15th May2015

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

by Will

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

st vincent

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

top-5

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

birdman

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

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

Grandfathered – Tuesdays at 8:00

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

The Grinder – Tuesdays 8:30

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

Minority Report – Mondays at 9:00

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

Rosewood – Wednesdays at 8:00

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

Lucifer – Midseason

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

The Frankenstein Code – Midseason

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

Bordertown – Midseason

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

Now for ABC’s shows

Dr. Ken – Fridays at 8:30

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

The Muppets – Tuesdays at 8:00

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

The Real O’Neals – Midseason

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

Uncle Buck – Midseason

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

The Catch – Midseason

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

Of Kings and Prophets – Sundays at 10:00

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

The Family – Midseason

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

Quantico – Tuesdays at 10:00

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

Oil -Sundays at 9:00

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

Wicked City – Midseason

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

I really only care about one thing on CBS:

Supergirl – Mondays at 8:00

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

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

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

As for NBC:

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

Blindspot – Mondays at 10:00

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

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

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

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


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Mondays at 8:00

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

MADCAST_LOGO

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

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

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

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

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

Legends of Tomorrow

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

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

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

Links I Loved

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

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

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

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

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

08th May2015

West Week Ever – 5/8/15

by Will

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oie_922142seDasWF9

avengers-art-final

The only thing I watched of note was Avengers: Age of Ultron for a second time. I’ve got to say that I enjoyed it much more upon the second viewing. I still think Strucker was wasted, but that’s what happens, I guess. On a related note, it was neat how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Theta Protocol tied into the movie, but it was pretty lame how the show just vomited out an explanation before the opening credits. Anyway, the movie made $191 million last weekend, so I’m sure I wasn’t alone in my multiple viewings.

civil war

Now, it appears that the AoU cast is gearing up for Captain America: Civil War. Despite the title, this is clearly Avengers 2.5. In fact, there are so many people in this movie that’s it’s easier to say who isn’t there: Hulk & Thor. Anyway, the official press release from Marvel describes the movie as follows:

Captain America: Civil War” picks up where “Avengers: Age of Ultron” left off, as Steve Rogers leads the new team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. After another international incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers while they try to protect the world from a new and nefarious villain.

The big question is whether or not Spider-Man is going to make his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in this film. All signs point to yes, but it remains to be seen how he would figure into the story.

suicidesquad

In the DC movie universe, they released this cast photo from the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. Someone on Twitter put it best when they said that some of the characters look like those Homies figurines you get in vending machines. I HATE this photo. So much. And the fact that there are people out there who like it really grinds my gears. It looks like an updated high school production of West Side Story. If nothing else, this cemented my thoughts that I don’t want DC to “pull a Marvel”. They don’t need a shared universe. In fact, I think I’d prefer they make their movies with very few connections, if any, to each other. I don’t like the tone that DC is setting with these initial movies. I get that some heroes need to be dark, but what are The Flash and Cyborg going to look like in this world? I just don’t like it.

Supergirl

In TV news, CBS officially ordered Supergirl to series, expanding the Greg Berlanti-led DC TV universe to 4 shows (including The CW’s Arrow, The Flash, and the spinoff now officially known as DC’s Legends of Tomorrow). As much as I like Berlanti’s shows, nothing about this series excites me. After all, Supergirl has no real rogues gallery. Then again, that could’ve been said about Green Arrow, and they seem to have figured that out. I just don’t know if CBS is the right home for it. CBS owns half of The CW, so why not just put it over there and let it join its “brethren”. They said that the door is open for crossovers, but it seems like there could still be some red tape. In other DC TV news, The CW has officially picked up the afore-mentioned DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which will debut in January 2016.

2000px-Star_Wars_Logo.svg

Josh Trank was fired from the standalone Star Wars film he was set to direct. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Trank’s erratic behavior on the set of Fantastic Four spooked executives. It also didn’t help when he failed to show up to Star Wars Celebration, although it’s rumored that he was actually asked not to attend as Disney decided their next steps. According to sources, Trank is talented, but still has a lot to learn.

gibbler

Character descriptions were released for the Fuller House kids’ roles. Most interesting to me, Kimmy Gibbler’s daughter, Ramona, is biracial. And immediately I thought, “That makes perfect sense.” Instead of being half Black, she’s half Hispanic, and embraces her Latina heritage. She’s into boys, social media, and selfies. In other FH news, Dave Coulier has officially signed on to reprise his role as Uncle Joey.

It’s been a big TV week, as this is when we find out the shows that didn’t make the cut for a renewal. The information is still coming out, but here’s what we know so far:

Cancellations:

Hart of Dixie (The CW)

The Messengers (The CW)

Cristela (ABC)

Forever (ABC)

Revenge (ABC)

Resurrection (ABC)

The one that hits me the hardest is Forever. If you remember, it had the honor of having the West Week Ever and it was near and dear to my heart. Starring Fantastic Four‘s Ioan Gruffudd as a man who can’t die, I looked more forward to it on Tuedays than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Luckily, the finale didn’t exactly end on a cliffhanger. It was definitely a springboard for future stories, but I’m satisfied with how it will be left.

Surprising Renewals

Agent Carter (ABC)

American Crime (ABC)

Fresh Off the Boat (ABC)

The Middle (ABC)

Galavant (ABC)

None of the above shows had stellar ratings, so I’m pretty surprised at all of their renewals. Agent Carter is a welcome surprise, but American Crime seemed like a done-in-one limited series, as the case it follows ends next week. Fresh Off the Boat is a surprise because creator Eddie Huang was doing everything in his power to sink the show, and the ratings had taken a dive since the premiere. The Middle is surprising because it showed all the signs of a show winding down, especially since 2 of the kids will be in college next season. It also doesn’t help that the actor who plays Axl (Charlie McDermott) has already been cast in a CBS’s Super Clyde (which hasn’t been officially picked up yet). The most surprising, however, is Galavant. ABC had NO faith in that show, burning it off in one hour chunks over a four week period in January. The ratings weren’t great, but I’m amazed it made enough of an impression to gain a renewal in MAY. Curiously missing from the list of new shows are the rumored Marvel shows, including the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Mockingbird spinoff and the John Ridley Ms. Marvel show. There’s still a chance that they weren’t ready, and could debut midseason or next summer, but that remains to be seen.

MADCAST_LOGO

Last night, I had the pleasure of joining Corey again for the MadCast Podcast. This time, we discussed the past TWO Mad Men episodes, so be sure to check it out.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Sony has renewed Powers for a second season. I have no clue why, but it clearly has a budget of about $1,000 so it’s cheap to produce.

-Fox has canceled The Mindy Project, however Hulu is in talks to revive the show with a 2-season order.

-The CW has renewed iZombie for a second season. I’ve got to give that show a shot one of these days…

-Disney announced that Phineas & Ferb would be ending in June. Never seen it.

The Simpsons has been renewed for the next 2 seasons, taking its episode total to 625.

-Hugh Jackman has officially confirmed that he’s walking away from the role of Wolverine following Wolverine 3.

Links I Loved

Trivia and References in Avengers: Age of Ultron – The Robot’s Pajamas

Don Draper, Maverick Ad Man, Dead at 88 – MediaPost.com

WWF Hasbro Happiness! – Horror Movie BBQ

Hamburglar_Pose_3-1.0

Ya know who everyone was talking about this week? The new Hamburglar. Yup, McDonalds’ sales are suffering, so they decided to debut a new, live action Hamburglar. Because that’s what’s gonna make people eat more burgers. Anyway, the chain is debuting a new line of Sirloin Burgers, and they’re banking on nostalgia to help them move that beef. While most folks would probably prefer the return of Grimace of the Fry Guys, Hamburglar is what we got. And he looks odd. Seriously, his whole outfit looks like it was pieced together in a Goodwill. At least we know why he’s stealing the burgers. He simply can’t afford them. Based on the commercial I’ve seen, he’s got a kid now, and had left his burglar days behind him until the appearance of these new Sirloin Burgers. So, will his son follow in his footsteps? Will he abandon his family in the pursuit of hamburgers? SO MANY QUESTIONS. Anyway, it was a pretty slow week, so the new, hipster, pedophile-looking Hamburglar had the West Week Ever.

01st May2015

West Week Ever – 5/1/15

by Will

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oie_922142seDasWF9

the signal

On the movie front, I watched The Signal. If you’ve never seen it, 3 college kids are on a road trip that goes awry. They’ve been taunted by a hacker, and they’ve tracked him to Nevada. Since they’re on the way to California, they decide to take a detour and surprise him. Once they get there, a bunch of strange stuff happens and they wake up in a secret facility, being interrogated by Laurence Fishburne. And that’s when the weird shit happens. In all, I really enjoyed the film. The ending was kinda weird, but I know that’s what they were going for. Still, it’s one of those films that was trying too hard to have a message than just simply entertain. If you read the Wiki entry for the movie, it says

The filmmakers have stated the movie was constructed as a metaphor for the conflict between rational and emotional decision-making, contained inside a science-fiction genre vehicle.

