07th Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/7/15

by Will

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This week, Joel McHale confirmed what most of us already knew – that Community is over. He explained that Yahoo wanted another season for their Yahoo Screen portal, but they simply couldn’t afford the cast since their asking quotes  have gone up since the show began. Because of that stupid #sixseasonsandamovie thing, they’re still saying they’d like to do a movie. Honestly, I don’t even know what that would entail. How do you translate a sitcom into a theatrical feature? Has that been done before? I mean, it works the other way around. Movies get TV adaptations all the time, but not vice versa. I can’t think of a Community storyline that would even be worth a theatrical release. Keep in mind, I have the same reservations about an Arrested Development movie. Just let these things die, so they can be fondly remembered. Show creator Dan Harmon has said that he’d be interested in writing the script once he’s gotten to a place where he misses the characters. So, we’re at the whim of his sense of nostalgia.

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In other TV news, there were a lot of casting reveals for the DC shows on The CW. First up, Casper Crump has been cast as season one big bad Vandal Savage for Legends of Tomorrow. Also, Falk Henstchel has been cast as Hawkman in the series. Meanwhile, The Flash has cast Wally West, who will be played by Keiynan Lonsdale. I haven’t heard of any of these weird-named dudes. Lonsdale’s Australian, so he’s probably done a stint on Neighbours or something – that’s like a rite of passage down there. Anyway, a lot of people not familiar with DC’s New 52 reboot didn’t realize that the new Wally West is Black, so of course the usual complaints spread across social media: “Why make him Black when he’s always been White?” As my pal Tim would call it, #rabblerabble.

WallyWest

Even I’ll say that New 52 Wally seems like diversity solely for the sake of diversity. Then again, I guess his race never really had an impact on who he was, so he could be anything. The problem, however, is that Wally had quite the legacy. He’s one of the few heroes who replaced his mentor and it STUCK. Most of my generation grew up with a Wally West Flash and NOT a Barry Allen Flash. Barry was boring and DEAD by the time we started reading comics. So, to just randomly introduce him in the New 52 universe like, “Hey, here’s Wally – only he’s not the dude you remember, and he’s Black now” kinda seems disingenuous. My problem with introducing him on the show, however, is that it just seems too soon. They couldn’t wait for season 3? I mean, we’ve just gotten used to Barry, and we like him, so why dilute that with Kid Flash or whatever Wally’s going to become on the show? My biggest issue with the Greg Berlanti DC shows is that I fear he spreads himself too thin. Arrow was great until The Flash came along, and then it started to suffer creatively. This season, he’s adding Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow to the docket. One can only imagine what that’s going to do to The Flash, and I shudder to wonder how much lower Arrow can go.

photovisi-download(1)You know who almost had the West Week Ever? Hollywood divorce lawyers! This week alone saw the announcement of splits between Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani, Reba McEntire and Narvel Blackstock, and Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. Plus, the week kicked off with the annual, yet erroneous, announcement that Will and Jada were calling it quits. In the words of Carrie Underwood, “There must be something in the water.” The Gavin/Gwen split wasn’t a total surprise, as I recall hearing that things had been rocky ever since the paternity test revealed that he was the father of model Daisy Lowe. The Reba divorce is pretty sad, as they had been married for 26 years! That’s my biggest fear: to get old and divorced. Young divorce is fine, but divorce after you’re all used up? No siree, Bob! And I’m pretty sure that the Kermit and Piggy thing is just publicity for that The Office-inspired Muppets show coming to ABC this Fall. They break up all the time, so who really cares? I mean, they were broken up in Jason Segel’s The Muppets back in 2011. Did everyone just forget that? Anyway, I can’t even think of a celebrity couple I’m rooting for at this point. You’re just courting disappointment with that game.

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This week saw the Television Critics Association’s Summer press tour, where TV critics were introduced to the stars of the upcoming new network shows. Yesterday was Fox’s day, where three things happened. First off, it appears that critics were shown a clip from the X-Files reboot, and the consensus was not good. I’ve heard that it almost played like parody, and it wasn’t clear if that was the intention of the scene. Second, they announced that Prison Break was returning for a 10-episode event, similar to last year’s 24: Live Another Day miniseries. Apparently, the original stars are on board (interesting, since they’re both attached to Legends of Tomorrow, so I guess they’ll film this while they’re on break?), and some of the deaths from the original series seem like they’re being retconned in order to make this work. I watched the first episode of Prison Break, but I just couldn’t get on board for that series. I didn’t feel like it would last long enough for a resolution. I was wrong, but I still don’t feel like I missed out on anything. Finally, Fox also updated the status of bringing back 24. They said that Kiefer Sutherland isn’t interested in returning right now, so a new 24 would probably feature new characters. It’s just not 24 without Jack Bauer! If I wanted to watch an entirely new ensemble, I’d just tune into ABC’s Quantico (Sundays this Fall!).

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Oh yeah, Fox also did something else: they confirmed plans for an television spinoff of the X-Men films. They said that they’re close to a deal, but they’re waiting to see if Marvel will approve it. Since Fox only owns the X-Men rights, don’t look for any crossovers with Daredevil or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The big question, though is what does Marvel get out of the deal? Right now, Fox has already lined up writers and showrunners, so this will happen sooner rather than later. I’m OK with this idea if they’re really allowed to run with it. Maybe focus on some mutants who don’t get any movie screentime. I mean, I’m pretty sick of the Xavier/Magneto dynamic. WE GET IT ALREADY! There are other characters. Hell, some of the X-Men’s best adventures occurred when Xavier wasn’t even around. I don’t see why they have to be in all the movies. I’m scared however, this will be some watered down thing, so as not to step on the toes of the film division. Remember what happened the last time we got a watered down X-Men television show? It was called Mutant X

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The box art was revealed for this Winter’s LEGO Avengers. I have SO many comic-based LEGO games to get through, but I’m a sucker, so I’ll probably get this one, too. It helps that they’re releasing it on “older” systems like Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, as not all of us have graduated to the next generation. I really wish Rocksteady had done this with Batman: Arkham Knight. I mean, it kinda sucks that there’s a trilogy of games that can’t all be played on the same friggin’ system!

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*Sigh* So, I guess I’ve gotta talk about Fantastic Four, huh? The movie officially comes out today, but the review embargo was lifted on Wednesday and it wasn’t pretty. I’ve heard everything from that fact that it had a strong 2/3 but tanked the 3rd act to the whole thing was just a disaster. You know comic folk can be a passionate bunch, so I’m not really sure who to believe. I’ll see it, but I’m easy to please when it comes to comic book movies. To date, out of all the ones I’ve seen (no, I still haven’t seen Catwoman), I only hated Elektra and The Dark Knight Rises. I was actually fine with the two Fantastic Four films that we already got. It probably helps that I’ve never really liked the comic version of the team, so I didn’t have high expectations. Anyway, they say that this version borrows heavily from the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic, which should be a good thing, since I love the Ultimate Marvel Universe. Sadly, I found that book to be so boring that I still have about 20 issues I haven’t read, and the book’s been cancelled since 2009. Then, things took a real bad turn last night when the movie’s director, Josh Trank, tweeted this:

Trank

So, Trank’s basically blaming the studio. Not a great move from the guy who was pushed out of his Star Wars directing gig due to his erratic behavior. So far, the only hit he has under his belt is Chronicle, and I’m not sure how long he’s going to be able to coast on that. Is there any coming back from this? Is the movie so bad that it’ll sink his career?

