06th Oct2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 10/6/17

by Will

So, I guess I’ve got to start off by talking about Vegas, huh? Ya know, it’s been really hard writing this column in 2017. Like, I’m sure some of y’all are thinking, “Man, Will is slipping” or you’ve put me in the category with The Simpsons where “This isn’t as funny as it used to be.” Sadly, it’s just the state of the world, and all I can do is my best to mine the entertainment news that still manages to trickle out. That said, it is really hard talking about pop culture in 2017.

But anyway, Vegas. Unless you’ve been offworld fighting the Jem’Hadar or whatever, then you already know some dude (not gonna name him ’cause why should I?) shot up the Route 91 Harvest 3-day country music festival, killing 59 people, and injuring over 500, in the deadliest US gun attack in history. And while this was a horrific loss of life, I’m kind of numb to these things now. I mean, sure, you wonder “Is anywhere safe anymore?” but at the same time, this is America, and these sorts of things have become somewhat annual, if not more frequent. After all, this is only the deadliest gun attack since the Pulse shooting in Miami back in June of 2016. It’s saddening and exhausting, yet nothing seems to be changing.

I’m seeing a lot of sentiments, post-Vegas, about how we’re all Americans and should now unite and, basically, “cut the bullshit”. But what does that ultimately mean? I mean, around what ideal are we uniting? It sure as Hell ain’t gun control. Or mental health. There’s no “evil foreigner” trope for us to pursue. If anything, it seems to be a plea to stop protesting and kneeling and all that jazz, because it’s “divisive”. Nah, I’m good. I know these things teach us that life is precious and we shouldn’t waste time on squabbles, but the stuff folks are mad about isn’t menial. And I think it’s gonna take more than a “lone wolf” at a country festival to sweep all the issues under the rug, for the sake of “unity”.

Anyway, as you can imagine, Vegas cast a bit of a pall on pop culture this week, and this wasn’t more evident than with the return of MTV’s TRL.

Members of the N’SYNC pose with Carson Daly at MTV Studios in New York City’s Times Square on January, 26, 2000. (photo by Todd Plitt)

Originally Total Request Live, the video request countdown was a powerhouse on the pop music landscape at the turn of the century. It put Carson Daly on the map, and it was what everyone watched when they came home from school (unless they were watching 106 & Park). You weren’t shit if you didn’t stop by TRL to promote whatever new project you had coming up. It was THE place to be. Then the internet got bigger, and you could watch music videos whenever you want on YouTube (and later Vevo). So, the show packed its shit and left us in 2008.

Feeling a bit of nostalgia, I suppose, Viacom decided to revive the show this year with a team of hosts. With the internet being what it is now, surely it’d be more interactive than the original. What nobody told us, though, is that it wouldn’t have any videos!

Monday’s premiered chugged along, despite having to deal with a national tragedy and experiencing technical difficulties, and didn’t air a single video. Yeah, they still make videos. CMT plays ’em, so at least they’re still viable for country. Taylor Swift and Katy Perry still make them. There are videos out there, yet the show known for its video countdown ain’t got no videos! Exactly WHAT is the audience expected to request? Instead, the show featured live performances from Ed Sheeran and Migos, and displayed some awkward banter between the hosts as they tried to fill out the intermittent silences.

People have said “What’s the point of then showing videos if you can get them online?”, and while that’s true, I’d counter with “Then why bring back the show at all?” Imagine if VH1 revived Pop-Up Video, but didn’t actually do the pop-ups because “folks do that better on YouTube now”? That would be a useless show. And in an age where MTV seems to want to get back into the music business somewhat, and they still host an awards show for music videos you’d think they would see this TRL reboot as a golden opportunity. Anyway, maybe they’re just experiencing first week growing pains, but things certainly don’t look all that great for this incarnation at the moment.

Another way that Vegas affected pop culture is that Netflix pulled their Punisher panel that was planned for this weekend’s New York Comic Con. While some folks are asking “What’s that gonna change?”, I selfishly applaud the decision. I say selfishly because I don’t understand anyone who holds The Punisher as their favorite comic character. At least no one over the age of 13, that is. Why, in this day and age, is he still a thing? Sure, he has his roots in the whole Dirty Harry/Death Wish popularity of decades past, but let’s not forgot that comic are just power fantasies. So who does he appeal to?

If you’re not familiar with The Punisher, Frank Castle was originally a Vietnam vet whose family was murdered because they witnessed a killing in Central Park. He then begins his one-man war on crime. Sure, this was “cool” in the 89s, but now? Do you really wanna give a Vietnam vet with a screw loose a bunch of weapons? Shit, most of y’all wouldn’t even give him a dollar!

In recent years, they’ve tried to make him more “comic booky”, sending him after Hydra and having him somewhat idolize Captain America, but at the end of the day, he’s not a good dude. And it’s not like he does it in a funny way, like Deadpool (and I’ve got thoughts about that, too). He’s so “ripped from the headlines” that I’m surprised there aren’t Punisher copycats running around in the streets.

They say that every character is somebody’s favorite, but if yours is Punisher, not only do I want to know who hurt you, but I’m also afraid of you. We’ve got comic retailers pissed that Iron Man is currently a Black girl, or Captain America was a Black man, but don’t bat an eye that there’s this White dude who’s been on a killing spree since the mid 70s. I just don’t know if we need that character anymore.

Anyway, enough Vegas talk. Over at ABC, they finally locked their judges panel for the American Idol reboot and I’ve got problems with it.

The lineup on the judges panel will be Katy Perry, country star Luke Bryan, and 80s superstar Lionel Richie. And my problem is that these judges are current recording artists, so what’s to keep them from torpedoing the hopes of a contestant that they night see as competition? We already know Katy’s petty from her feud with Taylor Swift, so I wouldn’t put it past her.

When the original Idol aired, the judges were comprised of a producer, a hasbeen, and a pop music magic maker. None of them were active recording artists. The only show that has active recording artists as judges is The Voice, and notice how that show has yet to produce a household name after 13 seasons. Not even in the first season, where all eyes were on this newfangled show to see what it was all about, did the winner become a “star”. That show has always been, and will always be about the judges. You think Blake Shelton is gonna choose someone who might compete with him over a CMA? No the fuck not!

Katy’s experienced a lot of success, but I don’t know if she’s really anyone to be judging singing. Despite the fact that she’s the biggest star on the panel, and making the most money, Katy fills the Paula role, as she’s more of an entertainer than a vocalist. Luke, while he’s paid his dues in the country industry, is still a novice to stardom. Not really sure what advice he has to offer the next generation of stars. And Lionel is just there to fill that Randy Jackson, elder statesman role. If you’ll notice, the panel is missing a Simon. There’s no one there who truly understand the behind the scenes aspect of the industry. How to package an artist, how to match them with the right songs, etc. Katy has been packaged, and Lionel has written songs, but there’s no “godfather” on the panel, which I think will be to the show’s detriment.

In comic news, it was announced at NYCC yesterday that DC would be completely rebooting the “urban” Milestone properties, led by a new Static Shock series from Kyle Baker and Reginald Hudlin.

The minority pockets of comic fandom have been claiming for years that they’d support a Milestone reboot, so now it’s time for them to out their money where their mouth is. Frankly, I don’t believe them. It’s the “woke”, socially conscious thing to say, but when you’re faced with paying $3.99 a month for Static, your attitude is gonna change.

Several companies have tried to fill the void left by the Milestone books, and the only one that has come close to succeeding is Lion Forge’s current Catalyst Prime universe. While it’s still very early to tell where this imprint might go, they’ve delivered a quality product, with known creators, and even their footprint doesn’t seem to be that large. Retailers are ordering conservatively, as they, too, aren’t sure how things will shake our. Sure, Milestone will have DC Comics money behind it, but is DC giving then just enough rope with which to hang themselves? I guess time will tell, but I’m not overly optimistic about their chances. Plus, there have been so many bait & switch Milestone announcements over the years that I’ll believe it when I see the books on shelves.

Speaking of DC, there are reports that they’re backing away from their shared DC Extended Universe films, as they’ll downplay the interconnectedness going forward. While I, for one, applaud this decision, money talks, so the success or failure of Justice League will most likely dictate the future of their film universe. It’s increasingly seeming like the Flash movie will be Flashpoint, which is odd because we’re not even invested enough in the characters yet to go through a universe-changing event like that.

If you’re unfamiliar, Flashpoint was the DC Comics event that changed the DC timeline and resulted in the New 52 relaunch a few years back. Most of the DC heroes started with a clean slate, and the books picked up early in the heroes’ careers. While a Flashpoint movie wouldn’t have to be so drastic, as they haven’t really established much of that universe yet, it is interesting that they would do a soft reboot of the films so soon. My feelings is that they’ll keep what works and throw out what doesn’t. Gal Gadot ain’t going anywhere. And Aquaman is probably safe, too.

I think the biggest wild card is Affleck. It was sort of dumb for them to build a film universe around an older Batman, where the most interesting stuff about him occurred before we even meet him. I know they wanted to go all The Dark Knight Returns with his battle against Superman, and that required an older, more skilled Batman. However, Affleck and the DCEU are like a couple who’s clearly unhappy, but neither is willing to pull the trigger on a break-up. Plus, it doesn’t help that Affleck’s most recent non-DC films have been flops, so he’d be a fool to walk away from a sure thing. The films might not be universally loved, but they do make money.

Anyway, we got some character posters for Justice League this week, which is something I guess. It comes out 2 weeks after Thor: Ragnarok, yet I’ve seen almost no promotion for it, while Thor has had TV spots since late August. In fact, the only time I even remember there’s a Justice League movie coming is when I’m in the toy aisle and see those uninspired basic figures on the pegs. They’re really gonna need to pump up the hype machine in the next few weeks. With the way DC’s acting, I almost feel like they’re ready to take the L and move on to the next phase of their movie-making.

Last weekend I went to TFCon 2017, which was a Transformers convention held locally. While I had a great time finally meeting Twitter pals @briantruitt and @brock626, and catching up with my bud @FakeEyes22, the show itself was meh. Like, I can’t believe that people actually travel for that show. Imagine paying for tickets to a music festival with big name acts, only to get their and they say “Psych! Most of these are cover bands!” That’s TFCon, ’cause about 40% of the “convention floor” (AKA hotel ballroom) was nothing but 3rd party knockoff toys and Reprolabels. After all, why buy a legitimate Optimus Prime when you can buy a $70 “Supreme Leader”? I know that 3rd party stuff is popular amongst Transformers fans, but I didn’t think you could prop up a convention with it, especially since it seemed like Hasbro was starting to crack down on those knockoff peddlers. Anyway, I bought my first 3rd party Transformer, KBBMP 21+ Beetle Wasp , who is really just a large G1 Bumblebee.

Song of the Week

You know why. My a cappella group used to sing this and it was one of my favorite arrangements to sing. I tried to find our version on YouTube, but the one that’s up is the quality of hot garbage, so you get the original instead.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Film sites are teasing that “big star” Kate Winslet is reteaming with James Cameron and joining the Avatar franchise. Sorry, but she hasn’t been a star since 1997.
  • Fast 9 has been given the release date of 4/10/20, while the Fast spin-off starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham now has a release date of 7/26/19.
  • Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter/actress Jill Scott has been cast as the villain Lady Eve in The CW’s Black Lightning. I still feel like they’re dooming this show to fail by not connecting it to the preexisting Arrowverse.
  • OJ Simpson was released from prison last Sunday morning at midnight, after serving a 9-year term. He immediately resumed his hunt for the real killers. Just kidding. He’s reportedly staying on a golf course somewhere.

  • We got a trailer for Syfy’s Happy!, based on the Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson graphic novel of the same name. While this left me with a feeling of “What did I just watch?”, this feels like it’d be more at home on FX than Syfy.
  • It seems like Universal’s Dark Universe is falling apart, after The Bride of Frankenstein just lost its release date. The actors, including Javier Bardem and Angelina Jolie, are on hold until the script can be worked on.
  • Natalia Cordova-Buckley has been upped to series regular for season 5 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so expect to see her yo-yoing through space this year.
  • Black superhero series Raising Dion is being developed by, and will co-star, Michael B. Jordan. The show has received a 10-episode order from Netflix.
  • Apparently there’s a Bob’s Burgers movie coming in 2020. Just like the show, I’ll have no direct interest in seeing it, but I’m sure I’ll eventually catch it on FXX one day and enjoy every minute of it.
  • Gore Verbinski, of Pirates of the Caribbean and The Ring fame, will reportedly direct Channing Tatum’s Gambit film spin-off of the X-Men franchise. Man, what kind of blackmail material does Tatum have to keep this movie in production?! I’ll bet it’s some dirt from his days as a stripper!
  • Bruce Willis’s Death Wish reboot has been moved from later this year to March 2nd, 2018. They claim it’s because the Thanksgiving film corridor is crowded, but it’s more likely the fact that a movie about an old White guy shooting up people ain’t so kosher right now. But we’ll have forgotten all about this stuff by March, so it’s cool.
  • The future of Nickelodeon’s Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn is in question, as they ain’t got no Dicky! Actor Mace Coronel (are we sure he’s not a video game character with that name?) abruptly left the show over the summer, and announced his departure on Instagram this week.
  • TNT announced that the upcoming 6th season of Major Crimes would be its last, despite the fact that it’s the highest rated show on the network. This is like when CBS initiated the Rural Purge, where they cancelled all their high-rated “bumpkin” shows because they wanted to change their image.
  • Alyssa Milano is developing her comic series Hacktivist into a TV series for The CW
  • Freshman ABC drama The Good Doctor has scored a full season order after only airing 2 episodes.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog film has jumped from Sony to Paramount, and announced director Tim Miller (Deadpool) will now produce, as Jeff Fowler will be making his theatrical directorial debut on the film.
  • After 15 seasons, Pauley Perrette is leaving NCIS at the end of this season. In other news, NCIS has somehow been on for 15 years…

  • CBS is adding Will Ferrell-produced comedy No Activity to the All Access streaming service, to debut by end of year. However, Tim Meadows just joined the cast as the co-lead, so the show is already cancelled.
  • Larry Wilmore and Viola Davis are developing the comedy Black Don’t Crack for ABC, which sounds like an older Girlfriends reboot
  • Co-head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider have left Saturday Night Live to work on a pilot for Comedy Central. Kelly also wrote for Broad City, while Schneider wrote for Master of None.

