Red Band Society – The Pilot

red-band-society.jpg-618x400The entire cast.

Red Band Society tells stories about a group of teenagers, who are all patients in a Los Angeles based pediatric hospital. They live, study, and love in the sterile halls of medicine. The first episode doesn’t shy away from the fact that is actually the first episode. It can be watched like an instructional manual about the main cast, a who is who, and also a why are the individual characters in the hospital to begin with. For easy reference names pop on the screen, just so we, the audience, won’t get confused.

With the handy TV trick of a voice-over (very Meredith Grey-esque) throughout the episode the audience becomes familiar with the important faces and their relationships. Interestingly enough, the snarky VO is done by Coma Boy, aka Charlie (Griffin Gluck, Private Practice), a patient who has been in a coma for a while now, and who can communicate with his fellow Society members when they are also in an unconscious state of mind – passed out or under anesthesia.

The story of the first episode begins with the start of Nurse Jackson‘s (Octavia Spencer) shift at the hospital. Her coffee cup has Scary Bitch written on it, letting the audience know that she is not one to mess with. Obviously throughout the episode we come to realize that while her hard shell gets her through the day, she is actually quite a nice person because she cares about her patients.

Jordi (Nolan Sotillo), a 14 year old boy, sneaks his way into an appointment with Dr. McAndrew (Dave Annable, Brothers and Sisters), one of the best surgeons in the country. He has oscio sarcoma, and was diagnosed by his doctor in Mexico, where he lives since his mother passed away a year ago. He needs to get his leg amputated, and, if necessary, receive chemo therapy afterwards. McAndrew is reluctant to admit the patient, but Jordi charms his way into a hospital bed and a surgery appointment the next morning.

He becomes the roommate of Leo (Charlie Rowe), a longtime patient at the hospital – at least his amazingly, angsty-ridden room decoration points towards it. His leg also had been amputated due to cancer, and he is not happy about becoming Jordi’s go-to legless person. But obviously he accepts Jordi and introduces him to the life in hospital with his best bud Dash (Astro), who has Cystic Fibrosis. Emma (Ciara Bravo), an eating disorder patient and extremely smart girl, rounds out the regular trio. She and Leo have this thing going on between the two of them. But right now, it seems to more fun to tease each other and make each other jealous.

And boy, is there a reason to get jealous. Kara (Zoe Levin), an extremely bitch cheerleader, gets admitted to the hospital after she passes out at practice. Turns out, she has an enlarged heart, and needs a transplant. Hearts are rare to come by, but if you snort and inject any possible drug on the market – like Kara does – it puts you at the bottom of the donor list, meaning that her stay will be a long one.

Leo and Dash want throw a small party for Jordi on the roof to celebrate Jordi’s last night with both of his legs. The five heroes come together and Leo hands out red hospital bands. And thus the Society is born. It is this promise to stick together, in this strange, strange world.

The last scene of the episode is beautiful, and a tiny bit of a tear jerker. Jordi is pushed in his bed to his operation. Half-way there he gets up and runs one last time through the halls of the place that will become his home for an unforeseen time.

red2 McAndrew and Jordi on the way to the OR

Five hormonal teenagers, navigating not only their illnesses but also normal teenager life – essentially, drama will ensue. The first episode was cute, a little bit cliche, a little bit too much on the quirky side. I am curious how they are going to delve into the different characters’ story lines, because every one of them has tons secrets. I hope they are not going to persist on the cliche characteristics of Nurse Jackson, the scary bitch, and of McAndrew, the handsome doctor. We don’t know much about them yet, but I hope that is going to change as well. The show relies heavily on music to clearly indicate to the audience how they are supposed to feel. Thanks for that. Now, change it to being less obvious.

As a side note, a question came up as I was watching the pilot. The only parents we see in the show are Kara’s, who have to learn from a doctor what her daughter has been doing to her body. Where are all the other parents? Most importantly, Jordi might not have a mother anymore, but he has guardians watching over him. How did he, a teenager, make it all the way to L.A. from Mexico without going noticed? How can a doctor just admit a minor and schedule surgery without talking to someone in charge? Maybe I am just to picky when it comes to obvious things.

Never judge a TV show by its pilot. So much is going to change in the first few weeks. So far, this episode -like any other pilot – was a set-up for more to come. I am definitely curious, and will watch the show, once it premiers on FOX, September 17.