No links this week, as I’m behind on my blogs, so let’s get to the meat and potatoes: Who had the West Week Ever?

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On Tuesday night, Conan O’Brien probably saw his biggest ratings since his move to cable. No, it wasn’t because of a guest, but rather the fact that the Deadpool trailer was slated to premiere during the episode. In fact, the episode’s rating was TV-MA because they would be showing the red band, not safe for work version of the trailer. Welp, once the trailer debuted, it seemed there was a huge divide between those who loved it and those who just weren’t feeling it. I fell into the latter camp.

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First, let me explain that I consider myself a Deadpool fan. I haven’t been there since his debut in X-Force, but I’ve been reading his book for the past 8 years or so. I’ve also gone back and read the older stuff, so I think I have a pretty good handle on the character. He’s not a top-tier character, so you might not be familiar with him. Deadpool is Wade Wilson, a mercenary who underwent an experimental procedure to cure his terminal cancer. As a result, he emerged with a healing factor, and it might’ve done something to his brain – making him think he’s a character in a comic book, and resulting in his breaking the 4th wall to interact with the reader. He’s like a cartoon character, and though violent, it tends to be a cartoony violence. Think Roadrunner cartoons. If you saw him, you’d probably ask “Why does Spider-Man have all those swords and machine guns?” That’s basically his look. He’s not someone to be taken seriously, especially in recent years where he’s been trying to be accepted by the hero community.

ultimate deadpool

So, imagine my surprise when they created a movie not about cartoony wacky Deadpool, but sadistically violent Deadpool. This is a far departure from the way he’s been presented in recent years. The violence and language are so amped up that it’s going to be rated R. So, all that said, I really don’t know who this movie is for. My main issue is the R-rating. While his video game was rated Mature, I think they’re cutting out a big swath of the potential audience by making it 17 and up. Parents like to take their kids to comic book movies. Not this one. Add in the fact that he’s not a hero. He’s a mercenary. He kills for money. He’s not saving the world, or fighting aliens. He kills mobsters for other mobsters. I don’t know if you’ve read the recent Deadpool book by Gerry Duggan, but Deadpool really doesn’t kill all that much anymore. He’s kinda gained a conscience, and even has a daughter. If you’re a fan of that Deadpool – ya know, the one currently making money for Marvel – this movie ain’t for you. My pal Carlin brought up the fact that Deadpool’s recently been featured in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, which his son loved. Unfortunately, this is not a movie that he’ll be able to share with his son.

blade

I’m not saying that a PG-13 rating would make the movie a success, but an R will certainly keep it from being one. There are only 2 R-rated comic book movies that have been successful: Blade and Kick-Ass. Blade’s success has more to do with folks’ love of vampires (and then-love of Wesley Snipes) than the character of Blade. And Kick-Ass was just a fluke, as seen by the failure of its sequel. Even Spawn, a movie about a soldier for THE DEVIL, managed to get a PG-13 rating when it probably should’ve been an R to be “faithful” to the source material. Marvel really needs to rethink how they want to allow Deadpool to be used. He can’t be their Mickey Mouse AND their Terminator. I think this movie is a thematic misfire, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, everyone was talking about the trailer Wednesday morning, and it sparked some of the best online discussions I’ve had. So, for all of that, the Deadpool trailer had the West Week Ever.

26th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/26/15

by Will

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I watched absolutely nothing this week, so I’ve got nothing for this part of the post. Oh wait – I did watch The Briefcase on CBS. Have any of you seen it? It was pretty controversial when it first aired, and the season finale is already airing tonight. Basically, they present a briefcase filled with $100,000 to two different poor families. The families, then, have to decide whether to keep the money for themselves, or to share some of it with the other family. So, they’re demanding poor people make a Sophie’s Choice over this windfall that could be seen as a gift from Heaven. I mean, they all could use the money, but they don’t wanna look like assholes by keeping it all to themselves. Later in the show, once the families meet, they realize that there were TWO briefcases, and not just the one that was presented to them, so there’s $200,000 up for grabs. On the episode that I watched, one family gave $20,000 to the other family, while the second family gave $11,000 to the first family. So, they both ended up with the bulk of the money. For each of them, the amount given was such a drop in the bucket that I would’ve been offended, but they at least pretended to be thankful. They both owed so much money that the full $100K still wouldn’t have solved all their problems. I really hope there’s a “Where Are They Now” episode next season if the show gets renewed.

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Lots of news in the world of Spider-Man this week. First off, it was reported that Miles Morales, formerly the Ultimate Spider-Man, will be the MAIN Spider-Man in the regular Marvel Universe following the Secret Wars event. The new series, Spider-Man, will be handled by the Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man team of Brian Michael Bendis and Sarah Pichelli, and it also appears that a retired Peter Parker will serve as his mentor. I’ve written about my love for Miles in the past, and I’ve also written about how an association with Peter could only be a good thing for Miles. This is a pretty big deal, as Miles will also be one of the New Avengers as that team rebuilds following the event. I’m really excited for this, but part of me is wondering “How long is this really gonna last?” Comics have tricked us with “cowl rental” in the past, and the original wearer always comes back. I’m drinking the Kool-Aid, and I really want this to be a permanent thing, but I just know better than to get too excited about it yet.

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Meanwhile, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel and Sony decided on Tom Holland, and not Asa Butterfield, as the next actor to portray Peter Parker/Spider-Man. A moment of silence for Andrew Garfield. Not only will Holland star in the 2017 Spider-Man film, but he has been confirmed to debut in next Spring’s Captain America: Civil War. In fact, they say that he has already been sent to the set to start filming his scenes. Meanwhile, Jon Watts has been tapped to direct the next Spidey film, which will only be his third feature film.

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Also this week in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was rumored that Selma‘s Ava Duvernay had been hired to direct Marvel’s Black Panther. While Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has confirmed that they’ve had talks with DuVernay, her hiring is still just speculation at this point. While I know she’d bring a certain amount of, I guess, “legitimacy” to the movie, I don’t really know if that’s what her career needs. Sure, Kenneth Branagh directed Thor, but I kinda hate that we live in a period where it’s assumed that EVERY director needs to have a superhero film under his/her belt. I mean, other than the fact that they both feature Black casts, why would you think the director of Selma would automatically be the best person to showcase the king and world of Wakanda? To me, that’s just as dumb as the marriage between Storm and Black Panther which seemed based solely on the fact that they’re both African. It’s just sort of stupid that once you’re on everyone’s radar these days, it’s assumed your next move will be a superhero film.