  • We also got a trailer for Hulu’s Future Man from Seth Rogen. It looks funny, but Hulu doesn’t seem like the right home for it, as it feels like a Fox show.
  • Glee‘s Mark Salling issued a plea in his child pornography case. One of the stipulations of sentencing means he’ll have to stay away from events frequented by minors, such as “video arcade facilities”. Here’s hoping he not a pedophile AND a time traveler!

So, this has been a Hell of a week. One great thing about it, though, is that today is my 5-year wedding anniversary. Yup, on October 6th, 2012, I married a girl I met on the Internet, and she hasn’t killed me yet. We’ve actually been together 9 years, but only 5 in the eyes of the District of Columbia. It has certainly been a ride. She got skinnier, I got fatter. We’ve had a kid together, which is pretty cool. Sometimes I feel like said kid gets the attention that I used to get, but I’m not supposed to be jealous of a toddler, right? RIGHT?

Anyway, when things like Vegas happen, you do realize that you’re lucky/blessed to be alive, and you look at the life you’ve built around yourself. I certainly could’ve done a lot worse, and probably not much better. Look, I was a lot better at writing this kind of stuff 9 years ago, when we were both still in the “OMG, you love breathing? I love breathing, too!” phase. Life comes along, and shit gets hard. I’m not even going to lie about that. But it’s a lot easier to handle when you’ve got a good person beside you to deal with it together. So, I think the West Family is having the West Week Ever. I love y’all!

15th Sep2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 9/15/17

by Will

In movie news, it was announced that J.J. Abrams would be returning to write and direct Star Wars: Episode IX. This comes on the heels of Colin Trevorrow’s dismissal from the project. If you remember, Abrams was the creative voice behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and many fans seem happy about this decision. I’ve seen some folks say that it’s now the cool thing to say you didn’t like The Force Awakens, but I remember hearing those complaints when the movie first came out. I mean, a lot of people felt he just remade A New Hope, so will this be a remake of The Empire Strikes Back? I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan, so I don’t know what I’m talking about. If the fans are happy (and geeks are rarely happy), then that’s enough for me. To accommodate this change in direction, however, the film’s release has been moved from May 2019 to December 2019.

In other movie news, there’s been an interesting development with the new Hellboy movie. Ya see, Hawaii Five-0‘s Daniel Dae Kim has been cast as Ben Daimio, which is the role that was vacated by Ed Skrein. This is good, as it’s an Asian-American character who will now be portrayed by an Asian actor. Done deal, right? Well, now we have to get into the weeds a bit and point out that Daimio is of Japanese descent, while Kim is Korean American. Does it matter? Some might say no. I mean, in Selma, African American Martin Luther King Jr was portrayed by British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo. That said, if Daimio’s Japanese heritage is important to his character, and you just cast another non-Japanese actor, then it somewhat contributes to the idea that Asians are interchangeable, which doesn’t help matters in their pursuit of fair representation in media. My friend Jenn articles this much better than I can. At the end of the day, does it matter? To someone out there, I’m sure it does.

Oh, and we got a pic of what David Harbour will look like as Hellboy. Not bad!

In TV news, it was announced that ABC will be rebooting 80s cult classic The Greatest American Hero, but with a twist: this time, the show will star an Indian American woman named Meera. She’s described as a 30 year old woman from Cleveland, who enjoys tequila and karaoke. Um, OK. Now, I see what they’re doing here. They want to challenge the notion of what it means to be “American” in this day and age. I see you, ABC. I guess that’s somewhat timely, but people tend to forget that the original show wasn’t exactly a ratings smash. In fact, it barely eked out 3 seasons. It’s probably most notable for its theme song, “Believe It Or Not”. And this also isn’t the first time they’ve tried this idea with a woman, as there’s a pilot for The Greatest American Heroine, where a woman is chosen to take over for William Katt’s character. The pilot never aired, but was reedited into an episode that was added to the syndication package of the show. I don’t see this working in 2018, but ABC apparently has a lot of faith in it, as it’s a “put pilot”, which basically means it’s guaranteed to make it to air or it’s gonna cost ABC a lot of money to pass on it. It’s ABC, though. Just looking at The Mayor coming up this Fall, they clearly don’t have the strongest comedy development department right now.

In comics news, it took 13 years, but Marvel’s finally bringing back Jean Grey. The ORIGINAL Jean Grey. Killed at the end of Grant Morrison’s run of New X-Men, she hasn’t been seen since around 2004, though we all knew this would happen one day. We’ve had a bunch of fake outs, with the character of Hope and the debut of teen Jean Grey from an alternate reality timeline, but this is the real deal. And I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it’s comics and nobody stays dead. On the other, they left her dead a lot longer than they had to. I’d actually started to think she was gone for good. Silly me! I really do wish death meant more in comics. I’m smart enough to know the character will be back, so I’d prefer they not write like I’m a moron. I’d be willing to accept a concession, like we got recently with Tony Stark. He’s not “dead”, but in some sort of a stasis coma. When they need him again, he’ll pop out of it, right as rain. I’m fine with that. Put more characters into comas! Have them get lost in the timestream, and make them find their way home. But stop “killing” them when you, and everyone else, know it will just be temporary. Anyway, to check out Jean’s grand return, pick up Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey – part of the upcoming Marvel Legacy initiative.

In other comics news, there was a whole kerfuffle regarding the G.I. Joe franchise. You see, IDW Publishing currently has the G.I. Joe license, and they’re publishing a Joe comic written by freelancer Aubrey Sitterson. Well, on the anniversary of that day we’re supposed to never forget, 9/11, Sitterson tweeted this:

 

After getting some blowback, he doubled down with this:

Nice try, Aubrey, but 9/11 affected more than just NYC. Y’all just happen to be the ones who get most of the attention. I’m not one of the guys who gets all choked up in patriotism, though, so if that’s how he feels, whatever.

Well, the Joe fandom didn’t take too kindly to that. And apparently this was just the latest in a long string of what they considered antagonistic behavior from the writer. So, fansites, such as YoJoe.com and GeneralsJoes.com, decided that they were no longer going to cover G.I. Joe comics until something was done with Sitterson. At first it seemed like IDW was standing behind the writer, but they eventually released the following statement:

I’m on the fence on this one. I mean, you vote with your dollars and if you’re unhappy with something, then don’t buy it. That said, I have never been more glad that I no longer identify as a G.I. Joe “fan”. A lot of these guys come just come across as bullies. Sitterson was on his arrogant high horse, but a lot of the response is coming from veterans who are throwing around terms like “Commie” and “Libtard” just because their feelings were hurt by a funnybook writer. Sitterson comes from the wrestling world, so he’s reveling in the role of the “heel”, or the bad guy. This is all a gimmick to him, and the more riled they get, the happier it makes him. It means it’s working. That said, I don’t think he realizes that some of these dudes have a few screws loose. They don’t understand the game, and they don’t care. I really wouldn’t be surprised if he’s getting death threats right now over his opinion.

At the end of the day, G.I. Joe is a dying franchise. You could even say it’s dead, but there’s a small group of +40 year old men who are keeping hope alive. I’ve often said that the franchise needs to take a TMNT-like break, and give folks a chance to actually miss it. Plus, it’s time to give today’s kids their own Joe. Sure, folks are going to argue that kids don’t play with toys anymore but, just like comics, the core audience is going to die, and you’re going to need to replace them somehow. The A Real America Hero era has had a good run, but it’s time for the sun to set on it. No more Duke, no more Snake Eyes. Reboot the fuck out of it! Call of Duty is popular. Make G.I. Joe like that. There are ways to make it viable but the current approaches aren’t working. It’s like porn – there’s ENOUGH porn in the world. There’s really no need to make more. The same with Larry Hama-based Joe stories. There’ve been enough over the past +30 years. It’s time to move on. Sure, this will just piss off the same demographic that’s currently upset with Sitterson, but they’re gonna be dead soon anyway. But who am I to say that? Just another libtard with a website, I suppose…

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • I guess he’s over her humps AND her lady lumps, as Josh Duhamel and Fergie have separated after 8 years of marriage.
  • Watch out, conservatives, as Trevor Noah’s contract with The Daily Show has been renewed through 2022. Meanwhile, HBO has renewed Last Week Tonight with John Oliver through 2020.
  • Matt Bomer’s The Last Tycoon has been cancelled by Amazon after one season.
  • TBS has renewed Wrecked, The Guest Book, and People of Earth
  • John Wick: Chapter 3 will be released May 17th, 2019
  • Nick Blood will be reprising his role of Lance Hunter on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this season. I figure they’ll make some excuse for where Bobbi is, so she can pop up once The Orville gets cancelled.
  • Shaun Sipos will portray DC space hero Adam Strange on Syfy’s Krypton
  • Keke Palmer moves from Scream Queens to MTV’s Scream, as she’ll headline season 3 along with Power Rangers‘ RJ Cyler.
  • ESPN anchor Jemele Hill called the President a White Supremacist on her Twitter account, and the White House insinuated that she should be fired. Ya know, that thing the First Amendment specifically forbids them from doing…
  • Melissa McCarthy is now an Emmy winner, for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Role, for her work on Saturday Night Live last season.
  • The Black Lives Matter movement will be covered by Arrow this season, as well as an upcoming AMC drama, based on the book They Can’t Kill Us All, and adapted by a writer from Into the Badlands. Considering how bad Badlands‘ writing is, I’ve got more faith in the Arrow storyline…
  • It was revealed that Roald Dahl originally meant for the character of Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be Black, until his agent basically asked “Why?” and said that it wouldn’t be the right move.

  • After nearly 40 years, it was revealed that Mario has nipples, and the internet lost its mind!

  • We got our first taste of the main theme for Star Trek: Discovery, and I don’t hate it. It’s no Enterprise theme, but I like the callbacks to the Original Series theme.


I’m not sure who had the best week this week. I mean, there’s the movie IT, which broke a whole bunch of records, and has made about $180 million. I don’t really care about horror, though, and will probably never see the movie. Still, this was a big deal for the horror community.

There’s adult film star Cory Chase who became something of a household name when Senator Ted Cruz’s personal Twitter account Liked a tweet containing her scene from Moms Bang Teens 20. Cruz has, since, said that it was done by an aide, while his spokesperson tried to insinuate it was a hack. Anyway, Chase was without power due to Hurricane Irma, so she didn’t even realize why she was getting all of this newfound attention. This was a major boon for both Chase and the Reality Kings website.

Horror or Porn? I really can’t decide. So, I’m gonna leave it up to you guys. Tell me: who had the West Week Ever?

25th Aug2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 8/25/17

by Will

 

In movie news, there was quite the controversial casting this week, as the color lines blurred for some comic book adaptations. First up, it was announced that English actor Ed Skrein would be portraying Japanese character Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy reboot. Now, according to what I’ve read, Daimio’s Japanese heritage heavily influences the character, so this whitewashing of the character doesn’t seem to be in the best interest of the character. I mean, after the problems with whitewashing in Doctor Strange, Ghost in the Shell, Aloha, The Great Wall, and Ni’ihau, you’d think Hollywood would avoid shit like this. Yes, movies are made to make money, but it’s not like Skrein is a bankable star worth slotting into the role, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Usually this is done for the film’s STARS. Damon, Johansson, Stone. This is a secondary character, so it really wouldn’t have hurt them to seek out an Asian actor. Normally I’m just like “Well, Hollywood’s gonna Hollywood”, but this decision just doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Next up, 24: Legacy’s Anna Diop has been cast as Starfire in Warner Bros’ Titans series, slated to air on DC’s upcoming digital service. Some folks are saying they should’ve cast a Latina, but she’s gonna either be painted or CGied in orange, so it’s not like it’s gonna matter at the end of the day. Personally, if they wanted authenticity, I think they should’ve cast an actual orange alien princess. Right now there are just too many unknowns for me to get excited about this. I mean, DC announced the digital service without a lot of information. What’s gonna be on it? What will it cost? How much of the DC library will be available to be housed on it? As for Titans, this is the show TNT passed on. Ya know, the home of such illustrious shows as The Librarians and The Last Ship. I mean, they’re basically just about a notch up from what we got in the 90s from Universal’s Action Pack lineup. If Titans couldn’t fit anywhere on that schedule, then it probably just isn’t “ready for primetime” yet.

