29th Sep2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 9/29/17

by Will

So the week kicked off with me heading to the Baltimore Comic-Con. A tradition of mine for the past 14 years or so, I’ve only missed one in that span of time and, while I was kinda under the weather, I’m a stickler for tradition! How was it? It was OK. It felt sort of smaller this year, but that could just be the result of the odd layout of the place. It wasn’t in the main hall, as there was some sort of waste management convention going on in that space. I honestly think it was called WasteCon. I wanted to sneak in just to see what kind of swag they had to offer. Anyway, you get into the exhibit hall, and the photo ops section split up the main floor from the food court. The publishers were set up closest to the photo ops, while the vendors took up most of the floor. Meanwhile, the smaller press, Artist Alley folks were shoved into the back. It might’ve been the same layout as last year, but something just felt off about it. The way things were jumbled together just kind of overwhelmed me – a feeling I’d have for the rest of the show.

The cosplay was pretty decent, though. I was somewhat disappointed by what I had seen at Awesome Con back in June, and I felt like these costumes were actually creative. I spent most of my time digging through longboxes, though, so I probably missed out on much of the “con experience”. Didn’t get to say “hi” to a lot of my publisher friends. Didn’t really meet any comic writers or artists. Just spent a few hours digging for gold.

I walked away from the show with an epiphany: I’m seriously considering giving up buying comics on a monthly basis. While I enjoy the weekly ritual of going to the comic shop, and grabbing the latest books off the shelf, the money really starts to rack up. Your average comic costs $3.99 today, and that can go up to $9.99 sometimes (looking at you, Deadpool). While my local shop gives you a 10% discount, that only goes so far. At the show, it was clear that the industry has changed, as the majority of the vendors were selling comics for $1 each. And I’m not talking about old, dead stock. Some of those books had just come out last Wednesday. Over the course of the show, I bought about 120 comics to fill in some holes in my collection. And you know how much I paid? $120. Had I bought those books at retail, at minimum they would’ve cost $478.

If you’ve talked to me recently about comics, you know the sort of To Read backlog that I’m dealing with. I buy the books when they hit, but don’t read them for 6 months. I have an unread longbox of Marvel and an unread longbox of DC. Why am I sinking all this money into something that’s just going to sit in a box? If I time the conventions correctly, I can buy everything I need every 6 months or so, and be caught up by the time the next show, and the next batch of $1 boxes hits.

I also don’t feel like being taken advantage of by publishers. I got into an argument with Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool because of a matter I felt he should be covering but wasn’t. You see, DC recently wrapped up Frank Miller’s third entry into the Dark Knight series, Dark Knight III: The Master Race. This was an 8-issue series, expanded to 9 issues over the course of the series, priced at $5.99 each. So, right there, a $47.92 commitment became a $53.91 commitment. Fine. These were higher end comics, with a thicker stock cover and a mini comic inserted into each issue. So, $5.99. I think it could’ve been done for $4.99, but whatever. So, fast forward to last Wednesday, when the hardcover collection of the series was released for $29.99. Yes, I said HARDCOVER (which is typically priced much higher than a trade paperback). All 9 issues are included, plus the mini comics are included at natural size. You’re basically being punished for being an early adopter if you purchased the series on its pseudo-monthly schedule. Johnston tried to say that it’s commonly understood that collections are cheaper than the individual issues, but I say not by that kind of margin! Single issue buyers, like myself, almost paid TWICE what trade-waiters will pay, and I don’t think that’s the right way of doing business. Again, Johnston tried to say that the thicker cover and inserted mini comic would’ve made production costs higher, but not by that much. People always forget I worked at Diamond in Purchasing. Needless to say, Johnston thought it was a non-story because he had to go dig through some Marvel exec’s dumpster, but I think it’s an important issue. People want to blame stories and SJWs and all that for the demise of the comic industry, but ultimately it’s gonna come down to price. Always follow the money. And I’m going to rethink how I invest mine in this hobby.

Speaking of money, Toys “R” Us doesn’t have any, and they filed for bankruptcy last week. Keep in mind, vultures, that they filed for Chapter 11 protection so don’t start waiting for the going out of business sales any time soon.

I worked for Toys “R” Us off and on for 10 years of my life, so I’ve got some thoughts on the whole matter. Right now, they’ve got to restructure, and I think one thing they need to do is eliminate their in-house brands. Nobody wants Fastlane when you’ve got Hot Wheels for a dollar. It’s kind of hard to compete with that price point. Also, I feel like their footprint is too large. I remember growing up, thinking that I loved Toys “R” Us. Then I started working there, and realized I only loved aisles 6D & 7D – action figures. When I had to work other departments, I was like “What is all this shit?” They need a more concentrated assortment of merchandise, taking up less space. Also, seeing as how they own the Kay Bee rights, they should spin off that brand and resurrect it as “The Toy Store in the Mall”. Of course, malls are dying, so these would mainly be located in town centers which are all the rage in commercial real estate these days. A decent sized Kay Bee had all that you needed, except for larger stuff like bikes and the baby stuff. They can keep Babies “R” Us as it is, as that’s the moneymaker these days, but they should really strive for smaller stores. I’m sure I could rattle off some more suggestions, but nobody’s paying me for my ideas, so I’ll just sit here quietly and see what the professionals come up with.

 

*Climbs up on soapbox* I’m tired of the echo chamber. I’m tired of hearing the same shit, with nothing behind it except opinion and vitriol. What am I talking about? I got into a…discussion in a Facebook group the other day about The Big Bang Theory. Someone posted an article about how the show turned 10 years old and “still sucks”. I said that was a tired hot take because where it “sucks” or not, there are people out there who still like it. I won’t lie – I enjoy the show. It’s no marvel of modern television, but when’s the last time anyone said that about a multi cam sitcom? It’s the single cams that win all the awards. In this day and age, you’re bound to get hate just for having a studio audience. Liking it isn’t a hill for me to die on, but I find it almost obnoxious how people will go out of their way to tell you it sucks. OK, that’s great, but that’s your opinion. “But everyone thinks it sucks!” Everyone you talk to, maybe. We live in a time when opinion is routinely taken as fact and I’m just tired of the implications of that.

Let me learn ya something: this week’s 11th season premiere of The Big Bang Theory had 17 million viewers. I consider myself a student of television, and I can’t help but marvel at a show whose ratings trajectory is so strong after all this time. Find me another show, in the modern era, that has that kind of audience in its ELEVENTH season. It’s unparalleled. “But popularity doesn’t mean it’s good.” What are you looking for? Shakespeare? Some folks enjoy it. Isn’t that enough?

There’s a lot of cultural elitism going around, and it’s from the smallest things like TV shows to the biggest things like politics. When people say, “Oh, The Big Bang Theory is a piece of shit”, OK, that’s their opinion. To take that opinion as fact discounts the opinions of 17 MILLION PEOPLE. That’s when one of you will retort with “Well, the Nielsen system is broken”. Fine, I get it. There’s an excuse from everything.

I liken this situation to American politics. To go online, everyone supposedly hates Trump. Still, for all you’re seeing of that, somebody still voted for him. A lot of somebodies. But when you’re in your echo chamber, you don’t really think about that. It turns into “I can’t believe this! How did this happen?!” I’m not saying to go out and hug a Nazi because that would just be stupid, but just take some time to understand that someone has a different viewpoint than you. I’m not even saying you have to respect it, but at least acknowledge that it’s there.

I’ve done a lot of introspection over the past few weeks, and I’m reminded that I don’t want to review something with “That sucks” or “That’s horrible”, because other folks’ mileage may vary. It’s enough to just say “That wasn’t for me.” It’s times like these when I miss my pal Ryan’s podcast, Positively Nerdy. He would always strive to be positive about the stuff he talked about, and it even broke cynical old me. What do you all have to gain by being so negative about shit? Just let people enjoy what they enjoy, and stop acting like it’s some unexplained anomaly. It actually makes quite a bit of sense if you take the time to really think about it.

They announced a Teen Titans Go movie for next summer, and I’ve seen folks just shit all over it. Why? Because to a lot of folks “It’s the show that replaced Young Justice!” even though those decisions were made independently of each other. I love that show. Like, it honestly brings me joy. I work from home on Wednesdays, and the other day they had both a Neverending Story AND a Goonies homage. If you hate it, that’s fine, but it’s not a piece of shit to me. Also, Cartoon Network is a business. Sure, a lot of you hate that the show is ALWAYS on (I’d even probably hate that if I didn’t like the show), but it’s scheduled like that because it’s highly rated. “Well, those people have no taste!” There you go projecting your opinion on shit.

