28th Jul2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 7/28/17

by Will

One of the best discoveries I’ve made has been the digital subchannel Heroes & Icons. If you’re a cord cutter, then get yourself an antenna and check this thing out. My favorite aspect of it, however, is the fact that it runs a 5-hour Star Trek block six nights a week. Star Trek at 8, Star Trek: The Next Generation at 9, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine at 10, Star Trek: Voyager at 11, and Enterprise at 12. Sunday through Friday. And on Sundays they actually kick things off with Star Trek: The Animated Series at 7. I’ve pretty much watched nothing but Star Trek for the past 2 weeks. I’ve been reacquainted with favorite episodes, like TNG‘s “Chain of Command” and DS9‘s “Far Beyond the Stars”. I’ve discovered some hidden gems, like TOS‘s ” The Cloud Minders”. I’ve even discovered that I don’t hate Voyager or Enterprise as much as I thought I did.

I don’t talk about this too much, but the first 12 years or so of my life were comprised of pretty much NOTHING but Star Trek. From 1987-94, my favorite show on television was The Next Generation. When DS9 debuted, I expected it to continue my love affair, but it felt too preachy with its Space Holocaust allegory. It was in the later seasons, once the Dominion War began, that it actually ensconced itself as my favorite iteration of the franchise. By the time Voyager debuted, I had discovered comics, and they became my new mistress. While I watched about 4 hours of TNG a day in high school (Channel 20 REALLY loved playing TNG), my heart didn’t have room in it for a new Trek, so I “No time for love, Dr. Jones”‘ed Captain Janeway and her crew. Enterprise debuted when I was in college, and  I was simply too busy worried about other shit to watch Captain Quantum Leap and his crew. Plus, due to some kind of contractual fallout, Ithaca didn’t get UPN. So, since the finale of DS9, my Trekkerdom lay dormant.

But when I say “I’ve forgotten more than you’ll ever know”, that’s primarily about Star Trek. I had several editions of the Star Trek Encyclopedia, I had the Technical Manual, the Technical Journal, the Star Trek Chronology. All of it. I’ve got the figures, and the role play toys. I even created my own uniform for Halloween back in the 90s. I was all Trek, 24/7, and you couldn’t tell me shit. Over time, though, that trivia got overwritten by X-Men 1st appearance notations and the names of TNBC actresses. What I’m saying, though, is that Heroes & Icons brought it all rushing back. It’s like I’m 15 again, blowing the evening watching Star Trek episodes I’ve already seen hundreds of times already. It’s also given me new perspectives on things that completely went over my head when I was younger. For example, Sisko is the Bajorans’ Space Jesus, and that’s pretty heavy. Even he doesn’t believe it, but in the end, yup it turns out he’s Space Jesus. I’ve also got thoughts on the current state of the franchise, too.

At SDCC, we got the above trailer for Star Trek: Discovery, which will air in North America on CBS All Access (yes, Dean, I know you’ll say All Anal Access because it sucks that we have to subscribe to another service just to watch this thing). I had no interest in this show because everything I heard about it didn’t sound like Star Trek. Now, though, the more they try to sell it as a bunch of new ideas, the more it just sounds like DS9. It’s gonna be Trek with interpersonal conflict. Great. I can get down with that. Its aesthetic seems more like late-era Stargate than Trek, though – especially those Klingon designs. There are certain things, though, that still feel like they miss the mark.

Take for example the fact that the show will feature the first same-sex couple on a Star Trek series, played by Rent‘s Anthony Rapp and My So Called Life‘s Wilson Cruz. Yeah, I get that representation is important, but it bothers me that this is being done in a prequel series, set before the events of the original Star Trek. With the exception of Enterprise, this is the series that takes place the closest to our timeline, so it’s really not much of a leap to think that same-sex couples exist. Ya know what would’ve meant more to me (as a straight, cis male who really doesn’t have a dog in the race but is still opinionated)? If the show had actually been a post-Dominion War, sequel series to TNG/DS9/Voyager, and it featured a same-sex couple. Science fiction tends to go 2 ways: it’s either dystopian or it’s about HOPE. As it stands, from what we’ve seen, same-sex couples are pretty much nonexistent in the 24th century. Yeah, I’m sure they exist, but we never saw them. It seems like it would be a testament to how enduring they are to see them that far in the future as opposed to just a couple of hundred years from now, when Discovery is set.

I could also be politicizing this for my own agenda, as I really want to know what happened after the war ended. Sure, there are books and stuff, but those things aren’t canon. I feel there are so many stories to tell from that era, and I’d love to see the franchise move forward instead of dance between the raindrops of continuity in the past. It feels like they’re stalling, which is how it felt with Enterprise and even the Kelvin movies. Someone, somewhere out there has got to have a great idea as to how to move the franchise forward and I hope CBS/Paramount finds them sooner rather than later.

SDCC Bullet Points

The bulk of San Diego Comic Con took place over the weekend, and here’s some stuff that debuted:

  • Michelle Pfeiffer is Hank Pym’s lost wife, Janet Van Dyne, in Ant-Man and The Wasp
  • The Captain Marvel film will be set in the 90s, and introduce the Skrulls to the MCU. Oh, and Nick Fury will have 2 eyes

  • We got this trailer for Ready Player One, which was hella polarizing. It seems a lot of folks hated the book on which it’s based. If you ask me, it just looks like a cinematic version of this commercial:

  • Comic creator Frank Miller, of 300 and Sin City fame, is writing a Superman: Year One story with art from John Romita Jr. Nothing about that sentence makes me want to open my wallet.

  • We got a new trailer for X-Men spinoff, The Gifted. I’m actually surprised they used established mutants like Polaris and Thunderbird. And is that actually Fenris?! I want to like this, but it just looks so…Fox.

  • We got a new trailer for The Defenders on Netflix. I get that this is the culmination of all the Marvel Netflix shows, but it didn’t do much for me since I’ve only seen 2 out of 5 seasons so far. There’s no way I’ll get caught up by this premiere date, but I’m sure it’ll mean more to me once I’m up to date. Kinda tired of the hallway fight trope, though.

  • Legends of Tomorrow is such a fun show. It started kinda dry, but got so much better last year. It reminds me of a syndicated Saturday afternoon show, but in a good way.

  • This Justice League trailer did very little for me. It’s like, sure, Wonder Woman’s cool, but we JUST saw her. Aquaman seems cool, but he’s not really “Aquaman”. I’ll see it, but I ain’t looking forward to it. No, for me, November belongs to:

  • An elementary school friend and her husband did a Saga cosplay and KILLED IT!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • We’ll have to wait a bit longer for our annual dose of Abbi and Ilana, as Comedy Central has moved the Broad City season 4 premiere from August 23rd to September 13th
  • A few months ago, it was reported that Amy Schumer would be starring in a Barbie movie. Well, I made fun of that, she blocked me on Twitter, and then eventually dropped out of the role. Now they’re reporting that Anne Hathaway is up for the role, which is somehow more bewildering than the Schumer choice…
  • Justin Bieber cancelled the rest of his Purpose world tour because he was “committing his life to Christ”. This pissed off his crew, as they were left without jobs. He, then, proceeded to run over a paparazzo with his truck while leaving church. I swear, you can’t make this shit up!
  • Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has replaced Bill Gates as the richest man in the world.
  • Beginning September 29th, Hulu will begin streaming the Warner Bros shows that comprised ABC’s TGIF lineup, including Perfect Strangers, Family Matters, Full House, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, and Step By Step. Meanwhile, Netflix is feverishly developing Perfecter Strangers, Family Still Matters, Chillin’ With Mr. Cooper, and Step By Step By Step.
  • I haven’t seen a non-country music video in years, but apparently they still make them, as Katy Perry will host the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards
  • Speaking of the VMAs, following the lead of the MTV Movie Awards, they’re doing away with the gendered categories Best Male/Best Female Artist, to be replaced by Artist of the Year. Also, in a bit of pandering,  they’ve created the Best Fight Against the System, for those artists who have called for folks to #RESIST and all that.
  • Though I felt its farcical nature wore a bit thin during its first season, TBS’s Angie Tribeca has been renewed for season 4.
  • Smallville‘s Tom Welling is joining Fox’s Lucifer and *yawn* that’s really all there is to say about that.
  • Netflix has ordered 20 episodes of the animated series Disenchantment from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening. It will features the voices of Nat Faxon, Eric Andre, and Abbi Jacobson. Apparently it’s about elves and trolls and shit. Not really my bag, baby.
  • Person of Interest‘s Michael Emerson has been cast in a mysterious role for Arrow‘s 6th season. So, he’s probably Deathstroke’s accountant or something.
  • Because SyFy just doesn’t care anymore, and because they need something to air between Sharknados, Wynonna Earp has been renewed for a 3rd season.
  • The Wonder Woman sequel has a release date of December 13th, 2019
  • Apple discontinued the iPod Nano and Shuffle models, as they are the last remaining models that cannot run iOS apps.
  • Current Superman Henry Cavill grew a mustache for his role in Mission Impossible 37: Mission Harder, which will have to be digitally removed for Justice League reshoots. Ya know, the movie where he’s supposed to be dead, but is actually the worst kept secret in Hollywood.
  • Lionel Richie and Charlie Puth are in talks to join ABC’s American Idol reboot as judges. Yeah, that’s funny. Unless they’re coaching the contestants on how to get caught cheating while dancing on the ceiling, I’m not sure what Richie’s old ass brings to the table. And Puth is simply too new to be judging anybody.
  • New James Bond film in 2019. Nobody knows who’s playing him or directing the thing, but it’s coming. Yesiree, Bob!
  • Since they’re handing out cinematic universes like chicken samples at a food court, the John Wick universe will be expanded by the female-focused film, Ballerina.
  • Michael Phelps raced a CGI shark and people felt betrayed. He’s the friggin’ son of Poseidon! He can’t race ACTUAL sharks! There would be civil unrest beneath the surface!

With DC being the political capital of the country, it’s hard for a news person to stand out because the place is crawling with them. That wasn’t true, however, for Jim Vance. Everyone knew him and the man was an institution. Coming to NBC4 in 1969, he was one of the first Black anchors in a major news market. He anchored for over 4 decades, ingraining himself into the families of those who watched him.

When I was a toddler, I was really into the local news (I’ve always said I’m regressing as I get older), and I could name every anchor on every local newscast. And this was a golden age of DC news. You had the great Glenn Brenner, you had Maury Povich before he became a talk show host, and you had Vance. There was something about him that made him seem like your aunt’s cool boyfriend. He was an old man with a hoop earring. We used to laugh about it, but secretly I was hating because I knew I’d never be able to pull that off at his age. He rode motorcycles and laughed inappropriately at news stories he found funny. He was a guy who made you glad to watch the news, especially as the cries of Fake News! grew louder.

Back in May, Vance announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer, and it advanced rather quickly. He passed away last Saturday morning, and the announcement touched all corners of the DC area (no, I’m not calling it the DMV!). It was touching to see all of the tributes to him on the local stations, from those who were colleagues and competitors. Last Saturday night, News4 spent the entire 11 PM news talking about Vance and what he meant to DC. This might sound crazy, but it was so refreshing to watch the news without a single drop of actual news being reported. No Trump b.s., no local murders, not even a weather report. Just 30 minutes about a man who we basically grew up with in our homes. I always kinda took him for granted because you just expected he would be there every evening, but I’ve certainly missed him since he’s gone. I know he won’t mean much to those of you outside the DC viewing area, but believe me when I say that everybody here knew who Jim Vance was, and we’re all going to miss him in one way or another. For that reason, Jim Vance had the West Life Ever.

 

21st Jul2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 7/21/17

by Will

I haven’t been doing such a great job with my movie tally for 2017. We’re more than halfway through the year, and I’ve barely watched anything. Well, I kinda made up for that last weekend, as I caught Keeping Up With The Joneses on HBO. This is one of those movies that came and went, and might find a fan base on TV, but will probably just be forgotten. If it should be remembered for anything, it’s that it features both Gal Gadot and Isla Fisher in lingerie. That’s about all it’s got going for it. What’s it about? Well, Isla Fisher and Zack Galifianakis star as a milquetoast suburbanite couple who become suspicious of their new neighbors, Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot. So, they’re pushed out of their comfort zone when they find out Hamm and Gadot are spies, and they get wrapped up in their latest mission. This is the kind of movie I would’ve killed a chunk of a Saturday afternoon on had it aired on Fox 5, but I can understand why nobody went to see it in theaters. Folks loved Don Draper, but for whatever reason, they have no desire to help along Jon Hamm’s movie career. And this was pre-Wonder Woman Gadot, so there was no heat on her yet. It doesn’t suck, but it’s got no Wow Factor either. Once it hits FX, it might be a good way to waste away a rainy Sunday afternoon.

I finally got around to watching The Nice Guys, too. I’d tried a few months ago, but I only got as far as the Ryan Gosling fully clothed in the bathtub scene, where I went, “What the eff am I watching?” I wasn’t ready for the absurd that night, but I was ready now. Like everyone had told me, it was really good. I still have trouble with heist/mystery films because my brain doesn’t work as fast as the film, so sometimes I have to reflect back on the thing when it’s over just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Ryan Gosling is a private investigator who teams up with local tough guy Russell Crowe to track down a missing girl. Sure, there’s some stuff about porn, and the Detroit auto lobby, but that’s the gist of the movie. It’s got a precocious kid, a cool 70s aesthetic, and titties. Can’t really hate on any of that. Anyway, I could see this as one of those movies I drop everything to watch whenever I see that it’s on. If you haven’t seen it, definitely check it out.

My new favorite reality show debuted this week on Bravo, called A Night With My Ex. It’s just what the title says: a former couple spends the night together to see if the spark is still there and/or to reopen old wounds. In the premiere, 28 year old virgin Rachel is reunited to smarmy douchebag ex-boyfriend Fabian. They dated for four years, but he cheated on her with a sexy Tinkerbell at a Halloween party because he had a major case of blue balls. When the show starts, you don’t think Fabian is really that bad of a guy. He knows he made a mistake, and he even plans to propose to Rachel because he wants her in his life forever. But things go south quickly. He chastises her for scraping her plate with her fork as she eats, and he tries to make her give him a handjob once they’re in bed. All the while, she’s trying to actually apologize for basically pushing him to cheat by withholding sex, but he never lets her get a word out before saying/doing something stupid. Finally she declares that she deserves better than him, and basically laughs in his face when he proposes. That was some damn good television! If anything, I’d say the show is too short at 30 minutes, but they only spend one night together, and not the whole weekend, so I guess that’s all they could edit together. It’s a lot like MTV’s old show, The X Effect, only the couple’s current partners aren’t spying on the date like they were in that show. Anyway, it’s only been one episode, but I count me in for the next nine!

