28th Apr2017

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

by Will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

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

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

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

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

17th Jun2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 6/17/16

by Will

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On the movie front, I watched a lot of Lego specials this week. First up was Lego DC Comics: Batman Be-Leaguered, featuring the Justice League trying to recruit the Caped Crusader. Now, my first issue is that I never saw the preceding movie, Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite. So, I was unaware that there was a different portrayal of Lego Batman out there. I was expecting the same depiction that we got in The Lego Movie. So, I was majorly disappointed when this wasn’t that guy. The biggest issue, however, was that it’s really just a 22-minute commercial designed to sell toys. I mean, most children’s cartoons are that, but this was just brazen about it. All of the vehicles showcased in the special are existing Lego sets, and the only thing missing from the show was having the Lego set number flash onscreen whenever a set appeared. It was the most toyetic thing I’ve seen in the past 20 years. The animation just felt like cut scenes from the Lego Batman games. And to make matters worse, it’s just a poorly written show. It’s got none of the heart of The Lego Movie, and in the end *SPOILER ALERT* it turns out that Bat Mite was the “villain” behind everything. You can’t take anything seriously when Bat Mite is involved. It was just a big waste of time.

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Next up, I watched Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom. THIS is what I wanted. I don’t watch the Lego TV shows, like Chima and Ninjago, so I have no idea of their quality, but this actually reminded me of The Lego Movie. They actually took advantage of the fact that the world was made of bricks, so when a car exploded, it reverted to a pile of bricks. That kind of detail is what was missing in Be-Leaguered. Anyway, the movie is basically an arms race to see who can get Martian Manhunter on their side to tip the scales in the battle between the Justice League and the newly formed Legion of Doom. Also, the movie focuses on Cyborg, as he struggles to fit in as the rookie of the team. He’s young and optimistic, so he pretty much serves as the Emmitt of the movie. Plus, it really made me appreciate Cyborg as a character. I have been vocal in my opposition to his promotion to the Justice League in the New 52 DC Universe. I felt that he was more important and effective as the big brother of the Teen Titans than he has ever been as the junior member of the Justice League. This movie, however, really made me root for him, and I kinda wanna seek out Justice League comics that focus on his role as the new kid on the block. It also didn’t hurt that Cyborg was voiced by Khary Payton, who also voices him on Teen Titans/Teen Titans Go! Of course there were some toyetic aspects (like the Batman vs Gorilla Grodd Lego set was on display), but I felt they were more spread out as this special had more time to work with, clocking in at 72 minutes. Anyway, this was really entertaining, and I’d definitely recommend it.

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Girl Meets World came back about a week ago, and now the gang’s in high school. If I thought this show got heavyhanded last season, I had no clue what I’d be in for this year. First off, it pisses me off that Zay isn’t a regular cast member now, considering he’s one of “the gang”. Anyway, the focus of the premiere was that the kids were supposedly “kings” in middle school, but are nobodies in the big world of high school. I’m not so sure they were kings. I mean, Riley’s dad was their teacher and they pretty much got away with anything. Riley’s dad is still their teacher, but they’re all in a new environment. The oddest part, though, is that they’ve got these 30 year olds playing high school students, who are determined to make Riley and her friends learn their place in the new pecking order. Now, I’m used to older people playing high school students, but this is just absurd. One dude looks like Jason Segel’s less successful younger brother. Meanwhile, I’m starting to feel like the show should actually focus on Riley’s little brother Augie, and his friend Ava. Her parents are going through a divorce, and Augie’s her support system. They’re probably the best actors on this show, and I find that situation more compelling than the whole “High school is scary” plotline. Anyway, I’m gonna try to stick with this show, but I really miss the zaniness of iCarly.

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In Marvel news, it was reported that Donald Glover has joined the cast of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Of course, since the #DonaldGloverforSpiderman social media campaign, everyone wants him to be Miles Morales. There’s no way 32-year old Glover is gonna play Morales on the big screen. There’s been a lot of misinformation surrounding the casting of this movie, as a few weeks ago, folks were saying that Michael Barbieri had been cast as Ganke – who happens to be Miles’ best friend. Of course, that’s been debunked by the director, but it didn’t stop of from getting a few weeks worth of “Why is Ganke white?/Why is Ganke in this movie?” tweets. People are gonna speculate all they want, but it doesn’t change the fact that Glover will probably just be playing something like “Mike, the Pizza Delivery Guy”. Or “Jack, Who Works In I.T.”

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Meanwhile, in DC TV news, it was reported that Nick Zano is joining the Legends of Tomorrow team as Dr. Nate Heywood, the grandson of Commander Steel of the Justice Society of America. In the comic, Heywood becomes Citizen Steel, so it’s pretty likely he’ll don some sort of heroic identity here, as well. The biggest news, however, is that Teen Wolf’s Tyler Hoechlin has been cast as Superman on Supergirl. That casting was FAST! I don’t watch the show, so I don’t really care, but it seems like that’s the sort of thing that has to be earned. You don’t just play your Superman card in season 2. That must’ve been a requirement for renewal: Superman MUST show up or no season 2. Anyway, folks seem to like the show, so I hope his arrival doesn’t derail it.

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In comic news, we finally got character sketches from the new M.A.S.K. series, as we got quite the surprise: Matt Trakker is Black now! And of course, some people were pissed off about this. Look, I also grew up with a Matt Trakker who looked like a cartoon John Tesh, but that appearance didn’t have any impact on his character. Changing him here isn’t going to make him any less Matt Trakker, even if they do seem to be going to a more diverse, Fast and the Furious-esque team makeup. To me, Duke from G.I. Joe and Matt Trakker were kinda the same person, so at least this will make them visibly different. All I know is that I’m now a Hell of a lot more interested in checking it out than I was before. Yay, representation!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Orphan Black has been renewed for a fifth, and final, season. One day, I’ll actually start watching that show.
  • Kevin Smith has reported that Mallrats 2 will no longer be a movie, but will instead be a 10-episode television series. Since the move from movie to show, there is no news on casting or potential networks.
  • After Hulkamania ran wild on it in the courtroom, Gawker Media has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
  • Larry David is coming back for a 9th season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I really hope it doesn’t focus on David’s renewed career portraying Bernie Sanders, but it probably will.
  • John Stamos has joined Scream Queens as a series regular. I swear, that man works like he’s got several secret, illegitimate children to support.
  • Wilmer Valderrama has joined the cast of NCIS. Yeah, I don’t even know what to make of that.
  • Helen Mirren has entered the “Fuck It” stage of her career, by reportedly signing on to star in Fast 8.

MAD TV New Cast

  • This is the cast of The CW’s MadTV revival. Take a close look, as you might be looking at the next Key & Peele. Then again, you also might be looking at the next Artie Lange.

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There’s a culture war going on in America, and the Broadway show Hamilton is at the forefront of it. Rich people have seen it, while poor people are clamoring to do so. It’s kinda like health insurance in that respect. The work of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show focuses on founding father Alexander Hamilton’s life, from immigrant to duel casualty.

Now, I’ve been known to be something of a “hater” at times. Sometimes justified, sometimes not. So, I was not onboard this show. I mean, it was kinda deplorable to see folks obsessed over a show they’ll probably never see. Sure, the soundtrack went platinum, but that’s as close as many folks will ever get to Hamilton. Still, this week was all about Hamilton, as the show picked up 11 of the 16 awards it was nominated for at the 70th Annual Tony Awards on Sunday. So, I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and fired up the soundtrack on Spotify. And I LOVED it. Now, let me say that it didn’t move me as much as I was moved by Ragtime or Les Miz, but it’s a good soundtrack. A lot of repeating themes, but they’re strong and catchy, so it’s not much of a bad thing. A lot of people know I was an a cappella kid, but many don’t realize that I started as a theatre kid. So, I know my way around a Broadway soundtrack. Certain songs just stay with you, though, like the opening number “Alexander Hamilton” and “My Shot”. My favorites are probably “It’s Quiet Uptown” and the finale “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”. The latter is a sentiment that I think about often: who’s going to tell your story and what will they say? In my case, I hope they say “Yeah, he meant well.” Anyway, I’ll probably never see the show, but I still got the music, and that’s good enough for me (especially since Miranda is leaving the Broadway production on July 9th, so anything after that will be like a “second printing” to me anyway). So, for its 11 Tony wins, and for cracking my hard exterior, Hamilton had the West Week Ever.

08th Apr2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/8/16

by Will

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First up, I watched Dead 7 last Friday night. If y’all remember, it’s the zombie western starring former boyband members. Written by Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter, it also starred Howie Dorough (BSB), AJ McLean (BSB), Joey Fatone (*NSYNC), Chris Kirkpatrick (*NSYNC), and Jeff Timmons (98 Degrees). This movie was a MESS. Now, I do have a confession to make: I forgot it was coming on until some folks tweeted me about it, so I missed the first 25 minutes. So, once I turned it on, I was LOST! I don’t know why people were zombies or “copperheads”, I’m still not clear why copperhead teeth are used as currency, and I don’t get why they were so hellbent on killing MadTV‘s Debra Wilson. All I know is that the acting was HORRIBLE (UPDATE: After writing this, I went back and watched the first half hour. Yup, still lost). This being an Asylum film, I expected something “so bad it’s good”, like the tongue in cheek Sharknado franchise. Instead, they played this pretty straight, which was to its detriment. Sure, Fatone’s Whiskey Joe was basically comic relief, but he really didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the movie. The best part of the movie was the end, where everyone was dead except Nick Carter’s wife (What? You weren’t gonna watch it!). So, hopefully that means they can’t try to make a sequel. At the end of the day, it just felt like a bad April Fool’s joke. Still, we did get a decent collaboration track out of it:

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Next up, I watched the DC Animated feature Justice League vs Teen Titans and I must say that it’s my favorite DC “vs” movie that I’ve seen this year. Basically a sequel to both Batman: Bad Blood and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, it brings together the Batman and Justice League goings on of the DC Animated Original Movie universe. Fresh off the events of Bad Blood, Batman feels Damian needs to learn to be a team player, so he has Nightwing take him to join the Teen Titans. In this incarnation, the team is Raven, Beast Boy, and Blue Beetle, mentored by Starfire. Of course, Damian doesn’t really take to being on a team, but when Raven’s father Trigon possesses members of the Justice League, the team comes together. I didn’t like this as much as I did the Batman films, as I don’t know much about the DCAO Justice League, never having seen War or Throne of Atlantis. I don’t know much about that incarnation of the team, so I don’t care that much about them. I’m invested in the development of Damian, and it was great to see something of a crush develop between him and Raven (something we haven’t seen before), so I probably would’ve liked it more had it just been a Teen Titans movie.  I did like how they managed to get Cyborg on the team even though he’s technically a Justice Leaguer. To be honest, I fell asleep on it, but that’s probably because I was really tired. The same thing happened when I watched Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. So, I had to watch it twice. Still, that might’ve been one time too many. It’s not bad, but it’s certainly not as exciting or action packed as the other Damian-centric Batman animated films. There’s also a post-credits stinger that makes me interested in what’s coming next. It’s not the best DC animated movie, but there are worse ways to kill 80 minutes.

