John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews


Genre: Drama


Cast: Samaire Armstrong, Landon Gimenez, Matt Craven, Omar Epps, Frances Fisher, Sam Hazeldine, Kurtwood Smith Kurtwood Smith


Release Date: March 9th, 2014

The premise of the new ABC sitcom Mixology is a unique one. Like Paul Thomas Anderson films, sickness
it presents a large cast and then slowly introduces him episodically— one element of their personalities at a time. The comedy begins with this voice-over and premise: “This is the story of ten strangers, sick
one night and all of the ridiculous things we do to find love.” Each of the three episodes made available for review focused on one particular couple at a bar on one particular evening. The first highlighted couple are Tom (Blake Lee) and Maya (Ginger Gonzaga). Tom is the emotional male that we’ve seen on sitcoms before—recently broken-hearted and spending time with his male colleagues— while Maya is a more cold-hearted woman. She only dates professional athletes because they symbolize the masculine ideal and yet, website like this
they too eventually become emotional wimps emasculated by her demanding personality. Tom and Maya don’t immediately hit it off but their charming banter keeps them both in the conversation. Their friends and fellow bar patrons take the back seat in the pilot episode only to have the spotlight shone on them later. The second episode for instance focuses predominantly on the budding relationship between the risk-averse Liv (Kate Simses)—  a friend of Maya’s— and Ron (Adam Campbell), a charming British fellow who claims to have lost all of his millions that morning. As the series continues, supporting characters from previous episodes take on larger roles and the program presents the individuals in different environments (in episode three, for instance, Tom tries his luck at being a wing-man for his two buddies). The first episode, admittedly, has its shortcomings. From the crass sex talk to Ron’s introduction (which involves him throwing up in a stranger’s purse), it starts off on the wrong footing but eventually finds the right tone. One of its greatest assets are the flashbacks it uses to brilliant effect. Instead of simply introducing a character at the bar, the narrator (whomever it may be in that particular episode) talks about that character’s upbringing and why they became who they are. But the show has a unique quality to it that hopefully keeps the audience coming back. Even if a character may seem like a one-dimensional “bro” in episode one, episode three could present a different side of him. And three episodes in, I’m already looking forward to the episodes that explore these characters more. For some people, the characters may seem a bit superficial but the more I watched the show, the more I enjoyed its humorous dialogue— “Heroes always break the rules. Didn’t you see Ratatouille?“— and the ways that it explored its characters. I’m not sure how the show can continue if its focus is to remain on one bar on one particular evening but I’m intrigued by the characters and hope to see the writers flesh out the premise even more in the weeks to come. The first taste of Mixology may leave a bitter taste in your mouth but after a few more sips, it turns out that this “mixed drink” is worth staying up for.
“When life gives you a second chance, unhealthy
you’ve got to take it full-on.” So states Caleb Richards (Sam Hazeldine), information pills
one of the characters who “returns” from the dead on the new ABC drama, sick
Resurrection. Based on the Jason Mott book The Returned, the show revolves around a small town where the deceased from years previous seem to be arriving back in town— unaged — and looking to continue their lives where they left off.

Omar Epps stars as J. Martin Bellamy, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) officer who stumbles upon the situation when a mysterious youngster named Jacob (Landon Gimenez) arrives in the United States. Jacob just woke up in a field in China but doesn’t know how he got there. Nor does he know where he spent the last 32 years. He knows, however, that his home is in Aurora, Missouri, and that’s where officer Bellamy drives him.

What happens next drives the show in the two episodes released for review. The townspeople react to the return of Jacob— unsure what to think. Jacob had died and was buried decades earlier. They all know that. But they also know that this stranger in their midst looks and acts like Jacob did. Of course, the reactions to Jacob’s return vary— from his mother Lucille’s (Frances Fisher) warm embrace of her long-lost son to Jacob’s best friend’s (Mark Hildreth) hesitancy about resuming the relationship— and the show captures how different people would be affected by this odd situation.

What the shows doesn’t capture though are compelling characters audiences can care about. The premise is intriguing enough and the disparate reactions are well thought-out but the characters themselves leave much to be desired. Agent Bellamy is a bland leading man whose major role here is surprising, considering his low-level position at I.C.E. It’s also surprising that despite this odd situation, no one has yet called in the media or the F.B.I. Bellamy seems hesitant to but one would think the suspicious neighbors would quickly get them involved.

Like Lost, the show has a intriguing premise. The mysteries here are clear and well-defined and build off one another. Where did Jacob go for 32 years and why has he appeared  once again? Are deceased individuals appearing in other towns as well?  Why did Jacob go into convulsions shortly after returning to his house and why hasn’t he aged a day? Who is buried in his tomb?

All of these questions are great ones and I can’t wait for the answers.

Unfortunately, though, a program can not survive on questions alone. It needs strong characters and great dialogue to keep viewers coming back and that’s where Resurrection fails. It’s hard to really like any of these characters because they are so vanilla and simplistic. Whereas Lost featured great characters whose back stories added to the proceedings, no one on this new drama stands out and compels viewers to return time and again to see the mysteries unfold. Despite its unique premise, Resurrection lacks the life that brought Jacob and characters like him back into the world.

Review by: John Hanlon