08th Jan2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 1/8/16

by Will

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Welcome to the first West Week Ever of 2016! Thanks to everyone who checked out West YEAR Ever earlier this week, and brace yourself because we’ve got a lot to discuss today!

Lucy-Movie-Wide-Wallpaper

On the movie front, I finally watched Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson. What the Hell did I watch?! I thought I’d heard good things about this movie, but no me gusta! It’s overly ambitious in that it can’t seem to figure out if it wants to be a full out action movie or an action-philosophical movie. Sorry, but not everyone can pull off a Matrix. In the film, Lucy ends up being a drug mule for a new synthetic drug, but the package ruptures inside her and causes her to change. That change involves her using more of her brain than most humans use. Apparently, when you’ve mastered control of your brain, you can change your hair color at will or control electronics. Hell, right before she hits 100% of brain use, she literally swipes left on the timeline. She finds herself all the way back at the moment of the Big Bang. There’s some substory about human potential and how we never truly die, and Morgan Freeman is there, I suppose, to lend a bit of “legitimacy” to the film. I don’t see how this movie made over $400 million.

beauty shop

Next I found myself watching Beauty Shop, Queen Latifah’s 2005 entry to the Barbershop franchise. I really liked the Barbershop movies, and I’d always wanted to see this but just never got around to it. Like the Barbershop movies, it focuses on how the beauty shop is the nexus of gossip and information in the Black community. It also features what might be my favorite Alicia Silverstone role – Lynn, the sweet, naive girl from backwoods Georgia. She starts out as a shampoo girl at the high end salon where she and Latifah work, but later comes to work in the beauty shop that Latifah opens after striking out on her own. The other women in the shop don’t like her because she’s White, and they really don’t understand why she’s there. Silverstone’s accent is over the top, and the character is overacted, but that’s kinda what makes her endearing. And she got the guy in the end – not because she was White but because she wasn’t a bitch like the other women in the shop (especially Golden Brooks’s character, Chanell). It also features the lovely Andie MacDowell, who ends up with a donk at the end of the movie because she ate too many collard greens. Yeah, that happened. When you think about it, the movie really tried to make the White folks into outsiders, but they end up not only being accepted at the end, but they also end up being the most likable characters (with the exception of Mena Suvari’s character. Man, where’s she been the past 10 years?). Anyway, it got me in the mood for the upcoming Barbershop 3.

bikini spring break

Then I watched a movie called Bikini Spring Break. I’m not proud of it, but I’m honor bound in my duty to report every movie I watch in full. I knew it couldn’t be too “porny” because one of the stars was Robert Carradine of Revenge of the Nerds fame. Basically, it’s about a female collegiate marching band whose van breaks down in Fort Lauderdale on the way to Miami for a competition. Oh, and it happens to be Spring Break. So, they end up doing random things to raise money to fix their van, like jello wrestling and riding mechanical bulls. Oh, yeah, there are boobs, but no sex. It was pretty bad. I probably should’ve just watched something on the DVR.

fifty-shades-of-grey-movie-title

Finally, I watched Fifty Shades of Grey. What? It was on HBO and I was curious. Anyway, this movie made Bikini Spring Break look like Citizen Kane. It’s a shame when a low budget titty comedy ends up being a better movie than one that’s based on a bestselling novel. It’s so, so bad. The dialogue…I mean, women actually like this shit? My favorite lines from the movie are “I don’t ‘make love’. I FUCK. HARD.” and “I would like to fuck you into the middle of next week”, said with no seduction or anything alluring. It was said during a business meeting – which brings up another issue: Christian Grey is a horrible businessman. He issues a contract to Anastasia for all of the kinky stuff that he wants to do to her, yet he “renders services” before she even signs the damn contract! I think I liked this movie better when it was called Secretary. At least that movie knew that it was a dark comedy, and James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal knew how to ACT. I can’t tell if Jamie Dornan is a bad actor or if it’s just a reflection on the material he was given. Dakota Johnson is OK, but her breasts sadden me.  Just looking at them makes me sad. Is that body-shaming? I mean, she was hired to be naked a good portion of the movie, so you’d think her chest wouldn’t remind me of a Sarah McLachlan commercial. Anyway, the ONE good thing I can say about this movie is that it has a great soundtrack. Other than that, I can’t believe they’re making more of these. Sure, the books are a trilogy, but they could just call it quits now, right? Right?