Anyway, I’m tired of hearing the same arguments and the same sentiments, and I’m going to do my best to broaden my horizons in that regard. *steps off soapbox*

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Billy Bush and his wife of 20 years are calling it quits. Man, if you told me former Z104 DJ Billy Bush would end up the fall guy for a presidential administration, I never would’ve believed you…
  • Looks like Gina Torres finally chose the Red Pill, as she and husband Laurence Fishburne have split up after 14 years of marriage.
  • James Cameron said it took him a week to muster up the courage to ask ex-wife Linda Hamilton to star in the 6th Terminator movie.
  • It’s looking like Marvel has no faith in the Inhumans TV series (which premieres tonight), as it is now being billed as “the complete series” instead of “season one”
  • Rumer Willis is now a series regular on Empire. Huh? I can only assume her mom got her the job when she joined the show. So glad I dropped it a while ago.
  • Apparently the Riverdale folks are developing a reboot of Sabrina The Teenage Witch for The CW. Based on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic, I doubt it’ll feature hot aunts this time around. PASS!

 

  • This year’s Arrowverse crossover will be a 2-night event called “Crisis on Earth-X”, and we got the promo image for it this week.

  • We also got this promo image for season 5 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where the team apparently heads to space.
  • After 5 seasons, Chip & Joanna Gaines are walking away from Fixer Upper. Knowing HGTV, they’re fast-tracking Fixer Upper Vegas to fill the void as we speak.
  • A female-led reboot of the 70s series Kung Fu has received a put pilot order at Fox. This means it pretty much HAS to make it to air or the network will be out of a ton of money. Considering there are some seriously messed up racial politics with that show, I’m counting down to the shitstorm.
  • Black-ish creator Kenya Barris will write the script for Coming to America 2. I can only assume Eddie Murphy’s behind on child support or something.
  • The Mist has been cancelled by Spike after one season.
  • Reportedly the youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner dynasty, Kylie, is 5 months pregnant, with rapper Travis Scott as the father. As fucked up as it is, I can only marvel at how savvy Kris Jenner is. The original cast members got old and boring, so she orchestrated the dawn of the next generation. If you don’t think Kris had a hand in all this, you don’t know the Kardashians. Kris could’ve been an amazing force as the head of a network or something.
  • The Russo Brothers are adapting Rick Remender’s Deadly Class comic for a pilot at Syfy
  • Amazon is developing Greg Rucka’s comics Lazarus into a television series
  • Former congressman Anthony Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in prison for sexting a teenage girl. How on the nose is that? His name is “Weiner” and that’s what he was showing to people. Man, people better keep an eye on Senator Robert Scrotum!
  • BoJack Horseman has been renewed for season 5 at Netflix. One day I’ll finally catch up with that show. Never even started season 2…
  • Apparently Danny Elfman will be working the John Williams Superman theme into Justice League. Don’t really know what to make of that right now.

  • The Cartoon Network series OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes kinda confounds me, but it did find it cool that there will be a Captain Planet crossover on the October 9th episode
  • Saturday Night Live has hired new cast members Heidi Gardner, Chris Redd, and Luke Null to fill the void left by departed cast members Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer, and Sasheer Zamata.

  • I don’t consider myself much of a “movie guy”, but I remember trailers like this, so I thought this was pretty cool.

It was a big week for Star Trek, as Sunday saw the premiere of the long-delayed Star Trek: Discovery. In all, I didn’t hate it. That said, I’m starting to love Enterprise, so I’m not sure what the fanbase would say about that. For now, it feels like Star Trek in name only (like Enterprise), but I’ve only seen one episode. That said, it was a riveting hour, and I’m interesting in learning more about the main character, Michael Burnham.

According to online reports, about 9.6 million people watched the premiere, and CBS All Access had its highest signup day in history. Still, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the first month is free. I don’t think this show has staying power on All Access, especially with little other original programming to support it. It’s a lot like the situation Yahoo found themselves in with Screen. Sure, they got Community, but it was already a low-rated network sitcom, which wasn’t adequately supported by the other original programming on the platform. It folded after a season. I feel that if Discovery gets a second season, I doubt it will be on All Access. Right now, they can say “Well, at least we tried” if it ends up blowing up in their faces. It’d be hilarious if they pull a Supergirl and farm it off to The CW. I guess time will tell.

Also, this week saw the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. What better way to celebrate a show that hardline fans said “Wasn’t really Star Trek” than with a new show that hardline fans are saying the same thing? I remember the day TNG premiered. Oh yeah, I’ve been there since the beginning. I remember because my mom’s boyfriend at the time was putting carpet down in our back room. He took me to Kmart and bought me WWF trading cards while he got supplies. He was a hardline TOS fan, and had no desire to watch TNG that evening. I think he finished the job before the show came on, and I watched it wondering “What the heck is this?” After all, I have no real affinity for TOS, but I like getting in on the ground floor of things. Even at a young age, I liked the idea of Star Trek, but didn’t really like the show, if that makes any sense. Anyway, that carpet’s still in that back room, I think that dude may be dead, and now we’ve got a new Star Trek on the air. The circle of LIIIIIFFEEE!

I didn’t love TNG in the beginning, as I argue that it didn’t get good until Roddenberry died. Cruel, I know, but that’s when they took off the kid gloves. I tend to dislike a lot of episodes people love, like “Encounter at Farpoint” and “All Good Things…” Still, the turning point for me was “The Best of Both Worlds Pt I”, which is still the greatest season finale in the history of modern television. After that, there was no looking back for me. Man, 30 years! I feel so old…

Anyway, I think it goes without saying that the Star Trek franchise had the West Week Ever.

 

Programming Note: I used to write about stuff I found at thrift stores. It was called Thrift Justice. It’s back. Check this space on Monday!

18th Aug2017

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

by Will

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

04th Aug2017

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

by Will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

07th Apr2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/7/17

by Will

 

So, last night I became the last person in America to see Get Out. As I joked on Twitter, I’m totally getting a divorce now. No, I kid, I kid. Like everyone said, it’s really good, though it may be a tad overrated. Just a tad. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Get Out is the story of Black man Chris Williams who joins his White girlfriend Rose Armitage on a visit to her parents’ home for the weekend. And then crazy shit starts to happen. I can see what the appeal of the film is. I really can. But I’ve got to level with you: this movie hit a little too close to home. Yeah, I know that one Black reader I have is like “That’s what you get for datin’ them White girls!” No, seriously, I probably would’ve ended up just like Chris. First of all, I have a thing for Allison Williams. Even as bitchy, self-centered Marnie on Girls, I still have a thing for her. When her father fell from grace, I just wanted to tell her everything would be all right. So I would’ve taken the bait. In addition to that, I’ve dated that kind of family. Yes, in those cases, you’re dating the whole family. They had the same socioeconomic status as the Armitages, their friends were the same way, with the same weird questions. Sometimes you don’t realize how Black you are until that’s ALL you are to some folks. What some folks saw as just fun entertainment is something that I kinda lived. They’d do weird shit, where I felt like they were testing me. I remember the first time I went to stay for the weekend, they put me in a room with, like, three Rolexes just laying about like they were nothing. No, I don’t think they would’ve killed me, but I can totally see how something like this could happen. Meanwhile, I’m here thinking that I need to get me a friend as good as TSA Rod. I’ve got a lot to unpack from that movie right now. I’d love to have a conversation with Jordan Peele, ’cause that movie came from a place of experience. I wonder if I’d ever see it again, or if it’s like Bamboozled, where it’s just gonna make me hate White people for a while. Naw, I can’t hate y’all. You’re the only ones who read my site!

In movie news, it was reported that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are set to produce a film based on the Image comic Invincible. I used to read the series back when I worked at Diamond and got the hardcovers for free, and I really loved it. It follows Mark Grayson, who’s half human and half Viltrumite. His father, who’s full Vultrimite, is the hero known as Omni-Man, and Mark seems to have inherited a lot of his powers. Mark becomes the hero Invincible and a bunch of other stuff happens. Hey, what do you want from me? I only read the first 48 issues, and that was, like, 7 years ago. The thing I like about the series is that Mark is allowed to grow and change. People die and stay dead. In comics, there’s always the approach where they give the semblance of change without actual change, but that’s not how Invincible works. I mean, he’s currently married with a kid, and they haven’t resorted to having the Devil erase it all, unlike some heroes… Anyway, I like the idea of a movie, but I don’t know if Rogen and Goldberg are the guys to do it. After all, they’re the team behind AMC’s Preacher – a show that I’ve yet to really hear anything good about. Mainly, I heard season one was just boring. So, I guess we’ll just have to see what they bring to the table.