Speaking of aimless Warner Bros decisions, they announced 2 different Joker movies this week. First up is an origin tale, directed by Todd Phillips of Old School fame, and produced by Martin Scorsese. Hmm, one of those things is not like the other. I mean, why would Scorsese touch something helmed by the dude who gave us Road Trip? And who even WANTS a Joker origin story? First of all, it’s reportedly not even going to be part of the DCEU, so why confuse the audience with a story that won’t even really “count” in the grand scheme of things? Nobody needs a standalone origin of a take on a character they’ll likely never see again. This is just as foolish as Sony’s Don’t-Look-For-Spider-Man-To-Appear Venom movie. Next, the guys behind This Is Us (SO hot right now!) and Crazy, Stupid, Love are working on a Bonnie & Clyde-style Joker and Harley film, with Jared Leto and Margot Robbie reprising their roles from Suicide Squad. Since this would sort of negate the empowerment that Harley gained by the end of Squad, it’s believed that this actually means that the planned Gotham City Sirens film, also slated to star Robbie, is now dead. Honestly, I could do without either of these movies. I found Leto’s take on Joker to be…interesting, but Less is More with that character. Plus, I don’t really think the DCEU would be strengthened by this sort of movie. It’s not the world-building they need to be doing right now, as they haven’t even figured out the core of their star characters like Batman and Superman yet.

In TV news, Christopher Sebela’s comic Heartthrob has been optioned as a TV series by Felix Culpa – a production company launched by actress/Elvis’s granddaughter Riley Keough. Now, comics are optioned every day, and the final product never comes to fruition, but I hope this series sees the light of day. I’m actually a big fan of the comic, which is published by Oni Press. Set in the late 70s, it focuses on Callie, who’s received a heart transplant while the process is still in its infancy. Given a new lease on life, but still told she’s basically living on borrowed time, she decides to change her life when she meets Mercer, a charming guy with a shady side. She immediately falls for him, and he teaches her how to be bad, like rob banks and commit other crimes. She gets off on the rush. Pretty soon, however, she realizes that Mercer isn’t real. No, he’s actually the ghost of the guy whose heart is now in Callie. So, it’s a Bonnie & Clyde story where Clyde’s calling the shots from the afterlife. The book is published in “seasons”, so the first 5-issue miniseries wrapped up back in early 2016, while season 2 is hitting stores now. If you’re looking for a new comic not from the Big Two, I highly recommend it.

In music news, Taylor Swift did a whole social blitz to announce that her next album would be called Reputation, and would be released Nov 10th. On top of that, the first single was released last night, with rumors that the video will premiere at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards. Ya know, the same awards hosted my Taylor’s enemy Katy Perry. Yeah, that should be pretty interesting to watch. Anyway, the new song is called “Look What You Made Me Do”, and I’m not too impressed. It lacks a real hook, while the chorus itself is basically spoken. I feel like it has all the ingredients for a great song, but it’s not living up to its full potential. If this is an indicator of what to expect on Reputation, though, I’ll admit I’m curious. It can’t be worse than Perry’s Witness.

Speaking of Katy Perry, we got the premiere of her video for “Swish Swish”, which was reportedly her diss track against Taylor Swift. After a lot of backtracking and sucking up, though, it seems Katy wants to put that feud behind her. That’s why this horrible video does everything it can to take the bite out of a song that was never really that biting to begin with. I mean, just look at it – Molly Shannon? Terry Crews? Even Nicki Minaj was clearly CGied in, as I’m sure she didn’t wanna be anywhere near this shitshow. The sad thing about the Perry/Swift feud is that Katy bailed on it the minute she realized the Swifties were a more powerful lobby than she had thought. Nobody was feeling her SNL performances, and Witness didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. She realized that she can’t really survive by making enemies, so suddenly she became conciliatory to save her ass. Plus, it’s kinda lame that this blood feud started just because Taylor stole a few of Katy’s dancers for her tour. Anyway, you’ll never get those 6 minutes back. You’re welcome.

I had the pleasure of joining my buddy Zac for his new podcast, The Zac Shipley Show. He’s treating these first few episodes as pilots for ideas he’s wanted to try, so our ep was called Streaming Pile, where we talked about the worst things we could find on streaming services. I talked about a Star Trek: Voyager episode where formerly perky pixie Kes returns all middle-aged and bitter. You should check it out, and give a listen to his other episodes while you’re there!

Song of the Week

I’ve been a big Maren Morris fan since she released “My Church”, and I was really into her next single, “80s Mercedes”. With this song she continues not to disappoint, as I love the groove on this thing. Listen to the bassline. It’s not a dance song, yet you can do a MEAN two-step to it. Hell, I think you could even do a casual version of The Hustle to it. This will definitely go to #1 given time.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • NBC’s planned reboot of Xena: Warrior Princess – which would’ve featured a full-on lesbian relationship between her and Gabrielle – is officially dead, as they said “it didn’t warrant a reboot”. Man, if only other studios would realize this about some of their projects…
  • Director James Gunn mentioned in a Q & A session that the 3rd Guardians of the Galaxy film would set up the next 10-20 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yup, you’re just now realizing your own mortality. I’ll give you a minute to deal with that.
  • Speaking of Gunn, he’s attached to write the pilot for (and possibly direct) a reboot of 70s series Starsky & Hutch. This adaptation is supposed to be similar in tone to CBS’s upcoming S.W.A.T. and not comedic in tone like the 2004 Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson movie.
  • Surprising every critic in Hollywood, Netflix has renewed the maligned comedy Friends From College for a second season.
  • Known for controversial publicity stunts, Alamo Drafthouse is reportedly organizing a Clowns Only screening of the new adaptation of Stephen King’s It.

  • We got a new poster for Thor: Ragnarok. So many colors!
  • Michael K. Williams has reportedly been cut from the Star Wars Han Solo film, as Ron Howard’s reshoot schedule conflicted with another role that Williams had accepted.
  • There are, like, 8 different Knight Rider reboot treatments floating around Hollywood, but the latest rumor is that one of those productions is looking at John Cena as Michael Knight, with Kevin Hart as the voice of K.I.T.T. Of course, it would be a comedic adaptation, a la the popular Jump Street franchise.
  • Super Troopers 2, the sequel to one of the most overrated films I’ve ever seen, will hit theaters April 20th, 2018.
  • Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson will star in Nasty Women, which is a female-led reboot of the Michael Caine/Steve Martin classic Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
  • Independence Day: Resurgence‘s Jessie T Usher will star in Son of Shaft, with Samuel L. Jackson potentially reprising his role as John Shaft (from the 2000 reboot film), the nephew of the original John Shaft, played by Richard Roundtree, who is also in talks to join the movie. Man, that gave me a headache.

  • Always on the cutting edge, here’s Sesame Street’s parody of 2017’s song of the summer, “Despacito”
  • According to the creators, the Netflix series Stranger Things will most likely end after its fourth season
  • The actress formerly known as “Andrea Zuckerman”, Gabrielle Carteris, has been re-elected to a 2-year term as the President of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)
  • Ryan Gosling will host the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, with musical guest Jay-Z, on Sept 30th.
  • Jamie Bell is developing a Jumper TV series, based on the 2008 film about teleporters
  • Suicide Squad 2 is reportedly being fast tracked, but I hope they fast track it right into the garbage. I mean, I enjoyed the first one, but I don’t need a sequel.

  • I like Nick Kroll, even though I never saw even a second of Kroll Show. Anyway, he’s got a new animated series about puberty called Big Mouth coming to Netflix and after watching this teaser I am ON BOARD!
  • We’re a month away from the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, and it was revealed that it will be rated TV-MA, for Mature Audiences. Now, it doesn’t mean there’ll be tits and phasers, but it does mean they can tell more complex stories. That said, I still feel like they don’t truly understand the source material.
  • After a scathing essay from his ex-wife went public, accusing him of adultery and other generally shitty behavior to women, Joss Whedon went underground and the fan site, Whedonesque, shut down after 15 years.

  • We got a new teaser for Netflix’s The Punisher. With the rate I’m getting through these Marvel shows, I’ll probably get to it just before Evie goes off to Hogwarts.

There was a national solar eclipse this week, which was the first occurrence since 1918. I’m sure you might’ve heard something about it. It was kind of a big deal. Folks were pimping out special cardboard glasses on Craigslist for insane amounts of money, and the American President made news by looking directly into it. It seems that it had a strange effect on different folks. For example, Netflix viewership went down 10% as people went outside to view the phenomenon. Not everyone understood what was going on, bless their hearts. At work, a frantic parent called in and said “Y’all watching the news? You hear about this eclipse? Is it serious?!” Apparently she thought it posed some sort of danger to her kids and the school. No, ma’am. It’s just a beautiful sky ballet. Anyway, the eclipse was EVERYWHERE. I didn’t get to see totality, but it was still nice to stand outside for a bit on a nice day. What am I saying? I hate the outdoors! Well, it was nice to not have to work for a few minutes. You couldn’t escape the Eclipse Fever at the start of the week, so that’s why the Solar Eclipse of 2017 had the West Week Ever.

18th Aug2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 8/18/17

by Will

 

I swear, as much as I love pop culture, some weeks it’s just really hard to pay attention to that stuff with everything going on in the world. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know about everything that went down in Charlottesville last weekend. I don’t need to recap it, but I’ve got to tell you that I’m scared. Yeah, we’re supposed to stand up to the Nazis and #Resist and all that, but I can still be scared, can’t I? I’ve got to raise a kid in the world. I don’t know how to explain shit that I don’t even understand. We really judge people because of their color? It’s like the Chris Rock joke about VCRs and girls who don’t perform oral sex: “They still make you?” It’s crazy to me, and I tended to just go through life without really thinking too much about it. I had that luxury, and I knew it was a luxury. Part of what made it great was that these folks that are loud and proud used to just be keyboard warriors in their moms’ basements. But they’ve come out of the basements, y’all, and this shit is REAL.

About two years ago, I was driving us all home from the airport. I get to an intersection for a left turn, and the guy behind me keeps honking for me to go, even though he couldn’t really see that I saw cars coming. Eventually, he just speeds around me, and we end up next to each other at the next light. I see him mouthing something at me, so I roll down my window. Then he proceeds to ramble off a bunch of stuff, but what stood out most in my mind was him calling me a nigger. Oh, and my wife a bitch. But mainly him calling me a nigger several times. And it all went black for me.

I seem to remember calling him an asshole, because racial scientists have yet to discover the perfect counter to being called a nigger. White folks are like Teflon when it comes to slurs, as most of the ones about them have lost their effectiveness over the years. And then he challenged me to a fight. Wanted me to pull over into a parking lot. Like I said, I was GONE at this point. Plus, this was the longest red light in history. My daughter started crying in her carseat, and he told me to “go on home and don’t be a deadbeat nigger”, and Lindsay was urging me to just ignore the guy. Engines started revving. The lanes narrowed, and I think I wanted to run him into the median. That was my plan. As Evie’s cries got louder, I realized I had responsibilities and shit, so I let him speed off when the light turned green.

He wasn’t some good ol’ boy redneck. He pretty much looked like a regular White dude with a shaved head. At that point, I didn’t know what the Alt Right was because I hadn’t really heard of Gamergate and all that. But I can say, today, that he was the same type of dude that was down in Charlottesville, and that scares me. It scares me because I don’t like what they’re capable of. But it also scares me because I don’t like what they’re capable of making me do. Bad shit all the way around. Who’s to blame? Well, you be the judge of that. Some of you are still fooling yourselves, but you know exactly how we got here, and didn’t even stop think of what the ramifications would be. Fuck it all, ’cause “emails”, right? Anyway, here we are. Question I have for you is how are we gonna get out of here? And are you part of the solution or part of the problem?

Whew! OK. So, who’s ready for some pop culture ramblings, huh? Huh? Yeah, let’s get to that.

 

In a pretty big deal, Netflix acquired comic creator Mark Millar’s Millarworld comic imprint. You know, he’s the guy behind Wanted, and Kick-Ass, and Kingsman. Oh, what’s that? No, those properties aren’t part of this deal. Still, he’s quite the prolific writer (so prolific, in fact, that I’m not convinced he’s the one actually writing all this stuff, but I digress…), so there’s a lot of material to pull from. There’s Nemesis, which is basically evil Batman who dresses like a Klansman. There’s Superior, which is basically just Millar’s riff on the Shazam story. There’s Super Crooks, which is about, well, super crooks. I know I sound sarcastic and all, but I actually did enjoy all of these series. They may not have been the most original things I’ve read, but he’s found what works for him, so more power to him.

To me, the real winner here is Netflix, as they basically acquired a comic “company” without any of the hassle. You see, Millarworld isn’t a publisher like Marvel or DC. No, it’s an imprint, which is just a fancy branding tactic to let you know that all the stories spring forth from the same voice. Millarworld comics are currently published by both Marvel and Image. As an imprint, all of the heavy lifting is done by the actual publisher. So, Netflix gets the intellectual property without having to worry about comic shipping schedules, retailer outreach, or anything else that publishers should be doing. With this deal, they essentially get to have their cake and eat it, too. Part of me is scared that Netflix is being a bit too aggressive in the marketplace, and can’t sustain this level of success, but what do I know? It’ll be interesting to see what they end up doing with all of this.