Grinder

On the TV front, I caught a marathon of The Grinder on FX. I’d seen a couple of episodes, and liked what I saw, but it was so much better as a binge-watch. That’s a really good show! It stars Rob Lowe as the former star of the court series The Grinder, who moves in with his brother’s family as he tries to figure out how to live a “normal” life. The brother, played by Fred Savage (yup, that Fred Savage), kinda resents Lowe’s character, as he has worked hard to become a real lawyer, while Lowe just played one on TV. The series really gets good, though, when Lowe is betrayed by friend Timothy Olyphant (playing himself), who agrees to star in the spinoff The Grinder: New Orleans. I can’t really think of a series to compare it to, but it’s so good. If you’re looking for a new single cam sitcom, definitely check it out.

cooper-barretts-guide-to-surviving-life

While Fox has a hit on its hands with The Grinder, it premiered 2 real duds on Sunday night. First up was the comedy Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life, which was marketed almost like an update of the 90s series Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. I mean, both star a good looking kid who’s kinda smarmy and finds himself in weird situations, with a motley crew of friends tagging along. It was a serviceable pilot, jumping around the timeline instead of telling a linear story, but I still don’t feel it’s anywhere near as good as Brooklyn Nine-Nine – the series that previously occupied that timeslot. Following that night’s Family Guy, they finally premiered the Seth MacFarlane-produced Bordertown. This show has been in development for years, and now that it’s finally been released, I still don’t think it was ready. Set in “Mexifornia”, it focuses on a border agent and his family who live next door to an immigrant family. And hilarity ensues…or does it? No, it’s not a very good show. Even by MacFarlane standards. I know some people hate his shows, but I’m a big fan (though I can easily admit that Family Guy has been treading water the past 2 seasons). Remember how American Dad started out as a one-note response to 9/11? It’s like that, but much, much worse. And at least American Dad eventually became amazing. I don’t see that in the cards for Bordertown. Originally announced for the 2014-2015 television season, Fox didn’t even see fit to burn it off over the summer. Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Last Man On Earth returns a lot earlier than expected, even if they’re just reruns.

TitansTogether

In television news, a lot of stuff happened this week. First up, it was announced that the DC Titans show is no longer in production at TNT. Yay! I NEVER wanted this thing, and I’m glad it’s dead. I mean, they were putting Oracle/Barbara Gordon/former Batgirl on the team, for God’s sake! Based on the Teen Titans/Titans comic series, the show was to focus on an adult Dick Grayson as he led his own superteam. I may have been onboard the project had it not been focused on Grayson. I’m just tired of Batman projects orbiting the story they actually want to tell. Birds of PreyGotham, Titans – eventually the audience is going to ask “Where’s Batman?” which requires more complicated answers than they’re looking for (TV rights vs movie rights, the desire to not confuse the consumer, etc). Plus, I’m just tapped out on superhero shows right now. I already skipped Supergirl, despite everyone telling me how great it is. Titans probably would’ve been another one I’d skip, as I just don’t see it bringing anything desired to the table. I know some folks, like @Jordamus_Prime, LOVE the Titans, but I just never really saw TNT as the best home for such a project.

TFTC

Speaking of TNT, they’re rebooting Tales From The Crypt with M. Night Shyamalan. I enjoyed the original series, but I also watched it in syndication instead of the original HBO episodes. So, I’m sure I missed out on them as the Lord intended. Folks love to crap on Shyamalan, but I’ve actually enjoyed his recent projects. After Earth wasn’t that bad, and I raved about my love of Wayward Pines. Just like the HBO series, the new Crypt will use the original EC Comics line as inspiration for episodes, but it’s not clear if the Cryptkeeper character is coming back.

BTE

This is news from a few weeks back, but NBC officially canceled Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris. And so goes my dream of being on a game show. I was so close, but I pretty much knew that if I didn’t get on that first season, then it wasn’t happening. Just like that American Idol audition…

Yahoo_Screen_white_logo

Yahoo announced they were discontinuing Yahoo Screen, which was the portal that was released in conjunction with Yahoo’s acquisition of Community. The service was plagued with ads and a shoddy player, so it’s not a huge surprise. Outside of Community, there weren’t any other success stories. There was a series called Sin City Saints about a basketball team in Vegas, and there was Other Space, which costarred Lily the AT&T Girl (Milana Vayntrub). Neither show really developed a fan base, though. The videos will still be online via the Yahoo site, but the Screen portal is gone, and it seems like Yahoo’s done with original programming.

Fuller-House-04

Now for your weekly Fuller House update. Apparently, show creator Jeff Franklin approached Elizabeth Olsen to play the role of Michelle when her sisters, the Olsen Twins, declined. According to John Stamos on Andy Cohen’s SiriusXM radio show, when the Olsens said they didn’t “think of [them]selves as actors anymore”, he said “Get the sister”. They even went as far as to call Elizabeth’s agent, but it didn’t get much further than that. Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly released new set photos, like the one above.