In other movie news, Scarlett Johansson’s live action Ghost In The Shell adaptation bombed, and the congregation rejoiced. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the film because it was felt that the main character, played by Johansson, was whitewashed. They felt she should’ve been portrayed by an Asian actress, and even the studio is now saying the movie failed to meet expectations due to the whitewashing controversy. I’m really not educated enough to weigh in on this one. I mean, I’d always heard that Japanese identity politics went a little deeper than we might think, which is why their cartoon characters always have blue hair and shit, but never really look Asian. But again, before I say something uninformed, I’m gonna bow out of this one. For a better understanding of the controversy, check out my friend Jenn’s post on the film.

Speaking of outrage, there was a Pepsi commercial that ruffled some feathers this week. I’d post the video, but Pepsi is trying to scrub all reference to the thing. In it, Kendall Jenner breaks away from a fashion shoot to join a peaceful protest, capping it off by offering a stern looking cop a Pepsi. He accepts, takes a swig, and everyone rejoices. The problem, however, is that the ad was kind of tone deaf. It seemed to trivialize the act of protesting, and to add insult to injury, it installed a pretty White girl as the face of the protest. Now, I saw the thing, and it was hamfisted, but I’m not sure it was worth all the threaded tweets and thinkpieces that it generated. Like, I get why folks didn’t like it, but I’m not sure I’m “woke” enough to see the whole matter. Anyone wanna weigh in on this one?

In television news, Disney Channel officially ordered Raven’s Home to series. Serving as the sequel to That’s So Raven, it features Raven Symone reprising her role as Raven Baxter, only now she’s the divorced mom of twin tweens. She also lives with her best friend, Chelsea, who’s ALSO a divorced single mom. Things start to get crazy, though, when Raven’s kids start to exhibit her psychic powers. See, that was always my thing with that show. Sure, I was too old for it when it was a hit, but I love a good tween TV show. That said, I feel like Raven and her friends could’ve had zany adventures without the whole psychic powers gimmick. I mean, the kids of iCarly didn’t need superpowers in order to be entertaining. The psychic stuff made it too much like a mystical tween Three’s Company which, on paper, sounds perfect, but isn’t that great in execution. Anyway, I just typed all this to justify posting a pic of costar Anneliese Van Der Pol. This whole thing just sounds like Fuller House with powers. I’ve got no nostalgia for the original show, so I doubt I’ll be checking this out.

In other TV news, Freeform has ordered New Warriors to series, featuring fan favorite character Squirrel Girl. I’ve got to admit that I know next to nothing about that character except that she was the nanny to Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s daughter, Dani. I know she was a Great Lakes Avenger, but she was never a New Warrior. Still, they’ve been trying to find a vehicle for that character FOREVER, so I guess they finally figured it out. Based on how WB/DC has handled Powerless, I’m not too eager to see another comedy set in a comic book universe. The one bright spot in the whole thing is that Kevin Biegel is rumored to be the showrunner. Not only does he follow me on Twitter, but he’s the creator of the Fox series Enlisted (which I loved), and he co-created Cougar Town. Knowing that, I think the show is in good hands. I still feel weird about being a 35 year old man watching Freeform. It’s like you’re paying for The CW. The news, however, makes me sad that The Middle is still going. If you didn’t know, a few years ago, when it looked like the writing was on that wall for that show, Eden Sher had a meeting with Marvel. While we don’t really know what was discussed, her name was thrown around in the same discussions of Squirrel Girl. With The Middle already renewed for next season, though, that takes her out of the running. Sucks because I think Sher’s perky, Sue Heck personality would be perfect for Squirrel Girl.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Barry Manilow came out as gay, which makes me realize that he’s actually been singing about Man D all these years…
  • Speaking of gay, on Doctor Who it was revealed that The Doctor’s latest female companion, Bill, is gay. I mean, her name is “Bill”, so, surprise?
  • NBC ordered 2 additional episodes of the Will & Grace revival, bringing the total up to 12.
  • Also in the Department of Things We Don’t Need, there are apparently outlines for 14 more Transformers movies


I’ve written about my love of The Undertaker a few times here on the site. Basically, he’s a relic of a bygone era in professional wrestling – an era of kayfabe, when enemies wouldn’t fly on the same planes together, or be seen hanging out together at IHOP. He’s from a time when people had flashy names and in-ring gimmicks to set them apart. The industry has changed a lot since then, but you could always depend on Taker. If I were to be a professional wrestler tomorrow, my in-ring name would be Bruce Williamson. That’s how they do it now. Other business ventures came along, like Total Divas, which even further blurred the lines between real and fake, but you could always depend on Taker.

In recent years, he’s basically been a part-timer. Ever since The Streak was broken, there wasn’t really much need for him to be around. The mystique was kind of gone by that point. But, like clockwork, he still showed up to Wrestlemania and did his job. In my heart, I knew the end was near. I’d always said that, given some advance warning, I’d even try to attend his final show. He means that much to me. Well, I didn’t even get to watch his final appearance, which was last Sunday at Wrestlemania 33. The card looked weak, and I felt I had better shit to do. Little did I realize I’d be missing history in the making. The Undertaker jobbed to Roman Reigns, narrowly missing out on his 100th pay per view victory. While the rumors of retirement had been floating for years, no one was ready for what would happen next. He donned his signature coat, gloves, and hat, and took one last look at the crowd. Then, he removed them, placed them in a pile in the center of the ring, and walked away. He kissed his wife, pretty much breaking character, and proceeded to walk up the ramp, where he was lowered until he disappeared. As the crew dismantled the ring, they refused to move his belongings – a gesture of respect to the man who brought us all nearly 30 years of entertainment. I hate that I wasn’t there, but I especially hate that I didn’t even watch it. Sure, in this technological age we can always find what we’re looking for, but I feel like I let him down. He doesn’t know me, doesn’t give a shit about me, but I know him, and I thank him. So, with that in mind, Mark Calaway, AKA The Undertaker had the West Week Ever.

17th Feb2017

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

by Will

On the movie front I finally got around to watching Central Intelligence. I’ve been wanting to see it since it was in theaters, as I love Kevin Hart movies, but I didn’t get to see it until it hit HBO. And I’m glad I waited. In the film, Hart plays a middle-aged accountant whose best days were in high school, when he was the most popular kid in school. Meanwhile, The Rock was the fat kid that all the other kids made fun of. Hart’s life is thrown into high gear when The Rock comes back into his life and turns out to work for the CIA. Hart gets wrapped up in murder, intrigue, and secret files. Yeah…On paper, this probably sounded like a great idea. The trailers looked hilarious. Surprisingly co-written by actor Ike Barinholtz (MadTV, The Mindy Project), it’s got a great cast, but they’re not necessarily bringing their A game. It was kinda weird to see Hart essentially playing the straight man, while The Rock had this weird goofiness to him. I know he’s trying to make the audience wonder if he can be trusted or not, but I don’t feel he sells it well. I almost bought this on Black Friday, and I’m glad I put it back on the shelf, as I don’t need to see it again.

In movie news, it’s rumored that Mel Gibson is being courted to direct Suicide Squad 2. Now, this is pretty interesting. I mean, who better to direct a movie about deranged criminals than a deranged actor/director? Seriously, that dude couldn’t be poked with an 8 foot pole a year ago, but since Hacksaw Ridge, it’s like all has been forgiven. I mean, he told his girlfriend he hoped she was “raped by a pack of niggers”! And let’s not forget all the antisemitic stuff. Anyway, I guess everyone deserves a second chance or whatever, but I don’t even see why he’d take the job. Even with all the controversy, a comic book film seems…beneath him, even if it would be great PR to restore his image in the public eye.

In other controversial movie news, A Cure For Wellness took a page out of the “fake news” playbook for its marketing campaign. 20th Century Fox partnered with fake news sites to run false stories alongside ads for the movie. Considering how the concept of fake news is upsetting a lot of people on both sides of the political aisle lately, this was considered to be in poor taste. A Fox spokesperson tried to explain that the film is about a fake cure that actually makes people sicker, so they thought the campaign was fitting. Fox has since apologized for the move, but I’ll bet it’s not the last time someone does this.