Speaking of big deals, Shonda Rhimes – creator of the hits Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal – has signed a multiyear production deal with Netflix, moving her Shondaland production house from ABC. Her ABC contract was set to expire in May 2018, but word on the street is that she negotiated an early exit. A lot of folks are wondering what this means, especially for ABC, which had built the Thursday night TGIT lineup around Rhimes’s shows. It could be good, and it could be bad. For all of her success (the aforementioned shows), she’s also had some misses, including Off The Map, The Catch, and Still Star-Crossed. And for all the buzz surrounding its star, How to Get Away With Murder struggles to find the audience that Grey’s and Scandal have attracted.

There’s no doubt Rhimes is a powerhouse producer, but I think this move came at the right time, as TGIT was starting to get stale. Grey’s is on season 13, but could continue as long as Ellen Pompeo wants work. Meanwhile, Scandal ends this season, and I really don’t know how much more rope they’re gonna give Murder. I’m sure ABC would love to retool the night, without having to cater to one producer, so this will give them a lot more options. There were some potentially difficult decisions on the horizon that can now be avoided since Rhimes took an early out. As for what she’ll do for Netflix, we’re really just gonna have to wait and see.

So get this: apparently some lawyer bought the rights to My Cousin Vinny just so he could release Back to Brooklyn, a novel that follows the characters 25 years later. Now, I’ve never seen the movie in its entirety, but it’s certainly not one that ended with me wondering what happened to them next. According to the synopsis, not much. According to Deadline:

In the update, Vinny is working on a new murder case. This time, it’s set in his native Brooklyn. But domestic issues still plague him – he hasn’t married Lisa, and his career as an attorney really hasn’t taken wing, despite the Alabama triumph, leading to financial problems. Finally, he is hired to help a woman accused of killing her boyfriend, whose brother is the deputy mayor of New York City.

“Taken wing”? I’ve never heard that before. Is that like “Taking flight“? Anyway, that sounds boring as shit. This reboot/revival industry has really gotten out of hand, and this just takes the cake. I can tell you one thing about it without even reading it, though: 25 years later and Marisa Tomei is still a total smokeshow.

Not only has Chrisley Knows Best been renewed for a 6th sesaon, but it also scored an aftershow, According to Chrisley. Hey, at least it’s not another Hardwick talker! From the description, it’s really just a late night version of a daytime talk show, as Todd Chrisley will interact with the audience and give advice on marriage, parenting, and sex. Yup, good ol’ vaginal intercourse. I’m sure Todd knows TONS about that…

They say the third time’s the charm, and that’s exactly how many times they’ve now tried to make How I Met Your Father happen. This time, the show is being developed by Alison Bennett from a show that I love, FXX’s You’re The Worst. So, tonally, don’t look for the kind of humor you’re used to from HIMYM.

In the world of comics, Wizard: The Guide to Comics is returning in the form of WizPop, which will be yet another pop culture website in a crowded pool of pop culture websites. They say that a quarterly print version will follow at some point in the future, but I really don’t see that getting off the ground in today’s print marketplace. Apparently, WizPop will be a “digital daily video news service”, and I hate videos, so this already isn’t for me. I feel a lot of folks film shit that would’ve been more compelling written. Plus, I’m sure they’ll find some hot girl, get her to talk about Pokémon once a week, and expect the clicks to roll in.

The editor in chief of this project is Brian Walton, formerly of Nerdist, so I’m sure he knows his shit. The associate editor, however, is Luke Y. Thompson, who’ll I’ll always refer to as “the guy who killed Topless Robot”. Back in the early ’00s you wanted to have the popularity of 2 major sites: Topless Robot and X-Entertainment. Rob and Matt ruled the geek set, and when Rob left Topless Robot – a brand he had built – it really should’ve ended. Instead, Thompson came along and simply didn’t have feet big enough to fill the shoes he’d been left. I remember when the call went out for a new editor for that site, and I considered it briefly, but thought to myself “Nobody knows me, and it’s not like I have that big of a following”. Then they chose Thompson, whom I’d only heard of here and there, and who had basically the same amount of social media followers that I did. Son of a bitch! Anyway, I’m probably being too hard on the guy. I can say with certainty that I wouldn’t have fared any better than he did, as there just wasn’t, nor should there have been, a Topless Robot without Rob Bricken. Can’t begrudge a dude for needing to work, but I really don’t know what Thompson or Walton can bring to the Wizard brand to set it apart from everyone else who’ve already staked a claim to the digital world.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Everything’s coming up Jetsons, as DC Comics announced a new miniseries, while ABC announced they’ve picked up a pilot from Robert Zemeckis for a live action sitcom. I say this show dies on the vine like the Seth MacFarlane Flintstones reboot, but we’ll see…
  • The season 7 Suits finale will serve as a backdoor pilot for a spinoff starring Gina Torres, and set in the world of Chicago politics. I really hope it’s called Da Skirts.
  • Marvel’s Runaways are about to be DOOMED, as the former movie doctor (and Nip/Tuck butt model) Julian McMahon joins the Hulu series as some worthless adult character. Seriously, if you’ve read the book, you know you can’t trust any adults in their orbit.
  • Fringe‘s Kirk Acevedo has been cast as “Ricardo Diaz” next season on Arrow, who will be the Arrowverse adaptation of DC Comics martial artist Richard Dragon.
  • Unwillingly to let a little broken neck stop him (um, spoiler alert?), David Tennant will reprise his role as The Purple Man in season 2 of Jessica Jones.
  • If you’re looking for conversation fodder for when you talk to your grandma, you should probably know that Daphne Oz, daughter of the Dr, is leaving The Chew. Like I said, your grandma will have something to say about it.
  • If you’re a 15 year old girl and you stumbled across this site because you found me in one of your chat rooms, then you’ll want to know that the Teen Wolf 100th episode/series finale will air September 24th. No word if Michael J. Fox or Jason Bateman will make a cameo. Oh, you don’t know who they are? Fuckin’ Generation Z, man…
  • Paul Scheer will now spearhead the Amazon adaptation of Galaxy Quest, which can only mean one thing: Rob Huebel is gonna be the commander. Mark my words!
  • Lost executive producer/co-showrunner Carlton Cuse just inked an overall production deal with ABC. Spoiler alert: all the characters in all of the upcoming shows have been dead the whole time.
  • Michael Douglas is in talks to star in a Netflix sitcom created by Chuck Lorre, which means everyone will “hate” it but it’ll still be the highest rated comedy on the streaming service. I mean, Lorre is KING of the Guilty Pleasure.
  • NBC announced that there have been “talks” of a Frasier revival, though they aren’t sure if the creators want to do it without co-creator David Angell, who died in the September 11th attacks.
  • Not to be outdone, Fox announced that they’ve been in talks with Mike Judge to bring back King of the Hill. While I’d love to know how Hank Hill would regard Trump’s America, I feel the original run of that show is nearly perfect and wouldn’t want a lackluster follow-up like Futurama 2.0.
  • Bad Boys 3 is clearly never happening, so it just lost its release date to Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly’s Holmes & Watson, hitting theaters November 9th, 2018.
  • Nia Vardalos, of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame, is developing Suburbs Famous, a TV series loosely inspired by the Chewbacca Mom thing. I’m not sure what to call it. It wasn’t a phenomenon. It was just a thing.
  • Hold onto your butts, children of the 80s, as there’s a reboot of The Two Coreys masterpiece License to Drive. This time it’ll be a female-led ensemble, being called a “female version of Superbad“. Um, OK.
  • You know that coworker who clearly hates his job, and really doesn’t go out of his way to make you think otherwise? That’s Daniel Craig with the James Bond franchise and, as much as he claims to hate it, it’s a job, so he’ll be back in the next installment.
  • Get your towels, fangirls (and fanboys, if that’s your thing), ’cause Star-Lord is back on the market! After 8 years of marriage, Chris Pratt and Anna Faris announced their separation. He’ll get custody of the family’s successful movie career, while she gets the car and her job on Mom.

  • I thought this was pretty clever
  • In a rebranding move, Chuck E. Cheese’s is getting rid of the animatronic band that we all grew up being terrified of. But fear not, as the chain will still base their image around a rat serving you pizza, so if that ain’t classy, I don’t know what is!

This week I joined my good pal Classick for another round of the Classick Team-Up Podcast. This was my first show with his new cohost, Amber, and I think we all gelled really well together. You should definitely give it a listen, but listener discretion is advised!

To say that the new DuckTales is good would be an understatement. In fact, it might be too good. Like everyone else, I’m beginning to tire of all of Hollywood dusting off old properties for new money, so I was a bit apprehensive about a DuckTales reboot. I mean, Disney had come a long way since then, so did they really need to return to that well? I grew up with the Disney Afternoon, so I know some DuckTales. It was never my favorite show or anything, but I enjoyed watching it. Even saw the movie in theaters. I would’ve been more intrigued by a Darkwing Duck or, believe it or not, a Goof Troop reboot, but I was willing to return to Duckburg to check things out.

As the news started trickling out about the reboot, I began to get a bit more interested. The character designs were updated, yet faithful to the original. And the cast! They could’ve just gone with some unknown voice actors, but instead they went for Purple Man David Tennant, and SNL guys Bobby Moynihan and Beck Bennett. Hell, they even got Community‘s Danny Pudi in the mix. Even if the show sucked, it wouldn’t be due to the folks behind the mic. Then they announced that the show would premiere on 8/12, and air for 24 hours. And for 24 hours did it run!

I actually didn’t get to watch it until the marathon was over, but when it was over, I couldn’t believe what I had seen. It was great. I was surprised that Huey, Dewey, and Louie actually had personalities now. That’s something I don’t remember being true about the original show. I liked the personality upgrade that Webby received, and I now find her more endearing than annoying. There’s clearly a story behind the new Mrs. Beakley, as she’s not just some doddering housekeeper anymore. And Donald’s even featured this time! There were a ton of Easter eggs referencing the old show, including shout outs to Cape Suzette (Tale Spin) and St. Canard (Darkwing Duck). Hell, they even had Roxanne from A Goofy Movie in it. What’s not to love?

If I had any squabble at all, it’s that I kinda wish Donald had subtitles. I know that’s part of his gimmick, but during the first half hour, for whatever reason, I found him downright incomprehensible. It didn’t seem as bad during the second half hour, so I don’t know what the difference was.

Anyway, the series properly debuts with new episodes on September 23rd, and I think I found my new favorite Saturday cartoon. If you didn’t see it, you should definitely check it out. It might not be your speed, but you can’t help but marvel at what they accomplished. That’s why DuckTales had the West Week Ever.

Oh yeah, I’m still trying to make Sarahah happen, so leave me some comments!

04th Aug2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 8/4/17

by Will

In movie news, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming premieres this Sunday, and The Hollywood Reporter had a great article about the history of the franchise. For one thing, Donald Trump was originally approached to play the President in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, but his people were stalling because he was mulling a run for the actual presidency. When the producers moved on to cast Mark Cuban, Trump got pissed and his people threatened to sue (on what grounds, nobody knows). Also, the production was renamed to Dark Skies because the name Sharknado was turning off potential actors. To the cast’s chagrin, however, it was changed back to Sharknado at release.

The main takeaway from the article is the pay situation. In the beginning, star Ian Ziering was offered $100,000 to do the first film. He reportedly only took it because his wife was pregnant and he needed to keep up his SAG membership for the health insurance. Over time, however, his pay ballooned and he currently makes about $500,000 a film – which, as folks point out, is more than the $300,000 Gal Gadot reportedly made to star in Wonder Woman. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. For one thing, superhero films kinda pay on the low-ish side because there are so many moving parts. The pay tends to start low and then grows over time. By the third or fourth movie, the stars are, then, basically too expensive to keep, so it becomes renegotiation or reboot time. Plus, as I said on Twitter, washed up TV star in a “water cooler” franchise outranks unproven movie star in unstable cinematic universe. Yes, Wonder Woman was a great film, but to say that Gadot deserved more money is simply Monday morning quarterbacking. Nobody was worried about her pay before the film came out because, frankly, nobody gave a shit about her. She’ll eventually make her money, while Ziering will be begging for a Sharknado revival, as the series is clearly on its last legs based on the ratings. Sharknado is a funny thing because the social media impressions actually outnumber its ratings. So, folks feel the need to talk about Sharknado even if they’re not watching Sharknado.

The real crime about pay, though, is that Tara Reid only makes about $125,000 to Ziering’s $500,000 (his salary is about 1/6th the budget of Sharknado 5). When she spoke up about it, they created a poll to the public following Sharknado 3, asking whether or not her character should die. Lucky for her, the fans wanted her back (Production company Asylum claims the poll and her request were unrelated, but we aren’t stupid here).

