This Memorial Day weekend I had the chance to view a an eclectic assortment of shows - the Star Trek movie, The Tempest at Steppenwolf, and the Jon & Kate Plus 8 season premier. Here are my reviews of each.
Friday night: Star Trek - An intergalactic roller coaster ride chock full of hotties & humor
This action-packed romp through space and time is pure fun, fun, fun! The special effects were great and I appreciated the treasured Trekkie "beam me up" and "warp speed" references, but the best part was discovering each member of the Enterprise crew as his or her younger self. The new cast is outstanding - Chris Pine is perfect as a brash, charming, daredevil Kirk and young Spock is surprisingly studly. Even the tattooed goth bad-guys were kind of hot. And while whole planets end in destruction, the violence is secondary to the good-natured rollicking cheer of the film.
The only thing I could have done without was Leonard Nimoy's appearance, boy does he look old with his wrinkled pointy ears. And Winona Ryder is strangely cast as Spock's mother. But I'm nitpicking now - just go see it!
Sunday afternoon: The Tempest - Only dozed off once!
I treasure my Steppenwolf season tickets, but I wasn't dying to see this show. Shakespeare's archaic language, twisted story lines and longwinded speechifying often leave me snoozing in my seat. And I wasn't encouraged by the barren and gray Steppenwolf stage. "Where's the set?" I whispered to my friend Mary, stifling a yawn. Then - kaboom! I was in the midst of a hideous storm.
The opening shipwreck scene was brilliant - something right out of Cirque de Soleil - with sailors dangling precariously from swaying rope ladders above our heads. I sat on the edge of my seat, heart pounding. This was no boring musty classic here. Things proceeded at a relatively brisk pace. Led by Frank Galati as Prospero, the talented cast interpreted the cumbersome language in a way that I actually got what was going on. And with the political intrique, magic spirits, love-at-first-sight, and slavery-bondage themes, there was something for everybody. I admit I did nod off a bit in the first act. But overall, it was a provocotive and cool show.
Sunday evening: Jon & Kate Plus 8 Season Premier - Compellingly cringe-worthy
My sixth-grade daughter loves this show, but all those screaming little kids and sniping parents stress me out. Still, I couldn't resist watching the season five premier last night. The sextuplets were celebrating their 5th birthdays, but the real action was watching Jon and Kate deal with the tabloid reports that they've cheated on each other.
I have one word to sum up their interactions - awkward! Kate is so pissed she can't even bring herself to say her husband's name and Jon slumps around like a sulky teenager. Obviously the strain of living their lives and bringing up eight kids on TV has taken it's toll. But it's so bizarre that they would continue to play out their private difficulties in public. It made me sick, and I think the exploitative producers should be ashamed of themselves. Of course, last night's episode got probably got the shows highest ratings ever.
Okay, that's my round-up. What are you watching these days?