In TV news, ABC announced that the next season of The Bachelorette would star Rachel Lindsay as the first Black Bachelorette. This is important for a few reasons. First off, ABC is essentially torpedoing the notion that the current season of The Bachelor even matters anymore. After all, Lindsay is still in the running as one of the remaining finalists of the current cycle of the show. By doing this, ABC is spoiling the fact that she doesn’t win, before the finale has even aired. I’ve never watched the show prior to this season (What? It’s on at the gym!), but I’ve read that this is a particularly disappointing season. The current Bachelor, Nick Viall, is pretty boring, and is also on his fourth go-round with the franchise, having previously been a contestant on seasons 10 and 11 of The Bachelorette, as well as season 3 of Bachelor In Paradise. I mean, if he hasn’t found love by now, then he’d might as well just pack it in! The odd part to me, though, is the choice of Lindsay. I mean, I’ve been watching TV for a LONG time, and it used to be that the most outlandish cast member is the one who gets the spin-off. This season, that honor goes to Corinne, a 24 year old businesswoman who has a nanny for HERSELF, and has repeatedly tried to fuck Nick into choosing her, only to be rebuffed every time. She’s always shocked that someone could reject someone as hot as she is, but that shock never stops her from trying again. If you want good television, you make Corinne the next Bachelorette. Plus, Lindsay isn’t even that interesting. In all the episodes I’ve seen, I can’t really understand why she’s still around unless the plan was always for her to be the next Bachelorette. I mean, after 33 cycles of all three shows combined, it’s time for some diversity, and it’ll definitely make things interesting – ESPECIALLY when they do the home visits. But right now, I’m just not seeing any reason for the choice of Lindsay other than the fact that she’s Black. And she’s not even the best Black chick they had this season. Nah, they sent those chicks home already.

There was an interesting interview over on TV Line with Arrow‘s co-showrunner Marc Guggenheim, where he basically revealed that those previously-announced DCTV contracts don’t really mean that much. If you remember, over the summer it was announced that Wentworth Miller, John Barrowman, and Katie Cassidy had signed DCTV exclusive deals, which would allow them to pop up in any of the Berlantiverse shows. While the details of the deal were unknown, it certainly seemed like they’d be doing more with them than they are. Sure, Miller has popped up as a hallucination on Legends, and Barrowman’s also on Legends, but Cassidy hasn’t really been used outside of Arrow this season (that I know of. I’m still behind on The Flash). When asked if Cassidy would be popping up before Arrow‘s season is over, Guggenheim replied:

“We have an idea for how to see [Katie] again, but we haven’t made a deal with her,” Guggenheim shared. “She’s not a series regular anymore, so we have to make a contract with her, and she’s got to be available. We haven’t had those conversations. But… we know exactly what we do want to do.

They have to make a contract with her? Then what was the point of last summer’s announcement? I realize it’s pilot season, so she’s got to look out for herself since she’s no longer a series regular, but the contract seemed to ensure she’d have work, and be available for it should it arise. It’s starting to be clear that these “exclusive” contracts are just as useless as comic exclusive contracts, which basically just mean you can’t work for Marvel if you’re working for DC and vice versa. You can still work for Image and nobody bats an eye.

In a surprising announcement, we’re getting a Love Actually sequel, but it’s not what you think it is. See, in the UK, they have this charity event called Red Nose Day, where they air a TV special to raise money for Comic Relief, which helps people in need in Africa and The UK. In its 30 year history, the event has raise over £1 billion. In the UK, Red Nose Day culminates in a telethon where all sorts of specials and reunions occur. The idea was brought to the US back in 2015, with Walgreens selling the red noses for charity. Well, this year, a bunch of members of the original cast of the film are getting back together for a 10-minute special that will show us where they all are today. Right now, the special is expected to include Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Martine McCutcheon (YAY!), Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Rowan Atkinson (really? He wasn’t even that important), Andrew Lincoln, Lucia Moniz, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Olivia Olson. It’ll be really interesting to see where these characters are, 14 years later. It’s a shame we’re only getting ten minutes, but I’ll take what I can get. The special will air March 24th in the UK and May 25th in America. Yup, two months later. So, look for it on YouTube March 25th.

Rejoice, fellow titty enthusiasts! After a year of trying to “go legit”, Playboy has announced that nudity is returning to its pages as of its next issue. The decision to remove nudity didn’t really help sales much, which was somewhat surprising to me. See, I figured the lack of nudity would mean you’d see it in grocery stores and pharmacies, right next to Maxim and GQ. But that never happened. I guess it’s because the Playboy brand is known for nudity, even when the magazine itself decides to eschew it. But you bushwackers are gonna be disappointed, as the returning nudity will only feature breasts and butts for the time being.

This week, I had the pleasure of joining my pal, Classick, on the newest episode of Classick Team-Up. We discussed 24 Legacy, Turkish Airlines, and Trump’s America. Trust me, it all makes sense. Anyway, if you’re looking for some podcastin’ fo’ yo’ ears, check check check it out!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Adele “robbed” Beyoncé of the Album of the Year Grammy at this year’s awards ceremony. Whatever…
  • Country newcomer Maren Morris pulled off a major upset by winning Best Country Solo Performance Grammy over established award darlings Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and Miranda Lambert
  • With recent successful revivals of old shows, Fox is finally keen to revive sci fi cult fave Firefly – the only catch is that show creator Joss Whedon has to come back, and they figure he’s too busy right now. I hope he doesn’t call their bluff. That show bored the shit out of me.
  • Speaking of Fox, they blew my mind by renewing Lucifer this week for a 3rd season. I didn’t think it would make it through season 1!
  • ABC renewed their TGIT lineup comprised of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away With Murder for next season.
  • NBC renewed the wonderful Superstore for a 3rd season.
  • Cloverfield director Matt Reeves is in talks to replace Ben Affleck as director of The Batman. Meanwhile, the rumor is that Affleck is trying to walk away from the film completely.
  • Poor Alanis Morissette! I recently wrote about how her former manager stole around $5 million from her, and this week over $2 million in jewelry was stolen from her home.
  • In the Remakes Nobody Wanted department, Frank Grillo will star in an American version of modern-day action classic The Raid
  • In what I’ve heard was a dreadfully unfunny stand up special, Nick Cannon said that NBC was keeping him from being himself as host of America’s Got Talent. As a result, he’s said he’s leaving the show.

Man, before Sunday night we had no idea who or what “Gnarley Davidson” was. Now, I can’t understand how we ever lived without him. At the Grammys, Cee Lo Green debuted his new solid gold persona, bewildering millions. And the meme machine got crankin’. He was photoshopped into pictures of Donald Trump’s house.

He was photoshopped into pictures of the Power Rangers.

The best part, however, wasn’t even a meme, but actual video of his departure from the awards. After all, he didn’t win anything, so why stick around?

That, folks, is how a true West Week Ever recipient leaves an awards ceremony. So, it should go without saying at this point, but Cee Lo Green/Gnarly Davidson had the West Week Ever.

19th Dec2016

The Greatest Threat To the Direct Market Comic Retailer IS The Direct Market Comic Retailer

by Will

So, a few days ago, The Beat wrote the article “Why Are The Comics Retailers Worried About Mass Store Closings?“, which was your standard fear mongering about how the Direct Market is on its last legs. If you’re not familiar with the comic industry, here’s a crash course: the Direct Market is comprised of the comic shops who specialize in selling comics and related merch. If you buy the latest issue of Batman from Barnes & Noble, you’re not participating in the Direct Market. However, if you buy it from Jack’s Comics & Stuff, you’re a Direct Market consumer. Comics in the Direct Market are sold on a non-returnable basis, meaning that if retailers order too much of a book, they’re stuck with that stock, and can’t send unsolds back to the distributor unlike other periodicals.