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll watch even though the last installment was a chore to get through. The franchise really peaked at Sharknado 2: The Second One, but they generate buzz, so they keep coming. I’m still pissed about the last movie, where Ziering’s character, Finn, has a Black daughter-in-law who gets killed by a shark. Not only does the family not react, but she’s never mentioned again. It’s clearly the result of some terrible editing, but I can’t tell if they edited out reactions to her death OR if they edited in the character after the movie was basically done. I figure we’ll get to 6 and then they’ll have to think of something else. It’s too bad the Lavalantula franchise hasn’t enjoyed the same buzz, as I enjoy those pseudo Police Academy reunions.

In TV news, a LOT of folks are upset about that Confederate show that I mentioned last week, even calling for a boycott of HBO. Some folks have reminded the boycotters that their actions would hurt other Black shows on the network, like Insecure and Ballers. Instead, they encouraged that folks make their voices heard directly to HBO, using the hashtag #NoConfederate during its most watched hour last week, Game of Thrones. Well, in seeming retaliation for the show, producer Will Packer and The Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder are creating Black America for Amazon. Whereas Confederate would follow a United States on the brink of its 3rd Civil War, Black America would follow an alternate reality where freed Blacks were given Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi as reparations, and the sovereign nation of New Colonia is formed. Meanwhile, its neighbor to the north, The United States, is in a bad state of affairs.  New Colonia is about to become a world power, while the US is slipping. Due to their proximity, their fates are tied together, but clearly the Black folks are doing better than everyone else.

Is it wrong that I have no interest in either show? I mean, I have no desire to see slavery still going in Confederate, but the whole premise of Black America just sounds like it’s doing too much, and feels more reactionary than anything. I mean, why didn’t we hear about this project before Confederate was announced? And the problem is that both projects are so far in their infancy that they won’t be happening any time soon, if they happen at all. I know the announcement appeased a lot of the anti-Confederate crowd, but neither sounds like a “good” show from what we’ve heard, and I almost feel like they take us away from having the race dialogue that a lot of folks feel we so sorely need as a country. What are y’all’s thoughts on these shows?

In other TV news, it was announced that ABC’s The Middle would be ending after its upcoming 9th season. This elicited to a lot of responses of “That show’s still on?”, and I immediately understood why Trump won. As the title suggests, the show focused on a middle class family, in the middle of the country, as they struggle to make it through. Over the past 8 years, they have been emblematic of the types of voters who feel their voices aren’t being heard as their situations get tighter. That’s the show’s audience, even though they’re not the glamorous demographic that Madison Avenue covets. I actually really enjoy the exploits of the Heck family, but I understand that the show’s not “hip” or “cool”, so it flew under a lot of folks’ radar. The upcoming Roseanne revival has been described as focusing on the Conners as they try to make their way in Trump’s America, but I’d argue that The Middle did it first, and will probably be looked upon as the most accurate depiction when the dust settles.

Across the dial, it was finally confirmed that Erinn Hayes’s character on CBS’s Kevin Can Wait will, in fact, be killed off. The show will pick up after some time has passed, paving the way for Kevin James to reunite with his The King of Queens costar Leah Remini. I understand shows sometimes need a retool, but all evidence was pointing to the show as a moderate success. The only sticking point was Remini guested in the season finale, and suddenly everyone wanted that chemistry back. To me, I’m good. I still have 8 seasons of The King of Queens to look back on (I don’t count that last season because it felt like they hated each other by that point, surprising me that they’d reunite. To me, this is almost like Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell doing a new show together). Hayes will bounce back, as she’s already been cast in Amazon’s The Dangerous Book for Boys, but I still don’t feel like the show did her right.

In comics news, it was revealed that the Milestone comic line’s reboot has been stalled because the creators behind it were trying to cut out the estate of co-creator Dwayne McDuffie. If you’re not familiar, the Milestone line was comprised of a bunch of minority-focused superhero books from the early 90s. There was Hardware (Black Iron Man), Rocket (Black Captain Marvel?), Blood Syndicate (Black…I dunno. I didn’t read that one). Oh, and Static (Black Lightning Jr, basically). The original creators were Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Derek T. Dingle, and Michael Davis (if we ever meet, ask me my Michael Davis stories. Dude is crazy, but I ain’t putting that stuff in writing for him to find it).

A few years back, they announced a revival of the Milestone brand, but Davis had been cut out and replaced by former BET head Reginald Hudlin. They kept saying an announcement was forthcoming, while Davis took to the internet saying it’ll never happen. He was hurt he’d been left out of something he’d had a hand in creating, but he also knew there were roadblocks that the group wouldn’t be able to get over.

Well, this week, McDuffie’s widow sued the group because his estate had been left out of recent negotiations, as Cowan, Dingle, and Hudlin were going to create a new entity to cut out McDuffie’s stake. There’s a lot of potential in the franchise, with recent cries for representation in fantasy media, but I’d like to go on record and say that those books just weren’t very good. They were just Black characters the same quality of the Image output of the time. I used to read Hardware and that book, ugh…Maybe they’ve got some fresh new takes on the characters, but I don’t think they’re even interested in comics at this point. They just want to control the intellectual property. Anyway, for all McDuffie did in the comic industry, it seems like he was constantly screwed over, even in death. I hope his estate is at least getting some money for the use of Damage Control (which he created) in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but I know it was work-for-hire blah blah blah. Anyway, here’s hoping Mrs. McDuffie gets what she’s owed.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Divergent franchise sequel, Ascendant, is now being developed as an ongoing TV series for Starz
  • The Black-ish spinoff, college-ish will now known as grown-ish
  • Vin Diesel is reportedly working on a Miami Vice reboot on NBC for the 2018-2019 season. I really hope they set it in the 80s. Otherwise, it’s just gonna be nothing but Pitbull and Flo Rida cameos…
  • The Will & Grace revival has already been renewed, despite the fact it hasn’t aired yet. It was also revealed that it will ignore the series finale, just like Roseanne…
  • Late 90s MTV staple, Total Request Live (TRL) will return in October, with FIVE hosts. I guess they’re trying to bring back that VJ position again.
  • Speaking of MTV, hot on the heels of removing gendered categories, MTV has changed the coveted Video Music Award from the Moon Man to the Moon Person. It will be able to use any space bathroom that it chooses.
  • Soap actor Hartley Sawyer will recur as The Elongated Man this season on The Flash
  • Speaking of the Arrowverse, the next 4-show crossover will take place over two nights this season, November 27th and 28th
  • Apparently hot ass Scientologist Catherine Bell from JAG has been on a show on Hallmark Channel called Good Witch for the past three years. Who knew? Anyway, it’s been renewed for a fourth season
  • Aussie actress Teagan Croft cast as Raven in the Titans series
  • Amazon is adding Carsey-Werner shows such as Roseanne, 3rd Rock from the Sun, A Different World, Cybill, Grace Under Fire, and Grounded for Life to its streaming library
  • Pacific Rim: Uprising‘s release has been moved from Feb 23 to March 23
  • Hasbro has called off talks to buy Lionsgate. In other news, apparently Hasbro was trying to buy Lionsgate.
  • Agent Carter‘s Hayley Atwell will reportedly join Ewan McGregor in Disney’s Christopher Robin 
  • Formerly a staple of Baltimore Comic Con, the Harvey Awards will move to New York Comic Con in 2018
  • They’ll be calling it Hawaii Five-WHOA, as Joey Lawrence is slated to guest star on the CBS series this season
  • Because he’s never turned down a job, Nick Cannon will host Lip Sync Battle Shorties, a kid-centered spinoff of Lip Sync Battle to air on Nickelodeon
  • During the 2017 Teen Choice Awards, Fox will experiment with 6-second commercials. This is how that subliminal programming shit starts!
  • Remembering where he came from, Kenan Thompson (who’s also now the longest-standing SNL cast member) is reportedly developing a live action sketch show for kids.
  • Transformers spinoff, Bumblebee, will open against Aquaman on December 21st, 2018
  • Blumhouse Television is bringing horror reality show Scare Tactics back to TV
  • Due to how he perceives Starz doesn’t appreciate his show, 50 Cent has threatened to snatch Power off the network.
  • Pokemon: I Choose You will get a two-night theatrical run in November. I’m not telling you the dates because the movie is a retelling of Ash & Pikachu’s meeting, yet it removes Brock and Misty from the story. Fuck this movie!

So, there was some crazy stuff in the comic industry this week, as a picture of of some women Marvel editors brought out the crazies. It all started with this pic:

Marvel editor Heather Antos and some other female editors got together for milkshakes, and based on the hashtag, it was to honor recently deceased former Marvel secretary “Fabulous Flo” Steinberg. A seemingly innocent thing, right? Well, here was the reaction on social media:

Wow, right? From dudes making inappropriate sexual remarks to folks blaming this on Social Justice Warriors, a certain corner of the internet lost its mind over some damn milkshakes.

But then came the backlash to the backlash. Fans and creators started posting pics in solidarity with the ladies.

The support even came from the “Distinguished Competition”, as they tweeted the following pic:

What started out as a snake bed for trolls turned into a show of solidarity that not only shed light on what women editors face on a daily basis, but also seemed to strengthen some relationships “across the aisle”. I mean, this is the best Marvel/DC crossover since Amalgam! As I said on Twitter, when history classes look back on this period in time, they will see that it was not blockbuster events but milkshakes that saved the comic industry. That’s why female comic editors had the West Week Ever.

 

By the way, I’m apparently 16 years old because I just signed up for Sarahah. So, swing by and leave me some anonymous comments. Oh, and please don’t make me cry!

07th Jul2017

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

by Will

I took last week off, but I hope y’all had a great 4th of July weekend. Life’s still kinda kicking my ass, so this’ll be an abridged edition this week.

I finally got around to watching a movie! It’s been on my list since I first heard it was in pre-production, and I’m amazed it took me this long to watch it, considering my love for the source material. The Founder stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the “founder” of McDonald’s who really just stole the concept from the McDonald Brothers. A down-on-his-luck shake machine salesman, Kroc happens upon the fledgling McDonald’s restaurant in Southern California. Knowing a good thing when he saw it, he pretty much insisted on becoming a part of the operation, mainly focused on franchising the business. And that’s when things get interesting. I LOVE McDonald’s. You can hate me all you want, but like Jim Gaffigan says, “Everyone has their own McDonald’s”. Mine just happens to be the actual company. I don’t know enough about the history of the company to know how factual an account the movie was, but it was sure damn entertaining. Keaton is amazing in it, and I feel like anyone would enjoy the movie even if they think they don’t give a rat’s ass about McDonald’s as a company. I highly recommend this film.

We finally got our first trailer for Marvel’s Inhumans, and now I realize why they were so hesitant to release it. MY GOD THIS LOOKS TERRIBLE! It looks like Into The Badlands – a show that I hate because people fawn over it when it looks like something that would’ve aired after Xena on Saturday afternoons 20 year ago. Yeah, I even told one of the Badlands creators that when he confronted me over my “appraisal” on Twitter. Badlands is a bad show, but it gets “diversity points”, so folks give it a pass. This show doesn’t even get diversity right, so it’s really just a shitshow in the making. I hate hate HATE that this is considered an official part of the MCU, even if it’s just a part of the never-referenced TV wing. Anyway, this trainwreck debuts in IMAX on September 1st, but will officially air on ABC beginning September 22nd.

Speaking of diversity points, CBS lost all of theirs when they let the Asians go from Hawaii Five-O last weekend. Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park both left the show after salary negotiations broke down as they requested pay equal to their costars. I’ve never seen more than 15 minutes of that show, but I know the dude from Lost seemed pretty important to things. He was basically the White guys’ interpreter to all things native. CBS has claimed that they offered them sizable increases, which weren’t deemed acceptable to Park and Kim. Now the Five-O showrunner, Peter Lenkov, is now joining the side of the network, saying that CBS made “generous offers” to the stars, yet they decided not to renew their contracts.

This has turned into a discussion of race in Hollywood and how things still aren’t equal across the board. I’m a big fan of billing. Billing is important, and should go to the most well-known star. It’s the reason all the ’89 Batman posters say “Jack Nicholson” first. Dude was a bigger star. Now, I didn’t watch Lost and I didn’t watch Battlestar Galactica, but I still recognize Kim and Park from those shows. Maybe it’s just because I’m a geek and folks were always talking about those shows. The show’s star, Alex O’Loughlin? I can’t name a thing he’s been in. Don’t know that dude from Adam. And the other lead? James Caan’s kid? Whatever. Y’all mean you couldn’t pony up the cash to keep Lost Dude and Battlestar Girl? We’re not talking about big names here so, unless there was a favored nations clause where O’Loughlin would have to get a raise if they got raises, thereby thwarting the whole “equality” thing, I don’t see what the problem was. As has been pointed out, all O’Loughlin and Caan had to do was stand in solidarity with their costars and this would’ve been a non-issue. Word on the street it O’Loughlin is quitting at the end of the season anyway, so it’s not like we’re talking another 5 years here. He couldn’t keep his ego in check for a season? Nah, for too many folks, as long as they’ve got theirs, they don’t care if you’ve got yours.