Whatever. I wish you could see the gesture I’m making while I read that. In any case, I don’t know if it accomplishes all of that, but there are worse ways to kill 90 minutes.

athf

In television news, it was announced that Aqua Teen Hunger Force  will be ending this summer after 15 years on Adult Swim. I used to be a HUGE ATHF fan, and have the first few seasons on DVD. I kinda fell off when it became Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1. Then, like Power Rangers, the show just kept changing its name every season, even though the show itself never really changed. The final season will be called Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever.

new avenger

In movie news, it’s rumored that the title of the next Spider-Man film will be Spider-Man: The New Avenger. I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, it fits the naming scheme of the other Marvel movies (Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Captain America: The First Avenger, etc). On the other hand, I’m not sure I want him to be an Avenger. Sure, we all wanted a shared universe, but I’ve never been one of those “Spider-Man Needs To Be On A Team” folks. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed when Bendis put him on the team in New Avengers, but since they’re skewing younger for this Peter Parker, I kinda wanna see him find his way on his own, instead of immediately joining a team. Then again, maybe it’s just a name and doesn’t really mean anything right now.

asa butterfield

In related news, Asa Butterfield is rumored to be the frontrunner for Peter Parker/Spider-Man. I know nothing about this guy, as I never saw The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas or Ender’s Game. He’s not who I’d think of when I think “Peter Parker”, but neither were Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield. Anyone know anything about this kid?

Phillippe Fist

In related Marvel news, Ryan Phillippe has said that he’s been in talks with Marvel for a role on one of the Netflix series. People have taken this to mean that he might end up as Iron Fist. I, for one, love this idea. Since Cruel Intentions, he kinda has that “rich kid pedigree” thing going for him, and his star is on the rise again thanks to ABC’s Secrets & Lies. I don’t know if he’d have any chemistry with Mike Colter (Luke Cage, his partner in crime), but I’m sure they’ll take care of that when the time comes. I know there’s a contingent out there who want an Asian American Iron Fist, but I’m not in that camp. Unlike most comic characters, I feel like Iron Fist’s whiteness is a key component of what makes him special. My friend, Jenn, has a much better explanation as to why this is, so I hope she writes about it someday.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

FF

-A new Fantastic Four character poster was released. Getting excited!

-There’s a Good Times movie coming, from Black-ish creator Kenya Barris. This is a horrible idea.

-The Power Rangers movie has been delayed to January 13th, 2017. Even as a Power Rangers fan, this doesn’t really disappoint me.

JubileeandJean

-Jubilee and Jean Grey on the set of X-Men: Apocalypse. I’m still not sure what they’re doing with this movie.

-Laura Linney just joined TMNT 2 in a mystery role. I really thought her career was better than that.

casey jones

-Speaking of TMNT 2, here’s your first look at Stephen Amell as Casey Jones. Shredder, YOU HAVE FAILED THIS CITY!

batsuit-The Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Batsuit was revealed. This doesn’t really do much for me…

batwing

-Speaking of Dawn of Justice, that dude from the Latino Review got a sneak preview of the new Batwing. It’s not batty enough for me. At this point, I really don’t know what it’s gonna take to get me excited about this film


-Just watch it. Trust me.

-Don’t forget that tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day! Be sure to drop by your local comic shop for some free comic goodness. I know I’ll be picking up the Avengers book, as well as the DC Divergence book. How about you?

Links I Loved

The “Best” Genre Films of Lesser Known Celebrity Siblings – The Robot’s Pajamas

“We Are Who We Choose To Be”: Sadistic Choices, Forking Paths, and the Rejection of Social and Narrative Progress in Superhero Comics and Films – The Hooded Utilitarian

The Fastest Cars in Sci-Fi – The Robot’s Pajamas

avengers-art-final

Are we really going to pretend that Avengers: The Age of Ultron didn’t have the West Week Ever? It’s already made $255 million at the international box office. Most of you have already seen it, it seems, so you tell me. I saw it last night, and I’ve got a few, non-spoilery thoughts.

First of all, it’s good but not as good as the first one. Here’s my dilemma: they added more countries to show you that the Avengers’ mission is spreading globally. That said, the comics have taught me to only care about New York City. Since most of the action takes place NOT in NYC, the stakes don’t seem as high. I mean, I don’t care about Sokovia. Yes, I know that’s very Ugly American of me :-p  Also I felt the non-Ultron villains were wasted in the film, especially after all the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #itsallconnected buildup. And the ending doesn’t make a lot of sense (I can’t wait to be able to discuss this with someone). Oh, and Days of Future Past‘s Quicksilver is a lot cooler than Age of Ultron‘s Pietro Maximoff.

I was told that I’d leave the film really loving Hawkeye, and that was true. He’s the most human member of the team, and the movie does a good job of showing what he brings to the table. I also loved all of Stark’s new toys. And the mid-credits scene was great. Plus, I LOVED Spader as Ultron. Perfect casting there.

All that said, I really enjoyed it. Then again, I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to comic book movies. Out of all the ones I’ve seen, the only one with which I had major problems was The Dark Knight Rises. Before you ask, yup , I liked that one. And that other one. Yup, that one, too.

It very much feels like the middle movie of a bigger storyline, which is exactly what it is. It put all the major pieces in position, setting up Civil War and Infinity War. This is not a cerebral movie, however, and I know some of my friends are gonna loathe it. Still, let’s not act like it’s not gonna make a billion dollars, so Avengers: Age of Ultron had the West Week Ever.

24th Apr2015

West Week Ever – 4/24/15

by Will

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Other-Space

This was a week of me binge-watching short comedy series online. I started things out with Other Space on Yahoo Screen. I mentioned the show in last week’s post, but I hadn’t gotten around to watching it. Created by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids and The Heat), the show is set in the year 2105, and focuses on the young, inept crew of a spaceship that finds itself stranded in a parallel dimension. I’ve admired Feig since I read his book, Superstud, so I had to check out this series. I came for the creator, but I stayed for Milana Vayntrub, AKA Lily Adams from the AT&T commercials. First, let me say this: I hate webseries. There’s always something “This isn’t quite good enough for television” about them. And this show looks and feels like a webseries. Still, I powered through the 8-episode run with ease, as the cast is good, and the writing’s pretty funny. For you Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans, Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu are also part of the cast. It’s got humor, it’s got pretty ladies, and it’s got space – there’s something for everyone!

scrotal recall

Next up, I binged Scrotal Recall on Netflix. Yes, that’s its actual name, but the show is so much better than that questionable moniker. Imagine if How I Met Your Mother had more sex, and no Lily & Marshall. That’s basically this show. There’s a Ted, there’s a Barney, and there’s a Robin. The hook, however, is a bit more mature than HIMYM: when Dylan discovers that he has chlamydia, he has to notify his former sexual partners to let them know that they need to get tested. Then, we follow those past relationships as the show jumps around the timeline. Meanwhile, Dylan is secretly in love with his best friend, Evie – who happens to also be in love with him. However, she’s about to be married to another guy. Will they finally admit their feelings to each other before it’s too late? The series originally aired on Channel 4 in the UK last year, and I continue to be impressed by how much British showrunners are able to cram into a mere 6 episodes of a series. It was great to see Antonia Thomas again, who I discovered when she played Alisha on the Channel 4 series Misfits. Also, if they ever make a US version of the show, June Diane Raphael HAS to play Helen. Anyway, I’m really hoping for a second season, as I really like the ensemble, and there’s definitely more ground to cover. In the tradition of My Name Is Earl, Dylan has a pretty sizable list of women he needs to contact, and we only get through the first 5 in this season.

babadook

Next, I watched The Babadook on Netflix. A 2014 horror movie with a lot of buzz around it, I felt like I had to watch this movie. Now, I’m not exactly a horror fan – in fact, I don’t like the genre much at all. Still, I’d heard nothing but good things about this movie, so it seemed to be worth my time. Well, what did I think? Babadook? More like Babadookie. Seriously, what did people see in this movie? If you’re not familiar with it, the movie focuses on a single mother and her son in Australia. Amelia’s husband died on the way to the hospital for her to give birth, so it’s just been her and the son, Samuel, for the past 7 years. And it’s starting to take its toll on her. One night, she lets Samuel choose the book she’s going to read to him before bed, and he picks a book called Mister Babadook. In the story, there’s a creature called Mr. Babadook who begs to be let in, and will never leave once you do so. The story basically terrorizes the son, as he begins to see the Babadook everywhere, and he’s scared something’s going to happen to his mom. The mom refuses to believe in the Babadook, but as she continues to go without sleep, strange things begin to happen around the house. That’s the basic gist of it. To me, the biggest problem is that the Babadook just isn’t that visually frightening. He looks like something from a Tim Burton movie. Anyway, I was pretty unsatisfied and I don’t get the hype that surrounded this movie. Was it the fact that it was a horror movie by a female director? Did I miss something? The main brunt of the movie seems to be “Single parenting is a BITCH!”, but the Babadook himself? Not so scary.