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In other areas of nerddom, I finally watched Pacific Rim. My pal Keith came to town and insisted we watch it when he saw it had been on my DVR for the past year. Overall, I liked it a lot. I do have some questions, though. For example, why do they all keep saying “nucular”? I can’t trust my protection in the hands of someone who gets that wrong. Also, did they really think a WALL was gonna stop the Kaiju? The same Kaiju who routinely fuck up buildings made of WALLS?! Was Trump behind that plan? And something about Jaegers seems inefficient. I’m not sure if it’s the walking mechanism or what, but it seems like the pilots expend way too much energy to get those things going. Also, do you think the Chinese Jaeger was modified with the 3rd arm once a set of triplets was chosen to pilot it OR did they seek out a set of triplets to pilot their 3-armed Jaeger? Hated the post-credits scene, but overall, I really enjoyed the film. It’s something of a shame that a sequel is off the table for now, but maybe it’ll end up like Independence Day where we get a sequel in 20 years.

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On TV, I watched the premiere of Wynonna Earp on Syfy and BOY was I disappointed! To be honest, I didn’t even know they were making a show until I saw the commercial during Dead 7. Though I’m familiar with the comic of the same name, the development of this show really flew under the radar. Anyway, starring Canadian actress Melanie Scrofano, it’s about a rebellious chick who happens to be a descendant of legendary sheriff Wyatt Earp. She returns home when her uncle dies under mysterious circumstances, and has to retrieve Earp’s gun which, legend has it, can kill demons or something. The show was VERY Canadian – like, it’s not the kind of thing that deserves a prime timeslot, but would’ve been just fine as a Saturday afternoon syndicated series in the late 90s. While I grew to love Krysten Ritter’s portrayal of Jessica Jones, Scrofano’s Earp is closer to what I had in mind for the look and feel of that character. So, she’s basically Jessica Jones in a shitty vampire show. Or better yet, it’s Witchblade with a mystical pistol. Either way, I don’t think I’ll be tuning in again.

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I also caught the final 5 minutes of The Walking Dead. Now, let me be clear: I don’t watch the show, and I quit reading the comic at #50. To me, something like that needs an endgame, and interviews with creator Robert Kirkman made it clear that the thing is gonna run as long as he feels like it, with no real blueprint in mind. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Still, somebody was supposed to die, and I’m a sucker for those kinds of season finales. So, I turned off Girls and tuned into the end of the episode. Evil villain Negan was due to kill someone important, and I needed to see if he chose the same character he chose in the comics. I was kinda hoping he’d kill that Boondock Saints dude ’cause maybe he’ll stop being able to charge $300 for a picture at shitty comic cons. Well, the episode ended up not telling us who died. Nope, viewers have to wait until October to find out. And they lost their shit! I kinda thought it was funny, as it harkens back to the days of “Who Shot JR?” but viewers seem to feel like they’re owed something. Look, when a show cuts its teeth on dragging shit out (Glenn under the dumpster), then it doesn’t care about you. It’s doing what it’s doing for the sake of drama. I’m curious to see what the ratings will be like for the season premiere. Will they go up because folks want to find out who died, or will they go down because folks feel betrayed by the finale? I’m not gonna watch, ’cause I don’t care, and I’m sure someone will spoil it on Twitter so it’s not like I won’t be “in the know”.

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Arrow tugged at the heartstrings this week by killing off a main cast member (don’t worry – I’m not gonna spoil who it was). This season has really been aimless, and the death didn’t really help things. We knew that one was coming, due to the flash forward cemetery scene from the season premiere. The funny thing, though, is that the writers basically backed themselves into a corner. They knew that someone would die, but they hadn’t decided exactly who would die by the time the season began. They were just going to let the story dictate who would meet their fate. Well, lucky for them, drama erupted behind the scenes. According to rumors (I could’ve said “sources”, but who are we kidding?), this actor reportedly had some disagreements with star, Stephen Amell – which is supposedly the real reason Colton Haynes left the show. So, how long can Arrow survive if Amell is this difficult to work with? The show’s already been renewed for season 5, but they’re really going to need to work hard to return it to the quality that it once had. I never really liked the character who died, so I don’t think it’s gonna hurt the show much. In fact, it might be the first step on the road to making things better. Only time will tell.

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I also caught “Tran Dimensional Turtles”, which was an episode of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon where the current incarnation of the team meets the original 80s team. It was…interesting. I haven’t watched the show since the first season, so I didn’t know all the stuff about Earth being devoured by a black hole or something and that the Turtles are now space faring. The whole episode featured the different teams bouncing between 2D and 3D, but the trick got old fast. Apparently, 80s Krang is the cousin of the Kraang Subprime from the new series – who wears Irma’s head on a pike? I’ve clearly missed a lot. Anyway, I liked this idea better when the 4Kids Turtles show did it as “Turtles Forever”.  Something this monumental needs to take place outside a standard 22 minute episode, and this should’ve been a bigger event.

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In the comic world, Black Panther #1 hit stores on Wednesday to rave reviews and critical acclaim. Written by noted author Ta-Nehisi Coates, with art by Brian Stelfreeze, the book focused on a king without a people. T’Challa, king of the African nation of Wakanda, and Black Panther to the hero set, is trying to unify his people after a string of disasters nearly tore the nation apart. A supernatural force, however, seems to be amplifying the citizens’ feelings of hate and fear, making T’Challa’s job much harder. I…didn’t enjoy this book. Let me say that I was initially looking for a quick, fun read and this was the wrong choice. I really didn’t know what was going on half the time. I think I need to give it another shot, but it didn’t immediately grab me. They do a decent enough job explaining all of the plights that Wakanda had experienced recently, but I still felt like I needed to come into the story with some prerequisite reading of which I was unaware. I actually recently read Coates’s Between the World and Me, so I’m familiar with his style, but I don’t know if I’m a fan yet. For this one, I may just wait for the trade. If I read it at all.

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In Marvel news, it was announced that Alfre Woodard will have a role in Captain America: Civil War, as the mother of a civilian who died during Avengers: Age of Ultron. So, basically she’s playing Miriam Sharpe. In the Civil War comic miniseries, the whole thing was kicked off after The New Warriors inadvertently caused an explosion at a Stamford, CT school, resulting in the deaths of several children. The mother of one of the children, Miriam Sharpe, became the face of the movement to require more regulation for super powered beings. So, it seems like Woodard may be playing the same role here, as I doubt they’d cast her as just a throwaway character. Here’s where things get interesting, though: She’s already been cast as Black Mariah in the Luke Cage Netflix series. So, we’ve got one actress playing two different characters in the MCU. I know the film division isn’t really paying attention to what the TV division is doing, but this is a bit much. Couldn’t they have cast Angela Bassett in one of those roles? They’re basically the same chick (Yes, I know she’s currently Amanda Waller, but my point stands)!

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In other Marvel news, it’s reported that a Cloak & Dagger series is being prepared for ABC’s Freeform (formerly ABC Family) network. So far, there’s no script, showrunner, actors, or anything attached, but the show is being developed to focus on a teenage Cloak & Dagger, as they deal with their powers and relationship. Freeform is the perfect place for show like this. I just hope it doesn’t have strong ties to the greater MCU because I really don’t want to have to watch it. I’ve never really been down with Cloak & Dagger, and I pretty much despise everything that comes on that channel. Speaking of Freeform, the same press release announced they have a late night show in development called Later Bitches. $20 says that name doesn’t make it to air.

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In DC news, Warner Bros announced a shift in their DC Cinematic Universe slate, as Wonder Woman has been moved up from June 23rd to June 2nd 2017. They also added two untitled DC films to the schedule for October 5th, 2018 and November 1st, 2019. One of these is probably the standalone Batman film that’s been rumored since before Dawn of Justice even premiered. The shift also bumped Andy Serkis’s The Jungle Book adaptation to 2018, which reminds me that it’s kinda foolish for there to be TWO Jungle Book adaptations released within two years of each other (Disney’s comes out next month). Unless one of these serves as the lead-in to the events of Tale Spin, I’m not interested.

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The Star Wars: Rogue One teaser debuted yesterday. It looked interesting. Female protagonist again. I’m not gonna “raise cane” about it, because representation is good. I am, however, still mad I got “bamboozled” out of my Black Jedi. I remarked that it kinda looks like “The Hunger Games In Space”, and that’s somewhat of the vibe I got from it. It’s not that it’s a young adult dystopia, but I feel like I’ve seen this Jyn character before in other movies. Anyway, I can’t say I’m jazzed about the film ’cause I’m just not a Star Wars person by default, but I might see it. I didn’t initially realize this was a prequel to A New Hope, so it’ll be interesting to see things from that frame of time. Still, it’s another movie with a Death Star. Take that however you will.

Remember Weekend At Bernies? Didn’t you wish Bernie had been used as a machine gun or a jet ski? Well, here’s Swiss Army Man! I can’t believe this is a real movie.

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In social media, I got a tweet favorited by the co-creator of Girls last Sunday. all I did was tweet a line of dialogue (with an errant comma), so it’s nothing to really write home about.

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So, last night saw the end of an institution, as American Idol signed off for the last time. After 15 seasons, and the creation of a handful of stars, the show is finally taking a rest. I think it’ll be back one day, but America simply isn’t as interested as it once was. After all, they’ve got Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera spinning around in chairs to worry about. Even if you hate the show, you can’t deny the impact it has had on pop culture, for good or for bad. Kelly Clarkson has sold 25 million albums and won 3 Grammys. Carrie Underwood has sold 65 millions albums and has won 7 Grammys. And even “losers”, like Jennifer Hudson (won an Oscar and a Grammy) and Chris Daughtry (sold over 8 million albums), have done well for themselves. It made Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest (who unleashed the Kardashians on the world) household names, while it rejuvenated the career of Paula Abdul. Idol always struck that balance of making it about the contestants, while still making it about the judges (something The Voice has never pulled off). And there was a time when the Idol name meant something. People bought the CDs, and packed stadiums for the tours. Those days are long gone, but the show helped the music industry at a time when it desperately needed a shot in the arm. It made the consumer feel like she had power in the industry by putting success up to a vote. Sure, shows like Star Search had done this in the past, but that show never had as many eyes on it as American Idol. It was the number one show on television for the coveted 18-49 demographic for 8 consecutive years.

American Idol also has personal meaning for me, too. For example, I almost got to audition for the first season, but things got in the way. See, when my a cappella group performed at the ICCA Finals, we were invited to audition the next day. Nobody knew what the show was going to be, so there weren’t lines and folks camping out for auditions like they did in later seasons. They were approaching a cappella groups because they knew those folks had singing experience. The rest of my group, however, was all, “We have finals to study for.” Those guys had no ambition (which is exactly why they’re all successful doctors, lawyers, and engineers, but I digress…)! Later on in college, I was a finalist for Cornell Idol, which was our local campus take on the show. In recent years, I’ve gotten in my fair share of Twitter fights with former contestants, like Justin Guarini and Blake Lewis – not to mention all the grandma fans of Scotty McCreary and Taylor Hicks. You can say that Idol has orbited my extracurricular activities since it began.

Last night, Trent Harmon won the 15th and final season of American Idol and, based on recent years’ winners, you’ll probably never hear from him again. Still, the impact the Idol juggernaut has had can’t be denied. That’s why American Idol had the West Week Ever.

11th Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/11/15

by Will

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Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends out there! A pal of mine from the ol’ a cappella days at Cornell put this together with his wife, and I thought I’d share it. I really hope it goes viral.

