28th Apr2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/28/17

by Will

So the big media news this week was the announcement of the DC Comics streaming service, which will be the home of the long-delayed live action Titans series, as well as the third season of the Young Justice cartoon. Other than that, very little else is known about the service. Most fans suspect that it’ll have the entire DC library, including animated films, older cartoons like Justice League, and live action series not currently on The CW/Fox. That’s a bit ambitious, though.

I’m reminded of how the concept of UPN was introduced to the public, with ads that touted all of the classic television that Paramount had given us over the years: Family Ties, Cheers, Star Trek – did this mean that this new network would become the exclusive home for those shows? No, it instead meant we were to brace ourselves for Love Boat: The Next Wave and Shasta McNasty. I get that same feeling here. DC has a great slate of animated films, and some classic animated series, but I think this might end up the hub for newer, untested properties. Take the Titans show for instance. TNT passed on that thing. TNT! They know drama! Sure, it’s produced by Greg Berlanti, but I feel like if it had any real promise, it wouldn’t be relegated to a digital platform that’s not Hulu or Netflix. Same with Young Justice. Sure, it had a following, and the reasons for its cancellation vary depending on who you ask, but expecting the fans to shell out for yet another streaming service isn’t exactly a gesture of goodwill. I’m not paying CBS to watch Star Trek, and I ain’t paying DC for this until I get some more details. Right now, though, it’s a typical DC announcement, where they rushed to announce before a lot of key aspects were in place.

Speaking of DC, NBC basically cancelled Powerless this week by removing all upcoming episodes from their schedule. It’s not a big surprise, as the entire cast deserved better than that show had to offer. In all honesty, I feel like the ties to the DC Universe actually hurt it. If they wanted to do the whole Workplace Comedy Set In A Comic Universe thing, then it probably would’ve worked better with generic superheroes and villains created just for the show. Sure, they mentioned Batman, and the Wayne family plays a pivotal role (which I also had problems with), but they showed Crimson Fox TWICE. CRIMSON FOX! Just mentioning Superman or Wonder Woman isn’t enough. Hell, they can mention those characters on The Middle and it wouldn’t violate any rights or copyright laws. No, this was a big case of Show, Don’t Tell and the show never really had a strong hand when all the cards were on the table. At least this frees up Ron Funches and Danny Pudi for bigger and better things.

I loved Kingsman: The Secret Service, so I am ALL IN for Kingsman: The Golden Circle. To be honest, I’m probably looking more forward to this than Star Wars Episode 8. Apparently, Kingsman is forced to team up with their American counterpart, Statesman, so it should be interesting to see how the teams play off each other. And I’m really hoping for some extreme American stereotypes. Based on Channing Tatum’s cowboy agent, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.

In other movie news, Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner are rumored to be up for the roles of Pumbaa and Timon in Disney’s live action adaptation of The Lion King. I like both of these guys, but I really don’t even know why this movie is being made. I mean, sure, putting The Lion King on something is basically the same as printing money, but the recent debut of  the lackluster The Lion Guard showed that there’s a limit to how much you can mine from the property. I haven’t seen the live action adaptation of The Jungle Book, but I guess this will be like that? I mean, the whole thing is animals. How are they gonna do this? Maybe I’m overthinking it, but it just feels like Disney is out of ideas for the moment.

We got a trilogy, y’all! In a surprise move, M. Night Shyamalan tweeted that Glass would be released on January 18th, 2019, serving as the sequel to both Unbreakable and Split. I really enjoyed both of these movies, and it feels like M’s finally got his groove back, so this should be good.

In news that will only matter to you if you’re a Cornell alum, all-male a cappella group The Cayuga’s Waiters have been kicked off campus for hazing. And let me tell you, this couldn’t have happened to a shittier group of douchebags. When people think of a cappella, they always think of lame kids who probably did show choir in high school. And, in most cases, they’d be correct. The Waiters, however, were cut from different cloth. Originally a subset of the Cornell University Glee Club, they were basically a lewd fraternity that occasionally sang songs. Around 25 years ago, one of them wrote “We Didn’t Go To Harvard”, a parody of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire”, and they’ve pretty much been coasting on that ever since. Their offstage behavior rivaled that of actual rock stars. For example, they got kicked out of a charity concert when one of their members reportedly peed in the corner of the stage. And while there were a few good guys in that group, the core members were THE WORST. They were basically a singing Duke rape scandal waiting to happen. According to news reports, the hazing included making new members take naked ice baths and having them rub IcyHot on each others’ balls. Considering they got shut down, I’m thinking there was more serious stuff that the paper couldn’t print, like elephant walks or something. Anyway, good riddance to bad rubbish. Bet they wish they’d gone to Harvard now!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Captain America: The First Avenger director Joe Johnston will direct The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair
  • Sony has given the Masters of the Universe film a December 18th, 2019 release date, but McG is no longer attached to direct. None of this matters, though, ‘cause this movie is never getting made.
  • Speaking of Sony, they’ve reportedly fired Dr Luke, and I HAVE SO MANY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS! But there’s no way I’m putting them in a blog post, for them to be dissected and taken out of context.
  • One of the former Bachelors killed a dude. Nah, I don’t know his name or care enough to look it up. Bachelors are just as replaceable as Duggar kids. He will be forgotten again soon enough
  • Jeff Goldblum will reportedly return to the land of dinosaurs in the Jurassic World sequel.
  • Riverdale’s Reggie Mantle will be recast prior to season 2, as actor Ross Butler is committed to Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, which is close to being renewed for a second season
  • Star Wars Episode IX’s release date has been revealed as May 23rd, 2019, which shifts the franchise’s releases out of the month of December

  • Darius “Eddie Winslow” McCrary posted the above pic, asking folks if they’d want a Family Matters reunion. Considering they both look like shit here, I’m leaning towards “no”

  • Speaking of TGIF reunions, Perfect Strangers stars Bronson Pinchot and Mark Linn-Baker reunited for Chiller Theatre Expo last weekend in New Jersey. Cousin Larry has aged appropriately, but Balki clearly discovered Crossfit/discount mail-order steroids.
  • Jeb Bush and Derek Jeter are in a group trying to buy the Miami Marlins. Hey, it’s better than ending up on Dancing with the Stars!
  • Next fall, Steve Harvey’s TV talk show, Steve Harvey, will move to Los Angeles, and will take on a new format as Steve.
  • With this week’s series finale of Bates Motel, A&E announced they’re abandoning scripted television and moving to a reality show model.

Maybe it’s just the mood I’m in this week, but nothing really had the West Week Ever. Try harder next week, America!

21st Apr2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/21/17

by Will


Star Wars Celebration (I can’t say that without thinking of Dave Chappelle’s Rick James yelling “It’s a celebration, bitches!”) happened in Florida last weekend, and we got our first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Folks seemed to like it alright. I’ve never claimed to be the biggest Star Wars fan, but nothing about this really gave me a Force Boner or anything. That’s probably because Rogue One left such a bad taste in my mouth. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll see it, but it’s not really on my radar.

In other movie “news”, we got the track listing for Awesome Mix Vol 2 from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2., which comes out today. Is it just me, or is it weird that Mama Quill gave Peter mixtapes of all the songs that played while she was banging dudes in Camaros? Come on – she was totally that chick! Anyway, there are no real surprises here, as it seems to be in-line thematically with the first volume. Personally, I’m ecstatic that “Come A Little Bit Closer” will be introduced to a new generation, as I’m a huge fan of Jay and the Americans (check out “Cara Mia” if you’ve never heard it).

This rumor came out a few weeks ago, but it kinda floated under my radar: apparently Warner Bros wants to release 4 Batman-centered films in 2019 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Detective Comics. This slate would include Nightwing, Gotham City Sirens, the Joss Whedon Batgirl, and the oft-delayed The Batman. Nice idea, but there’s no way this happens. DC just doesn’t have its shit together enough to pull this off. Marvel could do it, but they would’ve been planning it since 2012. It’s already 2017 and they expect to crank out 4 movies in 2 years? Shit ain’t happening.

Bring on the teen angst train, as we’ve got two more comic-based series just dripping with it! First up is Cloak and Dagger on Freeform, which looks like the Freeformiest show that ever Freeformed. It’ll be right at home between the show about the deaf girl and the show about the foster kids. I’ve never been a huge Cloak and Dagger fan, but the series follows teen runaways Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson, who were kidnapped and injected with an experimental drug. The drug left Tandy (Dagger) with “light daggers”, while Tyrone (Cloak) has a mystical cloak that transports people and things to a dark dimension. Oh, and there’s that sweet, sweet interracial love/Jungle Fever aspect to things. Based on the trailer, it’s gonna focus more on the love thing than the power thing, which is understandable since powers are expensive on a weekly TV budget. I haven’t heard if this is actually considered part of the MCU, but it’s nice to see the Roxxon sign at the end, so there are clear ties to the universe itself.

The angst doesn’t end there, though, kids! We also got a trailer for Syfy’s Krypton series (which has since been yanked down) – ya know, the one that nobody asked for. It’s hard for me to get excited about Krypton when very little about that planet has ever seemed appealing. It’s most recently been painted as a cold, stoic, science-based society. And since they don’t have our sun, it means they’re powerless. Here’s what I don’t get about the trailer: the show takes place approximately 200 years prior to Man of Steel (I guess making it the first series to be an official part of the DCEU), but the monologue is of Kal El’s grandfather leaving a message for him. Um, how does he KNOW his grandson’s name is Kal El if he hasn’t been born yet? Anyway, it’s about Grandpa El, who happens to be a sexy, CW-ish twenty something, trying to restore honor to the disgraced House of El. The effects look nice (AKA expensive), but nothing about this show makes me want to see it.

There’s some laughter coming from a different comic-based series, however, in the form of Freeform’s New Warriors. I mentioned it a few weeks ago, but it’s been confirmed that Kevin Biegel of Enlisted/Cougar Town will be the showrunner, and we got a confirmation of the roster. Led by Squirrel Girl (who has never been a New Warrior in the comics, but I won’t harp on that), the team is comprised of Speedball, Night Thrasher, Microbe, Mister Immortal, and Debrii. I’m familiar with career Warriors Speedball and Night Thrasher, but I don’t know anything about the others. Considering Mr. Immortal and Squirrel Girl are Great Lakes Avengers characters, this is something of a hybrid team.

I’m the furthest thing from a foodie, but I love a good dairy-based gimmick drink, and this week featured TWO of them! First up, I’d read online that Burger King had been testing a Froot Loops Shake at certain East Coast locations, with plans to roll it out nationally today. Well, I traveled around until I found one that had it early (well, I didn’t travel too far – it was down the street from my apartment), as I had to see what the fuss was all about. I had heard it described as made from vanilla soft serve, with Froot Loops pieces, topped off with a sweet, syrupy drizzle. Sounds exotic, right? WRONG. Whoever thought of this probably got a bonus for the idea, but it lacks in the execution. It’s basically a vanilla shake with edible confetti in it. From Loops don’t really have a strong fruity flavor to them, so it’s not like it’s rubbing off into the soft serve. And when you do get some Froot Loop chunks through the straw, they just taste like flavorless corn cereal. I didn’t taste any kind of drizzle, and I kept waiting for the WOW to kick in. It never did. I drank this so that you don’t have to and, trust me, you really don’t have to.