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Also in movies this week, Rotten Tomatoes held a Q&A livestream with the cast of the Independence Day sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence. I guess the importance of the event was to showcase the new title, but it just seemed kinda like a sad affair. Instead of being excited about the movie (which is a year away), I was more sad for these actors that they didn’t have anything else lined up. I mean, even secondary characters like Vivica Fox, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch are back. Hell, if Harvey Fierstein hadn’t died in the first one, they probably would’ve gotten him back, too. But there is one glaring omission: Will Smith, who reportedly wanted $50 million to do the two planned sequels. So, instead of having him, they cast actor Jessie Usher (who?) as Smith’s character’s son. Anyway, since filming just started a month ago, they really didn’t have much info to share. I’m not sure whose idea it was to schedule this thing so early, but it was just an awkward, uncomfortable mess.

Photographer Dennis Stylist Lin

Photographer Dennis
Stylist Lin

Some San Diego Comic-Con exclusives are starting to trickle out (you can get up-to-the-minute coverage over at Awesome Toy Blog), but my favorite is probably this Toys “R” Us exclusive Batgirl figure. I was a pretty devoted collector of the Batman ’66 line, and I’ve been waiting for this figure since it was announced over a year ago. I really kinda hate that it’s an exclusive (especially since it’s a TRU exclusive, exclusively for SDCC – it’s an exclusive inception!), as that means it’ll be harder to get than just walking into your local TRU store. It seems that TRU actually posts these for sale on their website during the convention, so I’ll try my luck at getting one that way. I’ll need two – one to open and one to put in storage. Yes, I’m that guy. Sometimes.

dustin-diamond

It was quite a week for fallen child stars. First off, young Anakin Skywalker, Jake Lloyd, who apparently suffers from schizophrenia, attacked his mom before setting off a high speed police chase. Then, Saved By The Bell‘s Dustin Diamond was ordered to serve 4 months in jail for stabbing a guy back in December.

taylor

In the world of music, Taylor Swift surprisingly became the voice for artists’ rights when she declined to allow her album 1989 to be offered via Apple Music’s streaming service. This is nothing new for Taylor, as she also yanked all of her albums off Spotify a few months ago. Still, she wrote an open letter to her fans, saying that she couldn’t go along with Apple, seeing as how they weren’t going to be paying artists royalties for the first three months of the service. Well, she cried and Apple listened. Responding to her on Twitter, Apple senior vice president of internet software and services, Eddie Cue, said, “Apple will always make sure that artist are paid,” tweeted Cue. “#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period. We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.” Now if she could only squash that beef with Katy Perry that easily…

General-Lee

I don’t usually get too political on here, but this has been some kind of week. As I’m sure you know, there’s been a lot of movement to get the Confederate flag taken down at southern government buildings. Then things really shifted into turbo, as Wal-Mart, Amazon and more announced that they would no longer be selling items bearing the flag. Then Warner Bros announced that they wouldn’t sell any more Dukes of Hazzard merchandise with the flag on it. When all of this stuff was happening, I jokingly tweeted that I was fine with the flag being on the General Lee. And then they pulled it. Finally, Apple kinda screwed the pooch by removing Civil War games from the App Store because they depicted the flag. I say “screwed the pooch”, as this is almost like pulling a textbook because the flag was in it. It’s a part of history, but that’s where it should remain. If it’s a game or book about history, then it seems kinda fitting for it to be in there. It just probably shouldn’t be flying high like we’re still all in 1861.

As a Black man in America, it should be pretty clear where I stand on this matter. As someone whose relatives hail from the South, it has even more meaning to me. I’m conflicted, though, ’cause I grew up loving The Dukes of Hazzard. I guess you could say that I didn’t know any better, but I was an avid fan of the “Cars Jumping Over Shit” genre of television that ruled the early 80s. I was asked to write a guest post about my stance on this, and I really didn’t know how to approach it without coming off like some kind of race traitor. I hate the flag, but I love the General Lee. I’m not going to get into a debate about whether or not the flag represents racism or any of that. You already have your opinion, and some rando’s pop culture blog isn’t about to change that. I will say this, though: Nice work, America.

I say that sarcastically because this whole thing was NEVER about the flag to begin with. I have a pretty strict No Death policy for West Week Ever, but everyone knows that 9 people were killed in a church last week. And, as these things are prone to do, the debate about gun control was just about to start up and then all this flag shit happened. This is what they want. Instead of doing something about guns, they’ve diverted our attention to this other matter, hoping we’ll forget the first thing. And I don’t say this as some kind of “Nobody needs guns!” kind of person. I honestly haven’t fully fleshed out my views on the matter, but I do know that a church is supposed to be a safe place. Just like a school. Or a movie theater. And none of that is true anymore.

Keep the flag or get rid of it. That’s not what any of this is about. It’s about changing the conversation, and it’s been very successful. I guess we’ll revisit the original conversation after the next mass shooting. Or maybe we’ll finally change the Redskins’ name instead. End of soapbox rant.

Links I Loved

‘Star Trek': The Story of the Most Daring Cliffhanger in ‘Next Generation’ History – The Hollywood Reporter

Paul Rudd and Marvel’s Kevin Feige Reveal ‘Ant-Man’s’ Saga, from Director Shuffle to Screenplay Surgery to Studio’s “Phase Three” Plans – The Hollywood Reporter

Why I Left Scientology – Gawker

Harmony Korine on ‘Kids': ‘It Would Be Impossible To Make That Film Now’ – The Guardian

The Least-Plausible G.I. Joe and Cobra Vehicles – The Robot’s Pajamas

ctu27

Now this is typically the part where I tell you who had the West Week Ever, but I’m gonna try something different this week. You see, I’ve been working on a project that I kinda want to share with you.

After guesting on some 40+ podcasts, I always get the same question: When are you going to start your own podcast? Well, I never really wanted to because A) I’m lazy and B) I didn’t really think there was a demand. I mean, I already have to beg folks to read this thing every week, so why would I think they’d want to listen to me, too? It just didn’t seem worthwhile. Then, I had a conversation with my Twitter Sister, Brandi Brown. I call her that because we’re basically the same person, only she’s a stand-up comic in Minnesota, and I’m not. We started talking about Carmen Sandiego, and then we just fell down the rabbit hole trying to make sense of that whole franchise. We decided that it would probably be a good idea for a one-off podcast. As we kept talking, we realized that we had a few topics that deserved to be discussed – the only catch would be that this wouldn’t be a weekly show. Hell, it might not even be monthly. Think of it like a series of specials. If they do well, then we’ll figure out where to go next, but for now, we’re just thinking of this being an occasional sort of thing. Well, our good buddy Classick, over at the Cold Slither Podcast Network, invited us to be on the latest episode of his Classick Team-Up show. That episode was to serve as something of a “backdoor pilot” for the show that Brandi and I had devised. Oh, you don’t know what a backdoor pilot is? It’s when an episode of an existing show is used to spin off a new show. Got it? Good.