In TV news, it was announced that Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have lined up their post-GoT project, Confederate, which is an alternate history series set prior to the United States’ 3rd Civil War. Well, this rang some alarm bells for some folks, as you can’t really get into the Confederacy and Civil War without dealing with slavery. And folks weren’t really happy about these White showrunners making what some considered to be “slavery fanfic”. What hasn’t been covered extensively, though, is that the project is really just coasting on the fact that the GoT showrunners are attached, but they’re not the only ones involved. Husband-wife team of Malcolm Spellman and Nichelle Tramble Spellman , who are Black, will be partners on the show along with Benioff and Weiss. Plus, the show it’s so deep in its infancy that there aren’t even character names or an outline yet. It was originally developed as a two-hour movie, but they decided it could be fleshed out and taken to television. There’s basically nothing on paper for it yet, though, so there’s not much for folks to be upset about at this stage other than mere speculation. The Spellmans acknowledge the criticism, but say that they’d rather it had followed the premiere of the show instead of starting now, as it’s being announced. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that this criticism will go into shaping the show going forward, so we may never get what they originally intended to put out.

We got a new trailer for Marvel’s Inhumans. Still looks like garbage. I’ve loved Iwan Rheon since Misfits, but I can’t follow him here. This just looks so bad. Look, I’m gonna watch it, but I really don’t see how there’s any damn way I’m paying for an IMAX ticket to see it in theaters.


We also got a new teaser for The Defenders, which teases the Punisher series at the end. People are going nuts online about this thing because it’s narrated by Stan Lee, but I actually think he’s tonally wrong for this clip. When I think of Stan, I think of his marquee, larger than life characters – NOT the street-level vigilantes. I almost feel like it would’ve been better narrated by Bendis or Brubaker, but they don’t have the recognition factor that Stan has. I get that. Still, it just feels like a hollow waste of a cameo.

 Things You Might Have Missed This Week
  • The good Lord answered my prayers, as Chris Hardwick and Comedy Central have “mutually decided” to end @midnight. I won’t miss his smarmy face or those stupid hashtag games.
  • I guess the third time’s the charm, as Paige Davis will start her 3rd hosting stint on Trading Spaces when it returns to TLC later this year
  • Ed Sheeran was on Game of Thrones this week, and I guess some folks didn’t like that. I dunno. I kinda couldn’t care less about Sheeran or GoT, but folks were hatin’!
  • Meanwhile, it was reported that Lena Dunham will join American Horror Story for season 7, and folks lost their shit about that, too. Apparently she’ll only be in one episode, but that was enough for some folks to claim they weren’t gonna watch anymore.
  • Transformers: Titans Return will debut in November as an animated micro series on the Go90 app, featuring the voices of Green Ranger Jason David Frank and the original Rodimus Prime himself, Judd Nelson.
  • MTV is in talks to reboot Teen Wolf before this iteration’s final season has even concluded. Slow it down!
  • Sega broke up with Archie Comics over Twitter, thereby ending the Sonic The Hedgehog comic after 24 years of publication
  • Seacrest IN! Ryan Seacrest has officially signed on to host ABC’s revival of American Idol. I feel like I’ve written this sentence 3 times in the past already, but now it’s for real for real.
  • Coming as no real surprise since The Vampire Diaries ended, The CW announced that its spinoff, The Originals, will end after its upcoming season.
  • In an odd choice, the directors of the original Catfish documentary (the movie, not the show) are in talks talks to helm a Mega Man film that will be produced by Masi Oka of Heroes fame.
  • Words with Friends is being developed into a television game show. Ya know, so it’s basically the Scrabble game show being rebooted.
  • Meanwhile on Black Twitter, R. Kelly is allegedly running a sex cult, Usher paid a woman $1.1 million for her to keep quiet about the fact that he gave her herpes, and Kevin Hart allegedly got caught cheating on his pregnant wife. I’m just waiting for some crazy Steve Harvey news to round out the week.
  • At San Diego Comic Con, MGM announced Stargate Origins, which appears to be a prequel webseries that will run on the Stargate Command website this fall.
  • Shazam! will be the next DC film to go into production, following Justice League and Aquaman, but it’s unclear if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will co-star as Black Adam.
  • There might soon be a new Cutco salesman on the block, as OJ Simpson has been granted parole from the armed robbery that landed him in prison nine years ago. The Juice is almost loose!

I love those weeks when the West Week Ever recipient presents itself early in the week, ’cause it’s pretty much smooth sailing after that. This was one of those weeks, as history was made across the pond. The Doctor Who franchise is over 50 years old, but every time the Doctor regenerates (a clever in-story mechanism for recasting the actor), he just turns into another White dude. That’s pretty much been the unending pattern since 1966, when the first regeneration occurred. Folks have been saying it’s time for a change, and they were hoping we’d either end up with a Doctor of color (with The IT Crowd‘s Richard Ayoade coming up in a lot of the discussions) or a woman Doctor. Well, half of them got their wish, as Attack the Block‘s Jodie Whittaker was announced as the 13th Doctor. And, as you’re probably not surprised, folks lost their shit.

We’re always taught the the Brits are so proper and upstanding, but the comments sections of several sites proved that they can troll with the best of them. At the end of the day, it’s a bunch of folks who are afraid of change. A friend of mine, however, did point out that the victors in these circumstances also tend to trigger the backlash against themselves. For example, it would be one thing if this was seen as a bold move forward for a progressive franchise. The problem, however, is that some people take it too far, and get on the “I’m savoring these fanboy tears” soapbox, making it about something that it really didn’t need to devolve into. Sometimes the winners can suck just as much as the losers in these scenarios. This can be seen as a “win” for some without it being a “loss” for someone else. How about framing it as a win for everyone? Nah, the internet doesn’t really work like that.

I have never gotten into the Doctor Who franchise because it just seems so daunting. Sure, folks claim you really only have to start with the Eccleston season, but when I get into something, I go ALL IN. To me, that’s like telling someone they can start Star Trek with The Next Generation (which I’d probably do, since I hate The Original Series, even though I’d still feel like I was cheating them out of an experience). I feel like I’d have to watch all 54 years of the show, which is impossible because those seasons ain’t streaming anywhere, and a good chunk of them have been lost to time. It’s a franchise that cannot be wholly consumed! I hate mysteries that can’t be solved. Still, I can respect a longstanding institution, and I understand when change is a big deal. It’ll be interesting to see how fans take to the new Doctor, but the one thing to remember is that she’ll probably do it for 2 years, and then regenerate into another old White guy (the Doctor role has the retention rate of a community college). So, everyone gets their wish! I am kinda curious about the next season, though, as rumor has it Kris Marshall (Colin: God of Sex from Love Actually) is going to be the Doctor’s next companion. I loved that dude!

Anyway, I know which side of history I want to be on, and it’ll be interesting to see this all play out. The way the franchise works, we won’t see her until the Christmas special, and then won’t see her again until late 2018 at the earliest. So, folks have got some time to get used to the idea. Still, I think it goes without saying that Jodie Whittaker had the West Week Ever.

14th Jul2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 7/14/17

by Will

So, I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming. Unlike most of you, I didn’t love it. I really liked it, but didn’t love it. Part of the issue stems from the legacy of Spider-Man films. I kinda hate how every star has delivered a great performance as Spider-Man, yet the minute the roll is recast, fans with short memories start saying the last guy was “shit”. People love ragging on Tobey Maguire, especially after Spider-Man 3, but he was really good in those first two movies. There’s a Spider-Man for every generation, and he was the Spider-Man we needed in 2002. Sure, he wouldn’t work so well now, but to compare his movies to Homecoming is basically apples to oranges. I also kinda hate when people say “They finally got Spider-Man right!” Um, Tobey already got him right. Andrew Garfield, in his own way, got him right. And Holland is getting him right. For now. They’ve all brought something special and unique to the table, and I think it’s unfair to discount that because there’s some new, shiny thing to take your attention.

All that’s to say that I liked Homecoming, but it didn’t really offer anything new to me. I felt the same wide-eyed wonder seeing Holland do the ferry rescue as I did when Maguire did the same thing with the train in Spider-Man 2. Some might call that an homage, but it just felt…familiar.

What did I love? I loved Tony being there. I felt like there was just enough Tony Stark without the film becoming Iron Man 3.5. It’s always good to see Happy, and this movie did more with him than most of the Iron Man films ever did. I especially love movie Happy since comic Happy is no longer with us (sad trombone). I loved sexy, younger Aunt May, but I’ve loved Marisa Tomei ever since she filled out her college application wrong and ended up at that Black college. I loved the running joke of all the guys commenting on how hot she was. It’s a new concept for May, but it works. I loved the Miles Morales Easter egg (I won’t spoil it here if you didn’t catch it). I loved Not-Ganke (For those not in the know, Ganke is the name of Miles Morales Spider-Man’s best friend, who looks EXACTLY like actor Jacob Batalon), even if I don’t know why they insisted on calling him “Ned Leeds”. I loved that Damage Control was officially revealed. Keaton was great, even if he’s not an Adrian Toomes that I recognize. The Liz Allen swerve was cool, ’cause I really didn’t see that coming.

OK, now for the things I didn’t like. They introduced a good swath of Spidey’s rogue (Mac Gargan, Shocker), all at once as Vulture’s gang, only to be relegated to ancillary characters and henchmen. I know the MCU has a “Villain Problem” of wasting their villains, but this just takes the cake.

Now, this is gonna sound stupid, but I spent a good amount of time trying to reconcile the MCU timeline in my head. The movie starts immediately after Avengers, jumps 8 years to Captain America: Civil War, and then to the present day, which is shortly after the airport battle where Spidey debuted. Now, a big part of Act 3 is the fact that Vulture wants to steal a bunch of Avengers/Stark Tech on Moving Day – when everything was being moved from Avengers Tower to the upstate facility. Now, Tony’s rich, so it’s not like he can’t own multiple properties, but why is Moving Day happening NOW? I mean, the upstate facility debuted at the end of Age of Ultron, we saw it again in Ant-Man, and everyone seemed to be pretty moved in by Civil War. So, why the delay in moving everything up there? Does Homecoming maybe not take place when we think it does? Well, we know it’s post-Civil War because Cap’s hilariously referred to as a war criminal by gym teacher Hannibal Buress. If it were just a thrown away reference, I wouldn’t care, but the whole final action piece is based on this Moving Day concept. Anyway, I think it’s fair to say I probably wasn’t in the right headspace for this movie if that’s where my brain was going.

Oh, and the thing I hated most: that effing MJ reveal! First of all, it accomplished nothing. It was corny, and it was executed just as poorly as when The Dark Knight Rises did it. Secondly, at the end of the day, her name is MICHELLE, not MARY. You can call her “MJ”, but that does not make her Mary Jane. And to be honest, the movie would’ve been fine without her character. While she was funny, it seems like she was woven into the movie solely to make that hamfisted name reveal at the end.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll watch this movie a bunch more once it hits the premium channels, but I just didn’t fall in love with it as much as a lot of you did. I’m really sorry about that, too, ’cause I really wanted to love it. Something just didn’t work for me entirely, and I can’t put my finger on it exactly.

Things were heating up in the news world this week. Back when NBC announced they had hired Megyn Kelly from Fox News, Today co-anchor Tamron Hall abruptly quit, reportedly because her contract was about to expire. Industry insiders, however, believe it was because it was rumored that Kelly would be given the third hour of Today – where Hall was currently the co-anchor of Today’s Take. Well, that’s somewhat true, as this week it was revealed that Kelly’s show will premiere September 25th, and will feature a live studio audience, like a traditional talk show. It will, in fact, occupy the third hour of Today, sandwiched between the regular Today and the Kathie Lee & Hoda hour of Today. Not to be outdone, it was also announced that Tamron Hall is developing a daytime talk show with Weinstein Television. It’s also believed that, in several major markets, this talk show will go head to head with Kelly’s daytime show. Now the race is on to see which one of them earns the coveted “Fake News” label first!

In other television news, CBS announced an upcoming animated special called Michael Jackson’s Halloween, which sounds kinda sketchy. Apparently, it’s about two Millennials (there’s THAT buzzword), which is basically to say “two shits too young to appreciate the King of Pop’s music”. Anyway, they meet at a party, end up at a weird hotel, and crazy stuff happens – all capped off by a dance number by an animated Michael. If you ask me, he already contributed his greatest gift to the Halloween industry: “Thriller”! Unless this is just a one-hour animated version of “Thriller”, I don’t think the world needs this. Somebody tell his mama to stop letting his estate make crap like this.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • John Cho joins Fox’s The Exorcist next season. While some are all, “Yay, representation!”, I’m like “Why the F is Sulu doing television?!” Well, I guess since Kumar’s already doing television…
  • In a move that’s somewhat baffling to me, Lucy Liu will direct the season 2 premiere of Netflix’s Luke Cage
  • Speaking of Netflix, Bojack Horseman season 4 will premiere on September 8th.
  • Fresh of the Boat dad Randall Park has been cast as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jimmy Woo in Ant-Man & The Wasp
  • Netflix has also renewed the Castlevania animated series for a second season
  • Jeremy Renner essentially broke both arms while filming the movie Tag, though it’s not expected to affect production on Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Smallville‘s Lois Lane, Erica Durance, is taking over the role of Alura from Laura Benanti on Supergirl.
  • Despite flopping in North America, the Baywatch film is on track to make $100 million overseas
  • Showtime is planning a sequel to the hit lesbian series The L Word. If it were up to me, it’d be called The K Word, and it would be about non-binary gender Millennials as they make their way through NYC, but nobody pays me for these ideas, so…
  • After 27 years of voicing Kermit the Frog, it was revealed that Steve Whitmire was fired back in October, and it currently lobbying to get his job back. Apparently, it’s not east being Steve.

In probably the biggest TV news this week (at least for the geek set), it was announced that AT&T Lily herself, Milana Vayntrub, has been cast as Squirrel Girl in Marvel’s New Warriors on Freeform. I cared NOTHING about this show until that announcement. It still doesn’t really inspire any confidence for me, as I don’t know if the superhero comedy genre works on television (see Powerless), but I’m definitely more inclined to check it out than I had been prior to the announcement. I mean, who doesn’t love that chick?! I love her in the commercials, I loved her in Other Space, and I even loved her as a bitchy ex-girlfriend in Love. Here’s hoping this leads to the big break she deserves. It was a slow entertainment news week so, ya know what, Milana Vayntrub had the Breas…I mean West Week Ever.

07th Jul2017

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

by Will

I took last week off, but I hope y’all had a great 4th of July weekend. Life’s still kinda kicking my ass, so this’ll be an abridged edition this week.

I finally got around to watching a movie! It’s been on my list since I first heard it was in pre-production, and I’m amazed it took me this long to watch it, considering my love for the source material. The Founder stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the “founder” of McDonald’s who really just stole the concept from the McDonald Brothers. A down-on-his-luck shake machine salesman, Kroc happens upon the fledgling McDonald’s restaurant in Southern California. Knowing a good thing when he saw it, he pretty much insisted on becoming a part of the operation, mainly focused on franchising the business. And that’s when things get interesting. I LOVE McDonald’s. You can hate me all you want, but like Jim Gaffigan says, “Everyone has their own McDonald’s”. Mine just happens to be the actual company. I don’t know enough about the history of the company to know how factual an account the movie was, but it was sure damn entertaining. Keaton is amazing in it, and I feel like anyone would enjoy the movie even if they think they don’t give a rat’s ass about McDonald’s as a company. I highly recommend this film.