Check out the trailer below.

 

 

Quick Announcement

Howdy. To anyone who is reading this, or has read in the past, to all the beautiful 30 people who currently subscribe to this barely alive piece of somethingness. I am back. I have ideas, desires, and wishes for this blog. And if I don’t start writing more, I might go craycray. In the future you will find current topics I am interested in (which I so generously categorized as “Rants”), but also per-dominantley articles about my rather humble passion, TV shows that is. I will write, argue, scrutinize. And from time to time or on a weekly basis you will find recaps of news shows and current ones.

This is why I started this blog, and somehow I managed to get side-tracked while doing so. Cheers.

 

Snowpiercer

Even though I have stopped obsessively reviewing every single movie I watch, once in a while I have to whip out my old bag of skills, and let you, the reader, know what genius graces your theater screens.

Based on the French graphic novel series “Le Transperceneige” this South Korean- American production directed by Bong Joon-ho depicts the story of a rather grim future for human kind.

The basic plot goes as such: In 2014 in order to counteract Global Warming a chemical, CW-7, is released into the atmosphere. The experiment goes horrible wrong, and everything on earth freezes and goes extinct. Living outside is impossible, unless freezing to death is a viable option for anyone.

Only a few “fortunate” people receive tickets for an eternal train, the Snowpiercer. The train’s engine runs constantly and leads this massive train around the world. As later explained in the movie, the population on the train is its own small eco-system and the last living thing on earth.

The train is divided into sections, creating a harsh class system. The higher class people live in the front of the train – close to the engine – enjoying amenities such as spas, night clubs, restaurants, shops, and education. The tail of the train is filled with the lower class people, who have to live in the dark surrounded by filth and sustained on “protein”-bar blocks, which looks like goo.

The main plot line in the movie starts 17 years after boarding the train (2031), and is essentially the “Curtis-Revolution” lead by Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) a citizen of the tail end. The one who is in charge of the ever-running engine is in charge of train. Curtis wants to right the wrongs and help his people to a better – more balanced – life. With the help of his fellow people the revolutionists start their journey through the train taking section by section to eventually reach the engine, and obviously take charge.

They face obstacles in form of overseers and police officers sent to crush the revolution. The movie portrays one of the most beautifully orchestrated slaughter fests I have¬† seen in a film to date. The movie doesn’t shy away from gore. Friends, comrades are lost on the way. And the group of heroes shrinks with every cart they take.

There is no reason for me to spoil any more of the story. It took a while for the movie to be released here in the United States, but I am glad that 2 years after making it, we are finally able to enjoy it. This isn’t a feel good story. It is not a story about a bad situation becoming good. There are no good guys, or bad guys. Everybody has their baggage, and the train – especially the beginnings of the never ending journey- had brought out the worst in many.

It is a fascinating concept. The train, while a rescue from the deadly cold, is also simultaneously a gigantic coffin. There is no escape, there is no advancement. There is an upper rank deciding what is going to happen, and what isn’t. The movie depicts the human condition in its rawest form. It questions decisions and assumption people have about class, rank, and order. It shows the worst and the best of human kind in an exaggerated measure. Many of the scenes in the upper class sections have an aura of a Wes Anderson movie, especially when it comes to lighting, costumes and set design.

The cast in this rather underdog film is astonishing. As previously mentioned, the protagonist of the story is played by Captain America himself, joined by Ed Harris, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, ballet boy Jamie Bell, and Skin’s hero Luke Pasqualino. This ensemble is rounded out by Song Kang-ho and Go Ah-sung, whose performance was fantastic.

This is story is fantasy – or is it? Many questions are left unanswered. But when one stops questioning the technicalities, it all makes perfectly sense. And one needs to remember that it is less about the how, when, and why, but about the status quo on the train.

The reason why I am so fascinated by this movie is simply that the concept is entirely new. So many movies have become predictable, and a surprise is only a dumb cameo. Snowpiercer managed to create this new world, which enamors one entirely.

And if this review doesn’t convince you, please consider EW (Entertainment Weekly) verdict, which defined Snowpiercer as “this summer’s best post-apocalyptic comedy horror fairy-tale”. A perfect summary of what will expect you. My, my, that is quite the title. And it makes you wonder, which movies Snowpiercer had to beat out for the crown.