The Confession (Hulu)

Created by and starring Kiefer Sutherland, The Confession is a story of unique redemption and an exploration of good and evil featuring a hit man (Kiefer Sutherland), and a priest (John Hurt). The story begins on Christmas Eve, when the hit-man enters a church to confess his sins to the priest. Through a series of gripping flashbacks, the Confessor’s journey is revealed – laying out what has brought him to this moment and leading the audience to the dramatic ending where the man’s chances at ultimate redemption hang in the balance. While at first the Confessor seems to be an evil, cold-blooded killing machine and the Priest the ultimate arbiter of good, as the series develops it becomes clear that both characters are much more complicated than either could have suspected. – Hulu

9 out of 10

NOTE: As an added bonus, all links to shows and films in this review link to the actual shows and films on YouTube or Netflix.  Enjoy!

Last month we told you about the new, ten-part web series called The Confession starring Golden Globe and Emmy Award Winning Kiefer Sutherland (24, The Sentinel) and two-time Academy Award nominee, John Hurt (The Elephant Man, Midnight Express) in which a hitman (Sutherland) in a confessional has a metaphysical (it’s defnitely more metaphysical than theological, despite the show description) debate with a priest (Hurt) about right and wrong, good and evil, faith and doubt and the existence of God.  We had high hopes for this because it looked just so damned juicy and of course, simply look at the players involved.  How can one not be excited?

An Evil Jack Bauer? Fascinating...

The Confession has completely exceeded our expectations as far as suspense, intrigue and production values are concerned.  “The Hitman” (that’s the actual name of Sutherland’s character as Hurt’s is “The Priest.”) is literally the Jack Bauer from the alternate universe form the original Star Trek episode, Mirror, Mirror.  It’s as if Jack Bauer had two choices in life: go work for the government and use his particular brand of emotionless professionalism to protect his country and kill bad guys or become a dispassionate sociopath who works in organized crimes and kills random people for a living.  This Jack Bauer chose the latter.  I really can’t emphasize enough just how similar the two characters are so if you ever wondered how Bauer would be as a villain, here he is.

But, holy crap does this work.  The Hitman is cold, calculating and half of the adventure is just trying to figure out what his ulterior motive is, because we know he has one.  He wants to understand faith, but that’s not all, and we learn about his life through a series of flashbacks, each more contradictory than the last.  Hurt is brilliant in playing the role of the parish priest who starts out this conversation out of fear for his life and the lives of his parishioners but eventually it’s clear that The Priest is as fascinated with how this man became who he is and if he can help in find redemption.  It also becomes quite clear that The Priest is no more what he seems to be on the surface than The Hitman is. This Yin and Yang back and forth is beyond compelling.  Simply imagine if Jesus and Lucifer sat down in a coffee shop and had a conversation and Jesus is trying to convince Lucifer to come home.  It is simply amazing how good this series is at captivating its audience for eight minutes at a time, once per week.

And this is the only thing we hate about this show and we took a point off because of it.  We want more.   Playing out more like a full length feature film shown in segments, this eight minutes at a time business is just not cutting it and then after the eight minutes is up, we have to wait another week?  The upside is that we waited for the first seven episodes to air before we watched it so we got to see them back-to-back.  The downside is that we still have three more episodes to go and we may pull our hair out in between episodes.  We hope when this is released on Blu-Ray that they’ll combine the ten parts into one episode.

With Emmy Award winning Sean Callery (24) providing the soundtrack to put the cherry on top, The Confession is one show that you can’t miss and we believe it’s going to revolutionize the concept of episodic dramatic television.  We just hope that the next series like this on the Interwebs gets some major financing and actually gives us full 45 minute episodes.  Note to the networks: if it’s as good as this we will watch the flippin’ commercials!

Watch full length episodes of The Confession, here, but be warned; you’ll wish you had waited until all of the episodes had aired so you could watch them in sequence with no gaps.

TV SCOOP! ‘Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome’ Preliminary Concept Art Released!

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This isn't one of the pics released, we just found it on the Internets, thought it was cool and created a title for it.

***UPDATE: DOUG DREXLER HAS CONFIRMED WITH THE THE ‘TASTIC TODAY THAT HE IS ATTACHED TO THE BLOOD & CHROME PROJECT AS WELL***

“Happy New Year Shawn! Yes! [VFX Supervisor]Gary [Hutzel] drags my bleeding corpse with him everywhere he goes!”

Check out Doug’s blog at the Drexfiles, right here on WordPress.  LOTS of fun stuff there.

Well, Battlestar Galactica fans, it looks like the highly anticipated prequel, Blood & Chrome is quickly becoming a reality.  Last month, we reported to you in our Caprica post-mortem that the pilot for the series had been green-lit and what the premise was.  Blastr.com has obtained exclusive concept art from the show’s producers (scroll down to the bottom for the slideshow) and the word is that principle shooting is to begin in late January, 2011.

Galactica SITREP did a brief interview with writer and executive producer, Michael Taylor who provides a bit of insight into these images and into the pilot:

“Those pics were just the first of the many concept art sketches we’ve been creating. They don’t necessarily reflect any particular incidents in the script; as “concept” drawings they’re helping us flesh out the new world of Blood & Chrome. And it is a new world, one that owes much to the BSG series of the past but at the same time uses CGI to open up that world in ways that we hope fans will find fresh and exciting.