Daredevil-season2-poster

Speaking of Netflix shows, a teaser was released yesterday announcing a premiere date of 3/18/16 for the second season of Daredevil. They also released the godawful poster that you see above. This is a rare misstep for Marvel stuff. I know they want us to see the Punisher skull, but there had to have been a better way to get there than this. Anyway, here’s hoping I’m done with Jessica Jones by then.

TMNT2

In toy AND movie news, a leaked image of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows toys revealed that Krang will be in the movie, as well as the Technodrome. With this, combined with Rocksteady and Bebop,  I fear that this movie is becoming such a love letter to fans of the original cartoon that today’s kids aren’t even gonna care about it. But, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. And it would be kinda cool to see Krang on the big screen.

Batcave

Batcave2In other toy news, pics have leaked of the upcoming LEGO set based on the 1966 Batman Batcave. I don’t do large scale LEGO sets, but this thing looks beautiful. It also comes with the Batcopter, Batmobile (which I believe may be the one that was originally an SDCC exclusive), and Batcycle, as well as 9 minifigures. We still don’t have a piece count, but I’m hoping it doesn’t turn out to be as expensive as the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier or Ghostbusters Firehouse.

Ghostbusters

Speaking of Ghosbusters, Director Paul Feig tweeted out this pic last night of the prototype for the Ghostbusters 6″ movie figures. Look at that Leslie Jones! These look like they’ll have Movie Masters-level articulation, so the real trick will be if they can keep them under $19.99.

Things You Might Have Missed this Week

  • Michael Weatherly is leaving NCIS. Never seen it. I do, however, remember when he was banging Jessica Alba while they costarred on Dark Angel.
  • It was announced that HBO’s Girls will end after season 6. Yay, no more Lena Dunham nudity!
  • Model Kelly Rohrbach has been cast as Pamela Anderson’s character, C.J. Parker, in the Baywatch movie.
  • Broad City scored a 2-season renewal from Comedy Central. Yass, queen!
  • Twitter announced an increase in character limit from 140 to 10,000. This is McDonalds breakfast all over again. I never needed All Day Breakfast. I just needed Until 2 PM Breakfast. Sure, I could use a few more characters, but I’m not trying to write War and Peace here!
  • Pitch Perfect stars Skylar Astin and Anna Camp are engaged. Aca-gratulations!
  • After 2 seasons, The Meredith Vieira Show has been canceled. Wonder if they’ll let her come back to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
  • Michael Bay will direct Transformers 5. And as much as you say you hate him, you’ll still see it
  • Netflix and Dreamworks are rebooting Voltron. I really couldn’t give two shits, but I know some of you care.
  • For the sportsball fans, the St. Louis Rams, the San Diego Chargers, and the Oakland Raiders have all applied to relocate to Los Angeles.
  • Former Arrow costar Colton Haynes may have come out while responding to a Tumblr post about his “secret gay past”. His response: “Was it a secret? Let’s all just enjoy life and have no regrets.”

Links I Loved

Nik’s Piks (Pretend this is a regular feature!) – Top 10 Toys of 2015 – nik tumbls art and stuff

Why Do You Write? – Team Hellions

9 Former American Idol Contestants on What Viewers Don’t Know, Life After the Show, and Who Deserved to Win But Didn’t – Vulture

Sifting: Technology, Trash, & Digging for Memories – NEMMC

In 13 years of blogging, I finally made someone’s Top 10 list – and it wasn’t even for work on my own site. As I mentioned in West YEAR Ever, I wrote a piece for The Robot’s Pajamas about the current star power of some former Power Rangers actors. Well, it turns out that was one of their top posts of the year. You can check it out, as well as the other 9 posts, here.

AFB-logo-new

Also, I recorded my 49th podcast with @Engineernerd from Action Figure Blues and @ISeeRobots from The Toys “R” Us Report. We discussed the ins and outs of thrifting, and it was a great conversation. Now I know you’re saying, “But Will, last week you posted about your 50th podcast appearance, so how is this 49?” Well, 50 just got posted sooner. You’re not traveling through time or anything. Anyway, check it out here, on the most recent episode of the Action Figure Blues Podcast.

On the music front, I LOVE music video sequels. So, imagine my surprise when one my favorite bands, Fall Out Boy, filmed the video to “Irresistible” as a sequel to “It’s Gonna Be Me”, by another of my favorite bands, *NSYNC. Fifteen years ago, Wayne Isham directed the *NSYNC video where the guys portray marionettes who come to life in a toy store. Now, in 2016, Isham is back filming Fall Out Boy as bobbleheads in the same toy store. Demi Lovato’s also in the video, as well as original *NSYNC members Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone. I’d really love to see more artists do stuff like this.

Sure, there was a Daredevil teaser and some toy news, but this was probably my favorite thing to come out of the week. What can I say? I’m a sucker for boybands and nostalgia. So, Fall Out Boy’s “Irresistible” video had the West Week Ever.

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