It was a lot of fun recording this, as we tackled topics such as Rachel Dolezal, paying it forward, and the conspiracy theories that we hold dear. The project is clearly a work in progress, so bear that in mind. We’ve got to figure out things like audio levels, podcast setup, mics, etc. Still, I think there’s a lot of potential here. So, I ask that you give it a listen and let me know what you think. Do you want more Brandi & Will? It’s all up to you. If not, I’ll be cool with that, too. Sure, I might cry a little, but I’ll get over it. So, in lieu of a West Week Ever, I give you Classick Team-Up #27 with Brandi & Will.

Oh, and there won’t be a post next week ’cause y’all never read it on a holiday weekend. So, unless something crazy happens and I write it on Thursday, we’re taking a week off.

19th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/19/15

by Will

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What a week, what a week. Sigh…

HTTM2

First up, I rented Hot Tub Time Machine 2 from Redbox. This is the type of movie that Redbox was made for – it wasn’t worth paying theater admission, but it’s pretty great entertainment value at $1.59. At first, I thought they were playing fast and loose with time travel, but it’s actually a pretty complex plot – something that its original stoner audience probably didn’t fully comprehend. The thing I like about the Hot Tub Time Machine franchise (at only 2 movies, can I call it a franchise? I’m calling it one) is that they don’t really spend a lot of time trying to fix things. Instead of trying to “make things right”, they royally fuck with the timeline for personal gain. Screw the Butterfly Effect – if it’s exciting or lucrative, they’ll do it. So, what’s this movie about? Well, did you see the first movie? Nope? Well, there’s a hot tub that can be used to travel through time. In the first movie, a group of friends traveled back to a fateful ski weekend in the late 80s. When they returned to the present, they had changed things drastically, and they were all successful. So, this movie picks up that thread, and it seems that they’re actually starting to get bored with their perfect lives. When Rob Corrdry’s character is shot in the crotch, they use the hot tub to travel to the future to find his killer, because the killer actually traveled to the present from the future. Once in the future, they see what they’re going to become, and all of their lives are pretty miserable. Got it? Yeah, don’t try to think about it too hard. Was it funny? Oh, Hell yeah! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m sad that it bombed in theaters, which means we won’t get a third installment.

Duff

Since I had a Redbox code, I could get another movie for free. While I really need to watch Interstellar and Selma, I wasn’t in the mood for anything heavy. So, I went with The DUFF. Starring Mae Whitman, it’s about a high school girl who makes the startling realization that she’s the Designated Ugly Fat Friend, or D.U.F.F. in her group of friends. Supposedly, every group has a DUFF whose sole purpose is to make the other people look hotter and more popular. If you’ve ever seen She’s All That/Not Another Teen Movie, then you know that they just frumped up Whitman for the inevitable 3rd act reveal that *gasp* she’s attractive! It’s a really predictable movie, but still quite enjoyable. It’s got a great cast, including Whitman, Robbie Amell, and Allison Janney. I’m getting to the age, though, where I wonder if I should even be watching a high school teen comedy. I first felt that way when watching Superbad. I was like, “Am I supposed to think these girls are hot? Is Chris Hansen around?” Same thing here. While these were the standard twentysomethings-pretending-to-be-high-schoolers, I still felt like this movie wasn’t for me. I still really enjoyed it, though. It opened in fifth place, but went on to make $32 million on a budget of $8 million. I haven’t heard too many people talk about it, but I hope it finds new life on DVD.

Craig David 2015

When I was in college, I loved the Hell out of UK pop star Craig David. As a fellow light-skinned crooner, he was my role model. When Born To Do It came out, it was like he could do no wrong. “Fill Me In”, “7 Days”, Rendezvous”, “Walking Away” – all great early ’00s tracks.  I had just lost about 60 lbs, and was wearing nothing but beanies and H&M stuff. I think I even have a pic of myself doing his headphone pose. Anyway, it seemed like he was poised to be the next big thing. Forget about that curly-haired kid from *NSYNC! No, Craig David was the artist who was gonna be the face of Y2K R&B. And then Slicker Than Your Average came out. While Born To Do It had been influenced by the UK garage movement, Slicker was too…American. It sounded like the other stuff that was coming out, and there was nothing special about what he was bringing to the table. And the sales reflected that, as it didn’t come close to the success of his debut album. In recent years he’s been laying low, but he just resurfaced in a Buzzfeed article (yeah, I hate them, too, but they actually did something that wasn’t a listicle this time). It appears he’s a bodybuilder now and spends most of his time DJing in Miami. No longer the babyfaced artist of 2000, he’s now darker, buffer, and his face looks a lot harder. That’s what LIVING will do to ya. He says in the interview that he’s never done drugs, but he’s done something. Anyway, if you’re like me, and just glad to see that he’s still kicking around (and probably going to release a new album within the year), then check out that link.

Back-to-the-Future-Week

Do you love Back to the Future? Well, my pals over at The Robot’s Pajamas have been celebrating the franchise all week. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out all the great stuff they’ve been posting.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt is attached to direct that Channing Tatum Gambit movie that nobody wants.

-Demi Lovato has been cast as Smurfette in the 2017 CGI reboot of The Smurfs

-Lester Holt is officially the anchor of NBC Nightly News. Meanwhile, former anchor Brian Williams has been cast off to low-performing MSNBC

-Some long-haired hippie got killed on Game of Thrones this week, causing Winter to come or whatever.

Links I Loved

Asshole Admits To Being Asshole In Supreme Asshole Move – The Onion

‘Batman Forever': The Story Behind the Surprise Hit “Nobody Really Wanted” – The Hollywood Reporter

Race, Transracialization, and Other Thoughts on Rachel Dolezal – Reappropriate

Niagara Falls Comic Con 2015 Report – The Horror Movie BBQ

jurassic world gate

Are we even gonna pretend that Jurassic World didn’t have the West Week Ever? The movie made HALF A BILLION DOLLARS last weekend! Nothing comes close to that. On top of that, it helped me to have my best traffic in years, with this little post. About that post, the reactions to it were interesting. Some folks were disappointed that I didn’t actually do that math to determine how much it would cost to visit the park. No, but some intrepid folks did figure out how much it would cost to build and run a dinosaur theme park. Some people thought I wasted a bunch of time overanalyzing a fictional movie. I didn’t see it that way. It’s how my brain works, and my mind just ran with it. That said, I was surprised that the Black folks were of that mind, while White people seemed to love it. Why? Because White people LOVE dinosaurs! Also, coupon day. Yeah, they mention coupon day in the first movie. That said, one coupon day is not gonna sustain that park for a whole year. They’d have to have some other promotions or discounts. You know how you can take a Coke can to Six Flags to get a discount on admission? They’d need something like that, only it’d have to be the depleted battery from a Prius or something.

Lindsay and I saw the movie last week and really enjoyed it. She even said that the final fight was “badass”. She spends so much time reading books that it’ always amuses me when something from the outside world resonates with her, like a movie or TV show. Anyway, it was a good summer blockbuster. Don’t think too hard and enjoy your popcorn.

