05th Feb2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 2/5/16

by Will

BeFunky Collage

 

oie_922142seDasWF9

hundred-foot-journey-quad

After all that I watched last week during the blizzard, I didn’t really watch too much this week. The one movie that I watched was The Hundred Foot Journey. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s about an Indian family that moves to France to open a restaurant that happens to be directly across the street from a renowned Michelin-starred restaurant. In the beginning, the two restaurants go to war against each other. It’s something of a culture clash between the citizens and the immigrants. After a while, though, they find common ground in the form of the eldest son of the Indian family, who turns out to be a gifted chef. It’s the kind of movie that you don’t have to pay a ton of attention to, and still understand what’s going on. The head of the French restaurant is played by Helen Mirren, so you know this is seen as some classy shit. It was produced by Stephen Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, and it’s just the kind of story that Oprah would’ve featured in her book club. I’d wanted to see the movie ever since I first saw the trailer, as it looked cute, and it didn’t disappoint. I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that most of my readership would jump at, but if you get the chance, give it a shot.

patti pie

While I didn’t watch a ton, I did eat a lot. I don’t have the most refined palette, so I tend to stay away from food reviews. That said, I experienced two different foods that I felt deserved the blog treatment. First up was the Patti Labelle Sweet Potato Pie.

This news is about 3 months old, but seeing as how 90% of my readership is White, this’ll be new to you! Anyway, R&B singer Patti Labelle (she also played Dwayne Wayne’s mom on A Different World) released a line of sweet potato pies exclusively at Walmart in September. The pies sold well enough until a YouTuber named James Wright Chanel posted the above review of the pies. Well, that review went viral, and the pies started flying off the shelves. They were THE hot item over the Thanksgiving season, and I hadn’t been able to find one until last Friday night. I love a good sweet potato pie, so I had to see what all the fuss was about. The pies are sold at room temperature, so that’s how I wanted to first taste it. After taking a bite, it was…OK. There HAD to be more to this thing, right? I mean, the big guy was singing and everything. I remembered that I like my sweet potato pie cold, so I refrigerated it overnight, and took another shot the next day. And it was…just OK. I’ve had some awesome sweet potato pie in my life. My mom’s friend makes amazing pies. That said, this was not as good as those. It’s good, but it’s not great. The pie’s texture is sort of “lazy”, for lack of a better word. It’s not firm like I like it, and refrigerating it didn’t do much to firm it up. If this made that dude sing, I’ve had some pie that would make his heart explode. I really don’t know what all the fuss was about, but good on James for getting his 15 minutes out of it.

NH-tenders-insitu

Next up, I tried KFC’s Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders. Let me start by saying that I hate KFC. I love fast food, but KFC is typically some garbage. I haven’t liked any of their gimmicks since the Rotisserie Gold arrival in the early 90s. Most people just laugh at their output, like when we get things like the Double Down. So imagine my surprise when some of my Twitter friends started raving over this Nashville Hot recipe that KFC just debuted. They started out using it on the regular chicken, but then they introduced the tenders. I’m lazy and hate dealing with bones, so tenders were the way into my heart. My clogged, clogged heart. There aren’t too many KFCs in these parts (they tend to get shut down a lot), so we happened to be near one on Sunday and decided to take the plunge. First, the presentation. They come served in a black plastic tray that makes you think they came right out of the microwave. They’re garnished with pickle chips, and are served with cole slaw (we replaced that with wedges) and a biscuit. So, how did they taste? TERRIBLE. You bastards lied to me! Seriously, if that’s indicative of a real Nashville recipe, then they can just go and leave the Union right now. The sauce is thin. I mean THIN. It’s reddish and stains everything – napkins, skin, whatever. But it’s so thin that you’d think it’s just grease. There’s no body to it. It’s hot, but it’s not flavorful. And, again, the sauce gets everywhere. Lindsay looked like a ravenous vampire when she was done. It was the least satisfying meal I’ve ever had. It was a combination KFC/Taco Bell, and I wanted to cleanse my palette with some tacos, but I was already full from the tenders.

peak tv

Part of why I didn’t watch much TV this week is because there’s just too much TV. Some folks have wondered if we’ve reached “peak television”, and I think it might be true. I used to know when all my favorite shows came on. Now, I’m considering making a Google Doc just to track them all. I remember that I missed shows days after they’ve aired. And these aren’t shows I just watch casually; they’re things that I actually consider favorites. At the moment, though, I just have too many favorites. At the same time, I’m not afraid to dump a show that I don’t like. In the past, I watched a lot of stuff that I hated. I wasn’t even “hate-watching” those shows, either. I didn’t really like them, but they were on and I had nothing better to do. When Fox debuted Cooper Barrett and Bordertown, I finally realized that there are too many shows and life’s too short to waste on something you don’t like.

Hasbro_Mattel__scaled_600

 

In the toy world, there’s a rumor going around that Hasbro and Mattel are in talks for a merger. He-Man and G.I. Joe under the same roof? This is an ’80s kid’s wet dream! Too bad Hasbro doesn’t really care about Joe anymore, and Mattel sells He-Man figures to grown-ups for $30 a pop. This could be a dream or a nightmare. It’d be interesting to see if the Marvel and DC licenses would remain under this shared roof. Would they become HasTel or MatBro? Or even worse, HasMat? While surprising, this isn’t the first time there’s been talk of a merger, as Mattel made an offer on Hasbro 20 years ago.

Black

On the comic front, I never pledge Kickstarters because I’ve heard too many horror stories. Still, when I saw Black, I knew that I had to be a backer. The tagline for the graphic novel reads “In a world that already fears and hates them – what if only Black people had superpowers?” That’s basically as much as I know about the story, but it was enough to make me want to know more. It’ll no doubt be controversial, but the art looks great and I’m really anxious to see where the story goes.

ae21aac887f9273f32212d6a3386fc4f_original

Meanwhile, I ran across yet another Kickstarter that piqued my interest. Titled Tuskegee Heirs, in the spirit of the famous Tuskegee Airmen, the tagline reads “Futuristic sci-fi adventure that follows a small squad of young gifted aviators who are forced to become earth’s last line of defense.” The art is very “manga-esque”, which would normally be a turnoff to me, but it’s kinda refreshing seeing that style used for Black characters outside of The Boondocks. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about an upcoming comic project, so I hope I’m not disappointed. Maybe when these books come in, I’ll dust off my Adventures West Coast feature and review them.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • After the success of Lip Sync Battle, Craig Robinson will host Caraoke Showdown on Spike.
  • Aubrey Plaza has been cast in FX’s X-Men spinoff, Legion
  • Matt LeBlanc is one of the new hosts of The UK’s Top Gear. Here’s hoping this job lasts longer than Joey. Or Top of the Heap.
  • Louis C.K. quietly released a new series, Horace and Pete, on his website. But it looks sad and all the colors are various shades of brown, so I’ll pass.
  • Andy Samberg’s crew, The Lonely Island, are developing Party Over Here with comedian Paul Scheer. The half-hour sketch show will air Saturday nights at 11 on Fox.
  • Gilmore Girls is coming back via Netflix, and apparently no one thought to invite its most famous alum, Melissa McCarthy.

ST-TNG-Theme-Week

My pals over at The Robot’s Pajamas are having Star Trek: The Next Generation Week, so be sure to pop over there and read all the great posts they’ve got!

This Week In Black History

2/1 – Today In Black History: Arnold & Willis Jackson became the first poor black kids adopted by a rich white person

2/2 – Today In Black History, rapper Christopher Wallace graduated to the Men’s department and changed his name from “Husky Smalls”

2/3 – Today in Black History, The Eastland School for Girls admitted Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey as its first black student

2/4 – Today in Black History, the Fresh King of Bel Air was assassinated. The throne remained empty until a long lost son was found in 1990.

2/5 – Today in Black History, Kunta Kinte is accepted into the space program, and it only costs him his eyesight.

usf

When I’m not blogging about pop culture, I like to guest on podcasts. One of my favorites to guest on has been the UnderScoopFire Podcast. Out of my 52 podcast appearances, 13 of them have been with USF and its Mad Men-centric spinoff, The MadCast.

I remember a few years back, coming across a dude on Twitter named @HowardTheDeck and thinking “Heh, that’s pretty clever.” Turns out dude was a funny guy, so when I found out he had a podcast, I couldn’t wait to hear it. This was a new concept to me, as I really hadn’t given too many shits about the podcast format prior to that. I like my Internet printed. If you’re recording podcasts or making videos, that just seems like it’s gonna take too much time to consume. So, I just stuck to blogs and the like. Anyway, I downloaded USF and immediately fell in love. I dug the whole gang, from Howie to Corey to Tank to Joe. There was even this guy named Googs who really seemed like he didn’t want to be there, but he was cool, too. We all became friends online – these weren’t just “web friends”, but real friends. We’ve shared Christmas cards, and tracked down toys that the others’ kids couldn’t find locally. They’ve allowed me to come on and ramble on about whatever’s on my mind, and I’ve always had a great time doing it.

Well, this week, after 150-ish episodes, the UnderScoopFire Podcast posted its final episode. The show began as a love letter to children of the 80s, covering things like GI Joe and featuring guests like “The Micro Machines Guy”, John Moschitta Jr. Over the past few years or so, the show had undergone some changes. Howie and Googs left, while Tank and Joe were sent deep undercover. We’d hear from Tank every now and then, but I thought Joe got lost out there until I heard his pretaped appearance on the final show. Some episodes were just Corey and this dude named Eclectik (that’s not his government name, but we won’t talk too much about him ’cause he hates me anyway), chatting away. A lot of the time, it felt like we were all flies on the wall for a conversation between those two. Still, they kept the show alive, and I thank them for that. Without USF, I wouldn’t be the reigning What’s The Scoop? Champion for Life, I wouldn’t know how hard it is for 80s celebrities to say the words “Under Scoop Fire” in that order, and I wouldn’t have some of my closest friends. So, with that in mind, it’s bittersweet for me to say that the UnderScoopFire Podcast had the West Week Ever.

29th Jan2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 1/29/16

by Will

photovisi-download (22)

oie_922142seDasWF9

We had Winter Storm Jonas come through last weekend, which resulted in over 3 feet of snow. It wasn’t all bad news, though, as I didn’t have to go to work until yesterday – which meant I watched a LOT of stuff. So, let’s talk about some of it, shall we?

THE-MARTIAN-movie-poster2

First up, I watched The Martian, starring Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney who’s presumed dead and left behind during a mission on Mars. But Watney’s not dead, so he has to survive on the uninhabited planet until help can arrive. It’s a great movie about the power of the human spirit and all that. Still, after watching this and Gravity, y’all can have space. I want NO part of it. Lindsay read the book and said that they cut some stuff (probably for time), but said that the movie was a pretty faithful adaptation. Also, like Gravity, I don’t feel like I ever need to see this again. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat as much as I was with Gravity, though, as Sandra Bullock’s whole ordeal was kinda condensed. Watney is on Mars for months so, while still a tale about survival, the whole struggle has peaks and valleys. Don’t get me wrong – stuff still goes horribly wrong for Watney, but after a while you don’t feel like he’s in that much danger. At least I didn’t. Great movie, though.