As for the show’s status, SyFy has officially green-lit a two-hour pilot, and we have begun pre-production, with filming expected to begin at the end of January, or very shortly thereafter. This is the fun part for me: seeing the script take tangible shape (or “virtually tangible” shape, since practically all of the pilot will be shot on green screen) as our director (Jonas Pate), DP (Lukas Ettlin), VFX supervisor (Gary Hutzel) and a host of artists — and of course the cast that we’ll soon be gathering — bring it to life.”

We have just a few observations about this latest news:

First, it seems to us that all of this is coming together amazingly quick which means either one of two things:  SyFy is incredibly eager to wash the taste of Caprica out of its mouth and breathe life back into the most successful franchise in its history or this is a lot of wishful thinking on the producers’ part as to how fast this is all coming together.

We’d like to hope it’s the former, but this whole process seems to be going at FTL speed for us.  Goodness, the project just got green-lit it in November and the casting hasn’t even been made public on IMDb.  Then again, this is Hollywood and if, as Taylor notes, virtually all of the two-hour pilot will be shot on green-screen then you don’t have to do a whole lot as far as set dressing is concerned and we suppose it could be done that quickly.  It’s the post-production and visual effects that will take a lot longer than usual.

Which brings us to another concern, not necessarily a criticism, but a concern nonetheless:  Virtually all of the two-hour pilot is going to be shot on green screen?  Really? Are we talking Phantom Menace here?  One of the more appealing aspects of BSG was the ability to effectively mix practical sets with digital elements to the point where it was generally seamless (at least in the interior scenes) and it always makes us cringe a little when we hear about such a dramatic shift in production (especially THIS shift because we are very much opposed to the over-reliance on CG) to a franchise known for high-quality visual effects.  That being said, Gary Hutzel is in charge of visual effects again and he is a master at combining practical filming and CG effectively (see: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and, of course, Battlestar Galactica).  So, at this point we will remain less skeptical than we normally would be.

We also need to correct the Blastr.com piece we alluded to earlier.  Despite what the piece says, Blood & Chrome will not be a “two-hour pilot movie,” it will simply be a two-hour pilot episode.  The distinction needs to be made because calling it a “movie” implies by its nature that it is a “backdoor  pilot.”  A “backdoor pilot” is a made for television movie that is produced with the intention of the movie acting as a pilot episode for a potential series but is written as a standalone, self-contained story if the series isn’t picked up.  This is an important distinction because if the indications were that a project was to be a “movie,”that would mean that the network would be waiting to see how the “movie” does in the ratings before ordering episodes for the series.  That means that if it doesn’t do well in the ratings, you’ll never see a regular series episode.  If it does do well, however, it will be several months before you’ll see new episodes.

If, on the other hand, a show is planned as a conventional pilot, that means that the network heads will watch the pilot, decide if it’s good enough to order additional episodes, and then proceed from that point.  They will then air the two-hour pilot episode and shortly thereafter, air the new series episodes.  If the network heads don’t like the pilot, don’t worry about the series being canceled because you’ll never even see the pilot.  There has been absolutely no indication whatsoever that the two-hour pilot for Blood & Chrome is anything but a two-hour pilot episode and in this case that’s absolutely a good thing.  SyFy isn’t going to wait around to see how the pilot does in the ratings when they already have the established BSG audience built-in, just as they did with Caprica, so if it airs (which we are sure it will) expect that the series will follow.

Yes, we are certainly aware that Blastr.com is a SyFy Channel project, but they got this wrong and it happened for one of two reasons:

1. It was completely intentional in order to hype the pilot. This is a well-known practice in genre.  The Star Trek franchise was notorious for calling two-hour episodes “movies” or “movie-events” in the mid-to-late 90’s and in more recent years, 24 did the same thing with their two-hour episode Redemption, and in fact, they are still clinging to this notion that Redemption is a “film.”  Nah… it was just the season seven primer that aired two months prior to the season premiere to make up for the fact that the series had gone 18 months without an original episode because of the writer’s strike and they wanted to spark interest in it again.  So, again, this practice isn’t unheard of, but it’s misleading for the average audience who thinks that “movie” implies that they will be watching an original feature film on basic cable.

2.  It was just a mistake, typical of an over-exuberant blogger. We freely admit that we’ve made similar mistakes based on our excitement for a particular project.  Simply look at our rating of The Event for evidence of that.  Blastr.com is a professional site but it’s still a blog.

Finally, we are very excited about the choices in writers for Blood & Chrome if what’s reported on IMDb is accurate.  Ignore the references to Ron Moore because he has nothing to do with the new series (and we doubt Glen Larson does either), he’s simply listed as the developer as a courtesy and because he is responsible for developing the franchise and tacking his name onto the project gives it credibility.

On the other side of the coin, though, it is being Executive Produced by David Eick (and that is confirmed, it’s not just a courtesy title) and Michael Taylor as well as being written by Taylor, David Weddle, and Bradley Thompson.  This trifecta of writers was not only part of the major core of writers for BSG but they are also responsible for some of the absolute best episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as well, which has been hailed by critics as the best series of that franchise, and it revolved around an intergalactic war so these gentlemen certainly have credentials in that department.

The ‘Tastic will keep you up to date as we find out more about Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome.

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