06th Jan2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 1/6/17

by Will

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017, where we’re gonna lose even more celebrities than we did last year! That’s right, kiss Betty White goodbye!

 

On the movie front, since we last got together, I saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Yeah, it didn’t do much for me. Now, let me back up a bit. I did miss the first 20 minutes because I had double-booked the night. So, I did miss the setup, but my friend caught me up so I’d know who everyone was. There was Hector “Space” Gonzalez, and Trixie Bang Bang, and Gay Karate Man, and He Who Shoots From Canister Vacuum. And they were fighting the evil Sir Capes A Lot, who was building the Death Star. I got all that. Still, something about it just left me empty. I feel like it’s a giant Easter egg of a movie for those hardcore Star Wars fans, but I’m not sure what it offers the casual fan. ***SPOILER ALERT***I mean, it’s just one big suicide mission. It’s impressive how they’ve worked it into the existing tapestry of A New Hope, but it’s not a story that had to be told, especially since no one made it off that beach. Just kinda bummed me out***END SPOILER***. Anyway, every Star Wars fan I know loved it, so I’m happy for them.

I finally watched the Justice League Action special I mentioned in the last post. It was OK. I mean, I loved that a lot of familiar voices were back, like Kevin Conroy and Khary Randolph, but I’m not sure I’m sold on the animation. First thing to remember is that it’s not the Justice League/Justice League Unlimited that we got over 10 years ago. It’s aimed at a younger audience, and the episodes are best described as “bite sized”. In the special, the Trinity team up with Captain Marvel, Swamp Thing, Green Arrow, Plastic Man and John Constantine to fight evil D’Jinn brothers. It was OK. Like, it wasn’t riveting, but it felt like the kind of thing that would be released directly to DVD. Not sure I’m gonna be DVRing it every Saturday morning. What did y’all think?

Since I’ve been a booster of it since the development stage, it’s with heavy heart that I can confirm that Girl Meets World has been canceled by Disney Channel. I was a huge fan of Boy Meets World, as I feel like I basically grew up with Corey, Shawn, and Topanga. Their stories weren’t as zany as the TNBC fare, but they weren’t always heavy, either. Sure, every now and then you’d get an episode about how Shawn’s poor white trash, but those episodes were few and far between. So, that’s kinda what I expected from Girl Meets World. And I’ve gotta say I was disappointed because that show got heavy as FUCK sometimes! Is there a God? Why did Maya’s dad leave? Is Farkle autistic? It’s like every episode just HAD to teach a lesson. Oh, and they reminded us Maya was poor white trash every possible chance they could get.

I loved the legacy aspect of it, but it just didn’t hit on all cylinders like I felt Fuller House did (which, by the way, was just renewed for a 3rd season on Netflix). Sure, Full House was treacly dreck, but then again, so was a lot of Boy Meets World. They were both ensconced in the world of TGIF at one time or another, and had similar ingredients. I just feel like Fuller House came back with nothing to prove, while Girl Meets World seemed like it was fulfilling some mandate from Disney that it had to be educational. It is surprising, however, that it’s not getting a fourth season, as Disney tends to love their 100-episode runs – the point at which the shows become no longer profitable to produce. Sure, Even Stevens and Lizzie McGuire only ran two seasons, but later hits like That’s So Raven and Hannah Montana got four seasons.

To be honest, part of me feels like the cancellation stems from star Rowan Blanchard’s tweets last year, where she came out as identifying as queer. Now, Disney is a pretty progressive company, but I’m not sure they knew how to spin that, and the renewal question has been up in the air since then. Still, a lot of folks are discussing the fact that Raven-Symone is a lesbian, yet she has her That’s So Raven reboot coming to Disney Channel, so maybe I’m wrong. Some fans are hoping the show will be picked up by Freeform (formerly ABC Family), where it could tackle more mature themes, but I think it’s done for now. The final 3 episodes air this month.

In TV news, there were a few bait and switch situations this week. First up, it was reported that Will & Grace was definitely coming back for a limited 10-episode run following the success of that voting video they did a few months back. Recurring guest star Leslie Jordan started blabbing that it was a done deal until Debra Messing finally came out and said that nothing had moved past the talking stage at this point. On the one hand, I loved Will & Grace during a tumultuous time in my life, but I’m kinda done with it. I want a Will & Grace reunion about as much as I wanna see a Mad About You reunion (God, that was a horrible finale!). Still, Hollywood’s out of ideas, so I’d say it’s still happening.

Next up, reports came out of The International Consumer Electronics Show that Conan would be moving to a weekly schedule, a la Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. It’s been rumored that the show had been having trouble booking high profile guests, and the best ratings came from when Conan would travel and tape on location. By the end of yesterday, however, TBS reported that there were no plans for a format change “at this time”. So, just like with Will & Grace, it’s happening. They’re just upset they couldn’t get in front of it fast enough.

Speaking of cable shows, Archer is finally moving to FXX this season. The original plan was for FXX to be Fox’s cable comedy network, while FX would handle the dramas. However, when FXX launched, it just became the home of The Simpsons until It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia got shuffled over there. The fact that they didn’t move Louie and Archer, however, made it seem like a vote of no confidence for the spinoff network. Archer’s is little long in the tooth these days, and it’s no longer the crown jewel it once was, but I wonder if it’s got the juice to get more eyeballs on FXX. I hope it works because I love Man Seeking Woman and You’re The Worst over there, and they could both use more viewers.

In comic news, DC Entertainment President Geoff Johns confirmed that there would soon be an announcement regarding a new DCTV television show. Now, it’s not clear if this is another Berlantiverse series, a la Arrow/The Flash, or an unconnected show like Gotham. I’m curious if it’s just a confirmation of the Black Lightning show that had already been ordered to pilot by Fox, or if it’s something completely different. Also, it’s being reported that Johns will write some Watchmen comics this summer. This is a terrible idea since so many fanboys treat Watchmen like it’s their Bible, so there’s no way this will be well-received. They tried the Before Watchmen series, which didn’t really catch fire. They just had to go and reintroduce the concept in DC Universe Rebirth #1, so now I guess they’ve gotta do something with it. I’ve never felt Watchmen was “untouchable”, but I have no desire to revisit that world, so this project simply isn’t for me.

In wrestling news, it’s being reported that Diamond Dallas Page and “Ravishing” Rick Rude will be inducted into the 2017 class of the WWE Hall of Fame during Wrestemania weekend. The latter one really means a lot to me. I think Rick Rude was my first favorite wrestler because he was my introduction to the concept of a “ladies man”. The way he would pick a random woman out of the audience, and bring her into the ring. He’d kiss her, she’d pass out, and then he’d gyrate over her. That was a true pimp move right there! Like most wrestlers, he died before his time, so I guess he’s gyrating over angels now.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Supergirl star Melissa Benoist divorced her husband of 21 months, Blake Jenner
  • Woody Harrelson is in talks to portray Han Solo’s mentor in an upcoming Star Wars film
  • Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey lost to Amanda Nunes in 48 seconds, after training for over a year for her comeback.
  • A Charmed reboot is in the works at The CW. It’s reported to be set in the 70s, but will have some kind of connection to the original series.
  • Mariah Carey “lost the plot”, as out British friends might say, when her pre-recorded track messed up on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. She claims they intentionally sabotaged her for ratings, while Dick Clark Productions reports that she didn’t even come to soundcheck.
  • 80’s pop star Richard Marx and wife, former VJ Daisy Fuentes, subdued a crazed passenger on a Korean airline. In other news, how the Hell did Richard Marx land Daisy Fuentes?!
  • It was revealed that Drew Barrymore’s upcoming Netflix sitcom Santa Clarita Diet is actually a zombie show. Meh. I’ve been over zombies since 2006.

  • In Arizona, folks reported seeing a winged demon, heralding the beginning of the apocalypse. Yup, 2017 is gonna be swell!

When I first heard about The Mick, starring It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia‘s Kaitlin Olsen, a lot of thoughts went through my head: Is Sunny over? Is Fox gonna bury it? Will it even be funny? Luckily, I got my answers pretty quickly. No, Sunny is still going, as they scheduled The Mick around its shooting schedule. Fox didn’t bury it, but instead gave it some prime real estate after one of the last regular season football games of the season. And was it funny? Yeah, it’s funny.

If you haven’t heard of it, Olson stars as MacKenzie “Mickey” Murphy who’s going nowhere in life. She’s got no money, no prospects, and a deadbeat boyfriend. She decides to pay a visit to her wealthy sister to hit her up for a loan when the FBI raids the party, carting her sister off to jail for fraud. Once released, Mickey’s sister and brother in law flee the country, leaving their 3 kids in Mickey’s care. There’s the college bound bitch daughter, there’s the privileged snob teen son, and then there’s the precocious little boy who doesn’t really know what’s going on. Of course Mickey butts heads with the older two, while befriending the maid, Alba. The pilot plays out somewhat predictably, as most of it had been shown in TV spots leading up to the show. It’s the second episode where things really kick into gear. A loan shark comes after Micky, while she and Alba are getting high at a rave. Meanwhile, the kids’ bitchy grandmother has come to take over the house, and grandma doesn’t play!

I thoroughly enjoyed both episodes that aired this week. As I said before, it debuted on Sunday, which I feel is a better night for it. Instead, however, its regular timeslot is Tuesdays at 8:30, following New Girl. It being a Fox show, however, it probably doesn’t have a prayer. After all, I thought Grandfathered would be a sure thing, and now Stamos is back on Fuller House duty. No, I doubt we get a second season of this thing, but I’ll enjoy it while it’s here. That’s why The Mick had the West Week Ever.

 

04th Nov2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 11/4/16

by Will

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WWE Edit

Earlier this week, I found myself having an impromptu Zac Efronathon, as I watched 2 of his comedies the same night. I used to think he was just some one-note himbo, but I think I really like that dude. He’s a funny guy, and he’s also beautiful (What? I have to give credit where it’s due!).

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Anyway, first up was Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. When I first heard about this movie, I was convinced I’d actually see it in the theater, but that didn’t come to pass. I was really looking forward to it, but was too lazy to actually go see it. Oh well, that’s what DVDs/streaming are for! Zac Efron and Adam Devine play the title characters, who have a reputation for ruining family gatherings. Since they’re known to rile each other up, their father insists that they bring dates to their sister’s destination wedding in Hawaii. It’s their father’s hope that they’ll bring “nice girls” who will keep them in check. Well, not knowing how to find these girls, they post an ad on Craigslist, which gets thousands of replies from folks who just want a free trip to Hawaii. Eventually they end up on The Wendy Williams Show, and their episode is seen by two slackers played by Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick. They decide to pretend they’re nice girls so they can get the trip. And hilarity ensues. As an R-rated raunch comedy, it was about what I expected, though it could’ve been better. Plaza has this weird pseudo-ghetto accent that I’m never really sold on, though I do feel like she manages to do the impossible: outshine Kendrick. None of that Pitch Perfect Kendrick magic is on display here, as she pretty much plays The Dumb One opposite Plaza as The Schemer. I’m still not sure if I’m down with Adam Devine’s whole thing or not. He’s a lot like Eric Andre in that he’s not a bad looking dude, but he goes out of his way to make himself look as annoying/unattractive as possible. I guess it’s good he’s found a niche. I wouldn’t say this movie is worth owning, but it’s definitely worth seeing. And make sure you see the real thing, and don’t wait for it to get neutered on FX.