The article posits a few different reasons retailers are afraid:

  • DC’s Prices Are Too Low – Um, $2.99 isn’t too low when most of those books are shipped biweekly. Simple math dictates that retailers will make more from selling two $2.99 books than one $3.99, even if it’s marginal. Sure, the retailer may want to make more money, but it’s a nice gesture of goodwill to the consumer – something Marvel could learn from, considering they keep releasing quarterly $9.99 Deadpool issues on top of the several spinoff series they have for the character that month.
  • Customers Are Disappearing – Well, duh. Minecraft and video games. Oh, and for the lucky older consumers, sex. Gotta pay for that sex!
  • Customers Are Switching To Collected Trade Paperback Format – Well, you get more bang for your buck that way. For example, each comic from Image has a cover price of $3.99, however each first volume of an Image series’ trade paperback collects approximately 6 issues for $9.99. Can you blame them?
  • Customers Don’t Like Marvel’s Output – When have customers liked Marvel’s output? No, when was the last time someone was like “Marvel’s really firing on all cylinders”? The first Civil War crossover? That was ten years ago. It’s not that Marvel’s necessarily worse these days. It’s that people are used to Marvel being better than DC, and now the gap between their quality is a lot smaller, due to Marvel trying to make lightning strike twice and DC getting a slight bump from Rebirth.
  • Rising Costs of Doing Business – Well, you can’t really fight that. Everything is more expensive.
  • Diamond Credit Crackdown – This is on the retailer. They knew they owed Diamond money, and kept letting it build up, not thinking Diamond was ever gonna come collect. It’s a business, not a charity.

A lot of comic shops are having a tough go of it, but the blame is being passed on to everyone from the distributor, Diamond Comic Distributors, to the Big 2 publishers, Marvel and DC. It’s always the same crap: “Diamond’s model is antiquated and comics should be returnable” or “Everything Marvel’s publishing is crap right now.” To read the comments on the post, however, you see a lot of folks railing against Marvel’s supposed “Social Justice Warrior” agenda, where they’re “forcing” diversity into all of their books. Really, if you wanna make a bunch of middle aged White men mad, start trying to diversify their funny books. Anyway, in a fit of anger, I wrote the following comment:

 

This is going to be a controversial opinion, but I see no overwhelming reason to support small businesses, and I don’t think I’m alone. Why am I paying more for something I can get cheaper elsewhere, especially with complaints of poor customer service, poor stocking of items, etc so pervasive these days? Now, call me an “ungrateful millennial” or whatever, but I don’t have fond memories of walking down by the crick, with a rolled up comic in my back pocket that I got from the local five and dime. It’s not an experience that I relate to. Same with comic shops. I have several I love, but the world would keep spinning if they shut down tomorrow.

The mentality that wants me to support Mom and Pop is the same one that wants Marvel to never change, and keep offering the same product it did 50 years ago. This is a common argument in the geek TV world. There are tons of adult fans angry at Power Rangers because it “sucks” compared to when they were kids, or hate Cartoon Network for showing nothing but Teen Titans Go – never stopping to realize they’re not the target audience. Thirty year olds wonder why today’s kids can’t love Snake-Eyes as much as they did, not realizing that maybe it’s time to give a new generation their OWN stories. There’s no shame in knowing when to walk away. I’ve seen folks say things like “I didn’t leave comics, comics left me.” Well, take that as a hint. Maybe the industry doesn’t want or need you anymore. Time to find new hobbies and pursuits!

 

What I said about small businesses is true. Just as I don’t really subscribe to the notion of “team spirit” (which is why I’m a terrible sports fan), I also never understood the push to support local mom and pop stores. I’m just fine with my big box retailers, with their affordable prices and decent customer service. These comic retailers chose to open their businesses, but now they approach them as if they’re victims. The distributor is out to get them because of the lengthy ordering window and lack of returnability. The publishers are out to get them because they keep publishing lackluster product. But it’s never “Ya know, I backed the wrong horse by buying into Marvel’s crossover hype.” It’s never “I made the wrong call”, but instead it’s phrased like “How dare Marvel make me order that tripe?!” That doesn’t even make sense. I think there’s a certain level of professionalism needed that’s not always there for small businesses. I don’t know what the CEO of Walmart thinks about the latest Hulk book, but you better believe Joe at Joe’s Comics & Stuff is gonna gripe to me about it. Not recommend it, or pivot to something better – GRIPE. That’s no way to run a business. Retailers are sitting there going “Man, Marvel sure is putting out a lot of shit”, but in the same breath asking, “Why won’t anyone buy books from me?” Maybe stop badmouthing your product and find a way to hype it! Even if it’s a turd, polish that turd and sell it because that’s your JOB.

There’s another unique thing about the comic industry that people never really think about: comics are the only industry where the consumer knows the distributor and is trained to hate them – trained, mind you, BY retailers! If a shipment gets messed up at Toys R Us, nobody blames Lash Tamaron, ’cause they don’t even know they exist. No, they blame TRU. In comics, however, retailers have this special ability to pass the blame on to Diamond when it’s their own decisions that got them in jeopardy. Didn’t order enough copies of a book, it’s easy to just say “Oh, Diamond shorted us”. Customer might mutter a “Fucking Diamond”, and both parties just kind of shake their heads together at the distributor’s ineptitude.

I might sound like a Diamond apologist, and in many ways I am. Full disclosure: about ten years ago (wow, has it been that long?), I was a purchasing brand manager in the print division of Diamond. That’s a big fancy way to say that I killed a lot of dreams. No, seriously, and I’m not proud of that. If Dave has had a lifelong dream of seeing his name on a comic sold in stores, I’m the guy who would have to work with him to make it happen. The problem, though, is that Dave has created some derivative superhero comic, and consumers have no reason to support his $3.99 black and white book when Marvel and DC have full-color superheroes covered. But I’d get him into the Previews catalog that all retailers use to place their orders, and I’d let the market decide. Then, for a variety of reasons that probably deserve their own post, I’d end up having a very difficult discussion with him about 6 months later. Why? Because a lot of creators aren’t business people. And a lot of comic shop owners aren’t, either. The successful ones have found ways to survive, but it’s the dinosaurs who were sitting pretty during the 90s bubble that don’t know what to do with themselves now.

Now, that’s not to say that Diamond isn’t without problems. It is antiquated. The men running that part of the industry have been doing so for the past 30 years, so there’s not a ton of new blood. There are problems at the warehouse. Back when the main warehouse was in Memphis, there was a UPS center across the street that paid more. The UPS center, however, required you to have at least a year’s experience in a warehouse environment. And guess where they’d get that experience: Diamond. So, the main warehouse is filled with a bunch of novices trying to pad a resume for a better position. No shame in the game, but it’s to Diamond’s detriment. And let’s not forget the publishing cycle: Diamond advertises books that will be available for sale two months from now, with no returnable cushion. So, a retailer does have to take a gamble when it comes to ordering the next month’s books, before they even have this month’s books in hand. But here’s the kicker: Diamond is so ensnared in the distribution process that it couldn’t extract itself if it tried.

Another quick history lesson: about 20 years ago, Marvel bought a distributor called Heroes World, which turned out to be a terrible idea, but I guess it seemed right at the time. In a mad dash for survival, Diamond signed everyone else to exclusive contracts for distribution. This drove a lot of smaller distributors out of business, lessening competition. Then, to make matters worse, Marvel declared bankruptcy and came crawling back to Diamond. This made Diamond king of the hill as the result of a flurry of activity needed for survival. In the years since, people have longed for a competitor to Diamond, but it just ain’t gonna happen. It’s the WWE of comic distribution, and there isn’t really even a TNA waiting in the wings. It’s an unintended monopoly, but a monopoly all the same. But as much as people clamor for the death of Evil Diamond, no one has stopped to consider what would happen if they went away. It’s not going to mean freedom for all the publishers. No, THAT will be the death of the Direct Market, because no one is equipped to take its place. And even if they somehow managed to do so, then they’d eventually become just as hated as Diamond. After all, “You either die a hero…”

The medium needs change, and those fighting that are part of the problem. My friend James once said that comics are for children, and that’s true. I’ve always felt that there’s a 20-year lifespan on comic fandom. If you stick around longer than that, everything becomes Been There, Done That. After 20 years, it’s time to move on. Start repairing old cars, or take your Harley for a three-day cruise. Comics are for the young, but the problem is that the young want nothing to do with them. Oddly enough, though, it’s a bunch of middle-aged armchair quarterbacks who think they know what today’s youth would like. “Spider-Man should be the same as he was when I was growing up!” they yell. Let’s see, kid whose parents are dead, lives with his old aunt in Queens, and he’s late all the time? Hate to break it to ya, but that’s a Black kid. They just didn’t have the social clout to do that back then. If they turned Peter Parker into a Black guy now, those fans would lose their shit. “Why can’t Marvel create NEW characters?” Marvel, then, creates Miles Morales, and then they cry, “Why are you forcing diversity down our throats?!” Is the mere existence of a minority the equivalent of “forcing diversity” on you? Well, I’m sorry the sight of me offends your eyes, Mr. White Man! I just think it’s time for certain fans to go. They don’t like what the industry is doing, and the industry is starting to realize that it can’t survive on mutton alone. There’s no shame in knowing when to walk away.

