Diana Vacc sees “The Alienist”

Nothing is happening here, which doesn’t change the fact that this could be the most exciting image in the series!

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—

This winter TNT premiered The Alienist, a 10 episode series that showing what police work was like before the turn of the 20th Century

Set in 1896, this psychological thriller centers around the murder of a young prostitute boy. The event brings together an Alienist (at the time the term for certain experts on mental illness), a newspaper illustrator, a secretary, and Theodore Roosevelt in the job he actually had at the time, New York City Police Commissioner, all working to solve this brutal crime.

THE GOOD:

  • I always find something good about what I view. But while I was attracted to the show after learning of its historical premise and use of real people like Teddy Roosevelt as character, once I started watching I could not find one single thing to enjoy.

THE BAD:

  • First, the way the show is shot is ugly, murky, and so difficult to see that it seems deliberate.
  • Much of the “action” is similarly ugly but, unfortunately, not murky enough to keep me from seeing it.
  • The performances are very disappointing.  With a cast led by Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans, and Dakota Fanning, I was anticipating fascinating characters with meaningful development arcs. At the very least, I hoped to find something about each character to I care about. But that was not to be. The acting is dry, dull, and monotonous, with none of the actors exhibiting the slightest hint of emotion, or eliciting any emotion in me.
  • Based on a best selling series of books by Caleb Carr, and billed as an “Event Series, The Alienist is probably the most uneventful TV series since The Arthur Godfry Show” back in television’s infancy. Writers Hossein Amini, Caleb Carr, E. Max Frye, Cary Joji Fukunaga, and Gina Gionfriddo wrote scripts that are dull, boring, and did not move the story along. Watching The Alienist was like watching a caterpillar making its away across a leaf in slow motion, except that caterpillars are at least fuzzy and cute. These episodes drag on and on and on. It got so that I gave up on wanting anything exciting to happen and just hope that something would happen, period. And no, that too wasn’t to be.
  • Gina Gionfriddo produced Law & Order, one of my all time favorite shows.  Having her on board was truly exciting for me, however, the show fell short of any expectations I had.

THE REST:

With a heavy heart I find it hard to recommend that anyone watch this show. The Alienist has left me totally alienated.


Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and TVWriter™ University grad. Find out more about her HERE

Diana Vacc sees “The Greatest Showman”

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—

December 20, 2017, Twentieth Century Fox released the The Greatest Showman, a rare foray into the movie musical genre (even after the success of a certain little film called LaLa Land.  The Greatest Showman tells the tale of P.T Barnum, celebrates the birth of show business and the visionary man who brought the curious to life.

THE GOOD:

  • I was truly impressed by the original songs written by Justin Paul and Beji Pasek.  The music in this films is represented of today and can easily play on pop radio.  It makes you want to get up and dance. My favorite number is This is Me performed the Keala Settle.  This song recently won the Golden Globe for best original song.  It is about accepting, loving yourself, and that you are worthy of love in return.  The scene in which this song is performed is powerful to watch.
  • Hugh Jackman performance as P.T. Barnum is superb.  He not only acts, he sings and dances.  He truly amazed me in this role.  I’m glad others can see how talented he is.
  • I did enjoy the love story between Philip Carlyle (Zac Efron) and Anne Wheeler (Zendaya).  The interracial relationship during this time period was difficult but this doesn’t affect the couple as they manage to come together in the end.
  • Lets chat about the script, it was definately entertaining story.  A tales the masses will love since its doing so well at the box office.

THE BAD:

  • I was disappointed that the film neglects to show the relationship P.T. Barnum had with James A. Bailey and how they teamed up.

THE REST:

If you’re a fan of the movie musical and pure fun then this film is for you.


Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and a student in the TVWriter™ Online Workshop. Find out more about her HERE

Droughtlander is OVER!!! Diana Vacc sees Outlander S03 “The Battle Joined”

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—

Sunday September 10, 2017, Starz premiered season 3 of Outlander.   This episode follows Jamie hoping for survival during the Battle of Culloden as a pregnant Claire returns to life in the 1940’s.  As an avid fan of the series I was truly excited for its return and had high expectations after the previous two seasons.