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The Efronathon continued with the sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Now, I have to admit that I remember very little about the first movie, but I didn’t really think the world of Neighbors had a rich continuity to it. Basically, I remembered the airbag gag, and that’s about it. Totally forgot that Dave Franco came out in the last film, which probably would’ve made me less confused by the beginning of this installment. Did you see the first movie? If not, here’s how it went: New parents Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne learn that the Delta Psi Beta fraternity has moved next door to them. They just want a quiet life to raise their newborn, while the frat brothers wanna do what frat brothers do: PARTY. So, a war breaks out between Rogen and the frat, led by Zac Efron. By the end of the film, the college shuts down the house, and it seems like Rogen and Efron are friends. Well, based on the age of Rogen and Byrne’s daughter, this movie takes place roughly two years later. Byrne is expecting their second child, and they’re selling their house to move out to the suburbs. After the sale, however, they enter escrow – meaning that they basically have to cross their fingers that nothing goes wrong for the next 30 days, or the sale won’t go through. Well, everything’s going smoothly until a sorority decides to set up in the old Delta Psi Beta house. And you basically get the same movie as the first, only the guys are replaced with girls. This one, however, kinda has a heavyhanded message about feminism that it’s trying to get across, but I’m not quite sure it sticks the landing. It’s funny, but I’m having trouble accepting that Chloe Grace Moretz has grown up; she’ll always be little Hit Girl to me. I didn’t talk too much about Efron’s role this time around because I don’t wanna give away the whole movie, but he’s just as good here as he was in Mike and Dave. Again, probably not worth owning, but it’s worth checking out.

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Finally, I went to see Doctor Strange last night. For the first time in a long time, a comic book movie didn’t get the West Week Ever. You see, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I don’t know if it’s the fault of the film, however. At the end of the day, I just don’t like Mystical Marvel or Cosmic Marvel. I’d probably rank this film with the first Thor. Don’t get me wrong – it’s visually stunning, and probably the first Marvel movie that you NEED to see in 3D. At the same time, I felt it was a little on the short side and some extra time could’ve been used for character development. For example, I don’t think we see enough of civilian Stephen Strange, before all the mystical stuff happens. Then, when the mystical stuff does happen, it happens too quickly. We never really see him struggle to master his power. So, it’s definitely got pacing issues. I actually liked Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, despite the whitewashing. The cape, though…I hated the cape. Also, Marvel keeps telling us “It’s all connected”, but they miss golden opportunities to link in the stuff that they claim is difficult to do. I mean, part of it takes place in a hospital in NYC. Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson’s character from the Marvel Netflix shows) also works in a hospital in NYC, so… Still, it’s got some cool Easter eggs if you’re paying close attention, and Strange seems like a cool addition to the MCU. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but I needed more of something from this film that I didn’t get. It’s definitely worth seeing, but this isn’t the film that’s gonna sway the crowd that’s never been fans of the Marvel films.

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On the standup front, I caught Pete Davidson: SMD on Comedy Central. By now, you probably know the general bulletpoints for Davidson: he’s the youngest current SNL cast member at 22, he’s a stoner, and his firefighter dad died in 9/11. There have been a lot of really good interviews with him going around lately, like him talking about how he pretty much hates his life, but he’s trying not to blow this great opportunity that’s been given to him. Well, this one-hour special is more of that. To be honest, he’s not ready for an hour yet. He’s a pretty good storyteller, but he could do the same thing in the interviews instead of doing it onstage. It’s almost like the stage is therapy for him, but he just happens to have an audience. He’s not especially charismatic, nor does he work the crowd. Still, it could’ve been a lot worse. It wasn’t a bad special by any means, but it wasn’t especially polished. The production values were pretty low, but I guess they fit his brand, so to speak. If you like what he does on SNL, it’s worth checking out, but it doesn’t reinvent the wheel or anything.

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On TV, this week saw the season finale of Donald Glover’s exceptional Atlanta, which capped off a near perfect season of television. I really liked how cyclical the whole thing was. The episode, titled “The Jacket”, has Earn retracing his steps from the night before in order to find his jacket. As the episode starts, he wakes up in the aftermath of a party, with the host telling him that he has to leave. The host tells him, “We boys, but we ain’t boys. See, I know you, but at the same time, I don’t know you.” He’s basically saying that no matter how much you think you know a person, you can’t ever fully know what’s going on with them. And that’s proven to us by the final scene of the episode, as we learn we don’t know Earn as well as we thought we did. I’m really looking forward to the next season, which I hope isn’t derailed by filming on the Han Solo film.

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In music, Beyonce decided she wanted a challenge, so she showed up at the 50th anniversary of the Country Music Association Awards. And the kids on social media lost their shit. “She needs to stay in her lane! She’s not country music!” Oh, and she didn’t come alone: she brought country music black sheep The Dixie Chicks along for the ride. She basically showed up to the door and said, “These are my Plus Three”. Now, I’m not the biggest Beyonce fan in the world (frankly, I prefer her Destinty’s Child stuff), but it was kinda cool for her to use her clout to usher the Chicks back into the world of country. After all, not everyone has forgiven them for their jab against W all those years ago. With the exception of an International Artist Achievement Award in 2006, the Dixie Chicks haven’t won a CMA since 2002. I’d have preferred it if they’d done a Beyonce take on a Dixie Chicks song, instead of them serving as the backing band for one of her Lemonade songs, but she’s the Queen. I’ve hit that age where pop music bewilders me, but I know everyone on the country charts. I guess the CMAs have become my Grammys, but I’ve got to say that I was disappointed with about 80% of the live performances, as it seemed like nobody had showed up to soundcheck. Levels were off, tempos were off, folks were pitchy. It was a mess, and didn’t feel like a worthy tribute to the 50th anniversary of that institution.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • CBS announced that the CBS All Access spinoff of The Good Wife would be called The Good Fight
  • Johnny Depp not only has a cameo in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, but he’ll also star in the sequel.. This isn’t good news, however, to those in the Amber Heard camp…
  • Since it’s just gonna become a full-on Batman adaptation, it was announced that Ra’s Al Ghul’s other daughter (and mother of Batman’s son) Talia will be appearing on Arrow this season.
  • It was revealed that Taylor Swift wrote “Better Man”, the latest single from country group Little Big Town. It’s not clear if it’s about Calvin Harris or Tom Hiddleston, though.
  • Lindsay Lohan now speaks with a really bad Boris & Natasha accent.
  • John Wick director David Leitch is considered the frontrunner to direct Deadpool 2. Meanwhile, in a show of solidarity with former director Tim Miller, composer Junkie XL is leaving the sequel.
  • Speaking of Tim Miller, he’s reportedly developing a Sonic the Hedgehog movie at Sony
  • DC stays losing, as director Rick Famuyima has left the film adaptation of The Flash, citing “creative differences”
  • The Nerd Lunch Podcast celebrated its 250th episode, and yours truly makes a cameo appearance!
  • We got a new Wonder Woman trailer yesterday, and my pals over at The Robot’s Pajamas have a great frame by frame breakdown.

cubs

I’m not a sports guy, so I don’t really have a ton to say here. After I finished watching the CMAs the other night, I decided to turn on Game 7 of the World Series. I haven’t cared about baseball since about 1992, when I was in the prime of my baseball card collecting career. I did, however, know that the Cubs and the Indians are some of the losingest teams out there, so it was pretty awesome that they had made it this far. Immediately, I was riveted by the game, as I watched everything happen that could happen. Fatigued pitchers, sloppy bunts, and a rain delay. But I stuck it out until 1 AM to see the Cubs break a 108 year “curse”, winning the series. I don’t think anything topped that this week, so that’s why the Chicago Cubs had the West Week Ever.

07th Oct2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 10/7/16

by Will

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So, I surprised even myself by going to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. This movie wasn’t even really on my radar, but my friend, Jenn, was in town and she wanted to see it. She knew her husband back home would have no interest in it, but I was a more willing accomplice. This was the first time in a LONG time that I’ve gone into a movie knowing absolutely NOTHING about it. The most I knew was I was pretty sure it was based on a YA novel. Other than that, I didn’t know a thing.

Well, the movie’s about Jacob Portman, who’s really close to the grandfather who used to tell him fantastic tales about the other children at the orphanage where he grew up. Now, about to turn 18, Jacob visits his grandfather only to find him dying in the woods. He tells Jacob to go to the orphanage and that he would learn the truth. Somehow Jacob’s psychiatrist convinces his parents to take him to Wales to visit this orphanage, and that’s when the craziness starts. All those stories that his grandfather had told were true! Those strange kids really lived at the orphanage. There’s a girl who’s lighter than air and has to wear lead shoes so she doesn’t float away. There’s a little girl with a monster mouth in the back of her neck. There’s an invisible boy. There’s a girl who can control plant life. And more! And they’re all cared for by Miss Peregrine, this sexy schoolmarm type (played by Eva Green) who has the power to control time. It turns out they’re all something called Peculiars, and Jacob’s grandfather had been killed by an evil Peculiar. Apparently, there are evil Peculiars who were trying to figure out how to live forever, but the experiment turned them into monsters. The only way to get back to their human form was for them to eat the eyeballs of other Peculiars. Anyway, the evil Peculiars are led by Samuel L. Jackson who hunts down Peculiars for their eyes so he could heal his friends. Yeah, this is some patented Tim Burton freaky shit, and the monsters are nightmare-inducing. Some fool had their baby in the theater, so I can only imagine those future therapy bills.

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Right now, Tim Burton has been getting a lot of flack for the lack of diversity in his films, but I’m not sure it’s really warranted. He tends to be an auteur of “Weird White People” films to the point where I think diversity would be out of place. He’s still the man who gave us Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent, and he created a the Sam Jackson role here just so he could work with him, as the novel plays out slightly differently. So, I’m not about to grab my pitchfork just yet. Anyway, Miss Peregrine’s has been described as “Harry Potter meets X-Men“, and I think that’s probably an accurate assessment. If you like either of those properties, then check this out.