Next up was the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino. I hadn’t even heard of the thing until Wednesday morning, when everyone and their mom was talking about it. Looking at it, I was reminded of the Birthday Cake Frappuccino that comes out in March (I remember this because it was out at the time Evie was born). I LIVED on those things for the two weeks or so that they were in stores, so I was expecting this to be more of the same. I wasn’t sure what flavor this one was supposed to be, but there were certainly visual similarities. Anyway, after dinner Wednesday night, I snuck off to the corner Starbucks to try it out. You’ve heard of a Butterface, right? Well, this is a Buttertaste. It looks cool and everything, but the taste…THE TASTE! Its marketing emphasizes that it magically changes flavors while you drink it, but I could never really nail down what those flavors were supposed to be. There was a pervasive muskiness to it, making me feel like I’d basically sucked off a real unicorn. Of course, that would be silly – everyone knows you’ve got to buy a unicorn dinner before it lets you do that! Then, near the end, the muskiness gives way to a hyper berry taste, reminiscent of the Blue Raspberry that candy scientists seemed to have discovered in 1992. At no point in the drink was it what I would call “enjoyable”, and even the whipped cream on top was disappointing. As far as I’m concerned, this drink can fuck off back to Narnia where it came from.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Bill O’Reilly was fired from Fox News following sexual harassment allegations. See, if he’d told Billy Bush he only grabbed ‘em by the pussy, he’d be President by now!
  • Nintendo officially ended production on the NES Classic, followed by rumors that an SNES Classic is coming later this year
  • Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck were announced as the directors for Captain Marvel. I’ve never seen anything they’ve done (Half Nelson, episodes of Billions, and The Affair), so I’ve got no real opinion right now
  • Speaking of Marvel films, Black Panther wrapped production this week, as Hollywood braces for the return of every living Black actor
  • Will Smith is in talks to take on the classic Robin Williams role of The Genie in Guy Ritchie’s live action Aladdin adaptation. Obviously, Jaden Smith will probably get the role of Aladdin.
  • Stranger Things co-star Shannon Purser came out as bisexual on Twitter. Well, she’s bisexual in real life. She just used Twitter to announce it.
  • Director James Gunn announced that Guardians of the Galaxy 3 would be the final iteration of this lineup of the team
  • Black-ish was sold into off-network syndication, launching in Fall 2018
  • Jane The Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez will voice Carmen Sandiego in a new animated series coming to Netflix
  • Steve Harvey will host a revival of Showtime At the Apollo for Fox
  • Fate of the Furious debuted to $532 million internationally, beating the record-setting $529 million earned by Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • With its original pilot rejected by Fox a few years ago, Joe Hill’s comic Locke & Key will have a new pilot filmed for Hulu
  • The X-Files has been renewed for a 10-episode 11th season. I couldn’t even make it through the last 6-episode batch they gave us, so I think this is a pass for me.

For the past 6 seasons, I have pretty much hate-watched HBO’s Girls. I hated Lena Dunham’s dumpy, Play-Doh body which was constantly on nude display. I hated all of her character Hannah’s “problems”. I hated her boyfriend Adam. I had convinced myself that I was really just watching, hoping that the characters would eventually be hit by a truck or something. Then, this season came along. Even through all my hate, I had to admit that this was a pretty strong season. From Hannah’s odd interaction with a bestselling author to Marnie finally realizing she sucks at life, there were some great episodes of television to be found in this season of the show. I was also forced to admit things about myself.

First off, I always knew I liked Shoshana because she had enough sense to know that she deserved better than the friends with which she’d found herself. And I definitely missed her once she decided to finally distance herself from them.  I also realized there was much more to the Ray character and, while they didn’t exactly put a bow on it, I’m glad they led us to believe that he had found a happy ending. Even a character as originally unlikable as Elijah had some strong development this season, and he was truly missed in the finale, even though this chapter of his story had come to a close. As I already admitted in my Get Out review, I had to come to terms with my crush on Allison Williams and, by extension, Marnie Michaels. Yeah, she sucked at life, but she seemed like the one out of the four who had Tony Starked her way into that situation; she was the cause of her own problems. Once she began to realize that, the character held more promise. And I realized I hated Jessa because she reminded me too much of girls I’d hooked up with in college: damaged, tattooed, pseudo-junkies who are lucky to still be alive. And I guess Hannah reminded me of girls I’d hooked up with post college. Yeah, I hated a lot about Girls because, I guess, I hated a lot about myself.

This Sunday saw the series finale of the show, and I wasn’t quite sure I was ready for it. After a season that had given us a pregnant Hannah, but also showcased the dissolution of the group’s friendship, I didn’t really know how they could “end” the story. I was further distraught when I read an article last week saying that Jessa and Shosh’s final appearances had been in the penultimate episode that had just aired. While I would miss them in the final half hour, I had to admit that their chapters had also come to a close.

When we get to the finale, there’s a five-month time jump, where Marnie and Hannah are living in a remote house upstate, raising Hannah’s baby, Grover. Yes, that’s what she named him. Anyway, it was 30 minutes about what it means to be happy, but also what it means to be an adult and a parent. I like to think that Hannah finally grew up once she realized that Grover wasn’t another problem that she could simply run away from. The entire episode, she’s freaking out because Grover won’t breastfeed, but in the final seconds he finally takes to her breast. The look on her face is a mix of relief and maturity. It was then that I realized the show had to end at that point, as Hannah was no longer a girl. The entire series had been about millennial drama, as they skirted adulthood, but those times were over. The title Girls no longer applied to Hannah because she was now a Woman, with all the responsibilities that entailed. I used to worry about Hannah, and I sure as Hell worried about Grover when we learned she was pregnant. After Sunday’s finale, though, I think they’re gonna be OK. It was a finale that I had to give some thought to, but it didn’t leave me unfulfilled like Don Draper creating a Coke jingle only to end up hocking tax prep software six months later. For this reason, Girls had the West Week Ever.

14th Apr2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/14/17

by Will

I was going to skip this week, with it being a holiday weekend and all, but then I realized that this would be the last post written from the WilliamBruceWest.com HQ of the past 6 years. So, simply to commemorate that, you get a quick post.

I didn’t watch any movies this week (dumb, since I need to clear off a 90% full DVR by Tuesday), but I did catch the HBO stand-up special Pete Holmes: Faces and Sounds. Holmes has recently become one of my favorites, as I’ve really been digging his HBO comedy Crashing, which seems to be loosely based on the early days of his stand-up career. He’s at a point now in his career where he seems to be a lot more comfortable onstage. And he cusses a lot more. Something about him reminds me of a modern-day John Ritter – it’s not the physical comedy, but it’s written all over his face. He genuinely just comes off like a good guy that you could have around your mom. I think that’s part of his appeal. Anyway, it’s a pretty good hour, so check it out if you’re looking for a new stand-up special to watch.

In movie news, Jonah Hex/Thanos will now be adding Cable to his resume. In a surprise casting move, Josh Brolin has been cast as the time-traveling hero in the Deadpool sequel. This, supposedly, won’t affect filming of Avengers: Infinity War because most of his work on that movie will be motion capture. Still, it’s odd to see another comic book movie actor jump across the studio aisle. We’ve seen two actors jump from Fox to the MCU (Chris Evans and Michael B. Jordan), but you never see them go the opposite direction. I guess he’ll do OK, but I was hoping for someone like Ron Perlman or Stephen Lang. Personally, I’d be more impressed if they’d cast his father, James Brolin.

I didn’t catch the Rick & Morty 3rd season premiere when it was posted online on April Fools Day, but luckily Adult Swim aired it every night last week. It was so good to have the show back, even though I’m not entirely sure I know what was going on. As some folks have said, I really wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that was justa “bonus”episode, and not the actual premiere. If it was real, it definitely set up an interesting new family dynamic. Of course all anyone can talk about, however, is the McDonald’s Mulan Sauce. Apparently, back when Mulan came out, McDonald’s had a special Szechuan sauce for their McNuggets. It was only for a limited time, as those things are wont to be, but now it’s been thrust back into the spotlight thanks to the episode. Fans of the show are trying to get McDonald’s to bring the sauce back, to coincide with the release of the upcoming live action Mulan film (despite the fact that Disney ended their relationship with McDonald’s a few years ago in an attempt to disassociate themselves with unhealthy eating). Already, though, I’ve seen some thinkpieces about how the sauce is cultural appropriation and all that so, basically, welcome to 2017.

In comics news, the X-Men were the source of controversy this week after the artist on X-Men Gold, Ardian Syaf, snuck some incendiary references into the background of his art in the first issue of the book. I don’t have a religious studies degree, so I can’t really get into the minutiae. Basically, though, he slipped in some references to the Qua’ran that are anti-Christian and anti-Jewish. Sure, he can have his beliefs and all, but you don’t sneak that stuff into a corporate comic book. Marvel said that he was going to be disciplined, and later in the week he was fired from the book. Syaf immediately went online and basically said “My career is over”. I kinda wanted to feel bad for him ‘cause he almost seemed suicidal, and I wasn’t sure he initially understood the magnitude of what he had done. In follow up interviews, however, he didn’t really seem to back down. As controversial as he might be right now, it’ll be a major PR opportunity when some publisher, like Dynamite Entertainment, eventually gives him work again.

On the music front, it’s no secret that I’m a huge boyband guy. That said, I never really got into One Direction. It’s not that I was old when they came out, but more of a case where they didn’t have any Max Martin songs. Coming from the late 90s/early 00s era, I feel like you HAVE to have Max Martin songs in order to have hits. I mean, they still had their share of earworms, like “That’s What Makes You Beautiful”, but I never glommed onto them that much. So, when they broke up to pursue solo careers, I wasn’t expecting much – which is why I was surprised to find that I really like “The Sign of the Times”, which is the debut single from Harry Styles. I had the thing looped all day last Friday and, while I’m not sure if it’s a “hit”, I’m really digging what’s going on here. I wonder how the 1D fans are gonna take it. I mean, they’ll eat it up because they love Harry, but it’s not like the 1D songs that they’re used to. You’d expect him to bust out of the gate with something bombastic, but instead he went with something chill and melodic. Anyway, I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the album when it hits on May 12th.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Grace and Frankie has been renewed by Netflix for a 4th season. And I think my wife is the only person I know who’s happy about that. Anyway, Lisa Kudrow is joining the cast.
  • Jude Law has been cast as young Dumbledore in the Fantastic Beasts sequel
  • There’s a Fear Factor reboot coming to MTV, which will be hosted by Ludacris

    • We got a new Justice League poster. Um, OK. I don’t want to hate the DCEU but they make it so easy
    • The Get Down’s Shameik Moore has been tapped to voice Miles Morales in the upcoming animated Spider-Man film
    • John Ridley produced Guerrilla, a miniseries about the Black Power movement, and included basically no Black women in it. Good luck with that, my dude.
    • TLC are back. Well, T and C; you’d need a necromancer to get L back. Anyway, the single “Way Back” debuted on radio this week. It’s nothing special, really.
    • Sam Elliott has signed on to star in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot, which is a Must See based on the title alone

    • This looks fun. Not “see it in a theater” fun, but fun nonetheless.
    • This Fall, NBC’s Dateline will become a weekday syndicated true crime series, which will probably end up replacing former correspondent Chris Hansen’s Crime Watch Daily. Coldblooded!