THE GOOD:

  • The beginning of the episode is brilliant.  The writing, the directing, the acting certainly don’t disappoint.  It opens with bloody bodies lying on the ground of Culloden.  The focus comes to Jamie (Sam Heughan) whose eyes open slowly after being unconscious.  The episode fades to the beginning of the battle.  The transitions back and forth of Jamie lying on the ground with a dead Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) on top of him to his recollections of the battle makes you feel so much emotion that you can’t help but cry the entire time.
  • The fight between Jamie (Heughan) and Black Jack (Menzies) is deeply personal and the perfect way to end “the devil himself” – Black Jack.  After all that Black Jack put Jamie through, it is fitting that Jamie be the one to take his nemesis’ life and was truly satisfying to watch.
  • Heughan is by far the MVP of the episode as his heroic Jamie shines.
  • Claire (Caitriona Balfe) has to re-adjust to life back with Frank (played also by Tobias Menzies).   Their marriage is one of convenience for Claire and Balfe beautifully plays a woman trapped in a domestic prison, without the man she loves.
  • I love how Menzies brings us a character who is forced to make a normal life with Claire and raise another man’s child.  Can’t be easy for any man, but Menzies makes Frank touchingly human, especially when, unable to contain himself any longer, he has it with Claire, telling her how much it hurts when she pulls away from him, which is, actually, every time he touches her.  This scene makes your heart ache for Frank.

THE BAD:

  • If you find something badly done here, please write and tell me. Because what I see is that Outlander and its creator Ronald D. Moore, have arrived at the perfection Moore has been striving for.

THE REST:

  • All I have to say is if you haven’t watched this series yet, what are you waiting for?

Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and a student in the TVWriter™ Online Workshop. Find out more about her HERE

Diana Vacc sees “Titanic” Throwback Thursday Review

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—
Although This Film is 20 Years Old So is There Really Anything to Spoil?

With the popularity of “Throwback Thursday” on social media and the current lack of quality in both film and television as of late, I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts on some classic films. Titanic follows the story of star-crossed lovers Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) aboard the ill fated luxury liner.

THE GOOD

  • The chemistry of DiCaprio and Winslet is reminiscent of Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh in Gone With The Wind and Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.  These two actors have created an onscreen couple for the ages.  The audience can feel the love the characters have for one another.
  • Writer/Director/Editor James Cameron had his hand in everything. This is the true testament to a legendary director.  He even did the drawing of Rose (Winslet) featured in the film.  He brought a story to life that has moments of laughter and brings you to tears, especially the end.
  • Billy Zane’s portrayal of the villainous Cal Hockley was breathtaking.  There were moments when I hated him more than that boss I once had who – never mind. But there also were moments that filled me with empathy for the character.  An example is when he watched from afar Rose and Jack’s kiss when they were reunited.  In this small moment you I definitely felt his pain as he realized he had lost his fiance.
  • The costumes, the sets, the scenery, every little detail was carefully considered by the filmmakers and crew and led to an overall feeling of reality.

THE BAD:

  • Total spoiler alert just in case: I still wish that Jack didn’t die at the end of this film and instead he and Rose livee happily ever after.  But then, I’m a sucker for happy endings.


THE REST:

  • Since there isn’t much at the theaters these days I highly recommend you watch or re-watch this classic film, which can be found just about everywhere, online and off. I confidently predict you’ll be very glad you did.

Diana Vacc sees ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—

On May 26, 2017, Disney released the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. This volume of the franchise follows Jack Sparrow as he searches for the trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact with the power to break all curses of the sea. 