We finally got our first trailer for Marvel’s Inhumans, and now I realize why they were so hesitant to release it. MY GOD THIS LOOKS TERRIBLE! It looks like Into The Badlands – a show that I hate because people fawn over it when it looks like something that would’ve aired after Xena on Saturday afternoons 20 year ago. Yeah, I even told one of the Badlands creators that when he confronted me over my “appraisal” on Twitter. Badlands is a bad show, but it gets “diversity points”, so folks give it a pass. This show doesn’t even get diversity right, so it’s really just a shitshow in the making. I hate hate HATE that this is considered an official part of the MCU, even if it’s just a part of the never-referenced TV wing. Anyway, this trainwreck debuts in IMAX on September 1st, but will officially air on ABC beginning September 22nd.

Speaking of diversity points, CBS lost all of theirs when they let the Asians go from Hawaii Five-O last weekend. Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park both left the show after salary negotiations broke down as they requested pay equal to their costars. I’ve never seen more than 15 minutes of that show, but I know the dude from Lost seemed pretty important to things. He was basically the White guys’ interpreter to all things native. CBS has claimed that they offered them sizable increases, which weren’t deemed acceptable to Park and Kim. Now the Five-O showrunner, Peter Lenkov, is now joining the side of the network, saying that CBS made “generous offers” to the stars, yet they decided not to renew their contracts.

This has turned into a discussion of race in Hollywood and how things still aren’t equal across the board. I’m a big fan of billing. Billing is important, and should go to the most well-known star. It’s the reason all the ’89 Batman posters say “Jack Nicholson” first. Dude was a bigger star. Now, I didn’t watch Lost and I didn’t watch Battlestar Galactica, but I still recognize Kim and Park from those shows. Maybe it’s just because I’m a geek and folks were always talking about those shows. The show’s star, Alex O’Loughlin? I can’t name a thing he’s been in. Don’t know that dude from Adam. And the other lead? James Caan’s kid? Whatever. Y’all mean you couldn’t pony up the cash to keep Lost Dude and Battlestar Girl? We’re not talking about big names here so, unless there was a favored nations clause where O’Loughlin would have to get a raise if they got raises, thereby thwarting the whole “equality” thing, I don’t see what the problem was. As has been pointed out, all O’Loughlin and Caan had to do was stand in solidarity with their costars and this would’ve been a non-issue. Word on the street it O’Loughlin is quitting at the end of the season anyway, so it’s not like we’re talking another 5 years here. He couldn’t keep his ego in check for a season? Nah, for too many folks, as long as they’ve got theirs, they don’t care if you’ve got yours.

We also got a trailer for Pitch Perfect 3, forcing me to reiterate that NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE A TRILOGY. I know everyone involved likes money, but sometimes there are natural, built-in ends to things. That thing was a 2-movie franchise and that’s it. Don’t forget – I lived that life. I was in the same competition the Bellas won in the first film (we came in 2nd), and I experienced the aca-graduation blues that the girls experienced in the second film. That’s pretty much it. There’s nowhere else to go. I mean, sure there are some random outlier outcomes. One of my groupmates is a hit producer in Asia now. Another is a pretty big pop star in Hong Kong. The rest of us? Dead-end jobs and bills. I used to occasionally do karaoke, but even that got to be too depressing. That shit is fun while it lasts, and then you’ve got to move on. So, in that vein, I can understand the plot of the 3rd movie, with the girls wanting to have one last hurrah, but I don’t really understand the concept of putting them on a USO tour. Is that something the troops wanna see? Has Pentatonix been dropped into the theater of war? It just seems kinda farfetched to me, and I was fine with how things were left in the last movie. Sure, I’ll see it, but it won’t be in a theater.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Hide grandma’s wallet – QVC is buying out Home Shopping Network.
  • After 3 seasons, The Carmichael Show has been canceled by NBC. I really wish someone else would snatch it up, as it’s a smart show
  • Netflix has renewed Dear, White People for a 2nd season. Meanwhile, they canceled Girlboss after one season. Reed Hastings giveth and he taketh away.
  • Speaking of Netflix, hearing the cries of fans, Sense8 will officially conclude with a 2-hour finale special
  • Netflix also renewed one of my favorite original shows, F is For Family, for a 3rd season.
  • Apparently a series based on the popular Step Up film series, called Step Up: High Water, will premiere on YouTube Red, where absolutely NOBODY is gonna watch it.
  • Fuller House season 3 will coincidentally premiere on the 30th anniversary of Full House, September 22nd.
  • Make your vacations weird again, as Cirque du Soleil has purchased Blue Man Group.
  • Patton Oswalt is engaged to 80s actress Meredith Salenger. Ya know, the same Patton whose wife died last year. I guess we all grieve in our own ways…
  • Lack of interest brought down The House, which bombed at the box office last weekend. It was reportedly Will Ferrell’s lowest live-action opening for a major studio.
  • Nick Fury will reportedly be making his MCU return in 2019’s Captain Marvel
  • HBO is reportedly getting the True Detective band back together, with a 3rd season to star Mahershala Ali
  • Nixing speculation that she was still up for the White House Press Secretary job, Kimberly Guilfoyle has reupped her contract with Fox News
  • Rob Lowe and his sons will chase the supernatural in The Lowe Files, and I literally cannot wait.
  • New game show, Snap Decision, premieres August 7th. Hosted by David Allen Grier, the show breaks precedent because it will debut on GSN and in syndication on the same date.

  • The world’s leading (and only) bar scientist favorited my tweet this week

We’re gonna do something different here this week. Usually, if you’ve been paying attention to the week’s news, you can at least try to figure out who or what had the best week. Some weeks it’s harder to choose something than others. Then I remembered, “Will, this is YOUR site.” After all, this is all pop culture through my lens, so it’s my rules. So, sometimes I might choose something that meant a lot to me that week, while you were none the wiser. But I bring it up on the site so that we’re all on the same page. And that’s the kind of pick I have this week.

After watching The Founder, I was left thinking, “Michael Keaton is a goddamn national treasure”. After watching Spider-Man: Homecoming last night (yeah, we’ll talk about it next week, when more of y’all have had a chance to see it), I was thinking “Why have we been sleeping on Keaton the past 20 years?” I mean, with the exception of The Other Guys, I honestly hadn’t seen a Michael Keaton movie since probably Batman Returns, and yet Birdman is the one considered his “comeback vehicle”. In The Founder, he really made you feel for a traveling salesman who was at the end of his rope. After a string of laughable failures, he finally found something to which he could hitch his wagon: McDonald’s. And while he also had to prove this to everyone in his sphere of orbit, most importantly he had to prove this to himself. He really needed a win, and Keaton did such a great job conveying that.

In Homecoming, Keaton plays Adrian Toomes, better known as the Vulture (though he’s never called that by name in the film). Not unlike Alfred Molina’s Dr. Octopus, he’s something of a sympathetic villain. Were it not for the fact that comic book franchises deal in the good/bad binary, you could almost relate to him and understand where he’s coming from. He’s a modern-day working class guy who feels ignored by the fat cats up on high. He doesn’t have evil goals. He simply wants to provide for his family, and he has a code of honor that dictates he must do whatever it takes to make good on that promise. I felt that Keaton did a great job expressing the plight of the working man. Sure, he got to utter some cheesy villain dialogue, but that simply comes with the territory. If you stopped for a minute, and ignored the fact that Spider-Man HAS to win, you realize that Toomes is actually kind of on to something. Again, though, I’ll get into more Homecoming thoughts next week.

My pal Chad pretty much swears by Michael Keaton as his favorite actor – a lot of that having to do with his immense love of 1989’s Batman. I’ve gotta say, I was never a huge fan of Keaton’s Batman, and when Chad would laud Keaton’s praises, I wasn’t really seeing it. I see it now, though. I have seen the light and I am healed! Dear Hollywood, more Michael Keaton, please! He pretty much impressed me on two different cinematic fronts this week, and that’s why Michael Keaton had the West Week Ever.

23rd Jun2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 6/23/17

by Will

 

It’s gonna be a quick one this week, as I’ve got too much real life stuff going on. Plus, there was a lot of little news, but no big whammy.

Last Saturday I took in Awesome Con which, in its fifth year, was being held at the Washington Convention Center. Normally I’m all about con reports. You’ll see my cosplay pics, and hear about all the stuff I bought. Not so much this time around. I don’t know what it was, but it didn’t feel very Awesome this year. I hate cons that are filled to capacity (like NYCC), but I felt like this one could’ve been better attended. Sure, there were a lot of folks there, but I still bet they fell short of the numbers that had been expected. No cosplay really caught my eye. There were only, like, 7 comic vendors. The show really doesn’t seem to know if it’s a pop culture con, like a Wizard World show, or if it’s a comic-con for the DC area, rivaling Baltimore’s.

It wasn’t all bad, though. I got to hang out with my buds @KeithDavidsen and @ClassickMateria, plus I had a great conversation with 2/3 of the 3 Black Geeks Podcast. Oh, and I totally gushed over Christopher Hastings, who currently writes I Am Groot and The Unbelievable Gwenpool for Marvel. I’ve been a fan of his since his indie series, The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, and I’m a huge Gwenpool fan. I pretty much went just to meet him, and he was totally gracious and nice. Meanwhile, I was gonna confront Scott Snyder and get him to sign my Dark Days: The Forge book. And then ask him why he blocked me on Twitter. But the stars were not aligned, as his line was capped before I got there. I suppose it was for the best. So, while lacking in awesome, there’s still room for improvement, and I’m sure I’ll be right back there next year.

While a lot of folks are getting excited about it, I have some problems with the way Netflix’s The Defenders series is being marketed. Something seems off with the tone of everything. See that poster above? As I remarked on Twitter, it looks like a TV Guide ad for a show Fox canceled in 1994. I can hear the promo now: “The Defenders, followed by an all-new New York Undercover. Thursday, at 8/7 Central.” There’s nothing about it that *pops*, and it just looks so pedestrian. Are they a rag tag group of NYC street-level heroes, or is it a coming of age drama about 3 guys and a girl trying to make it in New York City? I still have 3 more seasons of Marvel Netflix shows to catch up on before I can even watch this, so maybe I’m not the target audience. It’s just all so formulaic now, though. “Hey, look – a hallway fight!”

We finally got a premiere date for the long-delayed Star Trek: Discovery, bowing September 24th at 8:30 on both CBS and CBS All Access. What’s with the 8:30 start time, though? I guess we’ll get some kind of half-assed, 30-minute Trek retrospective before the show. And, taking a page from cable shows, the season will be split in two, with the first 8 episodes airing in the fall, while the remaining 7 will air starting in January. I couldn’t be less excited for this show. So many damn hoops to jump through, so many broken promises regarding its premiere date. At this point, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they requested a blood sample before allowing you to watch it. That’s how crazy this has become. What was once thought to become the most pirated series of all time, I’m now starting to think most of us aren’t even gonna bother.

I had no clue that Phil Lord and Chris Miller were the directors on the Han Solo film (how’d I miss that?), and I would’ve told anyone who’d listen that they were a terrible choice – which is why I’m not surprised that they were fired this week, citing “creative differences”. Sure, The Lego Movie was great. The Jump Street franchise was great. But I don’t see them fitting into the “Star Wars vision” that Kathleen Kennedy clearly has. They would’ve given us something great and entertaining, but I don’t know if it would’ve been a “Star Wars movie”. Then again, I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan, so what do I know. I’d like to think there’s room to do a lot of stuff in that franchise, but I just don’t see their style fitting into what’s already been established. And then Ron Howard was announced as their replacement. I really don’t know how I feel about this. I mean, gifted director, but this seems sort of out of his wheelhouse. Any of y’all have strong thoughts either way?

Meanwhile, somebody needs to make up their mind about whether these Spider-Man spinoffs are gonna be set in the MCU or not. We were basically told that only Spider-Man was crossing over, and even that’s been threatened as a possible one-time deal. But then Amy Pascal did a press junket earlier this week, where she danced around the matter, saying that the Spider-Man spinoffs would build upon the world that is being carefully crafted, leading some to believe they might actually be set in the MCU. That’s how some folks saw it. I just saw it as Pascal trying to keep her job. I guess time will tell. Meanwhile, Spider-Man Homecoming 2 is already being discussed (which I hope is called Spider-Man: Sadie Hawkins Dance), and there will reportedly be a cameo by another MCU character who’s not Iron Man. Keep it in your pants, boys. Let’s see how this one does first, OK?

Song of the Week

Yup, it’s a Taylor Swift song, but it’s NOT sung by Taylor. She gave this song to Little Big Town, who have ridden it to #1. It’s got her trademark juvenile lyrics, but I still think it’s beautiful. I kinda wish I didn’t know she wrote it, but I think that was part of the push that got it to #1. Anyway, here’s “Better Man”.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Shonda Rhimes had to fail eventually, which is why her summer Shakespeare series, Still Star-Crossed, has been moved to Saturday after 3 low-rated episodes. Stick a fork in that turkey!
  • Speaking of dead shows, CMT couldn’t make the numbers work to revive Last Man Standing, so the sitcom is officially dead
  • Dule Hill’s real-life fiancee, Ballers actress Jazmyn Simon, will play Gus’ love interest in the Psych reunion movie
  • Apparently Nickelodeon is prepping a one-hour reunion, called Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling. I didn’t have cable growing up, but I know this means something to some of you.
  • Virginia Madsen won’t be back for season 2 of Designated Survivor. I was kinda hoping she and Kiefer would bang, so now I have the sads…
  • Six cast members are out at Taken, amid a major shake-up prior to season 2. I guess you could say they didn’t have the right set of skills.
  • They’re teasing a Downton Abbey movie for 2018. I hope it’s called Downton Abbey: Matthew’s Revenge!
  • There are rumors that Damon Lindelof is in talks to do a Watchmen TV series for HBO. That network is really into dongs lately, so I guess this is a perfect fit.
  • Daniel Henney is shifting his Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders character over the main Criminal Minds series, following the former’s cancellation. Remember that when your CBS-watching grandpa asks you where he’s seen that “Oriental fella” before…
  • The CW is interested in a Supernatural spinoff called Wayward Sisters, which would star recurring guest star Kim Rhodes. I don’t watch Supernatural, but she was Zack & Cody’s hot mom, so I’m a supporter of giving her more work!
  • After a thorough investigation, Warner Bros found no evidence of misconduct on the set of Bachelor In Paradise, and production has resumed on the season. Now it’ll probably be the most-watched season of the show, but there’s no way they saw that coming, right? Right?
  • As a reward for being the #1 daytime drama for the past 28 (!) consecutive years, CBS has renewed The Young and the Restless for another three seasons
  • NBC is scrambling to do some damage control, as Megyn Kelly’s highly publicized interview with Sandy Hook truther Alex Jones was beaten by a rerun of America’s Funniest Home Videos. That’s right, it was beaten by a show that’s been rendered virtually obsolete since the proliferation of the Internet
  • Heroes is coming to Crackle on July 13th. You know, that free streaming network that nobody watches? So, if you’re still itching to save the cheerleader, there ya go.
  • The sequel to Jurassic World will be called Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Meh. That shit ought to be called Jurassic Galaxy. Take those dinos into space already!
  • Daniel Day-Lewis has quit acting, meaning we’ll never get to see him in the Fast and the Furious franchise like we’d always dreamed!
  • Fresh off his mistrial, Bill Cosby plans to give speaking engagements where he will instruct folks how to dodge sexual assault charges. I couldn’t make this shit up! “If you put the pudding pop in the Jello, make sure you’re not caught on any Kodak film!”
  • Transformers 5: Bad Touch had the lowest opening day box office for the franchise, with $15.7 million.
  • In the ultimate Fuck yo’ Father’s Day move, Beyonce’s dad announced to the world, via tweet, that her twins had arrived. I hear he was dragged away by wraiths soon afterward.
  • Adam West’s unaired episode of Powerless can now be seen on DC All Access, as well as Hulu.