full-house-tv-show-reboot-netflix

I’ve written about it a bunch, but it was officially announced this week that Fuller House is happening, and will premiere on Netflix in 2016. The show will follow widowed veterinarian DJ Tanner, who needs help raising her 2 kids (with another on the way). So, best friend Kimmy Gibbler, along with her own teenage daughter, Ramona, moves in to help out. Finally, Stephanie Tanner, now a musician, will also move in to lend a hand. John Stamos will produce the show, and also guest star as Uncle Jessie. I like this idea, but I’m somewhat surprised it went to Netflix. After all, this show seems tailor-made for ABC Family’s comedy slate, especially with the aging Melissa & Joey on the way out this summer. I can think of about 3 cable networks that would be a better home to this show than Netflix, but I guess Netflix is trying to expand its offerings. Based on the media coverage this thing has been getting, they just may have chosen a winner.

finding your roots

There was a lot of hubbub this week regarding Ben Affleck. No, I’m not talking about the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer. You see, Affleck was on the PBS series Finding Your Roots, where he discovered that one of his ancestors owned slaves. Well, thanks to leaked emails, we discovered that Affleck asked that that particular part be cut from his episode. Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., the host of the show, wasn’t sure how to handle the situation, as detailed in the email thread. Eventually, the show acquiesced, and the segment was removed. Once news of this broke, there was outcry that Affleck shouldn’t have asked/the show shouldn’t have complied with his request. Affleck finally addressed the situation on Facebook, saying:

“I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth.”

He also pointed out that Finding Your Roots isn’t a news show, so it’s not like he was compromising journalistic integrity. I kinda see both sides of the situation. On the one hand, if you’re an American, you’ve got to know there’s a *chance* your ancestors owned slaves. That goes for both races. However, he’s right in that it wasn’t a news show, and they had to go with what made the most sense from an entertainment standpoint. Considering he didn’t want that aspect known, and PBS didn’t initially want to cut it, I feel like they just should’ve scrapped the episode. Move on to the next celebrity and keep it moving. There’s currently an ongoing internal investigation at PBS to determine if the omission violated PBS editorial standards.

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The television corner of the Marvel Universe certainly had a busy week. First off, it was revealed that 12 Years A Slave writer John Ridley was creating a Marvel Universe show for ABC. Later in the week, that rumor expanded, implying that he was working on a series based on current Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. Next, Deadline Hollywood reported that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be spinning off the characters of Mockingbird and her ex-husband Nick Hunter, in a Mr. & Mrs. Smith-esque spy drama. Finally, it was announced that Daredevil has been renewed for a second season, albeit with new showrunners.

Thoughts? Well, I kinda like Kamala Khan as a character, even though I think her powers are stupid. I wonder if America’s ready for a show starring a female Muslim hero, but “you never know what you can do until you try”, right? Ridley’s 2006 Wildstorm miniseries The American Way showed that he understands heroes, while his current TV series, ABC’s American Crime, shows that he can handle culture clashes. He’s an interesting choice for a Marvel project, but I’d be really curious to see what he could bring to that universe.

As for the Mockingbird show, I feel like they should focus on making Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a solid show before spinning off one of its best components. I’m not the biggest Mockingbird fan, but I’ll admit that the show has gotten more interesting since her debut. This new series is being looked at as a companion show to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and may run concurrently, like Once Upon A Time and Once Upon A Time In Wonderland so unsuccessfully tried last season. If they do a spinoff, I’d be OK with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. going away, and letting the spinoff replace it. It’d be like how Benson went on to last twice as long as Soap, the show that birthed it. I love Phil Coulson, but I’ve always felt that he was a “less is more” character. On the Age of Ultron press circuit, Whedon said that he felt the resurrection of Coulson kinda took away the impact of his death in Avengers, and I have to agree. He went from this guy we saw every few movies to in our faces on a weekly basis. They could get Coulson out of the field, and put him in an actual director capacity, which would keep him out of sight. It’d be the way they used Richard Dean Anderson at the end of Stargate SG-1 – we wouldn’t see him very often. This could also allow the AoS field team to disband and something different (potentially led by Mockingbird) could rise from its ashes. It’d be a good way to reboot the S.H.I.E.L.D. concept. Skye could move on since she’s now powered and really has no business with S.H.I.E.L.D. I’ve never really liked Melinda May, though she could stick around as The Muscle. And I’m kinda tired of Fitz and Simmons. The team needs a shakeup, and the current S.H.I.E.L.D. vs S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline isn’t doing enough to further that.

As for Daredevil, the news of a second season isn’t really a surprise. It seems, however, that this could delay the Defenders team-up that was originally planned to close out the Marvel Netflix series. According to Forbes, Marvel initially shopped the series around as a 60-episode package: 13 episodes each of Daredevil, A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, with the remaining 8 episodes being devoted to a team-up series with all of those characters, called The Defenders. Since second seasons weren’t part of the original plan, it stands to reason that The Defenders may get shuffled. The Forbes article even posits that The Defenders may actually precede Iron Fist – which doesn’t yet have a production date in place. Marvel seems to want to get the Netflix characters into Avengers: Infinity War, so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle the timeline over the next 3 years in order to make this happen.

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Meanwhile, DC Comics had some news of their own, as they announced the creation of DC Super Hero Girls. It’s not the flashiest or catchiest name, but it makes DC look good during a week where Marvel is facing criticism for the lack of merchandise featuring female characters from their movies. Designed for girls aged 6-12, the cross-platform initiative centers around female super heroes and super villains of the DC Universe as “relatable teens”, according to the press release. Mattel is a partner, and will create a line of action figures specifically targeted towards girls. One thing you’ll notice from the art above is that the characters are mostly covered – something that’s unusual for female characters in comics. As a new dad of a baby girl, I’m excited to see where this goes.

MADCAST_LOGO

I had the pleasure of joining Corey over at the MadCast for this week’s episode. If you’re not familiar with the MadCast, it’s the best Mad Men recap show around. We discussed this week’s episode, “The Forecast”, and I even got in some Three’s Company references. If you’re a Mad Men fan, check it out here.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week


-Bob Saget was NOT the original Danny Tanner

-I took the Jeopardy online test last week. I will not be on Jeopardy anytime soon.

-The official Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer was released. It did absolutely nothing for me.

-The latest Jurassic World trailer was released. Still felt nothing.

-The new Fantastic Four trailer was released. Actually starting to look forward to that one.

-Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Meg LeFauve (Inside Out) will write Marvel’s Captain Marvel film

Agent Carter‘s Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark) has been cast as Jesse Custer in AMC’s adaptation of the Vertigo Preacher comic. He will be joined by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Ruth Negga (Raina).

-It was rumored that the title of the Arrow/The Flash spinoff will be Legends of Tomorrow. Meanwhile Edge of Tomorrow‘s Franz Drameh has joined the cast as a mysterious character named Jay Jackson.

-The next Star Trek movie will be released 7/8/16, and will be titled Star Trek: Beyond

-Speaking of Star Trek, it was revealed that a Galaxy Quest series is in development at Paramount. I think the concept worked well as a movie, but I don’t see it as a weekly series. It might work as a 13-episode Netflix situation, though.

-Sandra Bullock was named People Magazine‘s 2015 World’s Most Beautiful Woman

-After 53 years, Spanish-language variety show Sabado Gigante will end September 19th.

-Sony announced plans for a movie franchise based on the Valiant comic line. Good luck with that…

-Mr. Feeny will make his return to Girl Meets World in the season 2 premiere on May 11th.

-Animated Spider-Man film planned for 2018. Next to no other details are known at this time.