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On the movie front, you’re gonna hate me for this one. I mean, it was late, and I was bored, and…well I have no excuse. Yes, I watched Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Let me just say that I like Kevin James. Even though his movie career only exists because Chris Farley died, I still enjoyed him on The King of Queens. And, to be honest, I didn’t hate the first Paul Blart: Mall Cop. I mean, a hapless mall security guard foils a heist in a local mall. What’s not to like? Well, some movies don’t need sequels, and this is one of them. For 2/3 of the film, it feels like there are 2 different movies going on: one features Paul Blart as a mall security guard whose life just keeps getting worse and the other about Arrow‘s Damien Darhk trying to steal a bunch of priceless art from a casino. Yes, Neal McDonough is in the movie, and I swear he’s playing the same character he currently plays on Arrow. I’d hate to think someone watched this movie and thought to him/herself “This guy would be a perfect villain for Oliver Queen!” The movie actually moves pretty quickly, so it’s basically over before you know it. Both plots eventually overlap, but the resolution is kinda rushed. Plus, it kinda bothers me that Mall Cop is in the title, when there’s NO MALL! They couldn’t call it Paul Blart: Saves Art or Paul Blart: Casino Cop or something like that? Anyway, I watched this movie so that you don’t have to.

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And because I love Kevin James, but hate myself, I then watched Here Comes the Boom. Oddly enough, it was on another network at the same time as Paul Blart 2 (yeah, I DVRed it…). For a minute, I thought maybe James had died and that the cable networks were paying tribute to him. I had to Google it just to make sure. Anyway, if you’ve never seen it, it’s your standard “We gotta save the youth center!” movie. Kevin James is a former Teacher of the Year who’s now suffering from burn out. Meanwhile, the music teacher finds out his wife is pregnant just before it’s announced that all special programs – including the music department – will be cut due to budgetary constraints. Feeling bad for his colleague, James decides to raise the money to keep the music department going. And the way he decides to do this? Mixed martial arts. He finds out that he can make a tidy sum just by losing fights, so he gets good enough to qualify, but not really to win. You’ll never watch this movie, so I’ll spoil it for you: he saves the music department. There are a whole bunch of unnecessary twists, like a last minute embezzling subplot, but he saves the day and rekindles his love of teaching in the process.  It has all the staples of a Kevin James movie, including a small part for his brother, Gary Valentine. Surprisingly, he got in decent shape for this movie. I mean, he’s still Kevin James, but you could tell he at least did some training for the role. As formulaic as it was, I didn’t hate this movie, but there’s no need for you to watch it.

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Unfinished Business is not a very good movie. The trailer portrayed it as this European drug and sex romp, while the actual thing tried to have more purpose. It didn’t know if it wanted to be EuroTrip or Glengarry Glen Ross. Vince Vaughn plays himself, as he does in all of his movies. Only this time he’s a struggling salesman who strikes out on his own after a disagreement with his boss. So then it becomes a race between him and the former boss to lock up a prized account on a business trip to Germany. Meanwhile, he’s accompanied by an older sales exec and a dimwitted sales applicant played by Dave Franco. Many of the jokes are supposed to come from Franco, but most of his material falls flat. Meanwhile, the movie tries to add heart by focusing on the fact that Vaughn is only trying to get this deal so that he can put his bullied son into private school where he’ll be protected. I love Vaughn, but this wasn’t his best work.

the league

A lot went on in the world of television this week. First up, FXX’s The League aired its series finale, and it was TERRIBLE. To be honest, as much as I love the idea of the show, it should’ve ended about 3 seasons ago. It just hasn’t been funny, and watching it has felt like a chore. If you’ve never seen it, The League centers around a group of friends in Chicago, and the goings on in their fantasy football league. I don’t give a rat’s ass about sports, but the football kinda took a backseat. Sure, there were a lot of player cameos where I was left wondering “Who’s that guy?”, but none of that really hindered my enjoyment of the show. The creators used to work on Curb Your Enthusiasm, so it has that loosely improvised thing going for it. The finale, however, didn’t feel like a true finale. This is odd, considering they’ve known this was the final season since before they started filming. It’s not like FX canceled them midway through the episode order. They had time to wrap things up neatly, but instead they gave us an off-the-wall episode that really didn’t accomplish much. It even squandered a Larry David cameo. So, I don’t hate it as much as I hated the Seinfeld or How I Met Your Mother (which I watched again a few weeks ago, and may be coming around on) finales, but it’s up there. What a sad end to what was once a great show.

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On NBC, they showed a sneak preview of the comedy Superstore last week, and I caught the first 3 episodes On Demand. At first, I thought the concept sounded dreadful, even though the commercials made me laugh. I mean, who wants to watch a show set in a Walmart? That’s essentially what it is, as it follows the employees working in a branch of the Cloud 9 superstore. Reviews, however, have been kind and it’s being called one of the greatest workplace comedies. When I saw it was starring America Ferrera (Ugly Betty), that didn’t really do much for me. Then, I noticed it was also starring friend of a friend Ben Feldman (A to Z), and then I was all about it (he’s a good dude, and he really needs a win). Plus, after talking trash about it on Twitter, I started talking to one of the writers, who also wrote for Happy Endings. SOLD! Anyway, after watching, I can confirm that it’s really funny. I don’t know if it’ll last (the cast is FULL of folks from recently canceled shows, like Super Fun Night, so maybe they’re cursed), but I’ll watch it when it becomes a regular part of the schedule. That’s what scares me, though – it’ll be airing Mondays against Gotham, Supergirl, and whatever ABC’s running at the time. That’s some stiff competition, but it doesn’t take much to succeed on NBC right now, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

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It’s not all great news, however, as NBC also showed a sneak preview of Telenovela (originally called Hot & Bothered). Starring Eva Longoria as a Spanish soap opera star who doesn’t know Spanish, the show is DREADFUL. I’m sure its existence does wonders for the number of minorities on prime time television, but it would’ve been nice if they’d been given something quality to work with. Starting in January, Telenovela will air after Superstore on Monday night, but don’t be surprised if we’re getting back-to-back chunks of Superstore a few weeks in.

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Fox announced that Wayward Pines had been renewed for a second season. This is both good and bad news. It’s good because the first season was excellent. It’s bad, though, because the show worked so much better as a One and Done series. Sure, there’s material there for more story, but sometimes it’s best to leave something to the imagination. If you didn’t watch the first season, it starred Matt Dillon as a special agent who finds himself trapped in the mysterious town of Wayward Pines. And that is merely the tip of the iceberg. There is SO much going on in the show, but I loved every twist and turn. I fear a second season might be like Empire – a Fox show with a great first season, and a second season that feels like an incredible chore.

A few hours ago, the trailer was released for X-Men: Apocalypse. I have no real gripes with it, but I’m not especially excited for it, either. I feel like, at this point, you pretty much know what you’re gonna get with a Bryan Singer X-Men movie. There’s a specific tone to it, and that’s that. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but there aren’t really any surprises. I do hate that Mystique is on the team. That’s a big problem with Jennifer Lawrence’s star power: it’s like she refuses to take roles that may portray her in a bad light. I get it – she’s a big star now, and she needs a showcase. I just kinda preferred the “less is more” Mystique that we got from Rebecca Romijn instead of Lawrence’s “front and center” portrayal. This isn’t a Must See In Theaters movie for me right now, but I said the same thing about Days of Future Past, and ended up seeing it opening night. So, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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We’re less than a week away from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but it’s not without controversy. Apparently, some toys have hit shelves that weren’t supposed to be out yet. I won’t say what they are, so as not to spoil anything for anyone. Still, folks who’ve bought the figures have been showing them off online, only to be surprised that they’re hit with takedown orders from Hasbro. The toy company is threatening to sue these people for showing off unreleased product, but they really shouldn’t be going after the fans. Instead, they should be going after the stores that are ignoring the street dates. Anyway, some sites are calling for a boycott of Hasbro products for doing this, but that’s a pretty unrealistic request when Hasbro is about to make a kajillion dollars.

 

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It was quite an interesting week for me in the world of social media. You see, on Monday night, there was an attractive Jeopardy contestant named Liz Fritz. The thing I noticed about her, however, was that she was RACKTACULAR (I coined that term for someone back in college). So, I tweeted about it. Little did I know she’d actually search the #Jeopardy hashtag. I mean, isn’t she supposed to be smart? Smart people are busy, and they know better than to do that. So, anyway, here’s what transpired:

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I checked her timeline, and I was far from the worst offender, so I didn’t feel too bad.

Jeopardy Tweet Strangers

 

She apparently got 4 different marriage proposals, and a ton of dudes trying to chat her up. Oh, and she got about 300 new Twitter followers from the whole thing. She was cool about it, and gave as well as she got. I’m not proud of this. Sometimes I start tweeting, and just kinda lose my filter…

Meanwhile, it seems a bunch of huckleberries found my Storage Wars tweet from a few weeks back:

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For some reason, one of the Storage Wars stars, Rene, replied to me right after I tweeted it, but waited a week to retweet it. And then the replies started coming in:

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That last tweet, from “Strnbiker”, was even favorited by Casey Nezhoda herself. My favorite part, however, was “WhoreCuddler” calling Mary a “spinner” and then having the audacity to tag her in his tweet. I’m sure she loved that!

Stargate Atlantis Season 6

A friend of mine started a comic publisher, and one of his first books is going to be Stargate: Atlantis Season 6. The company, American Mythology, decided to go the Kickstarter route, which I wasn’t really sure about. Well, boy do I have pie on my face, as they hit their goal with days to spare! If you’re a Stargate fan, and want to get in on the action, you’ve still got 4 days to go. Check it out here.

Power Pinups

If you’ve still got some money left after supporting that Kickstarter, it appears some of the former Pink and Yellow Power Rangers got together to create a pinup calendar. I wish I could say proceeds were going to charity or something, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Anyway, I’d post the video, but it autoplays, and I can’t post any pics because they watermarked the shit out of them. So, if you’re interested, just go here.

Links I Loved

The Day My Daughter Realized She Isn’t White – The Washington Post

Marvel Comics’ Secret Weapon Is A Woman Named Sana Amanat – Vox

The Origin Story of SNL’s Edgy Rival, MADtv – scpr.org

BREAKING: Friend Who Just Got Motorcycle Already Dead – The Onion

Opinion: I Don’t Want An Asian-American Iron Fist – Comic Book Resources

Why I Left Mormonism Behind for Judaism—and Couldn’t Be Happier – Fusion

An Oral History of The League – ESPN

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While I considered just giving the West Week Ever to the big boobed smart girl, something came along later in the week that I really enjoyed. You see, the trailer was released for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. And it had something for everyone: Arrow‘s Stephen Amell kicking ass as Casey Jones, Tyler Perry not dressed as an old woman, some Megan Fox fan service, and the best part of all – after nearly 30 years, we’re finally getting live action versions of Shredder’s cronies Rocksteady and Bebop.

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If you remember, I didn’t hate the last TMNT movie. Most people were up in arms because it was a Michael Bay production, and Megan Fox was seen as terrible casting for April and blah blah blah. I used to LOVE the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and, while I didn’t warm up to the 2003 interpretation of the property, I still loved most versions of it I’ve seen. So I was looking forward to the movie. Like I said back in January, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. I thought there was a lot of workable material there, and it looks like they’re taking advantage of that in this sequel. Chris over at The Robot’s Pajamas had a great breakdown of the trailer, but I’ve got to say that I’m actually excited about this one. So, for finally giving us Rocksteady and Bebop (seriously, that’s all it took to get me to buy in), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows trailer had the West Week Ever.