No one had the West Week Ever this week. As Nina Simone sang, “It be’s that way sometimes”. I do have a correction from last week, though. Like I said up top, I’ve got some real world stuff going on and I wasn’t really thinking clearly. I inducted Adam West into the West Week Ever Hall of Fame, when my pal @zacshipley pointed out that a better honor was staring me right in the face: that honor should be called the West Life Ever. So, the post has since been corrected and, going forward, that is what will be bestowed upon those greats that we’ve lost along the way. Adam West had the West Life Ever.

09th Jun2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 6/9/17

by Will

 

In an interesting shake-up over at CBS, Erinn Hayes has been let go from her role as wife to Kevin James in Kevin Can Wait. They say that the show is going in a new direction, which necessitated the firing. But here’s where it gets interesting. Leah Remini, who played James’s wife on King of Queens, popped up in the season finale as James’ former cop partner. Well, just before announcing Hayes’s departure, CBS announced that Remini would be joining the show next season as a series regular. Now, if you’ve never seen Kevin Can Wait, Kevin James plays a former NYC cop who tries to figure out how to adjust to his recent retirement. Based on the season finale, though, it seems like James’s character might be coming out of retirement. It’s just a strange move, seeing as how the show ended the season as the #1 new comedy on network TV – hardly a situation that necessitated a retooling of the show. Part of what critics praised was Hayes’s portrayal of James’s wife of 20 years. How do you just gloss over that relationship? I mean, they’ve gotta kill her off, but unless you do a time jump, you’ve gotta slog through all the grief stuff, which doesn’t lend itself well to a multicam comedy. And if they’re gonna fast track a relationship between James and Remini, will the audience accept it? It really feels like they blew a sure thing and, if they wanted to recreate The King of Queens, thy should’ve just revived The King of Queens! I’ve said that online since Kevin was announced!

Speaking of Remini, I’m starting to think she’s a Scientology double agent. Bear with me here: Scientology is a well-connected organization in Hollywood that allegedly has the power to ruin your career with the information that they have on their members. If you ever leave the church, you’re pretty much done. Just look at the list of former Scientologists. On that list, Remini and Jeffrey Tambor are the one ones who even have a semblance of a steady career right now, and Tambor kinda skirted the issue by saying he never really joined the church. Remini, however, joined up as a child, and was a HUGE booster of the church. Then, in 2013, she turned on the church – not for its negative views on homosexuality (which is why Crash director Paul Haggis left) or its alleged illegal activities. No, she left because she got her feelings hurt after leadership clapped back at her. At Tom Cruise’s wedding to Katie Holmes, Remini asked why church leader David Miscavige’s wife wasn’t in attendance, and they basically told her she didn’t have clearance for that info (formal speak for “Nunyo Biznazz”). She didn’t trust that answer, and went further to file a missing persons report on Mrs. Miscavige. Then, she made it her mission to publicly discredit Miscavige, criticizing his leadership, citing reports of abuse in the Sea Org, and more. She went straight to the TOP with her blame game, yet NOTHING has happened to her. In fact, it’s probably rejuvenated her career. She got a successful show on A&E called Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, where she’s basically telling all their secrets. When the show debuted, the church issued a statement attacking her. Yet, she’s working more now than she was before. So, there’s two things happening here: either Scientology isn’t as powerful and litigious as we’ve been led to believe OR they’re in on it. It’s yin and yang. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. While Scientology has its critics, it never really had an enemy before. Why not create one where they could control the narrative? It’s like learning that Captain America has secretly been Hydra the whole time. Long story short, I’m not entirely convinced she’s left the church, especially over something as trivial as what’s reported to have started the whole thing. And she’s laughing all the way to the bank.

In other TV news, Tia and Tamera Mowry (yeah, they got married and have new hyphenated last names, but I ain’t got time for all that) are trying to get a Sister, Sister revival off the ground. And I don’t know anyone who wants this. If you were cool back in the 90s you probably never watched Sister, Sister, where a set of adopted twins didn’t realize they were twins until a chance meeting in a department store, a la The Parent Trap. Then they all move in together. It was the definition of “mediocre”, yet once ABC canceled it, it gained a new life over on The WB. The most memorable thing about it was that Marques “Batman” Houston, of the R&B group Immature/IMx, played their annoying neighbor Roger (kinda like a watered down Steve Urkel), and they’d constantly yell “Go home, Roger!” at him. Other than that, it was just a bunch of zany, mistaken identity twin shit – stuff that I’d hope adult Tia and Tamera had outgrown by now. What’s the story to tell? They both get divorced, and move in together with their kids? Sorry, Kate & Allie, Getting By, and the upcoming Raven’s Home have already covered that old chestnut. Are they single in the city, doing the same twin shit? Not interested. I don’t have a lot of faith in this one getting picked up, though, because they’re far behind where they need to be. Right now, they say they’re looking for a show runner to guide the project, but then they’d have to find a network. Sister, Sister was NO Full House, so I doubt Netflix would be interested. If anything, the only place I’d put it right now would probably be Freeform, even though the twins are slightly older than the target demo of that channel. Let this just be a lesson that not everything needs to be revived.

In other television news, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has cast Tala Ashe as Muslim “hacktivist” Zari Adrianna Tomaz for season 3. She’s a computer whiz from 2030, so basically the team’s got their own Oracle/Felicity now – not that they really need it, with Gideon and all. Anyway, in comics Tomaz is actually an Egyptian who uses the Amulet of Isis to transform into the hero Isis. Before the New 52 reboot of the DC Universe, Isis was an important character in the weekly series 52, as she was in a relationship with Black Adam, and her brother, Osiris, was eaten by Sobek. Oh, and she had a cheesy TV show in the 70s. None of that’s gonna be in the Legends, I’m sure. Given the current political climate, and how loaded the name “Isis” is right now, I doubt they’ll actually ever call her that onscreen, either.

Song of the Week

Today I give you “Vampires”, by The Midnight. My pal and thrifting partner, “Special Forces”, and I decided that this is the official theme song for Thrift Justice should it ever become a real show. Synthwave AND saxophone?! I wanna direct Skinemax movies just so I can score them with this entire album. So sexy. Right now, Thrift Justice is a USA drama circa 1990, and I ain’t got no problems with that!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Modern Family‘s Sarah Hyland will guest star on Freeform’s Shadowhunters, which kinda sounds like a step back
  • Speaking of Freeform, they’ve ordered a pilot for an American adaptation of UK hit Misfits. The network is a good home for something like this, but I’m still pissed over the American adaptation of Skins, so…
  • Rudy Huxtable herself, Keshia Knight Pulliam, escorted TV dad Bill Cosby to the first day of his rape trial. Whatever. Call me when Lisa Bonet shows up.
  • In next level pettiness, Taylor Swift put her entire catalog back on Spotify at midnight – at the very moment Katy Perry released her album “Witness”
  • According to Dan Aykroyd, Paul Feig blew his chance at a Ghostbusters sequel because he overran his budget on unnecessary reshoots. Sony refuted the figures Aykroyd presented, saying the estimates were off by about NINETY percent. Woo!
  • Jennifer Connelly will join Daveed Diggs in TNT’s Snowpiercer pilot, playing the person who makes the daily announcements on the train. Exciting!
  • Tom Cruise revealed that the title of the Top Gun sequel will be Top Gun: Maverick. I wonder if John McCain has any feelings about that. Coherent feelings, not ramblings about the Diamondbacks…
  • Speaking of Cruise, his The Mummy reboot opens today, and reviewers have called it “the worst Tom Cruise movie ever”. Wow.
  • Singer/actress/sister of Ray J Brandy was found unconscious on a Delta flight, and the doctor who came to her rescue was reportedly Kim Kardashian’s uncle! Considering Ray J put that family on the map, I figure it’s time the Kardashians did something to return the favor.
  • Gotham stars Morena Baccarin and Ben McKenzie got married. Knowing that show, it’ll probably revealed that they’re Bruce’s real parents or some shit. It’s not like it pays attention to any of the rest of the lore, so why not?
  • Fox canceled 24 Legacy after a low-rated single season, but they’re still committed to the 24 brand. They’re reportedly developing an anthology series to take the show back to its real-time roots
  • Like Peter denied Jesus, Jerry Seinfeld denied THREE requests for a hug from Kesha. I don’t blame him!
  • In one of the strangest deals I’ve ever heard of, Epix has inked a deal to stream its content directly to 2018 Honda Odyssey  minivans
  • Sony will begin selling clean versions of some of their hit movies. If you’ve ever accidentally bought a clean version of an album from Walmart, you can see why this decision might anger some folks
  • Hank Williams Jr is back singing the opening to Monday Night Football for the first time since 2011. I guess all his rowdy friends will be over after they finish burning a few more crosses…
  • George and Amal Clooney welcomed twins Ella and Alexander
  • Former Power Rangers director/producer/fight coordinator Koichi Sakamoto will direct the upcoming Ultraman Geed series, focusing on the son of the evil Ultraman Belial. Yeah, those words mean something to someone out there.
  • Newcomer Blu Hunt has been cast as Danielle Moonstar in the upcoming New Mutants spinoff of the X-Men films.
  • A live action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop is being developed, and my heart weeps. As one of the few anime series I’ve watched, and loved, I kinda hope this dies in development hell
  • Hackers released 8 stolen episodes of ABC’s upcoming game show, Funderdome, and nobody cared.
  • Donald Glover will be retiring her Childish Gambino hip hop persona after his next album.

  • We got our first poster for the Black Panther film.

Last week I gave my opinions and feelings on the movie. This week, I’m just gonna stick to the facts:

  • 92% on Rotten Tomatoes
  • $103 million opening weekend domestic box office
  • $220 million opening weekend global box office
  • Third highest opening for a DC film
  • Most successful female-directed film
  • Mot expensive female-directed film, with a budget of $150 million
  • Most tweeted about movie of 2017, with 2.19 million tweets
  • Won Best In Show and Best Fantasy/Adventure at the Golden Trailer Awards
  • Last Saturday, Wonder Woman Day was celebrated at comic shops around the world

You’ve seen it by now, right? RIGHT?! Then, what are you waiting for? For these reasons, and more, Wonder Woman once again had the West Week Ever.

02nd Jun2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 6/2/17

by Will

Whoo boy! This is gonna be a controversial one this week, but I’ve got some stuff to get off my chest.

First up, there was controversy surrounding the new Wonder Woman film (in theaters now!). Theater chain Alamo Drafthouse announced women-only screenings for the film, where proceeds would go to women’s charities, including Planned Parenthood. Originally planned to be 5 screenings at the Austin and Brooklyn locations, tickets sold out instantly and more screenings were added. According to Alamo, the screenings were meant to be a celebration of “Girl Power”, and were only open to those who identified as women. Now, this isn’t the first time Alamo has done special screenings, as they have screenings for active military members, as well as for children with special sensory needs.  I’ve also heard other explanations, like the screenings give women a safe space to watch the film without having it mansplained to them the entire time. But, of course, the social media shitstorm started. A lot of folks who might be considered Men’s Rights Activists felt that this was discrimination, and that they should retaliate with all-male screenings of the next Star Wars movie.

As Twitter was dead over the holiday weekend, I tweeted that the backlash to the screening was stupid, but the screening itself is also kinda stupid. Now, hear me out: I see both sides of the issue here. Alamo wanted to make a fun exclusive event to celebrate the release of a movie starring a female superhero. That doesn’t happen every day, so it was a cause to celebrate. I’m not “butthurt” over the idea. That said, Alamo had to know they’d get this kind of reaction, as this kind of thing is somewhat of a slippery slope. “How is it a slippery slope, Will?” So glad you asked! Let’s, for a moment, propose a different kind of screening. Let’s say it was a Black Only screening of Get Out. I mean, it had a similar pedigree in that it was a Black horror/suspense film from a Black director – something that also doesn’t happen every day. You’d better believe people would have a problem with that! Sure, it could be spun as a celebration “for the culture”, meant to foster community and whatnot, but White people would shit ALL the bricks! So, as this has been great publicity for both Wonder Woman and Alamo Drafthouse, they knew exactly what they were doing when they set out to do this. In the long run, this isn’t gonna hurt Alamo or Wonder Woman one bit, but let’s not act like this was some kind of altruistic celebration of sisterhood. This was Shrewd Marketing 101.

See? I toldja this would be a controversial one, and I’m just getting started!

Let’s visit the world where Hollywood and politics intersect. You see, comedienne Kathy Griffin posted a photo of herself holding what was meant to be Donald Trump’s severed head. AND PEOPLE LOST THEIR MINDS! Trump, himself, even took time off from golfing and nudging his way to the front of photo ops to tweet about it, saying that it had affected his 11 year-old son, Barron, who apparently thought the photo was real. The backlash was strong against Griffin, who apologized hours later, but still ending up losing her Squatty Potty endorsement, as well as her CNN New Year’s Eve gig with Anderson Cooper. A lot of people seem to be in agreement of the backlash, but I’m gonna take a different approach: I don’t think the photo was that bad.

There are so many things to unpack here, so bear with me as I try to navigate through all of it. Societies have a history of burning politicians in effigy as a form of protest so, while extreme, how is this any different? Had she actually decapitated the man, and was brandishing his severed head on social media as some sort of trophy, that would’ve been too far. Like it or not, this was “art”, and you don’t really get to judge art. It can make you uncomfortable but at least it triggered some sort of opinion or emotion, which means it did its job.

I also feel like this is a situation where folks are more upset by the messenger than the message. Kathy Griffin isn’t taken seriously. We’ve put her in this box along with Andy Dick and several other unpredictable, slightly unstable comedians who at one time did a stint on an NBC sitcom. We don’t expect anything “deep” from her, because we’ve already written her off. She knows this, as she’s in on the joke. I mean, her reality series was called My Life On The D-List, so she knows she’s not a top-tier celebrity. Still, she has a team behind her, as everyone in Hollywood does, and they all decided that this was something she was going to do. Maybe she felt it’d just blow over because of her lessened celebrity status, or maybe it’s doing just what she thought it would. A friend and I were talking about it the other night, and he’s the one who made me realize it was the messenger we were blaming here. After all, if Samantha Bee had done this, liberals would be creaming their jeans about how daring and smart it was. Why? Because that’s what people expect of her. Griffin made the simple mistake of veering out of her lane, and that’s how we got to where we are now.