Thor: Ragnarok’s teaser trailer hit this week and it was amazing. Now, keep in mind that the Thor movies are lower on the MCU scale, so it’s not like it had to do much heavy lifting to blow our minds. We’re at a point where we just don’t expect that much from the Thor films. Still, it looks like Guardians of the Galaxy 1.5, and that’s exactly what people love about it. After the departure that was Thor: The Dark World, we’re back to a Thor tale that feels epic and world-spanning. And the Hulk cameo! Anyway, I could ramble about it, or you could just watch it for yourself. All I know is that the Thor: Ragnarok teaser trailer had the West Week Ever.

And if you’re jonesing to read some more, be sure to check out my comic post from this week: Comical Thoughts: The One Where Our Hero Read 30 Marvel Comics In One Night!

12th Apr2017

Comical Thoughts – The One Where Our Hero Read 30 Marvel Comics In One Night

by Will

So, a lot of people have thoughts on the recent remarks that Marvel Editor in Chief Axel Alonso made regarding diversity. Ultimately, he said that retailers and consumers didn’t seem to flock to the diversity push that Marvel was doing in their books. Fans came out in droves to dispute this, saying that there are other reasons that Marvel’s losing sales. Well, I’m not gonna contribute to that conversation – at least, not directly. You see, I’m about 6 months behind on Marvel books, so I’ve missed a lot of this diversity push. I mean, I go to the shop every Wednesday, and I’m buying a TON of books, but there are only so many hours in the week, so I just haven’t had the chance to read all of them. Oddly enough, I’m fairly current with a lot of the DC books I buy, mainly because they seemed to serve as better jumping-on points. I know everything happening in the Superman books and Teen Titans, but I only just read Civil War II, like, two weeks ago. Usually my Friday nights are consumed with me going on toy runs or napping, but the other day I said to myself, “Will, it’s time to read some Marvel.” I had a few thoughts on what I read, so I thought I’d share them here for anyone who’s curious.

First up, I read the full run of The Unbelievable Gwenpool to date. I read #1 when it came out, and then the book just went to the bottom of a large stack. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy that first issue. I mean, it’s written by Christopher Hastings of the hilarious The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, so I already knew that I loved his style. The Gwenpool concept, on the surface, just sounds like a cash grab. Creating a Deadpool series used to be the equivalent of printing money (not so much anymore, looking at the sales for Deadpool and the Mercs for Money). Meanwhile, everyone and their mom seemed to love the idea of Spider-Gwen when she spun out of Spider-Verse. So, it was natural to put peanut butter in your chocolate by mixing the two.

Gwen Poole actually hails from our world, where all of the Marvel characters are just characters in comics books. By some mysterious means, she transports herself into the Marvel Universe, with her wealth of comic knowledge at her disposal. So, she knows everyone’s identities, all their power sets, etc. This is similar to the Deadpool thing where he thinks of himself as a character in a comic book. Once she gets to the MU, she sets herself up as a mercenary even though she’s not necessarily good at killing. She has limited hand to hand skills, and she’s not a great shot. But she’s pretty good at blowing shit up, which is what she does. The funny thing, though, is that they’ve never really explained why she’s a killer. Maybe it’s because she knows none of it is “real”, so it doesn’t matter if she kills somebody or not. After all, they’re just fictional characters to her. Anyway, after a botched mission, she finds herself working for M.O.D.O.K (Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing) and his gang of mercenaries, which includes Captain America foe Batroc The Leaper.

Anyway, I LOVE THIS BOOK! I’m quick to talk about things I don’t like, so I have to give equal credit to the things that I do like. I love the Gwenpool character, who’s really just a perky teenage girl who likes blowing stuff up. It’s kind of refreshing to meet a female character with an encyclopedic knowledge of comic book trivia, and it’s cool to see how she employs that in her series. I’ve been a big fan of Dr McNinja for years, so I knew Hastings wouldn’t disappoint and he surely didn’t! It’s a fun comic that really gives credence to the slang term “funnybook”. If you’re looking for fun in your comic reading, then definitely check this out. The sales on it aren’t so hot, making it seem like she should’ve been left to do cameos for a while before getting her own series. That said, she’s had 13 issues by now which, sadly, is an achievement in today’s comic landscape. Don’t let them cancel my Gwenpool! Buy this book today!

Next up, I finished the whatever volume it is for Invincible Iron Man. Ya know, the Bendis one, but the one before Civil War II. This series was kind of a waste, as it went nowhere. I’m not sure if plans got derailed because of CWII or what, but it’s odd that so many issues were devoted to one story that just dead ends. Madame Masque is caught stealing items from various Stark facilities, and when Tony goes after her, he finds she’s being chased by a group of cyber ninjas. That’s pretty much it. In the end, he never finds her and never solves that mystery. They do introduce a new cyberhacker Inhuman, though. Yay. Meanwhile, there’s a B-story of Stark trying to convince Mary Jane Watson to be his assistant/life coach. I’ve had my issues with Bendis, but I’ve got to say that this is him at his worst. Sure, there’s snappy dialogue, but not much else.

So, knowing that I needed to plod through my Iron Man backlog, I begrudgingly jumped into International Iron Man. This series made up for everything that was wrong with Invincible Iron Man. My only quibble is that, at 7 issues, it should have been an arc in Invincible Iron Man instead of its own standalone series. In the previous Iron Man series (the one after Superior Iron Man, but before the Bendis Invincible Iron Man), Tony discovered that Howard and Maria Stark were not his birth parents. In this series, Tony sets out to find his real parents, interspersed with flashbacks to the story of his first love, Cassandra, who was the daughter of arms dealers who were also business rivals of his father. Cassandra was in Tony’s life around the time that Howard died, so he finds it odd that she resurfaces, now an arms dealer herself, at the same time he’s searching for his birth parents. He thinks she knows something, but she’s not talking. In the end, Tony finds his mom, Amanda Armstrong, who’s basically Annie Lenox. No, I swear Maleev used Lenox as the model for Armstrong. The last two issues tell the story of Tony’s parents’ love affair, and it’s some damn good writing. This is Bendis at his best. I want an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. arc of just this story (it’s good, but it’s not summer theatrical blockbuster good), but there’s no way they’d cover Stark stuff on TV. At the end, it says that the story will be continued in the next volume of Invincible Iron Man – ya know, the one starring Riri/Ironheart. So, I’m not quite sure how that’s gonna work. Is Amanda Armstrong going to be a supporting character in the book while her son spoiler alert is in a coma in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody? I haven’t read the Riri series yet (it’s in the pile), so don’t tell me what happens. Where Invincible left me disappointed, International proved to me that Bendis understands Tony Stark.

The interesting takeaway I had from the series, however, is that Tony Stark is a result of Nurture and not Nature. I mean, it was always assumed he was a genius because his father was a genius, and it was in his blood. Now that we know his real parents were just undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, it becomes clear that Tony was a product of his environment and upbringing, rather than possessing some inherited genius. I’m curious to see if they’ll do anything with that going forward. Ya know, when he “wakes up”.

Ya can’t love everything, though, and that’s where America comes in. I HATED that comic. I hate the character. I don’t really know where she came from, as I wasn’t reading Young Avengers at that point, but I find her obnoxious to no end. If you’re not familiar, Miss America, AKA America Chavez, is from another dimension where she had two moms who sacrificed themselves to save creation. She has the power to punch star-shaped portals between dimensions, and she’s strong, and fast, and can fly. Basically, she can do everything but project energy. Oh, and she’s a bad ass motherfucker. She can do ALL the things, and that’s kinda why I hate her. This is about to get dicey, so strap in. Ya see, a lot of people are going to say that I don’t like her just because she’s queer. There aren’t a lot of prominent queer characters in comics, so I understand her importance to representation. That said, she’s guilty of what I call the “Queer Eye-ification of Pop Culture”.

Let’s take a trip back to 2003, shall we? Bravo introduced the reality show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, where 5 queer men (don’t say “gay”, because a couple of them were bi) gave schlubs makeovers. Carson changed their clothes, Kyan changed their hair, Ted changed their food, Tom changed their furnishings, and Jay…well, Jay taught them how to open CDs. No, that really happed. The principal underlying theme, however, was basically “Look, queer people are better than you in every single way! They dress better, they cook better, they have better hair, and better décor. What’s wrong with you, straight people? Why do you suck so much?“ For a while, that approach kinda worked. The show was a hit. Then I think folks got tired of the formula. We got it. They were all great at shit, but they stopped being relatable. After all, they were experts, and not just regular guys.

That’s my problem with America. She’s too good. She does it all. What are her weaknesses, her faults, her fears? I didn’t get that from her. Instead, she seems to have this false bravado of being the baddest bitch on the block, and that just doesn’t appeal to me. Is that what queer readers want? Do they want a character who seems to suffer from doing-too-much-itis? Or do they want a relatable character, like a queer Peter Parker who’s an amazing hero, but still has everyday problems? As a cis, straight male, I can’t answer that. I know what I think I would want, and this ain’t it. The market will dictate whether or not I’m wrong. Instead of the whole “Queer people are the awesomest”, maybe the more realistic approach is “Queer people are just like everyone.” I know I’m veering dangerously close to the camp of folks who say things like “Well, why isn’t there a White History Month?” I’m not trying to take anything from queer identity, but the way it’s expressed here contributes to why I don’t like that character. I fear this overcompensation is a trope commonly used as a “foot in the door” technique to get some folks to accept uncomfortable ideas, but I feel it does the queer community a disservice by reinforcing stereotypes/setting up unreal expectations.

Following this thinking leads me to the new Champions comic, which is downright irresponsible in its storytelling. Back during Civil War II, the young members of the Avengers became disenchanted with the elder members because they didn’t feel the team was doing enough to really change the world, instead spending more time in-fighting in the hero community. So, they quit the team before that story even wrapped up. As Champions picks up, Ms. Marvel reaches out to Nova (Sam Alexander – gotta specify, since there are two now) and Spider-Man (Miles Morales – gotta specify since there are two now) to convince them that they should be out doing the stuff that the Avengers refuse to do. They go on a mini recruitment drive, which results in the Hulk (Amadeus Cho – gotta specify since…you get it by now), and Viv Vision joining the team.

