Tag Archives: Hulu Plus

Holy smoke! Delightful Rev. is back with new episodes

'Rev.' returns to Hulu and Hulu Plus.

Inner-city vicar Adam Smallbone (Tom Hollander, second from right) faces challenges from both church officials as well as his fussy lay reader, Nigel (Miles Jupp, far right) in Season 3 of ‘Rev.,’ which begins streaming Sunday on Hulu and Hulu Plus.

It’s been nearly two years since U.S. audiences have enjoyed new episodes of Rev., the hilarious, award-winning Britcom starring the fantastic Tom Hollander as a stressed-out vicar trying to keep his struggling church afloat in inner-city East London.
That extended hiatus wasn’t due to any quality concerns at its home channel in the UK (BBC2), where Rev. is revered as the highest-rated comedy series (it’s also carried in more than 140 channels worldwide). No, we haven’t seen Rev. for awhile simply because Hollander, its executive producer, co-creator and co-writer as well as star, is simply one of the busiest British actors working today, as is his leading lady, Olivia Colman, who was David Tennant’s detective partner in the shattering murder mystery Broadchurch.
As Rev. belatedly returns with six new episodes Sunday on Hulu Plus, time clearly hasn’t stood still in the neighborhood surrounding St. Saviour in the Marshes. For one thing, at the tiny vicarage, the Rev. Adam Smallbone (Hollander) and his patient wife, Alex (Colman), have welcomed their first child, daughter Katie, now approaching her first birthday (we see the frenzied circumstances of Katie’s birth in the opening moments of the season premiere).
What that means, most pertinently, is that Adam and Alex are dealing with the same stresses they’ve endured before, only with exponentially less sleep, especially now that Katie is going through a bout of explosive diarrhea. “Perhaps Satan is in charge of her bottom because you haven’t baptized her yet,” offers Archdeacon Robert (Simon McBurney) during one of his frequent visits to remind Adam that the size of both his congregation and his church coffers is a matter of growing concern among church officials.
In fact, two such officials – Area Dean Jill Mallory and Diocesan Secretary Geri Tennison (Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine, respectively, both of the Britcom Getting On) – also have stopped by to remind Adam passive-aggressively that, with the larger neighborhood now experiencing a sharp decline in its Christian populations as more Muslim residents move in, some old, high-maintenance churches such as St. Saviour may have to be shuttered.
That motivates Adam to collaborate with local Imam Yussef Hasan (guest star Kayvan Novak) on a fund-raiser to renovate a rusty and dog poo-choked playground in the season premiere. The event is a rousing success, although Adam and his flock are able to contribute only an embarrassingly tiny portion.
Episode two finds Adam on the horns of a different dilemma when two close gay friends of his ask him to officiate at their wedding. That being a no-no for the Church of England, Adam offers instead to lead a prayer for them at the regular Wednesday Eucharist gathering, but that event quickly spirals out of control.
Also returning to their occasional guest roles this season are Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) as cleric and motivational speaker Roland Wise and Ralph Fiennes as the Bishop of London.
Rev. is the kind of rich, character-driven comedy that rewards faithful viewing, so if you are joining the series in progress, be sure to take advantage of the fact that Hulu Plus is streaming Seasons 1 and 2 as well. Hollander recently has said that he’s not sure whether he’s up for a fourth season as Adam Smallbone, so by all means enjoy the myriad delights of Rev. while you can.
Olivia Colman in 'Rev.'

Vicar’s wife Alex Smallbone (Olivia Colman) unexpectedly goes into labor while her husband is officiating at a wedding in the season premiere of ‘Rev.’ on Hulu.

Moone Boy continues to shine in Season 2

David Rawle and Chris O'Dowd star in 'Moone Boy' on Hulu Plus.

Martin Moone (David Rawle, left) and his imaginary companion, Sean Murphy (Chris O’Dowd), attempt to escape a dreary family vacation in the Season 2 premiere of ‘Moone Boy,’ now streaming on Hulu Plus.