Now, let’s look at the photographer, Tyler Shields, whose work tends to push boundaries like this. For him, this was just another Tuesday photoshoot, and this isn’t the first time that Griffin has worked with him. I mean, just look at some of his work above. He likes weird shit, but again, it’s art and we don’t really get to police it.

Meanwhile, there’s the whole thing about Barron thinking the photo was real. That poor, poor boy. To quote Hank Hill, “That boy ain’t right”, and the family either refuses to acknowledge it or is dealing with it in secret. On the one hand, I guess I have to commend the fact that we’ve “grown” to the point of saying “Kids are off limits”, but I find it convenient that we’re adopting that stance now. Where was that when comedians were calling little Chelsea Clinton a “dog” every chance they got? Where was that when Sasha and Malia had to see the stuff folks said about them and their family? It’s a shame that Barron doesn’t know the difference between a photo and reality but, as one Tweeter put it, it wouldn’t be an issue if Donald actually lived with his son. But I digress. I think this whole thing has been blown way out of proportion to dominate the news cycle. After all, last weekend it was looking like Jared Kushner was in the hot seat, and then next thing you know, it’s Kathy Griffin this, and covfefe that.

Where to next? Oh yeah, remember Mary Kay Letourneau? She was one of the first stories of teachers sleeping with their students to hit the news. Back in the late 90s, Letourneau fell in love with her student, 12 year old Vili Fualaau, and ended up getting impregnate by him. She was convicted of child rape, served 3 months in jail, and THEN got caught having sex with Fualaau in her car just two weeks after her release. And she got pregnant again. She served 6 years that time, but married Fualaau when she got out. And they lived happily ever after…until May 9th of this year, when Fualaau filed for legal separation from Letourneau. Now 33, perhaps Letourneau simply got too old for him at 55. But the plot thickens! Yesterday, that bastion of journalistic integrity, The New York Post, reported that the separation was really just something of a scam. You see, Fualaau wants to get a license to sell pot, but he knows they’ll do a background check before granting it to him, and it wouldn’t look good to be married to a registered sex offender. He claims they’re still in love and this is just a business arrangement. So, while he awaits his pot license, he’s working as a DJ in Washington state. Too bad she couldn’t fuck some ambition into him all those years ago! Fun fact: one of Letourneau’s brothers is a foreign policy adviser to the president. He’s clearly been doing a heck of a job lately!

Still here? OK, then let’s talk about some pop culture stuff. Someone at NBC must’ve read my Upfronts post, as they just announced changes that perfectly mirror my suggestions. This Is Us will no longer be moving to Thursday, and will stay put on Tuesday nights. Meanwhile, the comedies planned for Tuesday, Superstore and The Good Place, are moving to Thursday to join Will & Grace and Great News for a 2-hour comedy block. This is how it alway should’ve been, and I’m not quite sure what’s going on at NBC. From the cancellation/uncancellation of Timeless to this new schedule scramble, it makes you wonder who’s at the wheel over there. Still, I think these are smart moves, so hopefully they’ll work out in the long run.

The hardest working man in Hollywood, Ryan Seacrest, is developing a new show. Best.Cover.Ever. will air on YouTube and will feature people singing cover songs, vying for the chance to sing a duet with the original artist of the song they sang. Hosted by Ludacris, the show will feature Demi Lovato, Jason Derulo, and Backstreet Boys to start out. Contestants are asked to upload videos of covers of “Trumpets”, “Confident”, and “As Long As You Love Me”. The artists will each choose two finalists, who will be the contestants actually featured on the show. The winner gets to duet with the original artist for an exclusive YouTube performance. It’s an interesting concept, and it requires a partnership with a streaming service to work, but I’m still not sure it’s going to be successful. I’m also surprised that it’s not on YouTube Red, where they can charge for it. After all, nobody really talks about the offerings on YouTube Red, but this is the kind of thing that could get folks talking and maybe boost subscriptions. I’m a sucker for “As Long As You Love Me”, so I’ll be keeping tabs on this just to see how it fares.

Major news in the world of pop music this morning, as will.i.am confirmed that Fergie has left the Black Eyed Peas to focus on her solo career. The news isn’t exactly a surprise, as last week it was announced that she was leaving the band’s label, Interscope, to start her own label, Duchess Music, over at BMG. It’s still a pretty big deal, though, as she’s been with the band for the past 15 years. Still, I feel like their time has come and gone. They showed up, gave the world a suitable soundtrack replacement for Jock Jams, and left their mark. However, will.i.am says they’re still together, recording new music to celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band. To be honest, I thought they were gonna be done in 2008, when they released The E.N.D., but it proved successful enough, with the hits “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling”, that they just kept trucking along. Now there are rumors swirling that Nicole Scherzinger might replace Fergie in the group, which would be her third time in a group, after Eden’s Crush and The Pussycat Dolls. I swear, Scherzinger must have a tail or something, because there’s some sort of defect that’s preventing a label from being able to package her as a solo act. Always a bridesmaid…Anyway, let’s pour one out for The Duchess and her tenure with Your Grandma’s Favorite Rap Group.

Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings recently said that he felt Netflix should be canceling more shows. In his mind, they have too many hits, which results in creators taking fewer chances and not “swinging for the fences”. The successful shows are basically taking real estate from potential new hits. Now, it being the internet, there’s no “real estate”, per se, but it’s still marketing dollars, bandwidth, etc. It used to be that you could count on a Netflix series getting at least 2 seasons, but they just killed that with the cancellation of The Get Down after its first season. Yesterday, they followed the trend and canceled the sci fi series Sense8 after its second season just debuted last month. If the axe is swinging, I’m worried about the shows that aren’t generating a ton of buzz right now, like F is for Family and the adaptation of Dear White People. Kind of a weird problem to have, though: too much success might be making them complacent. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects the Marvel shows, as well as the Netflix perennials like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

There was a scary moment last weekend at Phoenix Comicon, when police arrested a man who reportedly had three handguns, a shotgun, knives, pepper spray, and throwing stars, and had a reminder on his phone that said “Kill JDF.” That’s right, folks – his plan was to kill the Greatest Power Ranger of All Time, Jason David Frank, as well as some police officers. Sidebar: can you imagine being so absentminded that you need to set a phone reminder to make sure you remember to murder your target?! Anyway, the reason police were able to capture 31 year old Mathew Sterling was because he had told his plan to some chick on social media, who then tipped off the police. Anyway, JDF continued with the convention as if nothing had happened, claiming that he wasn’t going to let fear govern his life. Meanwhile, the convention cracked down on prop weapons and banned them from the show. In fact, if you were getting your Saba or Dragon Dagger swords signed by JDF that weekend, he was posting on social media that you would have to leave them in their boxes. This has caused other conventions to look at their own weapons policies, so look for some changes coming up on the con circuit.

Song of the Week

This week, I give you “You Look Good”, but Lady Antebellum. This is just such a funky song, and could’ve been a contender for Song of the Summer had they waited a bit longer to release it. Anyway, it’s like the 2017 offspring of Santana and Rob Thomas’s “Smooth”. I really dig it, and I think you will, too.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Hailee Steinfeld is in talks to star in the Transformers spinoff, Bumblebee
  • After 14 years off the air, MTV is bringing back the MTV Beach House this summer
  • WGN America has canceled slavery drama Underground after 2 seasons
  • There are reports that Steven Spielberg is gearing up for an Animaniacs reboot
  • Fresh off the recently canceled Powerless, Vanessa Hudgens was announced as a judge on the upcoming season of So You Think You Can Dance
  • Scott Pelley is out as the anchor of CBS Evening News, and will return to 60 Minutes in a full-time capacity
  • A Sin City TV series is in the works
  • Universal is reportedly interested in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for the role of The Wolfman in their Dark Universe franchise
  • Speaking of Dark Universe, I called it last week: Warner Bros may sue Universal over the Dark Universe title. According to official documents, however, it appears Universal may have had the name first.
  • Charlie Heaton, of Stranger Things fame, is reportedly up for the role of Cannonball in the X-Men spinoff, New Mutants – which is now supposedly going to be a straight horror movie. Um, OK…
  • Speaking of New Mutants, Fox continues to mine Netflix shows, as 13 Reasons Why‘s Henry Zaga has been cast as Sunspot
  • Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor have split after 18 years together
  • The Ludacris-hosted Fear Factor reboot premiered on MTV this week
  • Tiger Woods was arrested for a DUI, even though he had no alcohol in his system and was found passed out in his car. He says it was the result of mixing prescription drugs, but the whole thing sound fishy

  • Sharknado 5: Global Swarming will premiere August 6th on SyFy, guest starring Charo, Fabio, Tony Hawk, and Chris Kattan. This thing is one Ted Lange appearance away from becoming a Love Boat reboot
  • Thanks to an article on Slate, we now know to pronounce the “T” in Gal Gadot’s name.

I had absolutely no desire to see Wonder Woman. While she was my favorite part of of Dawn of Justice, I just wasn’t jazzed about the idea of her starring in a World War I period piece. I mean, we already got that movie, and it was called Captain America: The First Avenger (before you history buffs come out of the woodworks, I know that movie was set in WWII: War Harder). I wasn’t looking forward to DC’s lackluster attempt at a retread of that. So, imagine my surprise when I found myself in the theater on opening night. And then imagine my surprise when the movie ended, and I realized that I LOVED it!

It might be premature to say that Warner Bros has finally righted the DCEU ship, but Wonder Woman is definitely a step in the right direction. My buddy Chad predicted that it would be the new gold standard in comic book movies, and while I don’t think it quite achieves that, it’s definitely the gold standard for the DC Universe. It’s one of the rare comic book movies where I left and didn’t really have any issues with plot holes. It was such a joy to watch, thanks to the acting of Gal Gadot. First of all, she’s so goddamn beautiful that it should be illegal for the camera to be trained on her for prolonged periods of time. Seriously, I thought I was gonna have a seizure like those kids did from that Pokémon episode back in ’99. She does such a great job playing  up Wonder Woman’s sweet naiveté about “Man’s World”, but is also a commanding presence during the battles. It’s funny how when she was cast, we were all saying “She’s too small to be Wonder Woman”, but watching her onscreen, all those doubts slip away.

Now, as much as I loved it, it’s not a perfect film. It deftly straddles the line between “suspension of disbelief” and just plain hokey, but it sort of feels like a 90s comic book movie in that way. And while Patty Jenkins may have directed it, Zack Snyder’s fingerprints are ALL OVER IT (as he co-wrote it with Allan Heinberg). I swear, I think about 60% of it was pure green screen, as I sat there thinking to myself, “This is on a soundstage. That is on a soundstage. Oh, that’s definitely a sound stage.” At points (especially during the final act), it shifts into that “Snydervision” that most of the DCEU movies are in, where it just becomes a copper-tinted music video.

Plus, I’m still not sure about the shared universe nature of the DCEU. While Marvel has almost flawlessly built their world over the course of many films, it just feels so forced with the DC movies. Whereas the MCU feels organic, the DCEU feels copycat. The framing device of the movie is meant to sort of further that idea of a shared universe, but I’m not sure it works. To be honest, I’d probably enjoy it more if I knew nothing about Dawn of Justice or the fact that she’ll pop up in Justice League later this year. She’s strong enough to stand on her own, and the rest of the disappointing DCEU almost taints her.

All that said, it’s really a great cinematic debut for the character, and young girls finally have their own big screen hero. Not to give too much away, but as the film starts, Diana is a wide-eyed little girl, and I could see so much of the audience connecting with that. I thought of my own daughter, and the fact the she now has her own hero. I think that will mean a lot to folks. As far as I’m concerned, scrap Justice League and the rest of the solo films on DC’s slate, and rush Wonder Woman 2 into production stat! For these reasons, Wonder Woman had the West Week Ever.

19th May2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 5/19/17 (Upfronts Edition)

by Will

 

Since this is my 4th annual network TV upfronts recap, we’re doing things a bit differently this week. So, sit back and hunker down, as this is gonna be a long one!

First up, I joined my buddy @ClassickMateria for the Classick Team-Up! Podcast last week, and the episode is now available to download. We chatted about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, recent TV news, and everything else under the sun. Definitely check it out here!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Avi Kaplan quit the Grammy Award-winning a cappella group Pentatonix, because he missed his friends and family. I dunno about you, but I think that money could replace them!
  • Katy Perry has signed on as the first judge on ABC’s American Idol reboot, while there are reports that Idol finalist Chris Daughtry is in talks to join the show
  • The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons married his longtime partner, Todd Spiewak
  • The Flash cast member Keiynan Lonsdale came out as bisexual in an Instagram post
  • Hamilton‘s Daveed Diggs will star in TNT’s Snowpiercer pilot, based on the film, based on the French graphic novel
  • Conan O’Brien’s contract with TBS has been renewed through 2022, though no word on whether his show will switch to a weekly format as previously rumored.
  • DC stays losing, as actor Billy Crudup has left the Flash film, while it’s reported that Sam Raimi has turned down the director job
  • Power Rangers movie Black Ranger Ludi Lin has joined DC’s Aquaman film in the role of “Murk”, whoever that is…

  • Fox News personality, and former wife of California Lt Governor Gavin Newsom, Kimberly Guilfoyle has stated that she is currently being considered by the Trump Administration to replace Sean Spicer as White House Press Secretary. Gee, wonder what they see in her…
  • After 9 seasons, this weekend’s season finale will by Bobby Moynihan’s final episode of Saturday Night Live, as his series Me, Myself, and I was picked up at CBS.

  • LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 was announced, but it won’t be on the Xbox 360, so it means nothing to me
  • In the Live Stage Show on TV department, Fox announced that they will air A Christmas Story Live in December, followed by Rent Live later in the season. Meanwhile, ABC will air The Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live in October

I covered a ton of renewals and cancellations that went down last week, but this week was no different, as the networks had to lock in their schedules for the fall. Here’s what’s been canceled/renewed since the last time we talked:

Cancellations

  • Shots Fired (Fox)
  • 2 Broke Girls (CBS)
  • Baby Daddy (Freeform)
  • The Great Indoors (CBS)
  • Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (CBS)
  • Scream Queens (Fox)
  • The Odd Couple (CBS)
  • Training Day (CBS)
  • Ransom (CBS)

Renewals

  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)
  • Speechless (ABC)
  • Fresh Off The Boat (ABC)
  • The Son (AMC)
  • The Exorcist (?! – Fox)
  • Timeless (uncanceled by NBC)
  • Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
  • Elementary (CBS)
  • The Amazing Race (CBS)
  • Quantico (ABC)
  • New Girl (abbreviated 8-episode final season, with 3 year time jump – Fox)
  • Code Black (CBS)
  • Arrested Development (Netflix)

courtesy of TVLine.com

So, as I pointed out up top, this was Upfronts Week for the major networks, where they unveil their fall schedules to reporters and critics. I’ve got to say that this upcoming season does very little for me. While last year’s presentations had me excited, this year’s stuff just looks like retreads of ideas we’ve already had or obvious film scripts that have been adapted for television. That’s something that you’re going to notice a lot this year: shows that would probably make decent movies, but aren’t something you’d want to check in on a weekly basis. The week started with NBC’s presentation, so let’s start with their new shows:

NBC

NBC renewed a big chunk of their schedule, and they’re holding a lot of their new shows for midseason (for which they didn’t give us trailers!), so there’s not a lot of new for the Fall.