INSIDE-OUT-18

I also watched Pixar’s hit, Inside Out. I’ve got a complicated relationship with this movie. You see, we rented it from Redbox about a month ago and the disc was so scratched that we could only get about 30 minutes into it before it stopped working. So, while snowed it, we tried watching it again, picking up where we left off, and I fell asleep during parts of it. That’s not to say anything about the quality – I was just really sleepy. Still, I didn’t see in this movie what others saw. Just like Mad Max: Fury Road, I thought it was enjoyable, but it didn’t resonate with me like it did with other folks. I’ve heard people call Inside Out the best Pixar movie ever. Really? REALLY? Then again, these are probably the same people who cried at Toy Story 3 (I still don’t get that). I may be a cold, heartless man, but I feel like the last time I agreed with anyone on a Pixar film was concerning the emotional opening to Up. I loved the characters, especially Anger – which is funny, seeing as how I typically think Lewis Black is just a Baby Boomer Sam Kinison whose shtick gets old fast (I start out calm AND THEN I’M YELLING! ‘CAUSE I WANT YOU TO KNOW I’M MAD!!!!). And it was easy to relate to Riley and the stuff she was going through. Still, I think I just expected MORE. Maybe I need to watch it all the way through from the beginning and stay awake this time.

Sisters-2015-Poster

Next up, we watched Sisters, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. In a flip of their last foray together, Baby Mama, this time Tina played the screw-up, while Amy played the straightlaced one. I’ve often said that Tina Fey tends to suck in comedies she doesn’t write (the aforementioned Baby Mama and Date Night), but this one broke that curse. With a screenplay by Saturday Night Live/30 Rock writer Paula Pell, it played to the strengths of everyone involved as Pell was already familiar with all of them. When Tina and Amy find out their parents have sold their childhood home, they decide to throw one final rager before the new owners move in. The movie was hilarious, and even included a great cameo by John Cena. Plus all your favorites are there: Maya Rudolph, Bobby Moynihan, Samantha Bee, and more. I’m still kinda wondering how Ike Barinholtz got cast as the Cute Guy Love Interest. I mean, was EVERYONE else in Hollywood busy? Don’t get me wrong – he’s capable in the role, but he’s probably the last person I would’ve thought to cast in that role.

batman bad blood

Then, I really wanted to watch Trainwreck, but the version I got was in French for some reason. Undeterred, I decided to watch something else instead. I settled on a new animated release called Batman: Bad Blood. I used to buy all of those DC straight-to-DVD movies that came out, but then they just started cranking them out too quickly. Well, it turns out I’ve missed a lot. You see this movie was a sequel to Batman vs. Robin, which itself was a sequel to Son of Batman. So I had just jumped into the third part of a who-knows-how-many-parts series. It wasn’t as jarring as I thought it would be, though, as you could tell that some stuff had occurred before, but it was pretty easy to figure out what was going on. When Batman disappears after an explosion in a factory, Nightwing and Robin team up with Batwoman and new hero Batwing to figure out what happened. At first, I was thrown off by the animation style, as it was a little too “anime” for me. I should’ve been used to it, as Batman: Gotham Knight had the same style going for it, but I guess I’m just a sucker for the traditional Bruce Timm designs. The other thing that struck me was the fact that this is probably the most mature Batman depiction seen onscreen. There’s blood, they deal with Batwoman’s lesbian relationship, they call each other “bitch” a lot, and a second-tier Bat villain straight up dies in a pretty gruesome way. This was a HARD PG-13. The thing I liked about the movie, however, was the fact that it’s not really based on anything. I used to hate the runtime of the DC animated films, as they tend to clock in around 72 minutes, which isn’t enough time to faithfully adapt a storyline. For example, Superman: Doomsday is so short that it’s basically like Superman takes a nap instead of *dying*. Since this didn’t need to be faithful to any source material, the runtime felt organic and was definitely long enough. The ending seemed somewhat open ended, so I’m hesitant to say that it’s the end of a trilogy. If you like your Batman cold and distant, this is the film for you. The thing to remember is that the movie is more about how Batman affects and influences those around him than about Batman himself.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90

Since I stumbled into a saga in media res, I decided to go back and check out Son of Batman to see how it all began. Man, if I thought Bad Blood was dark, they clearly toned things down from when this saga first began. SO MUCH BLOOD! And hookers! Batman is referred to as a “sperm donor”! And Nightwing’s about to tell Robin to go fuck himself! Like, ALL of that is in this film. And even though she’s a cartoon character, Talia’s titties are “on fleek”, as the kids would say. If you’re not familiar with the story, Batman discovers that he has a child with Talia Al Ghul, the daughter of his adversary Ra’s Al Ghul (in the comic Batman: Son of the Demon, Batman sexes her with his cowl on!). The child, Damien, is now 10 years old and comes to Gotham to find his grandfather’s murderer. The movie is a loose adaptation of Grant Morrison’s “Batman & Son” storyline, but I found myself enjoying this movie much more than I enjoyed the source material (not much of a Morrison fan). When I was watching Bad Blood, I found Robin’s voice to be pretty annoying, but it grew on me in this installment. I know a lot of folks hate the Damien character, but I think he’s a breath of fresh air. I really enjoy his “arrogance in a small package” routine, and it definitely comes across in this movie.

court

To round out the series, I watched the second movie, Batman vs. Robin. Oh my God, it was SO good! It was definitely my favorite of the three. There are some amazing fight scenes, and it’s REALLY violent. Since Batman is basically fighting what amounts to zombies, he blows them up and cuts their heads off. It’s intense! Loosely based on Scott Snyder’s “The Court of Owls” storyline, it’s about a secret society of rich muckety mucks who have controlled Gotham for years. They decide to recruit Bruce Wayne, but when he refuses, they go after Robin instead. Their army is comprised of reanimated hundred year old corpses, which is why Batman can cut loose on them. My favorite line was probably “Now I’m only gonna say this once, you sons of bitches: Get the HELL OUT OF MY CAVE!” As you can see, that mature tone is still holding steady, but it also gets the players in place for the beginning of Bad Blood. If the movies are viewed as a trilogy, however, this installment hurts the building momentum. After all, the first movie, Son of Batman, is a Talia story and Bad Blood is a Talia story. Having watched them out of order, I assumed that Talia would play some role here, building up to the events of Bad Blood. Instead, the events of Bad Blood kinda come out of nowhere. At the end of Son of Batman, Talia and Batman part ways with an uneasy alliance. In Bad Blood, however, she’s out for Batman’s blood. It almost feels like there’s an installment missing. In any case, I LOVE this Batman continuity. I’d watch a whole season of this if Warner Bros had the balls to produce a series with this tone (they do not). The next DC movie is Justice League vs. Teen Titans, and it appears to be set in this same universe, as Damien is the Robin on the Titans. If that movie is anything like this, I cannot wait!

Last week, everyone was talking about #OscarsSoWhite because no one of color had been nominated in the major categories of the Academy Awards. This week, then, everyone seemed to do a 180 and everything was coming up Black!

Delroy-Lindo

First up, it was announced that Delroy Lindo has been cast as Dominic Fortune in the Mockingbird-centric Marvel’s Most Wanted. This is pretty important because Fortune, created by Howard Chaykin, was originally a White character in the comics. So, it looks like Marvel’s Nick Furying all over again (the character played by Samuel L. Jackson in the movies was also originally a White character in the comics). Dominic Fortune isn’t a huge character, so this colorblind casting won’t affect his characterization, but I’m sure it’ll get someone’s Underoos in a bunch. Most Wanted is still in the pilot stage, however, so there’s no guarantee it’ll be ordered to series at this point.

Corey hawkins

Next up, it was announced that Corey Hawkins from Straight Outta Compton would play the lead, Eric Carter, in the 24 spinoff, 24: Legacy. The series, sadly, will not feature Jack Bauer, but instead will focus on Carter, who’s a military hero who returns home and suddenly needs the help of CTU. I honestly don’t know how CTU hasn’t been absorbed by some other agency, as they’re rife with moles and they tend to be more reactionary than proactive. They never stop the attacks, but they’re always there after they happen. I mean, the poor citizens of Valencia, CA probably wish CTU had been a little more on the ball. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, though. A Jack-less 24? I have my doubts.

whittle

Finally, it was announced that The 100‘s Ricky Whittle had been cast in the lead role of Shadow Moon in the Starz adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I have no clue what this thing is about because just hearing the name “Neil Gaiman” gives me a headache. From what I’ve gathered, the book was about the fact that gods only exist as long as people believe in them, and the old gods are now being replaced by new gods, like celebrities and social media. That idea doesn’t sound all that original to me, but it’s Gaiman, so I’m sure there are a bajillion Tumblrs out there dying to prove me wrong. Anyway, the character in the book was somewhat racially ambiguous, so it’s being considered a big deal that they went with a Black actor given Hollywood’s tendency to Whitewash.

arrow-season-3-poster

the-suicide-squad-with-diggle-and-lyla

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses for Black characters this week, though, as Arrow bid farewell to a particular recurring character. Usually, the deaths on that show serve to move the story along, but this one just seemed kinda…nonchalant. This has led folks to believe that it was mandated by corporate interests. Since this character will appear in an upcoming DC film (albeit played by a different actor), they are no longer allowed to appear on the TV shows. After all, this is reportedly the same reason that there are no plans for the Deadshot character (who will be portrayed by Will Smith in Suicide Squad) to return to Arrow. It is believed that corporate feels it might confuse audiences to have the same character in two different mediums, played by different people. I think people are smarter than that, but stranger things have happened. I mean, we live in a world where Marvel is deliberately burying Fantastic Four and mutants because Marvel Studios doesn’t own the TV/film rights to those properties. So, it would make sense for DC to be doing something similar. I just feel like this is going to be to the detriment of the shows. Arrow is pretty much the best Batman adaptation on television (let’s face it – that’s what they’re doing with that character), but he’s gonna be severely neutered if all the best characters are slated for film. And what does this mean for The Flash, seeing as how that movie is just over the horizon? The CW’s DC shows have been so good that I’d hate to think that this is the beginning of the end of their quality.

dark knight oliver queen

Speaking of Arrow, it was announced that Stephen Amell will be portraying a future version of his character in the 6th episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Reminiscent of his depiction in the classic The Dark Knight Returns, this Oliver Queen resides in the year 2046, and is missing his left arm. The episode will also introduce Connor Hawke – Queen’s son and the future Green Arrow.

dc-comics-rebirth

In comics news, DC Comics stayed on folks’ lips this week. Right after last week’s West Week Ever went up, Bleeding Cool posted a rumor that DC plans to relaunch later this summer. Apparently, once the main books (Batman, Superman, Action Comics, etc) reach #52 of their current runs, the series will relaunch at #1, with the publishing line mirroring DC’s TV and film offerings. Shortly after this story went up, DC’s co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee tweeted out a cryptic image that only said “Rebirth”. It’s important to note that this is being reported as a relaunch and not a reboot. What’s the difference? Well, a relaunch really just means that you’re restarting the series with new numbering, but the core of the books stays the same. A reboot, however, means you’re starting everything over from scratch. A relaunch is what Marvel does all the time – cancels Uncanny X-Men only for it to reappear with a new #1 a few months later. This is done because companies believe that #1s bring in new readers, as they serve as fresh “jump on points”. That’s somewhat true, but the audience erodes between issues 1 and 2. And the more you relaunch, the more than audience erodes. A reboot is what DC did a few years ago when they introduced The New 52, which was a new universe where (almost) everything was changed and restarted at square one. This is a riskier move because it eliminates everything that came before it, and it squanders a lot of goodwill and faith from longtime fans. The universe they’d grown to love is no longer. It’s DC basically saying they’re willing to risk their dedicated audience if it means they can attract a new one. Now, “Rebirth” seems to be taking a page from Marvel’s playbook, but DC has done so much timey-wimey garbage lately, with The New 52 and Convergence, that I’m not sure DC’s fanbase is strong enough to handle this.

scooby

And the superheroes aren’t the only things DC is revamping. It was revealed yesterday that they’re updating several Hanna-Barbera properties for modern comic books. Above is the Jim Lee-designed Scooby Doo. And I hate it. I hate the hipster douche vibe I get off the guys. Shaggy’s facial hair? Hate it. Fred’s tat? Hate it. Daphne’s just Caitlin Fairchild from Gen13. And I’m so used to Velma being sexualized through cosplay that I’m broken and don’t even know what to make of her design. The line will also include updated versions of The Flintstones, Wacky Races and Jonny Quest. The beauty of this whole thing is that I don’t really have any connection to the source material, so this initiative doesn’t offend me as much as it might others. At the end of the day, these books clearly aren’t for me, and I don’t have to buy them. That’s, like, the most mature reaction I’ve had to something in a long time.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Reportedly, Paramount and Nickelodeon are planning a film that would feature a crossover of many of their NickToons properties. I never had cable growing up, so this means almost nothing to me.

barbiecurvy_original

  • Mattel just revealed that Barbie will now feature 3 new body types: petite, tall, and curvy. The dolls will also feature new skin tones and hair textures. The one on the right would be referred to by some as Thick’ums Barbie.
  • Joseph Fiennes is in talks to play Michael Jackson in a UK special about a road trip that MJ, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marlon Brando supposedly took after 9/11. Sadly, there’s no #MJSoWhite hashtag.

