously though, it’s a gorgeous film with brilliant storytelling and true resonance. This one stays with you. The story gets deep into the heart of early adolescence with its marrow crushing isolation and longing for love. It’s not romantic love here, though, and that’s part of what makes the story so special.

The main characters, Oskar and Eli, are the loneliest twelve year olds in the world. Oskar is the preteen king of bad haircuts and Eli lives in the apartment next door, a pale misanthrope of indeterminate gender. They share qualities of outward fragility and resolute inner strength. We see this in Oskar early on when he knives a tree over and over echoing the tauntings of his bullies. Soon after Oskar and Eli meet for the first time and we’re thrust into their puzzle-piece perfect connection.

It’s Sweden, a bleak but beautiful universe of snow, serial killing, and subtitles. The mystery here isn’t about what happened or whodunit, you find all that out right away. But still, this is a movie filled with mystery. One of the main questions arises from knowing who the killers are but wondering about the curious methodology of the human on human murders. In fact, the biggest question arises out of this human element. Why the vampire does what they do is obvious, after all. But what’s up with this weird ass human? He just gets more bizarre as the story unfolds.

Although gorgeous, Let the Right One In can also seem gruesome at many turns. It doesn’t scare, necessarily, because there’s a matter of fact quality to the storytelling. In fact, an omnipresent pre teen realism will certainly arouse audience cringes throughout and there’s a feeling that this is all really happening which manages to somehow disturb and console all at once, perhaps because it’s so utterly engaging. One of the cool details in the movie is the oddness of the adult characters. They talk and behave in a stilted way that brings you right back to the awkward years when adults were aliens saying things like, “Thanks for yet another evening steeped in friendship and merriment,” before hugging goodbye.

If you love a fulfilling ending that reveals mysterious origins like the unwrapping of a glorious gift, this movie satisfies. It has one of those perfect conclusions – inevitable and yet completely unexpected that keep a film in your mind’s eye even after the credits roll. You do have to really watch this one, though. It’s not a good movie for doing laundry or finishing paperwork. There are subtitles and a lot happens in the silence. So when you’re ready for an intense, riveting, and kinda creepy movie experience on Netflix, this one’s for you.

–Katherine Recap

Arena of the Planeswalkers

Arena of the Planeswalkers is the upcoming tabletop version of Magic: The Gathering.

Fetchland and Kitchen Table Gaming met up with Hasbro Director of Brand Strategy and Marketing, Angus Walker at Gen Con about Arena of the Planeswalkers. We are overjoyed to give you this exclusive look.

According to Angus, Arena of the Planeswalkers has “all the key tenets of Magic” and the “key things that make Magic so great” while layering tactical game play from the board game side of the house.

So… Arena of the Planeswalkers. What do you think?