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On TV, I finally watched the pilot for MacGyver. I was never a fan of the original, as the only episode I ever saw was the series finale (I used to be a series finale whore; I’d watch the final episode of anything). All I know is that Angus MacGyver worked for the Phoenix Foundation and he could do amazing things with stuff just found lying around. What I remember from the old series finale (and bear with me, as it’s been about 25 years), but MacGyver met the son he never knew he had. So, I was kinda hoping this series would pick up on that thread, and we’d be watching the son’s adventures, also keeping the door open for appearances by Richard Dean Anderson. But that was not to be, as this is a complete reboot. Now, I wondered how amazing MacGyver would seem in a 21st century world, as we live with smartphones and lifehacks, so a lot of what RDA did back in the day wouldn’t seem so spectacular these days. Surprisingly, it still works. I was really worried about this show, as CBS completely threw out the original pilot and most of the supporting cast. It was a concept they were committed to without any real proof that it would work. So far, though, I think it works. It’s your typical, formulaic CBS one-hour procedural. I thought MacGyver was kinda smug with a punchable face (like Lucas Till), but I got used to him over the course of the hour. I’m not sure I’ll watch it every week, as I’d rather watch Shark Tank, but I wouldn’t mind watching it if my TV somehow got stuck on CBS.

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Also on TV, I caught the premiere of Conviction on ABC. Starring Agent Carter herself, Hayley Atwell, it’s about a former First Daughter who’s kind of a fuck up. She gets arrested for cocaine possession, but instead of sending her up the river (jeopardizing her mother’s Senate campaign), she’s offered the job as the head of the Conviction Investigation Unit. They investigate convictions that should probably be overturned, and they do it with such…wait for it…conviction. The supporting cast is serviceable, including Iceman Shawn Ashmore and Deacon’s wife from King of Queens (I know I wasn’t the only one who recognized her!). It was a basic paint-by-numbers legal procedural, with the crew saving the day in the last five minutes. If it aired on CBS, they simply would’ve called it C.I.U. and kept it moving. But I guess ABC wanted to really wanted to go with the bold title, and it works. Still, I’m not sure this is destination television. Every member of the team has a backstory and, while I’d love to see how some of them play out, I’m not sure I’ve got the conviction to stick with this show. Atwell’s cute and all, but she’s not playing Peggy Carter, and I don’t really buy her as an extreme version of Jenna Bush. You know they’re always gonna win, so I don’t really know what the draw is except to find the answers to those backstories.

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I just mentioned Iceman and that reminded me that the poster for the third Wolverine film, now called Logan, debuted this week. Based on the color palette and the child’s hand, it feels almost like they’re trying to evoke something like The Road. It’s been rumored that the film would be based on the “Old Man Logan” storyline, in which an older Wolverine has to cross what’s left of the country, in a world in which the heroes lost. The problem with that, however, is that most of the important characters of that storyline are not characters to which 20th Century Fox has the rights. So, it looks like they’re doing their own take on things. Reportedly, Logan is set in 2024, in a world where mutant births are declining, while the government is training young mutants to be soldiers. Oh, and Wolverine clone X-23 might be the child holding Logan’s hand. Now, while I’d love to see an older Wolverine in a dystopian future, I’m not quite sure such a thing would fit tonally with the rest of the franchise. The problem with the Wolverine films is that they’ve never been great. They don’t take any chances, and they’re serviceable at best. I don’t hate X-Men Origins: Wolverine as much as most, but even The Wolverine played it pretty safe with its Wolverine In Japan story. I’d love for this to be a departure from those movies, but it certainly won’t make for a balanced trilogy. Still, Jackman should go out on a high note, so if this is the way for them to do that, then I’m all for it.

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In other movie news, we got our first look at the Red Ranger’s Power Sword from the upcoming Power Rangers film. It looks like a fancy razor from Gillette or a futuristic writing pen. But a sword, it is not. There will be other movie reveals this weekend at New York Comic Con, including the debut of the trailer. There will also be an exclusive Movie Red Ranger Legacy figure, which looks kinda horrible. I really want to like this movie, but nothing about it has me excited. I know you have to reimagine things to appeal to a new audience, but I feel like they’re losing sight of what Power Rangers is.  This is just starting to look like a team full of Guyvers.

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Speaking of Power Rangers, it was announced that former Green/White/Red/Black/All Time Greatest Ranger, Jason David Frank, will be playing Bloodshot in a webseries based on the Valiant comic properties. It’s not a huge surprise because the guys behind it are Bat In The Sun, who JDF has worked with in the past. In the role of Ninjak will be Arrow‘s Deadshot, Michael Rowe. I knew Valiant was trying to do something live action with their properties, but I thought it would actually be something cinematic. You say “webseries” to me, and it just makes my penis soft. Anyway, JDF will also be at New York Comic Con doing signings to promote the project.

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I can’t really let this week go without talking about the whole Kim Kardashian thing. If you were unaware, Kim was robbed at gunpoint in a Paris hotel by a group disguised as police. She was bound and gagged and put in the bathtub. Obviously frightened, she said that she feared they were going to rape her. In the end, they stole millions of dollars worth of stuff from her, including her $4 million engagement ring. And then the jokes started.

Look, I get it: the Kardashians put themselves in the spotlight, so people feel they’re fair game. Still, this is the kind of occurrence that you shouldn’t wish on ANYONE. Sure, people like to think “Well, who cares? They’re rich and famous simply for being famous.” As radio host Bobby Bones put it, we’re all rich to someone. And don’t give me that whole “They’re famous for being famous thing” because that was pretty much the description of Donald Trump until recently, and look where that got him.

I’ve never really understood Kardashian hate, and I guess I’ve become something of a Kardashian apologist. It takes too much energy to hate someone who really doesn’t even give a shit about you. And people like to slut-shame her about being famous for a sex tape, but from the public’s perspective, Taylor Swift has been with WAY more men than Kim, and nobody says shit about that. And I’ll bet there’s a sex tape of her out there somewhere the same way Jennifer Lawrence can’t seem to stop taking nude selfies that end up getting hacked. At the end of the day, Kim Kardashian is still a person and, contrary to what some folks are saying, didn’t deserve to have that happen to her, nor is it funny. If you’re laughing about that whole ordeal, get your life right. I can’t imagine what she went through, and I hope it doesn’t have any long-term effects on her.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Netflix’s The Punisher announced three new cast members, including Ebon Moss-Bachrach from Girls as Frank Castle’s ally Micro.
  • Speaking of Marvel Netflix shows, it was announced that Iron Fist will debut on 3/17/17. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, muthatruckas!
  • It was also announced that BOOM! will publish an ongoing WWE comic book. So, I figure half the book will be nothing but ads for The Network or Connor’s Cure.
  • Despite the fact that director David Ayer claimed the theatrical cut was his final version, an extended cut of Suicide Squad will be released on Blu-Ray on December 13th – because 10 extra minutes are gonna make folks like that movie (for the record, I already liked it).
  • Alec Baldwin made his debut as Donald Trump on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. Hosted by Margot Robbie, it was one of the best episodes in YEARS.
  • Based on how they’ve painted him as an emasculated wimp, I would bet money that President Kiefer’s wife eventually has an affair on Designated Survivor – perhaps with her husband’s Chief of Staff. They might save that for season 2

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Luke Cage won the week. The Marvel Netflix series debuted last Friday, and was so popular that it BROKE Netflix. Spinning out of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage focuses on a nigh invulnerable man with bulletproof skin, forced to survive in a world that fears and hates him. Or I guess it does. I haven’t watched it yet. I still need to watch Daredevil season 2 because I wanna watch them in order, so I probably won’t get to Luke Cage til around Christmas. Still, it was on everyone’s lips, and the thinkpieces runneth over. Everyone had something to say about the series, and I feel like it has even stolen the thunder of Marvel’s upcoming Dr. Strange film. Once I watch the series I’ll have more to say, but I think it’s safe to say that Luke Cage had the West Week Ever.

23rd Sep2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 9/23/16

by Will

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WWE Edit

So I started a new job last week, and it has drastically changed my life. I used to roll into work whenever I wanted, blog, tweet, the works! Now everything is blocked and they are kicking my ass. I feel like I’m gradually losing my grasp on pop culture, but I’m doing my best to hang on. So, let’s see if I’ve still got it, huh?

I had no time to watch movies this week because in the world of television it was PREMIERE WEEK! New shows! Returning shows! Bad shows! Good shows!

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On Monday, I caught Kevin Can Wait on CBS. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not the cool kid thing to do, but I actually really liked The King of Queens, and I think I’m the only person, besides Adam Sandler, still championing James’s career. In the show, James is a retired cop who’s trying to get used to civilian life. It follows the fat schlub/hot wife sitcom formula, with Childrens Hospital‘s Erinn Hayes as his wife. In the pilot, James meets his daughter’s effeminate fiance and can’t deal. Oh, and there’s a role for his real life brother, Gary Valentine, who happens to be in most Kevin James productions. At the end of the day, it’s serviceable, but not great. It’s basically Kevin James starring in Last Man Standing. Swap out James for Tim Allen, and this easily could’ve been a spec script for that show. There’s not a lot on Monday nights, so I might stick with it, but I won’t enjoy it. It might end up like Rules of Engagement: not very good, but kinda manages to be decent background noise for 7 seasons.

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Tuesday night gave us the return of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which had been heavily promoted because they were introducing the latest incarnation of Marvel antihero Ghost Rider. This version, with the alter ego of Robbie Reyes, drives a supercharged Charger powered by the Spirit of Vengeance. So, he’s really more like Ghost Driver than Ghost Rider. Ah, semantics. A lot of folks thought it was a great episode. I, however, did not. I actually loved the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider in the comics, but seeing him onscreen did nothing to energize a show as weak as Agents. I just don’t think that he fits tonally. They spent all this time facing Inhumans and now they’re fighting demons? I guess they’ve got to diversify their portfolio, but it just seems like a leap to me. I also hate the whole “We’ve gotta eventually get the band back together” vibe of the season, since they’ve been scattered across the organization. Some folks online remarked that it felt like an entirely new show, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Based on the ratings, which were about 1.5 million viewers lower than last season’s premiere, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the final season. Still, the show has way outlasted my initial projections.

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Wednesday brought 2 delightful new treats: Lethal Weapon and Designated Survivor. Now, I have a confession to make: I’ve never seen Lethal Weapon. In fact, I think I’ve only seen the 4th one. That’s the one from that week Jet Li was famous, right? Yeah, DVDs were just hitting the scene, and my freshman year roommate bought it. So, I’ve seen that one. Never seen the original recipe, though. So, I can’t tell if they nailed the characters or not in the TV adaptation. What I will say is that I loved what they did with them. In my mind, this show was just Fastlane: 15 Years Later. If you’re not familiar, Fastlane was a one-hour action comedy on Fox back in 2002, created by McG of the Charlie’s Angels reboot fame. Starring Bill Bellamy and Peter Facinelli as undercover cops who took orders from Tiffani-Amber Theissen, it was hot women, fast cars, and a hot soundtrack. It was the Foxiest Fox show of the early ’00s. It only lasted one season, and I loved the HELL out of it. I have the whole show on both legal and illegal DVDs. I loved it that much. Anyway, if they had been allowed to age naturally, I feel like they would’ve evolved into Damon Wayans’s Murtaugh and Clayne Crawford’s Riggs. Anyway, Murtaugh’s coming back on the job following a heart attack and he’s paired with recently widowed Riggs, who clearly has a deathwish. Can they get along? Will hilarity ensue? Well, you’ll have to tune in to see, but I thoroughly enjoyed what I watched. I will be back next week.