NerdLunch2015-websitePodcast

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining the guys over at The Nerd Lunch Podcast to discuss shows that we felt deserved the Fuller House/Girl Meets World revival treatment. I think our choices will surprise you! Trust me, you REALLY don’t wanna miss this episode, which you can listen to right here.

xfiles

The X-Files came back to Fox this week for a 6-episode “event” series. What that means is that if the ratings are good and they can hammer out new deals, the show will be back. If not, however, they can pretend that it was always meant to be a One and Done series and save face. I was never the most hardcore X-Files fan, as I didn’t even really start watching until season 5. And while a lot of people love the Monster of the Week episodes, I preferred the ones that dealt with the mythology and conspiracy aspects. So, I was pleased that the first episode back was a straight mythology episode. What I was not pleased about, however, is that they’re basically saying everything we’ve known for the past 20 years has been a lie. Now, it shouldn’t be a surprise for a show like The X-Files to throw out a twist or two, but it’s pretty brazen for them to basically say SPOILER ALERT (highlight for text): “Yeah, there are no aliens”. On the one hand, it sets up a new kind of mythology, but it also makes me feel like I wasted a LOT of hours of my life to get to an answer that doesn’t exist. That “revelation” basically turned the entire audience into Mulder. If that was the plan all along, nice work, Chris Carter. Anyway, it’s also interesting that the episodes are airing out of order. While the first and sixth episodes were always meant to be the mythology episodes, they’ve shuffled the order of the middle episodes. The episode that aired in the place of #2 was actually #5, while #4 will air in the place of #5. Episode 3 is only one airing in its originally scheduled order. Carter said that this was done to tell the best story possible, and was achieved by removing some dialogue here and there. That’s why it seemed so jarring in Monday’s episode that Mulder and Scully were just automatically back in the FBI like nothing happened – that was actually the next to last episode instead of the second. Here’s hoping this shuffle pays off in the end. In any case, it seems off to a pretty strong start, and I feel like the only reason it wouldn’t get renewed for another season would be if they couldn’t come to a contractual agreement. So, for those reasons, The X-Files had the West Week Ever.

22nd Jan2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 1/22/16

by Will

photovisi-download (21)

oie_922142seDasWF9

Happy Friday! Everybody around West Week Ever HQ is hunkering down for snow. We’re expected to get up to 24 inches, so this may be my final transmission.

GoneGirl1

In the movie department, the first thing I watched this week was Gone Girl. HOLY SHIT! Starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as a perfect yuppie couple that relocates to the Midwest after they both lose their jobs, Affleck becomes the prime suspect when Pike just mysteriously disappears. That’s when we find out their lives weren’t as perfect as they had seemed. And then there’s a TWIST (and I’m not talking about the fact that Tyler Perry actually does a good job in this film)! I’m not going into details because I don’t want to spoil anything, but this movie is worth watching. It’ll make you question everything about your life. Please watch this film ’cause I really wanna talk about it.

cloudy-with-a-chance-of-meatballs-2-poster

At the complete other end of the spectrum, I watched Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2. I really liked the first one, but God this thing was boring. I can’t imagine fidgety kids were able to sit still in theaters during this thing. In the first movie, amateur scientist Flint Lockwood created a machine that turned water into food. And then, of course, the machine went crazy and had to be destroyed. Well, in this sequel, a famous scientist wants to find Flint’s original machine so that he can use it for his own plans. Meanwhile, the machine is now creating sentient food creatures instead of just turning water into food. So, when Flint and his friends return to Swallow Falls, they find it’s been colonized by these fruit beasts. I only half paid attention to it because I was coloring at the time (yes, I’m a 5 year old in my spare time), but it really didn’t hold my focus. The things that made the first one special were gone this time. For example, in the first movie, Flint’s father, voiced by James Caan, was a man of few words who didn’t know how to express his emotions. This time around, he talked TOO much. Now, there’s an argument to be made that maybe this is an example of character growth, but I didn’t like it. I also didn’t like that Terry Crews replaced Mr. T as Officer Earl. Anyway, the film did pretty well, so there’ll probably be a 3rd one. And if it ends up on TV, I’ll probably watch it. Because I never learn from my mistakes.

angie_tribeca

After promoting it for months, TBS finally debuted the Steve and Nancy Carell-produced comedy Angie Tribeca via a 25-hour marathon. Starring Rashida Jones, the show is a parody of police procedural dramas. I had a few problems with this show. First of all, the marathon approach. Some shows are built for bingeing, but Angie Tribeca is not one of those shows, as the pacing didn’t really work. Not only was TBS running the entire 10-episode season every 5 hrs, but they also did it without commercial interruption. Luckily, the episodes were also On Demand so I watched them that way, so that I could pace them out on my terms. The other problem I had was the style of humor. If you loved Police Squad!/Naked Gun/Airplane!, you’ll LOVE the first 4 episodes of this show. It’s that quip a minute, farcical humor that, to me, wears thin quickly. I felt that the show really hit its stride by episode 5 (which is quite a long time to stick with a show that’s not really doing it for you initially), as the humor style is toned down a bit. Think of 30 Rock at its most absurd, and then crank it up about two notches. That’s what the show becomes and I enjoyed it so much more at that point. While the marathon seemed like a really crazy gimmick, it probably played to the show’s strengths (or lack thereof). As I said, I didn’t enjoy it until around the 5th episode. If this had been rolled out as a weekly show, I’d have probably bailed by then. At least now I’m willing to give the second season a chance.

Koechner

Speaking of Angie Tribeca‘s quality 5th episode, it features a guest appearance by Champ Kind himself, David Koechner. I tweeted about it and he favorited it. WHAMMY!

75 heroic years

Over on TV, Marvel and DC had a dick measuring contest Tuesday night as they scheduled specials opposite the other’s premiere. While The CW premiered The Flash returning from its Winter hiatus, ABC ran Marvel’s Captain America: 75 Heroic Years. If you have read/watched anything about the formation of Timely/Marvel Comics, then you’re familiar with most of what was presented in the special. They did, however, slide in the news that Steve Rogers would be returning to the role of Captain America this Spring – which isn’t a surprise to anyone who realized there was a movie coming out. If you’re not a comic fan, for over the past year, Steve Rogers’s former sidekick, Sam Wilson/The Falcon, took over the Cap role when Steve was drained of the Super Soldier Serum that gave him his powers and kept him young. It was clear, though, that there was little chance Wilson would remain Cap once the Captain America: Civil War film rolled around. Well, Marvel plans to have their cake and eat it, too, as it appears Wilson will remain as Captain America even while Rogers returns. There will be TWO Captain Americas, which I feel is one Cap too many. While I’ve enjoyed the Wilson adventures, I don’t know if the comic audience is still going to want to support “Not the REAL Cap” once Rogers returns. Anyway, this is comics, where there’s no real change – only the illusion of change – so nobody should be surprised by any of this.

justiceleaguespecialtop

Once 9 PM rolled around, ABC premiered the second season of Agent Carter, while The CW debuted specials about DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and their upcoming movies. I didn’t watch the Legends of Tomorrow one, as I thought it was kinda stupid to watch a 30 minute special about a 60 minute show that was premiering in 48 hours. If this special had come out earlier, I’d have given it a shot. At this point however, I was already as excited for the show as I was going to get. I did watch the one about the movies, DC Films Presents: Dawn of the Justice League. Hosted by Kevin Smith (who was acting like a drugged up Billy Mays) and Geoff Johns, they rushed through a bunch of Dawn of Justice footage, and then gave us about a minute of a Wonder Woman footage (this was also the day they debuted the logo and Twitter account for the Wonder Woman film). Then, we got snippets of interviews with the rest of the Justice League actors, like Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Ezra Miller (Flash), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). It all seems interesting, but it also seems so far away to me. I mean, the Cyborg movie isn’t out until 2020! I get that it’s 2016, but do you know how many movies will come out between now and then? Hell, I could be dead by then!

harley

I came to the realization this week that I’m not sure I can be objective about DC’s movies. I always considered myself a DC kid, but upon closer inspection, I’m much more of a Marvel Zombie these days. I love the Marvel movies. They have their flaws, but I enjoy them. I don’t like the DC stuff I’ve seen in recent years (The Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel). If these are more of the same (which, dark in tone, they seem to be), I’m just not interested. So, for the folks excited about these movies, more power to you. I envy you. But I just don’t feel anything when DC’s films are brought up. That includes the Suicide Squad trailer that was released this week. I’ll probably Redbox it, but it doesn’t strike me as something I need to see in the theater.

agent carter

Meanwhile, Agent Carter premiered and it was as great as you’d expect it to be. I’m constantly amazed that I like this show considering I didn’t think she was “worthy” of a series when it was first announced. I especially like this season, as its subtitle could be “Peggy Gets Jungle Fever”. There’s a Black scientist who’s introduced as a love interest…kinda. I liked that the show finally tackled the race issue that was absent in the first season, as it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for everyone in the 40s in the Marvel Universe. Anyway, I won’t spoil what happens to him in case you haven’t gotten around to watching the episode yet. The interesting thing is that there seem to be all of these ties to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet the showrunners are saying that they aren’t. For example, the lapel pins worn by The Council look like the original HYDRA symbol we saw on AoS, but a recent interview with them said that it’s not the same symbol. Also, this Darkforce matter is a tie-in to the Doctor Strange movie, and not the same material that leads to Maveth. It’ll be interesting to see if they were just trying to mislead us. Anyway, the 2-hour premiere was the lowest rated presentation of the series, so unless things improve, there won’t be a season 3. Now’s the time to start watching!

legendsheader

So, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Where to begin? I liked this show. I liked it a lot. I will say, however, that I’m unfamiliar with half the characters since I’ve only seen a handful of episodes from season 1 of The Flash (and only 1 from season 2). So, I’ve got a lot of questions. Like, who is this Jefferson Jackson character? I mean, I Googled him and the character existed in comics, but only as a friend of original Firestorm, Ronnie Raymond. If they wanted a Black Firestorm, the character already exists, and he’s Jason Rusch. Did they not want to pay royalties to creator Dan Jolley, like when they created Black Vulcan so they wouldn’t have to pay Black Lightning’s creator Tony Isabella? Anyway, since Professor Stein isn’t linked to Robbie anymore, I take it something happened to him in one of those Flash episodes I haven’t seen yet. Is Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold always so…theatrical? If anything, it showed me that I need to catch up on The Flash, as that’s where the more fantastical DC stuff seems to be happening.  Sure, Oliver Queen went up against Ra’s Al Ghul, but he’s still pretty much dealing with street crime, while Barry Allen’s dealing with time travel and the Multiverse. That mindset is needed to fully get into Legends. Anyway, this show could really beat Marvel at its own game, as it’s giving us a superhero team, on a weekly TV budget, that’s actually making moves, and doesn’t have to adhere to movie tie-ins and studio plans. It might end up being a better Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. than Marvel’s show. Also, the fact that it’s potentially a One and Done series (it’s an expensive show, and another season would probably be comprised of a different team, according to reports), they can make some pretty bold decisions if necessary. Let’s just say that I’m really excited to see where this show is going.