Someone on Twitter, I believe it was @gholson, said that Chris Pratt was miscast, and after reading that I watched the movie kinda agreeing with him. Pratt’s clearly Hollywood’s new It Guy, but I feel like they wanna make him Harrison Ford when that’s not who he is. I felt he spent the whole movie kinda posturing. Stand on the elevator, and look like a badass. Ride the motorcycle, and look like a badass. It’s a very one-dimensional character, but this is a movie about a dinosaur resort, not Dickens. He did OK with what he was given, but what he was given wasn’t much.

On a podcast that I listen to, one of the cohosts mentioned that he wanted to see more of the park before everything went to shit. I kinda agree with him, as you don’t get to really take in the majesty of everything going on before disaster strikes. It would’ve been nice to have had more time getting familiar with the attractions, but they only had so much time to work with.

Anyway, I’m just nitpicking. I really did enjoy the film, even though I barely remember the original. I realize to some fans that this was almost like a religious experience, so I’m definitely not trying to take anything away from them. All hail Jurassic World! For breaking every film record, and for giving me a nice night out from the baby, Jurassic World had the West Week Ever.

 

 

22nd May2015

West Week Ever – 5/22/15

by Will

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

don_draper_retreat

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

singiton

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

Meet_Sawyer_Fredricks

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

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

 

 

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

UPDATE: Photos removed. See this post for explanation!

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

Blerd 1Damn right!

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

Blerd 2

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

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Thrift Justice: YSE – Holy Deal, Batman!

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

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

Links I Loved

Highlights from the AC Boardwalk Con! – Dinosaur Dracula

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

AC Boardwalk Con Adventure Part 1 – The Sexy Armpit

Summer Swap 2015 – AEIOU and Sometimes Why

david-letterman-retirement

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

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

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

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.

03rd Apr2015

West Week Ever – 4/3/15

by Will

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st-elmos-fire

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:

Greatest Movie Ever Sold

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.

13th Mar2015

West Week Ever – 3/13/15

by Will

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So, I had a bunch of snow days last week, and just didn’t have the motivation to write. We’re back now, however, and we’ve got a lot to talk about!

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Trying to clear off my DVR, I watched the standup special Sommore: Chandelier Status. If you don’t know Sommore, you’ve clearly never seen BET’s ComicView. You’re also probably White. Seriously, except for Celebrity Fit Club, Sommore really hasn’t broken out of the Black Comedy world. Still, I’ve found her to be hilarious in the past, so I thought I’d check out this special. It was really nothing to write home about. It was about an hour’s worth of “Black people do this, and White people do that.” That gets old fast. I think I laughed twice. Kinda disappointing, as I had high expectations for that special.

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While on the comedy topic, I also checked out Aziz Ansari: Live At Madison Square Garden. Now, I’ve gone on record to say that I didn’t like his last special, Buried Alive, because he spent too much time talking about grown-up stuff like having kids and his fear of marriage. Well, this special was really just more of that. I think I’m starting to realize that I like younger, less mature Aziz who talked about hanging out with Kanye and going to R. Kelly concerts. Older, wiser Aziz is WAY too introspective, and I don’t find a lot of *humor* in what he has to say. He’s more like a relationship guru than a comedian these days, and that’s just not what I’m looking for.

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On TV, I caught The Marine, which has quickly become one of those “I have to watch it whenever I see it’s on” movies for me. I can’t really explain it, but I think John Cena is a pretty good action star. And whatever happened to Kelly Carlson? After Nip/Tuck, she seemed poised for bigger things. Sure, The Marine is just a WWE Studios production, but it was still a job. Nowadays, I hear she’s acting in some online spinoff of Supernatural. Eww, a webseries!

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Speaking of disappointing webseries, this week saw the premiere of Powers on the Playstation Network. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s a police procedural based  in a world of people with superpowers, and it’s based on the comic of the same name from Brian Michael Bendis. Now, I have a complicated relationship with Bendis; I used to love everything he did, but then I met him. Don’t meet your heroes, kid. Anyway, as much as I’ve loved his work, I never really liked Powers. I felt it was overrated and moved WAY too slowly. So, I’m probably not the target audience for this show. That said, it was just as bad as I expected. The show had been in development for years, and eventually landed at FX with a pilot starring Jason Patric. FX passed on the series, but the creators were determined to get it on the air somewhere. So, they went back to the drawing board and gave us the show that we have here. The trailer for it made it look like a big budget fan film, and the actual product wasn’t much better than that. It felt like a really bad Canadian series that would air on Syfy. And no, not a American show filmed in Vancouver for budgetary reasons – I’m talking about a show made by and for Canadians, like Lost Girl or something. The effects are hokey, the casting is off (Sharlto Copley? Really?), and it just feels empty, though yearns to be so much more than it is. The series will air exclusively on Playstation Network, but the pilot is currently available on YouTube. If this show is indicative of PSN’s original programming capabilities, I am far from impressed.

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It’s not all bad news this week, though. I have a new favorite reality show: Kosher Soul. Airing on Lifetime, the show follows the relationship between standup comedian O’Neal McKnight and celebrity stylist Miriam Sternoff. He’s Black, she’s Jewish and hilarity ensues! When the series starts, they’re planning their wedding and O’Neal is starting the conversation to Judaism, as it’s important to Miriam that she marry a Jew. O’Neal’s a funny guy, though I’m not that familiar with his standup. He’s friends with other reality show stalwarts like Fonzworth Bentley and Russell Simmons. Meanwhile, Miriam reminds me a lot of Bethenny Frankel – who was my favorite of the Bravo Real Housewives franchise. Right after their wedding, Miriam wanted to start trying to have kids, so that’s where we are at this point in the show. O’Neal and Miriam seem to have great chemistry, and I can see how their relationship has endured for 9+ years. Hell, they may last and they may not, but they’re trying to make it work. I’ve seen no hype about this show, and only watched it because I ran across it On Demand. It doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page yet! So, with my luck, it’ll probably be canceled after one season.

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Had I done a West Week Ever last week, that honor would have gone to The Last Man on Earth. I never thought it had a chance to work, and the jury’s still out on it, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the three episodes that have aired so far. If you haven’t seen it, Will Forte stars as Phil Miller – the seemingly only survivor of a virus that has killed the rest of the world’s population. So, the pilot follows him as he gets used to the idea that he is, in fact, the last person on Earth. Then, at the end of the pilot, you’re thrown for a loop, as you learn that he’s not alone; he may be the last *man* on Earth, but there happens to be a woman – Carol Pilbasian, played by Kristen Schaal. So, then the show focuses on the relationship between the two, as Carol thinks she and Phil are meant to repopulate the world, while Phil really wants nothing to do with her. I thought this would work as a movie, but I had no idea how they’d get an entire series out of it. Three episodes in, and I’m still not sure where it’s going, but I’m enjoying the ride so far.