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Next, ABC gave us Kiefer Sutherland in Designated Survivor. Basically, during the State of the Union, one cabinet member is designated to stay behind in case something drastic happens. Well, it does, as the Capitol blows up (Man, between BvS and this show, Hollywood REALLY hates the Capitol this year), killing EVERYONE. So Kiefer, who had just that morning been fired as the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, finds himself thrust into the role of President of the United States. Nobody thinks he’s qualified for the job, Kiefer included. Meanwhile, there are a few subplots. Who is FBI agent Maggie Q looking for in the rubble? Why is Kiefer’s son selling drugs in da clurb? Was this whole thing orchestrated by some unseen force? It’s funny to watch because we spent 8 years getting to know Kiefer as Impossible White Man Jack Bauer. There was nothing he couldn’t do, so it’s kinda strange to watch him be such a pussy. Right now, I’m pretending that Jack has amnesia and that he’ll regain his memory and skills by season’s end. There are glimpses of Jack that sneak out, such as Kiefer’s confrontation with the Iranian (?) leader who seems to be trying to take advantage of the situation. He threatened the dude, and it was like Jack was back with us in the flesh. But it was not to be, as he returned to his meek self following the meeting. Still, it’s a suspenseful hour, and Kiefer has been the king of TV suspense for the past 15 years, so I’m all in for this.

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Finally, last night gave us the premiere of Pitch on Fox, focusing on Ginny Baker, who will be the first woman to play major league baseball. In the series, Baker gets called up from the minors to start for the Padres and she BOMBS. Meanwhile, we get flashbacks to how she came to be where she is. Her discovery of baseball, her refining her skills – all while her overbearing father was behind her. Apparently his major league dreams flamed out and, when he saw that his son wasn’t going to follow in his footsteps, he focused on his more talented daughter. It’s funny to me that after 30 years, there’s still something that could be considered a “Fox show”. Like, it’s an ingredient that can’t be shaken. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but there are some projects that would only work on Fox, and this is one of them. It was a good hour, and it ended with quite the twist (seriously, between this and NBC’s This Is Us, it appears that weird twists are en vogue this season), but I don’t know how long it could last. If they went into it as a Done In One, I could really embrace it. But if they’re trying to build a franchise out of this show, I just don’t think there’s much there. Still, I enjoyed Mark-Paul Gosselaar acting like the asshole we always knew Zack Morris would grow up to be. I’ve got nothing else going on Thursdays at 9, so I’ll stick with it for now.

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In movie news, we got our first glimpse of the Power Rangers movie Zords in these new character posters. I have no clue what I’m looking at. Seriously, are they even still dinosaurs? I can make out the Mastodon’s tusks and that’s about it. The rest is just so…”Bayformers”. It was also announced that Bill Hader would be voicing Zordon’s assistant Alpha 5. Wow, this movie is the surprise that keeps on surprising. The trailer will debut next month at New York Comic-Con.

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Speaking of Power Rangers, the Yellow Ranger was mysteriously recast for Power Rangers Ninja Steel. Though the entire cast was introduced last month at Power Morphicon, it appears that Chantz Simpson (that CAN’T be his real name!) has left the production. His role has been recast with Nico Greetham. I find this casting interesting because a lot of folks had pointed out that this would be the first season without a single White member of the team. It was basically the Diversity Rangers, which was unprecedented. But with the casting of Greetham, we’ve got a White guy again. I wonder if there was some pressure for them to do that. Anyway, this follows a long tradition of recast Yellow Rangers, as it happened in Mighty Morphin (Trini was originally Latina), it happened in Lost Galaxy, and it supposedly happened in RPM.

Recently I’ve been talking a lot about country music on here, but that’s really because it’s the only music I keep up with these days. I can’t tell you anything about the pop charts, but I can name Maren Morris’s latest song (“80s Mercedes”) and I listen to Bobby Bones every morning. I’ve always loved pop, but I’ve also always loved country. When I was a baby, I used to have WMZQ playing next to my crib and it stuck with me. In fact, my migration to pop was a slow one. It started with soft rock, “at work radio”, and then made its way to boybands and Britney. But it wasn’t always like that. When I started dating Lindsay, the country came roaring back, as that’s pretty much all she listened to. For a while, I could juggle the pop and the country, but lately it’s pretty much all country these days. Anyway, this is a long intro for me to say that I’ve got a LOT of thoughts on “Forever Country”, the mash-up song released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Country Music Association.

The video for “Forever Country” was released this week, and it’s a medley of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again”, and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”. The song is sung by 30 of country’s hottest stars, like Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, and more. I also appreciated that they included Darius Rucker and Charley Pride to add some diversity. There are, however, some glaring omissions: Where’s Kenny Rogers? Where’s GARTH?! That last one is even more odd, as Garth’s wife Trisha is present on the track. I thought maybe it was a scheduling conflict, but I’ve read that he’s against the platforms where the song will be released, such as YouTube, iTunes, and Spotify (his songs aren’t on any of those services). I’ve got a confession to make: I’ve never really liked Garth, so it’s not a huge loss to me. I missed the Garth Brooks era the same way I missed the WWE Attitude Era. By that point, I was knee deep in Ace of Base. The only reason I even know “Friends in Low Places” is because drunk White people love to sing it once “Don’t Stop Believin'” goes off. But if you’re tackling the biggest stars of the past 50 years, you’ve GOTTA have Garth. It’s just incomplete without him.

Now, the video itself is a frenetic mess. It moves too quickly. There’s not enough focus on each contributor. It honestly makes me dizzy. Plus, it’s obvious it was just some green screen thrown together for whenever the artists were free to come in and film their parts. I mean, there’s no way Blake and Miranda were in the same room together. So, I like the idea of the song, especially since it allows Dolly to reclaim her song; it always kinda bothered me that everyone thought of it as a Whitney Houston song, but Dolly cashed all those royalty checks, so I’m sure she’s cool with it. They do a good job mixing the three songs, and it’s not something treacly like “We Are The World” or “Let The Music Heal Your Soul”. The video could’ve been a lot better, though.

Things You Might’ve Missed This Week

  • Season THIRTY-THREE of Survivor premiered. You did this, America. You only have yourselves to blame.
  • Brangelina powered down into its divided forms of “Brad” and “Angelina”, as Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt.
  • 80s heart throb Corey Feldman had an emotional breakdown after the internet had a field day with his performance on The Today Show.
  • On Empire, they killed off the White girl. Poor Rhonda never really had a chance.
  • The Big Bang Theory kicked off what is likely its final season. And the “real nerds” rejoiced.
  • Buckle up, Puddin’ – Margot Robbie will host the season premiere of Saturday Night Live on October 1st
  • Two of my recent favorites – Better Late Than Never and Odd Mom Out – scored renewals this week. (Thanks for the tip, @jrwells82!)
  • CBS’s The Case of JonBenet Ramsey proposed that her older brother was her killer, and it was covered up by the parents

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So, I don’t talk about her on here, mainly because I basically have to beg her to read this thing, but today we’re gonna talk about my wife.

When we first met, I was much skinnier and used to run. The running started in college, when my friend Eric and I used to take midnight jogs to Wegmans (What? It was Ithaca and nothing else was open). I kept running even when I came home, but it decreased somewhat. I had an ex who did marathons (though you wouldn’t know it to look at her. Bada-bing!), and I would run with her to help her train. After awhile, though, the running tapered off. I met Lindsay and she was the type of person who would only run if being chased, and even then it was a crapshoot.

So, fast forward 8 years later. I have gained…some pounds, and now Lindsay runs. She started about a year ago, just starting out with a Couch to 5K program. She had done one in the past, as we ran the Color in Motion 5K Run some years ago. Still, she hadn’t really stuck with it after that, so she was giving it another shot. Well, Couch to 5K turned into actual 5Ks, and then 10Ks, and then 10 milers. She gets up every morning at a time when I’m usually going to bed (we’re on two completely different schedules), and goes for her runs. She’s only missed running due to illness. Other than that, she forces herself to get up and puts in the work. Well, last Sunday, after months of training, she ran (and completed) her first half marathon! This from a woman who would’ve probably let her attacker overtake her just a mere year ago. This my long drawn out way to say that I’m proud of her, and watching her complete that half was the most impressive thing I witnessed this week. So, with that in mind, Lindsay West had the West Week Ever.

02nd Sep2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 9/2/16

by Will

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WWE Edit

It’s a holiday weekend and y’all never read this thing when that happens, so let’s keep it short and sweet today, shall we?

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In comic news, the Diamond Retailer Summit is currently happening, so some news is trickling out of there. In the Marvel camp, they revealed a Monsters Unleashed series. Whatever. They’d been teasing something called MU for weeks, first revealing Cullen Bunn was involved and then slowly revealed artists, such as Leinil Yu, Adam Kubert, and Greg Land. Well, today it was announced it was this monster shit. I know some people are into all that, but I’m not one of them, nor do I feel like such an announcement deserved all that fanfare. It’s making me think that Marvel’s cried “Wolf!” one too many times. It’s also odd to me that a monster series is coming out in January instead of October. Also, they announced that the follow-up to Death of X and Inhumans vs X-Men would be called ResurreXion. Yeah, you read that right. I’ll bet someone in Marvel’s marketing department got an erecXion when they came up with that one.

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Meanwhile, DC announced their first major Rebirth crossover in the form of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad. I can’t help but feel like this would’ve been better timed to coincide with the release of the film, but maybe its release will bolster the Blu Ray sales, while getting folks primed for Justice League. In the story, Batman decides to take down Amanda Waller’s Task Force X – much like *SPOILER ALERT* Batfleck threatened to do in the post-credits sequence of Suicide Squad. And like all comic book fights, I’m sure they’ll be forced to team up against a greater threat. Anyway, it’s expected that a new Justice League of America series will spin out of this event.

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Speaking of Batfleck, this week Ben Affleck “leaked” some footage of Deathstroke the Terminator. Originally a Teen Titans villain, it seems that Mr. Stroke has been promoted to the big leagues. At first, it was believed this might be Justice League footage, but now the word on the street is that Deathstroke will be the main villain of Affleck’s standalone Batman movie. Oh, and it’s rumored that Joe Manganiello will be playing Deathstroke. Not really excited about it at the moment, but I probably will be as we learn more.

