26th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/26/15

by Will

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I watched absolutely nothing this week, so I’ve got nothing for this part of the post. Oh wait – I did watch The Briefcase on CBS. Have any of you seen it? It was pretty controversial when it first aired, and the season finale is already airing tonight. Basically, they present a briefcase filled with $100,000 to two different poor families. The families, then, have to decide whether to keep the money for themselves, or to share some of it with the other family. So, they’re demanding poor people make a Sophie’s Choice over this windfall that could be seen as a gift from Heaven. I mean, they all could use the money, but they don’t wanna look like assholes by keeping it all to themselves. Later in the show, once the families meet, they realize that there were TWO briefcases, and not just the one that was presented to them, so there’s $200,000 up for grabs. On the episode that I watched, one family gave $20,000 to the other family, while the second family gave $11,000 to the first family. So, they both ended up with the bulk of the money. For each of them, the amount given was such a drop in the bucket that I would’ve been offended, but they at least pretended to be thankful. They both owed so much money that the full $100K still wouldn’t have solved all their problems. I really hope there’s a “Where Are They Now” episode next season if the show gets renewed.

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Lots of news in the world of Spider-Man this week. First off, it was reported that Miles Morales, formerly the Ultimate Spider-Man, will be the MAIN Spider-Man in the regular Marvel Universe following the Secret Wars event. The new series, Spider-Man, will be handled by the Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man team of Brian Michael Bendis and Sarah Pichelli, and it also appears that a retired Peter Parker will serve as his mentor. I’ve written about my love for Miles in the past, and I’ve also written about how an association with Peter could only be a good thing for Miles. This is a pretty big deal, as Miles will also be one of the New Avengers as that team rebuilds following the event. I’m really excited for this, but part of me is wondering “How long is this really gonna last?” Comics have tricked us with “cowl rental” in the past, and the original wearer always comes back. I’m drinking the Kool-Aid, and I really want this to be a permanent thing, but I just know better than to get too excited about it yet.

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Meanwhile, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel and Sony decided on Tom Holland, and not Asa Butterfield, as the next actor to portray Peter Parker/Spider-Man. A moment of silence for Andrew Garfield. Not only will Holland star in the 2017 Spider-Man film, but he has been confirmed to debut in next Spring’s Captain America: Civil War. In fact, they say that he has already been sent to the set to start filming his scenes. Meanwhile, Jon Watts has been tapped to direct the next Spidey film, which will only be his third feature film.

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Also this week in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was rumored that Selma‘s Ava Duvernay had been hired to direct Marvel’s Black Panther. While Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has confirmed that they’ve had talks with DuVernay, her hiring is still just speculation at this point. While I know she’d bring a certain amount of, I guess, “legitimacy” to the movie, I don’t really know if that’s what her career needs. Sure, Kenneth Branagh directed Thor, but I kinda hate that we live in a period where it’s assumed that EVERY director needs to have a superhero film under his/her belt. I mean, other than the fact that they both feature Black casts, why would you think the director of Selma would automatically be the best person to showcase the king and world of Wakanda? To me, that’s just as dumb as the marriage between Storm and Black Panther which seemed based solely on the fact that they’re both African. It’s just sort of stupid that once you’re on everyone’s radar these days, it’s assumed your next move will be a superhero film.

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Also in movies this week, Rotten Tomatoes held a Q&A livestream with the cast of the Independence Day sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence. I guess the importance of the event was to showcase the new title, but it just seemed kinda like a sad affair. Instead of being excited about the movie (which is a year away), I was more sad for these actors that they didn’t have anything else lined up. I mean, even secondary characters like Vivica Fox, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch are back. Hell, if Harvey Fierstein hadn’t died in the first one, they probably would’ve gotten him back, too. But there is one glaring omission: Will Smith, who reportedly wanted $50 million to do the two planned sequels. So, instead of having him, they cast actor Jessie Usher (who?) as Smith’s character’s son. Anyway, since filming just started a month ago, they really didn’t have much info to share. I’m not sure whose idea it was to schedule this thing so early, but it was just an awkward, uncomfortable mess.

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Photographer Dennis
Stylist Lin

Some San Diego Comic-Con exclusives are starting to trickle out (you can get up-to-the-minute coverage over at Awesome Toy Blog), but my favorite is probably this Toys “R” Us exclusive Batgirl figure. I was a pretty devoted collector of the Batman ’66 line, and I’ve been waiting for this figure since it was announced over a year ago. I really kinda hate that it’s an exclusive (especially since it’s a TRU exclusive, exclusively for SDCC – it’s an exclusive inception!), as that means it’ll be harder to get than just walking into your local TRU store. It seems that TRU actually posts these for sale on their website during the convention, so I’ll try my luck at getting one that way. I’ll need two – one to open and one to put in storage. Yes, I’m that guy. Sometimes.

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It was quite a week for fallen child stars. First off, young Anakin Skywalker, Jake Lloyd, who apparently suffers from schizophrenia, attacked his mom before setting off a high speed police chase. Then, Saved By The Bell‘s Dustin Diamond was ordered to serve 4 months in jail for stabbing a guy back in December.

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In the world of music, Taylor Swift surprisingly became the voice for artists’ rights when she declined to allow her album 1989 to be offered via Apple Music’s streaming service. This is nothing new for Taylor, as she also yanked all of her albums off Spotify a few months ago. Still, she wrote an open letter to her fans, saying that she couldn’t go along with Apple, seeing as how they weren’t going to be paying artists royalties for the first three months of the service. Well, she cried and Apple listened. Responding to her on Twitter, Apple senior vice president of internet software and services, Eddie Cue, said, “Apple will always make sure that artist are paid,” tweeted Cue. “#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period. We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.” Now if she could only squash that beef with Katy Perry that easily…

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I don’t usually get too political on here, but this has been some kind of week. As I’m sure you know, there’s been a lot of movement to get the Confederate flag taken down at southern government buildings. Then things really shifted into turbo, as Wal-Mart, Amazon and more announced that they would no longer be selling items bearing the flag. Then Warner Bros announced that they wouldn’t sell any more Dukes of Hazzard merchandise with the flag on it. When all of this stuff was happening, I jokingly tweeted that I was fine with the flag being on the General Lee. And then they pulled it. Finally, Apple kinda screwed the pooch by removing Civil War games from the App Store because they depicted the flag. I say “screwed the pooch”, as this is almost like pulling a textbook because the flag was in it. It’s a part of history, but that’s where it should remain. If it’s a game or book about history, then it seems kinda fitting for it to be in there. It just probably shouldn’t be flying high like we’re still all in 1861.

As a Black man in America, it should be pretty clear where I stand on this matter. As someone whose relatives hail from the South, it has even more meaning to me. I’m conflicted, though, ’cause I grew up loving The Dukes of Hazzard. I guess you could say that I didn’t know any better, but I was an avid fan of the “Cars Jumping Over Shit” genre of television that ruled the early 80s. I was asked to write a guest post about my stance on this, and I really didn’t know how to approach it without coming off like some kind of race traitor. I hate the flag, but I love the General Lee. I’m not going to get into a debate about whether or not the flag represents racism or any of that. You already have your opinion, and some rando’s pop culture blog isn’t about to change that. I will say this, though: Nice work, America.

I say that sarcastically because this whole thing was NEVER about the flag to begin with. I have a pretty strict No Death policy for West Week Ever, but everyone knows that 9 people were killed in a church last week. And, as these things are prone to do, the debate about gun control was just about to start up and then all this flag shit happened. This is what they want. Instead of doing something about guns, they’ve diverted our attention to this other matter, hoping we’ll forget the first thing. And I don’t say this as some kind of “Nobody needs guns!” kind of person. I honestly haven’t fully fleshed out my views on the matter, but I do know that a church is supposed to be a safe place. Just like a school. Or a movie theater. And none of that is true anymore.

Keep the flag or get rid of it. That’s not what any of this is about. It’s about changing the conversation, and it’s been very successful. I guess we’ll revisit the original conversation after the next mass shooting. Or maybe we’ll finally change the Redskins’ name instead. End of soapbox rant.

Links I Loved

‘Star Trek': The Story of the Most Daring Cliffhanger in ‘Next Generation’ History – The Hollywood Reporter

Paul Rudd and Marvel’s Kevin Feige Reveal ‘Ant-Man’s’ Saga, from Director Shuffle to Screenplay Surgery to Studio’s “Phase Three” Plans – The Hollywood Reporter

Why I Left Scientology – Gawker

Harmony Korine on ‘Kids': ‘It Would Be Impossible To Make That Film Now’ – The Guardian

The Least-Plausible G.I. Joe and Cobra Vehicles – The Robot’s Pajamas

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Now this is typically the part where I tell you who had the West Week Ever, but I’m gonna try something different this week. You see, I’ve been working on a project that I kinda want to share with you.

After guesting on some 40+ podcasts, I always get the same question: When are you going to start your own podcast? Well, I never really wanted to because A) I’m lazy and B) I didn’t really think there was a demand. I mean, I already have to beg folks to read this thing every week, so why would I think they’d want to listen to me, too? It just didn’t seem worthwhile. Then, I had a conversation with my Twitter Sister, Brandi Brown. I call her that because we’re basically the same person, only she’s a stand-up comic in Minnesota, and I’m not. We started talking about Carmen Sandiego, and then we just fell down the rabbit hole trying to make sense of that whole franchise. We decided that it would probably be a good idea for a one-off podcast. As we kept talking, we realized that we had a few topics that deserved to be discussed – the only catch would be that this wouldn’t be a weekly show. Hell, it might not even be monthly. Think of it like a series of specials. If they do well, then we’ll figure out where to go next, but for now, we’re just thinking of this being an occasional sort of thing. Well, our good buddy Classick, over at the Cold Slither Podcast Network, invited us to be on the latest episode of his Classick Team-Up show. That episode was to serve as something of a “backdoor pilot” for the show that Brandi and I had devised. Oh, you don’t know what a backdoor pilot is? It’s when an episode of an existing show is used to spin off a new show. Got it? Good.

It was a lot of fun recording this, as we tackled topics such as Rachel Dolezal, paying it forward, and the conspiracy theories that we hold dear. The project is clearly a work in progress, so bear that in mind. We’ve got to figure out things like audio levels, podcast setup, mics, etc. Still, I think there’s a lot of potential here. So, I ask that you give it a listen and let me know what you think. Do you want more Brandi & Will? It’s all up to you. If not, I’ll be cool with that, too. Sure, I might cry a little, but I’ll get over it. So, in lieu of a West Week Ever, I give you Classick Team-Up #27 with Brandi & Will.

Oh, and there won’t be a post next week ’cause y’all never read it on a holiday weekend. So, unless something crazy happens and I write it on Thursday, we’re taking a week off.