27th Nov2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 11/27/15

by Will

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Happy Black Friday! Here’s my meager haul so far. Yes, I know I’ve said that I hate Gotham, but I’ll give anything a shot for $10. About half these things are on Netflix, but I tend to be in situations where I can’t stream, so I figured physical media would help me out with that. How did you all do?

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So, I’m a bad geek, as I haven’t finished Jessica Jones yet. It debuted a week ago on Netflix, and most people have binged it already, but I’m just not really in a binging mood right now. At the moment, I’m about 2.5 episodes into the series, and I like what I see so far. I doubted Ritter’s casting, but so far she’s convincing as the character. And the sex! Every time Luke and Jessica bang, I think, “Take THAT, racism!” Anyway, people seem to like it, so I guess Marvel and Netflix have another hit on their hands. I’ll have a better review when I finish the season.

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In addition to watching The Marine for the umpteenth time, I rented a few movies from Redbox. First up was Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham. I know I seem to be in the minority in my circle, but I feel like Melissa McCarthy can do no wrong. She and Paul Feig are a winning team and, if it’s rated R, you’re especially in for a treat, as she can cuss with the best of them. If you haven’t seen it, Susan Cooper is a schlubby CIA analyst who finds herself in the field as an agent to avenge the death of her partner. Feig brought back some of his familiar folks, like Rose Byrne from Bridesmaids, and the result was hilarious. It was also really refreshing to see Statham in a comedic role, and I’d like to see more of that from him. It being Redbox, I was only able to rent the theatrical version, but I’d love to see the unrated version, as some of the jokes in the red band trailer didn’t seem to make it into the film.

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Next up, I watched Vacation, and man did that feel like a chore! I should probably admit that I’ve never seen the original. Sure, I saw European Vacation a couple of times, and I saw Christmas Vacation about 20 years ago, but I’ve never seen the original Chevy Chase goes to Walley World film. I like Ed Helms. I’ve liked him since he was Andy Bernard, as we were both obnoxious Cornell a cappella alums. So, I want to see him do well. I’m not sure he was right for this role, though. I remember Rusty Griswold, and I’d hate to think he grew up to be square Ed Helms. I guess the lesson is that we all grow up to be our fathers, but I didn’t think Rusty would’ve grown up to be so…boring. Anyway, the entire cast, from Helms to Christina Applegate, is wasted on a thin script. Basically, to bring his family closer together, Rusty Griswold decides to take his family on a vacation to the Walley World theme park, just like his father had done years before. Meanwhile, his marriage is shaky, as his wife is unfulfilled, and his one son is a nightmare of a bully, while the other is uber sensitive. The jokes really fell flat, and the only time the movie has any real life to it is when the Griswolds deliver a Bundy-style beatdown to another family. Unless you’re just a die-hard Vacation completist (which means you probably also liked the made-for-TV Christmas Vacation 2), you can go ahead and skip this film.

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Then, I watched Get Hard, starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. On paper, this movie is perfect to me. Two of my favorite comedic actors in the same film. Sure, Kevin Hart pretty much always plays himself (“volatile little guy”), but you never really know what to expect from Ferrell. In execution, however, this movie left me wanting. In fact, for most of the film, it feels like Ferrell is woefully miscast – odd, considering it’s from his production company, Gary Sanchez films. Kevin Hart’s just fine, but Ferrell doesn’t really get comfortable until Act 3, when he can really get crazy. If you’re not familiar with it, Ferrell plays a successful money manager who finds himself framed for fraud. With 30 days before he’s sent to prison, he hires Kevin Hart to teach him how to survive in jail. He figures Hart’s been to jail since 1 in 3 Black men will be incarcerated at some point in their life so, naturally, Hart is that 1. Surprisingly, however, Hart hasn’t been to jail, so he has to fake it so that he can get Ferrell to pay him the $30,000 that he needs to move his family into a better neighborhood. The entire basis of the movie is kinda racist, and there’s something of a lesson to be taught about assumptions and cultural appropriation, but this isn’t the kind of movie you screen for your college sociology class. It pretty much begs you not to ask questions. At the end of the day, it was funny, but it could have been funnier. For this one, I think you can wait for it to come on TBS.

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Finally, I watched Miss Congeniality on TV. Yeah, this movie’s 15 years old, but there are a LOT of movies I haven’t seen yet. Sandy Bullock (yeah, we’re cool enough that I can call her Sandy) is just so cute, but I wonder if she’s tired of playing the slightly socially inept cop. I mean, her character in Miss Congeniality might as well be her character from The Heat, as there aren’t many differences between the two. Maybe that’s her sweet spot.  Haven’t seen it? It’s about a hot mess of a federal agent who finds herself undercover in the world of beauty pageants. Michael Caine works his magic and turns her into the belle of the ball. Anyway, that was a cute little movie. I enjoyed it enough that I DVRed the sequel.

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This week, it was announced that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be rated PG-13. Well, duh! Ya know why? Because EVERYTHING is rated PG-13 these days. It’s not like it was gonna be rated R, ’cause they want the kids to see it, plus it’s not like the Jedi are cussing up a storm and having gratuitous sex. That’s my issue with trailers that say “This Film Has Not Yet Been Rated”. That’s basically the studio saying, “We’re still debating how many ‘shits’ we can get in the film and have the MPAA leave us alone.” It’s ALWAYS gonna be PG-13. In this day and age, it’s pretty much impossible to have a live action PG movie. That rating is reserved for Pixar and Universal animated films (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is the only recent live action example I can think of). Everything else is PG-13. Apparently, it and Revenge of the Sith are the only ones in the franchise to not have a PG rating, but the industry has changed a lot since the prequels.

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In other movie news, it’s reported that the next Men In Black movie will prominently feature a Woman In Black. That’s not really a big deal, as they’ve shown women in the organization, but since the movies are set to shift away from the J and K partnership, maybe she’ll be front and center. Also, it seems like they’re still committed to having it in a shared universe with the 21 Jump Street franchise (first revealed in the Sony email hack). Exactly how that’s gonna work remains to be seen. It’s also not clear if Will Smith is coming back. He seems to hate sequels lately (see Independence Day: Resurgence), so I wouldn’t be surprised if he bailed. Hell, I wouldn’t even be surprised if he somehow convinced the studio to hire Jayden or Willow instead.

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In music news, *NSYNC said “Bye bye bye” to their album sales record, as Adele broke it by selling 3 million copies of 25 during its first week. I really never thought that record had any chance of being broken in today’s music sales climate, but there we go. Meanwhile, Justin Bieber broke a record by The Beatles with most number of singles on the Hot 100 at once. The Beatles had 14, and Bieber has 17, but he kinda cheated. Usually, you release a single at a time, so as not to cannibalize your progress. Bieber, however, released videos for 17 of the 18 songs on Purpose simultaneously, so it was pretty easy for him to break that record. This is the new music industry, so I pretty much expect someone like One Direction to come along and do this with their next album, thereby breaking Bieber’s record. And so on and so on.

courtesy of hopeless-romance45.deviantart.com

courtesy of hopeless-romance45.deviantart.com

I don’t talk much about wrestling these days, mainly because I can’t stomach 3 hours of RAW every week. Still, my favorite wrestler of all time is The Undertaker. Sure, he kinda seems like a dated gimmick now, but that’s the point. He hearkens back to a bygone era when wrestlers had gimmicks and things that made them special. Nowawdays, they don’t even come with creative names. For example, if I were in the WWE, my name would probably be Bruce Williamson. Back in the day, that would’ve been the name of a “jobber” (the nobody who fights the superstar to make him look better). Now, however, Bruce Williamson could be the new heavyweight champion of the world. Now, some people might see that as “progress”, but I see it as the sport losing its mystique. So, as cheesy as he may seem, I ride or die for The Deadman.

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Well, this week we celebrated 25 years of The Undertaker, as he made his in-ring debut during Survivor Series in 1990. This is a big deal, as you will NEVER SEE THIS AGAIN. Sure, there are people who’ve been wrestling for longer, but they bounced from promotion to promotion. The Undertaker has never jumped ship to WCW (though he did a stint there prior to WWE) or TNA. Sure, he takes a LOT of breaks, but he always comes home to WWE. He’s apparently a major positive force in the locker room, and he’s been rewarded for it. A 21 year streak at Wrestlemania is what he’s most known for. Now, yes, it’s scripted entertainment, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t let The Streak happen for just anybody. No, Taker earned that, as he always performs…even when he probably shouldn’t. His days are numbered, and there may not be an Undertaker pretty soon. I certainly don’t think we’ll be celebrating 30 years of The Undertaker, but stranger things have happened. I have a feeling Vince McMahon will step in and tell him “it’s time”, just like he did when he decided it was time to end The Streak. When that time comes, I just may have to be there for his final match.

Storage Wars

In the world of social media, I had the above exchange with Rene from Storage Wars. It was less an exchange and more of “he clearly had a filter on for Storage Wars mentions and decided to respond”. I didn’t really have anything to say back to him, though. I guess nice guys do win every now and then. But I’m scared of that Mavrick dude. Half his body is pure tattoo.

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In the world of comics, the first issue of The Dark Knight III: The Master Race came out this week. I tried to read it, and didn’t get past the first page. Part of the problem is that I’ve completely forgotten everything that occurred in that previous installment, The Dark Knight Strikes Again. I mean, c’mon, it was 12 years ago! I just remember it being really bad. If you’ve never read the original The Dark Knight, it’s about an older, grizzled Batman coming out of retirement to fight mutant gangs and a governmentally brainwashed Superman. It sounds kind of “out there”, but it’s a classic, and is rumored to be the basis of Ben Affleck’s portrayal in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Anyway, in a surprisingly dick move, before the issue even came out, original writer Frank Miller announced that there will be a Dark Knight IV. From what I’ve gathered, it seems like Miller’s “cowriter” on DK III, Brian Azzarello, is actually steering the ship, and I don’t think ol’ Frank wants him to have the final say on The Dark Knight Saga. So, Miller has decided that he’ll just keep going as long as DC will let him. And since DK stories is like printing money, it’s not like DC’s gonna stop him anytime soon. Unless DK III is a colossal bomb. Which it could be…

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This is pretty much the most useless week in the calendar year, as nothing really gets accomplished before Thanksgiving. As such, no real news came out this week either. We were all set to just accept this and ready ourselves for turkey. Then, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. showed up on Jimmy Kimmel Live with a surprise: they had the teaser trailer for Captain America: Civil War. After the show, the full trailer was uploaded to YouTube. Haven’t seen it? Here ya go:

Did you see Black Panther?! I’ve NEVER cared about that character, but they actually made him look cool. I may actually be looking forward to his solo movie now (seriously, most of Phase 3 is kinda “meh” to me right now). I’m probably more excited about this movie than Star Wars (yeah, I know, I know…), so May 6th can’t get here fast enough.