Champions is the wrong name for this book. Honestly, it should be the New Warriors, because they are TOTAL social justice warriors. I normally don’t even dip my toe into those labeled waters, but that’s exactly what this book is about. Ms. Marvel has created a team of other teens who do nothing but seek social justice. When older Marvel fans say that they’re tired of the diversity push, I have to believe that this is the book they’re talking about.

I say they’re irresponsible because they tackle concepts that can’t be solved by punching, yet that’s exactly how they try to solve them. They went to the Middle East to stop an extremist Muslim group from killing women who were just trying to learn. They went to a small town to face off against a racist sheriff who bombed the local mosque. Instead of facing villains, all of their “foes” are systemic issues that aren’t easy fixes. Somehow, though, they manage to “fix” things in 22 pages. To use old slang, these kids are cruising for a bruising. There’s a reason the Avengers don’t handle these sorts of things, mainly because they’re old and wise enough to know there are no easy fixes. Racism ain’t Galactus. There’s nothing to punch. The only reason I would stick with the book is that there’s GOT to be a reckoning coming to teach them a lesson. The last time a team of teens was this irresponsible resulted in the destruction of the town of Stamford, Connecticut. I HAVE to believe the Champions exist only to set up some post-Secret Empire event.

The sad thing about all of this is that I like these characters. I’ve been a Miles Morales booster since day one, and I loved Sam Alexander’s Nova from the outset. I was late to the Kamala Khan party, but she’s cool, too. I don’t like how Amadeus Cho’s Hulk is painted as a green Bro in the book, but I’m really behind on his title, so maybe that’s who he is now. And I haven’t read The Visions yet, so I don’t know anything about Viv. All that said, I’d hate to see anything bad happen to any of these guys, but that seems to be the path they’re on. It just seems like such mishandling of some great concepts. From when I was reading Captain America: Sam Wilson, the big takeaway was that there are some things you can’t fight head-on, but it seems like the Champions are gonna have to learn that the hard way.

So, I guess I did have thoughts about Marvel’s diversity after all. Is it killing books? Not necessarily. It’s just not being done well. Feels tokeny. There are a lot of great female-led books right now, like the afore-mentioned Gwenpool and Jessica Jones (which I’ll talk about another time since this has already gotten way longer than I initially expected). But the minority portrayals aren’t that strong. I’ve still got a LOT more to read, though, so maybe it gets better? We’ll just have to see.

07th Apr2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/7/17

by Will

 

So, last night I became the last person in America to see Get Out. As I joked on Twitter, I’m totally getting a divorce now. No, I kid, I kid. Like everyone said, it’s really good, though it may be a tad overrated. Just a tad. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Get Out is the story of Black man Chris Williams who joins his White girlfriend Rose Armitage on a visit to her parents’ home for the weekend. And then crazy shit starts to happen. I can see what the appeal of the film is. I really can. But I’ve got to level with you: this movie hit a little too close to home. Yeah, I know that one Black reader I have is like “That’s what you get for datin’ them White girls!” No, seriously, I probably would’ve ended up just like Chris. First of all, I have a thing for Allison Williams. Even as bitchy, self-centered Marnie on Girls, I still have a thing for her. When her father fell from grace, I just wanted to tell her everything would be all right. So I would’ve taken the bait. In addition to that, I’ve dated that kind of family. Yes, in those cases, you’re dating the whole family. They had the same socioeconomic status as the Armitages, their friends were the same way, with the same weird questions. Sometimes you don’t realize how Black you are until that’s ALL you are to some folks. What some folks saw as just fun entertainment is something that I kinda lived. They’d do weird shit, where I felt like they were testing me. I remember the first time I went to stay for the weekend, they put me in a room with, like, three Rolexes just laying about like they were nothing. No, I don’t think they would’ve killed me, but I can totally see how something like this could happen. Meanwhile, I’m here thinking that I need to get me a friend as good as TSA Rod. I’ve got a lot to unpack from that movie right now. I’d love to have a conversation with Jordan Peele, ’cause that movie came from a place of experience. I wonder if I’d ever see it again, or if it’s like Bamboozled, where it’s just gonna make me hate White people for a while. Naw, I can’t hate y’all. You’re the only ones who read my site!

In movie news, it was reported that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are set to produce a film based on the Image comic Invincible. I used to read the series back when I worked at Diamond and got the hardcovers for free, and I really loved it. It follows Mark Grayson, who’s half human and half Viltrumite. His father, who’s full Vultrimite, is the hero known as Omni-Man, and Mark seems to have inherited a lot of his powers. Mark becomes the hero Invincible and a bunch of other stuff happens. Hey, what do you want from me? I only read the first 48 issues, and that was, like, 7 years ago. The thing I like about the series is that Mark is allowed to grow and change. People die and stay dead. In comics, there’s always the approach where they give the semblance of change without actual change, but that’s not how Invincible works. I mean, he’s currently married with a kid, and they haven’t resorted to having the Devil erase it all, unlike some heroes… Anyway, I like the idea of a movie, but I don’t know if Rogen and Goldberg are the guys to do it. After all, they’re the team behind AMC’s Preacher – a show that I’ve yet to really hear anything good about. Mainly, I heard season one was just boring. So, I guess we’ll just have to see what they bring to the table.

In other movie news, Scarlett Johansson’s live action Ghost In The Shell adaptation bombed, and the congregation rejoiced. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the film because it was felt that the main character, played by Johansson, was whitewashed. They felt she should’ve been portrayed by an Asian actress, and even the studio is now saying the movie failed to meet expectations due to the whitewashing controversy. I’m really not educated enough to weigh in on this one. I mean, I’d always heard that Japanese identity politics went a little deeper than we might think, which is why their cartoon characters always have blue hair and shit, but never really look Asian. But again, before I say something uninformed, I’m gonna bow out of this one. For a better understanding of the controversy, check out my friend Jenn’s post on the film.

Speaking of outrage, there was a Pepsi commercial that ruffled some feathers this week. I’d post the video, but Pepsi is trying to scrub all reference to the thing. In it, Kendall Jenner breaks away from a fashion shoot to join a peaceful protest, capping it off by offering a stern looking cop a Pepsi. He accepts, takes a swig, and everyone rejoices. The problem, however, is that the ad was kind of tone deaf. It seemed to trivialize the act of protesting, and to add insult to injury, it installed a pretty White girl as the face of the protest. Now, I saw the thing, and it was hamfisted, but I’m not sure it was worth all the threaded tweets and thinkpieces that it generated. Like, I get why folks didn’t like it, but I’m not sure I’m “woke” enough to see the whole matter. Anyone wanna weigh in on this one?

In television news, Disney Channel officially ordered Raven’s Home to series. Serving as the sequel to That’s So Raven, it features Raven Symone reprising her role as Raven Baxter, only now she’s the divorced mom of twin tweens. She also lives with her best friend, Chelsea, who’s ALSO a divorced single mom. Things start to get crazy, though, when Raven’s kids start to exhibit her psychic powers. See, that was always my thing with that show. Sure, I was too old for it when it was a hit, but I love a good tween TV show. That said, I feel like Raven and her friends could’ve had zany adventures without the whole psychic powers gimmick. I mean, the kids of iCarly didn’t need superpowers in order to be entertaining. The psychic stuff made it too much like a mystical tween Three’s Company which, on paper, sounds perfect, but isn’t that great in execution. Anyway, I just typed all this to justify posting a pic of costar Anneliese Van Der Pol. This whole thing just sounds like Fuller House with powers. I’ve got no nostalgia for the original show, so I doubt I’ll be checking this out.

In other TV news, Freeform has ordered New Warriors to series, featuring fan favorite character Squirrel Girl. I’ve got to admit that I know next to nothing about that character except that she was the nanny to Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s daughter, Dani. I know she was a Great Lakes Avenger, but she was never a New Warrior. Still, they’ve been trying to find a vehicle for that character FOREVER, so I guess they finally figured it out. Based on how WB/DC has handled Powerless, I’m not too eager to see another comedy set in a comic book universe. The one bright spot in the whole thing is that Kevin Biegel is rumored to be the showrunner. Not only does he follow me on Twitter, but he’s the creator of the Fox series Enlisted (which I loved), and he co-created Cougar Town. Knowing that, I think the show is in good hands. I still feel weird about being a 35 year old man watching Freeform. It’s like you’re paying for The CW. The news, however, makes me sad that The Middle is still going. If you didn’t know, a few years ago, when it looked like the writing was on that wall for that show, Eden Sher had a meeting with Marvel. While we don’t really know what was discussed, her name was thrown around in the same discussions of Squirrel Girl. With The Middle already renewed for next season, though, that takes her out of the running. Sucks because I think Sher’s perky, Sue Heck personality would be perfect for Squirrel Girl.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Barry Manilow came out as gay, which makes me realize that he’s actually been singing about Man D all these years…
  • Speaking of gay, on Doctor Who it was revealed that The Doctor’s latest female companion, Bill, is gay. I mean, her name is “Bill”, so, surprise?
  • NBC ordered 2 additional episodes of the Will & Grace revival, bringing the total up to 12.
  • Also in the Department of Things We Don’t Need, there are apparently outlines for 14 more Transformers movies


I’ve written about my love of The Undertaker a few times here on the site. Basically, he’s a relic of a bygone era in professional wrestling – an era of kayfabe, when enemies wouldn’t fly on the same planes together, or be seen hanging out together at IHOP. He’s from a time when people had flashy names and in-ring gimmicks to set them apart. The industry has changed a lot since then, but you could always depend on Taker. If I were to be a professional wrestler tomorrow, my in-ring name would be Bruce Williamson. That’s how they do it now. Other business ventures came along, like Total Divas, which even further blurred the lines between real and fake, but you could always depend on Taker.

In recent years, he’s basically been a part-timer. Ever since The Streak was broken, there wasn’t really much need for him to be around. The mystique was kind of gone by that point. But, like clockwork, he still showed up to Wrestlemania and did his job. In my heart, I knew the end was near. I’d always said that, given some advance warning, I’d even try to attend his final show. He means that much to me. Well, I didn’t even get to watch his final appearance, which was last Sunday at Wrestlemania 33. The card looked weak, and I felt I had better shit to do. Little did I realize I’d be missing history in the making. The Undertaker jobbed to Roman Reigns, narrowly missing out on his 100th pay per view victory. While the rumors of retirement had been floating for years, no one was ready for what would happen next. He donned his signature coat, gloves, and hat, and took one last look at the crowd. Then, he removed them, placed them in a pile in the center of the ring, and walked away. He kissed his wife, pretty much breaking character, and proceeded to walk up the ramp, where he was lowered until he disappeared. As the crew dismantled the ring, they refused to move his belongings – a gesture of respect to the man who brought us all nearly 30 years of entertainment. I hate that I wasn’t there, but I especially hate that I didn’t even watch it. Sure, in this technological age we can always find what we’re looking for, but I feel like I let him down. He doesn’t know me, doesn’t give a shit about me, but I know him, and I thank him. So, with that in mind, Mark Calaway, AKA The Undertaker had the West Week Ever.