05th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/5/15

by Will

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The first thing I watched this week was This Is Where I Leave You, featuring an all-star cast including Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda and more. When a family’s patriarch dies, he requests that his family sit shiva to mourn him. And hilarity ensues. Kinda. It’s not a laugh out loud comedy, and is more of a dramedy. There are funny moments, but these are all just damaged people, and it’s actually more sad than funny. I mean, all their marriages are falling apart, they’re not happy with their lives, and they really don’t know where to go next. I’m sure a lot of folks probably relate to it, but it was kind of a downer. It does end on a note of optimism, though, so there’s that.

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Next up, I caught The Watch, starring Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade. Originally called Neighborhood Watch, this movie BOMBED in theaters because it came out right after the Trayvon Martin situation, when neighborhood watch wasn’t a very popular concept. Anyway, when a mysterious murder takes place in the CostCo that he manages, Stiller forms a neighborhood watch to solve the crime. While investigating, they find out that an alien threat is plaguing their town, and that Earth is on the verge of an invasion. This was a curious little film. First of all, I learned that when you watch a movie On Demand, you get the version that originally appeared on its respective network. This version aired on FX, however it was an R-rated comedy, so there were lots of dubs and edits. The interesting thing, however, is that there was really no need for it to have been rated R. I mean, sure, the language is “colorful”, but I think they could’ve made the same movie at a PG-13. After all, the “fucks” and other words just seemed out of place in the script anyway. Apparently, it was originally developed as a PG-13 teen comedy, and it was later rewritten by Seth Rogen to be this R-rated thing. I liked the cast and I liked the movie. If anything, however, I’d say it was too short. It clocks in around 90 minutes, and it sets up a lot of stuff that doesn’t really have a deserving payoff.

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It was reported this week that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, fresh off the successful opening of San Andreas, will star in a remake of 80s cult hit Big Trouble in Little China. And the internet lost its mind! On Facebook, it was interesting to see the racial divide of the reactions. White kids of the 80s thought it was blasphemy, as that movie is considered some kind of holy grail. Black folks were like, “I’d see that.” Meanwhile, Asian folks were hesitant for two reasons: 1) some of them “claim” The Rock, due to his Pacific Islander lineage and 2) Big Trouble In Little China is kinda Orientalist, and not really the kind of move you can pull off in today’s politically correct world. For the folks upset about this news, I want to point out two things: 1) some Asian American group will probably protest the Hell out of this movie and it’ll never be made OR 2) it’ll join The Fall Guy and Spy Hunter as movies The Rock’s been attached to, yet never got off the ground. I remember liking Big Trouble, but I haven’t seen it in a LONG time – odd, seeing as how I think I own it. In any case, I’m not a cinephile, so there aren’t really any movies that are “untouchable” to me. I was always excited to see it when it came on TV, but I also would love to see what The Rock could do with the material, especially since it’s supposedly his favorite movie. So, I’ve got a “Let’s wait and see” attitude about the whole thing.

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Speaking of race and movies, there was a big hubbub this week, as Cameron Crowe’s Aloha bombed at the box office (beaten by the aforementioned San Andreas). The backlash against the movie, however, is that Emma Stone was cast as a half Asian character named Allison Ng. Many people felt that there were half Asian actresses who should’ve been considered for the role before Stone. Well, we don’t know who tried out for the role and was rejected. All we know is that Stone got the role. Some people have written articles listing those potential actresses, like Chloe Bennett, Olivia Munn, and Kristin Kreuk. Well, I can honestly say that none of those have the acting chops to get my ass in a seat to see a movie. They may have potential, but they’re just not there yet. They’re not marquee stars. In fact, at the moment, you can’t name a marquee Asian female star to fill that role. Then again, if you don’t give them roles, then how are they ever expected to break out? It’s a complicated situation, and clearly even Stone didn’t have the drawing power to make this thing a hit. I just wonder why all of this is falling on Stone. I mean, it really sucks to be her right now, as the movie’s failure seems to be placed on her, but then Crowe even apologized for casting her. To her, it was a job. She was hired and she performed it. All this other stuff was out of her control. In any case, it’s clear that Emma Stone did not have the West Week Ever.

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Meanwhile, there’s a similar debate brewing around the Doctor Strange movie, as it’s rumored that Tilda Swinton may be up for the role of The Ancient One. Ya know, the old Tibetan man who mentored Doctor Strange in the mystic arts. Some outlets are saying that this is a win for feminism, but it’s at the cost of ethnic diversity. I mean, why are you casting a middle age White woman as an ancient Asian man? I could waste some more words on this, but I really, really don’t care much for Doctor Strange, so I basically don’t have a horse in this race. My pal Jenn has a much more nuanced take on the whole thing. Call me when they try to cast Taylor Lautner as Luke Cage.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Awesome Con 2015 Cosplay Gallery

Comical Thoughts – Batman, and Archie, and Jem! Oh, My!

-After 14 seasons, Degrassi: The Next Generation is ending this summer

-My buddy @ClassickMateria sent me this. I have no idea what’s going on here.

-Stephen Colbert announced Jonathan Baptiste as his bandleader for The Late Show.

-Bruce Jenner will now be known as Caitlyn Jenner

-Henry Simmons has been promoted to series regular on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Furious 7‘s James Wan is slated to direct Jason Momoa in DC’s Aquaman film

-TV Land’s Hot In Cleveland ended its 6-season run this week

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-Apparently, Lifetime is making The Unauthorized Full House Story. Have you ever seen a plainer-looking group of people outside of an Old Country Buffet? Seriously, this looks like a frame from Too Many Cooks.

Links I Loved

AWESOMECON 2015: Best of TMNT – The Sewer Den

Official Teaser Image For ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT Marvel Universe – The Kliqnation

ALF Had a German Singing Career – The Robot’s Pajamas

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Community was the little show that could. It survived 2 networks, the loss of 3 cast members, and several other behind-the-scenes changes. Well, this week saw what was most likely the series finale. After 6 seasons, the study room is closed.

This hasn’t been the smoothest season for Community, as many folks didn’t keep up with it once it transitioned to Yahoo Screen. I’m one of those people, as I would forget that new episodes were released every Tuesday, so I’d end up binging a bunch of them at once. Still, when I did catch it, I enjoyed it immensely, as this was one of the strongest of the six seasons. On top of that, the new castmembers Paget Brewster and Keith David fit in like they’d been there the whole time. I’d gotten to a point where I missed Shirley, but really didn’t miss Troy or Pierce, so I welcomed the new additions to the Save Greendale Club.

The episodes were some of the strongest in the series’ run, especially this year’s paintball episode. The show has always been pretty meta, and the finale was the most meta it’s ever been. In the finale, the group mulls over how a seventh “season” of their friendship would play out. Series creator Dan Harmon has always been an astute student of television tropes, so that’s fully at play here. Let’s be honest, though -there’s no season 7 coming, and everyone involved knows that. There will be no #sixseasonsandamovie, as this was most likely the last time we’ll see the Greendale bunch. Knowing this actually brought a tear to my eye as I was watching the final scenes of a show that changed the way that I viewed television. I’m gonna miss Jeff Winger, Annie Edison, Britta Perry, Abed Nadir and Dean Pelton. Hell, I’m even gonna miss Frankie Dart and Elroy Patishnik. They usually brought a smile to my face (even during the “gas leak season”), and I thank them for that. It may not have been on a “real” network, but this finale season of Community had more quality than most of what you’ll find on the Big Four these days. And for going out while the quality was still on top, Community had the West Week Ever.

04th Jun2015

Comical Thoughts – Batman, and Archie, and Jem! Oh, My!

by Will

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So, I did something that I haven’t done in a LONG time – I actually read all of my Wednesday comics on release day. For the past few months, I’ve been visiting the shop religiously, but really only keeping up with Miles MoralesUltimate Spider-Man and Letter 44. Everything else was just stacking up in a pile. Well, I’ve done some reading, and I’ve got thoughts!

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First up, I finally read the “Endgame” storyline that was recently running in the Batman series. I had actually read the first 3 issues as they were released, and then I just sort of stopped caring. So, I had to reread those issues before jumping into the second half of the storyline.

In case you’re not familiar with it, The Joker comes back to Gotham and wages what’s supposed to be his final fight against Batman. It starts out with so much promise, as a battle-suited Batman is forced to fight his Jokerized Justice League teammates. That battle takes all of 1.5 issues, and then it’s done away with. Sure, we’ve seen Batman vs. The Justice League battles before – most notably in JLA‘s “Tower of Babel” storyline, but this one just seemed like it was wrapped up too quickly. In fact, that’s the main problem with the entire story: pacing. It feels like so much happens and so little happens all at once. Certain story aspects were wrapped up too quicky (like the JL fight), while the story itself felt like it was too long at 6 issues. On top of those 6 issues, the Batman family titles also had “Endgame” specials that were tangentially related to the main storyline.

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The story starts in a weird place because it’s leading out of the yearlong, weekly Batman Eternal series that only the most die-hard Batman fans even kept up with. I was not one of those fans. So, you’re left with a ton of questions as things open up: Why are they in a Bat base? What happened to the manor? Alfred has a daughter? And she’s Black?! SO MANY QUESTIONS! Before anything is answered, the fight with the Justice League starts. That’s the first issue, but we’re even cheated out of that, as we never get to see attacks from Green Lantern or Cyborg. It’s almost like “footage” was cut for time or space concerns.

As the story rolls along at a breakneck pace, a ton of stuff happens. The city gets Jokerized. We meet up with Duke Thomas – a character introduced during the horrid “Zero Year” story – who we’ve seen may become Robin in the future (due to the Future’s End one-shot). We find out that The Joker might be immortal. Then, bad stuff happens to Alfred. And then Batman needs the help of his villains to take down The Joker. Then, they fight. I won’t spoil the ending, but I thought it sucked. Then again, I’m just not a fan of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo on this book. I feel like I’m alone in this, as everyone else acts like this is the definitive run on Batman, while I just find it to be kinda meh. Snyder has one trick, and it’s “dancing between the raindrops of continuity”. It’s all “I bet you didn’t know this happened!” And he’s been doing it since the beginning. Bruce Wayne has a secret brother. Dick Grayson was enlisted by the Court of Owls. The Court of Owls has been running Gotham for hundreds of years. He even dialed back the clock with Zero Year to create an entire storyline during a period that’s not even supposed to *exist* based on the standard Batman timeline. I mean, what the Hell is a “zero year” anyway?

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On top of being disappointed by Snyder, I really don’t think Capullo’s a great artist. This may sound like sacrilege to some, but I feel like Tony Daniel was a better artist, even though his style just evolved into a Jim Lee clone. Capullo is not good with action scenes, as was proven by the fights in Endgame On top of that, he brings nothing to the table in terms of distinguishing the characters out of their suits. There’s a scene with Dick Grayson that might as well have been with Jason Todd or Tim Drake because there is nothing special about how he’s drawn. I noticed this back during “Court of Owls”, as there was a scene with all the Robins in their civilian garb, and it just looked like the same white guy, wearing the same tux, at three different heights. No distinction between any of them. Maybe it was meant to emphasize the fact that Bruce recruits the same type of kid for his Robins, but I don’t think it really accomplished that. Instead, it just looked lazy. I liked what Capullo brought to other series, like Image’s Haunt, but I’ve just found his Batman work has left me wanting.