That said, I’m kinda disappointed that this was Cap 3 instead of Avengers 3. Considering the cast list, everyone jokes that it’s basically Avengers 2.5, but I feel that making it a Cap movie indicates that Cap is the hero, and I don’t feel the Civil War situation (at least as presented in the comic storyline) is that cut and dry. To be honest, I was Team Stark when that whole thing went down. Heroes DO need to be regulated, and it’s a natural reaction from a frightened populace. In the comics, they kinda portrayed Stark as the asshole, while Cap was the “hero”, even though Stark was the one upholding THE LAW. Now, there’s the whole argument of “Do you acknowledge laws that are wrong?”, which is pretty much what Cap’s stance was. The whole thing was marketed under the banner of “Whose Side Are You On?” Because this movie is about Cap sticking up for his friend, Bucky, I think it kinda adds a slant to the argument. It feels like they’ve already made up our minds about whose side we should be on, especially when you see things like the dual beatdown The Winter Solider and Cap give Iron Man in the trailer. I really hope things are presented a big more evenly in the film but, like I said, I’m not really expecting it. Anyway, for getting me excited for a movie I really didn’t have on my radar, the Captain America: Civil War trailer had the West Week Ever.

 

30th Oct2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 10/30/15

by Will

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I watched a LOT of stuff this week, so let’s get to it, shall we? First up, I watched The Inbetweeners 2 – a sequel to both The Inbetweeners Movie and The Inbetweeners television series. In case you’re not familiar, the UK series follows the teenage antics of friends Will, Simon, Neil, and Jay. Will’s the obnoxious one (with a hot mom), Simon’s the lovestruck one, Neil’s the dumb one, and Jay’s the horny one. It’s sort of like a British American Pie, but raunchier. In the last movie, they went on holiday to Crete before all going off to university. Well, this time around, Will, Simon and Neil decide to use their Easter break to go surprise Jay, who’s doing a gap year in Australia. And hilarity ensues. Will chases after a girl, while Simon finds himself accidentally engaged to his shrew of a girlfriend. Neil’s hoping to get a job as a dolphin trainer, while Jay’s true reason for being in Australia comes to light. Oh, and it includes the grossest water slide sequence you’ll ever see. Trust me. Anyway, when it comes to The Inbetweeners, I love the whole franchise (including the lackluster US version that aired on MTV a couple of years ago), so I highly recommend this movie. Both are on Netflix, so check them out!

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Sticking with comedies, I rented Pitch Perfect 2 from Redbox. Why did people hate this movie again? People I respect have said that this was one of the worst sequels to what was an amazing first movie. I actually disagree. Maybe it’s like me and Ghostbusters 2, where I think I liked this one better than the first. Sure, it doesn’t have the whole arc of Becca getting to college, joining the group, and turning it around. Sure, Skylar Astin was sorely underused. And sure, Hailee Steinfeld doesn’t really have a breakout moment to shine. I get all of that. But the core of the movie spoke to me. The Barden Bellas have been a hot commodity since the events of the first movie, and most of those girls are now seniors. As they get ready to go out into the world, a few of them are scared because they don’t know what the future holds. Sure, they were big shit in college, but will that mean anything in the “real world”? This whole thing spoke to me because I lived that life.

For those who’ve been here before, take a bathroom break. For those who are newish, here’s my backstory: in college, I was part of an all-male group at Cornell called Last Call. You know the competition that the Bellas won in the first Pitch Perfect? We came in second at that very competition. We performed on The Today Show, and were kind of a big deal – as far as early ’00s collegiate a cappella goes (i.e. not very far). If I were Al Bundy, that’s my “Four touchdowns in a single game”. I didn’t know what was gonna happen after graduation, and would I still be “Will West: Black Guy Who Sings Lean On Me”? I graduated and survived. I’ve got a wife and kid and the whole nine yards. But I’m not sure I’ve felt as *important* in the years since that all ended. Wow, that’s really sad…

Anyway, Pitch Perfect 2 deals with the Bellas as they get ready to embark on the same path. Will they still matter? What kind of legacy are they leaving behind? What did their time in the group even mean? I can understand that a lot of this is really “inside baseball” for folks who couldn’t give 2 shits about the laughable world of singing nonsense syllables, but I think writer Kay Cannon knows her shit, and did a good job getting all of that in the script. I thought the jokes were hilarious, and I’d pay for a commentary track of nothing by John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks judging the whole movie. Surprisingly, as much as I know “laypeople” love the first movie, I’ve actually never discussed the franchise with any a cappella alumni. I’d be curious to know how they felt about everything conveyed by the movies – especially the stuff in this second installment. The folks who raved about the first movie seemed to have been universally let down by this movie, but it still did well enough for Universal to greenlight Pitch Perfect 3, and it was announced this week that Elizabeth Banks would be back to direct. Despite what you may have heard, I’d still really recommend this film.

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Speaking of Pitch Perfect, I got a tweet favorited by Kether Donohue, one of the Bellas from the first film. She’s now a costar on FXX’s You’re The Worst – a great show to check out if you’re not already watching it.

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While at Redbox, I picked up Mad Max: Fury Road. I’d heard nothing but praises about this movie, so I figured it was time for me to check it out. About 5 minutes into it, I started thinking “What the Hell did I just sign up for?” I was really lost with the intro with the Warboys and Valhalla and Immortan Joe. Then I gradually got into it. OK, Furiosa’s gone rogue. Got it. And she’s got Immortan Joe’s brides. Got it. And they’re on the Cannonball Run. Got it. In the end, I really enjoyed the film, but I’m not sure I get ALL the hype. It’s a visually stunning movie, and the plot was strong enough. I wasn’t blown away, though, which is what I’d expected from everything I heard. Plus, I’ve got a question: how many of those old bitches were there? I swear, when Furiosa met them in the desert, there were about 5. When the final battle took place, though, they were coming out of the woodwork. I swear, like, 14 old ladies got killed! Anyway, I enjoyed it, and I’d watch it again, but I don’t see why everyone just fell in love with it. Maybe I needed to see it on the big screen.

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On the Netflix front, I finally caught up with Arrow. I’d been watching it On Demand, but dropped it with about 9 episodes left in the season. I think it was because I was unhappy with the whole Ra’s Al Ghul arc. I mean, *SPOILER ALERT* if you’re going to kill Oliver, let him stay dead longer than ONE episode. Drag that shit out to get the emotional mileage out of it! *END SPOILER*. It’s too bad I bailed when I did, though, as the series got pretty good after that tomfoolery. When he was Superman, I never thought I’d like Brandon Routh, but he’s so good as Ray Palmer. I still can’t stand Laurel and those hands of hers (seriously, look at her hands sometime). The season finale would’ve made a pretty good series finale had it not only been season 3. You knew that happy ending couldn’t last, and that Oliver would be back. Sadly, though, I don’t like what he has become by the beginning of season 4. Oliver’s happy and living the domesticated life with Felicity in the suburbs. When he gets called back to Star City (it’s been rebranded now), he decides to pretend that The Arrow is dead, and that he’s a new hero taking his place, called Green Arrow. He even has something of a press conference to announce the change.

My problem with Arrow, however, is that Oliver doesn’t seem to know who he is anymore. At the end of the 3rd season, he basically said that he couldn’t be Oliver Queen OR The Arrow anymore. He had to figure how to be the changed person that he’d become. My problem, though, is that he’s happy now, and I think it’s throwing him off his game. I mean, this is the guy who defeated The Demon’s Head so, theoretically, he really shouldn’t be letting common street thugs get the jump on him anymore. Maybe it’s signalling a tonal shift, but I thought Oliver thrived in the darkness. It’s one of the Batman tropes that they’ve applied to the show since the beginning. Oliver can’t be happy, as that would get in the way of his mission. But right now, he seems to be a man without a mission. So, where does that leave him? Apparently that means announcing his candidacy for mayor of Star City. I’m somewhat surprised to see them adapt this storyline so soon (especially since Oliver wins the election in the comics), but if it somehow leads him back to the old Arrow that we know and love, then I’m all for it. We’ve seen Oliver evolve in the past. During the first season, he was a killer. During the second and third, he was a vigilante. Now, he wants to be a hero – one that inspires people. But at what cost?

It seems like they’re gonna have Oliver fighting more metas this season, as they added the McGuffin of a high speed train between Star and Central Cities. So now metas have a quick way to leave Flash territory and land on Green Arrow turf. Like I mentioned before, Oliver shouldn’t be able to be taken down by street toughs anymore, so they really are gonna need to amp up his rogues gallery. Looks like they’re borrowing more from Batman, as Anarky has joined the party. A lot of this just feels like setup for the midseason Legends of Tomorrow, but I hope Arrow becomes a bit more cohesive in upcoming episodes.

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We’re almost 2 months into the new television season, yet we still haven’t witnessed that first heralded cancellation. No network seems to want to be first, so they’re “unofficially” canceling their shows by cutting their episode orders. Once those eps are done, that’s it. At that point, there’s no need to really announce a cancellation, as the ep order had already been made known. At the moment, Fox has cut the episode order for Minority Report, ABC has cut the order for Blood & Oil, and NBC has cut the order for The Player and Truth Be Told. TV critic Daniel Feinberg likes to talk about The Mulaney Line, which was the low ratings point at which Fox’s Mulaney hovered until it was cancelled. If a show’s ratings fall below the Mulaney Line, then everyone involved should be worried. For Fox, that would include Minority Report and Sleepy Hollow. For CBS, that’s CSI:Cyber. ABC actually doesn’t have any, but Blood & Oil‘s close. NBC’s are the ones for which they’re already cut the episode orders. Oddly enough, every show on The CW is under the line except for The Flash and Arrow. The other CW shows don’t have to worry, though, ’cause there seem to be different rules for that network. I still think the first official cancellation will come from NBC, especially since Truth Be Told had one of the lowest-rated in-season premieres in history.

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After I posted last week’s West Week Ever, the official Power Rangers Twitter account announced that RJ Cyler had been cast as the Blue Ranger in the upcoming Power Rangers movie. Well, this week, it was revealed why the characters have been referred to by the Ranger colors and not character names. Originally, it had been reported that they would retain the civilian names used in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but it now appears that they will have new names. The new names are as follows:

– Callum Oliver – The Red Ranger/Tyrannosaurus
– Priya Patel – The Pink Ranger/Pterodactyl
– Brian Olson – The Blue Ranger/Triceratops
– Oscar Fernandez – The Black Ranger/Mastodon
– Teyana Jones – The Yellow Ranger/Sabretooth Tiger

That’s four, count ’em, FOUR Rangers of color! Plus, I find it interesting that the Red Ranger’s last name is that same one as Tommy, the former Green/White/Red/Black Ranger. Also, the movie will now be called Saban’s Power Rangers. Yeah, that’s terrible. I can hear it now: “What the Hell is a Say-ban?!” I understand wanting to put your brand on something, but that’s just not the time or the place. The budget is reported to be around $35 million. The movie will be released in 2017.

On the music front, Adele released “Hello”, her first single since 2012’s “Skyfall”. The track did not disappoint, and the video broke Taylor Swift’s record for the most views (27.7 million, to be exact) in a 24-hour period. Her third album, 25, will be released next month, and she’ll also be the musical guest on the November 21st episode of Saturday Night Live.

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The biggest debut of the week, however, had to be CBS’s Supergirl. As the highest rated superhero premiere since 2000, and tying NBC’s Blindspot as the highest-rated debut of the season, everyone was talking about Kara Zor-El. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the show, and folks are very optimistic about its future. I didn’t see it, however. I already outlined my reasons why last week. Still, I’m glad to see it’s a success, as that can only mean more good things down the pipeline.