Anyway, this is all to say that the greatest threat to the comic retailer IS the comic retailer. Stop being a victim, and buckle down. You made this bed so now lie in it. But I also don’t believe in these crowdfunding attempts to keep shops open. The market has spoken, and you’re really just delaying the inevitable. Some shops need to go. That’s nothing personal. It’s business, and they simply lived out their usefulness. The more resourceful shops, however, will find a way. At the end of the day, Superman and Wolverine will outlive the Direct Market, so retailers can gripe all they want, but Disney and Warner Bros are gonna make that money with OR without them. Retailers need Marvel and DC, regardless of the quality of the output, but Marvel and DC don’t necessarily need retailers. The sooner Direct Market retailers realize this, the sooner they can start planning for the future.

And that’s where the post originally ended. And then I saw that I’d received a reply on my comment at the original post (I removed his name ’cause it’s not like I asked his permission to post this or anything):

 

@Will
“I didn’t leave comics, comics left me.” Well, take that as a hint. Maybe the industry doesn’t want or need you anymore. Time to find new hobbies and pursuits!

No, that`s a terrible attitude to show contempt at long-time customers who helped build Marvel. These long time fans deserve better than that!
Also be careful what you wish for as Marvel`s sales are in the tank, and they might be begging for those old time fans back one day!

 

I saw this and figured it was just another middle-aged White man, mad about change. His biggest mistake is that line about showing contempt for the customers “who helped build Marvel”. So, I had to address that:

 

See, that’s dangerous thinking, because Marvel doesn’t really owe you anything. You’re approaching this like a shareholder, when that’s not the nature of the arrangement.

As for the old-time fans, they’re gone. Plain and simple. Sure, catering to them might lead SOME of them back, but not enough to really make them the focus. The old time fan wants too much in order to come back. DC did Rebirth, basically as a “We’re sorry for what we did”, and a bunch of fans still wanted them to kiss the ring and do a little humiliating dance. The thing to remember is that these companies don’t *owe* you anything, long-time fan or not.

 

And then he had to go and prove my assessment of him correct:

 

@Will.
The thing to remember is that these companies don’t *owe* you anything, long-time fan or not.

Maybe my friend,but let`s sticky this post because I predict in less than a year Marvel will do a 180 with all their SJW theme comics and will please their old-time fans by bringing back the old school style. Marvel is going to have to go back to basics to stop their ship from sinking. It`s all about money, and Marvel`s old time loyal fans have the deep pockets that the majority of cosplay SJW fans don`t seem to have.

 

Ugh, he had to go and use a term like SJW. You can tell a lot about a person when they’re worried about the perceived Social Justice Warriors. He’s just another stick in the mud, resistant to change. So, of course, I couldn’t let that go:

And you just had to go and torpedo your argument with “SJW” nonsense. The injection of diversity is an attempt to get the dollars they’re not already getting, from audiences they’ve previously ignored. That, my friend, is the future. Any industry propped up by the buying habits of middle aged White men is an industry in trouble (unless you make Cialis or Rogaine), and they’ve finally come to realize that. What’s gonna happen when you die? Are you still going to be rallying from the grave “Put White Spider-Man back in high school!” to an audience base that clear couldn’t give two shits? The Marvel you grew up with is fine, but it’s done. I just don’t get why fans can’t grow up in their expectations.

I won’t exactly call it a “mic drop”, but I really don’t know what’s left to say after that.

28th Oct2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 10/28/16

by Will

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WWE Edit

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The only movie I watched this week was a documentary called Meet The Hitlers, which followed the lives of people who have the name “Hitler”. Surprisingly, the Austrian guy is the most likable person featured, while the New Jersey folks are the ones who turn out to be actual Nazis. The Austrian Hitler is a really sweet guy who was abandoned by his parents as a child and now has a lion tattooed on his bald head. Meanwhile, the New Jersey couple made the news because their Shop-Rite store refused to make a birthday cake for their young son, Adolf Hitler. Eventually, the state came and took their kids away. You wanna feel bad for them, ’cause nobody wants their kids taken away, but then you remember “Oh yeah – NAZIS!” Fuck ’em. Anyway, it was a way to kill 80 minutes, but I wouldn’t recommend it or anything. It’s got no real point to it. Part of it is devoted to a writer trying to track down Hitler’s last living relative, while the rest is just these slice of life stories of folks who share the name. It needed to decide what it was going to be, instead of this mish mash of whatever it is.

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In movie news, it Tim Miller stepped down as the director of Deadpool 2, which is already making fans worry about what’s going to happen with the film. Reportedly, he had creative differences with star Ryan Reynolds and, while reports claim the split is amicable, there are also claims that the two didn’t even speak to each other near the end of production of the first movie. It’s said that Miller really wanted to bring in Kyle Chandler for Cable, but Reynolds actually had casting power, and he really didn’t want Chandler. Later in the week, a petition started circulating to get Quentin Tarantino to direct the film, but I don’t think that’d be a good idea. Considering the way that Fox had no faith in the first film, cutting its budget and whatnot, you’d assume that the strife would’ve come from studio meddling. But it’s just a disagreement between star and director. It’s not like the movie is gonna fall apart, but folks will always wonder What Might’ve Been, just like with Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man.

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In other Marvel news, it was announced that season two of Jessica Jones would only feature women directors. While this may seem groundbreaking to some, Black Twitter was quick to point out that Ava Duvernay’s Queen Sugar did this first. Well, the BBC’s Call The Midwife was actually the first show to do this, so there! Anyway, I get that it is creating opportunity for women directors, but it feels kinda gimmicky. I mean, I didn’t know who directed the first season’s episodes and I liked them just fine. I almost feel like they’re begging a certain type of fan to come out and say “Season two sucked because of the women directors”.

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Speaking of that particular kind of fan, a bunch of them ran writer Chelsea Cain off Twitter this week because of some drama surrounding the Mockingbird comic. Basically, the final issue of the book featured the cover above, and that triggered the Men’s Rights activists, who don’t even seem to realize that the writer has no control over the cover. It’s believed that some of them were just looking for a target for their anger from last week’s Riri Williams cover controversy. If you remember, that ended up with Marvel cancelling the cover, and these folks feel like that was the wrong call. I’m just tired, man. I’m tired of shit like this. Like, I don’t even have any fight in me for something like this. I mean, who has the time or the energy? I’m not going to get too into it here, as I’ve just been hanging out on the periphery, and I can’t muster the desire to delve deeper into it. If you do a search for #IStandWithChelseaCain, you’ll find all you want to know. I just can’t believe that people get like this over funny books. I mean, I’m pretty passionate about them, but not to the point of running someone off social media. Also, I know enough about how the industry works that I know that the writer wouldn’t be the right target for my anger anyway. Nope, you channel that at the editor! I kid, I kid…

In TV, everything old is new again as we got news about 3 potential revivals that are in the works. First off, I have the misfortune of having a toddler who’s in love with a show that just ended production (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse), so I’m hoping she’ll be interested in the revival of The Muppet Babies that’s in the works for Disney Junior in 2018. I hope she can get over the weird CG animation style of the show, which is a lot more unsettling than Clubhouse‘s CG was.

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Meanwhile, Raven-Symone announced that she’s leaving The View to focus on a spinoff of That’s So Raven. Since everyone’s jumping on the Fuller House/Girl Meets World bandwagon, I guess this is as good a time as any. I always felt That’s So Raven was doing too much. If you’ve never seen it, Raven-Symone starred as Raven Baxter, who was your average teenage girl in high school. At least, that’s how I would’ve left it, but Disney had to go the extra mile. No, Raven also got these psychic visions that she couldn’t control. Usually they’d result in her messing up more than saving the day. They led to a lot of misunderstandings, basically making the show a tween Three’s Company. It led to the spinoff Cory In The House, where her little brother and dad move into the White House. Yeah, it wasn’t as successful as the original series. In any case, this new spinoff would focus on Raven as a divorced single mom of two teens – one of whom seems to have inherited her psychic gift. And I’m sure hilarity ensues. I never watched That’s So Raven because I was simply too old. TNBC had already wound down by that point, and I was busy with college. Still, it’s a smart move for these networks to revive shows that folks can watch with their kids, with a tie to something they, themselves, watched when they were kids. I like these Next Generation spinoffs. Keep ’em coming!

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Finally, based on the fan response from that viral video from a few weeks back, NBC is reportedly in early talks with the principal cast of Will & Grace about a revival of the series. Right now, it’s unclear as to how many episodes we’re talking about, as well as when they’d air. As y’all know, I loved that video, so I say “bring it on!”