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Now that it’s been revealed that Commissioner Gordon is the new Batman, I’m just waiting to be disappointed again. Sure, I could stop buying, but I’m a Batman fan, and I keep hoping it’ll get better. One thing I wish Snyder would realize is that not every Batman story need to be an “event”. Just have him solve some shit. Francis Manapul over on Detective Comics seems to understand this, as he’s cranking out some good mysteries. Meanwhile, everything Snyder does is like he wants to reinvent the wheel. I once read an interview with him where he said that you never know how long you have to write Batman, so you have to get out all of your ideas while you have the chance. I kinda understand that, but I need him to really get to the core of the character, which is something I don’t think he’s ever really done. He uses Batman as a prop in his stories, rather than as an actual character.

Speaking of upcoming DC stories, DC has launched an initiative called DC You, implying that there’s something for everyone in their new mix of books coming out. They even released a trailer of the new storylines, which was very Marvel of them. That said, I’m more curious about the books that they’re just glossing over. Sure, they’re telling us about Starfire and Cyborg, but they’re saying nothing about Red Hood/Arsenal or Martian Manhunter. They’re boosting Batman Beyond and even Deathstroke, but there’s nothing about Dr. Fate or Green Lantern: The Lost Army. Are these the dogs of the bunch? Should we start taking bets on their cancellation already?

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Since I mentioned Batman Beyond, let me just say that I HATE the new direction they’re going in with that character. If you’re not in the know, Batman Beyond followed Terry McGinnis who becomes Batman roughly 35 years in the future. He wasn’t Bruce Wayne’s initial choice as a successor, as Terry stole the Batsuit in order to bring his father’s murderer to justice. There was a whole 3-season cartoon about it. Well, a few years back, DC decided to bring Terry into comic continuity, though his adventures roughly followed what had been laid out in the cartoon. In the recent Future’s End series, however, they unceremoniously killed Terry and gave his suit to former Batman sidekick, Tim Drake. So now Tim is 35 years in the future, trying to carry the Batman mantle. However, due to the events of Future’s End, the future timeline isn’t what it was when Terry was there. So, in one fell swoop, DC wiped out Terry, wiped out most of his supporting cast, and apparently his rogues. See all those familiar folks in that cover image? Yeah, they’re not in the book. The future that Tim experiences isn’t the same as Terry’s world, as characters have been changed in drastic ways. On top of that, the entire plotline was basically lifted from Power Rangers: RPM, as an evil computer virus has taken over the whole world except for Gotham, which is somehow shielded from detection. I’ll keep reading for now, as I’m curious to see if anything is left of the old Batman Beyond world, but I feel this move is a slap in the face to the fans who had come to love Terry’s Gotham. Just the changes to Superman and Barbara Gordon alone are angering, as both characters had experienced a lot of growth in that world. Now, it’s like it just never happened. Due to the events of Convergence, I’d like to think that Terry’s world is still out there somewhere, but it doesn’t really matter if no one’s writing stories about it.

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One book I read last night was Archie #666, which is the final issue of the long-running series. In July, it’ll be relaunched with a new #1 and an updated look. I haven’t really read Archie books since I first got into comics, but I felt like this was a great series finale. It’s somewhat brief, but it gets to the heart of what Archie’s all about: he’s a good-natured kid who really cares about his friends. As I’ve seen previews of the upcoming series, I’m curious to see if this spirit will still exist in the new books. They say that the “familiar” style will still exist in digest form (ya know, the kind you buy at the supermarket), but the New Look is the main comic going forward. I trust Mark Waid and Fiona Staples, so I’ll definitely be checking it out. I’m just glad it had a fitting final issue, especially after the travesty that’s the current Archie vs. Predator miniseries.

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Not all cartoon characters can have great comics, however. A few weeks ago, children of the 80s had a fit when they saw the trailer of the upcoming Jem and the Holograms movie. What they saw bore no resemblance to the cartoon they watched as children. There were no Misfits, seemingly no powers, and it was just a teenybopper movie about a girl “trying to find her voice”. Meanwhile, IDW recently began publishing a Jem comic book, and I feel like it’s no more comforting than that trailer. At least the book involves hologram technology, and there are Misfits, but it seems like it’s just gearing up to be a battle of the bands. Now, I don’t remember a whole lot about Jem, but I felt like there was a lot more at stake than a simple battle of the bands, right? Was that what the cartoon was about? I mean, it’s been so long, and it’s not like I was a religious viewer anyway. I’m only 2 issues into the series (I still need to read the third), but this isn’t shaping up to be the exciting to me. Maybe it’s just not for me, and that’s OK.

Now for some quick shots-

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1- This felt like a What If? comic. I mean, I guess all of the Secret Wars tie-in books kinda feel that way, but this really felt like one. It was interesting to see the modern storylines they allude to, such as the Rykers outbreak that caused the formation of the New Avengers, as well as the idea of MJ and Peter moving into Avengers Mansion. Still, despite those modern references, something about it felt very 90s. Oh, and Andy Kubert really phoned in that art. There’s a panel of Peter where he looks like a caveman. This really looked like a rush job.

Groot #1 – This was a cute read. Not something I’d normally pick up, but I was kinda speculating. I remember that Rocket Raccoon #1 became a sought after book, so I figured the same might be true of his partner in crime’s book. I might just wait until this is collected, as I’d like to see where it goes, but I don’t know if I wanna spend $3.99 a month on it.

Years of Future Past #1 – I had to choose between this and the X-Tinction Agenda book. Since I never read the original X-Tinction Agenda, I figured this was the safer bet. It’s an interesting premise: Colossus and Kitty have a teenage daughter, and we’re back in the somewhat familiar Days of Future Past reality (or a version of it), while incorporating the idea of assassinating President Kelly. It was interesting, but I’m not sure I’m gonna stick with it. There are simply too many Secret Wars tie-in books and, frankly, some of them look more exciting to me.

Secret Wars #3 – Well, this was much more interesting than #2. We got to meet God, as well as see a few familiar faces from before the final incursion. I’m really engaged by this story, and everything I learn just keeps me wanting more. I thought it was important that Doctor Strange pointed out that they had basically perfected how to get folks to acknowledge the merged timelines. I feel like this will be important for when they reshape things into the new Marvel Universe. Still, I can’t helped but feel like I’m missing out on certain characters’ motivations because I skipped Hickman’s runs on Avengers and New Avengers. And we find out that 8 years have passed since the Doom reshaped the world. I tend to hate time jumps, as they are a cop-out. Rarely are those missing time periods ever explained, but I guess enough time needed to have passed in order for the societies to be as stable as they are. Still, I hope we get some insight into those 8 years, as I’m already dreading the reported 8 month time jump that the characters will have experienced once Secret Wars is over.

So, that’s me. What did you all read this week?

29th May2015

West Week Ever – 5/29/15

by Will

photovisi-download (15)

 

oie_922142seDasWF9

seeking asian female

I watched a couple of documentaries this week. First up was Seeking Asian Female, part of the Independent Lens series  on PBS. It follows an older White man who suffers from “Yellow Fever”, as in he is obsessed with Asian women. He has tried mail order bride companies, and now he’s discovered the internet. He meets a Chinese woman online, half his age, who agrees to marry him without even meeting him. He goes to China to bring her back to America on a fiancee visa. So, they have 3 months together as they plan whether or not a wedding is even going to happen. She finds out that he’s poor and they have to struggle to make ends meet, however she’s ashamed to go back to China because she knows that everyone will talk about her behind her back. It was interesting to watch because while the guy’s interest began as some sort of fetish, he genuinely cares for his fiancee, and she for him. The question is whether or not their relationship can survive their differences. It was really good, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to kill an hour.

southern rites

Next up was the documentary Southern Rites. This HBO documentary followed filmmaker Gillian Laub as she returned to a southern town that she’d documented in the New York Times Magazine article “A Prom Divided”. Basically, the town of Vidalia, Georgia, up until recently held segregated proms. While the schools were integrated, the proms were not. The White kids would have theirs one night at the community center, and the Black kids would have theirs the next night at the community center. White kids could come to the Black prom, but not the other way around. The 2009 article garnered so much attention that it pressured the county into integrating the prom the following year, but Laub wasn’t allowed to document it. Since she couldn’t get into the prom, she turned her attention to other matters going on in the county. First up, an older White man, Norman Neesmith, was on trial for the murder of a 22 year old Black man, Justin Patterson. Apparently, Patterson had been in Neesmith’s house, smoking and fooling around with Neesmith’s daughter. Neesmith chased Patterson and his brother out of the house, shooting at them. A bullet hit Justin, and he died outside the property. Meanwhile, Laub also follows the campaign trail of the potential first Black sheriff of the county. It’s interesting to see how the racial divide still permeates this small town that’s been resistant to change. I won’t spoil the endings, but there are no real cut and dried answers. It’s definitely the kind of documentary that will start a conversation.

two-night-stand-poster

Finally, I was bored one night and watched Two Night Stand On Demand. Starring Miles Teller and newcomer Analeigh Tipton, it’s about two young adults who have a one night stand that ends rather miserably. Unfortunately, they get snowed in together, so they’re forced to call a truce. Ya know, I’m starting to warm up to Teller. While I used to want to punch him in the face (he just has one of those faces), he’s really starting to grow on me. I’m also impressed by his career arc. He had carved out a niche doing R-rated comedies (21 & Over, Project X), but instead he branched out and did Whiplash and the upcoming Fantastic Four. He may actually have range. Anyway, the real star here is Tipton, surprisingly in her first lead role. Apparently, she was a finalist in Cycle 11 of America’s Next Top Model, but you’d never really know it here. She’s cute, but accessible. It’s a modern-day romcom, but it was still a fun watch.

great-bikini-bowling-bash

This might be sort of “blue” for some of you, but I watched what’s colloquially known as an “adult movie”. I mean, I’m paying for Cinemax, so I might as well watch it, right? Here’s my issue: whatever happened to the Cinemax Code? Back when I was a teen, Cinemax movies starred folks like Shannon Tweed, and you knew that the sex was simulated. Nowadays, however, they’re using REAL PORN STARS! They broke the code! Now I can’t tell if it’s simulated or real. It’s all about the angles, and for all I know, they’re really doing it, and the camera’s just blocking it out. The mystery is killing me! Anyway, the movie I watched was The Great Bikini Bowling Bash. It starred Mary Carey, Sophia Bella, and Krissy Lynn – a blonde, a brunette, a redhead, so there was something for everyone. So, the brunette’s family is about to lose their bowling alley, so they decide to have a bikini bowling exhibition in order to raise money. When that doesn’t make enough, they decide to challenge a local millionaire to a bowl off. If they win, he saves the alley. He wins, and he gets to bang all three of them. Surprisingly, the movie doesn’t go in the direction you figure it’ll go in. I mean, how did the filmmakers pass up a golden opportunity for a 4-way?! Anyway, they win, and the bowling alley is saved. Oh and they all take turns banging each other throughout the movie. I was livetweeting it while watching, and some folks on Twitter wondered what I was watching, so there ya go.