We also got a trailer for Pitch Perfect 3, forcing me to reiterate that NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE A TRILOGY. I know everyone involved likes money, but sometimes there are natural, built-in ends to things. That thing was a 2-movie franchise and that’s it. Don’t forget – I lived that life. I was in the same competition the Bellas won in the first film (we came in 2nd), and I experienced the aca-graduation blues that the girls experienced in the second film. That’s pretty much it. There’s nowhere else to go. I mean, sure there are some random outlier outcomes. One of my groupmates is a hit producer in Asia now. Another is a pretty big pop star in Hong Kong. The rest of us? Dead-end jobs and bills. I used to occasionally do karaoke, but even that got to be too depressing. That shit is fun while it lasts, and then you’ve got to move on. So, in that vein, I can understand the plot of the 3rd movie, with the girls wanting to have one last hurrah, but I don’t really understand the concept of putting them on a USO tour. Is that something the troops wanna see? Has Pentatonix been dropped into the theater of war? It just seems kinda farfetched to me, and I was fine with how things were left in the last movie. Sure, I’ll see it, but it won’t be in a theater.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Hide grandma’s wallet – QVC is buying out Home Shopping Network.
  • After 3 seasons, The Carmichael Show has been canceled by NBC. I really wish someone else would snatch it up, as it’s a smart show
  • Netflix has renewed Dear, White People for a 2nd season. Meanwhile, they canceled Girlboss after one season. Reed Hastings giveth and he taketh away.
  • Speaking of Netflix, hearing the cries of fans, Sense8 will officially conclude with a 2-hour finale special
  • Netflix also renewed one of my favorite original shows, F is For Family, for a 3rd season.
  • Apparently a series based on the popular Step Up film series, called Step Up: High Water, will premiere on YouTube Red, where absolutely NOBODY is gonna watch it.
  • Fuller House season 3 will coincidentally premiere on the 30th anniversary of Full House, September 22nd.
  • Make your vacations weird again, as Cirque du Soleil has purchased Blue Man Group.
  • Patton Oswalt is engaged to 80s actress Meredith Salenger. Ya know, the same Patton whose wife died last year. I guess we all grieve in our own ways…
  • Lack of interest brought down The House, which bombed at the box office last weekend. It was reportedly Will Ferrell’s lowest live-action opening for a major studio.
  • Nick Fury will reportedly be making his MCU return in 2019’s Captain Marvel
  • HBO is reportedly getting the True Detective band back together, with a 3rd season to star Mahershala Ali
  • Nixing speculation that she was still up for the White House Press Secretary job, Kimberly Guilfoyle has reupped her contract with Fox News
  • Rob Lowe and his sons will chase the supernatural in The Lowe Files, and I literally cannot wait.
  • New game show, Snap Decision, premieres August 7th. Hosted by David Allen Grier, the show breaks precedent because it will debut on GSN and in syndication on the same date.

  • The world’s leading (and only) bar scientist favorited my tweet this week

We’re gonna do something different here this week. Usually, if you’ve been paying attention to the week’s news, you can at least try to figure out who or what had the best week. Some weeks it’s harder to choose something than others. Then I remembered, “Will, this is YOUR site.” After all, this is all pop culture through my lens, so it’s my rules. So, sometimes I might choose something that meant a lot to me that week, while you were none the wiser. But I bring it up on the site so that we’re all on the same page. And that’s the kind of pick I have this week.

After watching The Founder, I was left thinking, “Michael Keaton is a goddamn national treasure”. After watching Spider-Man: Homecoming last night (yeah, we’ll talk about it next week, when more of y’all have had a chance to see it), I was thinking “Why have we been sleeping on Keaton the past 20 years?” I mean, with the exception of The Other Guys, I honestly hadn’t seen a Michael Keaton movie since probably Batman Returns, and yet Birdman is the one considered his “comeback vehicle”. In The Founder, he really made you feel for a traveling salesman who was at the end of his rope. After a string of laughable failures, he finally found something to which he could hitch his wagon: McDonald’s. And while he also had to prove this to everyone in his sphere of orbit, most importantly he had to prove this to himself. He really needed a win, and Keaton did such a great job conveying that.

In Homecoming, Keaton plays Adrian Toomes, better known as the Vulture (though he’s never called that by name in the film). Not unlike Alfred Molina’s Dr. Octopus, he’s something of a sympathetic villain. Were it not for the fact that comic book franchises deal in the good/bad binary, you could almost relate to him and understand where he’s coming from. He’s a modern-day working class guy who feels ignored by the fat cats up on high. He doesn’t have evil goals. He simply wants to provide for his family, and he has a code of honor that dictates he must do whatever it takes to make good on that promise. I felt that Keaton did a great job expressing the plight of the working man. Sure, he got to utter some cheesy villain dialogue, but that simply comes with the territory. If you stopped for a minute, and ignored the fact that Spider-Man HAS to win, you realize that Toomes is actually kind of on to something. Again, though, I’ll get into more Homecoming thoughts next week.

My pal Chad pretty much swears by Michael Keaton as his favorite actor – a lot of that having to do with his immense love of 1989’s Batman. I’ve gotta say, I was never a huge fan of Keaton’s Batman, and when Chad would laud Keaton’s praises, I wasn’t really seeing it. I see it now, though. I have seen the light and I am healed! Dear Hollywood, more Michael Keaton, please! He pretty much impressed me on two different cinematic fronts this week, and that’s why Michael Keaton had the West Week Ever.

13th Jun2017

Toy Biz Hotline Bling: I Used To Call You On My Wall Phone

by Will

If you’ve been to this site before, you were probably brought here for my weekly pop culture news review, West Week Ever, that I post every Friday. It didn’t always used to be like that, though. No, I used to write about anything that popped into my mind, as you’ll see in my archives. Over my time online, however, I’ve found that anything I can do, a lot of other folks can do better. When it comes to the nostalgia game, no one does it better than Matt over at Dinosaur Dracula. So, imagine my surprise when something popped into my head that he hadn’t covered yet! That’s right, kids – today we’re gonna talk about the Toy Biz Hotline.

A few days ago, I saw that a Facebook friend had shared the video for a Knight Rider hotline where you’d call and K.I.T.T. would tell you a story. Considering William Daniels actually respects himself, it was more likely the chance to hear a randomization of pre-recorded dialogue from a K.I.T.T. impersonator. One of the perks of calling the hotline, however, was that you’d receive a free “Wuppie”, which is basically a cotton ball with googly eyes and feet. You’d be surprised how many hotlines used the promise of a Wuppie to lure kids into calling.

If you’re a youngin’, then let me educate ya on something: the 80s were chock full of these hotlines, mainly because we didn’t have the Internet yet and unscrupulous business folks learned how to monetize that thing hanging on your wall in the kitchen. To put it in 2017 terms, 900 numbers were the “in app purchases” of the 1980s. While they were required to tell kids to get their parents’ permission, these hotlines were designed to trick kids into racking up high phone bills – ya know, so they could talk to Santa and get a toy cotton ball.

While we were obsessed with our phones in a different way than we are today, I can assure you that not everything was designed to make a dollar. Before you could tweet your displeasure at a company account, you used to have to call them. That’s right, you had to be indignant and ask an employee, “What’s the number for corporate?!” Remember, you couldn’t Google that shit yet. If they weren’t too busy using that slide thingy to process a credit card transaction, they would take out a Lisa Frank pen and write down a number for you. If you were lucky, that number would connect you to a phone system that MIGHT eventually lead to a real person on the other end. Basically, customer service was handled solely by phone. Some companies, instead of just waiting around for complaints, decided to be proactive with their customer service hotlines. That’s what brings us to Toy Biz.

http://thecomicscode.weebly.com/x-men-toy-biz.html

“But what’s a Toy Biz, Uncle Will?” Well, back in the late 80s/early 90s, all comic book-based action figures briefly came from the same company! I’ll let you catch your breath there for a minute, as I know that’s a crazy notion in today’s competitive world. Not only did Toy Biz land the license for 1989’s Batman (for which they produced an assortment of a whopping THREE figures), but they also handled DC Comics Super Heroes, based on Kenner’s old Super Powers molds. Then, shifting into the 90s, they dropped DC in favor of the Marvel license when Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter bought the company. We initially got a Marvel Super Heroes series, but their real claim to fame was the 8,000 X-Men figures they would go on to produce. I’ve always said that nobody mines a property quite like Playmates, but Toy Biz was a close second.

This was probably the first toy line to teach me about waves, meaning that the toys were released in batches at a specific time.  Most toys don’t include an “evergreen” line of toys that you can always find on shelves at any time. They used to differentiate the multiple iterations of a character by Roman numeral. So, “Wolverine” eventually gave way to “Wolverine XVII”. For example, if Wolverine II came out in September of 1994, then you’re probably not gonna be able to find him on shelves in October of 1995, because Wolverine III will be out by then. How would you know which figures were supposed to be in stores, without your parents wasting all their gas driving around? That’s where the Toy Biz hotline came in.

 

Listed on the cardbacks of all Toy Biz figures was a hotline that you could call that served as Toy Biz’s customer service line: 1-800-634-7539. While I guess you could call them to let them know your Colossus had two left legs, that’s not why people called it. No, the hotline had a prerecorded message where an emotionless male voice rattled off the names of the figures in the latest wave, in many cases mispronouncing them because they couldn’t give two shits about what they were actually saying. So, you’d get them just putting two words together, like “Omega Red”, but you’d also get mistakes like them calling the X-Men villain “Mag-NET-o”, instead of “Mag-NEAT-o”. I can’t speak for other folks, but I didn’t care! My best friend, Brett, and I used to call that number ALL THE TIME. It was the centerpiece of our sleepovers. It was like “So, should we call the number?” as if we were discussing digging out one of our dad’s old Playboy stash.

From what I could gather, it seemed like the message was updated about every 6 months or so. As the Toy Biz catalog increased, the message got longer. There was the X-Force subset, and the Hulk series, the Fantastic Four series, and more. If you wanted to, you could just listen to the dude drone on for a good 30 minutes. I have to admit, though, that once Power Rangers mania hit, I left Toy Biz in the past. So, I missed the evolution of the basic figures into the dynamic, articulated sculpting of the Marvel Legends that soon dominated Toy Biz’s offerings.

The hotline also had an answering machine portion, where you could ask questions about the toys. You were told to leave your name, number, and address, and they would get back to you. To date, I don’t know a single person who ever heard back from them. According to this article, it doesn’t seem like anyone heard back from them.

Since most of Toy Biz’s output was Marvel figures, it made all the sense in the world for them to change the name to Marvel Toys in 2007 – only to give up the Marvel license to Hasbro later that year.

So, we were left with a Marvel toy company that couldn’t make Marvel toys, and the company circled the drain as it cranked out Lord of the Rings and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling figures. The hotline remained a fixture on Marvel Toys packaging through the release of 2007’s Legendary Comic Book Heroes line. By this point, they had established a website, but were still advertising the number as the best way to reach them. In 2008, with no fanfare, the Marvel Toys website was taken down, signaling the end of the hotline and the company itself. Nowadays the number belongs to a DirecTV promotions department.

Despite what the ladies of LiveLinks would have you believe, the age of the interactive hotline is over. The Internet came along with its promises of instant gratification and all the correct AND fake news that you could want. Still, there was something quaint about the “personalized” experience of calling a hotline. Sure, we knew the messages were prerecorded, but that didn’t matter to us. When calling that hotline, we felt like we were getting insider information. We could go back and tell the news to our friends who lacked phone privileges. “Wolverine VII? Yeah, he’s not out yet, but Black Tom Cassidy is. Oh, you don’t know who that is? Well, I can’t help you there.” The Toy Biz hotline: Building fandom snobs before the Internet.

So, am I alone in remembering this? Do any of y’all have fond memories of dialing up this number? Share your memories in the comments!

12th May2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 5/12/17

by Will

In movie news, it was reported by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola that there will be an R-rated Hellboy reboot film. Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen will star Stranger Things‘s David Harbour in the title role, and will be directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent). As most fans were holding out for a Hellboy 3, this news came as quite a surprise. Still, it won’t star Ron Perlman, nor will it be directed by Guillermo Del Toro, so folks are a bit hesitant. I think Harbour will be good in the role, and I remember enjoying The Descent, so I think the franchise is in good hands if the intent is to scare the audience.

We got a trailer for Blade Runner 2049, which did absolutely nothing for me. Back when I was in college, I did a summer in London where I was supposed to be learning about globalization. Instead, the professor had us watch Blade Runner. I still don’t know how the two topics tied together. Anyway, I hated that movie. It tried too hard. Like Peter Griffin describes The Godfather, it insists upon itself. It wants to be so deep and mysterious, with its whole “Is Decker a Replicant?” thing. I just wasn’t a fan. So this sequel isn’t exactly on my Must Watch list, which is a shame seeing as how I’ve loved Ryan Gosling since Breaker High. Yup, even in Young Hercules. Some folks seem excited for this film, though, so good for them I guess.

Over on cable, shows are playing musical chairs. The Untitled Black-ish Spinoff that we talked about last week may now be moving to Freeform It seems that the audience that tuned in were a bit lower than what ABC would like to see for a Wednesday night, but the demographics are perfect for the show to be on Freeform. Meanwhile, fantasy series The Shannara Chronicles is moving from MTV to Spike TV (which will soon be rebranded as The Paramount Network). I never watched Shannara, but it didn’t seem like the kind of thing that belonged on MTV, except for the fact that it starred pretty teens. I’m not even sure Spike is the right home for it, either, but maybe this is a hint as to how they’re planning to use The Paramount Network.