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In TV news, it’s reported that Marvel is shopping around a comedy based on the New Warriors – but featuring Squirrel Girl. Now, this bothers me because Squirrel Girl was never in the New Warriors. Sure, I can understand creative liberties, but it seems like Marvel’s just desperate to create a Squirrel Girl vehicle and this is what they’ve come up with. First off, I don’t know if I like the Superhero Comedy genre for television. I think they should wait and see how DC’s Powerless (which looks horrid) does on NBC. Second, I’ve never really understood the whole Squirrel Girl thing. I get that she’s cutesy and all, but I’ve yet to read a comic where I’m like, “Wow! That Squirrel Girl!” Lately there’s been this movement to get Anna Kendrick cast as the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yeah, that’s nice and all, but I think that casting’s wrong. And there’s no way Kendrick is gonna do TV at this stage of her career. No, I think The Middle‘s Eden Sher is a much better choice. It was reported that she was having meetings with Marvel years ago, trying to figure out ways to get her into the MCU. Sadly, I think that ship might’ve sailed, as nobody expected The Middle to still be on at this point. At the moment, though, I’m hoping this project ends up with the same fate as Marvel’s Most Wanted.

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Meanwhile, in DC television world, Greg Berlanti is developing a Black Lightning show with the creators of Girlfriends/The Game, Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil. I’m all for the Berlantiverse becoming more robust, but I always feel like the older shows suffer when he introduces a new one. I’d much rather they try to make Legends of Tomorrow a better show, and maybe add the character over there first. Black Lightning is an inner city teacher who has lightning powers, hailing from an age when all Black heroes had to have “Black” in their name. If this show gets off the ground, I’m sure it’ll end up being called something like Lightning. The funny thing is that he’s supposedly shopping it around to networks, like we all don’t already know it’s gonna end up on The CW.

 

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You know what really grinds my gears? Country radio (yes, some of us still listen to the radio) does this thing where they play a new single from an album, and then they ask listeners to call in and tell them what they thought of the song. Supposedly, if the response is predominantly negative, the song won’t be played anymore. Um, THAT’S NOT HOW THE INDUSTRY WORKS! If a song has been released as an official single, they pretty much HAVE to play it. Radio doesn’t have the power to make or break an artist anymore. There are people selling albums and touring who’ve never even been on the radio. The days of “If I spin your record, it’ll make you a star” are over. So I guess I wish country stations would cut the shit and stop making the audience think they have some power they don’t really have.

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Another thing I don’t like? An Adult Swim show called Million Dollar Extreme Presents: World Peace. I’ve tweeted before about how I don’t really like the show, but last week I found I’d attracted the wrong attention: fans of the show. Now, first let me explain who’s behind it: Million Dollar Extreme is a sketch comedy group comprised of Sam Hyde, Charls Carroll, and Nick Rochefort who specialize in making you uncomfortable. Just Google Sam Hyde. I’ll wait. Especially look up his TED Talk. Basically they’ve made a name for themselves as part of the alt-right movement that despises political correctness. So, they go completely in the opposite direction. They do shit in blackface, they mock the handicapped. It’s pretty bad. So, last week, I tweeted this to a friend:

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And then I went to sleep. When I woke up, a bunch of their fans had sarcastically favorited the tweet, and were replying to us, saying stuff like “Yeah, but you’ll watch it and LIKE it”. I looked at these folks’ profiles, and they are NOT nice people. I thought I was gonna end up doxxed or something. Anyway, bottom line: don’t watch World Peace.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Image Comics will reportedly relocate from Berkeley, CA to Portland, OR
  • Netflix announced a second season of the show you’re all raving about, That’s Still So Raven. No, I kid. You’re getting more Stranger Things.
  • Jon Favreau will reprise his Happy Hogan role from the Iron Man movies in Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • Though I don’t know anyone who watches it, someone’s bound to be upset that Grimm will end after its next, abbreviated season
  • Pretty Little Liars will also end after its next season. Unless, you know, they’re lying about that…
  • The next season of Dancing with the Stars will feature Vanilla Ice, Babyface, Gov Rick Perry, Amber Rose and more. Still no word on which *stars* will be on the show
  • Chris Brown almost got killed by a SWAT team after pulling a gun on some chick who tried to steal his jewelry.
  • Disney Interactive shut down the Marvel: Avengers Alliance mobile game, which won’t be playable by the end of the month
  • Britney Spears released her 3rd “comeback” album, Glory. I’ve heard it, and I don’t think she’s back yet
  • Alison Brie and Marc Maron have been cast as the leads in Netflix’s series GLOW, based on the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

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So, the only thing I really watched this week was the BBC Are You Being Served? special. Sure, it was a UK thing, but luckily I was able to find it on YouTube. I grew up watching the original show, so this was something that I HAD to see.

If you’re not familiar with it, Are You Being Served? was a Britcom set in a high end department store called Grace Brothers. The show particularly focused on the employees of the Men’s and Ladies’ departments, including Mr. Humphries, Mrs. Slocombe, and Captain Peacock. It had a very rigid class structure, where everyone was supposed to know their place and follow a certain chain of command. Captain Peacock was the snobbish “floor walker”, who kept everyone in line. Mr. Humphries was the butt of gay jokes because he was effeminate and lived with his mother. And Mrs. Slocombe was always talking about her pussy (Get your mind out of the gutter! It’s her cat!). The show ran for 13 years, but only has 70 episodes because, well, England. Once it ended, they even tried to “Golden Palace” it by moving the cast to a manor in which their pensions had been invested.

Anyway, in a celebration of British comedy, The BBC “revived” several shows by casting current actors in one-episode specials. This was especially necessary for AYBS?, seeing as how the entire cast is dead now (well, except for Mr. Spooner, but nobody gives a shit about him). Surprisingly, I didn’t know a single actor they cast in this thing. I always joke that there are only about 11 British actors, but I guess there are only 11 who’ve crossed over the pond. None of them, however, made it to this special. I felt the casting for everyone was pretty spot-on, though, especially Mr. Grainger and Mrs. Slocombe. I did, however, feel like they overdid it with Mr. Humphries. While he was effeminate in the original show, there was always a question of “Is he or isn’t he?” but here they just pretty much played him as humorously gay, which sort of took something away from the character.

When the episode starts, a young Black man named Richard Conway shows up for his first day as a member of the Men’s department staff. One thing I’m always curious about is race relations in other countries. While the episode was set in 1988, I was surprised that they never once referred to or joked about his race. Is this just not done in the UK? Or was it felt like that wasn’t the kind of humor you would expect from AYBS? I’d really love to know more about how they came to that decision, because an American show would’ve been ALL ABOUT the fact that he was this Black guy in a prim and proper establishment. It’d be called Homeboy In Knickers, and would air on UPN after Shasta McNasty.

Anyway, at the end of the day, it felt like a genuine “lost” episode of the show. It completely retconned the spinoff Grace & Favour, and it did some clever tinkering to get Mr. Grainger back in the mix. Basically 3 years have passed since the final episode, but things are pretty much like you remember them. There’s a Downton Abbey aspect to the show where it’s mired in class humor in a world that’s quickly changing. The crux of the episode is that the new Mr. Grace is determined to drag the store into the 20th century. It’s an interesting idea, and I’d actually love to see more of it. From what I’ve read, the special wasn’t well-received by the Brits, but I couldn’t have really asked for more. It didn’t swing for the fences by killing a major character, nor did it go for shock value. It tried to give you more of what you loved about the original show, and in that respect, I think it succeeded. That’s why the Are You Being Served? one-off special had the West Week Ever.

 

19th Aug2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 8/19/16

by Will

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We got our first look at the poster for Spider-Man: Homecoming and it’s whatever. This was seen at a Las Vegas trade show, so it was probably just thrown together for the show. I doubt this is the one-sheet you’ll see in theaters. It gives ya a good view of the suit, but it just doesn’t get me excited, ya know? Meanwhile, it’s being reported that Zendaya is actually playing Spider-Man’s sometimes girlfriend/sometimes later wife, Mary Jane Watson. Now, originally they said Zendaya’s character’s name was “Michelle”, but it seems that was all a ruse. So, with Zendaya being biracial, we got the typical online reaction: “That ain’t mah MJ!” I get it. I hate change, too. That said, I really like Zendaya, but I don’t necessarily see her as Mary Jane. Whatever, though. I didn’t see Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, and I was wrong about that. So, I’ll give it a shot. I’m just kinda Spider-Manned out. I feel about Spider-Man the way some folks feel about Batman. We’ve had 5 movies in 14 years, and two different actors playing him. While a lot of folks are saying “They’re finally getting him right!”, I felt like they’d gotten him right before. I loved the Tobey Maguire movies. And I enjoyed the Andrew Garfield movies. So, I’ll probably like this one, too. But am I “hype” for it, as the young kids would say? Not at all.

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In Marvel TV news, it was reported that a Runaways series is in development at Hulu, from the folks behind Gossip Girl and The O.C. Now, Runaways isn’t exactly a household name, as it featured all original characters – teenagers whose parents were some of the worst villains in the Marvel Universe. We’d never heard of these villains, though, ’cause they didn’t live in New York City like every other character in the Marvel Universe. Well, once the teens realize just how evil their parents are, they run away. Oh, and one of them is a traitor. I LOVED the series, and it put writer Brian K. Vaughan on the map, who went on to do Y: The Last Man and Saga. The first few years of the book are pretty engaging. Then Joss Whedon came along and wrote, probably, the most forgettable comics of his career. Next, Terry Moore of Strangers In Paradise fame came along and took over the book. And that’s when I kinda lost track of it. So, here’s hoping the TV show news will result in a return of the comic series, as I’ve come to miss those kids. As for the show itself? Well, I’ll just have to wait and see. If you asked me “Who’d be the best team to adapt Runaways“, my first answer would not have been “The Gossip Girl creators”. Still, that show handled big mysteries, and this series is full of them, so maybe they’re the right ones for the job.


In DC news, we got a surprise trailer this week for Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. It’s a straight-to-DVD animated film set in the 1966 Batman world. It features the voice talent of the show’s original stars Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar – ya know, all the ones who aren’t dead. I guess that’s cool. Again, ever since the DVD rights got cleared up, we have had Batman ’66 overload. I’m glad to keep these folks working, but it’s not something I’m especially jazzed about. Not sure what it is. Maybe it’s the animation style? This movie looks closer to the animation that we get in your standard DC Universe Animated Original Movies, when I think I’d rather have something that mimicked the look of the animation in the opening credits of the show. Anyway, the movie hits digital on October 11th, and on Blu-Ray November 1st.