-Tyler Perry has been cast as Baxter Stockman in TMNT 2

Links I Loved

The Man Who Broke the Music Business – The New Yorker

10 Shows Marvel Should Make Before Mockingbird – The Robot’s Pajamas

10 Things KB Toys Sold in 1998! – Dinosaur Dracula

Iceman

After wallowing in obscurity for years, X-Men team member Iceman finally became relevant again this week when the latest issue of All-New X-Men revealed that the character is gay. And news outlets went crazy with their “An Original X-Man Comes Out” headlines. But that’s not exactly true. Long story short, the original X-Men of the past were brought to the present to see what their actions end up doing to mutantkind, in the hopes that their experiences will motivate them to change the present. Unfortunately, they can’t get back home. So, the teen versions coexist in the present with the adult versions. Seeing as how the teen version of Iceman is gay, but the adult version is not, it’s beginning to look like the past team is actually from an alternate timeline or universe.

icemen

Still, this has sparked a lot of….interesting online conversations. Most of the comments are along the lines of “How come they’re changing characters again?!” Well, they’re not, really. The Iceman you knew and ignored is still around, and still straight. It’s alternate timeline Teen Iceman who doesn’t like the ladies. To me, that’s kind of a copout. It allows Marvel to have its cake and eat it, too. Just say Iceman’s gay. It won’t negate any past stories (Sure, he dated Opal, but it’s not like gay guys don’t have women in their pasts), and it won’t change anything about his heroism (or lack thereof). I just want him to be *interesting* again – something that hasn’t happened since 1997’s “Operation: Zero Tolerance” storyline. I’ve always kinda liked Iceman, and if this means that he’ll be in the spotlight more, then I’m all for it. If they’re just gonna shuffle him to the back of the line again, then it was a useless gesture. At the end of the day, the X-Men are about the battle for acceptance, be it about powers, race, or sexuality. So, this feels pretty fitting. If they’d created a new gay character, as the naysayers are suggesting they should have done, that character simply would’ve been a token. No, it had to be an existing character. Plus, there hasn’t really been a “definitive” Iceman story, so he’s perfect. He’s an original team member with a ton of storytelling potential and little baggage.

I do, however, have problems with how Marvel handled it. Ya see, Iceman didn’t come out – he was outed. There’s a difference. This article goes into it much more eloquently than I can, but what Jean Grey did was invade Iceman’s privacy by reading his mind. So, hopefully there will be some ramifications behind that.

no more mutants

Also, this isn’t the first time that Iceman has been used in the Something Drastic and Permanent Has Happened to an Original X-Man role. You see, a few years back, Marvel realized that everyone and their cousin was a mutant and something needed to be done to thin out the herd. So, during the House of M miniseries, Scarlet Witch cast the spell “No More Mutants”, and this reduced Marvel’s mutant population to approximately 198 people. In order to make readers feel the impact of what had happened, of course they needed one of the original X-Men to lose their powers. Enter: Iceman. Iceman, along with Magneto (who later got a power recharge from the High Evolutionary), lost his powers and was seemingly just a normal human. Until Marvel writers or whatever got cold feet, and Iceman realized he still had powers, but some sort of PTSD from the events of House of M was preventing him from being able to use them. So, in the long run, all of the original X-Men pretty much made it through the mass depowering unscathed, though no new mutants appeared for the next 2 years.

I really hope Marvel follows through with this and doesn’t just retcon it via Secret Wars or something. If nothing else, however, this has given Iceman more attention than he’s ever received. And for that reason, Iceman had the West Week Ever.

17th Apr2015

West Week Ever – 4/17/15

by Will

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The week started out with the debut of the newest Ant-Man trailer. I’ve got to say that I’m getting more excited about this movie the closer that it gets. Sure, it won’t be Avengers-level awesome, but I think it’ll hold its own in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I know a lot of you like to avoid trailers and spoilers, but this one is worth watching just for the train gag at the end. Trust me. Anyway, for a great scene-by-scene breakdown of the new trailer, check out this post from my pals at The Robot’s Pajamas.

o-WONDER-WOMAN-facebook

Next in comic movie news, DC’s Wonder Woman lost its director when Michelle MacLaren left the production, citing “creative differences”. That director’s chair wasn’t cold for long, however, as Patty Jenkins was given the job a few days later. In the long run Jenkins may be the better choice, as she has box office experience, having directed Monster, which won an Oscar for Charlize Theron. On top of that, she was slated to direct Thor 2, before leaving that production citing “creative differences”. So, she’ll make her comic movie debut in the DC Universe instead.

Batman_v_Superman_logo

Meanwhile in the DC Cinematic Universe, the trailer for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is slated to be released in a special event on Monday. They even released a teaser for it yesterday. Yes, a TEASER for a TRAILER. Can this just stop? Movie studios are like sluts, where they start out slow, by just letting us slip the tip in, and right before the movie comes out, they’re just GIVING IT AWAY. Look at what’s going on with Age of Ultron. They insist that we haven’t seen anything yet from the third act, but I sure as Hell feel like I’ve seen everything else. Just release your trailer and move on. Sure, there are fans clamoring for this, but I’m not one of them. I think it’s pretty stupid. But if you wanna pay for an IMAX ticket to go watch a trailer, I guess that’s your business. As for me, I just can’t find myself getting excited about this movie. If it were another DC television series, I’d be all about it. They’ve figured out television. They’re still trying to understand movies.

Jessica Jones

In comic television news, hot on the heels of the Daredevil debut, we got our first look at the Netflix series A.K.A. Jessica Jones. I love Krysten Ritter and I love Jessica Jones, but I’m still not sure I love Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones. I still think Alexandra Daddario would’ve been a better choice, but I’ve learned to trust Marvel’s judgement at this point. As for Luke Cage, I’ve got no real thoughts on him. I kinda wanted Lance Gross to get it, since it’d be nice to see someone graduate from Tyler Perry stuff to the big leagues (someone not named Sofia Vergara, that is).

One thing I’ve been curious about these Netflix series is the production timeline. Daredevil has clearly been a runaway hit, so smart money is on a season 2. That said, do we have to wait until after the Defenders team-up, or could it potentially happen before? At this time, there are no production dates for Iron Fist or The Defenders, but it’s unlikely they’d take place before late 2016/early 2017. Would they sneak another Daredevil season in before then, or would we have to wait? Seems like a long time to keep your cast sitting on the bench, especially since it’s now rumored that those stars may appear in Avengers: Infinity War. I’d love to find out more information about the Netflix deal.

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Probably the biggest news this week, the second Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer debuted at Star Wars Celebration yesterday. I’m far from a hardcore Star Wars fan, but I enjoyed it. I’ll see it. I’m sure you want more than that, but I’ve got nothing. I’m sure a ton of you needed a towel after that final scene. For a better explanation of the trailer, again, check out this post at The Robot’s Pajamas.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– A couple of people announced they were running for President.

-For some reason, a 25 year old Sizzler commercial went viral.

-Ryan Gosling has been cast in the Blade Runner sequel

Other Space debuted on Yahoo Screen, co-starring Milana Vayntrub, AKA The AT&T Girl

-It appears David Hasselhoff just discovered the glory of Kung Fury

Links I Loved

Daredevil Netflix Series: Marvel Universe Easter Eggs and Comic References Guide
– Den of Geek US

On Jackie Robinson Day, Let’s Remember When He Was Fired From the New York Post for Being Too Republican – Reason.com

How Avengers: Age of Ultron Nearly Killed Joss Whedon – Vulture

Japanese Game Show Where The Contestants Get Hand Jobs While Singing Karaoke (NSFW) – Dangerous Minds

Daredevil-mega-poster

Yeah, I know the new Star Wars trailer is driving nerds crazy, but I’ve got to give WWE to Daredevil. Again. Last week, it was just for the pilot. It still had 12 more chances to go downhill from there. And it did not. On top of that, I’ve yet to see anyone say anything negative about it – ON THE INTERNET! When’s the last time that happened? Sure, Star Wars will have its day in the sun but, to me, this week belonged to Ol’ Hornhead and Hell’s Kitchen. If you haven’t watched it yet, what’s wrong with you? Is it because you don’t have Netflix? If that’s the case, I’m sure there’s some kind of free trial you could exploit or something in order to watch it. If you just don’t care, then I feel bad for you, son. You’re missing out on the best television comic adaptation to date. That’s why Netflix’s Daredevil had the West Week Ever.