convergence

This week saw the end of the Convergence event from DC Comics. Originally designed as something to hold readers over as the company moved to the West Coast, it somehow evolved into an “event” that was designed to change the status quo. I didn’t read it because I was getting a decidedly “been there, done that” vibe from the whole thing. It also didn’t help that no one involved seemed to be able to explain what it was truly meant to accomplish. Well, in the final issue, we found out why: (SPOILERS) the resolution of the story basically wiped out the original Crisis on Infinite Earths from 1985. That was an important storyline where several of DC’s different universes were merged into one. Back then, it was felt that continuity had gotten too complicated, so it was decided that everything should be “streamlined” into one Earth. As you can imagine, this caused more problems than it solved. Every ten years or so, DC has an event to sort of tweak what was done during Crisis, but this is the first time that they’ve basically done away with the original miniseries itself. So, now DC has an infinite number of Earths again, all available to creators who have a good story to tell with them. After 30 years, we’re right back to square one. And I feel this is a TERRIBLE idea. Whether or not the original Crisis “worked”, there was a problem with timelines and continuity that needed to be fixed. Now, not only is that original problem still a concern, but now it has 30 years of baggage on top of it. It might seem great that all of these worlds are now available for creators, but it only matters if they actually use them. Now begins the questions of “Where is ___ ?” and “Which Earth is the real Earth?” Only time will tell, True Believer! Whoops, wrong company…

2995_chris_pine

Meanwhile in DC land, it’s been rumored that Chris Pine is in talks to play Steve Trevor in the Wonder Woman film. I like Pine and all, but I thought the ship had sailed that was trying to make him a marquee star. Sure, he has the Star Trek films, but he also had This Means War. Plus, this also means that he’s no longer in the running for the role of Green Lantern, which is another rumor that had been floating around.

bebop and rocksteady

In other film news, here’s Bebop and Rocksteady in their human form from TMNT 2. I find it hilarious that Uncle Ruckus from The Boondocks is Bebop. And you can’t tell from this angle, but Rocksteady is Sheamus from the WWE. Anyway, I like their look, but I’m sure everyone else hates it, so I’ll just be over here…

Most of you probably know Jenny Lewis as “the girl from The Wizard“, but she’s done so much more than that. Later on, she went on to join the band Rilo Kiley, and now she’s a solo artist. In her latest music video, “She’s Not Me”, she pokes fun at her child star past. If you were ever a fan of The Golden Girls, you’ll remember the episode she was in. The weirdest thing about this video, to me, is that the bearded dude is NOT Chris Parnell. No, that’s Leo Fitpatrick, who played Telly in KIDS. TELLY FROM KIDS HAS A GRAY BEARD! I’m so old…

telly

 

My Twitter pal, @TheSewerDen was profiled on NJ.com for his amazing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collection. He’s converted a room in his parents’ house into essentially a museum of all the TMNT ephemera he’s collected over the years. Seeing this makes me wish I’d taken pictures of my Power Rangers collection before it was dismantled. The thing I loved about this profile was how supportive his parents have been in regards to his collecting. I can’t wait to see what my kid gloms onto in the future.

Links I Loved

Do it, Rockapella: A Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? Contestant Looks Back – The A.V. Club

The Secret History of Ultimate Marvel, the Experiment That Changed Superheroes Forever – Vulture

Marvel Studios Fails Fans by Fighting Marvel TV (& Not Hiding It Well) – Screenrant

25 Comic Book Movies That Never Got Made – The Robot’s Pajamas

Goodbye F.A.O. Schwarz: Toy Lovers Prepare for Store’s Closing – The New York Times

I’ve written about Kung Fury in the past, but I’m happy to announce that it’s finally here! Premiering last night on El Rey Network (and subsequently on YouTube), the Kickstarter-funded “movie” finally saw the light of day. I put movie in quotes because the whole thing only clocks in at about 31 minutes. The thing has so much potential, but there’s only so much you can do on a budget. Now that it’s here, it’s even more absurd than I thought it would be – and I mean that in a good way. There’s Hitler and Thor and laser raptors and more! An homage to 80s action shows, Kung Fury follows a kung fu cop as he travels to the past to kill Adolph Hitler.

So, what did I think of it? Was it awesome? Yes. Was it as awesome as it could have been? No. Here’s my nitpicky thing: why go to Nazi Germany to kill Hitler when he was apparently already in 1985 Miami? Why not just kill him now/then? Also, I was kinda surprised El Rey showed it with a TV-14 rating, considering they say “fuck” a LOT. And in the middle of the evening, to boot! It’s an impressive venture, as the entire thing was filmed with greenscreen in Sweden, but I felt they could’ve chilled on the effects a bit. Instead of rendering a million Nazis, how about using that money to make the movie longer than an infomercial? I mean, if you saw the trailer, you’ve basically already seen the whole thing. I think I was looking for something like Axe Cop meets Danger 5, but I’m not quiet sure it accomplished that. And that weird cameo by “The Hoff 9000″? I dunno, man. Still, it was an impressive production, and that’s why Kung Fury had the West Week Ever.

15th May2015

West Week Ever – 5/15/15 (Upfronts Edition)

by Will

photovisi-download (14)

 

oie_922142seDasWF9

This is gonna be a long one, so strap in and get comfortable. Last year, I did daily posts about the network upfronts announcing their new shows and schedules. This year, we’re doing it all here. But first, some movie stuff.

st vincent

I really put Redbox to work over the past few days, catching up on some films I’d missed in theaters. First up was St. Vincent. Starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy, it’s basically about the friendship formed between McCarthy’s son and Murray’s curmudgeonly character. It’s one of those films where Murray actually kinda acted instead of just playing himself. It’s a cute film, and I recommend it – even to those folks who tend to hate McCarthy. Don’t worry, as she doesn’t tumble over anything in this movie.

top-5

Next up, I watched Chris Rock’s Top Five. At its core, it’s a Cinderella story. No, really. If you watch the film, you’ll know what I mean. Anyway, Rock plays Andre Allen, a comedic actor who’s at a point in his career where he wants to be taken seriously. He spends the day with reporter Rosario Dawson, as he does press to promote his new drama about a Haitian uprising. Over the course of the day, we find out about his drinking, his sham relationship with a reality star, and his fears about his own abilities. In terms of casting, it’s basically a modern-day Harlem Nights. You have never seen a collection of Black comedians of this caliber since that film. It’s a movie built on cameos, from Ben Vereen playing ANOTHER deadbeat dad to Seinfeld making it rain in a strip club. And there’s an AMAZING DMX cameo. Trust me. Anyway, I really liked this movie, and I’d definitely watch it again to see if there are any cameos that I missed.

birdman

Finally, I watched Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). For almost a year, I’ve been hearing about how great this movie was, and what a great job Michael Keaton did in the role. Now that I’ve seen it, I have to ask: did we watch the same movie? No me gusta! It was a little too artsy for me. Now, I have simple tastes, but I was a theatre kid so I got most of what was going on. It was the whole battle of “celebrity” vs “actor”, and Keaton’s character just wanted to leave behind a legacy outside of the fluff of the popular Birdman franchise. He was already a celebrity (something of a hasbeen), but he wanted to be taken seriously as an actor. I get that. But it was still kinda weird to me. Like, why did he have telekinesis? At times, it felt kinda Black Swan-y to me, but maybe that’s what they were going for. Part of my review isn’t even the movie’s fault; the first disc I got from Redbox was warped, so I was only able to watch 2/3 of the movie. I had to get a refund, get another disc, and give the movie another try before I was able to finish it. So, I didn’t feel the movie was good enough to warrant all that I had to go through to watch it. What did you all think of the film?

Now, for the upfront news. Let’s look at Fox’s offerings:

Grandfathered – Tuesdays at 8:00

I really like how this looks. It’s got a Raising Hope element to it, while everyone loves John Stamos. That said, he hasn’t had a ton of luck with his starring vehicles (Thieves, Jake In Progress). It kinda bothers me that it doesn’t have a lead-in, and is expected to kick off the night. More importantly, it’ll be going against The Muppets on ABC. I think those are different audiences, but I’d feel a lot better about it if it were placed after New Girl. The problem with that is that New Girl isn’t coming back until midseason because of Deschanel’s pregnancy. I really want this one to work.

The Grinder – Tuesdays 8:30

Who doesn’t love Rob Lowe? And Fred Savage is acting again! This looks very “Fox”, but I still like it. The potential problem is that it doesn’t have an established lead-in (Grandfathered), and it’ll be going against Fresh Off the Boat on ABC. FOTB experienced a ratings dive last season, so I honestly don’t see it as a threat. I just wonder how the freshman Fox comedies are going to do without help from established shows.

Minority Report – Mondays at 9:00

I never saw the movie, but I know the general gist: in the future, crimes are predicted before they’re committed. This is the kind of show that Fox LOVES to kill. They give it a chance and they kill it. It’s expensive sci fi, and the ratings are never high enough to warrant season 2 (see: Almost Human, Terra Nova). Fox should be given credit for giving these shows a chance, but instead they just have a rep for killing them. It’s got the plum post-Gotham timeslot (to the detriment of Sleepy Hollow, which moves to Thursday), but I don’t know if that’s going to be enough to save it. Speaking of Sleepy Hollow, Fox seems to love that White guy, Black female partner trope.

Rosewood – Wednesdays at 8:00

There’s quite a bit of an obsession with pathologists on TV lately. Pathologist obsessed with death becomes the go-to guy for the Miami police department. This feels a lot like Forever. It stars Morris Chestnut, so it helps the problem if the lack of primetime diversity. I’m just scared this might be 2015-2016’s Backstrom. I don’t think this one survives.

Lucifer – Midseason

I said this about Constantine, and I’ll say it again here: I don’t think the Bible Belt is ready to embrace a show about the Devil as the star. Not on network television. I don’t care how far we’ve come as a society. I don’t care if it’s a “smart” show. The same people who would like this show are the ones who hate The Big Bang Theory. You know who LOVES The Big Bang Theory? Middle America. It’s a midseason show, so I figure Fox is using that time to figure out just how to properly market it. NBC couldn’t call Constantine “Hellblazer”, likely for the same reasons. No matter what it was called, the show is now gone. I don’t think this one has a prayer (heh) either.

The Frankenstein Code – Midseason

Take everything I said about Minority Report, and multiply it times 2. This show will not last.

Bordertown – Midseason

Originally scheduled for the 2014-2015 television season, this show has been bumped to next season. And it STILL doesn’t have an airdate. Fox must have faith in it, since it’s executive produced by Seth MacFarlane, but it just doesn’t seem as good as his other shows. I also hate the animation style. I don’t like animation where you can’t tell if a character is supposed to be attractive or not (see Bob’s Burgers). Anyway, I say it gets one season (since animation has lead time), which will then end up being aired late Sunday night on Adult Swim (see Unsupervised).