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The biannual Power Rangers convention, Power Morphicon, was held in Pasadena last weekend, and a few interesting things came out of the show. For one thing, we were introduced to the cast of the next incarnation of the show, Power Rangers Ninja Steel. There are a few notable things about this cast. First of all, the Ninja Steel Blue Ranger will be played by Peter Sudarso, who happens to be the real life brother of Yoshi Sudarso, who plays the current Dino Super Charge Blue Ranger. This is a first for the franchise. Another first for the franchise, this is the first time the team doesn’t have a single Caucasian on it. If you want diversity, this team’s got it in spades! #RepresentationMatters

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Now for the gossip portion of our evening! So, Robert Griffin III is quite the controversial figure in these parts. He was drafted in 2012 as the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins, with folks believing he was the Second Coming. Well, when you put a guy on a pedestal, he’s bound to disappoint you. He was released in March and snatched up by the Cleveland Browns. Now, I don’t care anything about sports. If anything we’re a Broncos household because Lindsay cares, and she’s from Denver. No, the only reason RGIII was ever on my radar was because of his college sweetheart, Rebecca. Plainly put, she had big bazooms. Anyway, the two got married in 2013, and even had a kid last year. Well, as the story goes, RGIII met a young hot thing from Estonia over Instagram 7 months after the baby was born. Grete Sadeiko is a track and field star at Florida State University, and she’s RGIII’s new boo – so much so that he, foolishly, got her name tattooed on his arm. Oh, and he blindsided Rebecca with a request for a divorce.  If he had been half this interesting when he was still playing here, it might’ve gotten me to care about the Redskins!

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In the world of comedy, there was a bunch of drama involving comedians Amy Schumer and Kurt Metzger. First of all, I’m actually a big fan of Metzger, and I listen to his Race Wars Podcast weekly. That said, I feel like sometimes he’s just trying to see how far he can go and still keep his job. You see, Metzger was a writer and producer on Inside Amy Schumer, but this week he went on a Facebook rant about rape that got him in hot water. Long story short, someone in the NY comedy community had been accused of rape, but Metzger felt that the person was being tried in the court of public opinion instead of any actual proof or evidence being presented. He’s even said himself that his retorts went too far because he let his ego get in the way, but at the end of the day attention was diverted from the fact that there could be a sexual predator in the comic scene and was now focused on what a terrible person Metzger was. People started tweeting at Amy Schumer, asking if she knew what her employee had been saying. Schumer responded by blocking these people, for whatever reason. Finally, she came out and denounced Metzger’s statements, saying that she was disappointed and didn’t share his sentiments. She later tweeted that Metzger doesn’t work for her show anymore, leading folks to think he had been fired. It revealed a bigger truth, however – Inside Amy Schumer is actually going on hiatus for an indefinite amount of time so that Schumer can work on other projects. Yeah, the last time something went on an indefinite hiatus, Justin Timberlake became a solo star. Anyway, not only has this hurt Schumer’s brand, but now a group of Redditors have organized to give fake 1-star reviews to her new book, The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo. I think this is gonna get worse before it gets better, but will it do more damage to Metzger or Schumer?

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This is the tweet that keeps on giving. Though it’s starting to taper off, it got RTed last weekend, giving it a bit of a resurgence. So far, it’s had over 20,000 impressions. Again, just let me have this.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Though I could’ve sworn it was confirmed months ago, this week it was reported that Cyborg will costar with Ezra Miller in the movie verison of The Flash
  • It was rumored that Punisher’s ally Microchip will be a supporting character when his Netflix series debuts
  • Caitlin Jenner’s reality show, I Am Cait, might as well be called I Am Cancelled, as the show’s being put out to pasture after two seasons.
  • Speaking of cancellations, last night saw the final episode of Larry Wilmore’s The Nightly Show on Comedy Central.
  • After 13 years, Robert Kirkman’s comic Invincible will be ending next year with issue #144. This reminds me that I really need to catch up on Invincible
  • WWE stars Alberto Del Rio, Paige, and Eva Marie were all suspended for 30 days after violating the WWE Wellness Policy

https://www.instagram.com/p/BIis9E1BJvm/ Screengrab of Ryan Lochte's Instagram post of his new hairdo 7/31/16 Source: Ryan Lochte/Instagram

US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and his elite group of swim bros created a shitty lie to cover up a pretty lame infraction. You see, Sunday morning they claimed they had been robbed at gunpoint after leaving a club in Rio. Their stories, however, weren’t lining up and the Brazilian police wanted answers. They weren’t going to stand for the swimmers besmirching the protection they had provided during the games. Around Wednesday, things started moving really quickly, as the passports of the swimmers were seized, and two of them were taken off their plane. But there was a twist – Lochte was already back in the US! At the end of the day, it seems like they actually vandalized a gas station in a confrontation with a guard, yet they PAID FOR THE DAMAGE. So, why lie about a situation you’ve already smoothed over? The other guys are saying it was all Lochte’s idea, while he’s probably chilling in a Titled Kilt somewhere, laughing his ass off.  For whatever reason he did it, he seemingly got away with it. We’ve underestimated him all these years, but what if Lochte is a criminal mastermind? Or what if he’s just a dumb guy who did a stupid thing? The world may never truly know. And that’s why Ryan Lochte had the West Week Ever.

29th Jul2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 7/29/16

by Will

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WWE Edit

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The Equalizer is what Rod from The Black Guy Who Tips Podcast would call “An Impossible White Man” movie. That’s when a (usually) White male protagonist gets away with a whole lot of crazy, death-defying shit that no one should be able to survive. There’s a caveat, though, that this doesn’t only apply to White males, despite its name. For example, ScarJo’s Lucy could be considered an Impossible White Man role. It’s more about branding than accuracy. Anyway, in The Equalizer, Denzel Washington plays a former black ops dude who’s trying to live a quiet life working at a Home Depot (they don’t call it Home Depot, but I know one when I see it!). He lives a meticulous, almost OCD life, dining at the same diner, bringing his own teabags, and placing his utensils in a certain manner. Another regular at the diner, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, happens to be a Russian prostitute, and when she gets roughed up by her pimp, Denzel comes out of retirement to exact revenge – not just on her pimp, but on the whole Russian organized crime establishment! The crazy thing to me is that the mob didn’t even kill Moretz – they just beat her up, yet Denzel proceeds to leave a trail of bodies for a girl he barely even knows. The action in it is insane, so I’ve got to hand it to Denzel, who’s no spring chicken. Anyway, it’s definitely worth checking out, even though they’re apparently making a totally unnecessary sequel.

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I’ve wanted to see The Bronze since the moment I first heard of it. It stars, and was written by, Melissa Rauch, who you wouldn’t know as Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory because I’m sure you’re too cool to watch that show. Anyway, Rauch plays Hope Ann Greggory, a foulmouthed Bronze medalist gymnast from the 2004 Rome Olympics who is still milking what’s left of her fame in her small town of Amherst, Ohio. She became a hometown darling for winning the medal despite being injured, Kerri Strug style. Now, 12 years later, she’s got no job, still lives with her postal worker father, and steals money from his mailbag. She cruises around town, blasting hip hop while going to the mall to pressure folks into giving her free stuff. Long story short, her life is going nowhere. Meanwhile, Maggie, a young promising local gymnast is headed to Nationals, and she just may make the town forget all about Hope. Feeling threatened, Hope wants nothing to do with Maggie. That is until Hope’s former coach commits suicide. In her suicide note, she promises Hope $500,000 if she’ll agree to coach Maggie all the way up to the championships. Suddenly Hope has a purpose, even if it’s just so she can get that money. At first, Hope tries to sabotage Maggie until former beau/rival Winter Soldier Sebastian Stan comes along and tries to steal her away from Hope so that he can coach her. Hope gets no money if this happens, so she decides to take the training seriously and actually train Maggie for success. I won’t spoil the ending for ya, but I’d highly recommend watching it if only so you can see that crazy ass gymnastic sex scene between Rauch and Stan. Trust me when I say you’ve never seen anything like it. While it may not have been as bust-a-gut hilarious as I thought it would be (it is kinda dark after all), I still really enjoyed it and felt it could easily become a quotable cult hit. My favorite lines include “Absence makes the dick grow harder. You better not have gotten any clit jizz in my car!” and “This is what I wear. THIS IS WHAT HEROES WEAR!” Anyway, if you ever get the chance to watch this, check it out.

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I love The Lonely Island. I love their albums, I love their digital shorts, and I love their movies. Though it bombed in theaters, Hot Rod is hi-larious, so I had nothing but high hopes for Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. In the film, the Lonely Island guys were once a boyband called StyleBoyz. Eventually, they had a disagreement that caused them to break up, and Andy Samberg’s Conner4Real became a Justin Bieber-esque solo artist. His debut album was called Thriller, Also and it sold 4 million copies. Now, as the movie starts, it’s on the eve of the release of his second album, CONNquest. He partners with a company called Aquaspin that’s going to package his album with their home appliances, so his music will be coming out of refrigerators, microwaves, etc. Well, this plan fails miserably, as some folks even see it as a violation of privacy. His album tanks, and the film follows Conner as he deals with all of that. At the end of the day, it feels like a REALLY long SNL Digital Short, and it’s completely built on its cameos. Like, it’s sort of amazing how many music stars they got to agree to be in this movie – some of whom I didn’t even know had a sense of humor, like Nas. And if you follow The Lonely Island, then you already know some of the cameos you’re gonna get (hint: “Dick in a Box” and “Jack Sparrow”). While I didn’t laugh as much as I did at Hot Rod, it was still pretty funny, and I think I got exactly what I was expecting. Also, I’ve given him some shit online for taking terrible TV roles (all of his shows get cancelled), but Tim Meadows playing a parody of boyband manager Johnny Wright is probably my favorite Meadows role since The Ladies Man. Oh, and look for the brief cameo by original Black Ranger Walter Emmanuel Jones! Anyway, I definitely recommend this movie.

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So I saw Batman: The Killing Joke in the theater on Monday as part of a Fathom Event. There had been a lot of controversy surrounding the movie, as it’s based on a controversial story. If you’ve never read it, The Joker cripples and sexually assaults Barbara Gordon and then shows the pictures to her father in an attempt to drive him insane. To further the controversy, however, in order to pad out the story to a feature-length movie, the writers added some additional material – including a scene where Batgirl and Batman have sex on a rooftop. A lot of folks took issue with this because they believe that Batman serves as a father figure to the other members of the Bat Family. I actually disagree somewhat. I think he’s a father figure to Robins, but Batgirl is a different story. Plus, there’s already a precedent for a relationship between the two, as this was established in The Animated Series/Batman Beyond continuity. In fact, it was the relationship between Bruce and Barbara that drove Dick away, causing him to establish the Nightwing identity. Further along, in Batman Beyond 2.0, the comic that is set in this continuity, Barbara becomes pregnant by Bruce, but loses the baby after an attack. So, as you can see, Bat Banging happens.

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Anyway, the first 25 minutes feel like a tacked on “This is why you should care about Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, so when we cripple her, it’ll matter to you” prologue. It honestly does feel like a lost episode of The Animated Series, even though it’s a slightly different animation style. It’s got the same voice actors, and even the Batmobile from The New Batman Adventures. It’s generally an unspoken rule that every artist/designer does their own take on the Batmobile, so it’s almost like they went out of their way to make it feel familiar. An up and coming mobster takes a shine to Batgirl and makes her chase him around the city. Meanwhile, Batman isn’t treating her like an equal partner, so she’s actually welcoming the attention from the mobster. It all culminates in that rooftop sex scene, which then results in her deciding to hang up the cape and cowl. Again, it’s a good “lost” episode, but it’s almost superfluous to what’s to come in the rest of the movie. The writers probably felt like the prologue would strengthen Batgirl’s character, but it actually does the opposite. She comes off as an annoying single gal from a romantic comedy who can’t understand why Batman won’t see the potential in her. She even comes with her own stereotypical gay best friend, to whom she complains about the lack of attention from Batman.