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Earlier this week, I posted a review of IDW’s Revolution event that you should check out if you haven’t already. Long story short, it’s not a very good effort on IDW’s part, but you’ll have to read the post in order to find out why.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Donald Glover was officially cast as a young Lando Calrissian in the Han Solo…solo movie
  • Cartoon Network renewed We Bare Bears for a 3rd season
  • ABC’s Notorious is the first unofficial cancellation of the fall season, as its episode order was cut to 10.
  • Twitter’s killing off Vine, as they couldn’t figure out how to monetize 6 second increments
  • God Particle was revealed as the next film in the Cloverfield universe. The goal is to release a Cloverfield movie ever year
  • Deciding he had too much on his plate, Bryan Fuller stepped down as showrunner of Star Trek Discovery. Considering they haven’t even announced a cast, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another delay.

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I haven’t seen folks fret over a season finale so much since “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” When Negan showed up in last season’s finale of The Walking Dead, he was determined to make his mark by offing a fan favorite character. This was to show that he meant business! Grrr! Well, the show returned this week, and he killed not just one, but TWO fan favorite characters, and people LOST. THEIR. SHIT. It sparked a discussion as to whether the show had gone too far. I don’t watch the series, but I tuned in to see who died, and I can’t remember seeing that kind of gore before on television (I’m not a horror guy, so maybe it was tame by those standards?). Some folks have even said that the gore was bordering on pornographic, while others have sworn off the show because it killed off one of the only bastions of hope in that universe. I don’t know whose side I’m on, really.

I used to read The Walking Dead in comic form. I wasn’t a monthly reader, but I had those hardcover editions that they’d put out every 12 issues. I immediately found myself engrossed in that world, and really started to care about the characters. Then I got to issue #48, which is where The Governor killed a character I’d really started to feel for. But it wasn’t just a death. He decapitates the character with a samurai sword. And it’s not one swift blow, so he had to hack at it until the head finally falls off. And at that moment, I thought “Fuck this book!” I stopped reading at that point because I had simply had enough. A few years later, #100 hit the stands, and I flipped through it because I’ve been trained that big round number comic issues usually have something special in them. Instead of them finding a cure for the zombies, or a cache of Twinkies from before the world went to shit, writer Robert Kirkman killed off another character that I’d grown to love back when I was still reading the book. In fact, the events of #100 are what was depicted onscreen last Sunday night. And at that moment, “Fuck this book!” crept up in me again. And I never looked back. That was over 4 years ago, and I haven’t been the least bit curious about what’s going on with Rick and the gang. That’s why Sunday didn’t really surprise me because I already knew it was coming. Still, I wasn’t prepared for how graphic it would be.

I’ve never had the least bit of interest in the television series, as that’s just not a world I want to see. It’s the same reason I read The Road, but didn’t watch The Road. When reading, you can kinda control the visuals and whatnot in your imagination, but for it to just be onscreen is sometimes too much for certain subject matter. There’s nothing positive in The Walking Dead. People say that the character that was killed was the last glimmer of hope in that world, but it still never paid off. Ya know why? Because there IS no hope in that world! There’s no endgame. It’s not like they’re gonna find a cure and everything is gonna go back to normal. They’re not gonna travel back in time and stop the zombies. That’s why I never understood the purpose of Fear The Walking Dead – you’re just seeing the lead up to the apocalypse. Those characters don’t win. Hell, they probably all end up dead before the events of The Walking Dead. I wish I could find the article so I could cite it, but I once read an interview with Kirkman where he said that he doesn’t really put much thought into who he’s going to kill off because he feels that, in an actual zombie apocalypse, the deaths would be pretty random, so he wants to adhere to that. That might sound impressive, but it also leads back to what I said above: there’s no endgame. He’s pretty much just going to write this thing until he gets tired. Superman doesn’t have to have an endgame. Spider-Man doesn’t have to have an endgame. The Walking Dead, though, can’t just meander for 50 years. It needs some sort of order that I don’t believe it has. And I, for one, am not willing to wallow in the muck waiting for that day to come.

Based on the thinkpieces I’ve read this week, a lot of people feel the same way that I do, only it’s in regards to the show and not the comic. But, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, so the fact that people are talking is exactly what AMC, Kirkman, Image, and everyone wanted. Whether you loved it or hated it, chances are you were watching and you had some thoughts about it. And that’s why The Walking Dead had the West Week Ever.

02nd Sep2016

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

by Will

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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.

 

08th Apr2016

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

by Will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15th Jan2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 1/15/16

by Will

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DOFP

So, on the movie front, I watched X-Men: Days of Future Past (The Rogue Cut). Now, I’d already seen the movie in theaters, but I really wanted to know what this edit was about, seeing as how it has been called the “definitive” version of the movie. Well, for starters, Rogue doesn’t appear until an hour and a half into the movie. I didn’t even notice that the opening scenes had been shuffled to the middle of the movie, but they were. As for Rogue’s inclusion, it’s pretty ambitious that it’s called “The Rogue Cut”, seeing as how her addition adds nothing to the movie outside of pleasing a few True Blood fans. Oh, and Iceman dies twice instead of once. Other than that, the movie is pretty much the same. I still enjoyed it, but some of the editing tricks were a little jarring (flashing back and forth between Magneto’s past plan and his future heist). I did notice a few things this time around, though. For example, the future Sentinels are pretty sadistic, in that they actually got creative with their killing. And there’s a mid credit stinger in this version, with Trask in Magneto’s cell. Now, why would they put him in that expensive ass cell when he ain’t got no powers? Anyway, I think I prefer the theatrical cut, but seeing as how everyone seems to think this is Singer’s true vision, it’s probably the one that’s gonna go the distance (after all, it was airing on Cinemax instead of the theatrical version).

we dont

Next, I watched the drama We Don’t Live Here Anymore. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, Naomi Watts, and Peter Krause, the film’s about two couples experiencing marital woes in a small town. So, they pretty much just start cheating on their spouses…with each other. It’s a really powerful and emotional film, and I’ve got nothing snarky to say. I’m not sure I recommend it, as it can be uncomfortable to watch at times, but everyone in it gives a great performance.

madtv 20th anniversary

On the TV front, I caught the MADtv 20th Anniversary Special on The CW. That sentence should say it all: Fox, the network on which MADtv aired, didn’t even care enough about the show to air the special. The rumor’s been that Fox was always somewhat hard on the show because they didn’t own it, but it still carried their late night division for FOURTEEN YEARS, and garnered 35 Emmy nominations. If we’re being honest, though, this anniversary special never would’ve happened without the success of Key & Peele. After all, the duo was introduced to viewers on the show (even though it was when MADtv was at its weakest). With that in mind, it was pretty glaring that Jordan Peele did not participate in the special (Keegan Michael Key recorded a pretaped segment). The special was basically a clip show in the guise of an awards ceremony. At the end, fans were going to vote for their favorite character, and that actor would have to recreate the character onstage. Surely, a classic character like Miss Swan or Stuart would win, right? Nope, it was Bon Qui Qui – a forgettable ghetto caricature from the later seasons. Still, it was nice seeing some of the core cast members again, like Nicole Sullivan, Will Sasso, Michael McDonald, and Debra Wilson. MADtv never really gets enough credit, as it was in the shadow of Saturday Night Live, but there were a few seasons where it gave SNL a run for its money. I’m not really sure it has aged as well as SNL, though. They tried to show some clips, but they weren’t exactly funny. And it’s harder to see MADtv archives, as the only way to see episodes is to watch the 75 that are available on the CW Seed streaming channel.

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In movie news, the shortlist for the Star Wars Han Solo…solo film has been revealed, and it includes Miles Teller (Whiplash), Dave Franco (21 Jump Street), and Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson franchise). Apparently, there’s still a month left of shooting Star Wars: Rogue One, and it seems like they want this actor to make an appearance as Han in the film (similar to how Tom Holland was cast to appear in Captain America: Civil War prior to his solo film). Some folks feel like Teller lacks charisma, but he’s really grown on me and I think he’s kinda smug like Han. I’d actually LOVE Franco in the role, but that feels more like a Funny or Die sketch to me instead of a full-length film. And I enjoyed Lerman in Fury, but I don’t know if he’s “Han Solo”. Anyway, the Han movie is scheduled to be released May 25th, 2018.