Links I Loved

Halloween Web – Kevin Hellions – AEIOU…and Sometimes Why

8 Mysterious Facts About Ghostwriter – Mental Floss

May The Force Friday Toys Be With You – The Nerds of Color

What Happens When Actors Leave High-School-TV Shows? – Vulture

Horror Month 2015, Day 20: Scream – The Robot’s Pajamas

This Swedish DJ Created the Template for Modern Pop. Why Have You Never Heard of Him? – Slate

A Wild Weekend In Florida – Storify

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Some folks will probably think this honor should’ve gone to Supergirl, but I just couldn’t do it. After all, I didn’t watch it, so I couldn’t really weigh in for myself. The hype was definitely there, but it didn’t quite make the cut for the *best* thing of the week. No, that credit goes to something that sort of came out of left field. Yes, I’m talking about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I think part of my surprise is due to the fact that I used to think nothing could save this show. I figured it would teeter along the line of mediocrity and somehow eke out about 3 or 4 seasons before Disney finally pulled the plug. Then, this season began. I mean, it actually started getting better after the Agent Carter break last winter, but it really got good this season. Focusing on the Inhumans – a race of aliens about whom I’ve never given a shit – I was preparing for the worst. Ugh, I’d be forced to continue watching this show because I’m a Marvel Zombie, and I don’t know how to quit anything. That’s what I was thinking, at least. And then, as I watched the episodes, I started to really get into the show. It’s come so far from what it was during its first season, and I almost can’t believe how good it’s gotten. The final proof, however, came during this week’s episode.

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At the end of last season’s finale, Agent Simmons was swallowed up by a Kree monolith and was presumed M.I.A. Well, this season we learned that the monolith was actually a portal to another planet. They spent the first couple of episodes this season trying to figure out how to get her back, and once they succeeded, something was noticeably wrong with her. This week’s episode finally showed us what happened to her during the 6 months that she’d been gone. It was an intimate episode with only 2 actors. Elizabeth Henstridge gave an amazing performance as a castaway trying to survive on an alien world. I won’t spoil the episode for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but it is, without a doubt, my favorite episode of the entire series. When you see it, you’ll see what I’m talking about. So, for blowing me away with how much it has improved, and for delivering one of the best hours of television I’ve seen in a long time, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had the West Week Ever.

02nd Oct2015

West Week Ever – 10/2/15

by Will

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This has been a bit of a slow week, so bear with me here. Let’s see what pop culture goodness I was able to dredge from the pond of mediocrity that was this week.

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The Fall television season got into full swing this week, as the shows that didn’t debut last week finally made their appearance. First up was Grandfathered from Fox. Starring John Stamos, it’s about a restaurateur who finds out that he’s a father and a grandfather on the same day. It appears he had a fling with Paget Brewster (I LOVE her) 25 years ago, which yielded a son that he didn’t know about. Now, said son (formerly fat Josh Peck) has his own child (a daughter), who was the result of a one-night fling with his friend (Christina Milian). So, son seeks out dad to get pointers on how to woo girl and get out of the Friend Zone. There’s a LOT going on here, but it’s still a cute show with a lot of heart. I don’t know if it’ll last, but I’ll watch it for as long as it’s around – especially since it’s on opposite The Muppets, which I don’t plan to watch again.

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Also on Tuesday night, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returned for its third season, and it didn’t skimp on the action. I still, however, don’t really find the team members that likable, but it at least feels like they’re trying now. It was also nice to get Sokovia references and an appearance by the President from Iron Man 3 to reinforce that this is a shared universe. If they can’t get the big guns, I appreciate them getting the little guys. Still don’t care about The Inhumans, so it’ll be interesting to see if it holds my attention for the full season. I do like that they’re competing with Constance Zimmer (LOVE her, too), who seems to be running some sort of shadow agency for the government, rounding up Inhumans.

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Meanwhile in TV land, it’s rumored that Zack Snyder might be developing a Watchmen TV series for HBO. Why, I do not know. That ship has sailed. I was OK with the movie. Didn’t hate it, but didn’t love it. It had too many parts that were like an film student’s final project (all the music video stuff), and lots of blue dong. Still, it told its story rather well, and was pretty accurate except for the lack of the blue squid. This is the type of project that I hope falls apart in pre-production.

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Also, for you Whovians, there’s a new Doctor Who spinoff called Class, which will focus on some kids dealing with the paranormal at a school. If you ask me, it sounds a lot like Strange Days at Blake Holsey High – a Canadian show that aired on NBC Saturday mornings during their Discovery Kids block. That show dealt with a very similar premise, as the school was located next to a wormhole. I really enjoyed that show, but never saw the finale, as it got canceled in the US before it ended. Still, I’m not a Doctor Who fan, so this ain’t for me. In fact, it doesn’t seem like it’s for most adult Who fans. If anything, it seems like this might be designed to take the place of The Sarah Jane Adventures, which used to serve as the gateway show for kids to get into the Doctor Who franchise. I really kind of admire how the Doctor Who franchise caters to different demographics. You’ve got Class for the kids, while the mothership is for the sci fi heads. Meanwhile, Torchwood was the sexier, mature show. The latter is over for now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something came along to fill that void soon.

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New The Daily Show host Trevor Noah debuted his incarnation of the show this week. I missed it, but I’m hearing good things online. Of course folks will always compare him to Jon Stewart, but that’s to be expected. To me, I hope he’s the exact opposite of Stewart, whom I never really liked. If that’s the case, I might actually start watching that show – as long as it’s not on against one of my favorite episodes of Family Guy

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In the world of movies, there’s a rumor that Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd might be working on a Ghostbusters animated film. Man, Sony is really milking that son of a bitch dry, aren’t they? I get that they need a new franchise, as the Men In Black thing sort of petered out for them, but this might be too much Ghostbusters at once. For the moment, we’ve already got the Paul Feig film coming, and then a rumored all-male version. Now, this? I guess if it gets them to finally re-release Ecto-Cooler, then it was worth it, but I just feel like they’re doing too much with this property at once.

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Pitch Perfect 3 has received the release date that was originally slated for Pacific Rim 2. I don’t have any strong feelings about this. I loved Pitch Perfect, but still haven’t seen the second one. Meanwhile, Pacific Rim has been sitting on my DVR for over a year. Can we talk about how Anna Kendrick looks like a sexy rat? Like, she’s the personification of Gadget from Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers. Am I the only one who sees this?

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Speaking of movies, when did the new DVD release day move to Friday? I knew that music was moving, but I didn’t know all physical disc media was moving. That kinda sucks, as it means that any sale on a new release will now probably last 2 days (Friday and Saturday) before the next week’s sale kicks in. Anyway, this is a drawn-out way of saying that Avengers: Age of Ultron comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray today.

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In comic news, it was announced that the Daredevil team of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee will be relaunching Black Widow for Marvel following Secret Wars. I’ve got to be honest: I only read the last Black Widow series because I love the art of Phil Noto. I’m not quite sure if I ever really enjoyed the story or the character – it was just beautiful to look at. So, with that in mind, I’m probably not gonna be on board for this new series.

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In the podcasting world, this week saw us celebrating Podcast Day. I’m not sure how long this has been a thing, but it’s a great opportunity for you to check out the latest 2-part season premiere of Classick Team-up, where Classick and I discuss everything from the new TV season to the upcoming Black Panther comic series. You should check it out here and here.

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In a week where nothing really happened, Power Rangers stands when the dust settles. After 22 seasons, tomorrow will see the 800th episode of the franchise. EIGHT HUNDRED EPISODES. Can you believe that?! When I saw the premiere, that Saturday morning back in 1993, I thought it was some cheesy shit. I had no clue that it would span 2 decades, countless incarnations, and even more action figures and playsets. It was the #1 boy’s toy for the first ten years of its existence. And in a “snake eating its tale” fashion, now our adapted Power Rangers episodes are being re-dubbed and aired in Japan and Korea. I’ve written way too much about the franchise to go through all of that again (seriously, there’s a Power Rangers tag over to the right. Just click that). It’s safe to say that the franchise has meant a lot to me over the years, so I’m proud of this unbelievable accomplishment. 800 episodes! Man. Anyway, with that in mind, Power Rangers had the West Week Ever.

25th Sep2015

West Week Ever – 9/25/15

by Will

Welcome to the West Week Ever Late Express Edition! I’m actually traveling but the show must go on, right? Since tablet WordPress is a bitch, there won’t be any pictures or special characters this week. Sorry for the bare bones approach but at least I’m putting something out!

So, last week, I found myself watching Fury. War movies aren’t usually my cup of tea, but I’d been intrigued about it since I’d first seen the trailer. If you’re not familiar, it’s set in the last days of World War II, and Brad Pitt leads a ragtag group assigned to a tank. Finding themselves outgunned and outmanned, they decide to try to hold down a critical crossroad from the Germans. It was a really good movie, with great performances by Pitt, Michael Pena, and even Shia. I missed the first 15 minutes, so I know I’ll be rewatching it soon. I highly recommend it!

I also found myself watching Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie . The man on the street doesn’t realize that there were actually TWO theatrically released Power Rangers movies. That’s mainly because the second came out after the show’s popularity had peaked AND it sucked. At least that’s how I remembered it. Looking at it with fresher eyes, it’s not the travesty I remembered. And it did something daring by introducing the first (and only) kid Power Ranger. I can see where they were going with that: allow a kid to be a Ranger so that the kid viewers could have someone to identify with. Sure, it makes sense on paper, but I’m not sure they nailed the execution. I’d also kinda forgotten how hot villainess Divatox was, even though she was nothing but a terrorist (she hid bombs in parks. THAT is the definition of a terrorist ). At the end of the day, it didn’t deserve a theatrical release, but it would’ve made a pretty decent TV movie.

I’ve had a Cappella on the brain this week. It started when Facebook recommended a local a Cappella group’s upcoming auditions. I did a little background research on them, and that led me down the rabbit hole of local post – collegiate a Cappella groups. Well, in my travels, I discovered Acaville Radio – a 24/7 streaming service dedicated to nothing but a Cappella. They’ve got high school groups, college groups, and even pro groups. I’ve also struck up a nice little dialogue with the person running their Twitter account. It seems like they focus mainly on tracks from post-2002, as that’s where the audience feedback drove them. Luckily, my “Drops of Jupiter” came out in 2002…

Speaking of music, I finally checked out SiriusXM’s Yacht Rock Radio the day before it was set to go away forever. If you’re not familiar with the concept of Yacht Rock, think of Adult Contemporary music circa 1980. It’s smooth and relaxing – the kind of stuff you’d listen to on your boat. That said, I really like the format. What Sirius was doing, though, didn’t really work for me. It was a little too Leo Sayer when I wanted more Doobie Bros. I know you’ve got to dig out some deep cuts to keep a radio station going, but I didn’t recognize a lot of the songs, which killed the singalongability of the whole thing. If it comes back next summer, maybe I’ll give it another shot.

In the world of TV, the 2015-2016 television season kicked off this week. I checked out The Muppets on ABC and I really didn’t like it. In fact, I actually fell asleep on it 20 minutes in. I didn’t laugh once. I just think the whole mockumentary thing is over. A Facebook friend pointed out that it’s essentially 30 Rock with Muppets, which sounds like how they probably pitched the show. The difference, however, is that 30 Rock was enjoyable.

I was glad to see the return of Fresh Off The Boat. It appears creator Eddie Huang’s voiceovers are gone, which I don’t really miss. It pears ABC distanced themselves from him following his racist and misogynistic Twitter rant last spring. It’ll be interesting to see how performs against The Grinder, Best Time Ever, and The Flash once they’re all in their regular timeslots.