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So, I was busy on the Internet this week, and some might even say I was trolling. I didn’t think that was the case, but let’s take a closer look, shall we? So, on Monday morning, I was tweeting with a friend about American Idol, and he mentioned Kris Allen. I replied, “Man, where’d THAT dude end up?” And he replied, “In the scrap heap along with Taylor Hicks, Lee DeWyze, and Scotty McCreery.” And then the floodgates opened. We got tons of replies from obsessed fans who clearly set filters for anytime those guys’ names are mentioned. They insisted that Taylor and Scotty weren’t on a “scrap heap”. Turns out they were right. I mean, I already knew of Scotty’s country success, but who knew that Taylor Hicks made $2.5 million last year? Apparently, he’s the first Idol to get a residency in Las Vegas. Anyway, as I got sick of these grannies blowing up my timeline, I tweeted the following:

guarini 1If you’re not familiar, a “stan” is slang for an obsessive fan – based on the Eminem song of the same name. Oh, and Justin Guarini lost to Kelly Clarkson in the very first season of American Idol. I didn’t really have to call out Guarini, but he seemed like an easy target. Kick a man while he’s down, I guess. I was riled up by all the old ladies defending their favorite Idols, and I was really just trying to call out some more fans, as I was amused by their terrible misspellings and grammar. And since he has nothing to do with his time, Guarini responded. He has since deleted his tweets to me, so let’s see if I can do it from memory:

JG: “*stars *shitty”

This was his was of trying to correct me. He thought I meant to say “stars” instead of “stans”. He was also correcting the end of my tweet to read “Justin Guarini ain’t shitty”

And I replied:

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JG: “Hey fan. I know a fan when I see one, fan.”

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Then things took off. He tweeted his response with the period before the @, so all of his followers could see it. So then everybody started favoriting his tweets to me. And then one theatre groupie tried to say that I was kissing up to him. I actually wasn’t. While my tone might seem conciliatory, in my mind I wasn’t done. I didn’t appreciate him reaching out to his followers for support. What I said was true – I had voted for him, and an ex had given me From Justin to Kelly. I failed to add that I sold that DVD and that I thought his album was a piece of shit. Seriously, it’s terrible as there isn’t one commercially viable single on the entire disc. I didn’t add any of this, though, because I had been an asshole and it was probably best to let it drop. The next day, however, I listened to Kelly’s new album and I got the desire to tweet Justin and ask him what he thought of it. I was just about to hit send, but I thought better of it. I like a good feud, but I’m not particularly a fan of a situation where I’m the bad guy.

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Last time, I mentioned that I had a bottle of Pepsi True in my refrigerator. Well, I tried it. And it tastes like bilge water. In the Stevia flavored mid-calorie cola department, Coke Life wins the title.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke lost a court case against the family of Marvin Gaye, who claimed that “Blurred Lines” ripped off Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up”. This decision resulted in a $7.3 million payout to Gaye’s children. I get that they kinda sound similar, but I really don’t get this decision. Plus, it sets a really bad precedent for anything that remotely sounds like anything else. Thicke had kinda been a bit of a douchenozzle over the past year, so I wonder if that played into the jury’s decision.

–  a new trailer was released for the Netflix Daredevil series. For a great scene-by-scene breakdown, check out this post at The Robot’s Pajamas.

Rolling Stone had a great minute-by-minute breakdown of the We Are The World recording session on its 30th anniversary.

– Have you ever wanted to see Earl Sinclair from Dinosaurs rap Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize”? Who cares. Here it is and it’s awesome:

– My pals over at the Nerd Lunch Podcast did a musicals episode that you should really check out.

– At a Disney shareholder’s meeting, it was reported that Star Wars Episode VIII will be released May 26, 2017. Also, Felicity Jones to star in the Rogue One spinoff. I have no idea who she is…

– My pals at UnderScoopFire tackle the Pop Culture Alphabet

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I had no idea I’d love this show as much as I do, and I don’t know what I did with my life before it came along. Yes, I’m talking about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. Originally developed by Tina Fey for NBC, the show was picked up by Netflix with a 2-season guarantee. It stars The Office‘s Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt who, along with 3 other women, has been held captive in a doomsday bunker for 15 years. When the series starts, they’re liberated from the bunker, and Kimmy moves to NYC to start her life over. Since she was in middle school when she was first abducted, Kimmy’s missed out on a LOT, including current music and slang. Once she gets to New York, she moves in with flamboyantly gay Titus Andromedon who eventually becomes her best friend. Meanwhile, she works for a crazy rich lady played by 30 Rock‘s Jane Krakowski, and tries to put her bunker life behind her.

If you loved 30 Rock, you’ll love Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. They share a sensibility, and I’d even consider them in the same universe if it weren’t for the fact that Krakowski and Tituss Burgess are playing different characters. Whenever they watch TV on the show, I keep hoping for a mention of TGS, Bitch Hunter or MILF Island just to confirm that Jack Donaghy and Liz Lemon are in the same city somewhere.

Part of what makes the show work so well is the casting. Kemper is simply adorable as Kimmy, as she manages to capture the wide-eyed wonder that the character would certainly experience by her new surroundings. She spent her adolescent years in the bunker, so her development’s a bit stunted. If you’ve ever seen 13 Going On 30, you know that Jennifer Garner was awkward as Hell as a 13 year old girl who magically becomes a 30 year old. This takes that formula and gets it right. Kimmy may be 29, but she’s still a 14 year old in many ways. And Kemper does an excellent job portraying that. Meanwhile, Tituss Burgess is AMAZING as Titus Andromedon. Everything he says is quotable, and he manages to straddle the line of self-serving and lovable. If you watched 30 Rock, you’ll remember him as D’Fwan – a hilarious member of Tracy’s wife’s entourage. Here, it’s like he’s playing the same character, but cranked up to 11. He and Kemper have great chemistry, and it’s fun to watch their friendship grow.

I don’t want to spoil the guest stars, or where the story goes, as that’s half the fun of the experience. The minute I was done, though, I instantly wanted season 2. I haven’t felt that way since Bojack Horseman – another Netflix series I fell in love with. All of my friends online have been talking about Kimmy Schmidt, so I see that I’m not alone in my love for the show. If you haven’t checked it out, remedy that soon. I’ve heard the first episode didn’t grab some folks, but stick with it. So, for being the belle of the comedic ball this week, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt had the West Week Ever. Troll the respawn, Jeremy!

20th Feb2015

West Week Ever – 2/20/15

by Will

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At the top of the week, I watched A.C.O.D., or Adult Children of Divorce. It stars Adam Scott as an adult whose parents divorced when he was young, though he’s still feeling the effects of it. His mother and father haven’t spoken in 20 years, but Scott tries to bring them together to celebrate his younger brother’s wedding. And, of course, nothing goes according to plan. The thing I loved about this movie is that Adam Scott is working with a ton of people he’s worked with before, so they already have proven chemistry. Richard Jenkins plays his dad, while he played his stepfather in Step Brothers. Amy Poehler plays his stepmother, while she plays his wife on Parks & Rec. Jane Lynch plays his therapist, while they worked together on Party Down. And Clark Duke plays his younger brother, and they worked together on the upcoming Hot Tub Time Machine 2. So, the movie is almost one big Adam Scott: This Is Your Life. In all, it’s a cute little movie, and a decent way to kill 90 minutes.