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The rest of the film plays out like the comic you probably know and hate. The sad thing, though, is that Barbara Gordon is nowhere near as important to The Killing Joke as The Killing Joke is to Barbara Gordon. What I mean is that the story changes the character (almost) irreparably, while she contributes very little to the story itself. Her attack is simply a mcguffin used to break her father. It really doesn’t matter that she’s Batgirl, as it’s not like her crippling happened “in the line of duty”. I mean, her attack doesn’t even spur her father OR Batman to action. The story ends on a joke, for God’s sake, which I’ve always felt somewhat belittles what happens to her. There’s no reason to strengthen Batgirl/Barbara as she doesn’t leave the story a hero. Contrary to how it’s been sold over the years, it’s not Barbara Gordon’s story. She’s just collateral damage in a different matter altogether. I mean, Batman tries to reason with the same guy who has killed one partner and maimed another. The story has never made a ton of sense to me, but it’s always lauded because “Alan Moore”. Anyway, if you want to see a faithful adaptation that brings the story “to life”, this was a pretty good adaptation. The new material is unnecessary, but the stuff you’re familiar with is still familiar here. It’s worth seeing, if only for the discussion it’s bound to trigger. If you want to read more of my thoughts on the film, I was invited by the kind folks at Action A Go Go to write a review, so check it out!

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On TV, I caught the lackluster return of MADtv, now airing during prime time on The CW. A Dora parody in 2016? And it really botched the political stuff, which should be left to SNL. Elizabeth Warren as a Def Jam comic? It all just felt so dated. Like, it would’ve been out of place during the original run of the show, let alone the reboot. Their makeup person should be fired. If anyone’s gonna be a breakout star from this incarnation, it’ll probably be Michelle Ortiz. She kicked off the show with a prayer to the dark lord Satan, and then starred in the aforementioned Dora sketch. Will Sasso came back to do his Kenny Rogers impression, which is hella dated. When’s the last time anyone talked about Kenny Rogers? And it was kinda cheap that they used a “classic” sketch with Key & Peele. At this point, the show feels more like a summer burn-off than a promising debut. I know it’s just the first episode, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it got canceled after these 8 episodes, to merely become a footnote on a Wikipedia page.

In TV news, #DontCancelGirlMeetsWorld was trending earlier this week. As the story goes, the cast of Girl Meets World filmed the 3rd season finale this week, and there’s no official word on whether the show will be renewed. Star Rowan Blanchard sounded kinda bleak with the following tweet:

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I don’t really know what the ratings situation is, but I don’t think folks have anything to worry about…yet. You see, I’m fairly certain the show will be back for a 4th season because Disney likes to get as close to 100 episodes as they can. There are already 58 episodes of the show, but they’ve been doing 30-episode seasons lately. So, the good news is that they still have a ways to go. The bad news, however, is that it’ll probably be done after episode 100. Again, Disney doesn’t like to do more than 100 because it’s just not profitable for them after that point. Even Jessie got 98 episodes, and it was nowhere near as beloved as GMW. The thing to point out is that, barring a time jump, we’ll never get to see Riley and the gang graduate. She’ll never get to meet the World to which the show is meant to introduce her. Anyway, according to the pic above, the season appears to be going out with a bang, with a mega reunion of the Boy Meets World cast – including BOTH actresses who played little sister Morgan. I feel like the show gets way too heavyhanded at times, but I’d be sad to see it go. Still, it opened the doors for other revivals, like Fuller House, so who knows what we’ll end up with next. Perfecter Strangers? Just The Eleven of Us?

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In other TV news, it was announced that the new Star Trek series would be called Star Trek: Discovery. The show will air on CBS All Access in the US, and on Netflix everywhere else. Why couldn’t it be on Netflix EVERYWHERE?! I mean, who doesn’t have Netflix? Anyway, the show will be set on the U.S.S. Discovery, NCC-1031, in the prime timeline (not the J.J. Abrams “Kelvin” timeline of the recent movies). I know it’s the future and all (so the holiday probably doesn’t even exist anymore), but someone better make a joke about how it’s basically the “USS Halloween”. Anyway, we were introduced to the ship in a teaser video that debuted at SDCC. I hate the design of this ship. The saucer is fine, but the secondary hull is way too angular. If you know your Trek, it kinda reminds me of an IDIC. As I said on Twitter, it looks like that Star Trek pizza cutter that ThinkGeek’s always trying to get people to buy.

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When it comes to Marvel, I guess I ought to do an SDCC wrap-up. Let’s see…OK, Brie Larson was confirmed as Captain Marvel. Yay? I mean, I have no real opinion on that casting one way or another. Folks seem to like her, so I guess it’s a good choice. I just don’t know that much about Captain Marvel. I was more of a fan before she was promoted to Captain. We also got the full trailer for Luke Cage, as well as teaser trailers for Iron Fist and The Defenders. A friend on Twitter said “You know it’s a Marvel Netflix show when there’s a fight in a hallway”, and that’s exactly how I felt watching the Cage trailer. People like to say the Marvel movies are too formulaic now, but I feel that way about the Netflix shows. I haven’t even touched Daredevil season 2 yet because I’m just sort of tired of their whole gritty thing. We didn’t see enough of Iron Fist to really make an opinion, but at least it didn’t trigger the cries of “He should’ve been Asian!” like I thought it would. I don’t know if folks have moved on from that or if they were just too overwhelmed by all the other SDCC news to even think about it. I know folks don’t like to “count” the Fox stuff, but we got a trailer for the X-Men related show, Legion. It actually looks intriguing, but I’m not sure I’m ready for yet another Marvel show that’s only tangentially related to a movie franchise (looking at you, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).We also got a trippy new Doctor Strange trailer, but that movie’s just not registering for me. I don’t like the magical side of the Marvel Universe, so there’s really nothing to lure me in at this point. I mean, I’ll see it but, as the kids say, I’m not “hype” for it. And there was supposedly some footage of Spider-Man fighting Vulture, but that’s not a sentence that fills me with excitement. I always felt Vulture was, like, a 3rd-tier Spider-Man villain, so I don’t care who’s playing him because it’s going to take a lot of convincing for me to take him seriously. I don’t mean to sound so “meh” about Marvel’s showing, as there was some notable stuff there. I just felt like the presentation was more of the same.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Netflix has ordered a second season of one of my favorite shows of 2015: Scrotal Recall. Since the title is off-putting, however, the show will be renamed Lovesick.
  • The Vampire Diaries will end after season 8. With it and Teen Wolf gone, how will our teenage daughters embrace their desire to bang monsters?!

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  • Speaking of Teen Wolf, we got our first look at Tyler Hoechlin as Superman on Supergirl next season. Yeah, not feeling it. He looks like some dude off Tindr who went to a Halloween party dressed as Superman. He’s not built enough.
  • Ghost Rider Robbie Reyes will be appearing on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. next season. As someone on Twitter said, he’ll probably just be a guy in a leather jacket who has smoke come out of his ears one episode. TV budgets!
  • Thor: Ragnarok will officially incorporate aspects of the Planet Hulk storyline into the movie, with Hulk’s armor on display at SDCC
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Kurt Russell will officially be playing Star-Lord’s dad in the form of Ego The Living Planet
  • Reportedly, a reboot of The Rocketeer is being developed with a Black woman as the title character.
  • Apparently the human stars of Sesame Street have been let go as the show heads in a new direction. I figured Elmo had taken out a hit on them years ago, so I was surprised to learn they were even still around.
  • Viacom announced that VH-1 Classic will be rebranded as MTV Classic on Monday. The network will air 90s programming, like Daria, Beavis & Butthead and, most importantly, music videos!

Links I Loved

The Wedding Crasher of Lincoln, Neb. – The New York Times

I Need To Move: A Pokémon Go Sob Story – The Workprint

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I never thought I’d be saying this, but I think that DC “won” SDCC. They definitely brought their “A” game on all fronts. For the TV shows, we got new trailers showing the effects of “Flashpoint” on the cast of The Flash, while also showing Oliver putting together a new team on Arrow. Speaking of the TV shows, it was announced that Katie Cassidy scored one of those “Berlantiverse” series regular contracts like Wentworth Miller and John Barrowman got. So, even though Laurel’s “dead”, she’ll now be able to pop up wherever she pleases, including The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.

On the movie front, they made one final push for Suicide Squad with a “remix” trailer that they showed in Hall H. I hate to say it, but I think they’re wearing me down. I had said I had no plans to see it in the theater, but now I have a morbid curiosity about it. We also got the trailer for The LEGO Batman Movie, which was exactly what I thought I was gonna get when I watched LEGO DC Comics: Batman Beleagured. That movie was a toyetic disappointment, but this looks hilarious. I love Will Arnett’s Batman because he has this comedic douchebaggery to him that just makes everything he does funnier. I can’t wait for that to come out.

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Now for the big boys. I did not like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I still haven’t seen the Ultimate Edition, so maybe I’ll change my mind. Or just lose more hours of my life. Still, that movie soured me on the Zack Snyder DC Cinematic Universe. It made me not want to see Suicide Squad, and it made me fear for what a full scale Justice League movie would entail. Then I saw the footage they revealed at SDCC. The movie’s only been filming for a few weeks, but it already looks really good. Hell, it looks great. I didn’t hate Ezra Miller as Barry Allen as much as I thought I would. I was thoroughly impressed by Cyborg’s appearance onscreen. I liked the humor, as the tone didn’t seem as dark of Dawn of Justice, even though they’re supposedly facing a bigger threat. It was kinda weird seeing Bruce Wayne in the Nick Fury recruitment role, as Batman isn’t exactly a “joiner” unless it’s his own Bat Family. Still, I can buy it, and roll with what they’re trying to do. I am actually looking forward to Justice League, which is not something I could’ve said back in March.

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The true gem of all the trailers, however, was the Wonder Woman trailer. It’s funny – Whenever people talk about the fact there’s a Wonder Woman movie coming, someone tends to always chime in with “It’s about time”. I also roll my eyes at this person because I never really saw the potential of a Wonder Woman film. I’m the guy who points out there are very few “definitive” Wonder Woman comic runs. To me, she hadn’t “earned” a movie, so there was no “about time” about it. Then I saw the trailer from SDCC, and I thought aloud “It’s about time”. I would never call myself a “Wonder Woman fan”, but I’m trying to learn more about her so I can indoctrinate my daughter at an early age, and WW is the gateway drug (kinda like how every early ’00s article about comics said you should introduce your girlfriend to comics by having her read Blankets). I went from casual fan to “OH MY GOD WHERE CAN I BUY TICKETS?!” in the span of that trailer. It’s amazing how we were all against Gadot when she was first cast, and now I can’t imagine anyone else in the role. I did, however, kinda dislike how the lasso was animated, but maybe it’ll look better on the big screen. Anyway, I feel like DC ruled Hall H this year – something that’s usually a notch on Marvel’s belt. For this reason, I think DC Entertainment had the West Week Ever.