Now for ABC’s shows

Dr. Ken – Fridays at 8:30

I like Ken Jeong, but this show isn’t exactly reinventing the sitcom wheel. Considering the edgier comedic films he’s done, I’m surprised that he went for such a cookie-cutter multi-cam family show. That said, it multiplies the Asian American representation in sitcoms by 100%, so it helps to diversify the shows on the air. I hate the Friday timeslot, as this ain’t TGIF. Last Man Standing isn’t that strong of a lead-in, so it won’t be of much help to this show. I just KNOW some executive recommended pairing this show with Fresh Off the Boat before someone shot him down.

The Muppets – Tuesdays at 8:00

I’ve never understood the Muppets, so I’m probably not the best one to cover this one. Sure, the Jason Segel movie did well, but the sequel did not. It seems like the success of the Muppets hinges on the presentation. This show is basically The Office with Muppets. I don’t really like what I see, but again, I’m not the target audience. It’s going against Fox’s Grandfathered, but I think they’ll have different audiences.

The Real O’Neals – Midseason

I really like what I see here. It’s like a better, single-cam almost-prequel to CBS’s cancelled The McCarthys. ABC only seems to really have two nights for comedy (Tuesday and Wednesday; I don’t really count Friday), so I’m not really sure where it would go at this point.

Uncle Buck – Midseason

This actually looks a lot better than I was expecting. We basically got the whole pilot in the trailer, but I would watch this. I could see ABC doing something like swapping it in for Black-ish for a few weeks, which would then result in an outcry that ABC refuses to have 2 Black shows on at once. Heh. Anyway, this might just work.

The Catch – Midseason

This looks good. It’s a Shonda Rhimes show, so I expect nothing less. I said I’d watch How To Get Away With Murder, and then I never got around to it. I’d say the same about this, but maybe I’ll just catch it on Netflix. This one’s a hit. Shonda can’t fail.

Of Kings and Prophets – Sundays at 10:00

STOP TRYING TO MAKE THE BIBLE “COOL”! This was clearly made in response to NBC’s A.D. The Bible Continues, only I’m pretty sure ABC probably thought that series was going to be more successful than it has been. Networks keep trying to make these shows because they want their own Game of Thrones. The problem is that you can’t make that show on a network television budget, with network standards and practices. You just end up with a neuter version, which no one wants. Fox learned this last season while making Hieroglyph, which they canceled before it even aired. This show will not succeed.

The Family – Midseason

I like this. A year ago, I probably wouldn’t have had a lot of faith in it, but ABC had a lot of success with Secrets & Lies, and this is in that vein. I can’t wait to watch this!

Quantico – Tuesdays at 10:00

ABC has had a problem with this timeslot for the past few seasons. Most recently occupied by Forever, it’s the hour where ABC dramas go to die. I like what I see, though. It’s basically 24 with a less experienced agent. It also helps that it’s led by a woman of color. It’ll be interesting to see what happens here.

Oil -Sundays at 9:00

Kinda cared more about this when it was called Dallas. ABC needs a soapy drama to replace Revenge, but that show never really did that well. Neither does Nashville. ABC wants to stay in the sudser game, but the numbers just aren’t there. Who knows, though? It might work.

Wicked City – Midseason

I don’t really even know what’s going on here. I don’t think it fully captures the 80s aesthetic for a “period piece”. I don’t see this one really getting off the ground.

I really only care about one thing on CBS:

Supergirl – Mondays at 8:00

Well, this has certainly gotten folks talking. From Greg Berlanti, who’s given us Arrow and The Flash, we get a show about Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El. First of all, why is it pronounced “CAHR-uh”? Anyway, I have a lot of issues with what I’ve seen in the trailer. Why does everyone know her identity? By the end of the trailer, everyone seems to know except her boss.

Also, I hate that they made her cousin such a big part of her identity. Why couldn’t they live in a world where there’s no Superman? The problem with this is the same problem I had with Birds of Prey: when you mention that someone bigger and more important exists, the audience is just waiting for him to appear. In BoP, we all wanted Batman on TV, and here we’re all going to want Superman. Now, Warner Bros had a show about Superman that ran for 10 years, yet he never really “showed up”. Why would they do anything differently here? Too much is predicated on making her cousin proud or “Your cousin sent you a gift”. Considering this show is supposed to take place in the “Berlantiverse” (has anyone coined that term yet?), I don’t like the idea that there’s a Superman out there in the same world as The Arrow. I liked that Arrow was kinda grounded, and this season sorta threw all of that out the window. I know there’s bigger threats and whatnot, but I wasn’t prepared to jump right to the House of El.

Anyway, I’m still not sure why this just didn’t get put on The CW. I mean, CBS owns half of that network, and it’s where the other Berlanti shows are. It’d make things more convenient for crossing over (which is something they’ve said they would like to eventually do) if they were on the same channel. If you’re not a show about the FBI or some other acronym, CBS doesn’t really know what to do with you. It’s also interesting that for the first time since 1949, CBS has no comedies on Monday night, instead giving a slot to Supergirl. And it’s going up against Gotham! If I had to choose between dark, nonsensical Gotham and bright, optimistic Supergirl, I know what I’ll be watching Monday nights.

As for NBC:

The Player – Thursdays at 10:00
I don’t even know what’s going on here. They bet on crime? Anyway, I don’t see this one making it, which is sad ’cause Wesley could use the money. They say that it’s by the executive producer of The Blacklist, but that’s not entirely a vote of confidence as that show’s been slowly dying since the move to Thursdays.

Blindspot – Mondays at 10:00

This trailer is just exhausting. It’s Memento with a hot chick. Again, this thing seems too steeped in its own mythology to be accessible. I don’t see a second season for it.

People Are Talking – Fridays at 8:30
I really want this to work, as I love Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Just like Fox makes expensive sci fi shows just to cancel them, NBC loves to make multicam sitcoms only to cancel them. It’s a miracle that Undateable is still around, really. And for some reason, they’ve decided to program Friday night with comedies like ABC. Maybe the DVR numbers will be decent? Anyway, it’ll be going against ABC’s Dr. Ken, which also has an uphill battle for that night and timeslot.

And of course, while I was writing this, the trailer dropped for The CW’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow:

I’m so behind on Arrow and The Flash that I don’t really feel qualified to have an opinion on it. I like what I see, but I need to catch up before I can get really excited, as I know some of the groundwork had been laid over the past few episodes. It’s The CW, which kinda has a low bar for success anyway, so this show will do just fine.


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Mondays at 8:00

This is the only other CW show I’m looking forward to. It was originally created for Showtime, but got picked up for network instead. This chick seems insane, and I’m curious to see how they get a whole series out of this premise. That said, it’s got an Asian American love interest – how often do you see that?! And it’s half musical? Yeah, I’m already there. Anyway, it airs the same time as Supergirl, so I’ll be DVRing it. Or maybe I’ll just lose interest, like I did with Jane The Virgin.

MADCAST_LOGO

Another week, another guest spot on The Mad Cast. I love talking Mad Men with Corey, and we discussed a pretty powerful episode this week. Give it a listen!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Fox announced that the next and 15th season of American Idol would be its last. And there was much rejoicing. Not from me, however. It may have slowed in recent years, but Idol gave us Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, Fantasia Barrino, Adam Lambert, Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, and Scotty McCreary. The Voice, for all of its accolades and ratings, can’t say that about a single contestant. And I didn’t even list only winners. Being on Idol was enough exposure to launch a career. The Voice, however, has yet to create a household name. So, le roi est mort. Vive le roi!

-Contract negotiations broke down, so Harry Shearer is leaving The Simpsons. Last time that happened, they killed Maude Flanders. I doubt they’d kill Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Kent Brockman, and Mr. Burns, though, so I expect them to find replacement voices. The show’s been on for almost 30 years – it’s not like there aren’t other, cheaper folks who can do those voices now.

-Fox has greenlit a New Mutants film spinoff from the X-Men franchise. It’s to be directed by Josh Boone, who also did The Fault In Our Stars, so I expect it to have teen angst and all of that. I wonder if this is taking precedent over the X-Force film that was being discussed a few months back.

Legends of Tomorrow

-Caity Lotz will be playing The White Canary on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. In the comics, that minor character was originally Asian, so brace yourself for the “whitewashing” thinkpieces…

-The trailer for Jem and The Holograms was released, and the internet went crazy – in a bad way. It doesn’t seem to be about a rocker who uses hologram technology to save the world. Instead, it’s about a shy singer who’s trying to find the motivation to make her voice be heard. Instead of “Jem is truly outrageous”, the tagline should be “Jem, like, can’t even!” Some people have said that the haters aren’t embracing new ideas, but there’s nothing “Jem” about this. Why use the name and the franchise if you’re not going to do anything with it? That’s like if G.I. Joe were about a dude named George Indicott Joe, a former soldier who’s now a plumber in Queens. It’s just a waste.

-In comic news, the identity of “She Thor” was revealed in this week’s Thor #8. I thought it was just gonna be Lady Sif or something. I was wrong. Here’s a hint, though: she was in the movies. My pal Kevin over at Team Hellions has the scoop!

Links I Loved

Ben Savage on Boy Meets World, Girl Meets World, and the Meaning of Life – Vulture

Figures of Empire: On the Impossibility of Superhero Diversity – Snoopy Jenkins

Ranking EVERY Villain of The Avengers Comics – The Robot’s Pajamas

What the Number of Action Figures You Own Says About You – UnderScoopFire

As you can see, there was a LOT of television news this week, and I didn’t even cover all of it. The week belonged to the networks as they rolled out their Fall schedules. There will be some winners and a LOT of losers, but it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out. It may seem like a cop-out, but I feel like the major broadcast networks had the West Week Ever.

03rd Apr2015

West Week Ever – 4/3/15

by Will

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So, last weekend I finally got around to watching St. Elmo’s Fire. If you’re not familiar, it’s one of the Brat Pack films from the 80s, though it’s nowhere near as critically acclaimed as The Breakfast Club; I never realized that until I started reading old reviews after watching the movie. Anyway, if this movie were released today, it’d be called White Privilege. It’s the story of 7 college friends who graduate from Georgetown University and embark upon adulthood. The problem is that most of them suck at life, and aren’t very good at being “adults”. Emilio Estevez stalks Andie MacDowell, Rob Lowe sleeps with everything with a vagina, Judd Nelson cheats on his girlfriend in order to pressure her into marrying him (yeah, that plan makes no sense), Andrew McCarthy is obsessed with Judd Nelson’s girlfriend, Demi Moore sleeps with everything with a penis, Mare Winningham has NO self esteem, and Ally Sheedy is just there. I know it came out during the “Me Generation”, so I’m sure it spoke to a lot of people at the time. Looking back at it now, however, it’s just hard to like any of the characters. Living in the DC area, it was cool to see what Georgetown looked like 30 years ago. I also enjoyed seeing the Q107 sticker on the pay phone (Q107 was the predecessor of WRQX/Mix 107.3, which is now the struggling “DC’s 107.3″). From where I stand, the best thing about the film is David Foster’s “Love Theme”. Just listen to it:

Greatest Movie Ever Sold

Next up, I watched the documentary POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. From Super Size Me‘s Morgan Spurlock, the doc follows Spurlock as he tries to finance a movie completely from sponsored endorsements. Meanwhile, he delves into the practice of branding and how it affects our daily lives. For example, the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo has outlawed all outdoor advertising, so there are no billboards, no bus ads, and no corporate graffiti. As a result, local businesses have to rely upon referrals and word of mouth in order to stay afloat, yet everyone feels that the move allows them to fully take in the world around them without being assaulted by ads. I liked Super Size Me, although I completely sided with Big Mac (Spurlock’s girlfriend, now ex-wife, was a vegan chef. He got sick because he simply wasn’t used to eating meat. It wasn’t all McDonalds’ fault. Plus, nobody should eat that shit THREE times a day. Even I know that, and I DO IT). Anyway, it was funny watching the man who singlehandedly destroyed the Super Size option go out into the world and try to court sponsors. I mean, everyone’s already seen what he did to McDonalds, so how could brands be sure that he’d portray them in a positive light? As interesting as the movie is, it’s still built on a weak premise. It’s not like he’s actually courting brands to help finance some sort of Hollywood blockbuster. No, he’s courting brands to sponsor the documentary that you’re already watching. That is the movie. It’s very meta. It was definitely an interesting documentary, but I think I expected more from it.