Speaking of Best Time Ever, I’m still critiquing the show, wondering what might have been. At this point, I think I’ve isolated some problems. First off, the Get Ready hidden camera segment and the karaoke bit need to go. The Hell, even the game show portion, Get Lucky, isn’t even that strong. The strongest bits are NPH’s challenges and the big number at the finale. It could also probably benefit from being 30 minutes instead of a whole hour.

It was announced this week that Ta-Neheisi Coates would be writing a year-long Black Panther storyline for Marvel. A lot of people seem to think this is a big “get” in terms of diversity, but I’m not yet intrigued. Coates is brilliant, with a lot of great ideas, but his stuff is so dense. I joked on twitter that every issue will be 87 pages and cost $7.99. I’ve never really liked Black Panther, as it always seemed like he was “doing too much”, so it would actually take a lot to get me excited about something going on in his book. This announcement didn’t do it.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Nick Kroll and Amy Poehler have reportedly broken up
-Meanwhile, Fred Armisen and Natasha Lyonne are reportedly dating
-Fox’s Empire returned this week, crazier than ever

Nobody had a week like The Pope. His inaugural trip to the United States was treated like the arrival of The Beatles. Streets were closed, and cities shut down awaiting the pontiff. I love the dude ’cause he got me a day off work Wednesday. There’s something about him, though. Everybody loves him but that’s because he seems to say exactly what everyone wants to hear. Does he mean all this stuff or is he just a great listener? Who knows? All I know was that I saw a ton of news footage of people crying like they had just met One Direction. Who else (besides One Direction) has that kind of clout? I dunno, man. All I know is that Pope Francis had the West Week Ever.

 

18th Sep2015

West Week Ever – 9/18/15

by Will

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Welcome to a mega-sized edition of West Week Ever! I’m sorry I took a week off, but I had a pretty serious toothache that had the whole right side of my face in pain. Now I know how Harvey Dent felt! Anyway, let’s get on with the show.

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So, last week we celebrated Labor Day, but I wasn’t around to talk about it. Did I do anything exciting? No. I did something kinda stupid. You see, at 1 AM Monday morning, it dawned on me that I was about 6 weeks behind on Mr. Robot. Everywhere I turned, people were posting thinkpieces about the show’s season finale, and I’d been trying to avoid that corner of the Internet until I caught up. So, what better time to get caught up, right? Ugh. Next thing I knew, the sun was coming up, and I had no idea what I had just watched. Don’t get me wrong – I love the show, but there’s just so much of it I don’t care about. Like, I didn’t care about the Steel Mountain heist, or the Dark Army or really any of the hacker shit. I liked when Elliott did the stuff on his own, but I could do without the fsociety Scooby Gang. No, the plot itself meant little to me compared to the characters. The characters like Elliott, Tyrell, and Mr. Robot himself kept me on my toes. You never knew what they’d do next, and that’s why I was tuning in. I don’t want to spoil anything for folks who haven’t finished the season, but I’m really curious to know where they’ll go next season. And that after credits scene! I mean, what show has an after credits scene? I’m still trying to figure out what that whole thing meant. Out of summer shows, I probably didn’t enjoy Mr. Robot as much as I did Wayward Pines, but it was a close second.

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Rumor has it that 90s NickToons will be returning in the form of The Splat! For now, according to Entertainment Weekly, it has only been confirmed as a programming block, so it’s not clear if it will be its own standalone network, like Boomerang, or if it will just be a block of programming on an existing channel, like Adult Swim. I, for one, hate the name and the logo. It comes across like a porn zine made by a 14 year old. Anyway, I didn’t have cable in the 90s, so I don’t have any real love for those shows, but I know that a lot of y’all reading this are probably excited about it.

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It’s been a week of apologies, as folks are sorry for stupid shit left and right. First off, the week began with former Ms. America Vanessa Williams as a celebrity judge for this year’s pageant. For you young folks out there, Vanessa was the first Black Miss America – until Penthouse posted some old nude photos of her, and she was forced to relinquish her title. Vanessa bounced back from it all, becoming a singer, actress, blah, blah, blah. It’s like when you lose American Idol, but end up more famous than the winner. After all, who gives a shit about Suzette Charles, the runner-up who assumed Vanessa’s title after the scandal? Anyway, Vanessa saved the best for last, and ended up better off than she’d been. Well, during this week’s pageant, the Miss America Organization formally apologized to Vanessa for everything that had gone down…31 years ago. Wut? Why? And why now? Had this been the Miss USA Pageant, I’d get it, since they need to wash the Trump stench off of them, but this just seemed odd. I won’t say “too little, too late”, but it almost felt like they were drudging up stuff that everyone had pretty much moved on from. The whole thing just seemed odd, but Vanessa graciously accepted the apology, and is back in the Miss America fold. They still ain’t restoring her title, though.

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Meanwhile, The League star Steve Rannazzisi admitted that he’s been lying for 14 years that he survived the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. The story he’d been telling was that he worked at Merrill Lynch on the 54th floor of the south tower. He’d said that he made it to the street just as the second plane hit his building. After surviving the attacks, he realized that life was precious and decided to pursue his dream of being an entertainer. Welp, the story he’d been telling for 14 years was finally debunked this week. It turns out he was actually working in Midtown that day, and Merrill Lynch had no offices in the World Trade Center. The interesting thing is that it seems like his wife was in on the lie. After all, part of his story is that his then-girlfriend, now-wife was also slated to work on the 24th floor of the south tower, but never made it to the building. It has since been reported, however, that she was actually temping at the nearby World Financial Center, but not in the tower. So, this whole thing seems like one giant Rannazzisi Family Secret that was finally exposed. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to his career, as things were just starting to happen for him. He’s the public face of Buffalo Wild Wings (who are currently reevaluating their relationship with him), and his new standup special, Breaking Dad, is scheduled to premiere on Comedy Central tomorrow night. Meanwhile, The League has filmed 11 of this season’s 13 episodes, and FX Networks is standing by him for the rest of the season. He’s not really a “name”, and more people know him from this scandal now than from his work. The question now is whether his career is over, or if people will give him a second chance.

Sacco

Speaking of second chances, remember Justine Sacco? If you don’t remember, her life was ruined back in 2013 by one tweet:

sacco tweet

 

That tweet went viral, and by the time she got off the plane in Africa, she had already been fired. She went on to write several articles about what she learned from the experience, and mainly she just wanted to get her life back. Well, it appears that she’s now that Director of Communications at FanDuel – ya know, that fantasy football site that claims you can win millions of dollars a week or something? Yeah, that one. It seems fitting, as those are exactly the kind of dude-bros who’d get a kick out of what she did. I guess she’s finally getting her life back, so Hulk Hogan and Steve Rannazzisi just have to sit tight and the same will happen for them.

MJ

In the world of comics, it was revealed that Spider-Man’s former wife, Mary Jane Watson, will be a supporting character in the upcoming Invincible Iron Man series. Marvel won’t comment on what exactly her role will be, but they reminded us that Tony likes redheads. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. I mean, the Marvel Universe is a shared universe, so it makes sense to have some supporting character crossovers. That said, she’s just such an iconic Spider-Man character, that I have a hard time accepting her in someone else’s world. I really hope she’s something like Tony’s personal assistant or something, as I’ve got too much love for Peter and Pepper to accept that their mates are pairing off.

jessica jones

In the TV corner of the Marvel Universe, it was revealed last week that Jessica Jones will debut on Netflix on November 20th – perfect for Thanksgiving bingewatching. If you’re not familiar with the character yet, she’s a former hero-turned-private investigator in the Marvel Universe. Eventually she marries Power Man, Luke Cage, and they have a daughter together. In the show, she will be going up against The Purple Man, which happened in the final arc of her comic series, Alias. Mike Colter’s Luke Cage will also appear before starring in his own series next year. As I’ve said before, I love Krysten Ritter, and I love this character, but I don’t love the idea of Krysten Ritter playing this character. The casting just seems all wrong to me, but I’ve got to learn to trust Marvel, so we’ll just have to see how it turns out.

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Just sit right back, and let Uncle Will tell you a tale. Some might say this story is about the Best Time Ever. You see, about a month ago, I applied to be on a game show. This isn’t necessarily new, as I’ve washed out of the Jeopardy test twice already. This particular game show, however, was an untested quantity. The show was new, so it was like getting in on the ground floor of something. I actually filled out the application on a whim, as one of my Twitter friends had mentioned that he was gonna do it. Mainly they wanted to know more about me and my pop culture knowledge. I had to give them links to instances of my online presence, and then I had to answer some questions. So, I spent a lot of the time talking about a cappella, Pitch Perfect, and working in comics. Ya know, stuff that’d make me seem “quirky”. Well, I guess it worked, as I received a call from “Sage”, who I assume was a production assistant on the show, within 24 hours. Damn, that was some fast turnaround! Unfortunately for me, I missed her call. So, I called her back, and left a message. We played phone tag for about a week and a half until her side gave up. One day, “Nicole” answered the phone and said that someone would call me back, but I knew that I had pretty much come to the end of the road.

BTE

That show was Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, which premiered Tuesday night on NBC. One of the stipulations of the application was that I wasn’t allowed to publicly say anything negative about NBC (which was especially hard since Mr. Robinson had just premiered. Ugh!). Since the show only has an 8-week trial run, and Sage was probably fired or has gone on to bigger things, I think I’m free to discuss things now.

So, did I dodge a bullet? I’m not quite sure yet. An American adaptation of The UK’s Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Best Time Ever was seen as the Return of the Variety Show Age of the 70s. As with all things, however, the concept had to be modernized and updated, and I’m not quite sure it worked. I know it was just the premiere, but the show was all over the place. A friend on Twitter said that it came off like a Japanese game show, and it certainly was that crazy. NPH went from stalking a newlywed couple to fake auditioning for The Voice to challenging Celebrity Guest Announcer Reese Witherspoon to some American Ninja Warrior-type of race – and he didn’t even let her win! That’s what most critics have been talking about: the fact that there’s almost too much focus on NPH himself. Based on the premiere, the title should be stylized as best time ever with NEIL PATRICK HARRIS.

Get Lucky

The part that I would’ve participated in was later in the show, in a segment called “Get Lucky”, where NPH calls someone out of the audience up on stage to answer trivia. It’s kinda like The Price Is Right, although I’m pretty sure that chick knew beforehand that she was being called. That was the weird thing about the application – they made it sound like being on the show was a given (I guess since they need an audience), but there was no guarantee that you’d get to play. This was made apparent by the fact that this woman was the lone contestant of the whole night. And what questions did he ask? Strangely enough, a lot of them pertained to NBC/Universal properties. That’s corporate synergy for ya. The chick did win a shitload of stuff, but there wasn’t even a lot of focus on the prizes once they had been won. I think they were running short on time, seeing as how it’s a live show.

At the end of the day, the ratings for the premiere were just OK. The real test, however, is going to be when the show moves to its 8 PM timeslot, where it’ll go up against CBS’s NCIS and ABC’s The Muppets. I think it’s gonna be a LONG 8 weeks. Am I sad about missing out? Kinda. I mean, it would’ve been cool to be on TV, and I knew all the answers to that trivia, so it would’ve been easy prizes. Still, instead of being the next Jeopardy, this show might merely end up as a footnote in game show history. I think that’s part of the problem – it doesn’t know if it wants to commit to being a variety show or a game show. I wasn’t born in the 70s, but from what I’ve seen, there wasn’t as much audience interaction in the variety shows of the past. Maybe that’s the problem here. Anyway, NPH did pull an awesome backflip off of a pogo stick, which was probably the highlight of the episode. I know that’s what I’ll remember.