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I also caught the cult comedy classic Wet Hot American Summer. I’d seen parts of it before, but never the entire movie. There’s been renewed interest in the movie since Netflix just greenlit a prequel series. First off, who isn’t in this movie? While the movie’s from 2001, the cast is chock FULL of people who’d go on to bigger and better things. That said, I don’t really get the hype behind the movie beside its stellar cast. Sure, it had its moments, but it wasn’t as hilarious as I thought it was going to be. Right now, On Demand, it’s being marketed as “From the Producers of Role Models“, and I’ve got to say that Role Models had me rolling in the aisles. This movie? Not so much. I would watch it again, though, as I feel like it might be an acquired taste, and it seems like the kind of movie where you notice something different each time you watch it. For now, though, all it did was remind me of my crush on younger Janeane Garofalo.

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Last night saw the series finale of Two and a Half Men. Say what you will about it, the show had an impressive run over 12 seasons and 262 episodes. Everyone thought the show was doomed when Charlie Sheen went crazy on tiger blood (#winning), but it managed to reinvent itself into something with a lot of heart. Ashton Kutcher’s Walden Schmidt was a welcome reprieve from Sheen’s lothario Charlie Harper. Where Sheen’s character was lecherous and without a conscience, Kutcher’s Schmidt was naive and optimistic. He wasn’t out to take advantage of people, but this also meant that he didn’t always realize when folks were taking advantage of him. Later in the run, the show lost its “half man”, as Angus T. Jones found God and decided that he no longer wanted to be a part of the show. The show circumvented this by adding Amber Tamblyn as Charlie’s long lost daughter. Every time something came along that could end the show, they found a way to keep it going. It still averages about 11 million viewers a week, and could probably last another 3 seasons, but it’s just time for it to end. I won’t go into the finale, but let’s say it’s meta and pokes fun at the fact that it knows it’s a TV show. To many, the quality of the episode comes down to whether or not Charlie Sheen returns one last time. I won’t spoil that for you, but I was very satisfied with the finale.

Power Rangers Imaginext

Last weekend was the New York Toy Fair, where all of the toy buyers gathered to see what would be the hot new items throughout the year. As you may remember, I attended the show last year, but couldn’t make the trip this time, due to my baby shower. From what I’ve read, it doesn’t look like I missed much, as something about this year’s offerings just seemed sort of lackluster to me. To me, the most surprising announcement is that Fisher Price will be adding Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to its Imaginext line. I didn’t really think that Bandai would allow something like that to happen, but it’s happening! For full coverage of the show, however, be sure to check out Awesome Toy Blog.

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Announced some time ago, there’s a Guardians of the Galaxy cartoon coming to Disney XD. Well, this week, news started trickling out regarding the voice cast for the show. If you follow animated series, a lot of these names will sound familiar. For example, Kevin Michael Richardson will be voicing Groot. Outside of Phil Lamarr, Richardson is the workingest Black man in animation. Meanwhile, Boy Meets World‘s/Batman Beyond‘s Will Friedle will be voicing Star-Lord. I haven’t checked out any of the Disney XD Marvel series, but I might give this one a shot.

Links I Loved

Norm Macdonald tells the story of #SNL40 – Storify

Isn’t the internet big enough for more than one “Angry Asian”? – Reappropriate

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This week also saw the celebration of Saturday Night Live‘s 40th season. Airing over the course of 3 and a half hours Sunday night, the special was a welcome look back on past sketches like Celebrity Jeopardy and Wayne’s World. A lot of the original sketches fell flat, as the Super Bass-o-Matic felt like a Leno-era Tonight Show skit, while I’ve never been a fan of The Californians. To me, the best parts of the night were the true retrospective parts, such as the montage of audition tapes from the likes of Kevin Hart and Zach Galifianakis. There were a few awkward parts of the night, such as the tribute for he’s-not-dead-yet Tracy Morgan (accompanied by a dreadful impression by Alec Baldwin). Also, there’s the debate of whether or not Eddie Murphy “freaked out” onstage. I don’t think Eddie has stage fright, but I do feel like he’s uncomfortable in public. And I kinda can’t blame him, as he’s had a lot of bad luck over the years, from the string of box office bombs to the male prostitute incident back in the 90s. Like Marshawn Lynch, he’s clearly a man who just doesn’t really have a great relationship with the media these days.

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Anyway, half the fun of the special was watching the crowd, as you never quite knew who you might see. There was even a rumor that *NSYNC would reunite, and I have no idea who started that one. Most of them, with the exception of JC Chasez, were in attendance, but it just wasn’t the venue for such a thing. I was more surprised by some of the SNL people from whom we got nothing, like Cheri Oteri. Say what you will, she was just as instrumental to the rebuilding era as Molly Shannon and Maya Rudolph. Sure, the other two have had stronger post-SNL careers, but I figured they could’ve given Oteri a line to say. Hell, even Ellen Cleghorne got a line!

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Anyway, I felt like there was too much emphasis on extremes – either the first season stuff or the recent stuff. A lot of the “in between” years got lost, especially the late 80s/early 90s bunch. In any case, SNL is an institution, and 40 years is an impressive feat. I’ve been wondering if we’ll get an SNL50, seeing as how Lorne is 70 but doesn’t really have a successor. That’s another 10 years, and it just might be too much to hope for. So, we have to appreciate what we do have, which is 40 years of something that has touched a lot of lives. That’s why Saturday Night Live had the West Week Ever.

As a “bonus track”, here’s a pic of the awesome cake from the baby shower:

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11th Feb2015

The Best Backstreet Boys Songs You’ve Probably Never Heard

by Will

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So, I was inspired to compile this playlist after watching the Backstreet Boys documentary Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of. The goal of the documentary was to catch fans up on what the group has been up to in recent years. What a lot of casual fans don’t realize is that BSB never broke up, even though they kind of dropped out of the spotlight. The casual fan only knows about the first three albums, but the group has released four additional albums over the years that weren’t the chart-toppers that the first three had been. That said, there are still some good songs on those albums, and I felt it was time that they got some attention. A lot of critics said that the group had abandoned its pop roots for a soft rock sound, and that actually is pretty true for some of these songs. You’ve got to factor in that the guys have aged, so maybe that’s the genre that they relate to at this stage in their career. In any case, these may not be “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” or “I Want It That Way”, but they’re still pretty catchy in their own right. No, I didn’t scour the European releases and come up with a bunch of B-sides. Instead, I listened to the albums Never Gone, Unbreakable, This Is Us, and In A World Like This, and I chose the best 4 tracks from each. These are the songs that probably would’ve been released as singles – if BSB were still getting radio play at the time. These are all things that can readily be found in the US, via your favorite music peddler. I guarantee you’ll like something here! Give it a listen and let me know what you think in the comments.