10th Apr2015

West Week Ever – 4/10/15

by Will

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tron

So, with the baby and all, I haven’t had a ton of time to watch stuff. That said, I did get around to finally watching Tron, or Tron: The Original Classic as it’s now called for some reason. Yeah, I’m 33 and I’d never seen this movie before. Now that I’ve seen it, I guess my question is: how did this get a sequel? Sure, it took 30 years, but still! If you’ve never seen it, Jeff Bridges is a computer programmer who finds himself trapped inside the digital world of a supercomputer. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a visually stunning movie, even by today’s standards, but the story is weak. I don’t understand the motivations of most of the characters. Why has Dillinger been seemingly corrupted by the Master Control Program? Why is Alan so eager to help his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend commit a crime? And then there’s the heavy-handed User/program religious dichotomy that doesn’t really seem to go anywhere. Also, why is it called Tron when Clu is the actual hero of the movie? Do they expand on any of this in the sequel? I guess I’ll have to watch that next. Oh, and Alan’s footsteps at the beginning of the film were totally added later in ADR, as the sounds don’t sync up with his gait. Anyway, I probably need to watch it again, as I fell asleep on it the first time I tried to watch it, and then I struggled to stay awake when I finally powered through it. I just don’t see how it’s had such a cultural impact.

anarchy

Last night, I watched The Purge: Anarchy and I have to say that it was just as good as the first movie. If you’re unfamiliar with The Purge franchise, in the near future the New Founding Fathers of America have devised a way to reduce the unemployment and crime rates in the nation: one night a year, citizens are encouraged to purge in order to “cleanse their souls”. During this 12 hr period, all crime – including murder – is legal, and no emergency services are available to help you. The first movie depicted the Purge as something that most Americans willfully go along with. In this movie, however, it’s revealed that the Purge is actually part of a class warfare conspiracy. Since the crime rates are low, the poor simply aren’t dying. So, the New Founding Fathers of America have stacked the deck so that most of the purging will happen amongst the poorest citizens. Every time I watch these movies, I’m left with so many questions. For example, the Purge is a United States phenomenon, so what do other countries think of it? Does international travel surge around the time of the Purge? Who cleans up all the dead bodies? From my 5 minutes of research, apparently there’s a third movie in the works which will serve as a prequel and show us the very first Purge. I’d love to have some novels or comics to expand upon the world of the Purge. I usually look at those as useless cash-grabs, but I’m so fascinated by that society that I really want to experience more of it.

American-Crime

In the world of television, The Slap ended last week, with a whimper more than a bang. Seeing as how my Thursdays at 10 have freed up, I decided to check out American Crime on ABC. Created by 12 Years A Slave‘s John Ridley, the show follows a handful of characters as their lives interact following a murder. Just like The Slap, that’s a simplistic explanation of the show, as it’s about so much more. There’s the interracial meth head couple, there’s the self-hating Mexican mechanic, there’s the kinda racist mother of the victim, and finally there’s the victim himself – who may have been a drug dealer. Or you could break it down as “White guy is killed, and every minority is a suspect”. Either way, it’s a very heavy show, and the ratings haven’t been stellar. It’s a limited series of 11 episodes, though, so it’ll at least get through its story.

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If you’re a Comcast/Xfinity customer, then you may know that this is Watchathon Week. An annual event, this is the week where they unlock all of the premium channel content On Demand, so you can get a taste of the critically acclaimed shows you may have missed. Last year, I bingewatched Girls, House of Lies, and True Detective. This year has been a different story, however. You see, we actually signed up for premium channels late last year, so Watchathon Week isn’t as special, seeing as how I can watch that stuff whenever I want. They used to put up every episode of the top 100 shows, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, as the first few episodes of Secrets & Lies and Better Call Saul aren’t available, and those are two shows I’d been wanting to check out. Anyway, if you’re a Comcast/Xfinity customer (seriously, which one are we supposed to use? Their branding is terrible!), you’ve got until Monday to bingewatch to your heart’s content.

rob lowe

Speaking of Comcast, apparently they got butthurt about the Rob Lowe DirecTV commercials, and approached the Better Business Bureau to report that DirecTV was making unsubstantiated claims about their service. The BBB sided with Comcast, and requested that DirecTV modify or discontinue the ads. So, now we’ll never get to see Post Apocalyptic Warlord Rob Lowe. Instead, DirecTV has started airing spots with a model on a talking horse. Booo!

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According to The Hollywood Reporter, ABC is working with Marvel to develop an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff. The big question is WHY? The ratings for AoS are less than stellar, and they certainly aren’t high enough to warrant a spinoff. On top of this, AoS hasn’t even been given a third season pickup yet, so it seems odd that they’d want to spin off of a property that’s not even guaranteed to be around. I’d much rather have another season of Agent Carter, especially since no one seems to know what the spinoff would be about. It can’t focus on S.W.O.R.D., as I’ve read that organization is part of the X-Men license. I’ve seen some folks mention that it should focus on Damage Control, which I love. If you’re not familiar, Damage Control is a construction company, co-owned by Tony Stark and The Kingpin, that cleans up NYC following superhero battles. I love that aspect of the comics, but I can’t really see a weekly television series based on that premise. I understand the desire to expand the universe, but I think they really need to be pumping those creative juices into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. instead of diluting the brand with a new concept.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– It was confirmed that the Russo Brothers, directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, will be directing Avengers: Infinity War Parts 1 & 2.

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-The suit for The Thing was revealed from the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot hit the web yesterday. I think it looks good and, unlike most, I’m looking forward to this movie. Then again, I liked the last 2 FF movies, so I’m easy to please.

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-Speaking of Marvel movies, Bryan Singer confirmed that EastEnders actor Ben Hardy will be playing Angel in X-Men: Apocalypse. According to this production art, it seems more like he’ll be playing Archangel.

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-A picture of the Suicide Squad cast hit the internet. Did we know that Ike Barinholtz was in this movie?

-Bobby Flay and actress Stephanie March have split after 10 years of marriage.

– Producer Brian Grazer reported that there are plans for 17 more episodes of Arrested Development, but it’s a matter of timing. 17? Such an odd episode count.

Simpsons producer Al Jean announced that there would be no more physical DVD season sets released of the show. Since the launch of the Simpsons World website, digital seems to be the preferred method for consuming episodes of The Simpsons. He said that they would still record commentaries for episodes, which would be available at Simpsons World.

Links I Loved

The Star Trek: The Next Generation/Webster Crossover Is Totally Real – The Agony Booth

“I Got 4 Bikes”: 2 Nickelodeon Super Toy Run Winners Reminisce 20 Years Later – The A.V. Club

The Inside Story of the Civil War for the Soul of NBC News – Vanity Fair

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This morning, I woke up early on a work day. That NEVER happens! But today was no ordinary day. You see, at 3 AM EST, the 13-episode Daredevil series debuted  on Netflix (Don’t worry – I woke up at 6). I’ve been a fan of the comic depiction of the character since Brian Michael Bendis’s run in the early ’00s. Plus, unlike most folks, I actually enjoyed the Ben Affleck movie. So, we could only go up from there, right? Anyway, what did I think? I thought it was EXCELLENT.

If you’re not familiar with Daredevil (and c’mon, if you’re reading this site, I’m pretty sure you know something about him), blind Matt Murdock is an attorney by day and a vigilante by night. The show is set in the same Marvel Cinematic Universe as the Avengers movies, but this is a very different tone. At first, this was a little off-putting to me. I couldn’t imagine this Daredevil in the same world that had recently experienced an alien invasion – important, since said invasion sets up the basis for this very series. Could I see this Matt Murdock interacting with Bruce Banner? No, but I’d kill for some banter between Foggy Nelson and Tony Stark. Just like the comics, The Avengers is world-spanning action, while Daredevil is more street-level action. Don’t look for Daredevil to be called when the next alien invasion happens, but he’ll be handling the looters and criminals who try to take advantage of the situation.

Anyway, I can’t think of anything that I hated about the pilot. The opening credits are great, the casting’s good, and the fighting is incredible – it looks like actual, brutal fighting and not the well-choreographed “ballet” that we usually get in action movies. I tend to look for things to tear apart, but I couldn’t find anything in the pilot. Maybe things will get dicey once I have a few more episodes under my belt, but I can’t wait to see what’s next. I won’t go into too much detail, as I know many of you haven’t had the chance to check it out yet. Trust me, though – you won’t be disappointed. Nice work Netflix and Marvel!

So, for capably expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and for just being plain ol’ awesome, Daredevil had the West Week Ever.

03rd Apr2015

West Week Ever – 4/3/15

by Will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Things You May Have Missed This Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27th Mar2015

West Week Ever – 3/27/15

by Will

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I totally wasted last Saturday, as I could’ve been watching new stuff, but instead I watched four movies I’d already seen. FOUR MOVIES! Yup, the day started with Die Hard, followed by Iron Man 3. Later that night, I caught A Million Ways To Die In The West, and capped it off with The Dark Knight. What can I say? I really like all of those movies. Anyway, I’ve really got nothing to add except for the fact that I still hate that ferry scene in The Dark Knight. It unnecessarily makes the movie longer.

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Saturday, I also caught Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles. I’m a Silverman fan, so I pretty much knew what to expect. Still, I found myself disappointed. I don’t know what it is, but I felt like I’d heard all of that material before. I’m pretty sure they weren’t the same jokes as Jesus Is Magic, so I’m not quite sure where I heard them, but it all sounded like old material. After the recent Aziz specials, followed by this, I’m really not winning in the standup department lately. Anyone got any suggestions?