Shades-of-Blue-poster

Has anyone been watching Shades of Blue? It’s surprisingly good, and you’ve only missed 3 episodes, so there’s time to catch up. Jennifer Lopez plays a pseudo-dirty cop who’s forced to work with the feds to take down the rest of her unit. Ray Liotta is her commanding officer who knows there’s a mole in the unit, but doesn’t know it’s JLo. Or does he? It’s a tense hour of television and, based on the nature of the plot, it’s probably just going to be a One and Done series. Along with Undateable Live and Superstore, it’s one of the few bright spots on NBC’s schedule these days (Thursdays at 10 ET).

rowan

I can’t wait to see Disney’s damage control on this one, but Girl Meets World star Rowan Blanchard announced on Twitter that she identifies as queer. She tweeted:

“In my life – only ever liked boys however i personally don’t wanna label myself as straight gay or whateva so i am not gonna give myself labels to stick with – just existing :)”

Rowan Tweet

Considering she’s 14, I’m not sure what to think of all this. I mean, it’s brave of her to come out in such a forum, but at the same time, I don’t even remember being sure of anything at 14. Maybe girls are just more mature than boys. I dunno…

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • News sites were reporting that Darkwing Duck was being revived by DisneyXD in 2018. This was a lie. A cruel lie.
  • Due to the tepid release of Terminator: Genisys, the planned sequel has been removed from Paramount’s schedule. The May 19, 2017 release date will now go to The Rock’s Baywatch movie.
  • Vin Diesel tweeted out a pic, revealing that Fast 8 will take place in NYC
  • The red band trailer was released for Key & Peele’s Keanu, and it looks hilarious! I can’t wait to Redbox this thing!

eclectic mayhem

A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of joining the folks over at the Eclectic Mayhem Podcast to talk about thrifting. I’ve been friends with these guys online for a long time, but it was great to finally get to speak with them. You should already be following @TheGoodwillGeek, @iRoberts3, @DorketteTweets, and @ItsTrashCulture, but if you’re not, then get to it! Anyway, be sure to check out the episode here.

dc-entertainment-logo

I don’t think they’ve ever had the honor of a West Week Ever, but I like to give credit where it’s due. Sure, I may consider myself more in the Marvel camp these days, but you can’t deny that DC Entertainment was on everyone’s lips this week. Whether it was folks talking about how much they loved the Suicide Squad trailer, to speculation about the Justice League movie, to simply eagerly awaiting the premiere of Legends of Tomorrow, DC Entertainment was the cock of the walk this week. There are reports that the comics aren’t doing so well, sales-wise, for both Marvel and DC, but DC seems to finally be making a name for itself in the world of live action entertainment. This is something that fanboys have been waiting for ever since Marvel revealed their plan for a cinematic universe. Immediately, everyone wondered “What’s DC gonna do?” Well, not only has DC conquered the live action TV game, with Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Gotham, and Legends of Tomorrow (not to mention the shows based on DC’s Vertigo imprint, including iZombie, Lucifer, and the upcoming Preacher), but they’re finally about to make their move in the movie realm. With all the previews and premieres, this was a great week to be a DC fan, so that’s why DC Entertainment had the West Week Ever.

08th Jan2016

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

by Will

photovisi-download (19)

oie_922142seDasWF9

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

Lucy-Movie-Wide-Wallpaper

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

beauty shop

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

bikini spring break

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

fifty-shades-of-grey-movie-title

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

Grinder

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

cooper-barretts-guide-to-surviving-life

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

TitansTogether

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

TFTC

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

BTE

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

Yahoo_Screen_white_logo

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

Fuller-House-04

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

Daredevil-season2-poster

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

TMNT2

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

Batcave

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

Ghostbusters

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

Things You Might Have Missed this Week

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

Links I Loved

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

Why Do You Write? – Team Hellions

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

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

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

AFB-logo-new

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

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

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

31st Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/31/15

by Will

photovisi-download (15)

oie_922142seDasWF9

Welcome to the final West Week Ever of 2015! I figured you’ll all be hungover tomorrow, so I’d probably better post this today. As I’m sure you’re aware, NOTHING happens between Christmas and New Years, so it’s a wonder I even found enough material for a whole post. Or did I? You be the judge!

I Smile Back

On the movie front, I watched I Smile Back, which stars Sarah Silverman. Despite its star, this movie is NOT a comedy. In fact, it’s probably the most dramatic role Silverman has ever played. Based on the novel of the same name, Silverman plays a married upper middle class woman whose life is spiraling out of control. On the surface, her life is perfect: she’s got a loving husband, two great kids, a big house, etc. Below all that, however, she’s dealing with daddy issues and a substance abuse problem. Oh, and she bangs a lot of dudes who aren’t her husband. She does a stint in rehab, and you think things will start to get better for her. Well, you’d be wrong. It’s a really dark film, and I’m not sure if I recommend it, per se. I will say that if you’ve ever wanted to see Silverman topless, then this is the film for you. I’m still trying to process its ending, and part of me wants to read the book just to see if there’s more clarity to what’s going on there. This isn’t the kind of movie I’d just jump at watching. Honestly, I was all in when I saw that Silverman was in it, but I had no idea it’d be as dark as it was.

TFA

I also saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the second time. I went with my friends James and Jenn, and I was really interested in what they would think of the movie. They tend to dislike things that the public just eats up because they’re really cerebral. “Popcorn movies” are a waste of time to them, as they prefer entertainment that makes them *think*. So, I knew going in that they’d probably dislike the movie, but I was really curious to know what about it they would dislike most. James zeroed in on one of the things I mentioned last week: if there were a Bechdel Test for race, this movie would fail. Finn exists solely to move Rey’s story along. Sure, he has his moments, but he never really gets to be the hero of the film. Someone online put it best, saying that there’s no moment in the film when a character thinks “We’re in trouble! Better call Finn!”

Also, due to the fact that I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan, I didn’t really notice until it was brought to my attention: the movie is just a remix of the original trilogy. Hell, it might as well just have P. Diddy yelling “Bad Boy” every few minutes in the film. We’ve seen this movie before, and some have called it the “most expensive fan fiction to ever be put onscreen”. It relies too heavily on nostalgia, but a lot of you reading this who disagree with me are too close to the franchise to even realize that. You have fond memories of Star Wars as being a milestone in your upbringing, so something to come along and tug on those heartstrings isn’t really a “fail” in your book. I feel like the movie is almost exploitative in its nostalgia, and doesn’t even hide the fact about what it’s doing. I always thought it was funny that The Four Tops re-released “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” as “It’s The Same Old Song”, and nobody realized it, even though they had the balls to tell you what they were doing simply in the title. That’s how I feel about The Force Awakens. It works because it’s something familiar that the public has already devoured and enjoyed. Sure, it may have new players, but are they really that new? I’m not trying to piss in anyone’s Corn Flakes, and if you liked the movie, that’s great. As a pseudo- “man on the street”, with no real ties to the original franchise, I thought it was entertaining, but nowhere near the amazing cinematic marvel that folks would lead you to believe it is, though. It’s a fun movie, but is it a good movie? I don’t consider myself enough of a cinephile to say, but I’m leaning towards “no”.

F is for Family

On the Netflix front, I’ve started watching F Is For Family. Created by comedian Bill Burr, it’s kind of like a mature King of the Hill. It focuses on patriarch Frank Murphy as he supports his family as an airport baggage handler in 1973. At its core, it’s just an animated sitcom focusing on a middle class family in a different era. I wish I could say it was based on Burr’s real life, but I haven’t seen anything supporting that theory. Anyway, I’m about 2 episodes in, and it’s pretty funny. The first season is only 6 episodes, so it’s a quick binge. Maybe when I’m done, I’ll finally circle back to Jessica Jones. Or I’ll just finally watch that second season of Bojack Horseman.

teen titans

In the world of television, I just discovered Teen Titans Go! Where has this show been all my life? Is this thing really for kids, ’cause I don’t believe it. I never watched the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon, as I felt it was for kids with ADHD. I mean, there was just simply too much erratic shit going on, plus I was, like, 20 when it debuted. Still, I think it’s a novel idea to focus on the team when they’re not saving the world, ’cause what they get into is hilarious. There’s one episode where they have to save the Justice League from Darkseid (voiced by Weird Al), while another had them hanging out with a thinly veiled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Plus, I love when Beat Boy calls Raven “Mama”, as it makes me picture him as a little, green A.C. Slater. Anyway, the show seems too good to be for kids, as I doubt they even get most of the jokes. I know a lot of folks have been hesitant to check it out, as they’re still pissed at Cartoon Network for cancelling other DC Comics show Young Justice (come on, was that show really that good?). I’ve got to say, though, that Teen Titans Go! has bumped Clarence out of my #1 cartoon slot for the moment.

carly-rae-jepsen-kiss-album-sampler

Just like I became the hub of all things Girl Meets World leading up to its premiere, I guess the same thing is happening regarding Fuller House. It was revealed this week that Carly Rae Jepsen has re-recorded the original theme song for the Netflix series. This is where I’d say something snarky, like “I guess that ‘Call Me Maybe’ money ran out”, but all I can really think is “Good for her!” I feel like this show will have a lot of lookie-loos, so it’ll definitely be good exposure for her. Meanwhile, I had no clue she came from Canadian Idol! And in true Idol fashion, she didn’t even win (placed 3rd), yet has gone further than the winner that year.

TGIF

Normally, this would go in the Links I Loved portion of the post, but I’m on vacation, and haven’t read much in the past week. That said, Entertainment Weekly had a great oral history of ABC’s TGIF lineup. It was the kind of thing Grantland used to be great at doing, and I would totally read an entire book on the subject. Things I learned from reading it: Full House creator Jeff Franklin? Kind of a dick. Steve Urkel actor Jaleel White? Kind of a dick. Franklin is bad ’cause he refuses to admit that the creation of TGIF helped Full House – a show that never really made a ratings dent until it landed on Friday night. White has said dickish things in the past, but he just comes across kinda jerky in the write-up. And I totally forgot that the creative force behind Boy Meets World also gave us Dinosaurs. Anyway, it’s a great read if you have fond memories of Urkel crash landing into the Foster-Lamberts’ backyard.