Speaking of cable, out of nowhere it was announced that Donald Glover would be the showrunner for a Deadpool animated series on FXX. Yeah, that Donald Glover. It’s odd that we’re not getting season 2 of Atlanta until 2018 at the earliest because of his other commitments, but he’s gonna have time to do this? He’ll be running the show with his brother Stephen, but it still sounds like a tall order. I’d rather have Atlanta. Plus, this just feels like it’s gonna be Marvel’s Archer. 10 episodes have been ordered for a 2018 debut.

On basic TV, Modern Family scored a 2-season renewal, with the grown-up cast members getting a raise from $350,000 to $500,000 an episode. The contract negotiations came down to the wire, but in the end ABC was able to keep its Wednesday night lynchpin. I honestly feel like this show should’ve ended 3 years ago. I stopped being able to really relate to them when I realized they whole upper middle class status made their lives unrealistic. They never seem to have money problems, they can take trips and do whatever they want. It’s funny – the same reasons I hate Roseanne (they were so damn poor) is what I feel are missing from Modern Family. Plus, there’s the elephant in the room in the form of Ariel Winter. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, she has grown up into what some might call “hot as shit”, yet they still frump her up on the show because her character, Alex, is supposed to be mousy next to Sarah Hyland’s Haley. If they really want to make these final (yes, I’m calling it: final) two seasons interesting, they will address this fact, and force Haley to realize she’s no longer the “hot daughter”. That might actually make me watch the show again.

Meanwhile, The CW officially ordered Black Lightning to series. This would typically be seen as good news, but I can’t help but feel like the Berlantiverse is too big and unwieldy at this point. Whenever a new show is introduced, the existing shows suffer. Everyone loved Arrow until The Flash came along. Then, they loved The Flash, yet felt Arrow had slipped. Then Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow debuted, and The Flash suffered while Supergirl was praised. This has been something of a rebuilding season across the board. Supergirl had to adjust to a network switch, while Legends saw an increase in quality. Arrow saw a return to form, while The Flash is doing whatever it’s doing over there. Flashpoint or some shit. The point is that the existing shows are finally heading in the right direction, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to introduce a new hero. In fact, I feel like Legends should be a proving ground. If a member of that team becomes a breakout fan favorite, then they get a spinoff. I’d be fine with Black Lightning as a member of the Legends, but I don’t know if there’s enough meat on that bone for him to have his own series. And can you imagine the FIVE-WAY crossover we’re gonna end up with next season?! I was already disappointed by this season’s uneven four-way, but to add another show to that? Sure, it’ll be a weeklong event, but it isn’t necessary.

With the network Upfront presentations looming over the horizon, this is the time of year when your favorite show either gets another lease on life or it gets the chop. Here’s the movement from the past 24 hrs:

Cancellations

  • Timeless (NBC)
  • Rosewood (Fox)
  • Last Man Standing (ABC)
  • Son of Zorn (Fox)
  • Making History (Fox)
  • APB (Fox)
  • Sleepy Hollow (Fox)
  • The Catch (ABC)
  • Imaginary Mary (ABC)
  • Powerless (NBC)
  • The Real O’Neals (ABC)
  • Secrets & Lies (ABC)
  • Dr. Ken (ABC)
  • American Crime (ABC)
  • Frequency (The CW)
  • No Tomorrow (The CW)

Renewals

  • iZombie (The CW)
  • The Originals (The CW)
  • Blindspot (NBC)
  • 13 Reasons Why (Netflix)
  • Taken (NBC)
  • Last Man On Earth (Fox)
  • Gotham (Fox)
  • The Blacklist (NBC)
  • American Gods (Starz)
  • The Goldbergs (ABC)
  • Black-ish (ABC)
  • American Housewife (ABC)
  • Designated Survivor (ABC)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
  • Once Upon A Time (ABC)
  • Great News (NBC)
  • The Bachelor (ABC)
  • Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
  • Shark Tank (ABC)
  • Chicago Med (NBC)
  • Chicago PD (NBC)
  • Chicago Fire (NBC)

Song of the Week

I’m trying something new. Every week, I’m gonna share a song/video that I discovered that week. Today, I give you Midland’s “Drinkin’ Problem”. Yes, it’s country, but I love the sound, as it’s more of a bluesy 70s song than straight up country, and I LOVE the video.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Kelly Clarkson is reportedly in talks to be a judge on the revived American Idol on ABC. Seems like those talks were too late, though, as she has officially signed on as a coach on the next season of The Voice
  • Fox officially ordered X-Men tie-in The Gifted to series
  • Speaking of X-Men, Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones will play Wolfsbane in the New Mutants film. She will be joined by Magik, played by Split‘s Anya Taylor-Joy.
  • IM Global and Rebellion are teaming up to produce a live action Judge Dredd TV series, called Judge Dredd: Mega City One
  • Scandal will reportedly end after its upcoming 7th season
  • Direct from The LEGO Movie, Unikitty will be getting her own cartoon on Cartoon Network
  • Time to spot the pineapple, as Psych: The Movie will premiere on USA in December

So last Thursday night I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. I didn’t mention it in last week’s post because I’m trying to switch things up. It’s unrealistic of me to expect that all of you are able to see a film on opening night, and I also feel like you’re less likely to read my post if you think I might spoil something. So, I figured it best to sit on it a week so we’d all be on the same page. Anyway, what did I think of the film? I LOVED IT! I might even love it more than the original.

I’d say that this is probably the most emotional MCU film, as it’s more about family and belonging than it is about Infinity Stones and Winter Soldier. Star Lord’s story really hit home as a fellow child of the 80s, raised by his mom, who also didn’t have his father in his life. Now, instead of being a god, my dad simply died. But I’m sure I probably also wished Michael Knight was my dad at some point in my childhood.

What’s the movie about? Well, the Guardians are split up after a caper gone wrong. Half of the crew stays behind to fix their ship, while the other half go off with Star-Lord’s long lost father, Ego. But all is not as it seems with Ego. And that’s about all I’ll say about that. I can’t think of a single that I didn’t like about the film. Actually, scratch that. There was one thing: The Watchers. They just looked hokey, and I would’ve been fine if they’d never been introduced in the MCU. That kind of stuff belongs in the Fantastic Four Fox movies, but I like to think the MCU is more grounded than that. Their appearance looked and felt cheap to me, but luckily it’s only for a split second, unless you count their after credits appearance, too. Maybe it’s just because I typically hate most things about Cosmic Marvel, but the Guardians movies have slowly brought me around.

Internationally, the film has already crossed the $500 million mark, so I think it’s safe to say it’s success. They’re already talking about Vol 3 which, supposedly, will set up the next decade of the MCU. While I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that (again, I’m not a huge fan of Space Marvel), I’m eager to see how they pull it off. For all these reasons, Guardians of  the Galaxy Vol 2 had the West Week Ever.

05th May2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 5/5/17

by Will

In TV news, we got the first trailer for Marvel’s The Defenders series on Netflix. I dunno, y’all. I’ll be the first person to tell you that I’m behind on these shows. At this point, I’ve only seen Daredevil season 1 and Jessica Jones. No DD S2, no Luke Cage, and no Iron Fist. Sorry, kids, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Daredevil was a worthy bingeing experience, as each episode ended on a cliffhanger that MADE you have to check out the next episode immediately. Jessica Jones, not so much. It took me about 3 months to get through that show. Now, I enjoyed it, but it didn’t demand that I consume it immediately. I’m eager to catch Luke Cage, but I wanna go in order, so that means I’ve got to meet the Punisher and Elektra first in Daredevil season 2. So, even though The Defenders comes out in August, I’ll be lucky if I get to it in 2017. Anyway, I told you all that to make you see that my level of enthusiasm for this probably isn’t as high as yours because I’m so far behind. That said, I thought this trailer looked hokey as Hell. The scene where Murdock comes into Jessica’s interrogation felt like a bad fan film. Shit, the whole thing felt like a bad fan film. Remember when Playstation Network aired that Bendis Powers show? Yeah, it looks like that. Something about the cinematography of it all. And then they had to do another goddamn hallway fight. WE GET IT ALREADY! I just don’t know about this one right now..

In other TV news, there are talks of a Roseanne revival, with ABC and Netflix interested bidding on the project. Laurie Metcalf, Aunt Jackie herself, reported that contracts have been worked out, so now they’re just trying to sell the series. Right now, Roseanne (does she currently have a last name?), John Goodman, and Sara Gilbert would star, while Metcalfe says she’s on board in some capacity. It’ll be interesting to see how they pull this off, ya know with Dan being dead and all. Still, it ended with one of the most maligned series finales in television history, and they’ve got a chance to basically erase it. How many shows can say that? Anyway, I was never a huge Roseanne fan. They were just so poor and depressing. Are they gonna lose the bike shop? Are they gonna lose the loose meat restaurant? Is Fisher gonna stop beating up Jackie? I know their struggles resonated with certain folks, but not me. I actually liked the Lottery Season because I could say “Thank God their lives aren’t such shit anymore!” Anyway, I’d bet money on this happening, so it’s now just a matter of where it’s gonna air. The big question is in which “universe” it will be set. After all, the finale basically laid out that everything since about season 4 of the show had been a lie, since Darlene actually ended up with Mark, Becky was the one with David, Jackie was a lesbian, etc. So, would we get the “true” Roseanne, or just more of what we’re used to? And with Mark dead, and David on The Big Bang Theory, I don’t really expect much from those characters anyway. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

I was on my own last weekend, so I took the time to watch TV and catch up comics. Well, I didn’t really watch TV, but it was on in the background. It provided the soundtrack to my comic time. What did I watch? CMT – Country Music Television. Yeah, yeah, you hate country. I don’t care. I grew up on it, so it has a special place in my heart. Anyway, when I saw Brad Paisley’s new video for “Last Time For Everything”, I KNEW I had to share it with y’all. This thing is a love letter to children of the 80s, complete with tracking/tape distortion lines. I don’t wanna spoil anything, so just check it out. Don’t worry – the song’s not about drankin’, or a dead dog, or his wife left him; it’s just a song about appreciating things when you have them because they won’t always be there.

The backdoor pilot for the Black-ish spinoff aired this week. Oh, you don’t know what a “backdoor pilot” is? It’s when an established show gives up one of its episodes to try to launch a new show. Since it already has a built-in audience, it kinda tricks viewers into watching a new show that they otherwise wouldn’t have checked out. Married…with Children had, like, 4 of them. Anyway, in Black-ish, Zoey went off to check out college, made a new best friend, and pissed off the Black Student Union. The whole episode was kinda hokey, but it worked. Chris Parnell was the spineless dean, which is basically every Chris Parnell character these days. And I love how they worked Deon Cole’s Charlie into the plot. If the spinoff gets picked up (I mean, why wouldn’t it?), I hope he gets a bigger role there than he has on Black-ish. If Black-ish is a modern-day Cosby Show, then this is its A Different World. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that, really.

If you like useless gimmick items as much as I do, then make sure you pick up your Frork from McDonalds today. To celebrate the release of their three new Signature Crafted Recipes (Pico Guacamole, Sweet BBQ Bacon, and Maple Bacon Dijon), they’re releasing a utensil that they know nobody needs, but hey, why not? The Frork is basically a fry holder, where the fries act as the tines of the fork. In the infomercial, complete with Anthony Sullivan appearance, they claim the Frork will help you scoop up the toppings that fall off your overflowing sandwich. I swear Anthony Sullivan killed Billy Mays ‘so he’d get ALL that sweet infomercial work. But I digress…If you would like a Frork, check this link to see if one of your local McDonalds locations is giving them out today.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • HBO has hired writers for FOUR potential Game of Thrones spinoffs. So, get ready for Match of Chairs, Bout of Seats, Mother of Dragons and, my personal favorite, Tits & Swords.
  • Warner Bros has pushed back its theatrical animated Scooby-Doo film two years to 2020.
  • Girl Meets World is officially dead, as creator Michael Jacobs was unable to find a new home for the series.
  • While this news is about a month old, FXX has decided against a fourth season of Man Seeking Woman, which wrapped up its 3rd season in March. The season finale was a fitting series finale, so I ain’t mad.
  • Hot on the heels of its premiere, Hulu has renewed The Handmaid’s Tale for a second season.
  • Surprising no one, Fox canceled the freshman drama Pitch, about the first female major league baseball player. Following on their heels, NBC canceled the Wizard of Oz update Emerald City.
  • It was reported that Gabriel Luna’s Ghost Rider will be returning to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for the season finale

  • Speaking of Marvel TV, we got our first cast picture from Inhumans. KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!

  • We also got our first look at the cast of Marvel’s Runaways on Hulu. They look like the comic, but I still hate that they aged Molly. I like her more as a precocious child to balance them out.
  • A strike by the Writers Guild of America, which would’ve affected all corners of entertainment, was narrowly averted at the 11th hour
  • Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski revealed that they’re engaged. Man, they shit in the company ink! That’s the saying, right?