Jay Mohr

On the standup comedy front, I caught the Showtime special Jay Mohr: Happy. And A Lot. I’ve been fascinated by Jay Mohr ever since his stint as a featured player during the SNL dark years of the early 90s. I’ve even read his book, Gasping For Airtime: Two Years In The Trenches of Saturday Night Live. His body of work isn’t very memorable, but he did create Last Comic Standing, which has been pretty influential in the standup world for the past decade or so. Then, to cap it all off, he married Nikki Cox, who was quite the hot number in the late 90s. Anyway, I really enjoyed the special, which surprised me since my recent track record with standup specials hasn’t been so great. The material isn’t stellar, but some of it spoke to me. For example, he said that married couples don’t have to have shared interests, but rather need shared hates. Maybe my wife and I are terrible people, but that’s definitely true for us. Then, he capped off the special with a pretty killer Norm MacDonald impression. I’m not so sure I’d recommend it, but I enjoyed it.

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Ciara Renee has been cast as Hawkgirl in the CW Arrow/Flash spinoff, while Arthur Darvill has been cast as Rip Hunter. I don’t know either of those actors. I like what The CW’s doing with Arrow and The Flash, but I fear they’re about to dilute the brand by adding this 3rd show (possibly 4 if they keep Supergirl in-universe). As good as The Flash is, I feel like the quality of Arrow has slipped a bit, with the good stuff going over to the former. Maybe I’m just saying that because I’m used to binge-watching Arrow instead of consuming it on a weekly basis, and I’m not so sure that’s working for me.

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Meanwhile in live action comic adaptations, an April Fools video with Ryan Reynolds claims that the Deadpool film will have an R-rating. Now, I’ve heard folks longing for this in the past, and I don’t quite understand it. Why does it need to be an R? I consider myself a Deadpool fan, but I don’t go way back to his origins. I’ve been a completist since his series started during Secret Invasion, and I’d read some Cable & Deadpool before that. In all of my Deadpool reading, I haven’t experienced anything that indicated a film adaptation would need an R-rating. The comic is not for mature readers, so it seems like it would translate more to a PG-13, with one “fuck” thrown in for good measure (that’s allowed in PG-13 movies).

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The speculation surrounding a reboot earned Full House the West Week Ever back in August. Well, it looks like we’re closer to getting Fuller House (that’s the name they’re using now) after all. Reportedly, the show is headed to Netflix, and will focus on the friendship between Candace Cameron Bure’s DJ Tanner and Andrea Barber’s Kimmy Gibbler. Considering how much Candace has gone on the evangelical offensive over the years, I wonder if that hurts the potential audience for this show. Anyway, score another one for Netflix. Right now, I’m sure Yahoo Screen is looking into rebooting Empty Nest.

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-It was reported that Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje has been cast as Killer Croc in DC’s Suicide Squad movie. I have no clue how to say that dude’s name. If I ever met him, I’d have to play the “What’s up, my brotha?” card. Anyway, that guy from Latino Review who loves scooping stuff reports that Suicide Squad will take place between Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice in the span of the DC Cinematic Universe. *Yawn*

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In the world of music, Jay-Z and his Illuminati friends announced the purchase of Tidal – a new streaming service that costs more than most other services because the artists want to make more money. There was a press conference and everything. It ended with them signing a document that you’d think was the Hip Hop Magna Carta or something. Anyway, the files are supposedly of a higher quality, but you won’t be able to tell the difference if you’re listening through headphones. Good luck with that, Hov!

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In the world of television, Weird Loners premiered on Fox Tuesday night. It feels like someone found some old Happy Endings scripts, but there were food stains all over the best jokes. Seriously, this show feels like it really wants to be HE, complete with the casting of Zachary Knighton, but the rest of the cast just isn’t that strong. Plus, I can’t get over how that one guy looks like Nick Swardson if he really let himself go. Anyway, I guess I shouldn’t expect too much from “The creator of The King of Queens, and the executive producer of New Girl.” What’s it about? Four people who are unlucky at love kinda band together as friends. Oh, and 3/4 of them are kinda assholes ’cause that’s how they make sitcoms now.

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Meanwhile, in the world of television, South African comedian Trevor Noah was announced as the new host of The Daily Show. And the people rejoiced…for about a day. Then, someone checked out his Twitter history and discovered that he’d said a bunch of off-color stuff. Ya know, like a comedian. You ever follow a professional comedian on Twitter? With the exception of very few, they’re all just throwing shit out there to see if it sticks. If it gets retweeted or favorited, excellent. A lot of them come off as insecure when they do this, and it’s not necessarily coming from some place of bravado. If anything, they’re tearing others down in order to feel good about themselves. Whatever. I’m not a licensed shrink. All I know is that Comedy Central decided they wanted to go the comedian route for the job, and they knew what they were getting themselves into. Comedy Central has already said that they stand by him, so I expect nothing to come from this. Plus, Stewart’s fans are gonna hate any replacement in the beginning, just because he’s not Stewart.

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This week also saw the premiere of the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber. SNL‘s Pete Davidson was great (I had no clue his father was a firefighter who died on 9/11), but Martha Stewart was surprisingly brutal. My pal Chris Piers pointed out that there’s no way she wrote those jokes, but I just give her credit for saying them. The roast ended with a well-written, yet clearly staged, apology from Justin himself for his outrageous behavior. Even though it was somewhat canned, I felt like it showed a lot of maturity, and I’m eager to see where his path leads him. After all, Justin Timberlake was once just “that guy in that boyband”, and look at him now. I’m not saying Bieber is that multi-talented, but I’d really like us to get to a place where “Justin Bieber” isn’t an instant punchline anymore.

 

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I loved this article about the making of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. My favorite part is that they acknowledge that Raph has mental problems. I’ve always felt this, but had never seen it actually written anywhere. Seriously, if Raphael is your favorite turtle, I wonder about you…

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This week, I had the pleasure of joining Corey and Eclectik over on the UnderScoopFire Podcast. We discussed all of the pop culture stuff we’re looking forward to during the months of April through June, and it was a lot of fun. I was really starting to think that folks were tired of having me on their shows, so it felt really good to get back in the swing of things. Anyway, give it a listen!

Things You May Have Missed This Week

-Speaking of Turtles, Stephen Amell has been cast as Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. Sure, movies trump TV, so this is good for his IMDB page, but it almost feels like a lateral promotion.

-Hugh Jackman announced that Wolverine 3 will most likely be his last appearance as Wolverine, after 17 years in the role.

-It was announced that season 6 will be Downton Abbey‘s final season. I still have seasons 4 and 5 on my DVR, so I’m not quite sure if I’m saddened or relieved by the information.

-In other news about shows I need to watch, House of Cards has been renewed for a fourth season on Netflix.

Gnardians of the Galaxy, the porn parody of Guardians of the Galaxy, released its trailer. Nope, I’m trying to be Safe For Work, here!

Cougar Town‘s series finale aired this week. One day, I’m gonna have to catch up on that show.

-Fresh off the cancellation of What Not to Wear, Clinton Kelly will be getting a new show on TLC where he and Real World: Brooklyn‘s Devin Symone will give social media makeovers to folks looking for love. Think of it like What Not To Catfish.

-This week on The Today Show, Darius Rucker said that Hootie and the Blowfish would reunite, but it was simply a matter of timing. Uh-huh. He’s gone Full Timberlake but doesn’t want to admit it. I’ll believe this reunion when I see it.

Wrestlemania 31 was this week. So that happened. Technically, I’m a WWE guy whenever The Undertaker is involved, but even I couldn’t get excited about his match against Bray Wyatt. Anyway, The Dead Man won, so I guess I’m happy. I tend to care more about the Hall of Fame ceremony than the actual event; I’ve got it on my DVR, but haven’t had the chance to watch it. So, look for my thoughts next week.

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I love Scientology. Let me rephrase that: I love all secret society-ish things, and Scientology happens to fall under this banner. Over the years, I’ve read and watched a LOT of stuff about the religion, and I continue to be fascinated by everything that I discover.

I can be a Judgy McJudgerson at times, but I try not to criticize anyone’s religion. At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to make it in this life, one day at a time. Some folks need some sort of coping mechanism to do this, while others don’t. Plus, and some folks won’t like this thought, but all religions have their farfetched aspects. Yup, even mine. We criticize Scientology because our parents are older than the religion, and the idea of Xenu and whatnot seems hokey as Hell. The funny thing about Xenu is that that information isn’t even available to Scientologists until they fork over the money to learn it. It’s not like that’s their pitch to the man on the street. No, for that they use e-meters to give you “stress tests”.

Anyway, based on my fascination with all things Scientology, I knew that I’d have to watch the documentary Going Clear, based on Lawrence Wright’s book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief.  It was SO GOOD! I was already familiar with the concept of Operating Thetans and the Sea Org, but the doc does a good job of explaining these things for the uninformed. Not only does it cover the celebrity aspect, like John Travolta and Tom Cruise, but it also documents the abuse and the living conditions suffered by the more common members of the religion. Tom Cruise may seem like an all-powerful supervillain, but that’s because he’s got money. If you or I joined Scientology, we’d be drafted into their space Navy on a billion year contract, doing menial labor and making about 40 cents a day. This is the side of Scientology that no one talks about.

I could understand the attraction to celebrities, but I’ve never quite understood why an average Joe would join up. For this, I’m not sure the documentary did the best job of explaining. I mean, it seems like a rich celebrity club, with tax-exempt status, but the celebrity aspect is so small compared to the men and women who raise their families in the religion. According to a 2008 study, about 25,000 Americans identified as Scientologists, and Tom and John are only two of them. Outside of the celebrity world, who are these people? What’s the draw? In the footage that they showed of the annual conference, there were Black people in attendance. How, pray tell, do you get a Black Scientologist?! The documentary focused on Hollywood members, like writer/director Paul Haggis, but I would’ve liked more info on “the little people”. I guess there’s only so much you can fit into two hours, so I’ll need to check out the book (Lindsay read it and highly recommends it).