Cosby

Ya know who’s NOT having the West Week Ever? Bill Cosby. Man, I still can’t believe there are Cosby “truthers” out there. We’re talking about over 50 women here! There are as many stars on the flag as women Bill Cosby zippity-zoppotied in the bippity bop! Some people like to think there’s some sort of conspiracy out there to take down a “great Black man”, but I always heard he was the head of the Secret Black Leaders of America. I mean, by that rank alone, the only person with the power to take him out would be Oprah, and she’s too busy with Weight Watchers right now. Sure, Beyoncé could be gearing up for a major heel turn, but I don’t see that happening, either. So no, there’s no conspiracy. A dude used his power and influence to take advantage of women, and it’s coming back to bite him in the ass. Kinda like Star Wars, I have no real reverence for The Cosby Show, so it’s not like this has “tainted his legacy” or anything in my mind. Sure, The Cosby Show changed how Black people were viewed in primetime, but that still doesn’t excuse the fact that its star was using that platform to help him in his “extracurricular” affairs. And to stand up for Cosby, what would I get out of that? First of all, I’d look like a fool. Second, Bill Cosby HATES my generation. Hell, I don’t even do most of the stuff he pins on us (we wear our pants too low, etc), but he still hates my cohort. So why the Hell should I go to bat for his lecherous old ass? If anything, I’m just kinda glad Brandon Tartikoff didn’t live to see this. Then again, he was there at the beginning, so maybe he knew…

RecurrentEventsLogo

In happier news, I made my 50th podcast appearance last week on the 2015 year end recap episode of The Recurrent Events Podcast. I joined up with my pals Jason and Chad to talk about the year that was in popular culture. If you like that sort of recap thing, be sure to check out West YEAR Ever next week. In the meantime, listen to our gabfest here.

Hoverboard-for-sale

Like I said, nothing happens between Christmas and New Years, so there wasn’t a lot of “news”. If you ask me, the West Week Ever goes to all the nameless Chinese manufacturers of the hoverboard. Sure, they’re breaking wrists and burning down houses, but they were the hottest gadgets of the holiday season. Whether yours is a “Swagway”, “HoverTrax”, or an “AirBoard”, you weren’t an official Vine star unless you had one of these things this year. They’re currently banned from most sidewalks, malls, airports, and everywhere else, but that didn’t take them off the top of every teen’s Christmas list. So, for winning the season despite the odds stacked against it, the hoverboard had the West Week Ever.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to Like us on Facebook!

17th Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/17/15

by Will

photovisi-download (13)

oie_922142seDasWF9

Your weekly dose of pop culture is coming at ya a day early this week, since I know a lot of you are getting offline this evening so you don’t run into any Star Wars spoilers. Tomorrow’s probably gonna be a ghost town on here, so I thought I’d get the post in early this week. But I promise there are NO Star Wars spoilers below!

DopeThis week, I checked out the film Dope. I’d heard good things about the movie, but I don’t get to the theater too much, so I was gonna wait until it came out on Redbox or something. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it, it’s kinda like a Black version of the 1999 film Go. Now, don’t ask me how to explain how I got to that comparison, but I think it’s apt. It’s about high school senior Malcolm and his best friends as they get wrapped up in a messy situation with some drugs. It’s about so much more than that, though. On the heels of the “blerd” movement, it deals a lot with identity and what it means to not be “Black enough”. Malcolm and his friends are in a punk band called Awreeoh (pronounced Oreo), and they idolize 90s hip hop culture. They don’t really fit in with the rest of the kids their age, so they’ve kinda bonded over being outsiders. It’s really fast paced, and doesn’t follow standard chronology. I really enjoyed it, and I think you should check it out if you get the chance.

Attack_The_Block_2

Since everyone knows that Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out this week, I figured I should get acquainted with the work of star John Boyega. For years, I’d been hearing about how great Attack the Block was, so it was finally time for me to check it out. The biggest problem was that I couldn’t really find it streaming anywhere, so I had to resort to…alternative means. Anyway, Boyega stars as the leader of a teenage gang that has set up shop in the projects of South London. One celebratory night, the neighborhood becomes the site of an alien invasion. Once Boyega’s character kills one of the aliens, he and his friends become targets for the rest of the aliens that have landed. While it’s comedic sci fi, it’s got some horror aspects to it. Part of it feels like a Black Goonies (nobody steal that idea!), but there’s also another story being told about the socioeconomic state of a lot of London youth. When the gang teams up with the White woman they had mugged earlier in the movie, they’re shocked to learn that she lives in their building. There’s quite a notion of “Why do YOU live HERE?” Boyega’s slow to boil, but once he gets going, he’s a commanding presence and a good leader. The version I was watching had subtitles turned on, and boy was I glad because it was hard keeping up with the slang AND the accents. Still, it’s a really good movie that I highly recommend.

star trek beyond

The Star Trek Beyond teaser trailer was released this week and, while NuTrek has given us some decent action movies, it has never really understood that that is NOT what Star Trek is about. I understand that it’s just a teaser, but you have to remember that this is *marketing* and, at the moment, they’re marketing it as a high adrenaline Fast and the Furious in Space action movie. That’s not what Star Trek is. Even if that movie turns out to be a completely different animal, the way they’re portraying it is not something a typical Star Trek fan would gravitate towards. That’s been my biggest issue with NuTrek – it acts like it’s ashamed of its own built-in fanbase. Instead of realizing the nice, pretty girl in front of it, it longs for the mega hot cheerleader who has to be tricked into dating it. If you want some Star Trek goodness that won’t disappoint, check out the Deep Space Nine drill down over on this week’s episode of the Nerd Lunch Podcast.

resurgence-590x330

Speaking of space movies, the trailer was released for Independence Day: Resurgence, and it looks good. In fact, I’m probably more intrigued by it than I was for Star Trek Beyond. Everyone’s back except Will Smith and Mae Whitman. At least Whitman’s character still exists (they recast her, with some folks assuming the studio was looking for a more “conventionally pretty” actress. Not my words!), while Smith’s Colonel Hiller was killed off on a website. Seriously, if you go to http://www.warof1996.com, which is the official viral site for the movie, there’s an entry on the interactive timeline that reveals Hiller was killed in 2007 while test piloting one of the new alien hybrid ships. Seeing how there probably wasn’t a body, I guess Smith could still come back in a third movie. “Look, he was actually teleported to the mothership before the explosion!” But I don’t know if that would work in the world already established by the rest of the franchise.

hasbro

In other movie news, toymaker Hasbro has announced a deal with Paramount to create a shared cinematic universe with their some of their biggest properties from the 80s, including G.I. Joe, ROM, M.A.S.K., Visionairies, and Micronauts. I really don’t know how this is going to work. On the one hand, I could see Joe and M.A.S.K. working together, and I could see ROM and Micronauts working together. But all under the same umbrella, in the same universe? I dunno, man. Everybody’s in love with the idea of the “shared cinematic universe”, but very few understand just how hard it is to pull off. Marvel’s never should’ve worked, and it should be seen as the exception rather than the norm. Sure, this will probably mean more toys for beloved properties, and I’m sure the folks over at IDW Publishing (the comics license holder for most Hasbro properties) are experiencing raging boners over this news, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

kurt russell

There’s a rumor that James Gunn is looking at Kurt Russell to play Star-Lord’s father in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Right now, though, it’s just a rumor, so nothing to see here…

photovisi-download (12)

Across the aisle, we got new character posters for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. They’re decent, but they’re not exactly “taking me from 6 to 12”, if you know what I mean…

Meanwhile, the trailer for something called Knight Rider Heroes surfaced this week, and nobody knows what it is. Based on the URL of http://www.KnightRiderHeroesMovie.com, it appears to be a movie, but it looks more like it’s on the fan film side of things. To its credit, they got Hasselhoff involved, but that dude will pretty much do anything. It’s equal parts cool AND depressing to see Michael Knight 30 years removed from the original series. He’s still wearing that belt and that jacket? He just looks like an out of fashion old man. At least when he showed up in Knight Rider (2008), his look had been modernized somewhat. This dude, however, just looks like a man out of time. Like he’s just been wearing the same thing, and driving the same car since 1986. And if this movie revolves around assembling a team of Knight Riders, it’s already been done. It was called Team Knight Rider, and it desperately needs a DVD release!

ghostbusters reboot

Finally for movies, the first official image was released for Ghostbusters. I know folks hate the idea of this film, but I’m really looking forward to it. It’s got a cast filled with folks that I love, and the original GB isn’t this sacred cow to me that it is for a lot of folks. If you ask me, this movie can’t get here fast enough. Definitely one of my most anticipated of 2016.

CW2_2

In the world of comics, Marvel officially announced Civil War II. Piggybacking off the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie, nothing’s really known about this miniseries at the moment. The creative team has been revealed as Brian Michael Bendis writing, with David Marquez on the art. While I’m enjoying their current run on Invincible Iron Man, I’m not sure I’ve forgiven Bendis yet. He’s usually capable with these events, but I just hate to see them going back to the Civil War well, especially so soon after their “soft reboot”. I mean, the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe is still being solidified, and we’re already about to enter another “Whose Side Are You On?” situation? The timing just doesn’t seem right, other than the fact that Marvel’s got a movie with that name coming out at the same time, that loosely appears to deal with a Superhuman Registration Act. This has “cash grab” written all over it, but maybe it’ll sound more interesting once more details are revealed.

mike-and-molly

In the world of TV, CBS has reportedly canceled Mike & Molly following the upcoming 6th season. It’s a bit sad, as I actually enjoy that show, as schizophrenic as it can be. Seriously, the show is only 6 years old, but has changed direction about 3 times. The first 2 seasons are about a couple that meets in Overeaters Anonymous and fall in love while trying to lose weight. The third season is about their quest to have a baby, and the weight loss journey goes out the window. In the fourth season, Molly quits her job and decides to become a writer, and the show kinda pushes Billy Gardell’s Mike into the background as Melissa McCarthy’s star was on the rise. To be honest, I’m surprised she’s still on a network show, seeing as how her movie career is doing well. She’s said to be heartbroken over the end of the show, however, as no one can really explain why CBS decided to pull the plug. It seems that everyone except Gardell had six-year deals, and CBS isn’t really open to discussions about another season (mainly because they don’t own the show), so Warner Bros (the producing studio) doesn’t want to renew deals with cast members. Now, CBS could just be waiting til the last minute to renew, but it could possibly hurt its relationship with Chuck Lorre, who’s been the force behind CBS’s most popular sitcoms. Anyway, the show made it to syndication, which is “the dream”, but it would’ve been nice if was getting a proper sendoff.


In the world of music, my favorite Spice Girl, Melanie C (“Sporty Spice”), stopped by BBC Radio to perform a stripped down version of one of the best songs off the SpiceWorld album: “Too Much”. Click above to check it out.

thriller

Meanwhile in America, Michael Jackson’s Thriller became the first album to sell 30 million copies in the US, making it 30x Platinum. To put that in perspective, that’s like if everyone in the state of Texas owned a copy. EVERYONE. Even the babies. And a couple of copies for some of the superfans. That is INSANE!

tfa_poster_wide_header-1536x864-959818851016

Who are we kidding here? I’m not gonna insult your intelligence by pretending that Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn’t having the West Week Ever. The thing isn’t even officially in theaters yet (at least for the general public), but it stands to be one of the biggest releases EVER. I promised no spoilers, and I stand by that. Plus, I won’t even be seeing the movie until Saturday morning, so I couldn’t spoil it if I wanted to. Still, nothing came close to Star Wars this week, as the franchise was popping up everywhere from car commercials to bags of oranges. The early reviews are in, and it’s 95% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. For the folks who ignore the existence of the prequels, this movie was 30 years in the making and has a lot to prove. I’m not worried, though, as I think it’ll be great. So, for probably breaking every release record known to man, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had the West Week Ever.

04th Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/4/15

by Will

photovisi-download (10)

oie_922142seDasWF9

bernie

First up this week, I watched the film Bernie. You’ve probably never seen it, as it was a smaller black comedy, but Jack Black stars as Bernie Tiede, an effeminate funeral director who befriends Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), the meanest and richest woman in the town of Carthage, TX. The movie surrounds the townsfolks’ reactions when it’s revealed that Tiede killed Nugent and kept her death a secret from everyone. It’s based on a true story that happened back in 1996, and Tiede was actually released on bond earlier this year. The movie is interspersed with town gossip from both performers and actual residents of Carthage, and they really help make the film what it is. I’m used to Black in goofy roles, but he was really great here. I highly recommend this movie.