THE GOOD:

  • Writer Jeff Nathanson brings back the magic that made the original so successful.  The humor, the chemistry, and the story.  I loved the return of the romance of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly).  I enjoyed finally learning the back story of Jack and how he became Captain.
  • The newest love story of Henry and Carina (Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario) is reminiscent of Will and Elizabeth and you know what? I was cool with it. The chemistry of both actors was breathtaking, and who would want to get in the way of that powerful an attraction to each other?
  • The motivation of Will son’s Henry to break the Curse of the Dutchman over his father tugs at the audience’s heartstrings. Thwaites performs with sure determination, as if Bloom is his actual father.
  • The performance of Javier Bardem as Captain Salazar was creepy and gross but in a good way.  The black goo that comes out of his mouth is disgusting but it works for the character.

THE BAD:

  • Not enough Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann.  I wish they were in the film more. I have loved these characters and their romance since the first film of the series.


THE REST:

  • I realize that I’m in disagreement with a majority of critics, but this film is pure fun. It brings back the magic that the last Pirates lost.  I definitely recommend you go see it.

Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and a student in the TVWriter™ Online Workshop. Find out more about her HERE

Diana Vacc sees ABC’s Dirty Dancing

by Diana Vaccarelli

Let’s play Spot the Embarrassment…hint, it’s the source of the pic on the right

May 24, 2017 will go down in history for sure – as a day of genuine showbiz infamy. On that date, ABC released a remake of the 1987 classic film of female coming of age Dirty Dancing, with catastrophic results for all involved.

THE GOOD:

  • I’m going to be blunt and real, there was nothing good about this film. Not one single thing. If there had, I might have been able to write about it without having to wait a week for my stomach to settle.

THE BAD:

  • Everything. No aspect of filmmaking was left undefiled. The writing, direction, acting, even the re-done music all were, well I’m sorry but they really did leave me gagging.

THE REST:

  • There are some films that should not be touched. Dirty Dancing was one of them.  This film should have never happened.

  • Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and a student in the TVWriter™ Online Workshop. Find out more about her HERE

Diana Vacc sees “Prison Break” Season 5 Episode 2 “Kaniel Outis”

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT–

On April 11, 2017, Prison Break: Episode 2 Kaniel Outis aired.  In this episode Michael contacts Lincoln through a young boy who delivers a note that tells Lincoln to find the “Sheik of Light,” who will help Michael escape from Ogygia Prison. Meanwhile, Sarah develops her own investigation into Michael and has an uneasy reunion with Paul Kellerman, who now works for the State Department.

THE GOOD:

  • Writer/Creator Paul T. Scheuring brings us an episode with intense action scenes. One of my favorites is when Lincoln is searching for the Sheik and is involved in a fight to help innocent children escape an abandoned building – and the whole thing turns into a car crash! Watching this scene, I was on the edge of my seat with my fingers crossed the whole time. Another great action scene that made me feel the pain occurs when Michael schemes his way into the prison infirmary to gain pain killers and is beaten by the guards. 
  • Again we are treated to exceptional performances. Each actor brings new levels and surprise to the characters.  Dominic Purcell, who plays Lincoln Burrows, demonstrates his love and desperation while trying to convince Sheba, a local woman, to help him find the Sheik of Light. Wentworth Miller shocks us with the complexity he brings to Michael. The warm embrace between Michael and the terrorist leader when the terrorist comes out of solitary confinement shows us how much Michael has changed. And Sarah Wayne Callies, who portrays Sarah, clearly demonstrates the character’s inner conflict, especially when she meets with Paul Kellerman.       
  • I continue to admire how this show begins to answer questions and then develops more questions. It keeps you guessing and wanting more. 

THE BAD:

  • The only disapproval I have with this episode is how Michael Scofield is now friends with the Isil organization. What have you done, MICHAEL!? I feel a personal sense of betrayal but will stick it out at least until I learn…”WHY?”{ 

THE REST:

  • Being a diehard Prison Break fan I continue to be excited for each new episode.  I urge you to give this show a chance and am confident that if you do you’ll become a fellow fan with ME!!!

Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and one of the finest people we know. Find out more about her HERE