31st Mar2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 3/31/17

by Will

So, as a week has passed, I find I’ve got some more thoughts on Power Rangers. I watched it again (don’t ask me how), and I actually liked it a lot better. The first viewing is pretty jarring, but once you know what you’re getting yourself into, it’s easier to let go and let Zordon.

Something about it struck me, though: the teens have an odd bloodlust thing going on. They’re really jonesing to kill something/somebody. When they first encounter Alpha, and don’t realize he’s “one of the good guys”, Zack’s immediate response is “We could kill it”. Not “Hey, we should run” or “We need to get away from it”. It was basically “We could end its life”. And while I know kids shows have to use language like “destroy” or “eradicate” or anything that’s not “kill”, I’m not used to applying “killing” to the world of Power Rangers. Even Zordon says that Rita must be “stopped”, and the kids immediately take that as “We have to kill Rita.” Hold your horses, hoss! I know they live in some little podunk fishing town, but have these kids killed before? Will they kill again?!

Also, Brian Tyler’s score needs to be applauded. It’s one basic theme that’s repeated throughout the film, but I didn’t realize how epic it was until the second viewing. Sure, it’s not “Go Go Power Rangers” or any of the show’s songs from Ron Wasserman, but it really conveys that superhero aesthetic the movie is going for.

It’s not all sunshine and roses in the world of Power Rangers, however. First up, original Green Ranger Jason David Frank was apparently kicked out of the premiere of the film because he took out his camera to film the audience’s reaction to his onscreen cameo. If you’re not familiar with his antics, his lives his life online. He thinks he’s giving a ton of access to his fans, so he basically vlogs EVERYTHING. Signings, convention panels, etc. He was a web series called My Morphing Life, so I assume  he was trying to get footage for that. Well, security did what the original 5 Power Rangers couldn’t do, and that was defeat the Green Ranger. They escorted him out and he didn’t even get to see the mid credit scene. They tried to take his phone, which he wasn’t about to let them do, so he yelled “It’s morphin time” and proceeded to beat up a bunch of middle aged men. Well, I don’t know about that last part, but it’s still fun to imagine.

Next up, murderous Wild Force Red Ricardo Medina Jr has been sentenced to 6 years in jail for the 2015 stabbing death of his roommate. Earlier this month he pleaded guilty voluntary manslaughter, and he got the maximum sentence for that charge. While I poke fun at it, the whole matter kinda sucks. I mean, he claims it was in self defense. In this crazy country, if he’d shot the guy, we probably wouldn’t even be having this discussion. Instead, he had to go and use a sword, and the American legal system just isn’t built for that. Here’s hoping he gets off early for good behavior or something.

There was a Justice League trailer released last Saturday, and that’s all I have to say about that. No, I guess I have more to say. Look, if the DCEU movies still get you hard, then more power to you. I’ve been fooled enough by those films to know that they’re more than likely not going to be my cup of tea. I felt like I was in Bizarro World, though, as everyone seemed to love the trailer but hate Cyborg. I was the opposite. I just can’t get excited about these things anymore, but I thought Cyborg looked cool. I’ve been told the CGI is outdated, but I’d rather he look like that than just a Black guy in a silver suit. Anyway, Snyder makes long-form stylized music videos. That’s what Watchmen was, and Dawn of Justice was a darker version of that. Here, it’s business as usual for him.

Speaking of DC movies, apparently Joss Whedon is in talks to write, produce and direct a Batgirl movie. Ya know, until he drops out. I’ve never worshipped at the altar of Joss, as I can see the holes in his whole gimmick. He’s always the go-to guy for “strong, female characters”, but I feel like it’d make more sense to just hire a woman instead of hiring a man who seems to understand women. I think DC is just trying to hedge their Bat bets because they know Affleck has one foot out the door. DC is the KING of announcing shit with nothing to back it up. The only time the MCU did that was with Inhumans, but DC has promised Green Lantern Corps, Black Adam, and  Cyborg films – all of which seem to be in Development Hell. To me, this is just another empty promise. DC is the dad who makes a ton of empty promises because he’s scared you love mom’s new boyfriend (Marvel) more than him. And they’re right. Have people forgotten all the Wonder Woman drama? People act like this is a major heel turn, with Whedon “defecting” from Marvel to DC, but I think the Russo Bros effectively swept away any influence folks thought Joss had on the MCU. Age of Ultron was a bore of a chore, so I’m not exactly jazzed about him crossing the aisle. I also don’t like the idea of a standalone Batgirl film that didn’t organically evolve from an existing Batman franchise. The Batman is falling apart, and instead of fixing that, they move on to Batgirl? Get your shit together, DC!

In the world of TV, Katie Cassidy is reportedly returning to Arrow next season as a series regular. Instead of playing Laurel Lance, however, she’ll be reprising her Earth 2 identity as villain Black Siren. If you remember, she crossed over into our world this season, and Oliver’s determined to rehabilitate her. I’m bored just thinking about it. However, if you know anything about the Arrowverse, you know that “series regular” doesn’t mean much. After all, Willa Holland is a series regular, and we’ve seen Thea how much this season? And Cassidy already had that exclusive Berlantiverse contract this season that yielded few results. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how much exposure she actually gets.

Speaking of the Arrowverse, we finally got our first look at Cress Williams as Black Lightning in the pilot being filmed by The CW. Fox passed on this a few months ago, so naturally The CW came to the rescue. Personally, I don’t think that universe needs a fifth show. They always add a show to the detriment of another. Arrow suffered when Flash came along, Flash suffered when Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow came along. Supergirl‘s still getting used to its new home, while Legends is only just starting to get good. I think they should focus on what they have instead of trying to expand right now. Someone online said that Black Lightning was corny, but so was Static and folks are always claiming they wanna see that character make a comeback. Sure, Black Lightning hails from a different era, and I really hope they just call him Lightning, kinda like how Ollie was just The Arrow in the beginning. The only important storyline I remember featuring Black Lightning was when he was chosen to be the Secretary of Education under the Luthor Administration. Other than that, his daughters have had more page time than he has in recent years. I’d be all for the character joining the Legends team, but I don’t know if there’s enough meat on that bone for a series. And knowing The CW, they’re gonna green light it anyway – not even stopping to think how a failure would devalue the brand.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • The Big Bang Theory scored a 2-season renewal, which will take it through season 12. Suck it, haters!
  • Han Solo is not the character’s real name. His birth name was Handsome Solowitz, but his manager made him change it
  • Adam Sandler inked a deal for another 4 Netflix movies. When, exactly, did he officially become the White Tyler Perry?
  • In the upcoming film, Jumanji will now be a video game console and not a board game. As someone who never saw the first film, and has never played many board games, this doesn’t bother me in the least
  • The upcoming Astonishing X-Men comic series will feature a different artist every issue. All I know is that each issue better be a self-contained, done-in-one affair, or this is gonna get messy!
  • TLC is planning to bring back Trading Spaces. Paige Davis better return to host, or GTFO.
  • Jack the Ripper time travel drama Time After Time has been canceled by ABC
  • Bones ended its 12-year run, making it the longest-running Fox drama
  • AMC has renewed sci fi android drama HUMANS after a blink-and-you-missed-it second season.
  • Jordan Peele is being sought after to direct the live action Akira movie. Seems like an odd choice, but I guess he can write his own ticket after Get Out‘s success.
  • Mindy Kaling announced that her series, The Mindy Project, would end after its next season on Hulu.
  • In music news, I’ve just discovered a new Chinese boyband called Acrush. There’s a catch, however – it’s actually made up of androgynous girls! CRAZY!


Did you see that? I’m just glad Spider-Man is in the MCU now. Nobody does a shared universe like Marvel, so it’s nice to see him come home. It still feels like it’s an Ultimate Spider-Man movie, what with Gank…”Ned Leeds”. Seriously, why would Marvel go to the trouble of clearly putting Miles Morales’ best friend Ganke in the movie but then call him one of the Hobgoblins? Am I really supposed to expect this kid to become Hobgoblin down the road, a few sequels from now? It almost feels like fanservice to give him that name, to make fans wonder what might happen in the future, while never actually delivering it.

Anyway, every announcement about this film just gets better and better. For example, it was announced that it would officially introduce Damage Control to the MCU. In the comics, Damage Control was a construction firm co-owned by Tony Stark and Wilson Fisk (The Kingpin) that was tasked with rebuilding NYC after superhero battles. It’s such a logical concept, but something that gets lost in the suspension of disbelief that comics require. I’ve loved every appearance of Damage Control, so it’s nice that we’ll finally get to see them onscreen. They were actually mentioned in an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as a division of S.H.I.E.L.D. itself, so it’ll be interesting to see how the movie handles this.

Also, it was reported that Pepper Potts might be making her return to the MCU in the film. I tend to hate Gwyneth Paltrow, but I really like her take on Pepper, as she serves as a good match for Downey’s Stark. If this rumor pans out, I’ll be very happy.

At this point, the only thing I’m not looking forward to is The Vulture. I always thought he was a lame character, but here’s hoping Keaton can do something to make him interesting. I’m as eager for this film as I’m not eager for Justice League. I swear I’m not just some Marvel fanboy, as I’m currently reading more DC than Marvel. That said, Marvel simply makes better movies, and it appears this will be one of them. So, for those reasons, the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer had the West Week Ever.

24th Mar2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 3/24/17

by Will

What did I just watch? So much to unpack…

I wasn’t going to post this week because, outside of the 2-year renewal for The Big Bang Theory, nothing really happened. Then I walked out of Power Rangers, and I had to do something with my thoughts.

I think I liked it? I’m not even sure. I’ll say that I think I know Power Rangers, and whatever that was was NOT Power Rangers. When we first learned that Lionsgate was going to produce the film, I was worried that they would do to the franchise what they do to everything: make it an angsty young adult adaptation. After all, they gave us The Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games, and The Divergent Series. And I think it’s safe to say that Lionsgate “Lionsgated” all over this film. Like, the Ranger stuff is almost an afterthought. It’s really just an angsty film about 5 teens who don’t really fit in until they find each other. I’ve watched enough Degrassi and Skins to know this formula. The whole “My friends are my family” routine. I half expected Drake to show up in his wheelchair.

Who’s this movie for? It’s definitely not for the current audience of the TV show, which is fine because they have the show, so they don’t necessarily need the movie. That said, it’s kinda weird to think there’s a Power Rangers movie out there that you probably shouldn’t take your 8 year old to see. I don’t say that based on the content, either; I just feel an 8 year old would be bored to tears by 80% of this movie. Ultimately, it’s for that Lionsgate audience: teenagers. But are teens too cool for school to even go see this film? The trailers want to make you think it’s nonstop superhero action, and nothing could be further from the truth. I think if that audience actually gets into the theater, they’ll enjoy the film, but I’m not sure it’s been effectively marketed to them.