Moone Boy, actor Chris O’Dowd’s funny and whimsical family comedy series based in part on his own childhood in Ireland, was one of the most delightful surprises of last season when it premiered Stateside on Hulu Plus. Those first six episodes introduced us to the title character, Martin Moone (David Rawle), a pre-teen daydreamer who escapes from his large and dysfunctional family by palling around with Sean Murphy (O’Dowd), Martin’s grown-up and completely imaginary friend.
Now Hulu Plus has begun streaming the second season of Moone Boy, and these new episodes are, by and large, every bit as enjoyable as the first batch. If that comment sounds a little qualified, that’s only because the Season 2 premiere, about a 1990 Moone family road trip from their tiny village of Boyle to Donegal, is unusually heavy in Irish-specific references and personalities as it deals with issues of national pride and cultural identity – or “flag-ism,” as two characters call it.
The problem is, many of these jokes will go over the heads of U.S. viewers (at least, they did in my case), although there are still a few funny bits that don’t get lost in translation.
Starting with episode two, however, we’re back on far more universal footing as we pick up one of this season’s main storylines: Martin is starting his village’s equivalent of high school, with its far more challenging social hurdles. Also, Martin’s adolescent hormones are starting to kick in, especially once he meets his bohemian new art teacher, Miss Tivnan (Amy Huberman) (“She smells like glue and chardonnay,” Sean Murphy sighs in Martin’s ear). In the episodes that follow, Martin also will land his first girlfriend in the form of Majella (Jessica Barrett), a pretty new classmate who is part of a band of travelers now squatting in the empty field adjacent to the Moone home.
The other ongoing Moone Boy story line for the new season involves Martin’s oldest sister, Fidelma (Clare Monnelly), now pregnant by her boyfriend Desmond “Dessie” Joseph Mary Dolan (Ronan Raftery), and that couple’s bumpy road to the altar, climaxing with a nuptial ceremony that inadvertently turns into an episode of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
It’s all perfectly charming and heartwarming, without turning sappy, thanks in no small part to the very fine writing (some of it by O’Dowd, who also is an executive producer on Moone Boy).
From this season's second episode of 'Moone Boy.'

With ill-advised confidence, Martin tries to recreate a classic move from ‘Dirty Dancing’ with Sean Murphy — who is invisible to everyone else — at a high-school dance in ‘Moone Boy.’

For fans who can’t get enough of this endearing Irish actor, Hulu Plus also has begun streaming the series finale of one of his earlier Britcom hits, The I.T. Crowd, which wrapped up its U.K. run last fall. This very funny comedy stars O’Dowd and Richard Ayoade as, respectively, Roy Trenneman and Maurice Moss, a pair of gifted but socially inept computer geeks who slave away in the basement of a London corporation. Their boss is Jen Barber (Katherine Parkinson), who is constantly bluffing her way through her job since, well, she knows absolutely nothing about computers. In fact, in one fan-favorite episode of The I.T. Crowd, Roy and Moss convince Jen that a small metal box they give her is, in fact, the Internet. The entire Internet. All of it.
That’s one of the many jokes during the run of The I.T. Crowd that gets a callback in the hour-long finale, which also finds both Roy and Jen plagued by a series of personal image disasters that turns them into social pariahs.
If you don’t know The I.T. Crowd but would like to, happily Hulu Plus currently is streaming the entire series. Frankly, if you don’t watch those earlier episodes before tuning into the newly available series finale, you’re going to miss nearly all of the very funny jokes that reference past moments in the show.
In any case, both Moone Boy and The I.T. Crowd make it abundantly clear why O’Dowd, currently starring on Broadway with James Franco in Of Mice and Men, is one of the busiest actors in the world today.
The series finale of "The I.T. Crowd."

Roy (Chris O’Dowd) and Jen (Katherine Parkinson) grimly watch online as a couple of misinterpreted viral videos turn them into social pariahs in the series finale of “The I.T. Crowd.”

Tyler Labine fans may enjoy his new Deadbeat

'Deadbeat' on Hulu Plus.

Tyler Labine (‘Reaper’) and Cat Deeley (‘So You Think You Can Dance’) star as rival mediums in ‘Deadbeat,’ a supernatural comedy now streaming exclusively on Hulu Plus.