Next up, I’ve got a bone to pick with Disney Channel. You see, a one-hour special is NOT an “Original Disney Channel Movie”. That is merely a SPECIAL. Anyway, I caught The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar, which is basically the pilot for an upcoming animated series. Returning us to the world of The Lion King, Simba’s now an old fuddy duddy (voiced by Rob Lowe, of all people) with 2 kids, Kion and Kiara. Since Kiara’s older, she’s being groomed to be the future Queen of the Pride Lands, while Kion is kind of the screw up. So, imagine everyone’s surprise when it turns out that Kion has The Roar, which is a power that draws upon the spirits of the ancestor lions. The prophecy is that the person with The Roar would be the leader of The Lion Guard, which is an assemblage of lions that are responsible for protecting the Pride Lands. Unfortunately, the last one to possess the power was Simba’s uncle Scar, the last leader of the Guard who went on to destroy the other members. When the Hyenas catch wind of Kion’s new power, they see him as a threat and decide to attack before he had assembled his team. Which just makes him assemble his team faster.

Bunga

Where to begin with this story? First of all, it’s not very good. It feels like a cash grab, as Disney returns to one of its deepest wells. In some ways, it could be seen as an anniversary project, but in that case it should’ve come out in 2014. The animation is basic and not very detailed. Part of me was sad that carefree Simba grew up to essentially be his father. I know he has responsibilities as King of the Pride Lands, but it felt like he really hadn’t retained much of his time with Timon and Pumbaa. He’s all business. Speaking of Timon and Pumbaa, they show up because their nephew, Bunga, is a honey badger who’s also Kion’s best friend. Bunga is probably the brightest spot of an otherwise mediocre story. In an #AllLionsMatter twist, Simba gets pissed at Kion for recruiting non-lions to The Lion Guard. They somehow managed to get James Earl Jones back for a cameo, but it just felt wasted. And the whole thing about The Roar seems to come out of nowhere. I mean, a big part of The Lion King focused on Simba trying to find his roar. Once he did, he never became the leader of the Lion Guard. And at that time, Scar no longer had the position because he lost the power after killing the rest of the Guard. So, it would’ve been ripe for Simba to take over. But of course this never happened because this was NEVER PART OF THE ORIGINALLY INTENDED STORY. It’s just a retcon. Also, the special has about 4 forgettable songs that don’t even deserve to be part of The Lion King canon. I guess you could say it introduces The Lion King to a new generation, but the whole Power Rangers of the Pride Lands angle doesn’t work for me.

Chaos On The Bridge

On Netflix, I caught Chaos On the Bridge, which is a documentary that covers the first 3 turbulent seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s a documentary that basically supports my longest held belief about The Next Generation: the show didn’t get good until creator Gene Roddenberry died. It’s a terrible thing to say, but the evidence pretty much supports it, combined with the fact that Roddenberry was physically in no shape to be running a show. In a nice little Trek twist, the film was written and directed by Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. My biggest problem is that, at 59 minutes, it felt rushed. It also didn’t help that it’s filmed in this music video/motion comic kind of format that makes it feel like the whole thing is simply the trailer for a much longer movie we never get to see. Some of the things I already knew (TNG was slated for Fox before it got syndicated, Diana Muldaur never really clicked), but some stuff was new (they basically fired Gates McFadden for being uppity, Roddenberry had a mistress). It was interesting that the various Star Treks were indicative of where Roddenberry was in his life. During the original series, he wanted to be the ladies man who captained the ship, while he wanted to be the wise, old sage during the TNG era. He had delved into the study of secular humanism and, unlike most sci fi, he felt that things would actually get better for humanity as time went on. In his mind, by the 24th century, humans would have eliminated all conflict, which was a BITCH for the writers, as drama is fueled by conflict. It was really interesting to hear how this was received behind the scenes, and how writers found ways around it. If you’re a fan of the TNG-era Trek, I highly recommend this documentary. If I had one complaint, I only wish it were longer.

Samurai-Jack-reboot-poster-120215

In TV news, Adult Swim announced that Samurai Jack would be returning to the airwaves in 2016. I’ve only seen one episode, and didn’t really understand it. Still, people I respect rave over it so maybe I’ll give it another shot one of these days.

Youre_The_Worst1

Meanwhile on TV, FX announced that You’re The Worst has been renewed for a third season. This show features one of my favorite TV relationships, so I’m really happy about this news. If you’ve never seen the show, it’s about struggling writer Jimmy and hot mess Gretchen who have a one night stand after a wedding. Even though they’re both not “relationship people”, they still feel like they’re a good match for each other, so they try to make it work. This season’s been particularly dark, as Gretchen’s dealing with severe depression and basically pushing Jimmy into the arms of another woman. Oh, and it’s a comedy. Anyway, I highly recommend it.

family-matters-flight-before-christmas.ch.113015

I’m not really one for Lifetime Christmas movies, but ’tis the season and all that. Well, imagine my surprise that the Winslows are coming back in The Flight Before Christmas. Airing tomorrow night, Reginald VelJohnson and Jo Marie Payton of Family Matters fame will be reunited in a Christmas movie starring Mayim Bialik (that’s not weird to anyone else? Was Kellie Martin busy?). Anyway, Bialik plays one of two travelers who end up stranded in Montana when their flight is diverted. And I take it they fall in love, or discover the true meaning of Christmas or some shit. Yeah, I won’t be watching this, but I look forward to someone making GIFs of all of the Winslow scenes.

BP

In comic news, we saw preview art this week for Ta-Nehisi Coates’s upcoming Black Panther run, and I am NOT digging it. I’m somewhat familiar with the work of artist Brian Stelfreeze, as I even have a Batman sketch from him. That said, I was expecting something a little slicker, a little more stylized. I’m hoping these are just sketchbook doodles, and that the finished product will have more Wow Factor. In regards to the story arc, part of me wonders why Coates is even wasting his time on this. I mean, on paper, he’s the smartest person to work for Marvel in a long time. He won the National Book Award for nonfiction. He won the MacArthur Genius Grant. Why is THIS guy writing something like Black Panther?

Meow

Speaking of Black Panther, there was quite the controversy this week as Entertainment Weekly revealed their Captain America: Civil War cover. While Black Panther is featured prominently between Captain America and Iron Man, his appearance is notable for 2 other reasons: 1) he’s not unmasked like the other two (EW said that was Disney’s call) and 2) the word “Meow” is written next to him. They went on to say that he that he “has claws that a Real Housewife would envy.” A lot of people took offense to this joke, as it seemed like they were trying to emasculate one of the few marquee Black superheroes. I was busy while the controversy was blazing across Twitter, so it was basically over by the time I learned about it. At the end of the day, I think it was just someone trying to be cute, but I can see where folks were coming from. EW Senior Writer Anthony Breznican was really receptive to the online criticism, and he seemed glad that people had pointed it out. I think they’ll be hesitant to do this kind of thing in the future.

batman-vs-superman-dawn-of-justice

So I guess we’ve gotta talk about that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer, huh? First off, during this week’s Gotham, viewers were treated to a 30-second tease of the movie. Featuring Batman in a trenchcoat, being unmasked by Superman, the snippet did nothing to excite me about this movie. Then, Wednesday night, Ben Affleck went on Jimmy Kimmel Live (seriously, how is Kimmel getting all of these exclusives?!) and brought the full trailer with him. You’ve already seen it, so I’m not gonna go and post it here.

rsz_bat_smirk

To me, it was the trailer equivalent of Fant4stic Four: The first 2/3 were serviceable, and then it just went off the rails. I was fine with the footage of Clark and Bruce. I’m now more intrigued about Affleck’s portrayal of Wayne. In fact, I’m more interested in his Wayne than in his Batman. And then the fighting started. OK, whatever. It’s a common comic book trope: when heroes first meet, they have to fight ’cause of “misunderstanding” or whatever (Imagine how many fights would’ve occurred on Three’s Company if they had thrown down at the hint of every misunderstanding. It would’ve been a bloodbath! But I digress…). We knew they’d fight, so the trailer shows them fighting. I get it. Then Wonder Woman shows up, and we see the very minute they STOP fighting! Um, wasn’t that the point of getting us to see the movie? You wanted us to want to see the end of the fight? Welp, we’ve seen it. But then the biggest slap in the face happens: the movie features Superman foe Doomsday.

Batman-v-Superman-Dawn-of-Justice-Doomsday

Even if you don’t read comics, if you were in alive in 1992, you know that Superman “died”, and he was killed by Doomsday. I don’t need the guy who FUCKING KILLED SUPERMAN to be in Henry Cavill’s SECOND appearance as Superman. Pace that shit out! It’s like they couldn’t fucking wait to use Doomsday and, frankly, the DC Cinematic Universe hasn’t *earned* that yet. That’s a development for the Justice League movie or something – not movie #2 when you’re still world-building. BUILD the world before you start tearing it down. The inclusion of Doomsday in this movie is just such a fan service kick to the balls to me. It’s not needed, and it’s just one more unnecessary aspect to an already crowded movie. They already had me, and then they pushed too hard. As I said on Twitter, I was on board with the trailer until Doomsday showed up. It’s like getting ready to have sex with a hot girl and then her penis is bigger than yours. Think about that for a minute.

Goldberg

In social media, I had another exchange with a Hollywood type. Rather, instead of an “exchange”, Adam F. Goldberg, creator of The Goldbergs, decided to reply to a tweet I posted back in October. Kinda weird he decided to even acknowledge it, two months later – especially since I didn’t even tag him in it. I swear, these people need to quit it with the TweetDeck filters and go about doing their jobs. I didn’t even reply, as I didn’t feel like his reply warranted it. And it does still bother me they won’t commit to a year. That 70s Show never seemed to have that problem!

RecurrentEventsLogo

On the podcasting front, I had the pleasure of joining the Recurrent Events Podcast again last night. We discussed Ecto-Cooler, Gremlins 3, Rambo and more. Be sure to check it out here.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Pamela Anderson Playboy

-After asking her sons’ permission, Pamela Anderson will grace the cover of the final “adult” issue of Playboy. No, really.

-MTV has decided that the post-Millennial generation will be known as the “Founders”. That’s some sci fi level shit right there. They’re gonna kill us all, aren’t they?

-Coldplay will play the halftime show for Super Bowl 50. I can’t figure out if this is better or worse than Bruno Mars’s rumored return to the halftime show.

-DJ Earworm released the 2015 “50 Shades of Pop” edition of his annual United State of Pop mashup, and I only recognize about 3 songs. I’m officially an old man.

Links I Loved

We Were a Nielsen Family — Here’s What It Was Like – Vulture

Ten 80s Cartoon Characters Who Are Impossible to Christmas Shop For – UnderScoopFire

Star Wars The Force Awakens Countdown T-Shirt Challenge Day 3 – The Robot’s Pajamas

Sunset. – Team Hellions

Wrestler Executes Devastating Finishing Move with His Penis – SB Nation

Flarrow Crossover

This week saw the premiere of “Heroes Join Forces”, the 2015 iteration of the annual crossover between The Flash and Arrow. The 2-night event featured the debut of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, reincarnated Egyptian lovers on the run from the immortal Vandal Savage. Executive producer Greg Berlanti said that the goal of the event was to make the episode of The Flash feel more like an Arrow episode and vice versa. On that count, I think they delivered. The crossover started with Team Flash making the trip to Star City to get protection for their friend Kendra who’s been targeted by Savage. Kendra doesn’t seem to understand why she’s a target, and Barry Allen doesn’t feel like he can offer the protection that she needs. They all get attacked by Savage, Hawkman appears and tries to remind Kendra of their past together, and Oliver discovers a secret from his past. And that’s just part one! The next night, it’s Arrow‘s turn, as everyone gets together to devise a plan to take Savage down once and for all. Oh, and Barry does some time traveling. If you couldn’t tell from my brief synopsis, part one was clearly the strongest of the 2 episodes, but it was a great crossover that laid more of the groundwork for the upcoming DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (premiering January 21st!).