The reason I say it’s not Power Rangers is because the basic premise of the whole enterprise, from the beginning, was that five teenagers with attitude were recruited to save the Earth from evil space aliens. The catch, however, is that the teens have NEVER had attitude. They’ve been goody two shoes since Day One. Even when they’re not initially good, we eventually find out they’ve got hearts of gold. In this film, these teens definitely have attitude which, in some ways, might make it the most true Power Rangers incarnation yet. The question, though, is whether this is what we want. In a lot of ways, the movie made me appreciate the show more, for all its cheesy faults and camp.

I’m kind of all over the place right now, so here are some thoughts, in no particular order:

  • If there’s a sequel, I hope it’s just a day in the life of Billy. I loved that character. LOVED him. Hell, I even loved Zack. The rest? Whatever.
  • Zordon’s an asshole. Like, he served no purpose other than the fact that the mythos calls for a Zordon. He doesn’t impart any wisdom, doesn’t teach them how to use their powers, nothing. He’s just another disappointed father figure to a group whose cup runneth over with disappointed parental units.
  • How much did Krispy Kreme pay in order to figure into the plot as much as they did?
  • It really is The Breakfast Club Gets Powers
  • There’s some pretty heavy stuff here: Kim’s wrapped up in a revenge porn scheme, Jason’s a delinquent, Trini’s got her whole identity stuff going on, Billy’s on the spectrum, and Zack’s got a dying mom. That’s five whole episodes of Skins crammed into one movie.
  • When you get down to it, I found the characters interesting enough that I would’ve watched a movie about them without all the “gotta morph in order to save the world” stuff tacked on. Instead of giving me The Breakfast Club Gets Powers, just give me a reboot of The Breakfast Club
  • Bandai’s shifty, ’cause they’re selling a movie morpher that doesn’t even exist.
  • Cheap ass Saban gave us 15 seconds of the same damn theme from 22 years ago? He couldn’t even re-record it?
  • Wasn’t really buying Elizabeth Banks as Rita, especially during the final battle.
  • The beginning of the film seemed almost like it took visual cues from that Power/Rangers fan film from a few years back
  • Nice Mariner Bay/Reefside Easter egg
  • I don’t get Goldar here. He’s apparently just a bigger Putty, but made out of gold, though he doesn’t seem as mindless. But what is he? Just a controlled automaton? Loyal pet? They clearly have history, but nothing we saw in the movie’s opening flashback.
  • Not a fan of the barely discernible Bayformers Zords
  • Didn’t hate the suits as much as I thought I would, but it would’ve been nice to see more of them…
  • When the Rangers FINALLY morph and fight the Putties, my kingdom for a Mighty RAW song in that sequence! “Combat”, “5-4-1”, “We Need A Hero”, anything. I know those were cheesy songs from the show, but I really wanted to get into a mindset that Kanye’s “Power” didn’t accomplish.
  • As toyetic property, the goal is to make the audience want to go out and buy the toys after seeing the film. For me, the movie didn’t succeed on that level. And I’m not even sure the typical toy audience (kids, not grown-ups with disposable income) are even the target audience for this film.
  • Kinda interesting that they changed Angel Grove from picturesque coastal city to podunk fishing town from which folks can’t wait to escape

Again, I really wanted to love this movie, despite going in with low expectations. I can honestly say that it’s in my Top 3 of Power Rangers films. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not what I would’ve wanted in a Power Rangers film. I plan to see it again with my friends Brandon and John, so maybe I’ll feel differently after repeat viewings. It’s funny – for years, I’ve recommended Power Rangers RPM to folks because it was “the Power Rangers we always wanted”. It was more mature than the previous incarnations, in part because Disney was basically done with the franchise and wasn’t paying attention. I’ve come to realize, however, that there’s a cap to how mature I wanted the show to actually get. If you’ve never seen RPM, the series begins with the annihilation of 99% of the world’s population by a rogue computer virus, with the survivors taking refuge in a domed city. The stakes were higher, which I liked, but I never really wanted to know more about the goings on in the lives of the Rangers themselves. I wanted their world to grow up, but didn’t necessarily want them to grow up with it. I still wanted my technicolored battles in the middle of the desert/quarry/”abandoned warehouse district”. This film, while making the Rangers grow up, doesn’t really place them in a believable world for the Ranger parts of the movie. The concept doesn’t feel completely fleshed out, Maybe this can be dealt with in a sequel, where more worldbuilding can take place.

So, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. I just don’t know how I feel about it, really. I’m not going to say it was bad, because I actually enjoyed most of the movie. I just don’t know if there was a seamless combination between the teen drama and the world saving. I know enough about Ranger fandom to know too many people would love to jump down my throat for not just loving it, but as I said in the beginning, there’s just so much to unpack here.

In other Power Rangers news, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Traci Lee for NBC News, regarding the history of diversity in the Power Rangers franchise. Oddly enough, a lot of what I found fault with in the show was rectified by the movie. In any case, I really love how the article came out, so check it out if you haven’t done so yet.

Oh, and nothing had the West Week Ever. As the Nina Simone sang, “It be’s that way sometimes.”

17th Mar2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 3/17/17

by Will

 

Well, that was quick! I just discussed it two weeks ago, and Young Sheldon is skipping the pilot stage and has been ordered directly to series by CBS. If you don’t remember, this is the prequel to The Big Bang Theory, focusing on the childhood of Dr. Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons (who will also be an executive producer on the spinoff). This makes me wonder if the contract talks are falling apart with the principal cast of The Big Bang Theory. I mean, I can’t think of another instance when a show was on the air at the same time as its prequel. Prequel shows are a rare occurrence anyway; at the moment, I can only think of The Carrie Diaries, which premiered after Sex and the City had wrapped. They just don’t coexist with the “mothership” show, so it makes me wonder if CBS’s commitment to this spinoff spells the end for The Big Bang Theory. As I said last time, don’t rejoice too soon, as you’ll still have a Sheldon on your airwaves, even if in child form. Or the show could go out in a Joey-style whimper.

In movie news, desperate for a new hit franchise, Warner Bros is considering rebooting The Matrix, this time starring Michael B. Jordan. Hmm, yeah…This just isn’t necessary. I don’t worship at the altar of The Matrix like some cinephiles, but I can attest to the fact that it was a visual masterpiece regardless of what you thought of the story itself. The world of The Matrix is vast enough that you don’t really need a reboot. You could have additional movies set in the world that’s already been established. I think that’s what more people seem to be in support of, as opposed to a full-on remake. Jordan deserves a franchise, especially since Fant4stic Four didn’t really get off the ground, but I’m not sure if this is The One. Ha! See what I did there? Anyway, the Wachowskis aren’t yet involved, so I don’t even know what’s the point.

The Warner Woes carry over to the DC movies, as it was announced that The Batman is being rewritten from scratch, delaying shooting til 2018. I swear they’re just dragging it out until Affleck can find some way out of the project. If Justice League doesn’t garner some kind of critical acclaim, he’s out. Mark my words. Meanwhile, WB has pushed Aquaman from October 2018 to December 2018. The slot was previously being held by Fox’s Avatar 2, but since Cameron announced the movie wouldn’t be ready by 2018, Warners saw it as an opportunity to pounce. Right now, though, the general thought is that Aquaman is fucked if Disney decides to move the Han Solo film to a holiday release like Rogue One and The Force Awakens had.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Wreck-It Ralph 2 was announced, with a March 9th, 2018 release date. Oddly enough, the porn parody, also named Wreck-It Ralph, is already up to volume 29.
  • To keep up with the times (and lack of content), MTV is rebranding the MTV Movie Awards to the MTV Movie and TV Awards. This thing won’t even exist in 5 years at this rate…
  • The spinoff of legal drama The Good Wife, The Good Fight, has already been renewed for a second season on CBS All-Access. I guess they need something to keep the lights on until Star Trek: Discovery comes along.
  • The CW has renewed The 100 for a fifth season. I know one person who’ll be excited about that. Just one, though.
  • Over on cable, FX has renewed the X-Men-inspired Legion for a second season, while HBO has renewed Pete Holmes’s Crashing
  • For the first time ever, Saturday Night Live will air live nationwide for the final four episodes of the season. No more delay for the West Coast!
  • Aziz Ansari’s hit Netflix series, Master of None, returns May 12th.
  • Director Matthew Vaughn is rumored to be in talks to direct Man of Steel 2. Because the director of Kick Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service is JUST what Superman needs…
  • After Avengers: Infinity War, the Russo Brothers will produce a TV series based on the Valiant Comics series Quantum and Woody
  • Former Power Rangers Wild Force Red Ranger actor Ricardo Medina Jr pleaded guilty to killing his roommate with a samurai sword. I thought he’d swear it was self-defense. Sentencing will occur on March 30th, meaning he can still see the Power Rangers movie!

Every week can’t be Earth-shattering, and this is one of the week’s the proved that. Looking around, the person who had the best week in pop culture had to have been Tyra Banks.

When the week began, it was announced that Tyra would be replacing Nick Cannon as the host of America’s Got Talent. Her selection seemingly came out of nowhere, as reports indicated Marlon Wayans and Brandon Mychal Smith were the frontrunners for the job. This will make her the fourth host of AGT, after Regis Philbin, Jerry Springer, and Cannon.

As the week wrapped up, it was announced that Tyra would be returning as the host/head judge of America’s Next Top Model. She left the show when it ended its run on The CW in 2015. The show was quickly snatched up by VH1, but retooled with Rita Ora taking over as host. Well, yesterday, Viacom released a statement that Banks would be returning, and “Bye, Felicia’d” Ora.

So, it appears America has a new mascot, and thy name is Tyra. For taking over two of the biggest present-day reality TV franchises, that’s enough to earn Tyra Banks the West Week Ever.

10th Mar2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 3/10/17

by Will

 

In movie news, a lot is going on with the Deadpool sequel. At the beginning of the week, it was reported that David Harbour of Netflix’s Stranger Things was being sought after for the role of Cable. While fans have wanted a bigger name, like Ron Perlman, Harbour is definitely gonna be cheaper, fitting right in with the movie’s budget. Meanwhile, it was reported that actress/singer Janelle Monae was the studio’s frontrunner for the role of Domino. Yesterday, however, Ryan Reynolds tweeted the above image, confirming that Atlanta‘s Zazie Beetz had gotten the role. I swear, with Donald Glover off Lando-ing in the Han Solo movie, and Zazie in Deadpool 2, Atlanta ain’t ever coming back. It’s already “on hiatus”, and I fear that it’s gonna be like Curb Your Enthusiasm – something Glover comes back to when he gets bored and has the time to do it. So, look for Atlanta season 2 in 2025.