The Brave – Formerly known as For God and Country, The Brave follows a multicultural team doing what I call “soldier shit”. That’s not to minimize what soldiers do; it’s just that there are certain things, like rescuing hostages, killing terrorists, etc, that are pretty much taken care of mainly by soldiers. Ya know, soldier shit. There are a lot of soldier shit shows coming this season, and this is merely one of them. We’re not necessarily in the most patriotic place right now, so I don’t know how these shows will fair. The trailer gives away the whole pilot, so do with that what you will. There’s an audience for this show, but I’m not it. Airing Mondays at 10, it’ll have a great lead-in in the form of The Voice, and its main competition in the timeslot will be Scorpion on CBS. By all accounts, it should have a fighting chance, so it’s The Brave‘s game to lose.

Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders – I guess enough time has passed that this case is considered “sexy” now. Back in the early 90s, the Menendez Brothers killed their parents and it was a big deal. The brothers went to jail, where they started amassing groupies like they were in a boyband or something. I’m not even lying! Anyway, this is an anthology series, so it really doesn’t matter how it does. If it does well, we get another installment based on another real life crime. If it flops, then they can just act like it was a One & Done idea, and throw it out like all the other Law & Order spinoffs we’ve had over the years. It’s only 8 episodes long, and the timeslot goes to Chicago Med once it’s done. Anyway, it’s perched atop NBC’s newly rechristened Must See Thursday Night, with This Is Us as a lead-in, so they clearly expect big things from it. Its competition will be How To Get Away With Murder, which is by far the lowest rated of the ABC Shondaland dramas, and Shemar Moore’s S.W.A.T. over on CBS. I think it’ll do just fine.

Will & Grace – So, this show’s back. Yay? I really loved the show in its original run, but I didn’t need it back. And while I barely remember its series finale, I remember something about Will & Grace not having spoken to each other for 15 years. So, is that out the window now? Who cares, I guess. I mean, if they can bring Roseanne back with all its continuity issues (yeah, I’ll get to that), then they can pull this off. I just don’t really know what the endgame is here. I mean, besides the fact that we’re in the Trump Administration, has the world really changed that much to be reflected in this show? I mean, any rights Will or Jack were granted are basically about to be taken away any day now, but is the show even going to go there? I just don’t see the point of this one. But it’s only, like, 12 episodes and, like all of these revivals, they’ll play it coy on longevity until they see how the numbers look. It’s going up against Grey’s Anatomy, Gotham on its new night, Supernatural, and The Big Bang Theory. Now, from a socioeconomic demographic standpoint, W&G and TBBT are going after different audiences, but I feel like the W&G audience moved on to Grey’s. It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Let’s talk about some of NBC’s moves. Both Thursday night veterans Superstore and The Good Place are shifting to Tuesdays at 9 and 9:30. Now, they will have The Voice as a lead-in, but I feel like they should’ve stayed on Thursday if NBC really wanted to rebuild that night. I get that This Is Us is the breakout hit of the season, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to move it. It means it’s gonna be an uphill battle for NBC’s Tuesday comedies, as they’ll now be going up against Black-ish on its new night, as well as the Fox combo of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Mick. As far as Tuesday comedies go, somebody’s gonna have to flinch. The Fox shows don’t do all that well, but the NBC shows are kinda precious right now. They need to be nurtured, which is what leaving them on Thursday would’ve done. The Blacklist, meanwhile, moves to Wednesdays at 8, where it’ll go up against the moved Riverdale and Empire. I think they all have different audiences, though, so it shouldn’t take too much of a hit. Thursday got blown up, with Great News getting the post-Will & Grace slot mainly because Tina Fey. And This Is Us on its new night will now go up against Scandal *in its final season*. The balls on NBC! I get that it’s their chance to install a show that could take over Thursday once Scandal is done, but this is a risky move. Meanwhile, Blindspot and Taken are moving to Fridays where they’ll die because they’re both bubble shows that were narrowly renewed in the first place.

Fox

Next up, we’ve got Fox, where a WHOLE lot of shows are moving around. As for their new shows, they all look like interesting movies, but they just don’t grab me enough to want to be a regular viewer. Fox is really good about that. I remember loving Lethal Weapon this season, and then I didn’t watch a single episode after the pilot. I see a lot of that happening this season.

Ghosted – Wow, where to begin? Two regular guys are kidnapped and recruited by a top secret organization that investigates the supernatural. As for casting, you can’t really go wrong with Craig Robinson and Adam Scott. This show is basically Hot Tub Time Machine 3, with more of a supernatural twist. The problem, however, is that’s exactly what this should have been: a mid-budget theatrical release that later finds its audience when it airs monthly on FX. This isn’t a weekly series, regardless of the fact that Robinson and Scott have fanbases. It’s slotted between The Simpsons and Family Guy, which sounds like a good thing, but that’s where middling comedies go to die. This season alone, that slot killed Son of Zorn and Making History. Now, it doesn’t really fit anywhere else on Fox’s schedule, as its “out there” nature makes it more at home with the animation stuff than, say, with New Girl and The Mick. So, that rules out Tuesday nights, which is the only other place Fox does comedies. Another problem is that Fox Sunday night just hasn’t been strong since they abolished the Animation Domination block. The Simpsons is a decent performer, and they keep it around to break records, while Family Guy is a shell of its former self, yet they don’t want to be the network that canceled it TWICE. Last Man on Earth is constantly a show on the bubble. Sunday nights need a shot in the arm, but this isn’t the show to do it. I don’t see this one having legs.

The Gifted – This is the one everyone’s got their eyes on. A spinoff of the X-Men films, this show follows a family on the run when they discover that their kids are mutants. It doesn’t help that their dad is a former mutant hunter, so it’s his employers who are after them. I mean, it looks OK, but I didn’t wet my pants or anything. It’ll be really hard to do anything mind-blowing with a weekly TV budget, but the pilot was directed by Bryan Singer, so that’s gonna put butts in seats. Hell, if Gotham is going into season 4 (now on Thursdays at 8), I think this thing can survive. It’s probably pretty expensive, but Fox has been wanting to expand their comic offerings (after all, Black Lightning was originally meant for them), so this will be a good fit for the post Lucifer slot. Speaking of Lucifer, I never thought I’d see the day when a show about The Devil would air during the 8 PM hour (its new timeslot). I wonder how they feel about that in the Bible Belt. After all, I originally said they weren’t gonna let the show survive, and here it is entering season 3. I sure called that one wrong!

The Orville – I love the idea here, as it’s basically Galaxy Quest: The Series. I mean, it’s clear Seth MacFarlane has an affinity for Star Trek, even if he’s spent more time reenacting the Star Wars saga on Family Guy. I’d love for this show to work, but I’m sure it’s on the expensive side. Now, Seth’s got a relationship with Fox, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they canceled it. It looks like the kind of show Fox loves to cancel. Now, it’s going up against Scandal and This Is Us, but I don’t think they share an audience. However, Arrow has been moved to Thursdays at 9, which I feel is its closest competition, as far as the male 18-49 demographic is concerned. There’s no way it wins its timeslot, so the question is what will Fox consider a “success” as far as its ratings go?

So, Fox’s moves are interesting. Lethal Weapon moves to Tuesday at 8, where it’ll go against The Voice, NCIS, and The Flash. It won’t win the timeslot, but maybe it can take some of The Flash‘s audience away from it. The Mick nows leads into Brooklyn Nine-Nine, as it’s now the stronger comedy, while Nine-Nine narrowly got renewed. On Wednesday, they moved Empire to 8, hoping it’ll be a good lead-in for Star. I honestly don’t think Star is a winner, and I think the only reason it got renewed was because A) it was created by Lee Daniels and B) its initial run was too short for them to gauge whether or not it was a success. For people looking for a nighttime soap as sudsy as Empire, they’re probably gonna choose the Dynasty reboot over on The CW, airing at the same time as Star. Meanwhile, Gotham moves to Thursday at 8, where it’ll go against The Big Bang Theory and Grey’s Anatomy. I think its biggest threat, however, comes in the form of Supernatural, now at 8 over on The CW.

Fox’s midseason bench doesn’t look too strong. I’ll take a quick look at those shows:

LA To Vegas – It’s a show about the antics of a flight crew that handles the weekend LA to Vegas route. I don’t care who’s producing the thing, this is gonna be just another forgotten Fox sitcom.

The Resident – Another “young doctor doesn’t play by the rules” show. It’s got Emily VanCamp, so that’s a plus. It could work. It looks very “Fox”.

ABC

ABC didn’t really do anything too drastic, with only a couple of new shows and a few moves.

Ten Days In The Valley – Kyra Sedgwick plays a workaholic TV writer whose daughter goes missing. So, the show revolves around the hunt, and the fact that she can’t trust anyone around her, yadda yadda yadda. ABC probably feels like Sedgwick was quite the “get” after her critically acclaimed run on The Closer, but I just don’t know about this show. There’s nothing special about it. Sure, there will be twists and turns, but the fact that you can already predict those twists is what’s working against the show. Airing Sunday at 10, its only scripted competition, however, will be Madam Secretary over on CBS. I don’t think Madam is gonna destroy it, but I simply think this show is going to struggle to both find an audience and also keep that audience engaged. And what would a season 2 look like? I don’t think this is a winner.

The Good Doctor – Fresh off A&E’s Bates Motel, Freddie Highmore stars as a young surgeon with autism. It’s from the creator of House, so you kinda know what you’re gonna get there. Ya know, he’s a miracle doctor who doesn’t do shit by the book. I really like the cast, with Richard Schiff (The West Wing), Hill Harper (CSI: NY), and Antonia Thomas (Misfits). I probably won’t watch it, but it could find an audience. The trick will be whether it genuinely portrays what it would be like to be an autistic surgeon. A lot of special interest groups will probably be keeping a close eye on this one, and I think a lot of people will be talking about it. Scheduled Monday at 10, its main competition is Scorpion and The Brave. I think it’ll do fine.

The Mayor – A young rapper decides to run for mayor in order to get attention on his mixtape. Then he wins, and has to figure out how to actually be mayor. This sounds terrible. This is the kind of thing that would’ve gone straight to DVD starring fat Anthony Anderson back in 2001. I think the network was just desperate to get into bed with Daveed Diggs because of his Hamilton pedigree. While it will have Black-ish as its lead-in, it’s slotted where Imaginary Mary and The Real O’Neals went to die. Just like Tuesday 10 PM is the Death Slot, 9:30 isn’t much better. This thing simply doesn’t have legs. I just hope it lasts long enough for the rapper and Lea Michele to become a couple.

The Gospel of Kevin – This looks like a reboot of Highway to Heaven. Jason Ritter plays Kevin Finn, who supposedly “isn’t a good guy”, even though the trailer doesn’t elaborate on why someone would think that. Anyway, one night he discovers a meteor, which actually contains an angel, played by comedian Cristela Alonzo. She’s gonna be his spirit guide, as he travels to country to gain his powers and change the lives of others. Yeah, it’s in the Tuesday Night Death slot, so that’s certainly a strike against it. Typically, new shows in the Tuesday 10 PM slot fail for ABC. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. only survived because it was a veteran, and even it got banished to Friday. Nothing can survive at in that slot, for whatever reason, and I don’t see Kevin bucking that trend. This thing is simply too high concept, and I’m not sure America’s ready for another angel show right now. This one doesn’t have a prayer.

Let’s talk about ABC’s moves. Shark Tank moves to Sundays at 9. I don’t know about that one. I know they’re rebranding Friday nights, but now it’ll be going up against football and NCIS: LA. I think this is only temporary, as it’ll eventually find a new home on the schedule – perhaps Tuesdays at 10? One that’s kinda controversial in my mind is the Minority Block they’ve created on Tuesday night. Things kick off with the struggling Hecks of The Middle, who’re then followed up by the Asians of Fresh Off The Boat, and the Blacks of Black-ish and The Mayor. I haven’t seen something this calculated since the days of UPN. Still, I guess we should just shut up and be glad for the representation. It’s weird because ABC’s Wednesday night is their comedy crown jewel, though they’re clearly trying to take back Tuesday. It’s just a question now of how they’re branding those nights. I get that they don’t want to move Modern Family, but Black-ish benefited from the 9:30 Wednesday timeslot because, even though they were different races, the Dunphys and the Johnsons occupied the same socioeconomic class. That’s got to translate into some sort of data for ad buyers. I guess you could say Black-ish “graduated” if they feel it can survive without Modern Family protecting it, but I hate that its old timeslot was given to American Housewife, which I’m kinda surprised was renewed. On Friday, Once Upon A Time moves from Sunday, while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will take over the 9 PM slot once Inhumans ends its run. A lot of folks feel like this is the death knell for both shows, since a move to Friday is always seen as a death sentence. I’ve never understood that, though, because if nerds truly have no lives, then shouldn’t they be home to watch these shows? Anyway, these shows are still on the air because they perform well on DVR/internationally, so their ratings clearly aren’t the only deciding factor.

Oddly enough, ABC’s most interesting new shows are being held for midseason. Since they won’t show up until January, I’m only gonna do some quick drive-by thoughts on them:

Alex, Inc – Zach Braff quits his successful job to start a podcast company. This is gonna look so dated when we look back on it, kinda like Selfie (remember that show?). It’s apparently going into the Sunday at 10 slot, so I guess Ten Days In The Valley will have wrapped by then. CBS will still probably have Madam Secretary, but Sunday Night Football will be over, so it’ll be interesting to see what NBC puts against it.

The Crossing – Steve Zahn is a small town cop who gets pulled into a mystery when a bunch of refugees from the future (!) wash up on his beach. I know I said I don’t like saga shows, but I really liked this trailer, and I can’t wait to see what this show is all about.

Deception – a cool as shit illusionist helps the FBI solve crimes. It’s SUCH a procedural, and there’s the whole will they/won’t they trope between him and the lady agent, but I don’t care. It looks so slick! I can’t wait.

For the People – A new Shondaland show about young sexy lawyers doing young sexy lawyer shit. It’ll be right at home in TGIT, especially once Scandal ends and frees up a slot.

Splitting Up Together – This is a movie, not a show! It’s good to see Jenna Fischer again, and I’ve loved Oliver Hudson since Rules of Engagement. It’s basically about a married couple trying to manage a “conscious uncoupling” while keeping their sanity. And there’s the slight hint that they may realize new things about each other and want to stay together. I have no idea how this is gonna go, but I’ll check it out.