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Speaking of television, last night I had the pleasure of joining Corey over on the UnderScoopFire Podcast, as we discussed the upcoming Falll television schedule. He’d recently written about which new shows he thought would be cancelled, as well as which he felt would get a second season, so we debated those lists. If you love television, and want to weigh in, check out the episode here.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– Arnold Schwarzenegger was announced as the new host of Celebrity Apprentice. I hope he says “You-uh Fy-ud.”

– The Rock is having The Pebble, as Dwayne Johnson and girlfriend Lauren Hashian are expecting

– The G.I. Joe cartoon series debuted 30 years ago this week. Yo Joe!

– NBC is developing a gay reboot of the 80s series Hart to Hart

– Speaking of NBC, The Carmichael Show has been renewed for a second season

– Meanwhile, NBC is also developing a prequel to the Taken film series. I assume it’ll be called You ‘Bout To Get Took. I’m just playing. That’d be the BET version.

Pacific Rim 2 has been delayed indefinitely, possibly permanently. The first one’s still on my DVR…

– TNBC hit Hang Time debuted 20 years ago last week. I’m so friggin’ old…

– Rachel McAdams confirmed that she will be starring alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

– Rumor has it that companion Jenna Coleman will be leaving Doctor Who later this year to star as Queen Victoria in an ITV series. Yay, British shit!

– Director Rupert Wyatt has exited the Gambit movie that nobody wants

-After 7 seasons, someone finally won American Ninja Warrior. Guess Americans just weren’t cut out for that whole “ninja” thing until recently. I blame meat hormones.

– Amazon announced a new $50 7″ Fire tablet, which will also be sold in 6-packs for the price of 5 ($250). Yes, they’re selling tablets like soda now, apparently.

 

Links I Loved

The Undertaker Needs to Retire. Right Now. – Complex

Terrence Howard Is a Bad Person Who Is Also Crazy – Defamer

5 Things You Learn When A Facebook Friend Dies – Cracked

The Caucasian’s Guide to Black Barbecues – Michael Harriot

10 New Fall Shows That Will Be Cancelled By Christmas – UnderScoopFire

10 New Fall Shows Guaranteed to Get a Second Season – UnderScoopFire

10 Rare Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toys Part 2 – Crooked Ninja

6 Observations about The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – Nerd Lunch

U.S. Theme Parks with the Most Deaths – The Robot’s Pajamas

Forever Season 2: Find Out What Would’ve Become of Henry and Jo – TVLine

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What can I say about Ahmed Mohamed that you don’t already know? The 14 year old created a homemade digital clock, but was arrested for taking it to school, as it was suspected to be a bomb. Why? ‘Cause he’s brown and brown people apparently don’t just build clocks for shits and giggles. Once his story got out, it inspired the #IStandWithAhmed hashtag as people showed their support for the kid. But it didn’t stop there. All of a sudden, he started getting offers from everywhere from MIT to NASA, all encouraging him to continue building, and asking to meet him. Hell, even Ne-Yo got in on it:

neyoThat mixtape is gonna be FIRE!

BUT IT DIDN’T END THERE!

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HOLY SHIT! I don’t care how the week started for this kid, it ended in ways he could never have imagined. Or could he? Some folks out there think he knew what he was doing by putting the clock in a metal briefcase, but that’s really neither here nor there. All I know is that Ahmed Mohamed can now write his own ticket. His future is set. He might as well just start referring to himself as The Clock King. It’s a wrap. No human has been this synonymous with clocks since Flava Flav, and nobody was giving that dude space camp scholarships or shirts that have been in space. I don’t really feel like getting into the politics of it all, nor do I feel like this is gonna start any new dialogue on race, but I do know that Ahmed Mohamed, hands down, had the West Week Ever.

22nd May2015

West Week Ever – 5/22/15

by Will

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So, this week I watched The Wedding Ringer. Let me be clear – I had no intention of watching this movie. However, I signed up for Redbox alerts, and I ended up with a promo code for a free rental. When I got to the machine, there were so many movies that I wanted that I kinda panicked. As a result, I picked The Wedding Ringer before I really thought it through. I like Kevin Hart, but I have an irrational dislike for Josh Gad. I’m not really sure why, but it dates back to NBC’s failed 1600 Penn. Anyway, if you’re not familiar with the movie, Gad is a successful lawyer who has no friends due to his workaholic nature. So, with his wedding coming up, he realizes he doesn’t have anyone to be his best man and groomsmen. Enter Hart, who plays a professional best man for people in similar situations. Gad pays him $50,000 to pretend to be his best friend and best man. And then hilarity ensues. A lot of folks said that they preferred this movie the first time, when it was called Hitch and starred Will Smith. I never saw that movie, though, so that didn’t color my experience. I really enjoyed it. Like, really. So much so that I’ve forgiven Gad for all past transgressions. It’s not gonna win an Oscar or anything, but it was pretty funny, and everyone did a good job in their roles.

don_draper_retreat

On TV, this week saw the series finale of Mad Men. Considering the show was such a critical darling, I didn’t see a lot of fanfare surrounding the end. I didn’t notice any of the stars doing the late night talk show route or anything. Did I miss something? Anyway, I liked the episode well enough, but it felt superfluous. Had the series ended with last week’s episode, I probably would’ve felt a lot better about the ending. I’m still processing my thoughts on the episode, but it feels like the kind of thing that I’ll appreciate once some time passes. Anyway, I was honored to join Corey for the final MadCast ever, where we discussed the episode in more detail, so you should definitely check it out. Apparently, according to one commentor, we took the “hipster route” when discussing the episode, whatever that means…

singiton

Meanwhile on TV, I caught the premiere of Sing It On, which airs on Pop (formerly TV Guide Network). Produced by John Legend, the show follows 5 collegiate a cappella groups on their road to compete in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA). Legend is one of the few of us who actually made it big, so he’s probably a good choice to be behind the show. That said,  the show is filled with insufferable brats. I sat there wondering, “Was I ever like that?” One group said that they consider their members to be at least a 7 on the Hot or Not scale. I got so fed up with their personalities that I didn’t even make it through the first episode. Looking back on my a cappella days, the whole thing should be fun. These people become your family and your social outlet, but there’s nothing worse than a group whose sole purpose is to dominate the ICCAs. Trust me, as I’ve been there. I can’t imagine how these kids are gonna feel when they look back on this experience through the lens of what will be a forgotten reality show. It’s kinda sad, really.

Meet_Sawyer_Fredricks

Speaking of disappointing musical reality shows, Sawyer Fredericks won The Voice this week. Not only does he have the eyes of a soulless automaton, but his win also reinforces the White Guys With Guitars conspiracy theory that they’re the only ones who can win reality competitions these days. My pick for the win was Meghan Linsey, and I still think she’ll have a brighter future than Sawyer. Regardless, winners of The Voice don’t go anywhere. In 8 seasons, they have yet to create a household name.

Meanwhile, I realized that we’ll never get my dream season of American Idol: the All-Star Deathmatch. I had this idea a few years ago, and I’d still like to see it happen. You round up all of the Idols of the past 14 seasons and pit them against each other. Ultimately, the quest would be to find the greatest Idol of all time. Some of them will go fairly early, but can you imagine Kelly Clarkson going against Carrie Underwood? That would be amazing television, but of course no one is willing to put their hard-fought career on the line for what’s essentially a reality show parlor trick. I still think it’d be a great season, though.

 

 

In movie news, potential concept art leaked for the zords in the Power Rangers film reboot. Based on the text on the pics, these appear to be concept art of the Pink Ranger’s Pterodactyl Zord. Honestly, it looks pretty cool, and it’s way more detail than I expected them to put into this movie. I just hope it’s not brazenly CGI like in the first movie.  These are being snatched down everywhere, thanks to Lionsgate and Saban, so I’ll either get a traffic boost and/or a cease and desist. Let’s see what happens!

UPDATE: Photos removed. See this post for explanation!

I’m not sure how many of you remember, but a few years back, I had this quest to become Everyone’s Favorite Blerd. That was before every Black kid and his sister was using that word. Then, I realized I’d never achieve that goal as long as Andre, The Black Nerd existed. He’s everyone’s favorite blerd, and I have to recognize that. But this week, I actually got on his radar. This exchange happened on Twitter:

Blerd 1Damn right!

Anyway, I thought that would be the end of it, but then this happened:

Blerd 2

*Schoolgirl giggles* OMG! Andre knows who I am! And he thinks I’m cool! If only we could combine our powers somehow…

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Thrift Justice: YSE – Holy Deal, Batman!

-Netflix announced that BoJack Horseman season 2 will debut July 17th

-Alfonso Ribeiro was announced as the new host of America’s Funniest Videos

Links I Loved

Highlights from the AC Boardwalk Con! – Dinosaur Dracula

That Time the Avengers Hung Out with David Letterman – The Robot’s Pajamas

AC Boardwalk Con Adventure Part 1 – The Sexy Armpit

Summer Swap 2015 – AEIOU and Sometimes Why

david-letterman-retirement

In the late night wars, I have to admit that I was Team Jay. Yes, even after the Conan debacle. At the end of the day, Jay didn’t screw over Conan, but rather NBC screwed them both over. For some reason, David Letterman’s humor just never really connected with me. Still, I realize that his show was a late night institution that will never be replaced. Wednesday night was his final show, and I originally planned on skipping it. As fans spent the day tweeting about all he had meant to them, I just didn’t feel worthy to partake in the festivities. After all, I had backed the wrong horse. Then, as the minutes ticked away, I realized that I was missing history and I’d probably regret it.

I turned on The Late Show just in time to catch the final Top 10 List performed by 10 of the show’s favorite and most frequent guests. The likes of Alec Baldwin, Jerry Seinfeld, Tina Fey and more, came out to deliver their lines for the last time. I remarked on Twitter that it was funny that we had mini onstage reunions of Seinfeld (Jerry and Julia Louis-Dreyfus), 30 Rock (Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin), and SNL40 (everyone else), yet nobody acted like they even knew each other – let alone worked on successful shows together. It was somewhat strange, but it just put more emphasis on that fact that the night belonged to Dave.

David Letterman was an institution. If you were promoting a project, you either did The Tonight Show or you did “Letterman”. This was true for 33 years, over 2 different networks. I could become an overnight success tomorrow, but I’ll never get the chance to say that I was on Letterman. That thought just made me kinda sad. Stephen Colbert will be sitting behind the desk in the coming months, but it won’t be the same. The late night format is nowhere near what it used to be, and it’s sorely in need of some diversity. Letterman himself said that he would’ve recommended a woman or a Black person, but he was not consulted about his successor. What I’m saying is that I don’t think there’ll be another late night host who’s at it for 30 years. The format just isn’t going to sustain that kind of longevity anymore. Leno did some fill-ins on The Tonight Show before Carson officially retired, but Letterman was at it much longer. In terms of sheer longevity, there was only one king of late night, and that was David Letterman. I may not have always gotten his humor, but I understood his impact. And for that, David Letterman had the West Week Ever.

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