Canadian-born actor Tyler Labine has been acting for more than two decades, but the first time I really noticed him was in Shaun Cassidy’s provocative yet prematurely canceled 2005-06 sci-fi series Invasion. I became a big Labine fan while enjoying his hilarious work in the 2007-09 CW series Reaper, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer-style supernatural comedy that found Labine and a buddy trying to outwit Satan himself (Ray Wise). Later, he held his own opposite the dazzling Judy Greer (Archer) in the shortlived 2011 CBS romantic comedy Mad Love.
Now Labine is back in Reaper mode (sort of) in Deadbeat, a new supernatural comedy that began streaming its first 10-episode season Wednesday exclusively on Hulu Plus. The show casts Labine as sad-sack New Yorker Kevin Pacalioglu (pronounced “pack-a-lee-OH-glu,” but just call him “Pac” like everyone else does). Pac is pretty much a slacker who is down on his luck. He has no family to speak of, it’s been eight years since he got lucky with a woman and his only friend is his drug dealer, Rufus “Roofie” Jones (Brandon T. Jackson from the Percy Jackson teen movie series).
Pac’s sole marketable skill is that he sees dead people. He’s a genuine medium, who is compassionate enough to take time to help restless souls wrap up the unfinished business that ties them to the mortal world. Unfortunately, he’s absolutely terrible when it comes to negotiating for his services, so he lives on the brink of financial disaster.
Pac doesn’t call a lot of attention to himself, but he still catches the eye of Camomile White (Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance), a beautiful clairvoyant whose sunny smile and camera-friendly personality conceal the fact that she’s a shameless fraud preying on the grief and superstition of others. Over the course of Season 1, Pac helplessly finds himself attracted to Camomile, who sees him only as a rival and a threat to her career.
It’s a fairly interesting set-up, but I’m not going to kid you, the first few episodes of Deadbeat are fairly deadly, playing like something that was dashed off by the writers at the end of a long night of drinking. When we first meet him, Pac is hard to root for, even as played by Labine. He’s a depressed mess, not to mention apparently an idiot who mangles even very common words and phrases (he actually pronounces “hymn” as “hymen”). The jokes are nothing special, either.
Weirdly, the second half of the season – starting with episode six, a Halloween-themed story that finds an interesting twist on the scary Bloody Mary urban legend – seems like a different show altogether. Pac stops acting quite so mentally disabled and the ghosts he meets are more interesting and start to connect in a meaningful way with Pac’s own journey. By the time we get to the end of the season, when we see Labine reunited with his old Reaper castmate Wise, the writers have taken Pac, Camomile and her mousy assistant, Sue (played by Lucy DeVito, daughter of Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman), to an interesting place and set up the potential for a fairly promising second season, if Hulu orders one.
As noted, though, to get there, you have to slog through some dismal creative flailing by the writers in the early episodes. If you’re a fan of Labine – or, for that matter, Deeley, who actually is very good working in stone-cold-bitch mode – it’s probably worth the effort. Otherwise, you probably can sit this one out.

HBO’s Doll & Em is smart but lightweight

'Doll & Em' premieres tonight on HBO.

Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer (from left) co-created, co-wrote and star in ‘Doll & Em,’ a six-part miniseries premiering tonight on HBO.

