Mr Robot – Season Two Premiere

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This is an intriguing show, and the effort by director and show-creator Sam Esmail is nothing to turn your nose at. Most series have a team of writers, directors, show-runners and executives to assist in the production. Esmail has single-handedly written and directed every episode of the show – that’s borderline insane.

At the same time, the show is – in my opinion – on shaky ground. It’s a long-form version of ‘Fight Club.’ It’s a narrative with a malcontent protagonist who uses his intellect to try and cripple the global financial system. He has disossiative personality disorder – with elements of schizophrenia sprinkled-in for flavor – just like the nameless protagonist of ‘Fight Club.’ Their taget? Credit card companies and banking systems, with a specific goal to create global financial chaos.

These kinds of stories are played out. The notion of multiple personalities has been thoroughly debunked by the psychological community, which injures ‘Mr Robot’ at its premise; we, the audience, have to take a leap. And so far, the show has been reasonably convincing in it’s portrayal or this disorder, engaging in its narrative, and fun to watch. Elliot isn’t just preternaturally intelligent, but he’s mentally ill and he suffers from substance abuse – all of these things work to sell the notion that he communicates with an imagined dead father. In season two, after kicking his drug habit, the whole idea is starting to feel flimsy.

Esmail and Co. are going to have to work harder to sell this character and keep the show as interesting as it was in season one. Right now it appears to be riding on a razor’s edge – it isn’t too cliched and campy to not enjoy, but it’s structure is becoming predictable and it’s characters too wooden and archetypal.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

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Remembering Harold Ramis

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A little over two years ago news came that a beloved creative personality had passed away. Harold Ramis, widely known as Egon Spengler from “Ghostbusters,” was also an insanely talented writer, a renowned director, and all-around decent human being. His works have undeniably influenced an entire generation of filmmakers, writers, and comedians.

One of the original writers for “Animal House,” his other writing credits include “Stripes,” “Caddyshack,” “National Lampoons: Vacation,” among many, many others. His particular talent revolved around sophomoric, slapstick comedy with an undercurrent moral and social philosophy. His work is known for critiquing “the smugness of institutional life,” a theme exquisitely expressed in his ultimately pleasant, non-fatalistic narrative in “Groundhog Day,” which has since achieved a cult status.

With such a pedigree behind the original “Ghostbusters,” it’s no wonder the May 3rd release of the new “Ghostbusters” trailer – a reboot project with an all-female cast – has been met with intense criticism. The original film was such a monumental, immortal hit (in part due to the genius of Harold Ramis), the deck was already stacked. The cast and crew of the upcoming release have terribly large shoes to fill; it may prove to be an impossibility.

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