Let’s revisit that Tuesday night situation, though, shall we? I feel like Black-ish is only keeping that slot warm for Roseanne‘s 8-episode run that debuts in 2018. They wouldn’t use it to kick off the night, as Roseanne‘s blue collar humor doesn’t necessarily translate at that hour, and I hardly see them bumping Modern Family on Wednesday night. So, I could see Roseanne returning to her Tuesday 9 PM roost of yesteryear. By this point, of course, The Mayor will already have been canceled, but Roseanne pairs better with The Middle than with Black-ish. I see a lot of comedy moves coming midseason for ABC.

CBS

CBS is “America’s Most Watched Network”, so they’re not making too many moves. Let’s take a look at their new shows.

Wisdom of the Crowd – Jeremy Piven, with a fresh set of hair plugs, stars as a software developer who creates a crowdsourcing app to help solve the murder of his daughter. Sounds a lot like Person of Interest, right? I mean, didn’t they have a machine that predicted crimes or some shit? I dunno. I never watched it. I just know it starred Jesus after he couldn’t get any work anywhere. Anyway, you should really watch this trailer because it contains stuff that is totally possible, and I’m not sure that’s such a good thing. It’s probably where society is heading, but the idea of crowdsourcing evidence to solve crimes just sounds like there are SO many things that could go wrong. As you see in the trailer, they’re gonna play the long game with the case surrounding Piven’s daughter, as that takes a backseat to the app being used to help the cops solve other crimes. CBS audiences are older and not very tech savvy. They don’t like when their shows get too “techy”. Sure, Person of Interest lasted 5 seasons, but take a look at Pure Genius from just this season. It was about a young tech billionaire who was gonna use cutting edge technology to cure all the world’s diseases. It was canceled after its initial 13 episode order. I know Piven can be polarizing, so I just don’t know about this one. Luckily, it’s scheduled Sunday at 8, with no scripted competition other than The Simpsons, so it should have room to breathe.

9JKL – HATE the title. It sounds like text speak or some shit. Instead, it’s about 3 apartments. Recently divorced actor Mark Feuerstein moves into apartment 9K, which happens to be between his parents, Elliot Gould and Linda Lavin, in 9J and his brother and his family in 9L. So, it’s a multigenerational, multi camera sitcom, starring a bunch of folks who tend to star in shows that are canceled. Again, I think the title hurts it, but it’s the kind of show that CBS could take or leave. The Big Bang lead-in should definitely help it, but the true test will be when Bang moves back to Thursday. I don’t think it’ll be a breakout hit, as it’s not exactly reinventing the wheel, but it might end up on the bubble and eke out a second season if CBS doesn’t have a deep bench next pilot season.

Me, Myself, and I – Oh, boy. Where to start with this? OK, we follow the main character at 3 different points in his life: age 14, when he meets the love of his life, age 40, when he’s newly divorced and trying to put his life back together, and age 65 when he’s reunited with the love from age 14. This show is doing A LOT! The casting is what makes it, though. The kid is a newcomer, but I think audiences will take to him like they did Sean Giambrone as Adam Goldberg. The 40 year old is a hapless loser, played capably by SNL‘s Bobby Moynihan. Meanwhile, the 65 year old is played by Night Court great John Larroquette. Oh, and Jaleel White must’ve spent all his Urkel money, ’cause he plays the 40 year old’s best friend. For me, the casting is what sells this show. I really want it to succeed ’cause I like everyone involved. It’s just going to be tricky to navigate 3 different time periods, and is there some sort of master 7-season plan where everything converges? I’m really pulling for this one, but its quirkiness asks a lot of its audience – especially since it’s going to dance around CBS’s Monday schedule for the first few months.

SEAL Team – More soldier shit, and this time the team is led by the sidekick from Bones, while taking assignments from Don Draper’s “third” wife. It’s the familiar trope of “They do such terrible shit out there that it’s hard for them to adjust to civilian life when they’re home.” Out of the three soldier shit series debuting this season, however, I think this one has the best chance of renewal based on the fact that it appeals to the NCIS/CSI sensibilities of CBS’s built-in audience. Fun fact: the lead role was originally going to Jesus himself, Jim Caviezel, but was recast when Caviezel left the project over creative differences. He might’ve brought the Person of Interest audience with him, but seeing as how Bones ran for 12 years (and don’t forget Angel), Boreanaz probably has a deeper fanbase.

Young Sheldon – This is such an interesting experiment: a single camera prequel to an aging multi camera sitcom. I know CBS wants to keep The Big Bang Theory machine chugging along, especially considering it’ll most likely be done in two years. I just always felt like a Sheldon was a Less Is More kind of character. I don’t need to know about his childhood because I get enough of a glimpse from his anecdotes. I feel like the audience that enjoys him actually enjoys Jim Parsons’s portrayal of him, rather than the character himself. On his own, Sheldon is kinda unlikeable, due to his lack of social skills and decorum. Since he’s on the spectrum, however, that’s all forgiven. Now, I think Iain Armitage does a pretty capable job of being a young Sheldon, but he’s also very off-putting to the viewer. I’m not sure anyone is going to root for him. Instead, you kinda feel sorry for the people in his orbit: his family, his teachers, etc. They simply live in a different world than he does. I will say that Zoe Perry does an amazing job portraying a younger version of Sheldon’s mom, played by her real-life mom, Laurie Metcalf. One of the biggest complaints about The Big Bang Theory is that its humor kinda appeals to the lowest common denominator. It might be a show about smart people, but it’s not necessarily a smart show. That said, the single camera format tends to be used for smart shows, i.e. Modern Family, Arrested Development, etc. Will the traditional TBBT audience migrate over to this new show and format? I’ll be very interested to see how this does.

S.W.A.T. – Ah, the show based on the movie based on the show. I wasn’t sure about this at first. I honestly didn’t see Shemar Moore as a leading man. I mean, he couldn’t even carry Soul Train back in the day, so how could he headline his own series? Anyway, the captain from Stargate Universe shoots a kid, and gets fired (can you believe that justice?!), so his S.W.A.T. unit is handed over to Shemar Moore. Now Moore’s forced to police the inner city neighborhood in which he grew up. There’s gonna be a lot of Black Lives Matter vs Blue Lives Matter stuff going on here. What happens where you’re both? The show is executive produced by Justin Lin (Star Trek Beyond, Fast & Furious 6), but something about this feels like a late 90s NBC show instead of a 2017 CBS series. The same way we may not be patriotic enough for soldier shit shows right now, I’m not sure this is the show that’s gonna redeem cops in a lot of folks’ eyes. It kinda fits CBS’s demographic, but they don’t do so well with the TV shows based on movies (Training Day, Rush Hour). It’s going against How To Get Away With Murder, which is the lowest rated of the Shondaland dramas, but it’s also going against NBC’s Law & Order Menendez spinoff. Even with limited competition, I don’t think this one gets a second season.

And while this isn’t going on the main network, it’s still a CBS show. Star Trek: Discovery. All I can say is “NO!” “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!” I don’t know what I wanted, but this wasn’t it. I know some folks are so desperate for new Trek, but I want it to make sense, and I want it to be good. I knew a prequel was the wrong move because technology has come so far, so you can’t help but make it look better than The Original Series, though it should look less advanced due to when it’s set. A lot of people are gonna “cape” for it because it has a strong, Black woman as the protagonist, but those people can’t see the forest for the trees. Everything about this looks wrong to me. It’s funny that so many of us were wondering how we were gonna pirate this show, but after seeing this, I have no interest. It looks like a well-made fan film. Pass.

Looking at CBS’s moves, they really played it safe. On Sunday, NCIS: Los Angeles and Madam Secretary both move back an hour, filling the slot left by Elementary (coming back midseason), and making room for Wisdom of the Crowd. At this point, CBS is the only network with scripted drama on Sunday night, so I think they’ll do fine. Monday is in constant flux, depending on whether or not its football season. When the season starts, The Big Bang Theory will kick off the night, before it eventually moves back to Thursday, ceding its timeslot to Kevin Can Wait (which will start the season at 9 PM prior to the move). Once football ends, Superior Donuts will return to take the 9:30 slot occupied by new comedy Me, Myself, and I (which will shift to 9 PM). Whew! See, that’s CBS’s big problem: they move their “iffy” shows around so much that they can’t find an audience. 2 Broke Girls was all over the schedule this season before it got the chop. Even if folks don’t watch TV live anymore, these moves make them forget a show even comes on anymore. On Wednesday, Criminal Minds shifts to 10 to make room for David Boreanaz’s Seal Team. Thursday and Friday remain pretty much the same. Like I said, other than the Monday kerfuffle, CBS played it pretty safe while introducing more new shows that the other networks.

The CW

Finally, we come to The CW where moves abound. First, however, let’s look at the new shows.

Valor – More soldier shit, only this time it’s with overacting pretty people and a dash of PTSD. It falls into the category of something I’d watch as a movie, but I just don’t like getting on board “saga” shows these days because they have so many layers, and run the risk of being canceled before answering all, or any, of their questions. If they’re smart, this is a one season storyline, and then they’ll have to reinvent the show for season 2. That said, from what I see, I don’t think they need to be rushing to figure out a second season quite yet. Airing Monday at 9, it’ll probably get trounced by The Gifted over on Fox, as they both seem to be male-skewing shows, and I see Fox winning this round. I also don’t feel like Supergirl is the proper lead-in series, but they seem committed to keeping her kicking off Monday nights.

Dynasty – I’m too young to have watched the original, but this reboot is The CW’s bread and butter. I don’t know if the characters or plot points are the same, but it’s rich, pretty White people doing trifling shit to each other. And it’s by the producers of The O.C. and Gossip Girl? Yeah, they’ll get a good 4-5 seasons out of this. This isn’t the first franchise The CW has resurrected, as they also did it with 90210 and Melrose Place. The latter didn’t go so well for them, but the former was a reliable staple of their schedule for 5 seasons. I can definitely see the same here.

Black Lightning – It looks like your standard Berlantiverse show, even if it takes place in its own universe. The question is whether or not “The Community” is going to support it. People always plead for diversity, but then they don’t show up when it’s time. If you put out a Black Lightning comic right now, it would not sell. It just wouldn’t. So, will White audiences want to watch a show about a Black inner city vigilante trying to clean up the streets – especially when there’s no lure of a crossover with the shows they already love? It’s being held for midseason, so maybe it’ll take over Legends of Tomorrow‘s timeslot once it airs its unusual number of episodes (seriously, they have, like 16-episode seasons over there for whatever reason). Here’s the kicker, though: according to the network, the show won’t take place in the established Arrowverse, mainly due to logistics. It will be filmed in Atlanta, while the other shows film in Vancouver. As such, they’re also not planning a 5-way crossover between the shows. That last part makes me kinda glad, as I didn’t really think they tuck the landing with this season’s 4-way “Invasion” crossover. People might come out for this, but they might not. I really don’t know which way the wind blows with this one.

Life Sentence – This is a movie, not a TV series. A young girl who thought she was dying finds out she’s cured and now has to learn how to live her life. I’d like it to survive, as it’s co-executive-produced by Bill Lawrence of Scrubs fame, but this has as much staying power as this season’s No Tomorrow. Oh, you never even heard of No Tomorrow? It was about a young woman who thinks the world is going to end, so she has to learn to live life to its fullest in the time that she has left. Yeah, kind of the reverse of this. It got canceled after its initial 13 episodes. Anyway, it’s cute and quirky, but I figure there’s enough there for about 90 minutes – not a full season. Anyway, it’s pretty clear why they’re holding this lil midseason.

Now, let’s talk about the moves because they are drastic. Riverdale moves from Thursday to Wednesday at 8, pitting it against Empire, The Blacklist, Survivor, and The Goldbergs. The show has a following, though, so I really don’t think this move will hurt it too much. If anything, it’ll give White folks a sudsy alternative to Empire at the same time. On Thursday, Supernatural moves to 8, while Arrow, ceding its timeslot to Riverdale, now occupies Thursday at 9 – pitting it against This Is Us, The Orville, and the final season of Scandal. Poor fucking Arrow. That is not an enviable place to be, but DVR might help it. If it gets absolutely killed, six seasons was a good run. I think it’ll make it to seven, but this move does it absolutely no favors. On Friday, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend moves to 8, while Jane the Virgin moves from Monday at 9 to Friday at 9. Online buzz is what keeps Crazy on the air, so maybe they’re hoping that’ll be the case for Jane? I know Jane has a fanbase, and Supergirl wasn’t the most logical lead-in for it, but Friday is always such an uncomfortable situation.

Anyway, after all of this, I think ABC has the best new offerings, though they’re holding most of them til midseason. I feel like NBC has the most stable schedule, and they’re taking the fewest risks, but CBS has more new Fall shows that I’m genuinely curious about. So that’s why CBS won the upfronts and had the West Week Ever.

21st Apr2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/21/17

by Will


Star Wars Celebration (I can’t say that without thinking of Dave Chappelle’s Rick James yelling “It’s a celebration, bitches!”) happened in Florida last weekend, and we got our first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Folks seemed to like it alright. I’ve never claimed to be the biggest Star Wars fan, but nothing about this really gave me a Force Boner or anything. That’s probably because Rogue One left such a bad taste in my mouth. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll see it, but it’s not really on my radar.

In other movie “news”, we got the track listing for Awesome Mix Vol 2 from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2., which comes out today. Is it just me, or is it weird that Mama Quill gave Peter mixtapes of all the songs that played while she was banging dudes in Camaros? Come on – she was totally that chick! Anyway, there are no real surprises here, as it seems to be in-line thematically with the first volume. Personally, I’m ecstatic that “Come A Little Bit Closer” will be introduced to a new generation, as I’m a huge fan of Jay and the Americans (check out “Cara Mia” if you’ve never heard it).

This rumor came out a few weeks ago, but it kinda floated under my radar: apparently Warner Bros wants to release 4 Batman-centered films in 2019 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Detective Comics. This slate would include Nightwing, Gotham City Sirens, the Joss Whedon Batgirl, and the oft-delayed The Batman. Nice idea, but there’s no way this happens. DC just doesn’t have its shit together enough to pull this off. Marvel could do it, but they would’ve been planning it since 2012. It’s already 2017 and they expect to crank out 4 movies in 2 years? Shit ain’t happening.

Bring on the teen angst train, as we’ve got two more comic-based series just dripping with it! First up is Cloak and Dagger on Freeform, which looks like the Freeformiest show that ever Freeformed. It’ll be right at home between the show about the deaf girl and the show about the foster kids. I’ve never been a huge Cloak and Dagger fan, but the series follows teen runaways Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson, who were kidnapped and injected with an experimental drug. The drug left Tandy (Dagger) with “light daggers”, while Tyrone (Cloak) has a mystical cloak that transports people and things to a dark dimension. Oh, and there’s that sweet, sweet interracial love/Jungle Fever aspect to things. Based on the trailer, it’s gonna focus more on the love thing than the power thing, which is understandable since powers are expensive on a weekly TV budget. I haven’t heard if this is actually considered part of the MCU, but it’s nice to see the Roxxon sign at the end, so there are clear ties to the universe itself.