24th Jun2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 6/24/16

by Will

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WWE Edit

We’ve got a lot to talk about this week, so let’s get to it, shall we?

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On the movie front, the first thing that I watched was Focus, starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie. Smith plays a con man who takes Robbie under his wing from chump change jobs to the real money jobs. It was entertaining enough, but it just felt like another movie where Will Smith played a version of himself. He never really immerses himself in his roles. Each role is just an alternate timeline version of Will Smith. In this timeline, he wore really nice suits and had an S-Curl. Robbie was fine enough, but I don’t get why she’s the new It Girl. I guess I still need to see The Wolf of Wall Street for that. My problem with heist movies is that my brain doesn’t work fast enough to process what’s going on with the plan. I just blindly accept whatever they’re telling me, and then I end up overanalyzing it once the movie’s over. I’m basically the guy trying to figure out how the magic trick works. Anyway, it was engaging, but it’s also got some twists where you can’t really watch it a second time. Nothing on a “Keyser Soze” level, but I think a second viewing would be affected by what I know now, having already seen it. Anyway, it’s not a bad way to kill an hour and a half.

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Then, Lindsay and I watched The Good Dinosaur with the baby. Since she’s only 14 months old, she kinda watched it while busying herself by climbing on shit. I could think of much better names for this film. For example, it could’ve been called The Dinosaur King, since it’s really just a working class version of The Lion King. Or it could’ve been called Dino Falls, because it sounds like the name of a town, but it’s really because the main character, Arlo the dinosaur, spends a lot of time falling off shit. He falls off cliffs, mountains, etc. It seems like every 10 minutes, he’s getting back up from something, so at least he’s tenacious! Anyway, the story’s about Arlo, the weakest of a dino family, who ends up lost and has to find his way home. On the way, he befriends a caveboy who he initially thought was his enemy. Together, they protect each other in the treacherous environment. It’s got all the Disney tropes you love: dead father, inspirational ghost of dead father, gang of stupid, antagonistic predators. Seriously, the only thing missing was a catchy song or phrase to put on T-shirts (“Hakuna Matata” or “Ohana”, anyone?). Still, even though it’s not considered one of Pixar’s best, and I felt like I’d experienced that story before, I still really enjoyed it. To be honest, I think I liked it more than Inside Out. Maybe it was the hype surrounding that movie, but I just don’t get what you people saw in that film that was so emotional. I was far more touched by the friendship between Arlo and “Spot” than I was about anything going on in Riley’s life. So, you probably didn’t see it when it was in theaters (it was Pixar’s lowest-grossing film), but I think you should definitely check it out now that it’s On Demand and on DVD.

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Finally, I watched Sleeping With Other People, starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie. Sudeikis and Brie lost their virginity to each other in college, and then meet up again almost 15 years later at a meeting for love addicts. It seems that neither has been able to have a successful relationship since college, and they sort of become each other’s support system. Meanwhile, everyone around them knows they ought to be together, but they just won’t pull the trigger. It was a funny movie, with a great cast of funny folks. The part that I loved was that many of them had worked together before, so I kept thinking of this as an extension of those other roles. For example, Brie’s character was cheating on her boyfriend with Adam Scott, so I kept thinking of those Smirnoff commercials with the two of them. Or Sudeikis’s business partner is played by Jason Mantzoukas , better known as “Rafi” on The League, and his character is married to Andrea Savage, who played Rafi’s girlfriend on The League. I love little things like that. Anyway, it’s a romantic comedy, so you know how it ends. Plus, Brie must’ve had a no-nudity clause in her contract, as there was a bra-on sex scene, so that was a bummer. Still, everyone’s got great chemistry, and I enjoyed it.

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On the stand-up comedy front, I was eagerly anticipating Big Jay Oakerson: Live At Webster Hall, which premiered last Friday night on Comedy Central. I’ve recently heard about folks getting too familiar with podcast hosts because they feel like they know them, and that’s exactly how I feel about Big Jay. Seeing as how I listen to him twice a week on The Bonfire, I guess I’m starting to think he’s my friend or something. Crazy, I know, but I do think we’d get along famously. Anyway, for that reason, I was really happy for him that his one-hour special was finally seeing the light of day. It was a great hour, and he’s truly is the master of crowd work. He doesn’t even have to prepare that much material because he just engages the audience, and he’s quick on his feet. It was definitely one of the better specials I’ve seen recently, but I might be biased since I’m a notch away from being a stalker here.

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Then, I caught Quincy Jones: Burning the Light on HBO. No, not that Quincy Jones. If you’re not familiar with Jones, he gained a lot of attention last year when he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. You see, he’s got terminal cancer, and only has about a year to live. He wanted to spend that time touring and doing comedy. Ellen hooked him up and got HBO to give him a one-hour special. He had some funny bits, but it felt like he was still workshopping some stuff. It wasn’t a tight hour, and his crowd work struggled a bit because of a weird audience. It almost felt like they were there out of charity, as they knew his situation, and would kind of laugh at stuff that wasn’t that funny. I feel like he probably could’ve had a strong half hour on, say, Comedy Central’s The Half Hour, but he’s not ready for a full hour yet. Sadly, time isn’t something that he has a lot of, so I guess he had to strike when the opportunity presented itself. It’s worth a watch, but go in knowing that it’s not going to be the most polished special you’ve seen.

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In DC movie news, the logo was revealed for the Justice League film. In order to curry favor with the press, director Zack Snyder invited basically every major news outlet to a site visit recently. Though the movie is only 30 days into a 100 day shoot, reporters got to tour the set and talk to Ben Affleck. And of course, all of the folks who were invited are now positive about the movie, saying that Ezra Miller’s Flash will be a surprising bright spot of the film. It seems the Snyders basically brought the press to them for their Apology Tour, but everyone’s drinking the Kool-Aid. An interesting tidbit came out of the visit: though originally reported as a two-part film, producer Deborah Snyder said that Justice League is ONE film. So, that now means that DC has an open release date in which they can slot something else. It’s also rumored that The Flash will be more of a team-up movie with Cyborg, making me think that the Cyborg movie might be inching its way off the table.

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In Power Rangers movie news, a PR alum comes home as Bryan Cranston has been cast as the Rangers’ mentor, Zordon. Cranston voiced a few of the monsters of the day back during the Mighty Morphin days. I wouldn’t call this a casting “coup”, but it really does come out of nowhere. Meanwhile, Lionsgate released the teaser poster for the film, and it’s the most Lionsgatey thing that Lionsgate ever Lionsgated. If you’re not familiar with Lionsgate’s output, their highest grossing movies are angsty young adult novel adaptations, like Divergent and The Hunger Games. And that seems to be the tone they’re going for here, which I was afraid of. It looks like the poster for a show that would air on The CW or Freeform. Yeah, I see the lightning bolt in the stars, but that’s not doing it for me. There’s gonna be problems marketing this film, as PR typically isn’t for the YA set, while this doesn’t look like something kids want to see. I know it’s just a teaser, but I’ll be interested to see how they handle the marketing going forward. Right now, this just looks like the back cover of an Abercrombie catalog…

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In Star Trek news, CBS/Paramount has issued official guidelines for fan film productions going forward. Ever since the drama with the Anaxar fan film, resulting in a lawsuit from CBS/Paramount, folks have wondered how fan films would be handled in the future. Well, now they know. And some folks are up in arms about the guidelines, but I’ve seen some pretty dreadful Trek fan films, and I know that CBS/Paramount are just trying to protect their IP. There are some interesting rules here, though. For example, no one who has ever appeared on Star Trek can be in your fan production, as it must be cast entirely with amateurs. So, no more Walter Koenig and Tim Russ cameos. And you can’t have Star Trek in your title, but you MUST include a subtitle that says “A Star Trek Fan Production”. And if there are commercially-available costumes or props, you can’t use bootleg versions, but must use the store-bought equivalent. So, no more homemade Starfleet costumes. These rules are really going to shackle the hands of fan film producers, but I think abiding by them will result in a higher quality product. I guess time will tell.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Fall Out Boy and Missy Elliott released “Ghostbusters (I’m Not Afraid)”. Ray Parker Jr’s career is rolling over in its grave!
  • It was revealed that season 3 of The Flash will loosely adapt the Flashpoint storyline from the comics
  • Sony revealed plans for the animated Ghostbusters: Ecto Force. The show will focus on a team of Ghostbusters in the year 2050. Yeah, not quite sure why they need a time jump, but it is what it is. It just has shades of Stargate Infinity and it makes me sad.
  • FX has renewed Archer for 3 more seasons, which is surprising since that show seemed to be winding down. One of these days, I’ll actually watch past season 1.

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      • The Ben 10 reboot will debut on Cartoon Network in North America in 2017, while Playmates now has the toy license. As you can tell from the art, this version seems to be targeting a slightly younger audience than the last show.
      • Jamie Chung has been cast as Valerie Vale for next season on Gotham. Apparently, shes Vicki’s aunt. This fucking show…
      • Former Wonder Woman star Lynda Carter has been cast as the President in the next season of Supergirl. And that’s STILL not enough to make me interested in that show.
      • After already renewing the show for a second season, HBO decided to cancel the low-rated Vinyl.
      • Maisie Richardson-Sellers has been cast as Vixen on Legends of Tomorrow, where she will play the grandmother of current Vixen Mari McCabe, played by Megalyn Echikunwoke
      • Comic writer Mark Millar announced ongoing series for Hit-Girl, as well as Kick-Ass: The New Girl. The latter will feature a young Black woman taking on the mantle of Kick-Ass. One day, I’ll actually get around to reading the finale of the last guy who wore the suit.

  • My pal Chris Piers is at it again with the Comic Tropes videos. This time, he tackles polarizing artist Rob Liefeld and an increasingly hot assortment of peppers. Check it out!

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This week, each day brought us more casting news about Spider-Man: Homecoming. At first, we learned comedian Hannibal Buress had joined the film. Then, Abraham Attah, from Beasts of No Nation, joined the cast. Then Bokeem Woodbine. Then Laura Harrier. And then Garcelle Beauvais. I joked on Twitter that the casting mandate for this movie is clearly “Get all the Blacks who aren’t already in that Black Panther movie!” So, if you’re a working Black actor in Hollywood, you probably had the West Week Ever. And if you didn’t, just sit by your phone. The call is coming!

 

29th Jan2016

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

by Will

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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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.

17th Dec2015

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

by Will

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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