If you have even a passing interest in Scientology, I really think you should give this documentary a shot. It’s worth it just for the story about how they “recruited” Tom Cruise’s new girlfriend. So, for being the most interesting thing I consumed this week, Going Clear had the West Week Ever.

17th Mar2015

Much Ado About Batgirl

by Will

So, usually I’d just let this kind of thing go, or just drop a casual mention of it in West Week Ever, but I was inspired to say more about this particular thing. Last week, DC Comics revealed a variant cover for the upcoming Batgirl #41, which can be seen here:

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The cover, by Rafael Albuquerque is an homage to Batman: The Killing Joke – the 1988 graphic novel where The Joker shoots Batgirl/Barbara Gordon and paralyzes her. This was a violent and pivotal storyline, resulting in Barbara eventually adopting the role of Oracle to the DC Universe. The reason this cover is controversial, however, is because of this page from The Killing Joke:

Killing Joke

You see, after shooting her (in her Barbara Gordon guise), Joker then showed pictures of her, naked and bloody, to her father, Commissioner Gordon. Over the years, it has been surmised that Joker actually sexually assaulted Barbara before and/or during the photoshoot. The creative team of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland have never confirmed whether or not this was a depiction of the aftermath of a sexual assault. It’s really left open to interpretation by the reader. I can see where that idea comes from, with the S&M imagery of Commissioner Gordon’s garb to the facial expressions in the photos. That said, until DC Comics comes out and says “Yes, Barbara was raped” (and yes, they are just dumb enough to do that), then I’m going to assume that she was not. I don’t even think DC would go that far.

So that brings us to the variant cover above. Many people felt it was in bad taste because it harkened back to this assumed sexual assault. The Joker with his arm draped around her, holding a gun pointed downward, while her eyes fill with tears. The Internet heated up with demands for DC to cancel the cover, via the #CancelTheCover hashtag. Eventually, things got out of hand as death threats were being hurled around, and DC finally announced that they were cancelling the cover at the request of Albuquerque. Well, what do I think about all this? So glad you asked!

I think the Batgirl cover’s uncomfortable, but I also think that’s *the point*. There’s more storytelling in that image than anything current Batman writer Scott Snyder’s done. As my Twitter pal @Friginator put it,

It’s supposed to trigger a response in you. They want the reader to think that there are high stakes involved. That said, I’d probably cry if I were cornered by the guy who paralyzed me. He wouldn’t have had to have raped me to trigger that response. To me, the cover is just another Big 2 crossover tactic to make you think something worthwhile may actually happen in the book. That said, covers haven’t really correlated to a comic’s content in years. For all we know, Joker’s on the cover, but Batgirl’s probably saving the local coffee joint in the story (if you haven’t read recent Batgirl, she’s moved to the hip Burnside neighborhood, which is Gotham’s stand-in for Williamsburg). At the end of the day, it’s probably much ado about nothing.

I’m also surprised that this kind of uproar is the result of a VARIANT cover. If you’re not familiar with how the comic industry works, variant covers are considered incentives to the retailer. Let’s say a retailer typically orders 35 copies of Batgirl. DC would like retailers to order more copies, so as an incentive to do so, they’ll give the retailer a special cover if they increase their orders to, say, 50 copies. The idea is that the retailer can then sell that variant cover at a price that’ll make up the difference in copies that may never actually sell. It’s a common practice, and variants can be offered at any level. Some publishers offer a variant cover for every 10 copies ordered, while some high dollar variants are 1:100. In this case, there are 25 Joker-centric variant covers released in June to commemorate the character’s 75th anniversary. The main point that I’m trying to make is that these aren’t the regular covers going to consumers. Right now, it’s unclear as to what kind of ratio in which the variants will be shipped. People were worried about what kind of impression the Batgirl cover would make on a new reader, but that’s probably not the cover that a new reader will see. The regular, common cover of the book looks like this:

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This isn’t the first time in recent history that a variant cover has caused fan uproar. Just a few months back, Marvel commissioned a variant cover for Spider-Woman from noted erotic artist Milo Manara. After all of his years in the profession, Marvel had to know what it was going to get from him. The result was this:

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The uproar was deafening, though Manara just did what he had been asked to do. He did what he does best, and apparently that’s drawing apple bottoms on crazily-contorted superheroes. Whatever. The point is that Marvel couldn’t play dumb since they knew the guy’s resume, but they also didn’t want to alienate the fans. So, they canceled the cover. Which was a variant. Which most people would never see outside of the websites bashing it.

I can understand the side that opposed the cover, even if I don’t share that sentiment. What bothers me is the precedent that this sets. Kinda like the Robin Thicke/Marvin Gaye decision, I fear for what this means for the future of the comic industry. Are they going to have to run everything by The Mary Sue (popular website by and for female comic fans) before they approve it? Does Gail Simone (DC Comics’ most prominent female writer) have to give her approval for everything concerning women before it’s universally accepted by fans? Are all controversial comic decisions going to have to be approved by some sort of committee comprised of fans and professionals? Nobody needs to be hurling death threats over *comic books*, so this clearly escalated quickly. Did DC make the “right call”? Well, that’s in the eye of the beholder. In his statement following the cancellation of the cover, Albuquerque said, “I respect these opinions and, despite whether the discussion is right or wrong, no opinion should be discredited.” I think this whole thing uprising was a bit much, but that’s just my opinion. Convince me I’m wrong in the comments!

20th Feb2015

West Week Ever – 2/20/15

by Will

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At the top of the week, I watched A.C.O.D., or Adult Children of Divorce. It stars Adam Scott as an adult whose parents divorced when he was young, though he’s still feeling the effects of it. His mother and father haven’t spoken in 20 years, but Scott tries to bring them together to celebrate his younger brother’s wedding. And, of course, nothing goes according to plan. The thing I loved about this movie is that Adam Scott is working with a ton of people he’s worked with before, so they already have proven chemistry. Richard Jenkins plays his dad, while he played his stepfather in Step Brothers. Amy Poehler plays his stepmother, while she plays his wife on Parks & Rec. Jane Lynch plays his therapist, while they worked together on Party Down. And Clark Duke plays his younger brother, and they worked together on the upcoming Hot Tub Time Machine 2. So, the movie is almost one big Adam Scott: This Is Your Life. In all, it’s a cute little movie, and a decent way to kill 90 minutes.

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I also caught the cult comedy classic Wet Hot American Summer. I’d seen parts of it before, but never the entire movie. There’s been renewed interest in the movie since Netflix just greenlit a prequel series. First off, who isn’t in this movie? While the movie’s from 2001, the cast is chock FULL of people who’d go on to bigger and better things. That said, I don’t really get the hype behind the movie beside its stellar cast. Sure, it had its moments, but it wasn’t as hilarious as I thought it was going to be. Right now, On Demand, it’s being marketed as “From the Producers of Role Models“, and I’ve got to say that Role Models had me rolling in the aisles. This movie? Not so much. I would watch it again, though, as I feel like it might be an acquired taste, and it seems like the kind of movie where you notice something different each time you watch it. For now, though, all it did was remind me of my crush on younger Janeane Garofalo.

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Last night saw the series finale of Two and a Half Men. Say what you will about it, the show had an impressive run over 12 seasons and 262 episodes. Everyone thought the show was doomed when Charlie Sheen went crazy on tiger blood (#winning), but it managed to reinvent itself into something with a lot of heart. Ashton Kutcher’s Walden Schmidt was a welcome reprieve from Sheen’s lothario Charlie Harper. Where Sheen’s character was lecherous and without a conscience, Kutcher’s Schmidt was naive and optimistic. He wasn’t out to take advantage of people, but this also meant that he didn’t always realize when folks were taking advantage of him. Later in the run, the show lost its “half man”, as Angus T. Jones found God and decided that he no longer wanted to be a part of the show. The show circumvented this by adding Amber Tamblyn as Charlie’s long lost daughter. Every time something came along that could end the show, they found a way to keep it going. It still averages about 11 million viewers a week, and could probably last another 3 seasons, but it’s just time for it to end. I won’t go into the finale, but let’s say it’s meta and pokes fun at the fact that it knows it’s a TV show. To many, the quality of the episode comes down to whether or not Charlie Sheen returns one last time. I won’t spoil that for you, but I was very satisfied with the finale.

Power Rangers Imaginext

Last weekend was the New York Toy Fair, where all of the toy buyers gathered to see what would be the hot new items throughout the year. As you may remember, I attended the show last year, but couldn’t make the trip this time, due to my baby shower. From what I’ve read, it doesn’t look like I missed much, as something about this year’s offerings just seemed sort of lackluster to me. To me, the most surprising announcement is that Fisher Price will be adding Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to its Imaginext line. I didn’t really think that Bandai would allow something like that to happen, but it’s happening! For full coverage of the show, however, be sure to check out Awesome Toy Blog.

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Announced some time ago, there’s a Guardians of the Galaxy cartoon coming to Disney XD. Well, this week, news started trickling out regarding the voice cast for the show. If you follow animated series, a lot of these names will sound familiar. For example, Kevin Michael Richardson will be voicing Groot. Outside of Phil Lamarr, Richardson is the workingest Black man in animation. Meanwhile, Boy Meets World‘s/Batman Beyond‘s Will Friedle will be voicing Star-Lord. I haven’t checked out any of the Disney XD Marvel series, but I might give this one a shot.

Links I Loved

Norm Macdonald tells the story of #SNL40 – Storify

Isn’t the internet big enough for more than one “Angry Asian”? – Reappropriate

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This week also saw the celebration of Saturday Night Live‘s 40th season. Airing over the course of 3 and a half hours Sunday night, the special was a welcome look back on past sketches like Celebrity Jeopardy and Wayne’s World. A lot of the original sketches fell flat, as the Super Bass-o-Matic felt like a Leno-era Tonight Show skit, while I’ve never been a fan of The Californians. To me, the best parts of the night were the true retrospective parts, such as the montage of audition tapes from the likes of Kevin Hart and Zach Galifianakis. There were a few awkward parts of the night, such as the tribute for he’s-not-dead-yet Tracy Morgan (accompanied by a dreadful impression by Alec Baldwin). Also, there’s the debate of whether or not Eddie Murphy “freaked out” onstage. I don’t think Eddie has stage fright, but I do feel like he’s uncomfortable in public. And I kinda can’t blame him, as he’s had a lot of bad luck over the years, from the string of box office bombs to the male prostitute incident back in the 90s. Like Marshawn Lynch, he’s clearly a man who just doesn’t really have a great relationship with the media these days.

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Anyway, half the fun of the special was watching the crowd, as you never quite knew who you might see. There was even a rumor that *NSYNC would reunite, and I have no idea who started that one. Most of them, with the exception of JC Chasez, were in attendance, but it just wasn’t the venue for such a thing. I was more surprised by some of the SNL people from whom we got nothing, like Cheri Oteri. Say what you will, she was just as instrumental to the rebuilding era as Molly Shannon and Maya Rudolph. Sure, the other two have had stronger post-SNL careers, but I figured they could’ve given Oteri a line to say. Hell, even Ellen Cleghorne got a line!