I was late to the Arrow bandwagon, but it’s now one of my favorite shows. Meanwhile, I’m still technically on season one of The Flash, so there was a lot going on that went over my head. That said, I still felt like more happened on The Flash than on Arrow over the course of the 2 nights. I skipped out on Smallville before they started introducing every DC hero and their mom, so it’s kinda of novel to me to see this DC team get formed. At this point, we already have Green Arrow, Black Canary, The Flash, The Atom, The Hawks, and Firestorm in continuity. Not to mention John Constantine and the other folks slated for Legends. Plus, there have been a LOT of hints of Hal Jordan, so it’s only a matter of time before he joins the party. I really like what Berlanti is building here, and this crossover just got me more excited for Legends of Tomorrow, so “Heroes Join Forces” had the West Week Ever.

04th Nov2015

Will’s Really Late NYCC 2015 Swag Grab Recap

by Will

2015-11-02 22.11.54

So, it’s been almost a month since New York Comic Con, and here I am finally putting my thoughts to “paper”. I meant to do it sooner, but there really wasn’t much to say at the time. I mean, I always enjoy the chance to go to a comic con. I missed Baltimore in September for the first time in 10 years, due to my sister-in-law’s wedding. So, NYCC was meant to fill that void. Did it? Not really. You see, Baltimore is still a somewhat intimate show, even as it has grown. NYCC is just straight out of control now. Too many people. No me gusta!

2015-10-11 15.19.36

As you know from my past convention reports, I tend to post a lot of cosplay pics from the show, but I just couldn’t do it this time. That’s not to say that there weren’t cool costumes, but it was too overwhelming. For example, I really wanted to take a picture of Black Dick Tracy, because it was a cool costume AND I really wanted to type “Black Dick Tracy”. Welp, I guess I got to accomplish half that. Anyway, my pal Chris Piers gave me a challenge: he wanted me to figure out which property/character was being cosplayed the most at the show. Discounting all the Harleys, Deadpools, and Banes (I no longer even notice them anymore), I’ve got to say that Rick & Morty won hands down. I know the show is great, but I had no idea it had the reach that it does. To see so many folks cosplaying as the duo means that there’s quite a strong fanbase behind the show. Coming in a close second would be Spider-Gwen crossplay. By that, I mean that I saw a lot of dudes wearing Spider-Gwen hoodies. I still don’t know how that character has taken fandom by storm like it has (I’ve got all the issues, but haven’t read them yet). It’s just amazing to see that it’s taken off so quickly.

So, after quickly realizing that taking pics wasn’t gonna be “the look”, as the kids say, I knew that I’d have to come up with some sort of plan. Since conventions are known for their swag (that’s “free stuff”, for the unenlightened), that was gonna be my ticket: I was gonna see how much free stuff I could rack up over the course of the day. That’s not to say that I didn’t buy anything, because I did and we’ll get to that. Still, I wanted to see what I could get for nothing, and I think I made out pretty well.

2015-11-02 21.22.26

Almost 5 minutes into the Javits Center lobby, and I had my first shot at some free stuff. There was a booth set up to promote Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, seeing as how the free wifi at the show was being supplied by “LexCorp”. All you had to do was follow @AlexanderLuthor on Twitter, show them that you followed him, and they gave you a free LexCorp rechargeable power bank. Score! I hadn’t even set foot on the convention floor yet, and I was already getting stuff. The show was starting to look promising.

2015-11-02 21.32.10

The DC Comics booth, for some reason, was also outside the main hall, so I picked up this Dawn of Justice themed LEGO poster.

2015-11-02 21.50.09

The DC booth was also giving out this free comic sponsored by KFC. I remember reading about this before the show, and thinking I wanted a copy, but I completely forgot about it until someone handed me a copy. I was kinda hoping it would tie into the whole Darrell Hammond/Norm MacDonald thing going on with the commercials, but it seems to be its own thing. All I know is that KFC is doing a lot of head scratch-inducing marketing lately.

2015-11-02 21.33.58

Marvel had a booth set up just to promote the upcoming Netflix series Jessica Jones. I got a promo poster with art by Alias artist Michael Gaydos promoting the show. There was also a preview comic, also with art by Gaydos. I also got business cards for Alias Investigations and Nelson & Murdock – Attorneys At Law. Finally, I got a picture and video of myself at the desk of Alias Investigations.

2015-11-02 21.35.55

The Marvel booth was giving away this poster promoting the animated Guardians of the Galaxy series on DisneyXD. I’ve heard absolutely nothing about that show, either good or bad. Has anyone seen it?

2015-11-02 21.39.10

2015-11-02 21.38.47

Marvel also gave out this double-sided poster promoting the ABC Marvel series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter.

2015-11-02 21.41.25

I got this Groot crown, also designed to promote the Guardians TV series.

2015-11-02 21.45.48

As for comics, Marvel was relying on their FCBD offering, by giving out copies of All-New, All Different Avengers. I took my copy to Artist Alley and got it signed by artist Mahmud Asrar. I also got a free Avengers comic meant to tie in with the Playmation system that just came out. Finally, I got a Secret Wars print by Skottie Young.

2015-11-02 21.29.39

At the ABC Family booth, they were surprisingly not promoting their upcoming name change to Freeform. I guess the banners and stuff had already been printed up by the time the news broke. Anyway, they were giving away this poster tube promoting their shows Stitchers, Pretty Little Liars, and Shadow Hunter. It wasn’t until I got home that I actually looked at the posters and realized they were commissioned by Marvel:

2015-11-02 21.43.23

I really like the Pretty Little Liars one, as it reminds me of Fables. However, I’ve never seen the show, and have no idea what I’d do with it, so back into the tube it went.

2015-11-02 21.52.05

The Dark Horse booth was also relying heavily on their FCBD offerings, but I didn’t get a chance to get Fight Club or the Avatar book when they first came out, so I grabbed them. I also got a Call of Duty: Black Ops III comic, as well as an ashcan for a comic called Rebels. I just liked the poster for Joe Golem: Occult Detective, but it got kinda messed up on the way home, so I chucked it.

2015-11-02 21.53.23

At the Del Rey booth, they not only gave away a Star Wars sampler, but they also gave away a complete novel – Star Wars: Tarkin. I’m never gonna read this thing, but it was a whole book. For free!

2015-11-02 21.55.24

I’d never heard of 451 Media before, but their booth guys were just shoving these into people’s hands. One guy was like “You want me to sign ’em?” I had no clue who he was, but I was like, “Sure”. It turns out this is a media company co-founded by Michael Bay. Each comic has a card in the back that you scan with an app, and it’ll unlock more content. I haven’t tried it yet, but the art in the books is actually pretty good. I’ll get around to reading them one of these days.

2015-11-02 21.56.47

There was a guy handing out the Den of Geek Magazine as you got off the escalator. Meanwhile, I collect convention programs, so I had to grab one of those, as well.

2015-11-02 22.14.10

All they seemed to have at the IDW booth was this Star Trek: Starfleet Academy ashcan comic. I’m not even sure if I like NuTrek, but it was free, so…

2015-11-02 22.09.51

At the Diamond booth, they were giving out this little Cardcaptor Sakura figurines. No interest in that franchise, but again, it was free.

2015-11-02 22.10.26

At the Valiant booth, I got this 2016 Preview book. I’ll talk a bit more about Valiant later.

2015-11-02 21.37.27

2015-11-02 21.37.51

The LEGO booth gave away what is probably the thinnest poster I’ve ever held in my hands. I swear, it’s like 1/2 ply. Anyway, it was to promote the upcoming NEXO Knights line.

2015-11-02 22.11.12

Finally, while not exactly free (I bought the comic at a shop before I left for NYCC), I had a nice conversation with writer David Walker, who signed my copy of Cyborg #1. We actually did a podcast together about a year ago, so we talked about that, and it seems like he might want to do it again soon.

So, in all, it wasn’t too bad of a haul. I don’t want a chunk of that stuff, but that wasn’t the point. I really just wanted to see if you could have an enjoyable experience without shelling out a ton of money. I think you can, as I had fun tracking down all the different swag. But I told you in the beginning that I did buy some stuff, so let’s take a quick look at that, shall we?

2015-11-02 21.57.38

If you read last year’s post, you might remember that I met The Cosby Show/Living Single actress Erika Alexander on the convention floor. It turned out that she and her husband, Tony Puryear, had written a book called Concrete Park. Well, I bought the first volume from them last year, and Tony was here selling the second volume. To be honest, I haven’t even read Volume 1 yet, but I always think it’s cooler to buy a book directly from the creator than at a shop, so I picked up Volume 2.

2015-11-02 21.59.48

Somehow, I found myself in the Valiant booth. Let me tell you a little something about me and Valiant. I’ve NEVER taken them seriously as a comic publisher. Back in the early 90s, when they were first getting started, I wanted nothing to do with their books. When their revival started up a couple of years ago, I didn’t think they’d last a year. Their stuff just never seemed interesting to me. Still, while I was in their booth, I was approached by one of their marketing guys, and he was so friendly. He asked me what kind of stuff I liked to read, and then he immediately was able to find a Valiant book comparable to it. Like Batman? Then try Ninjak. That sort of thing. Plus, since it was the last day of the convention, they were running a special: trade paperbacks were $10 each OR you could get 5 for $30. They were basically giving you two for free. I couldn’t pass that up, and he even sold me a copy of Quantum and Woody that had been signed by the creators. So, I went from completely ignoring Valiant to actually being excited about their output. I’m pretty sure I’ll write about those books once I get a chance to sit down and read them.

2015-11-02 22.06.28

Finally, there was a booth that had trade paperbacks for half price, so I got these 6 books for $5 each. I remember wanting to read Freelancers, plus I’d been intrigued by the all-female Ghostbusters story arc when it came out. I loved the first Dr. McNinja collection, so I was glad to find “Timefist”. I grabbed those Axe Cop books because I enjoyed the first collection, but never really wanted to pay $20 each for the other volumes. At $5 each, that’s just a little over what a single issue would cost, so I jumped on it. Then I got home, and found that I actually already had 2 of them. I really need to catalog my collection so this stops happening…

2015-10-11 17.24.41

In all, did I have a good time? Yeah, I guess so. I mean, I originally wanted to go because I thought it would be a great chance to meet up with some of my Twitter friends. Unfortunately, I never made any concrete plans. So, when I sent out the call that morning, it fell upon deaf keyboards. So, it was actually kind of a lonely experience, to be honest *cue sad violin*. I enjoy comic conventions, but NYCC has gotten to be a bit much. It needs a bigger venue, and I’m not sure that even exists in the city at the moment. As it stands, though, this may be my last NYCC. If I go again, it will be with a strict agenda, i.e meeting friends, checking out particular projects, etc. instead of just wandering around, killing time.

30th Oct2015

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

by Will

photovisi-download (6)

oie_922142seDasWF9

Inbetweeners_2_Movie_Poster

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!

UK-Map-Quad_AW_28837-Pitch-Perfect-2

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.

Kether

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.

mad-max-main

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.

arrow-season-3-poster

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.

truth

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.

rj-cyler

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.