In other movie news, the Valiant comic universe is getting closer to the big screen, as Dave Wilson has been tapped to direct the Bloodshot movie. Wilson comes from Blur Studio, known mainly for video game trailers, and co-founded by Deadpool director Tim Miller. If you don’t know anything about Bloodshot, you’re not alone. He looks like some kind of albino madman. From what I’ve read, he’s basically a zombie soldier who’s animated by nanites. I’ve never read a Bloodshot comic, though, so what do I know? Here’s where it gets interesting: there’s currently a webseries being made by Bat in the Sun called Ninjak vs The Valiant Universe. Starring Michael Rowe (Deadshot from the Arrowverse), the webseries pits the character of Ninjak against other characters in the Valiant Universe – where Bloodshot just happens to be portrayed by original Green Ranger, Jason David Frank. Now, JDF used to go to all of his convention appearances promoting the Power Rangers brand, but lately has been doing it dressed as Bloodshot. This project isn’t big enough to warrant that kind of dedication. No, I’m convinced he’s lobbying for the role in the big screen film. This is like when Sean Young used to go out in public dressed as Catwoman just so she’d get the role in Batman Returns. I don’t know whether to be impressed or saddened. I mean, he’s lobbying hard, but there’s no way he gets that role.

Though the news got sort of lost in the cycle last week, Nickelodeon announced that the new season of the 3D Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, premiering March 19th, would be its last. After five years, the show is ditching its serialized approach and is rebranding into an anthology format with the new title Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Once the series ends, a new 2D cartoon, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is slated to premiere in 2018.

In other TV news, folks are wondering if Glenn Howerton is leaving It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. The show aired its 12th season finale this week, where we learned that Dennis had a son from a layover in North Dakota. At the end of the episode, he decides that he can’t carry on as he’d been doing the past 12 years, and that he needed to leave and go be with his son. This episode aired the same day it was reported that Howerton and Patton Oswalt had been cast as leads in an NBC pilot where Howerton plays an Ivy League professor who loses out on his dream job, and ends up teaching high school science. Currently known as AP Bio, the series is produced by Seth Meyers and Lorne Michaels, so I think it’s likely it’ll be picked up. Now, Kaitlin Olson currently juggles working on Sunny and The Mick, but Howerton has a bigger role on Sunny, as he also writes and produces. In an interview with Uproxx, though, Howerton said that he wasn’t sure if he was coming back. He said the decision doesn’t have anything to do with his relationships with the other cast members. Sunny still has two seasons ahead of it, but even Danny DeVito recently mentioned that he might be done soon, too. The show really matured this season, as a lot of plotlines came full circle. I don’t even know what they’ll do with 20 more episodes (their seasons tend to be 10 episodes long), but I definitely don’t know how they’d do it without the character of Dennis.

In comic news, Marvel announced that Astonishing X-Men would be returning in July, written by Charles Soule, with art by…unknown at the moment. If you remember, Astonishing X-Men debuted as a miniseries during the “Age of Apocalypse” story in the mid 90s, but its claim to fame was the ongoing series written by Joss Whedon in the early ’00s. This incarnation of the team stars Old Man Logan, Archangel, Rogue, Gambit, Mystique, Psylocke, Bishop, and Fantomex. This, combined with the previously announced X-Men Gold, just proves that Marvel is trying to initiate a 1991-style refresh of the X-Men franchise, and I am here for it! This Astonishing team is basically a refresh of the 90s Blue Team from “adjectiveless” X-Men, while the team in X-Men Gold is pretty much a refresh of the 90s Gold Team from Uncanny X-Men. I love the Old Man Logan character, though I fear he’s approaching typical Wolverine levels of overexposure. Meanwhile, it’ll be interesting to see how Bishop redeems himself considering he spent the bulk of the last Cable series trying to kill a little girl. And it’ll be an interesting dynamic between mother and daughter Mystique and Rogue, as well as starcrossed lovers Rogue and Gambit. I still hate Fantomex, though, and I wish Marvel would stop trying to make him “happen”. Anyway,  I don’t get excited for much, comic-wise, but I’m really looking forward to this book.

In sports news, Jay Cutler was cut from the Chicago Bears after 8 seasons. Now, if you know anything about me, you know I don’t give a shit about sports. Still, there’s a funny anecdote here. You see, when Lindsay and I first started dating, Cutler was the starting quarterback of her beloved Denver Broncos. She bought me my first NFL jersey, which happened to be a Cutler jersey. After all, there was no way he was going anywhere, right? Well, he got cut after that season, and I couldn’t really wear the jersey anymore. He ended up going to the Bears, who had the same color scheme. I thought that meant I could still wear the jersey, but apparently that doesn’t fly with sports fans. Anyway, he’s also married to Kristin Cavallari of Laguna Beach/The Hills fame, so I guess there’s your pop culture connection to justify my mention of him.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Director Joe Carnahan has exited the third Bad Boys film, Bad Boys For Life. Maybe I’ll get around to finally watching the first two before this thing gets made.
  • Jason Isaacs was cast as Captain Lorca in Star Trek: Discovery. I…don’t know who that is, so it’s done nothing to get me excited about this show.
  • It was a week packed with renewals, as One Day At A Time was renewed by Netflix, Riverdale was renewed by The CW, and Baskets was renewed by FX. I pretty much only have interest in one of those shows. Can you guess which one?
  • Emma Dumont was cast as Polaris in Fox’s untitled mutant series, which will be interesting since she’s Magneto’s daughter and all…
  • The embargo for reviews of Netflix’s Iron Fist was lifted, and they weren’t pretty. It seems the problems are with the structure and not necessarily the casting, so it looks like the folks lobbying for an Asian American lead dodged a bullet there.
  • Who knew Josh Radnor had been working since How I Met Your Mother ended? Well, he’s not anymore, as his PBS series Mercy Street was canceled yesterday.

Now, I know Logan had a great week. It came out to rave reviews, and it opened to $238 million worldwide. Still, I kinda got things off schedule. You see, it got the West Week Ever last week before it had even performed. I don’t really want to start this trend of the same thing getting the WWE two weeks in a row just because I just had to see it opening night, hours before pushing “Publish” on the next post. So, yeah, Logan had a great week, but it was the best thing I experienced last week. Now, I’m gonna talk about the best thing I experienced this week.

Since its debut in 2015, I’ve been a big fan of the FXX series Man Seeking Woman. Starring Jay Baruchel (you know who he is, even if you don’t know his name), it follows Josh Greenberg, a down on his luck Millennial who tries to navigate the waters of modern day dating. Like a less contrived version of How I Met Your Mother, the first two seasons saw Josh go on date after date, trying to find The One, but always coming up short. That all changed this season, however, as he met Lucy. He meets Lucy in the season premiere, marries her in the season finale, and their courtship fills out the middle. Lucy’s not only perfect for him, but she also helped the show take on a new direction. We started seeing things from a female perspective, as the show became as much about her as it was about Josh. We got to see her deal with having to give up her fun party life to settle down. We see her deal with the temptation of another possible suitor. But in the end, she chose Josh. This season, it was as much Man Seeking Woman as it was Woman Seeking Man.

This week saw the season finale of the show and, as I mentioned, it focused on Josh and Lucy’s wedding. The show hasn’t been picked up for a fourth season yet, and I’m hoping it doesn’t. As much as I’ve loved it, it has served its purpose. Over the course of 30 episodes, it set forth a goal and it achieved it. Sure, there are a lot of shows that evolved past their initial concept (looking at you, Cougar Town), and I’m sure the show could keep going as we see Josh and Lucy navigate married life, have a kid, etc. But I think I like it where things ended up. We don’t have to see all of that to know it happens, and I don’t think the show as a whole would be any stronger if we did see all that. Instead of overstaying its welcome, I’d prefer it take the British approach of “less is more”. Three seasons is a good run, and it did what it set out to do. It found Josh a woman. Now, if they did want to continue the show in some capacity, I would love if they flipped it to Woman Seeking Man. You see, every season, there’s one episode that stars Josh’s sister, Liz, as we get to see her life in contrast to Josh’s. While Josh is an unlucky in love office manager who lacks ambition, Liz is a driven workaholic attorney – who also happens to be unlucky in love. The Liz episodes tend to be the strongest of an already strong season, and it’d be great to see more focus on her. Josh and Lucy could still pop up as supporting characters, but the focus would now be on Liz.

With all of this gushing, I haven’t really explained what’s so great about the show. After all, it probably sounds like a run of the mill sitcom, but it’s far, far from that. There’s a streak of absurdity to the show that really lends to its tone. For example, in the pilot, Josh’s girlfriend, Maggie, leaves him to date Adolf Hitler. Last season, Liz had an affair with Santa Claus, while Josh dates a girl whose ex-boyfriend was Jesus Christ. Yeah, it’s not your run of the mill comedy. You’ve got to see it to fully experience it, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The season finale ends with a scene that brings the show full circle to the pilot. If there is another season, I hope they don’t fuck it up. If there isn’t, though, I love what they did, and how they did it. Everything was wrapped up with a nice bow, and it’s a strong series from beginning to end. That’s why Man Seeking Woman had the West Week Ever.

03rd Mar2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 3/3/17

by Will

Sometimes life gets in the way, and you just can’t get a post out on time. That’s what happened last week, but I’m here now, so let’s get on with the pop culture, shall we?

First, I guess we’ve gotta talk about the Oscars, huh? I didn’t watch them. I don’t really do awards shows anymore unless someone’s getting slimed, so this wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. The big moment of the night, however, came at the end when La La Land was mistakenly announced as the winner for Best Picture when it actually lost to Moonlight. And social media went wild! It’s been a crazy few weeks, as the Best Picture predictions had come down to those two films, but neither of them really appealed to me. I’m probably more likely to see Moonlight than La La Land, as the latter just doesn’t sound interesting to me. But having seen neither of them at the time of the awards, I really didn’t have a dog in that fight. I figure they gave the award to Moonlight to shut us up for a few years about #OscarsSoWhite. I mean, racism’s over now, right? Does Hallmark sell cards for that? A “So Glad Your Racism Cleared Up” card?

Anyway, from one controversy to another. I’ve never understood people’s disdain for The Big Bang Theory. It’s not reinventing the wheel or anything, but I find it to be an enjoyable half hour every week. I think people got too comfortable with their single cam Arrested Development and Modern Family that they just couldn’t deal with a multicam, studio audience sitcom anymore. OK, cool. But as the mainstream response to Arrested Development showed us, not everyone wants their shit to be smart. Sad, but true. For all the people loudly calling The Big Bang Theory “blackface for nerds” (which is itself offensive, and clearly exhibits a lack of understanding of blackface), it’s still the number 1 show on television. So, just like Trump voters, your friends and neighbors are watching and enjoying it in secret. And with those ratings come big paydays. The 5 principal actors on the show currently make $1 million an episode, while Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch make $250,000 per episode. Considering their roles have expanded greatly since joining the show in season 3, it can be argued that they deserve pay more inline with their costars. Well, the 5 principals (Galecki, Parsons, Cuoco, Helberg, and Nayyar) have each offered to give up $100,000 per episode so that money will be freed up for their costars to get raises. I don’t care how you feel about the show, but that’s pretty cool move on their part. Sure, they’re making a fuckton of money, but this is something they didn’t have to do. They realized they’re stronger as a unit, and they’re making moves to preserve it. Not everyone in this situation would do this. While The Simpsons has had negotiation shakeups in recent years, the last time a cast really came together like this was when the Friends stars negotiated for season 10. If CBS and the studio don’t agree to these terms, however, they’ve got an ace up their sleeve.