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In other movie news, it’s reported that Amber Heard is in talks to portray Aquaman’s wife, Mera, in both the Aquaman film, as well as the Justice League film. At this point, all we know is that she’ll be playing opposite Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. At the rate Warner Bros is going, however, if they can lock up the deal soon, they’ll probably try to shove her into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice somehow. I mean, everyone else is in that damn film. The latest rumor is that the whole Justice League will show up, which is suspect seeing as how they haven’t even cast Green Lantern yet. Ya know, I used to consider myself a DC fan foremost, but nothing they announce about these movies gets me excited for them. On Twitter this week, I said that DC is the Republican Party of the comic industry: no matter what they do, they will never be seen as cool or hip. It has taken them so long to get their movies off the ground that they can’t help but be in Marvel’s shadow, at a time when folks are starting to tire of the superhero movie. DC stays losing.

Cloverfield

Somehow, JJ Abrams managed to film the sequel to Cloverfield without anyone knowing. A bootleg trailer went online last night for 10 Cloverfield Lane, which appears to star John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. They appear to be in some sort of bunker and Goodman doesn’t want Winstead trying to get outside. Abrams has implied the movie is in the same universe as Cloverfield without being a direct sequel. And to make things even more exciting? It comes out March 11th! How this was kept a secret this long is pretty amazing in the Internet Age. Anyway, it looks really good and I can’t wait to Redbox it. What? You thought I was actually going to the theater?

FRIENDS -- Season 2 -- Pictured: (l-r) Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

In television news, every media outlet was running around, screaming about a FRIENDS reunion. That was a bit misleading, however. You see, NBC is planning a two-hour special to honor legendary director James Burrows who recently shot his 1,000th episode of television. Since FRIENDS was one of his shows, it’s natural that the cast would show up to honor him, right? Well, NBC isn’t even sure how they’re going to pull it off. They seemed to have secured the involvement of all 6 cast members, but they’re not sure they can get them all physically in one place, so expect some pretaped segments. Also, this clearly isn’t the “reunion” that folks were expecting. Still, it made for good clickbait this week.

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In other TV news, a bunch of shows nobody watches won Golden Globes last Sunday. First up was Mozart in the Jungle from Amazon. Despite its name, it apparently is not about Mozart trying to survive in the jungle while teaching music to animals. I really have no clue what it’s about, but it’s got that guy from Y Tu Mama Tambien. Remember that movie? A 17 yr old and his friend have sex with an older woman? Coming of age tale? Just me? OK. Anyway, the real surprise was that Rachel Bloom won Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Anyone familiar with Bloom knows that she already has two golden globes (hey-o!) but this win pretty much means that The CW can’t just outright cancel the struggling series. That reminds me that I still have about 5 episodes to catch up on…

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The new Sesame Street will debut on HBO this weekend, and some of the changes are coming to light. For example, Oscar the Grouch still lives in a trash can, but that can is now ensconced in a recycling and compost bin. Friggin gentrification! A lot of folks are worried about the show’s transition to HBO, but insiders are saying that this was the only long-term plan for the show’s survival. The show will still air on PBS 6 months after episodes air on HBO.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 17: (L-R) Singers Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Harry Styles of One Direction attend the 2015 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/BMA2015/FilmMagic)

In music news, sources are saying that One Direction’s recently announced “hiatus” is a permanent split. Whoop-dee-doo! Anyone surprised by this is a moron. After all, *NSYNC has been on “hiatus” since 2002. This is pretty common in the pop world. They don’t really know how their solo careers are gonna do, so they leave the door open for a return. Anyway, Harry Styles will probably get in the studio with some known producers, and he won’t even look back at those other guys. That’s right, Directioners – the end is now.

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Yesterday, Marvel announced an ongoing Poe Dameron comic by writer Charles Soule and artist Phil Noto. Ugh. I don’t CARE about Poe Dameron, but I LOVE Phil Noto. I’m sure Disney will have oversight, but don’t folks realize that nothing can really *happen* in this Poe comic? That’s the problem with licensed comics. Nothing can happen. They just give you a bunch of filler stories that fit within movie events. The thinking of “I really loved Poe Dameron, so I can’t wait to learn more about him” isn’t really gonna pay off with a comic. The writer might write in Poe’s “style”, but it’ll ultimately be a throwaway story, dancing between the raindrops of continuity. The Lando comic was pitch perfect. Fully captured who he was. Was great seeing him again. But did it “matter”? At the end of the day, it was like spending time with an old friend. I didn’t learn anything new. Just more of the same.

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In other comic news, my pal @TimDogg98 runs the site The Kliqnation, so imagine my surprise when I looked at the back of the Chrononauts trade paperback at my local shop, and saw that his five-star rating had made it to print. Congrats, Tim!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • The Al Jazeera America news network is shutting down in April. USA! USA! USA!
  • NBC is in early talks to develop Chicago Law, to join the existing Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Chicago Med.
  • Speaking of NBC, there will be no season 2 for Heroes Reborn
  • Creed director Ryan Coogler has officially signed on to helm Black Panther – which, being a superhero film, automatically gets a snub from the Academy unless it’s for Sound Editing or some shit
  • Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of the 60s Batman TV series. Nobody did anything special for it, though, so that’s pretty much all there is to say…
  • Jonah Hex will appear on Legends of Tomorrow, which means WESTERN EPISODE! Not sure why I typed that like I was excited about it. I’m not really a western fan…
  • Weeks after finishing its run on The CW, America’s Next Top Model has been revived by VH-1.

Links I Loved

Finding Rey: #WheresRey, Really? – Idiot Nerd Girl

The Forgotten Way African Americans Stayed Safe in a Racist America – The Washington Post

Tom Brevoort Confirms “No More 616” – And It’s The Last Fantastic Four Story – Bleeding Cool

nininger

It was quite the week for the Power Rangers franchise. At the beginning of the week, it was announced that Saban is in fact skipping a season of the Japanese source material, and is instead adapting Shuriken Sentai Ninninger as Power Rangers Ninja Steel. For those not in the know, the skipped season was train-based, and The Powers That Be decided that “kids don’t like trains”. So, Ressha Sentai ToQger was thrown out, and the ninja-based series was subbed in. By Wednesday, we even had the official synopsis for the series:

“Saban’s Power Rangers Ninja Steel starts deep in space, where Zircon is the reigning champion of the most popular intergalactic game show in the universe, and monsters battle to prove who is the mightiest warrior. Zircon is determined to become invincible by controlling the mythical Spirit Crystal, which contains six supernatural Ninja Power Throwing Stars. The only thing standing in his way is a new team of heroic teenage Power Rangers who possess the Spirit Crystal. The evil Zircon sends his warrior contestants down to Earth to steal the Crystal, where each epic battle against the Rangers is broadcast throughout the universe. Together, the Rangers must master their arsenal of Throwing Stars, Zords and Megazords, each made of legendary ninja steel, in order to stop this evil threat and save our planet from destruction.”

Yeah, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, either. Basically, it’s a game show where the regular Power Rangers tropes take place. Colorful spandex kicking the shit out of aliens, who eventually get big, and get the shit kicked out of them by robots. The end. The show will debut in 2017, and continue to air on Nickelodeon. I’m not in love with the suit designs, but I like them a Hell of a lot more than that train series. Plus, this one includes a 6th Ranger who’s a space cowboy with an electric guitar sword and a ninja star cheeseburger phone! How Japanese is THAT?!

MightyMorphinPowerRangers 0 Red

Meanwhile, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0 comic was released by BOOM! on Wednesday to rave reviews. Focusing on the events following the “Green With Evil” miniseries, it focuses on Green Ranger, Tommy, as he learns to be accepted by the team of heroes. On the show, they were basically like “We know you were possessed, so welcome to the team.” In actuality, though, something like that wouldn’t be such a smooth transition. The comic even shipped with 1:50 (Green Ranger) and 1:100 (White Ranger) incentive variant covers, and the sales reports from retailers have been positive. The ongoing series will launch in March.

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It wasn’t all good news for the Rangers, though. Remember when I wrote about Ricardo Medina Jr murdering his roommate? While he was released shortly afterward, it seems he’s being formally charged for murder. He’s currently being held on $1 million bond, and he could face 26 years in prison. Medina portrayed Cole, the Red Ranger in the 2002 iteration of the series, Power Rangers Wild Force.

As you can see, the Power Rangers have been on everyone’s lips in some form or fashion this week. Sure, there was the unfortunate Medina situation, but two out of three ain’t bad. So, Power Rangers had the West Week Ever.

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