Doll & Em, a six-part comedy premiering tonight on HBO, clearly is a labor of love for real-life best friends Emily Mortimer (The Newsroom) and Dolly Wells, the British actresses who co-created and co-wrote the project, as well as starring as “themselves.”
For the rest of us, the miniseries is pretty lightweight, although it explores an interesting question: What happens when someone who fits perfectly into one compartment of your life suddenly intrudes on another, very different part?
Tonight’s premiere opens with Emily attending the Independent Spirit Awards with Bradley Cooper, where she is interrupted by a frantic phone call from London. Dolly, her lifelong best friend, is going to pieces over the implosion of her latest relationship.
A supportive Emily immediately flies Dolly to Los Angeles, where Emily is about to begin work on a high-profile new movie project. Strictly to help her friend, Emily also proposes that Dolly take a temporary job as her assistant, to earn a little money and also be able to spend time with Emily on the set.
It’s a well-intentioned yet disastrous move, because it blurs the relationship lines between them. Dolly is Emily’s best pal and houseguest, yet she’s also her employee. Emily wants to give her grieving chum the attention she so desperately needs and expects, but she’s also about to tackle the most challenging role of her professional career, and she doesn’t need any distractions.
And Dolly is an epic distraction. She’s happy that her gig as Emily’s assistant allows her to tag along to a Hollywood party where Susan Sarandon is among the guests, yet becomes hurt and resentful when she is shunted into a room with a child guest while the A-listers socialize elsewhere. Emily also feels uncomfortable asking Dolly to perform even the most undemanding task, which, God knows, the self-absorbed Dolly would never think about tackling unbidden just because her friend needs help.
Worse, Dolly demonstrates an appalling lack of discretion, blurting out confidences and embarrassing Emily in front of her professional peers.
Over the course of its six half-hour episodes (HBO is airing two per week, over three weeks), Doll & Em charts how the chemistry between the two women starts to change as they try to adjust to their new personal “roles” in each other’s lives. This isn’t really a laugh-out-loud comedy, but rather a character study that arouses sighs and smiles of rueful recognition.
After being stuck in a shrill, poorly written role on HBO’s The Newsroom for two seasons, Mortimer is delightful and engaging playing a fairly sane, non-neurotic woman, although her Emily is subject to the insecurities any actress in Hollywood over 40 would be prone to. When the friendship between the two women ultimately fractures, it’s mostly Dolly’s fault, not because Emily hasn’t tried her best to be supportive.
Wells, who probably will be unfamiliar to most American viewers, has a tougher job of it, because ultimately Dolly is selfish and unsympathetic. This may, in fact, be this actress’s wheelhouse: The only other thing I’ve seen Wells in is the hilarious Britcom Spy (currently streaming on Hulu Plus), in which she starred as the sour, perpetually disapproving ex-wife of Darren Boyd’s title character.
In addition to Sarandon, Chloe Sevigny, John Cusack and Andy Garcia also turn up as themselves, and actor Allesandro Nivola (American Hustle), who is married to Mortimer, serves as producer of Doll & Em.
Chloe Sevigny (right) guest stars with Emily Mortimer in 'Doll & Em,' premiering tonight on HBO.

Chloe Sevigny (right) guest stars with Emily Mortimer in ‘Doll & Em,’ premiering tonight on HBO.

New on Blu-ray: Season One of HBO’s riotously raunchy ‘Veep’

HBO’s sublimely snarky political sitcom Veep returns for an expanded 10-episode second season on April 14, but the wait is over today for fans who want to revisit the critically acclaimed season one, which earned star Julia Louis-Dreyfus her third career Emmy Award for her spectacular performance as embattled U.S. vice president Selina Meyer.
HBO Home Entertainment’s new two-disc Blu-ray set includes all eight episodes of season one, as well as a total of 12 commentary tracks by Louis-Dreyfus (who’s also a producer on the show), series creator Armando Iannucci and other members of the creative team, plus the actors making up Selina’s staff: Anna Chlumsky as Amy, Selina’s chief of staff; Matt Walsh as weary spokesperson Mike; Reid Scott as ruthlessly ambitious political aide Dan; Tony Hale as Selina’s feverishly devoted personal aide, Gary; and Sufe Bradshaw as Sue, Selina’s intimidating executive assistant. Timothy C. Simons also is featured as Jonah, the perpetually irritating and inappropriate young White House liaison.
Even if you don’t generally take time to listen to commentary tracks on sets like this, trust me, you’ll want to check these out. They’re a treasure trove of fascinating and funny background info on all the staggering detail that has gone into making Veep look and sound as authentic as possible to inside-the-Beltway life in Washington, D.C.
As Louis-Dreyfus mentions on one such track, that’s one of the reasons the show’s dialogue trends toward the blue so often, to differentiate how these incredibly stressed-out politicos behave and speak when they’re not putting on their best faces for the public cameras and microphones. And Iannucci, who scored a comparable success in his native Great Britain with the similarly themed political Britcom The Thick of It, knows how to elevate profanity to literally breathtaking comic heights (admittedly, fans who know Louis-Dreyfus exclusively from her network TV work on Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine may find themselves a little dazed initially as she drops one f-bomb after another, but while the cursing flies freely and frequently, it’s never gratuitous).
Other extras on this generously packed set include a behind-the-scenes look at how the show is put together, as well as outtakes and deleted scenes.
By the way, if you want to take a look at how Iannucci skewers politics on the other side of the pond, you’ll find all four seasons of The Thick of It and a companion feature film called In the Loop, in which Chlumsky has a supporting role, streaming on Hulu Plus.