Supergirl-CBS-poster-excerpt

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

agentsofshield-news

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.

Jemma_liquid

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.

23rd Oct2015

West Week Ever – 10/23/15

by Will

photovisi-download22

oie_922142seDasWF9

Satisfaction-USA-3-660x330

When Mr. Robot debuted, many critics had the same question: “Why is this show on USA?” It’s not just that the show was good, but it also didn’t tonally fit with USA’s other offerings. Well, that’s how I feel about Satisfaction. I’ve written about the show in the past, but in case you forgot, here’s the gist: When Neil Truman discovers that his wife has been paying a male escort for sex, he becomes a male escort himself to get a better understanding as to why she sought one out. The show debuted last year, along with drama Rush, and it was the lone survivor of the pair. The second season premiered last Friday, and in an interesting move, USA released the entire season online and on demand Saturday morning. So, I spent most of my free time this week burning through the new season.

At its core, Satisfaction is more of a Fox show, with more sexual content than you can get away with on that network. If anything, it probably belongs on FX, as it’s the spiritual cousin of Nip/Tuck. It’s a sudsy primetime soap, with morally ambiguous characters and gratuitous butt shots. Over the course of the season, Neil and wife Grace discover that their infidelities may have actually made their marriage stronger. The season deals with them trying to find their way back to each other. They know they can’t really go back to their old lives, so they try to figure out where they’re going. There’s so much going on this season, though, that I don’t even want to get into all of it. If you’re curious, just watch the show. In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I HIGHLY recommend this show. The season is a bit bittersweet, however, as I really don’t know if there’ll be a third season. When NBC released all of Aquarius online, it actually worked in that show’s favor, but part of me feels like this is a burn-off for Satisfaction. The season finale is a fitting way to end, should it turn out to be the end of the series, but it definitely sets up an interesting landscape for season 3. Luckily, the story editor for the show is the husband of a college friend. So, if it gets cancelled, I’m just going to try to find out what they would have done had it been renewed.

amy apollo

On TV, I also checked out Amy Schumer: Live At The Apollo. I’m a Schumer fan, so I expected big things. I was kinda disappointed, though. Clocking in at an hour, it felt like warm-up material. I don’t feel like she really found her groove until just before the special ended. Apparently there’s an extended version airing on October 30th, so maybe that one will be better? I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

frozen

Another thing I watched this week was the movie Frozen. No, not the Disney film. This 2010 thriller stars X-Men‘s Iceman, Shawn Ashmore, and centers around 3 people who find themselves stuck on a chair lift at a ski resort. It’s not the kind of movie that I’d ever watch on my own, plus I’d never even heard of it before, but it was recommended by my good buddy Mike. When 3 college kids sneak their way onto a ski run, they get more than they bargained for when the resort closes while they’re still on the lift. Then, they have to deal with the height, the cold, wolves, and more as they struggle to survive. On paper, you really wouldn’t see how they get a whole movie out of that, but it works. And as Mike and I discussed, it’s the PERFECT length at about 90 minutes. Apparently when the film screened at the Sundance Film Festival, it caused multiple faintings from all the tension. I don’t know about all that, but it’s definitely a movie that keeps you engaged the entire time. The whole thing is on YouTube, so check it out if you’re curious.

Surviving

Also, I checked out a new webseries called Surviving, from actress/writer/producer Reagan Gomez-Preston. Remember that show on The WB called The Parent ‘Hood? Starred Robert Townsend? She played the daughter on that. Oh, and she was the voice of Roberta on The Cleveland Show. Anyway, she now creates webseries that are partially crowdfunded, and I just happened to stumble upon the second episode. I enjoyed it enough that I went back and watched the first. Basically, it’s an “urban” version of The Walking Dead – which is actually needed, seeing as how that show treats its Black characters not named “Michonne”. It’s too soon to really tell what’s happening, but I like what I see. Generally, I hate fan film/webseries stuff, but this looks really professional, and I’m really eager to see where it goes. New episodes come out weekly, and Reagan’s currently seeking funding for season 2.

Supergirl

I’ve made a decision, and I think it might be an unpopular one: I don’t think I’m going to watch Supergirl. As its Monday premiere gets closer, I realize that I really just don’t care. As comic fans, we’re expected to clamor for all of this stuff, even when it’s not necessarily our cup of tea. Gotham didn’t do it for me, and I bailed. I don’t think I even wanna hop on the Kara train. I love what Greg Berlanti does for DC properties on television, but there’s already so much TV to watch. I think the main clincher for me, though, was that contrary to early reports, this show will not be connected to the Berlantiverse (Arrow/The Flash/Legends of Tomorrow/Vixen) established on CBS’s sister network, The CW. I just don’t have the patience or the capacity for another mythology and another universe. I know I’m not even giving it a chance, but I just don’t think I can get on that horse. I hope Supergirl‘s successful, and I hope it acquires legions of fans. I’m just tired, man. I can’t keep doing this, and I’ve got to know my limits.


And now I’ll look like a hypocrite because I’m excited for the November 20th debut of Jessica Jones on Netflix. The trailer above was just released this morning, and it looks really good. It looks like they’re focusing on the final arc of the Alias series, called “Purple”, where we learn about Jessica’s past as a hero, and her downfall at the hands of The Purple Man. Here’s what sets Jessica Jones apart from Supergirl: I have loved the Jessica Jones character since the first issue of Alias back in 2001. I’ve got no real love for Supergirl, but I’ve bought every comic that Jessica has appeared in. She was my Miles Morales before there was a Miles Morales. In fact, a part of me feels some kinda way about all the Johnny Come Latelies who are just discovering her now. Hell, if there was this much attention on her 10 years ago, her series might still be running, instead of her just appearing as a background character in Avengers stories. Plus, I kinda miss Alias Jessica. She was rough around the edges and not very entrenched in the “cape world”. While she’s had a full character arc, and has matured, I still miss the alcoholic, loner, “Mature Readers” Jess that we met when she was introduced. Oh well, the trailer looks great, and Krysten Ritter seems to have captured the tone of the character, so I’m there for this.

cruel intentions

In other TV news, there’s a Cruel Intentions television series in the works. Again. A lot of folks don’t realize this, but there was already a Cruel Intentions television show in development back in 1999. Originally called Manchester Prep, it was meant to serve as a prequel to the movie. Fox, however, cancelled it before it even aired, so the 3 completed episodes were released to video as Cruel Intentions 2. Now, NBC seems to think this is an idea worth revisiting. Does anyone even remember Cruel Intentions? It has basically one claim to pop culture fame: the kiss between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair. Anyway, this television series would be a sequel, as it would focus on the son of Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon’s characters.

mythbusters

At the other end of the television spectrum, it was announced that Mythbusters is ending after 14 years. I know the “I Fucking Love Science” bunch have always liked that show, but I’ve probably seen, maybe, 2 episodes of it. I don’t know, but I like to think there’s a little magic to the world. I don’t want my myths busted. To me, what they do is akin to spoiling a magic trick. Sure, I watched the superhero episode, and the one where they tested whether or not you could actually “Knight Rider” a moving car into a moving semi; I’m not a monster! But I just never really dug what they were doing. I dunno. Call me crazy. Anyway, the writing’s been on the wall for some time, especially when they cut the hot chick, the Asian dude, and that other guy due to financial reasons last year. I think it’s still a respected brand, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Mythbusters specials still popped up in the future.

yahoo screen

Speaking of losing money on shows, it was reported that Yahoo! lost $42 million on their failed Yahoo! Screen experiment. Basically created to showcase the newly-acquired Community, the service also featured other original programs like Sin City Saints and Other Space. I LOVED Other Space, so it saddens me that we’re probably not getting a second season. It was clearly cheap to produce, and it was created by Paul Feig – who everyone loves for Bridesmaids and Spy. Anyway, it seems like Yahoo! is exiting the original show-length content world for the time being, as they just couldn’t figure out how to make any money off of the venture.

cowell

In reality television, it’s been announced that Simon Cowell will be joining America’s Got Talent next season. I’ve missed Simon on American television. Sure, he tried and failed to bring The X-Factor over here, but I’ve always loved his honesty. Plus, unlike a lot of these judges on these shows, he’s actually a starmaker. He knows his shit. The Voice may be the most popular competition show on television, but I will never stop pointing out that it has yet to produce a single STAR. Simon by himself has created and nurtured stars, so I’d be interested to see what he brings to the show.

The trailer was released for Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series Master of None, and it looks like a mumblecore movie. I’ve often said that I’m not a fan of Aziz 2.0, as his whole thing now is “I’m a relationship guru for the digital age!”, but I’ll check this out. At its worst, it just looks like his version of Louie or Maron, and there are worse templates to steal.

dacre

In movie news, Dacre Montgomery has been cast as the Red Ranger for the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie. I know nothing about this kid, and that’s probably how they want it. Unknowns bring no baggage to the role. Still, I’m not sure I’m down with his look. From a Power Rangers standpoint, he looks more like a Billy than a Jason. Anyway, I’m really starting to wonder if they’re gonna mimic the whole ethnicity joke from the original series: is the Black Ranger going to be a Black actor? How about the Yellow Ranger? Surely Saban has learned from that experience, right? RIGHT?

ludi

UPDATE: About 30 minutes after I wrote that, the official Power Rangers account announced that Ludi Lin will be playing the Black Ranger. So, Asian guy got that slot. Guess Saban DID learn from the past. That means we either get a Black guy Blue Ranger, or a Black girl Yellow Ranger.

Links I Loved

JJ Abrams Wants to Kill Your Dad – UnderScoopFire!

Reused Sci-Fi Costumes – The Robot’s Pajamas

Is Playboy Stigmatizing Nudity By No Longer Celebrating It In Its Pages? – UPROXX

tfa_poster_wide_header_adb92fa0

The official poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released, quickly followed by the final trailer. And the Internet WENT CRAZY! People were tweeting about the boners they were getting from watching the trailer, while the nefarious #BoycottStarWarsVII hashtag started trending as a couple of trolls tried to say that the movie promoted anti-White genocide. Whatever. I hope John Boyega and Daisy Ridley have a bunch of little Force-sensitive mulatto babies to really piss those folks off! Anyway, the trailer was released during, of all places, Monday Night Football, and Fandango subsequently crashed as tickets sales opened up for the movie. What did I think? Well, I like Boyega’s blue laser sword, and it was cool to see Han Skywalker again (I wonder how many heads exploded after reading that sentence). All kidding aside, it looks really cool, and I look forward to seeing it. Probably not opening day, ’cause I didn’t try to get tickets, nor do I wanna deal with those “opening day” people. Star Wars was all anyone could talk about this week. That is, until…

timetravel

Wednesday was Back to the Future Day, as we finally saw the date referenced in Back to the Future II. The subject of many an Internet hoax, the wrong date has been surfacing online every few months for years, but the TRUE date was October 21st, 2015. To commemorate the occasion, Pepsi released a limited quantity of Pepsi Perfect in the same bottle as seen in the movie, Nike released self-lacing shoes, and USA Today reprinted the same front page and logo as seen in the film. The city of Reston, Virginia became Hilldale for the day. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd reprised on their roles on Jimmy Kimmel Live. In all, it was a day of celebration for everyone, and it will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. That’s right – from Wednesday on, the Back to the Future franchise now entirely takes place in the past. Breathe in that mortality, and smell the oncoming death. We’re all getting old, folks. Everything we love is getting old with us. But that’s not a bad thing, as they don’t make movies and TV like they used to – even though they keep remaking those things, trying to recapture the magic. In any case, for teaching us the “Power of Love”, and for being a historic day that will never occur again, Back to the Future Day had the West Week Ever.

Pages:1234567...17»