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Earlier this week, I finally watched HBO’s Behind The Candelabra. If you’ve never seen it, it’s the story of Scott Thorson’s relationship with Liberace during the final years of Liberace’s life. Michael Douglas was amazing as Liberace, who seemed like one creepy old son of a bitch. Meanwhile, Matt Damon was great as Thorson, and I can understand why it won as many awards as it did.  Looking back, I still don’t know how the general public convinced themselves that Liberace wasn’t gay, but I suppose it was a different and simpler time. Liberace and Paul Lynde…it’s like people only saw what they wanted to see with those two.

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The other night, I finally watched Choke – a movie I’ve wanted to see for years. Based on a story by Chuck Palahniuk, and written and directed by Agent Coulson himself (Clark Gregg), the movie follows a sex addict (Sam Rockwell) who, while trying to care for his schizophrenic mother, discovers he may be a clone of Jesus. Meanwhile, he runs a scam where he pretends to choke in public places so that he can con his “saviors” into supporting his financial needs. Yeah, it’s kinda twisted, but it’s a great dark comedy. I highly recommend it. Plus, for you Community fans, if you’ve ever wanted to see Britta topless, this is your movie.

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Speaking of Community, sure it won West Week Ever last week, but now that we’re 3 episodes in, something seems kinda off about it. I’m not sure if it’s the lost cast members or the new “network” it’s on, but it feels lacking. I think it’s the fault of Yahoo Screen. It’s just such a ghetto medium compared to Netflix or Amazon Instant Video, and it almost feels like UPN 2.0. Just look at the other shows on the “network”. Sin City Saints? That’s totally the kind of show that UPN would’ve cancelled after 5 episodes, only to be replaced by more Shasta McNasty. I’ll keep watching because, as far as new episodes of Community goes, Yahoo Screen’s the only game in town. I just hope they bolster their offerings with some quality programming to support what they already have with Community.

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Meanwhile this week, Fox announced The X-Files would be coming back for a 6-episode special event. And if ratings are good, I’m sure there’ll be more. I’m not exactly what you’d call an X-Files superfan, but I did watch more than half of its run. I enjoyed it at the time, but I’m not really sure I was clamoring for more. If anything, this saddens me because it’s just more proof that Hollywood’s out of original ideas at the moment. People are constantly saying this, but when you go back and resurrect a show that’s been off the air for 13 years, you’re kinda proving their point. I wonder if they’ll retcon the last movie, as it seems like that killed a lot of people’s desire for more Mulder and Scully. I never saw it, so I’m only going off of scuttlebutt. Anyone care to weigh in on whether or not it was as bad as I’ve heard?

Speaking of crazy comebacks, it was announced yesterday that NBC ordered 13 episodes of <strong><em>Coach</strong></em> – the sequel to the 90s ABC show of the same name. Yes, Craig T. Nelson will once again play Coach Hayden Fox. Apparently, he’s retired and is his own son’s assistant coach at an Ivy League school in PA. I don’t even know what to make of this. First of all, I hate when shows switch networks. Second of all, is NBC <em>that</em> desperate? I mean, I loved Coach back in the day, but I don’t know if there’s a place for it in today’s TV landscape. Thoughts?

 

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Yesterday, the cover leaked to Marvel’s Free Comic Book Day offering, The All-New, All-Different Avengers. On it, the post-Secret Wars team appears to be comprised of Iron Man, Vision, “She-Thor”, “Blaptain America”, Ms. Marvel, Nova, and Miles Morales’s Ultimate Spider-Man. It looks like The Diversity Crew to the rescue! A friend of mine online said that he believes that this will be the B-Team of Avengers, and I’m inclined to agree with him. There’s a good mix of young and veteran heroes, but I’m not sure if they’re “Avengers”. This reminds me of when Marvel created the All-New Ultimates, comprised of Miles, Cloak & Dagger, Black Widow, Kitty Pryde and Bombshell. It really should’ve been called Ultimate Runaways, but the Ultimates name carried more clout. Ms. Marvel, Miles, and Nova are clearly the next generation of heroes, but they’re not really on that level yet. So, maybe they’re being mentored by the veteran heroes. Despite Miles’s presence, I’m more surprised that Sam Wilson as Captain America and the female Thor are present post Secret Wars. I thought they’d be the first to go in a multiversal shakeup, but I guess they have staying power. People love to point out that “She-Thor’s” sales are higher than those of the Odinson, but I maintain that it’s due to the mystery surrounding her identity. That’s not to take away from the storytelling, as folks wouldn’t stick around if it weren’t up to par. Still, those numbers will drop once her identity is revealed, as this same scenario played out with Red Hulk. My problems with Sam as Cap have to do with the concept of “cowl rental”. My friend Jenn explains it much better than I could, but let’s just say that the “replacement hero” rarely fares well once everything is said and done. Anyway, luckily it’s a free book, so I’ll pick it up and see what all the fuss is about. I mean, I’ve pretty much vowed to read whatever Miles is in, so I’ll read it, but I’m not saying I’m optimistic about the whole thing.

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In the world of music, Zayn Malik announced that he was leaving the boyband One Direction. As much of a boyband fan as I am, I’ve never really given the time of day to 1D. I’m not really sure why. I guess it’s because their songs aren’t really that catchy to me. I’m a bit of a boyband snob, and if your songs aren’t from Max Martin, then you haven’t made it yet. Teenage girls seem to be losing their shit over this news, but I didn’t even think Zayn was that important a member anyway. It’s not like Harry Styles quit! Anyway, 1D will be fine. Fellow UK boyband Westlife had a similar thing happen when Brian McFadden left the group in 2004, yet they continued on as a 4-piece up until 2012. So yes, Directioners – there is life after Zayn. Unless, of course, he was your favorite member. then, I guess you’re screwed…

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Last week, I had the pleasure of joining the Nerd Lunch guys to discuss television series finales. This is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, as I love me some TV and I love some series finales. I’ve heard before that a good series finale should equally satisfy longtime viewers, but also serve as a decent jumping-on point for the casual viewer. Which shows adhered to this tenet? Well, hop over to their site and give the show a listen!

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We’re doing something a little different this week. You see, I was off work because I was out on paternity leave. As many of you probably know, my wife and I have been expecting a baby since about July, and this week was the due date. Well, last night came a moment I’ve been equally terrified of and excited for: at 7:20 PM, Evelyn Robyn West was born. Weighing in at a whopping 8 lbs and 7 ounces, she licks her lips like Heath Ledger’s Joker, she’s pink and kinda looks like the baby from Dinosaurs. But she’s all mine, and I know that my life won’t be the same from this day forth. Mommy and baby are doing well, though Daddy almost passed out several times. That’ll just be our little secret! So, since nothing will ever compare to this in my mind, little Evelyn West had the West Week Ever.

20th Mar2015

West Week Ever – 3/20/15

by Will

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First off, thanks to everyone who read my Batgirl post, as I had my best traffic in over a year. Who knew that something I wrote in the middle of the night would garner that much discussion? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click the link!

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This week, I caught the series premiere of Transformers: Robots In Disguise and I don’t really know what I saw. Taking place years after Transformers: Prime, it features Bumblebee (voiced by Will Freidle) as the leader of a ragtag group of Autobots trying to recapture some Decepticons who had crash landed on Earth. I love Will Freidle and I love Bumblebee, but I I’m not sure I love Will Friedle as Bumblebee. Also, it was kinda jarring that the sequel to the CGI Prime is a standard 2-D animated show that looks more like the sequel to Transformers Animated. I’m not the biggest Transformers fan, so I kinda don’t have a horse in that race, but I still thought I’d check it out. It didn’t hold my attention, so I can only imagine how kids are gonna feel about it.

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On the cable front, I checked out Tammy. Yes, I know that some people hate Melissa McCarthy and, yes, I know that they trailer did a horrible job explaining what the movie was about. Still once it hit DVD, I knew I was gonna watch it. I’d meant to get it from Redbox, but it premiered on HBO last weekend. So, what is it about? Well, after a really bad day – where she finds out that her husband’s cheating on her and she’s fired from her job – Tammy (McCarthy) sets out on a road trip with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon). Was it funny? I thought so. It’s produced by Will Ferrell’s Gary Sanchez Productions, so you’ve kinda got an idea of the type of humor that it contains.