What started as a mere rumor is now actually gearing up to film a pilot: a prequel of The Big Bang Theory, focusing on Dr. Sheldon Cooper as a child. It’s being reported that Iain Armitage of HBO’s Big Little Lies is being courted for the role of Sheldon. The most interesting casting, however, concerns Sheldon’s mother. You see, on The Big Bang Theory, his mother is played by Roseanne‘s Laurie Metcalf. Well, Metcalf’s real life daughter, Zoe Perry, seems to be the frontrunner for the role of young Sheldon’s mom. So, daughter will be playing mom’s younger self. My head hurts! Anyway, I kinda love when Hollywood does stunt casting shit like that. Now, CBS hasn’t placed a formal pilot order yet, and I feel like a decision is hinging on how these contract negotiations turn out. I mean, The Big Bang Theory is an aging sitcom in its 10th season, and a renewal would only be for 2 more years. CBS has got to start thinking about the future, but this is clearly a franchise they’d like to keep around in some capacity sheerly for the ratings it brings in. So, it looks like y’all might be hating The Big Bang Theory for many years to come! Or it could just fall apart like How I Met Your Dad did (which, oddly enough, is being revived by the This Is Us team at the moment). Only time will tell.

Just as I like something you hate, I also hate something you all seem to be excited about: ABC’s Marvel’s Inhumans. As the show that I’m almost sure will be the nail in the coffin for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I just don’t see how this is a good idea. Marvel keeps trying to “make ‘fetch’ happen” when it comes to the Inhumans because they want their own robust mutant franchise, but nobody gives a shit. At least, I didn’t think so. However, with each casting announcement, y’all seem to get more and more giddy. Last week, they announced that Iwan Rheon of Misfits/Game of Thrones fame had been cast as Maximus. Anton Mount, from Hell On Wheels, has been cast as the Inhuman king Black Bolt, while Graceland alum Serinda Swan has been cast as Queen Medusa. Finally, Lost/The Night Shift alum Ken Leung was announced yesterday as Karnak. That’s great. Actors are working. I still have no faith in the show, however.

It’s no secret that The Inhumans were Marvel CEO Ike Perlmetter’s pet project because he wanted a stable that Marvel could exploit where they still owned all the media rights. As far as he was concerned, the Inhumans should be the new X-Men. In the comics, they’ve received quite a push over recent years, but it feels more like Marvel is shoving them down our throats than actually giving the audience what it wants. That’s why, once Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige wrested control of the film division away from Marvel, the announced but delayed Inhumans film was demoted to a TV series. They’re really trying to make this a production, by releasing the first two episodes in theaters in IMAX, but it just feels desparate. Nobody cares, dude. The numbers on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. right now are terrible, and I’d be really surprised if it got renewed. Considering it’s the show that introduced the Inhumans to the MCU, and has had them as something of a plot device since that introduction, yet it’s done nothing for the ratings, I don’t think the Inhumans are ready to stand on their own just yet. The argument could be made that the audience didn’t like how AoS was handling the Inhumans, and that they actually wanted the Royal Family Inhumans, which this new series is giving us. OK, but I still don’t see how that’s gonna be cool on a weekly TV budget. Then again, I never found the Inhumans to be the least bit interesting, so this project just isn’t design to appeal to me at this point. I honestly don’t know what they could announce to get me excited about an Inhumans series.

In other Marvel TV news that I couldn’t give two shits about, there’s been a ton of casting news for Fox’x untitled mutant-centered pilot. Yeah, I’m being contrarian, but I just don’t see this being great. First, it’s on Fox. This is the kind of show they pick up solely to cancel. Second, it’s gonna be expensive, which is why Fox will not hesitate to cancel it. Third, I still remember the Generation X TV movie/pilot and Mutant X. Fourth, it’s gonna be directed by Bryan Singer – a man who, despite 16 years of familiarity with the X-Men franchise, really needs to go somewhere and take a seat. Anyway, Jamie Chung has been cast as Blink, which won’t cost too much as they really just have to come up with a cool-looking, yet affordable, portal effect. Yesterday, it was announced that True Blood‘s Stephen Moyer and Angel‘s Amy Acker had been cast as the leads. The show follows the Stewart family, who are forced to go on the run from the government when they discover their kids are mutants. They link up with an underground network of mutants, and ugh, I’m exhausted already. So, they’re basically on the run the whole time? And you’re gonna be holding out hope for some kind of mutant of the week cameo, who’ll be someone they’d never put in a movie. Or maybe it would be. It’s not like the X-Men franchise has ever given a fuck about continuity. Since this is still at the pilot stage, I’m not gonna let it get my blood pressure up until it’s officially ordered to series.

Across the aisle over at DC, they announced a Nightwing movie, to be directed by The LEGO Movie‘s Chris McKay. If you don’t know who Nightwing is, here’s a crash course: remember how Batman has a sidekick named Robin? Well, the very first Robin, Dick Grayson, grew up, got sick of Batman’s shit, and struck out on his own as the hero Nightwing. That pretty much catches you up. Right now, DC is that deadbeat dad who makes a bunch of promises that he can’t keep. “Sure, I’ll be at your dance recital!” and then he shows up when it’s over, and the janitor is collecting chairs. They need to stop being so future-focused, and deal with the now. Word on the street is that Wonder Woman has problems, The Batman seems to be falling apart, and they still have to promote Justice League. Worry about 2017, and stop making all these promises for tomorrow. Anyway, I’ve seen an online campaign about how they should keep Nightwing’s Romani origins (for the uninformed, they’re what we call “gypsies”, even though we’re, like, not really supposed to use that term anymore. Whatever) in the film. Apparently, this is important for Romani representation and whatnot, but it’s kinda tough to swallow since some of the same folks saying this also come from the camp that said Nightwing should show up in the DCEU and be cast with an Asian actor. I’d be fine with Asian Nightwing, as I honestly don’t see what his Romani origin brings to the table. Like, it’s nice trivia, but does it lend itself to his character? As long as he’s a former circus brat who flips off shit, he’s Nightwing. Maybe I’m being glib, but I just don’t really see the argument here.

I was kinda worried about the DuckTales reboot when we saw the character designs. I was also confused as to why they went for “names”for the voice cast, when there are perfectly capable voice actors working out there. Then they released the trailer for the show yesterday, and I am worried no more. While the animation style took me a few seconds to get used to, I really like what’s going on here. Apparently, Disney does too, as the show has already been renewed for season 2, before the show has even premiered.

We also got a new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 trailer. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t need to see single bit more of footage. I’m already a guaranteed ticket sale, so I really hope they don’t spoil us with drips and drabs for the next few months. I’m excited. My body is ready. Don’t overdo it.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • You’ll soon be able to get all your diarrhea in one place, as Burger King owner Restaurant Brands International (what a lame name!) is buying Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for a reported $1.8 billion.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. kicked off what may be its last storyline, “Agents of HYDRA”, just before going on hiatus for the month of March
  • Cloverfield director Matt Reeves has signed on to direct and produce The Batman, presumably still starring Ben Affleck
  • I can’t stand the dude, but I know some of y’all like him: Chris Hardwick will be getting a new weekly talk show, Talking with Chris Hardwick, which will air on AMC as a year-round extension of his Talking Dead show.
  • The Nintendo Switch comes out today, so brace yourselves for socially awkward people playing it in public places.
  • Fox renewed freshman series The Mick (yay!) and Lethal Weapon for second seasons.
  • After nine seasons, SNL cast member Bobby Moynihan might be leaving the show, as he’s currently up for the lead in the CBS pilot Me, Myself & I.
  • Scientology traitor Leah Remini is set to star in NBC’s What About Barb? pilot, itself a gender swapped reboot of the Bill Murray/Richard Dreyfuss film What About Bob?
  • For its 9th season, RuPaul’s Drag Race will be moving from Logo TV to VH1. Considering this was Logo’s last bit of original programming, I wouldn’t be surprised if Viacom phased out the channel in its upcoming reprioritization.
  • Dr. Julian Bashir himself, Alexander Siddig (or Siddig El Fadil for you old heads), will be joining Gotham as R’as Al Ghul. Nope, still not gonna watch that show.
  • Soap opera Days of Our Lives was renewed for a record 52nd season, as cast member Arianne Zucker (who was at the heart of the Billy Bush/Donald Trump scandal) has announced she’s leaving the show.

So I saw Logan last night. It’s funny – I’ve been looking forward to the film since seeing the first trailer, but last night I had a sense of dread. I mean, the movie looked so…heavy. And was I ready to see Hugh Jackman give up a role he’s portrayed for the past 17 years? It all felt so final, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to say goodbye. Leaving the movie, my friend “Special Forces” said “That was damn near perfect”, and I have to agree with him.

Now, it’s easy to get caught up in the comic book movie hype. I mean, even I’ve come on here fawning over the latest Marvel film, only to see its flaws once the hype dies down. I can admit Age of Ultron was something of a chore to get through. And while The Winter Soldier was something of an MCU masterpiece, I’m afraid to revisit Civil War for fear of realizing it didn’t live up to its predecessor. The Fox X-Men films have established an even lower bar of quality, so you basically go into those now with lowered expectations. Logan, however, is a film that I don’t think I’ll have regrets about in the future.

First of all, it’s not a “comic book movie”. If anything, it’s an indie drama whose characters are taken from comic books. As much as folks wanted this to be the cinematic version of the now classic “Old Man Logan” storyline, this film has no real source material other than the characters. It doesn’t devolve into standard superhero hokeyness. It eschews every opportunity to turn into a “comic book movie”, as any opening for that is quickly supplanted with high intensity violence. There’s no Stan Lee cameo, there’s no post credits scene, and there are no costumes. Director James Mangold knew what he wanted to do, and he knew the tropes to avoid in order to be successful. The violence – my God, I lost track of how many times I gasped “Jesus Christ!” during the +2 hours. It earned its R rating and then some.

I won’t get into plot details, as I want you to see it for yourself. It truly is a beautiful movie, which isn’t something you’d typically say about a film with Marvel roots. Dafnee Keen as Laura is incredible, both in how she emotes, as well as her action scenes. It’s also a fitting coda to Jackman’s turn as Wolverine. I don’t know if he’ll ever come back. I mean, he says he’s done, but you can’t count anyone out in the world of comics. Then again, this ain’t a comic book movie. So, if this is it, he’s going out on a Hell of a note. He leaves behind one totally imbalanced trilogy, as the first film is maligned, the second film was serviceable, but this one is quite the mea culpa for all we’ve had to put up with over the past almost two decades. People are talking about award potential, and while it’s certainly good enough, I’m not holding my breath. It might win an Oscar for sound mixing or something, but I’m scared those folks won’t appreciate it for what it truly is. Logan is a moving experience, and it deserves all the praise the early reviews have been giving it. That’s why I have no hesitation in saying that Logan had the West Week Ever.

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