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ORPHAN BLACK, RICK AND MORTY and SALEM… 2 good TV shows, 1 bad

Posted on July 16th, 2014
Posted on July 16th, 2014

by Coop Cooper

Orphan Black” – Premiering on BBC America last year, “Orphan Black” begins with a career criminal named Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) who witness her exact double committing suicide by jumping in front of a train. Sarah steals the identity of the dead double to rob her bank account, but instead she uncovers a group of clones the double was protecting… and Sarah is one of them. Sarah teams up with her clone sisters to determine where they all came from and why someone is murdering them one by one.

Orphan Black” began its second season this month and only now am I discovering what a superior show it is. Its success is partly due to the twisty storytelling and witty dialogue, but mostly because of Tatiana Maslany’s uncanny ability to play multiple characters and completely disappear into them. Her transformation into each character is so astonishing, she has already won multiple acting awards following the first season.

Orphan Black” might just be the most interesting TV show you’re not watching.


Rick and Morty” – This Cartoon Network (Adult Swim) show takes cues from both “South Park” and “Back to the Future” in which a sociopathic scientists named Rick takes his dimwitted grandson Morty on sci-fi adventures that border on an R-rating.

While this doesn’t sound too original for a mature cartoon – “South Park”, “Family Guy” and others frequently go the raunchy sci-fi comedy route – the writing for this show is exceptionally clever and funny. Not too surprising since Dan Harmon, the creator of the hit NBC comedy show “Community”, created this cartoon and has mined some interesting material to serve as the backdrop for the “Rick and Morty” adventures. The duo go to outer space, alternate dimensions, parallel universes, travel through time and come up with very twisted ways to solve the calamities they get into. Usually these calamities are actually caused by either Rick or Morty themselves due to their inherent selfishness and stupidity.

The show began in December and has quickly become a runaway hit for the Cartoon Network. Although it finished its first season run last week, it has already been picked up for another season. It’s a must-see for sci-fi and comedy fans. Reruns of the current season can be seen on Adultswim.com.


Salem” – To my knowledge this is the WGN’s first original series and boy is it a massive misfire.

The show cribs directly from Arthur Miller’s infamous play “The Crucible”, most notably with characters named after ones from the play, such as John, Mary, Abigail, Hale and the slave Tituba. Although instead of paying homage to “The Crucible”, which denounced witchcraft as a farce used to settle petty grievances, “Salem” does Miller a large disservice by making the witchcraft a cartoonishly real device that attempts to illicit supernatural scares. It’s almost as if the creators of the show missed the entire point of “The Crucible” and said, “Hey, I know how to improve on ‘The Crucible’, let’s eliminate all of the political subtext and make the witchcraft REAL!” It’s kind of like when Hollywood decided to do that adaptation of “The Scarlet Letter” with Demi Moore and give it an upbeat ending. That’s the literary equivalent of heresy.

Although it contains a few horrific scenes, the show overall is cheesy, poorly-written. It also throws a bit of gratuitous sex and nudity which seems disingenuous considering the show’s lazy lack of hubris. Then there’s the matter of the blood-drinking frog stuck in a man’s throat… both of which are pets of the lead witch… You read that correctly.

The show tries desperately to imitate the “American Horror Story” series, but I suspect even fans of that silly series would find “Salem” too silly for their tastes. Avoid it unless you feel like you have too many spare brain cells and want to subtract a few.

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Trailer for the award-winning short PRISMA…


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My short film THE BEST DAY premiered in October 2011 at the Delta Cinema in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Little did I know I had a special guest in the audience who was about to ask me a question during the Q&A. Yep, I got a little flustered when I saw who it was.

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