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Speaking of movies, some drama’s been going down concerning upcoming Aquaman, Jason Momoa. Apparently, he signed a fan’s poster with the words “Fuck Marvel”. While some folks are saying this was unprofessional, others are happy that he’s igniting a true cinematic rivalry between Marvel and DC. DC fans say that the Avengers stars run their mouths about how their movies are superior, so why is this any different? I think it’s more a case of the fact that Marvel’s proven its worth. Momoa’s untested and hasn’t even acted in anything yet in the DCU, yet he’s already knee deep in a “rivalry”. If Henry Cavill had said it, I’d take it, since he’s already gotten his feet wet with Man of Steel. As it stands, however, Momoa really doesn’t have anything to back himself up. Someone on Facebook tried to say that Momoa passed on being Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, so clearly he must have more faith in DC by taking the Aquaman role. I beg to differ. I think he realized he’d made a mistake when GOTG went on to be HUGE and he jumped on the next train that came along. Anyway, let’s see who’s laughing when Dawn of Justice finally comes out.

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On the comics front, I got my hands on an advance copy of Archie vs. Predator #1. Sadly, I probably know more about Archie than I do the Predator franchise (I’ve never seen any of the movies). So, I’m sure some Easter eggs were lost on me. Still, the story should still be rather accessible, right? Wrong. It just doesn’t flow well. The characters’ personalities are off, as they seem to exist at extremes. Reggie’s REALLY a dick. Betty’s REALLY a dumb blonde. If Jughead had more than 2 lines, I’m sure he’d be REALLY hungry. It felt like a book made by someone with little familiarity with Archie for someone with little familiarity with Archie. On top of that, the level of gore that we get at the end of the issue doesn’t fit tonally with the rest of the issue. It reads like a “My First Archie Story” for kids, and then ends with eviscerated corpses hanging from trees. There are 3 more issues in the miniseries, but this one didn’t leave me with the desire to read more. I was expecting them to pull it off, like Archie Meets The Punisher, but this wasn’t on that level. If you love Archie or Predator, you’re gonna hate this.

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In the video game world, it’s rumored that game developer Hideo Kojima has left Konami. Now, I’m the furthest thing from a “gamer”, but I do know that he’s behind the highly successful Metal Gear franchise. That game series holds a special place in my heart, as I almost beat Metal Gear Solid II: Sons of Liberty, and that game’s theme is what I want played at my funeral. Seriously, just listen to it:

Anyway, if Kojima has left Konami, this will be a huge blow. Apparently, there’s been a falling out between Kojima Productions and Konami, and Konami has lashed out by removing Kojima Productions branding from Twitter and the Metal Gear website. For now, if he hasn’t left already, it’s believed that Kojima Productions will leave following Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes, as well as what happens to the Metal Gear series.

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It’s been confirmed that Toys “R” Us won’t be renewing their lease for the well-known flagship store located in the heart of New York’s Times Square. TRU has been in the space since 2000, and they occupy 110,000 square feet. This is a sad development that shows the current state of the toy market. In fact, the brokers are convinced that they won’t be able to find a single tenant for the entire space, so it’ll end up being divided. It’s rumored that TRU might actually lease retail space at the nearby Marriott Marquis, but I’m not sure if they’re going to take the giant dinosaur and the Ferris wheel with them to the new location. The move should take place next February.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-In the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic, one of the turtles was killed this week. Hint: It’s not the one who leads, the party dude, or the one who’s cool but rude.

-The series finale of Glee airs tonight. I’ve seen, like, no fanfare for this thing, so I wonder who even knows about it.

-a well known comic blogger was accused of cyberbullying a former comic editor, driving her to the point of PTSD. I’m not naming names ’cause at least one of them seems like to type to Google her name. Yeah, the blogger was a dick, and the editor never really seemed screwed on too tightly. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

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-One of my tweets was used in an Essence.com recap of the Empire season finale.

-I joined the guys at Nerd Lunch to discuss TV series finales. The episode will go up Tuesday, and I’ll post a link in next week’s post.

-I’ve been obsessed with the ’60s group Jay and the Americans lately. Here’s their hit “Cara Mia”:

– The California Raisins are coming back in a live action/CG film

-President Obama might be buying the Magnum P.I. house

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Ruth Negga has been cast as Tulip in AMC’s Preacher adaptation.

Links I Loved
Batgirl Variant Cover Glorifies Sexual Violence | #CancelTheCover – Reappropriate

MTV Spring Break Used To Rule – Deadspin

The 100 Sexiest Women on Television | 2015 Edition – UnderScoopFire

Ranking Marvel’s Superhero TV Movies – The Robot’s Pajamas

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Community is the little show that could. After 5 seasons on NBC, it seemed like all was lost. Then, Yahoo stepped in and picked the show up to be featured under the Yahoo Screen banner. Well, the first episodes hit the Internet this week, and it was good to see the gang again. It was also kind of jarring to realize how much they’ve lost over the years. Troy’s gone, Pierce is dead, and now Shirley’s gone to her own spinoff (it makes sense when you watch the episode).

Certain things didn’t work. For example, Abed didn’t seem like himself. It’s like he’s trying to be a new person, and he no longer seems interested in imagining that they’re all characters in a sitcom. Also, things didn’t really work on a technical level, either. You see, Yahoo Screen can be viewed via a browser, but it can also be used through an Android or iOS app. The Android app is pretty janky, as it was constantly buffering – sometimes for periods up to 5 minutes. I thought it might’ve been my connection doing it, but I’ve read that others had the same issues. So, with that going on, it took about an hour to watch a 27 minute episode.

Certain things did work, though. The writing is still there, and it definitely feels like Dan Harmon work and not the episodes from the “gas leak season” (the one during which Harmon was fired). I also enjoyed the addition of Paget Brewster, as I’ve loved her ever since Joey and Chandler were fighting over her on Friends. Her character, Frankie Dart, seems like she’s there to keep the show grounded, but it’ll be fun to watch her get sucked into the madness that surrounds Greendale.

The show’s joke was always #sixseasonsandamovie, and they just might pull it off. It nothing else, they might get another season on Yahoo Screen. Either way, I was glad to see it back, so Community had the West Week Ever.

27th Feb2015

West Week Ever – 2/27/15

by Will

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No, I’m not gonna talk about that dress…

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The week started off with me watching After Earth, starring the men of the Smith clan. I know the movie bombed in North America, and I’m not exactly a “Will Smith fan”, but I really enjoyed it. More than that, I enjoyed Jaden. I know we’re supposed to hate him, since he’s insufferable in real life, but he brought such intensity to his role. I guess there was supposed to be a message in there, that Man ruined the Earth, turning it into something designed only to kill humanity. That message, whether sadly or thankfully, got lost. If it was supposed to be a cautionary tale, it failed on that account, but as a survivalist thriller, I thought it succeeded. Their accents were somewhat off-putting, but I guess that’s somewhat to be expected with it set 1,000 years in the future. It was an M. Night movie, but luckily there wasn’t a crazy twist at the end. I don’t say this often, but I’d watch it again. I’d never seen a Jaden Smith movie before, but I think I might like his acting. What’s happening to me?!

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Next up, I finally watched Cloverfield. I’d been curious about it since it was in theaters, but it was never really “my kind of movie”. I don’t really do disaster movies, but I remember it had been shrouded in secrecy, and it was filmed in that “found footage” format. It was about what I expected it to be. I’m glad that the format eliminated the need to explain where the monster came from, or to even explain how/if it was defeated. It’s a shame we never got a sequel, as there are so many questions, but the format didn’t really allow for a sequel. If anything, it would have had to be the same night from a different point of view. I had no clue that TJ Miller was in that movie, but I was also surprised to see friend of a friend Ben Feldman in the film. Too bad his character probably died. Anyway, it was refreshing that the Black girl was the one to survive. At least I think she was Black. Maybe she was a halfy? Who cares. She lived. I didn’t hate it, but I don’t think I ever need to see it again.

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This week saw the season (?) finale of Marvel’s Agent Carter, and I’m surprised to say that I was sad to see it go. When they first announced the show, I thought it was a dumb idea. Nobody cares about Captain America’s stupid girlfriend. Then the show actually debuted, and I found myself drawn to that world. I came to enjoy it much more than I ever enjoyed Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,and I’d rather have 5 more seasons of Peggy Carter than stupid Skye/Daisy Johnson. As someone said on Twitter, Agent Carter did more with 8 episodes than S.H.I.E.L.D. has done with nearly 40. I know part of the problem is that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is so beholden to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while Agent Carter can get away with more, being set in the ’40s and all. Anyway, I have to admit that I need to rewatch the finale, as I was a little distracted when it actually aired. From what I caught, I felt kinda like it wrapped up a little too quickly. I know they only had 8 episodes to work with, but the finale felt somewhat rushed. Again, I need to rewatch it, as maybe my opinion will change. Ratings were never really stellar, with an estimated 4 million households tuning in every week, but S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s ratings haven’t been great since the premiere, so they’re pretty much in the same boat. I think it’ll get a second season, but we probably won’t hear anything until May. According to rumors, the character is in Avengers: Age of Ultron, so it’s safe to say that we haven’t seen the last of Peggy Carter.