06th Feb2015

West Week Ever – 2/6/15

by Will

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Well, the week started out with me watching Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of. I’d known of this documentary for a while, but I had planned to wait until it aired on HBO later this year. Well, the movie was released On Demand and theatrically at the same time, and I had nothing to do Friday night, so I fired up that On Demand. I’m a boyband fanatic, so this was really a no-brainer, but I was surprised to learn a bunch of stuff that I never knew before. Here’s the gist of the documentary: to celebrate their 20th anniversary tour, as well as the return of group member Kevin Richardson (he took a few years off), the Backstreet Boys decide to visit each member’s hometown in order to learn more about each other. It’s designed to tug on the heartstrings, as you relive familial deaths, fights, and other drama. You also get to see what it’s like being a grown man in a “boyband”. Hint: it ain’t pretty. Brian’s voice now unreliably comes and goes, while AJ has had two knee replacement surgeries. Some stuff I knew, like how the guys felt betrayed that their manager Lou Pearlman essentially created their competition when he created *NSYNC. Some stuff I didn’t know, however, like the fact that Howie D sang all of the leads before the guys started recording. Once they got the “Max Martin sound”, he was pushed to the background, and has quietly resented it the past 20 years. The documentary is not for young viewers, however, as they say “fuck” a LOT. There’s even a pretty intense screaming match between Brian and Nick that’ll leave you uncomfortable. In fact, Nick seems uncomfortable throughout the entire affair.  This is especially apparent when they visit Lou Pearlman’s old mansion, seeing as how there were allegations that Lou may have molested the Carter boys. If you’re a Nick fan, you’re just gonna worry for him. Anyway, if you’re a longtime fan of the group, it’s a great documentary and I recommend checking it out.

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On the Netflix front, I caught Chelsea Peretti: One of the Greats. I was familiar with Peretti from her acting gigs, such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but I’d never really heard her standup. She’s funny, though it wasn’t hilarious. It was striving to be surreal in ways that I’m not quite sure worked. For example, she’d tell a joke, and then they’d randomly pan to a dog in the audience, to elicit a “There’s a dog in the audience!!!” response. There was also a bunch of awkward audience participation bits. It probably played better on paper, but the execution was left wanting. Anyway, it’s a decent way to kill an hour, as her material was pretty good.

 

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I also checked out the FXX series Man Seeking Woman, which is a really quirky show. For lack of a better description, it’s kinda like a live action Family Guy, with metaphorical cutaways. It stars Jay Baruchel, who breaks up with his college sweetheart and has to get back into the dating world. In the pilot, his sister sets him up with a literal troll named Gorbachaka, while his ex-girlfriend is now dating Hitler. Yes, that Hitler. Apparently, he faked his death and is now 127 years old. See, that’s the kind of thing Family Guy would try to pull. I watched the first 3 episodes, and I love anything that Baruchel does, so I’ll be keeping up with it for the rest of the season. It’s just a shame that it airs opposite Broad City, so it’ll be an a DVR show for now.

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ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat debuted a week earlier than its announced premiere date, and it seems like folks loved it. Based on the memoirs of Eddie Huang, it follows a young hip-hop loving Chinese kid whose family moves from DC to Florida so that his father can achieve the American Dream. ABC showed 2 episodes Wednesday night (before and after the hit Modern Family), and I was able to catch the pilot. In all, it was a funny show. It’ll be interesting to see how the racial politics play out. I was kinda disappointed that it had to be the black kid to call Eddie a “chink”, but if that’s how the story actually happened, then so be it. I wish we could’ve heard what Eddie called him back, but I’m sure you can’t say those words on network television. Anyway, the real test will be when FOTB moves to its regular timeslot, Tuesdays at 8. That’s a hard night, as it’ll be going against The Flash, Masterchef/Masterchef Juniors, and Parks & Recreation. ABC is having a hard enough time with Tuesdays, as Selfie and Manhattan Love Story failed there earlier this season, meanwhile Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. haven’t been ratings blockbusters. Fresh Off The Boat won’t have the benefit of a lead-in, so the night will land squarely on its shoulders.

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The Netflix Daredevil trailer was released this week, giving us a taste of what to expect when the series hits this April. A lot of people are applauding the gritty tone of the trailer, but I think it looks kinda fan filmy. Maybe it’s because he’s not in his iconic suit yet, but it just looks kinda…low budget to me. This was just a teaser, though – maybe we’ll get a better look at the show closer to its debut.

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I got some of the best news ever this week when it was announced that Trina McGee and Blake Clark will be appearing on Girl Meets World. McGee played Shawn Hunter’s girlfriend, Angela, on Boy Meets World while Clark played his dad, Chet Hunter. McGee left the show when Angela’s dad, The Last Dragon‘s Sho’ Nuff, decided that he wanted her to come live with him. Meanwhile, Chet Hunter died in the later seasons of the show, but reappeared a few times to give Shawn advice. When Shawn appeared on the Christmas episode of Girl Meets World, it was revealed that he’s disappointed that he hasn’t found anyone to settle down with yet. I hope hope hope this means they’re going to reunite Shawn and Angela, as teenage Will lived for that relationship (and had a huge crush on Angela). For now, all we know is that the episode is titled “Girl Meets Hurricane”.

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Earlier this week, I wrote about former Power Ranger Ricardo Medina Jr and his alleged murder case. Well, it appears that he’s been released. The DA wants to make sure that he has all the facts, so no charges are being pressed at this time. So remember, if the sword don’t fit, Zordon must acquit. Yeah, that was lame…

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Speaking of Power Rangers, the latest season, Power Rangers Dino Charge, debuts tomorrow morning on Nick. The pilot was actually released on Nick.com last week, so I, and most fans, have already seen it. As a fan, this won’t come as much of a surprise, but I really liked it. It felt fresh, which is hard to do with a franchise that’s been around this long. I’ll also say that it’s the first Power Rangers incarnation that actually feels like a Nick show. I’m not sure if it’s the dialogue or the acting, but it actually feels like it’s on the right network for a change. I’m kinda tired of dinosaurs, and I hate the design of the suits, but I’ll be checking in on it every now and then.

Things You Might’ve Missed This Week

-Damon Wayans Jr. is leaving New Girl at the end of the season.

-The Titans lineup for the in-development TNT series will include Nightwing, Hawk, Dove, Starfire, Raven, and Oracle.

Sports Illustrated is “making history” by featuring plus-size model Ashley Graham in an ad in the annual swimsuit issue.

Links I Loved

The Ever-Expanding Spider-Man Family of Comics – The Kliqnation

Breakdown of the Daredevil Trailer for Netflix – The Robot’s Pajamas

Lorne Michaels on 40 Years of ‘SNL': Being “‘Feared’ Was Never My Goal” – The Hollywood Reporter

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You’ve all seen this already because it was on EVERY website, Jimmy Fallon had a Saved By The Bell reunion on The Tonight Show. I love that he finally got to do this, as it’s something he’d been working on since he was hosting Late Night. In fact, when he wasn’t able to get the whole cast, he went with a California Dreams reunion instead. I not-so-secretly love California Dreams more than Saved By The Bell (I think it was the musical aspect), so that was just fine with me. Still, I love when a plan comes together, so it was cool that he finally got his SBTB reunion. It’s funny how Screech and Lisa aren’t present, though they aren’t even missed. I always hated Lisa, while I could take or leave Screech most of the time, so I felt this reunion was perfect. My love of TNBC shows knows no bounds, so that’s why Jimmy Fallon’s Saved By The Bell reunion had the West Week Ever.

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