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Anyway, I felt like there was too much emphasis on extremes – either the first season stuff or the recent stuff. A lot of the “in between” years got lost, especially the late 80s/early 90s bunch. In any case, SNL is an institution, and 40 years is an impressive feat. I’ve been wondering if we’ll get an SNL50, seeing as how Lorne is 70 but doesn’t really have a successor. That’s another 10 years, and it just might be too much to hope for. So, we have to appreciate what we do have, which is 40 years of something that has touched a lot of lives. That’s why Saturday Night Live had the West Week Ever.

As a “bonus track”, here’s a pic of the awesome cake from the baby shower:

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07th Jan2015

West YEAR Ever – 2014

by Will

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The time has come to say goodbye to another year, and boy was 2014 a doozy! They say that every day is a blessing, but that was hard to agree with some days last year. It seems like it was rough for a lot of people, and it didn’t help that we had to deal with things like hacks and the word “bae”. In any case, this is where we take a look back and see what kind of year I had as I was bringing you the best in pop culture entertainment. Well, that was the goal, at least. Anyway, let’s get started, shall we?

Milestones of 2014

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I finally gave in to Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga

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Mister Mister squared off against Boy Meets Girl in audio combat

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I was linked by NPR’s Code Switch blog

I met @smurfwreck & @shezcrafti at a toy show

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I discovered that the Quokka exists

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I reviewed Superman: Earth One Volume 2

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I had some thoughts on some comics

I had a Twitter dialogue with the Toy Hunter

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I went to Toy Fair and finally met @MattGuzy, @T16skyhopp, @Preternia_, and @Tekcorps in the flesh!

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I went to Walt Disney World for the first time!

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I dissected the problems with the How I Met Your Mother series finale

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I reviewed the classic Nick Fury Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D.

There was a Free Comic Book Edition of Thrift Justice

I previewed the upcoming fall shows from Fox, ABC, NBC, and CBS

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I examined what made The Cleveland Show special

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I discussed FX’s new comedies Married and You’re The Worst, and got a tweet favorited by co-star Aya Cash.

The cast of Power Rangers Super Megaforce said my name! It’s recorded!

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Special Forces got his own spinoff installment of Thrift Justice!

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I rebooted Three’s Company!


We said goodbye to Jimi Jamison, former lead singer of Survivor

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I made my annual trip to the Baltimore Comic-Con

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I discovered Nymphomaniac and Bojack Horseman

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Special Forces and I made the trip to Wizard World Richmond and I met Tommy, The Green Ranger!

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I did the Warrior Dash in Connecticut

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I finally met @Classickmateria and we (including Special Forces) met up with @LamarRevenger at Retrocon

Lindsay and I celebrated our second anniversary!

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I found out I’m gonna be a daddy!

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I made my return to the New York Comic-Con, where I met up with @Tekcorps and finally met @BionicBigfoot

I was invited to participate in my pal Dex’s Halloween Countdown, over at AEIOU…And Sometimes Why.

I hit post #900 on version 2.0 of the site!

2014 Hidden Tracks

While I tend to talk about everything on the site, there are a few things that happened during 2014 that I never got around to blogging about. First of all, I had my first paid writing gig, which was printed in Bleeding Cool Magazine. I interviewed the creative team behind Boom! Studios’ Hexed ongoing series. Seeing as how almost no comic shops carry Bleeding Cool (and the interview wasn’t published on the website), I have yet to actually see it, but I still got paid, so there’s that.

Near the end of the year, I found myself on TMZ Live, talking about Nicki Minaj’s ass. It all started when I replied to one of TMZ host Harvey Levin’s tweets. The next thing I knew, the TMZ account was asking me if I wanted to be a part of that day’s TMZ Live broadcast. I was getting off work early, so I figured “Why not?” They called me up, and had me talk about Nicki’s ex-boyfriend. Apparently, he’s been having suicidal thoughts since she broke up with him. My response basically boiled down to “Can you blame him? Have you seen dat ass?” I made Harvey laugh. And then they didn’t use the recording. Womp womp.

West Week Ever Recipients of 2014

1/10/14 – Sasheer Zamata

1/17/14 – Michael Douglas

1/24/14 – Richard Sherman

1/31/14 – Ryan Lewis

2/7/14 – Facebook

2/14/14 – Michael Sam

2/21/14 – Chris Pratt

2/28/14 – Jimmy Fallon

3/7/14 – Lupita Nyong’o

3/14/14 – Walt Disney World

3/21/14 – N/A

3/28/14 – Psych

4/4/14 – How I Met Your Mother

4/11/14 – Stephen Colbert

4/25/14 – Lupita Nyong’o

5/2/14 – John Boyega

5/9/14 – Now That’s What I Call Music

5/16/14 – Superman vs. Batman Batsuit

5/23/14 – Michael Jackson

5/30/14 – Charlie Cox

6/6/14 – Ghostbusters

6/20/14 – The Cold Slither Podcast

6/27/14 – Batman (1989)

7/3/14 – Community

7/11/14 – Garth Brooks

7/18/14 – Marvel

7/25/14 – SDCC 2014

8/1/14 – @MattGuzy

8/8/14 – Guardians of the Galaxy

8/22/14 – Taylor Swift

8/29/14 – Full House

9/5/14 – 14 Year Old Boys

9/12/14 – TMZ

9/19/14 – Alex Trebek’s mustache

9/26/14 – Forever

10/3/14 – “The Simpsons Guy”

10/10/14 – The Flash

10/17/14 – Arrow

10/24/14 – Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer

10/31/14 – Marvel Studios

11/7/14 – Taylor Swift

11/21/14 – Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B

12/5/14 – The Flash/Arrow Teamup

12/12/14 – Girl Meets World

12/19/14 – Ascension

12/29/14 – James Lamb and Jenn Fang

Totaling things up, we have a five-way tie, as Lupita Nyong’o, Taylor Swift, Marvel, Flash, and Arrow each won 2 weeks out of the year. Lupita doesn’t clench West Year Ever, as most of her impact came in the beginning of the year. The Flash doesn’t get it because, while it’s a great series, its second West Week Ever win was the result of a teamup between it and Arrow. The same goes for Arrow itself. So, that brings us to Taylor Swift vs. Marvel. Technically, Marvel Comics won one week, while Marvel Studios won another, and they’re not really the same thing. So, that leaves us with Taylor Swift.

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Taylor Swift’s 1989 was arguably the best pop album of 2014. Really a Robyn album in disguise, the synth-heavy 80s-inspired offering picked up the ball from Miley’s 2013 Bangerz and ran with it. It was a milestone for Taylor, as it officially marked her transition from country to the mainstream. She also rocked the industry model, when she took all of her albums off of Spotify. Everyone thinks that streaming is the future, but Taylor is one of the biggest artists to simply state that the model didn’t work for her. In October, she became New York City’s newest ambassador – due in part to her track “Welcome to New York” from the album. 2014 was the year that the ladies took back pop music from the guys, and Taylor led the charge. When everything’s said and done, nobody had a 2014 quite like Taylor Swift, and that’s why she had the West Year Ever.

2014 was also the second full year of West Week Ever, and I couldn’t do it without you, the readers. Thanks for all your support and I hope you’ll stay with me into 2015!

07th Nov2014

West Week Ever – 11/7/14

by Will

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Portlandia season 4 finally made it to Netflix, so I’ve been bingewatching it this week. It’s everything I’ve come to expect from the show, meaning it’s great. I’ve still got 2 more episodes to go, so I hope the season ends as epic as season 2’s “Brunch Village” production.

Marvel

Tuesday saw the premiere of Marvel: 75 Years, From Pulp to Pop! on ABC. While the special was meant to celebrate 75 years of Marvel, they really glossed over some particular parts of Marvel’s history. While the 90s were a dark period for the company, X-Men was still the bestselling comic in the industry, and that was pretty much ignored. They also ignored the influence of the Raimi Spider-Man franchise, basically since they weren’t released by Marvel Studios. Similar to Marvel: Assembling A Universe, this was another self-congratulatory infomercial for Marvel and its movies. I give them credit for not talking about the movies until the last 15 minutes, but it still felt like “Look how awesome we are!” The special also included some footage from the upcoming Agent Carter. While it was nice seeing Howard Stark again, I care almost nothing about this show. It’s hard enough caring about modern-day SHIELD, let alone the 1940s equivalent.

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Tuesday also saw the release of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare on all major video game consoles. I’ve never considered myself a “gamer”, but I’m still addicted to Call of Duty: Black Ops II. So, I actually considered buying the game this week. Then I thought about it, and realized that I still only play one level (“Hijacked”) on BOII, so I still have a lot more game to cover before taking on something new. Plus, I really didn’t feel like dropping $60 on a video game.

The following aired on Adult Swim the other morning at 4AM, and it’s PERFECT. It contains so many 80s tropes, and then it gets WEIRD. I love everything about this:

Things You May Have Missed This Week

Toy Story 4 is coming. I still haven’t seen the third one, but I’m sure someone’s excited about this.

-It was announced that Star Wars Episode VII Will be called The Force Awakens. A lot of folks hate it. I don’t. In fact, it has me intrigued. Has The Force been asleep? Does it wear pajamas? So many questions!

-It was announced that Craig Ferguson’s final Late Late Show guest will be Jay Leno, on December 19th.

-Elections were Tuesday and everyone seems disappointed – even those whose parties won.

-Benedict Crumbsnatcher, or whatever his name is, got engaged this week.

-Amanda Bynes is still crazy.

Downton Abbey was renewed for a 6th season.

-Fox canceled ratings-starved reality experiment Utopia.

-Wayne Brady admitted that he suffers from depression.

-Starbucks updated their dress code policy, banning engagement rings with stones. I thought everyone who worked at Starbucks was single anyway…

New Girl got a new opening sequence, so you won’t be seeing this gem anymore:

Links I Loved

Next Round of Prototype Fetts Hitting Walgreens – Awesome Toy Blog

Rad Review: TMNT Comic Book Raphael – Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang

The Painful What-If That Haunts ‘Ghostbuster’ Ernie Hudson – Entertainment Weekly

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Selling 1.3 million copies, Taylor Swift’s 1989 posted the best one-week sales since 2002. She’s also the first artist to go platinum this year. Album sales may be in the crapper, but there’s no stopping Ms. Swift. In the ultimate Screw You move, she removed her catalog from Spotify which, no doubt, helped her album sales. She released the following statement:

“If I had streamed the new album, it’s impossible to try to speculate what would have happened. But all I can say is that music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment. And I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music. And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.”

Spotify pleaded with Taylor to come back, but they also created a “What To Play While Taylor’s Away” playlist. This is the future of music, folks. Anyway, for recordbreaking sales, and for bucking the system, Taylor Swift had the West Week Ever.

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