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Deadline is reporting that The CW is in the early stages of developing an Arrow/Flash team-up spinoff, starring recurring characters from both shows. Some folks online are saying that it’s essentially a Justice League TV show, but it doesn’t sound like that to me. If anything, it seems closer to the Brave and the Bold team-up concept. I’m glad to see that Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer is joining the show, as I’ve come to like that character. They also announced that Caity Lotz, better known as Arrow‘s Sara Lance/Black Canary I, is involved, but it’s unknown if she’s playing the same character or a new one. This news is pretty surprising, as there had been rumors of that universe being expanded, but it was assumed that it would probably be an A.T.O.M. or Firestorm show down the road. I know that Flash is firing on all cylinders, but Arrow seems to have taken a bit of a turn in the “suspension of disbelief” department. I’m scared that they might be diluting the brand by rushing another show into development in that same universe – especially since CBS’s Supergirl is supposedly in the same universe, should they choose to cross them over. In Berlanti I trust, however, so I’ll just wait and see.

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Speaking of Supergirl, Calista Flockhart has been cast as Kara’s boss, Cat Grant. I’m not sure how I feel about this casting. If you’ve read Superman books recently, you know that Cat Grant is kinda of a cougary go-getter. If I had to cast the role, I probably would’ve gone with someone a little closer to Elizabeth Banks. Sure, she’s not at the point in her career where she has to do television, but that’s the age and look I would go for.

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DuckTales is coming back in 2017! Yeah, I guess this is good news, but I’d much rather have Darkwing Duck back. Anybody remember Quack Pack? It’s the follow-up to DuckTales where Huey, Dewey, and Louie were teens. Apparently, it was supposed to be an extension of Donald Duck shorts instead of DuckTales, which is why you never see Uncle Scrooge and other DuckTales characters. It seems like most people I know had checked out of The Disney Afternoon by the time that show came along.

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I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I’ve become a fan of NBC’s The Slap. Sure, it’s got a dumb name, and seems built around a dumb premise, but it’s so much more than that. It really centers around a Greek-American family, and the drama that’s boiling beneath the surface in all of their lives. One character’s marriage is strained, and he’s falling for the teenage babysitter. Zachary Quinto plays a successful car broker, who has anger issues and is also cheating on his wife. Uma Thurman is a successful TV producer who’s dating a much younger man, and finds out that she’s pregnant by him. It all comes to a head one afternoon at a family party. A guest’s child is out of control, and when Quinto intervenes, the kid kicks him in the shin. As a reflex, Quinto slaps the kid in front of everyone. The kid’s parents go apeshit, and the party goes to hell quickly.

Here’s some backstory on the kid: Hugo’s 4 years old and he’s a little asshole. The whole party, he was throwing iPads and having tantrums. Meanwhile, his parents are hippies, and the mother still breastfeeds him (HE’S FOUR YEARS OLD!). He totally had something coming to him, but I guess it was up to his own parents to make that call. I’m completely fascinated by this, as it’s such a cultural thing. Had this been a Black cookout, the party would’ve kept going. When you employ the whole “It takes a village…” model of raising kids, you run the risk of someone else disciplining your child. It just comes with the territory. We live in a society now where people don’t want to raise a hand to their kids, but I just feel like this is the kind of show that could only really be dramatic at this time in history. Anyway, now the hippies are pressing charges against Quinto, Uma knows about Hector and the babysitter, and everyone’s life is in a spiral right now. It’s no Empire, but it’s still a really engaging show. If I had to compare it to something, I’d say it’s like an edgy Parenthood.

coke life

I’m a sucker for gimmick sodas, and my latest drink of choice is Coca-Cola Life. For lack of a better description, it’s what I would call a “pairing soda”. On its own, it tastes kinda janky. However, if you drink it with a meal, the food enhances the flavor and makes it taste like Pepsi. I guess I could cut out the middle man and just drink Pepsi, but I’m just kind of intrigued by how it all goes down. Coca-Cola Life is sweetened with Stevia, so it has fewer calories than regular Coke, but is much more caloric than Diet Coke. A 20 oz bottle of Coke Classic will run you about 240 calories, while the same amount of Coke Life will run you about 160 calories. Pepsi has followed Coke’s lead, releasing its own Stevia-sweetened cola, Pepsi True. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve got a bottle in my refrigerator, so I’ll update in the future.

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I debated whether or not to talk about this, as I sometimes think I write too much about Power Rangers – especially since Power Rangers fans don’t really give a shit about my opinion. Still, it was on everyone’s timeline this week, so it bears mentioning. Producer Adi Shankar released Power/Rangers – a dark and gritty short film starring Katee Sackhoff and James Van Der Beek. This film had everything you never wanted from Power Rangers, including machine guns, threesomes, titties, and curse words.

The movie kicks off with the Rangers, suited up, fighting with machine guns. It turns out that Rocky (Red) sold out to the evil Machine Empire, and he’s interrogating Kimberly (Pink) to discover the whereabouts of Tommy, the Green Ranger. So, I’ve got some questions. First off, why Rocky? He was the replacement Red Ranger, yet there’s no mention of Adam and Aisha – the replacement Black and Yellow Rangers. It just seemed like a reach to make him the traitor. And the machine guns? The Rangers are essentially magic, so why bring man-made weapons into the mix? And I don’t even want to get into the social implications of Zack’s interracial threesome.

At the end of the day, it was clear that this was not a love letter from a longtime fan of the franchise. Most fans realized this, and many took to social media to state how displeased they were. Meanwhile, the laymen who do’t realize there have been multiple incarnations of the franchise for the past 21 years, seemed to like it. All the podcast hosts and members of the Power Force (yeah, such a thing exists. Don’t get me started…) decried “THIS IS SHIT!” while most “normal” people were like, “Huh, that was kinda cool.” All day Tuesday, headlines ranged from “You Won’t Believe This Piece of Shit!” to “The Power Rangers Get Gritty And It’s AWESOME!” Needless to say, it was a very polarizing video. On top of that, Saban Brands has been trying to get the video taken down, as it infringes upon their trademarks, and doesn’t classify as “parody”. So far, it has been taken down from Vimeo (that was the version with the titties), and now it’s gone from YouTube, too. I can understand that, based on the tone and language, it’s not the kind of thing that Saban wants out in the world representing his product. Now, the debate has gone from whether or not the video sucked to whether or not it deserved to be taken down by Saban. Those opinions are just as polarized as the opinions on the clip’s quality.

It was clearly a well-done fan film, with great special effects, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t Power Rangers. It was something else entirely, but it just didn’t work as Power Rangers. It demonstrated a lack of knowledge of the source material, as Power Rangers can be gritty without being….whatever that was. Power Rangers has gone dark before. Check out Power Rangers RPM – I recommend it to anyone who’ll listen to me. This, however, ain’t Power Rangers.

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This week saw the series finale of Parks & Recreation. After 7 seasons, and 125 episodes, Leslie Knope dined at JJ’s Diner for the last time. Or at least, I guess she did; JJ’s wasn’t even shown in the episode. Anyway, the episode featured flash forwards to give us a glimpse into the futures of the characters we had come to love. April and Andy had kids, Craig got married, Donna became a real estate mogul, Tom became a motivational author/speaker, Gary/Jerry/Larry/Terry Gergich enjoyed multiple terms as Pawnee’s mayor, and Ron became the head of the Pawnee National Park. Meanwhile, Ben became a Congressman and Leslie ran for Governor of Indiana. We even got a flash forward for fan favorite Jean-Ralphio, as he faked his own death.

The first half hour wasn’t really high on laughs, and went more for the heartstrings. I felt like I was watching the Six Feet Under finale all over again, and didn’t really like the experience. The second half hour, however, felt like classic Parks & Rec, and we even got cameos from Ann and Chris. I’m kinda sad they never even attempted to mention Mark Brendanawicz, but the show really wasn’t very good when he was around, so I can forgive the omission.

By no means was I some kind of Parks & Rec superfan, but I always enjoyed it when I watched it. Its ratings were never anything to write home about, but it was NBC’s “little comedy that could”. Though it was initially developed as a pseudo-spinoff of The Office, I feel like its legacy will be much stronger once history has its say. For one thing, Amy Poehler didn’t leave the show before the end of its run, so it had that going for it. Also, Parks & Rec just got stronger, as the cast gelled and became a well-oiled machine. NBC definitely doesn’t have anything else on its schedule like it, and it will be a long time before a show that good comes along again. So, for giving us 7 seasons of laughs, and for going out on top, Parks & Recreation had the West Week Ever.

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