The biggest TV news of the week was that Ryan Seacrest was announced as Kelly Ripa’s permanent cohost on what will now be called Live with Kelly & Ryan. This bothered me so much! First of all, I was really kinda hoping an underdog, like Fred Savage, would get it. And if they had to go with a media person, they had Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen on the list. But Seacrest?! The dude’s empire is based in LA and, yes, he has an empire. He’s a modern-day Merv Griffin, producing Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Shades of Blue, and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest. He also has a daily syndicated radio show, On Air With Ryan Seacrest, as well as hosts the weekly American Top 40 countdown. With all that going on, you’d think he’d stay in LA instead of taking a job from a New Yorker. Instead, iHeartMedia has built a radio station in the ABC Studios building so that he can do his radio show immediately after taping Live. The plan is for him to stay in New York Monday-Thursday to film Live, he’ll pretape Friday’s show on Thursday, and then he’ll spend Friday-Sunday in LA.

But that’s not ALL the Seacrest news this week. You see, talks of an American Idol revival have heated up again. I wrote about it a few weeks ago, when NBC and Fox were both interested in the show – NBC especially because they could, then, reduce The Voice to one cycle a year. Those talks fell through, but now it appears that ABC has gotten into the game, with one stipulation: there’s no Idol without Seacrest, so the show would have to move to New York so he could continue to host. The show’s production company, Fremantle, insists that it stays in LA. ABC wants to announce it during the May upfronts, which occur in two weeks, for a Fall 2018 premiere (yeah, it ain’t gonna be ready by this Fall). So here’s the plan on how that would work: Fremantle wants to air Idol on Sunday nights from LA, where Seacrest would then fly to NYC after the show in order to make it in time to film Live Monday morning. After filming Monday’s Live, he would then fly back to LA for the Idol results show. Once that’s over, he would fly back to NYC in time for Tuesday’s Live. My God! The live portion of Idol is only 10 weeks, but that is a grueling schedule that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. So far, however, it seems that ABC’s plan would be to air Idol on Mondays, to go head to head with The Voice, so this plan wouldn’t work.

Say what you will about Seacrest, but I’ve always admired the dude’s work ethic. He doesn’t seem to know the word “no”, and he’s constantly building his brand. With the exception of the short-lived On Air With Ryan Seacrest TV show (which is conveniently missing from his Wikipedia entry), he doesn’t really fail at anything. I guess hard work and determination really can take you places. I’ll tell ya, back when he was hosting Click and Gladiators 2000, I had NO CLUE he would become as big as he is. He makes me wanna go out and get 3 more jobs. Then again, I wouldn’t have his net worth of $330 million, but it’d be a start. Anyway, for taking all the jobs, while growing in power, Ryan Seacrest had the West Week Ever.

10th Feb2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 2/10/17

by Will

Last night, my friend Mike and I went to check out The Lego Batman Movie. Seeing as how we were the only two people in the theater, I’m not quite sure what its weekend box office is gonna look like. I bet John Wick: Chapter 2 takes #1, since that’s where everyone seemed to be heading. Anyway, I LOVED the film. First up, it considers EVERYTHING canon. If you saw it onscreen, then it happened in that universe. The whole thing is kind of surreal, as the movie focuses on Batman’s loner status, while also confronting his complicated relationship with The Joker. On the Batman Beyond cartoon, there’s an episode where old Bruce Wayne and his protege, Terry McGinnis, go to a Batman-themed musical. Bruce can’t get over how goofy the whole thing seems, but I feel like this film is the movie version of that musical. It doesn’t have the camp of the ’66 show, but it’s a movie that never really takes itself seriously. I loved the liberties they took, like making Jim and Barbara Gordon people of color (voiced by Hector Elizondo and Rosario Dawson). It doesn’t hurt the story any, while bringing some diversity to the Lego world. I also liked how it tied in concepts from The Lego Movie, such as the fact that Batman is a Master Builder. I’m not going to spoil the movie for you, but I feel like it’s strong until the middle of the second act, at which point it switches from a Lego Batman movie to a Lego Dimensions movie. Trust me, you’ll understand when you see it, and I think you’ll agree that the story gets a bit weaker at that point. In any case, I can’t wait for it to hit Blu Ray, so I can rewatch it a thousand times to catch all the Easter eggs.

This week, we got a trailer for a new season of Arrow. Wait, what? That was actually for Iron Fist? Huh. Yeah, I was really underwhelmed by that trailer. Finn Jones doesn’t seem like a great actor, there’s not a lot of Kung Fu on display, and it seems like it’s more focused on corporate takeover, as Danny Rand tries to reclaim his family’s business. Since it’s a Netflix Marvel show, there’s also Rosario Dawson and another damn hallway fight. I welcome the former, but I’m SO over the latter. I’ll get around to watching it, but the days of me binge-watching a Marvel season the weekend of its release are long gone. Considering I still need to watch Daredevil season 2 and Luke Cage, I’ll be lucky to get around to it in 2017. That said, I know a lot of y’all will binge it that day, and will tell me if it sucks or not.

In other TV news, it’s rumored that NBC wants to spin Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update segment into a weekly 30-minute show. I guess they looked at John Oliver and Samantha Bee, and realized they might be leaving money on the table. Still, Jost and Che as “polarizing”, at best, and I’m not sure if that segment has the legs to air 30 minutes every week, in the same format. Plus, would it also remain a part of SNL, or would it be excised completely? I think this would’ve been a good idea in an election year, as there’s just so much news to cover, but now that all that is behind us, I’m just not sure this is going to work. And then what happens? If it does leave SNL, would it come crawling back next season, with its tail between its legs? The difference between Last Week Tonight/Full Frontal and Weekend Update is that those cable shows are actually smart, with smart hosts. Plus, they can get away with a bit more because cable. Weekend Update has gotten a lot more biting since Trump was elected, but is it too little, too late? Are the SNL writers up to the task of this project? I just feel like it’s a bad idea that will dilute the Weekend Update and SNL brands.

It was also announced that Viacom will be rebranding Spike TV as the Paramount Network. In my lifetime, I don’t think I’ve witnessed a network go through as many format changes as that one. As far back as I can remember, it was The Nashville Network. Then, to appeal to a wider audience, it became The National Network. Then, to appeal to dudebros, it became Spike TV. Now, I don’t even know who they’re targeting. I also don’t know why they chose this particular name. It’s like they have short memories or something. After all, there’s already been a Paramount Network. Sure, most of us referred to it as UPN and not the United Paramount Network, but that’s what those letters stood for. And it was the definition of “failed experiment”. Sure, it hobbled along for about 10 years, but its legacy is basically Star Trek: Voyager, America’s Next Top Model and Girlfriends. Outside of that, it gave us such critical darlings as Shasta McNasty, Homeboys In Outer Space, and The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer. Hey, let’s see how many shitty (that means all of them) UPN shows I can list without looking them up: DiResta, Legend, Platypus Man, Hitz, Good News, SparksDilbert, Marker, The Watcher, The Sentinel…yeah,that’s enough to make my point, which is you probably don’t remember any of these. UPN did NOTHING for the Paramount brand, and its effects are still being felt 11 years after its demise. So why, WHY would Viacom want to go down this road again? Anyway, the early plans for the rebranding call for the network to be a warehouse for hit Viacom programming from their other networks. It’s basically just gonna be the Now That’s What I Call Viacom Channel, posting the highlights from MTV, Nick, Nick Jr, etc. In fact, there are no concrete plans for the future of other Viacom networks, such as VH1, CMT, and TVLand, but reports say that there’s no immediate push to shut them down.

It was also rumored that there are already talks of an American Idol revival, but this time on NBC. Now, keep in mind the show just ended its run on Fox last year. The idea is that The Voice would be reduced to one cycle a year, and then they would slot Idol in one of its old slots. I feel like NBC sees the value in that show in that it actually creates household names – something The Voice has failed to do after 11 seasons. The focus is too much on the judges, and the winners have gone nowhere. Quick, name a winner of The Voice without looking it up. Hell, I watched the first season, and I can’t even remember that guy (I looked it up: Javier Colon. Who? Right). So, there’s definitely something to be gained from acquiring the franchise. That said, though, I also feel like a network only gets one of those shows. Fox had Idol, NBC had The Voice, ABC had Rising Star, and CBS had some show that got canceled that I forgot. Fox hurt Idol by double-dipping and picking up The X-Factor. That show never caught on in the US, and it hurt the Fox singing competition brand. If NBC picks up Idol, it’s going to do the same to The Voice. I mean, how much longer does America want to see Blake Shelton and Adam Levine bicker at each other? Sure, there’s a new dynamic now that Blake and Gwen Stefani are dating and both judges, but unless the show breaks them up, I don’t know how engaging that’s gonna be. And Miley Cyrus as a coach? Now, let me say that Bangerz was a great album. I’ve written about how awesome it was. But I don’t think Miley is established enough as a singer to be coaching anyone. She’s more known for her antics than her music. Then again, Paula Abdul was a has been, judging the talent of tomorrow, but that was intrinsic to the formula. Ultimately, America chose the Idol, and the show brought in established stars as coaches. The Voice has an unnecessary layer. They have talented judges, but then they also have the coaches, and then America. As Idol showed us, ANYBODY cane a judge, which is going to be an important thing for NBC to remember once it comes to for contracts to be renegotiated. Anyway, I think Idol needs to rest a few more years before they dust it off. It was once a powerhouse, but television AND music changed over time. Let the industry figure out its next steps before trying to reenter it.

I don’t know about you, but I grew up with women, which meant I did a tour of duty with soap operas. I started with Days of Our Lives back in the late 80s, then shifted to The Young and the Restless, and then shifted back to Days in the 00s. And besides Victor Newman, there is no soap villain quite as diabolical as Stefano DiMera. Well, the actor who portrayed him, Joseph Mascolo, died back in December, but his final filmed episode aired yesterday.  Although Mascolo had been battling Alzheimers for the past few years, he had portrayed the character for around 30 years. For some reason (I haven’t watched in a while), he was in prison (he’s killed/led to the death of a lot of folks. But they typically come back after contract negotiations), and at the end of the episode, he escapes! What a beautiful ending, knowing that he will be forever “in the wind”, as they can’t really catch him again unless they recast him. Seeing as how the rumor is Days is coming to an end this year, they won’t even have time to do that, with scripts written about 6 months in advance. So, here’s a toast to one of the greatest villains to ever grace the television set. You will be missed, you evil son of a bitch.

Let’s get a little controversial, shall we? This week, comedian George Lopez got in hot water for kicking a woman out of one of his shows when she objected to a racially-charged joke he told. Basically he said, “There are only two rules in the Latino family: Don’t marry somebody black and don’t park in front of our house.” Apparently, a woman gave him the finger after that joke, to which he began to tell her to “sit [her] fucking ass down or get the fuck out.” Now, comedians are on his side because they say he was just shutting down a heckler. Meanwhile, the general public is on her side because they’re offended by the joke, and don’t see why he had to kick her out for objecting. Here’s my take: First of all, he’s told variations of this joke for years. He used to joke about how his grandmother wouldn’t even want President Obama in her house. If you’re familiar with his material, then his joke the other night shouldn’t surprise you. Now, for the folks offended by the joke: was he wrong? All I know is my own life experience. I dated a Cuban, and as polite and Ivy League-educated as I could be, I was still the Black guy who could only illicit grunts from her father. And I don’t know anyone named Esmeralda Jenkins or Manuela Johnson. Growing up where I did, Black guys didn’t get Latinas or Asian girls. Those girls’ families weren’t gonna stand for that! So, this is one of those jokes that’s grounded in truth. It might rub some folks the wrong way, but it’s not necessarily untrue. Where I stand, I don’t think he really did anything wrong. After all, that’s how comedians handle folks who they feel are interrupting their show, and the joke itself was par for the Lopez course. I wouldn’t say it was “haha funny”, but it wasn’t wrong.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • An animated series based on the Castlevania video game is coming to Netflix later this year. Hopefully it will star gay Simon Belmont from Captain N: The Game Master.
  • Kate McKinnon will voice Ms. Frizzle in Netflix’s reboot of The Magic School Bus
  • Speaking of Netflix, Love, The OA, and Trollhunters have all been renewed by the streaming service.
  • Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, announced that she’s retiring after her next album is released.
  • After 25 years over covering the Olympics, Bob Costas announced he’s handing the reins over to Mike Tirico
  • Entertainment newsmagazine show The Insider has been canceled after 13 seasons.
  • Formerly of USA’s Satisfaction, Blair Redford has been cast as the first mutant in Fox’s X-Men TV series
  • Not to be outdone by Beyoncé, it was announced that George and Amal Clooney are expecting twins. Those Hollywood In Vitro clinics are working overtime these days!
  • Speaking of babies, Jason Statham proved he’s the Transporter of Sperm, as he announced he’s expecting a baby with girlfriend Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

I don’t like Tom Brady. Don’t like a thing about him. I find it odd that you can be suspended for cheating AND win the Super Bowl in the same damn season. That said, that was a Hell of a comeback during Sunday’s Super Bowl LI. Somehow, the Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point lead, allowing the New England Patriots to mount an amazing comeback and win their 5th Super Bowl title. It was the first Super Bowl to go into overtime. There was Edelman’s amazing catch. Some are calling it the most exciting game of football ever. But in the end there can only be one winner, and that was the Patriots. So, with that in mind, the New England Patriots had the West Week Ever.

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