The angst doesn’t end there, though, kids! We also got a trailer for Syfy’s Krypton series (which has since been yanked down) – ya know, the one that nobody asked for. It’s hard for me to get excited about Krypton when very little about that planet has ever seemed appealing. It’s most recently been painted as a cold, stoic, science-based society. And since they don’t have our sun, it means they’re powerless. Here’s what I don’t get about the trailer: the show takes place approximately 200 years prior to Man of Steel (I guess making it the first series to be an official part of the DCEU), but the monologue is of Kal El’s grandfather leaving a message for him. Um, how does he KNOW his grandson’s name is Kal El if he hasn’t been born yet? Anyway, it’s about Grandpa El, who happens to be a sexy, CW-ish twenty something, trying to restore honor to the disgraced House of El. The effects look nice (AKA expensive), but nothing about this show makes me want to see it.

There’s some laughter coming from a different comic-based series, however, in the form of Freeform’s New Warriors. I mentioned it a few weeks ago, but it’s been confirmed that Kevin Biegel of Enlisted/Cougar Town will be the showrunner, and we got a confirmation of the roster. Led by Squirrel Girl (who has never been a New Warrior in the comics, but I won’t harp on that), the team is comprised of Speedball, Night Thrasher, Microbe, Mister Immortal, and Debrii. I’m familiar with career Warriors Speedball and Night Thrasher, but I don’t know anything about the others. Considering Mr. Immortal and Squirrel Girl are Great Lakes Avengers characters, this is something of a hybrid team.

I’m the furthest thing from a foodie, but I love a good dairy-based gimmick drink, and this week featured TWO of them! First up, I’d read online that Burger King had been testing a Froot Loops Shake at certain East Coast locations, with plans to roll it out nationally today. Well, I traveled around until I found one that had it early (well, I didn’t travel too far – it was down the street from my apartment), as I had to see what the fuss was all about. I had heard it described as made from vanilla soft serve, with Froot Loops pieces, topped off with a sweet, syrupy drizzle. Sounds exotic, right? WRONG. Whoever thought of this probably got a bonus for the idea, but it lacks in the execution. It’s basically a vanilla shake with edible confetti in it. From Loops don’t really have a strong fruity flavor to them, so it’s not like it’s rubbing off into the soft serve. And when you do get some Froot Loop chunks through the straw, they just taste like flavorless corn cereal. I didn’t taste any kind of drizzle, and I kept waiting for the WOW to kick in. It never did. I drank this so that you don’t have to and, trust me, you really don’t have to.

Next up was the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino. I hadn’t even heard of the thing until Wednesday morning, when everyone and their mom was talking about it. Looking at it, I was reminded of the Birthday Cake Frappuccino that comes out in March (I remember this because it was out at the time Evie was born). I LIVED on those things for the two weeks or so that they were in stores, so I was expecting this to be more of the same. I wasn’t sure what flavor this one was supposed to be, but there were certainly visual similarities. Anyway, after dinner Wednesday night, I snuck off to the corner Starbucks to try it out. You’ve heard of a Butterface, right? Well, this is a Buttertaste. It looks cool and everything, but the taste…THE TASTE! Its marketing emphasizes that it magically changes flavors while you drink it, but I could never really nail down what those flavors were supposed to be. There was a pervasive muskiness to it, making me feel like I’d basically sucked off a real unicorn. Of course, that would be silly – everyone knows you’ve got to buy a unicorn dinner before it lets you do that! Then, near the end, the muskiness gives way to a hyper berry taste, reminiscent of the Blue Raspberry that candy scientists seemed to have discovered in 1992. At no point in the drink was it what I would call “enjoyable”, and even the whipped cream on top was disappointing. As far as I’m concerned, this drink can fuck off back to Narnia where it came from.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Bill O’Reilly was fired from Fox News following sexual harassment allegations. See, if he’d told Billy Bush he only grabbed ‘em by the pussy, he’d be President by now!
  • Nintendo officially ended production on the NES Classic, followed by rumors that an SNES Classic is coming later this year
  • Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck were announced as the directors for Captain Marvel. I’ve never seen anything they’ve done (Half Nelson, episodes of Billions, and The Affair), so I’ve got no real opinion right now
  • Speaking of Marvel films, Black Panther wrapped production this week, as Hollywood braces for the return of every living Black actor
  • Will Smith is in talks to take on the classic Robin Williams role of The Genie in Guy Ritchie’s live action Aladdin adaptation. Obviously, Jaden Smith will probably get the role of Aladdin.
  • Stranger Things co-star Shannon Purser came out as bisexual on Twitter. Well, she’s bisexual in real life. She just used Twitter to announce it.
  • Director James Gunn announced that Guardians of the Galaxy 3 would be the final iteration of this lineup of the team
  • Black-ish was sold into off-network syndication, launching in Fall 2018
  • Jane The Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez will voice Carmen Sandiego in a new animated series coming to Netflix
  • Steve Harvey will host a revival of Showtime At the Apollo for Fox
  • Fate of the Furious debuted to $532 million internationally, beating the record-setting $529 million earned by Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • With its original pilot rejected by Fox a few years ago, Joe Hill’s comic Locke & Key will have a new pilot filmed for Hulu
  • The X-Files has been renewed for a 10-episode 11th season. I couldn’t even make it through the last 6-episode batch they gave us, so I think this is a pass for me.

For the past 6 seasons, I have pretty much hate-watched HBO’s Girls. I hated Lena Dunham’s dumpy, Play-Doh body which was constantly on nude display. I hated all of her character Hannah’s “problems”. I hated her boyfriend Adam. I had convinced myself that I was really just watching, hoping that the characters would eventually be hit by a truck or something. Then, this season came along. Even through all my hate, I had to admit that this was a pretty strong season. From Hannah’s odd interaction with a bestselling author to Marnie finally realizing she sucks at life, there were some great episodes of television to be found in this season of the show. I was also forced to admit things about myself.

First off, I always knew I liked Shoshana because she had enough sense to know that she deserved better than the friends with which she’d found herself. And I definitely missed her once she decided to finally distance herself from them.  I also realized there was much more to the Ray character and, while they didn’t exactly put a bow on it, I’m glad they led us to believe that he had found a happy ending. Even a character as originally unlikable as Elijah had some strong development this season, and he was truly missed in the finale, even though this chapter of his story had come to a close. As I already admitted in my Get Out review, I had to come to terms with my crush on Allison Williams and, by extension, Marnie Michaels. Yeah, she sucked at life, but she seemed like the one out of the four who had Tony Starked her way into that situation; she was the cause of her own problems. Once she began to realize that, the character held more promise. And I realized I hated Jessa because she reminded me too much of girls I’d hooked up with in college: damaged, tattooed, pseudo-junkies who are lucky to still be alive. And I guess Hannah reminded me of girls I’d hooked up with post college. Yeah, I hated a lot about Girls because, I guess, I hated a lot about myself.

This Sunday saw the series finale of the show, and I wasn’t quite sure I was ready for it. After a season that had given us a pregnant Hannah, but also showcased the dissolution of the group’s friendship, I didn’t really know how they could “end” the story. I was further distraught when I read an article last week saying that Jessa and Shosh’s final appearances had been in the penultimate episode that had just aired. While I would miss them in the final half hour, I had to admit that their chapters had also come to a close.

When we get to the finale, there’s a five-month time jump, where Marnie and Hannah are living in a remote house upstate, raising Hannah’s baby, Grover. Yes, that’s what she named him. Anyway, it was 30 minutes about what it means to be happy, but also what it means to be an adult and a parent. I like to think that Hannah finally grew up once she realized that Grover wasn’t another problem that she could simply run away from. The entire episode, she’s freaking out because Grover won’t breastfeed, but in the final seconds he finally takes to her breast. The look on her face is a mix of relief and maturity. It was then that I realized the show had to end at that point, as Hannah was no longer a girl. The entire series had been about millennial drama, as they skirted adulthood, but those times were over. The title Girls no longer applied to Hannah because she was now a Woman, with all the responsibilities that entailed. I used to worry about Hannah, and I sure as Hell worried about Grover when we learned she was pregnant. After Sunday’s finale, though, I think they’re gonna be OK. It was a finale that I had to give some thought to, but it didn’t leave me unfulfilled like Don Draper creating a Coke jingle only to end up hocking tax prep software six months later. For this reason, Girls had the West Week Ever.

12th Apr2017

Comical Thoughts – The One Where Our Hero Read 30 Marvel Comics In One Night

by Will

So, a lot of people have thoughts on the recent remarks that Marvel Editor in Chief Axel Alonso made regarding diversity. Ultimately, he said that retailers and consumers didn’t seem to flock to the diversity push that Marvel was doing in their books. Fans came out in droves to dispute this, saying that there are other reasons that Marvel’s losing sales. Well, I’m not gonna contribute to that conversation – at least, not directly. You see, I’m about 6 months behind on Marvel books, so I’ve missed a lot of this diversity push. I mean, I go to the shop every Wednesday, and I’m buying a TON of books, but there are only so many hours in the week, so I just haven’t had the chance to read all of them. Oddly enough, I’m fairly current with a lot of the DC books I buy, mainly because they seemed to serve as better jumping-on points. I know everything happening in the Superman books and Teen Titans, but I only just read Civil War II, like, two weeks ago. Usually my Friday nights are consumed with me going on toy runs or napping, but the other day I said to myself, “Will, it’s time to read some Marvel.” I had a few thoughts on what I read, so I thought I’d share them here for anyone who’s curious.

First up, I read the full run of The Unbelievable Gwenpool to date. I read #1 when it came out, and then the book just went to the bottom of a large stack. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy that first issue. I mean, it’s written by Christopher Hastings of the hilarious The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, so I already knew that I loved his style. The Gwenpool concept, on the surface, just sounds like a cash grab. Creating a Deadpool series used to be the equivalent of printing money (not so much anymore, looking at the sales for Deadpool and the Mercs for Money). Meanwhile, everyone and their mom seemed to love the idea of Spider-Gwen when she spun out of Spider-Verse. So, it was natural to put peanut butter in your chocolate by mixing the two.

Gwen Poole actually hails from our world, where all of the Marvel characters are just characters in comics books. By some mysterious means, she transports herself into the Marvel Universe, with her wealth of comic knowledge at her disposal. So, she knows everyone’s identities, all their power sets, etc. This is similar to the Deadpool thing where he thinks of himself as a character in a comic book. Once she gets to the MU, she sets herself up as a mercenary even though she’s not necessarily good at killing. She has limited hand to hand skills, and she’s not a great shot. But she’s pretty good at blowing shit up, which is what she does. The funny thing, though, is that they’ve never really explained why she’s a killer. Maybe it’s because she knows none of it is “real”, so it doesn’t matter if she kills somebody or not. After all, they’re just fictional characters to her. Anyway, after a botched mission, she finds herself working for M.O.D.O.K (Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing) and his gang of mercenaries, which includes Captain America foe Batroc The Leaper.

Anyway, I LOVE THIS BOOK! I’m quick to talk about things I don’t like, so I have to give equal credit to the things that I do like. I love the Gwenpool character, who’s really just a perky teenage girl who likes blowing stuff up. It’s kind of refreshing to meet a female character with an encyclopedic knowledge of comic book trivia, and it’s cool to see how she employs that in her series. I’ve been a big fan of Dr McNinja for years, so I knew Hastings wouldn’t disappoint and he surely didn’t! It’s a fun comic that really gives credence to the slang term “funnybook”. If you’re looking for fun in your comic reading, then definitely check this out. The sales on it aren’t so hot, making it seem like she should’ve been left to do cameos for a while before getting her own series. That said, she’s had 13 issues by now which, sadly, is an achievement in today’s comic landscape. Don’t let them cancel my Gwenpool! Buy this book today!

Next up, I finished the whatever volume it is for Invincible Iron Man. Ya know, the Bendis one, but the one before Civil War II. This series was kind of a waste, as it went nowhere. I’m not sure if plans got derailed because of CWII or what, but it’s odd that so many issues were devoted to one story that just dead ends. Madame Masque is caught stealing items from various Stark facilities, and when Tony goes after her, he finds she’s being chased by a group of cyber ninjas. That’s pretty much it. In the end, he never finds her and never solves that mystery. They do introduce a new cyberhacker Inhuman, though. Yay. Meanwhile, there’s a B-story of Stark trying to convince Mary Jane Watson to be his assistant/life coach. I’ve had my issues with Bendis, but I’ve got to say that this is him at his worst. Sure, there’s snappy dialogue, but not much else.

So, knowing that I needed to plod through my Iron Man backlog, I begrudgingly jumped into International Iron Man. This series made up for everything that was wrong with Invincible Iron Man. My only quibble is that, at 7 issues, it should have been an arc in Invincible Iron Man instead of its own standalone series. In the previous Iron Man series (the one after Superior Iron Man, but before the Bendis Invincible Iron Man), Tony discovered that Howard and Maria Stark were not his birth parents. In this series, Tony sets out to find his real parents, interspersed with flashbacks to the story of his first love, Cassandra, who was the daughter of arms dealers who were also business rivals of his father. Cassandra was in Tony’s life around the time that Howard died, so he finds it odd that she resurfaces, now an arms dealer herself, at the same time he’s searching for his birth parents. He thinks she knows something, but she’s not talking. In the end, Tony finds his mom, Amanda Armstrong, who’s basically Annie Lenox. No, I swear Maleev used Lenox as the model for Armstrong. The last two issues tell the story of Tony’s parents’ love affair, and it’s some damn good writing. This is Bendis at his best. I want an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. arc of just this story (it’s good, but it’s not summer theatrical blockbuster good), but there’s no way they’d cover Stark stuff on TV. At the end, it says that the story will be continued in the next volume of Invincible Iron Man – ya know, the one starring Riri/Ironheart. So, I’m not quite sure how that’s gonna work. Is Amanda Armstrong going to be a supporting character in the book while her son spoiler alert is in a coma in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody? I haven’t read the Riri series yet (it’s in the pile), so don’t tell me what happens. Where Invincible left me disappointed, International proved to me that Bendis understands Tony Stark.

The interesting takeaway I had from the series, however, is that Tony Stark is a result of Nurture and not Nature. I mean, it was always assumed he was a genius because his father was a genius, and it was in his blood. Now that we know his real parents were just undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, it becomes clear that Tony was a product of his environment and upbringing, rather than possessing some inherited genius. I’m curious to see if they’ll do anything with that going forward. Ya know, when he “wakes up”.

Ya can’t love everything, though, and that’s where America comes in. I HATED that comic. I hate the character. I don’t really know where she came from, as I wasn’t reading Young Avengers at that point, but I find her obnoxious to no end. If you’re not familiar, Miss America, AKA America Chavez, is from another dimension where she had two moms who sacrificed themselves to save creation. She has the power to punch star-shaped portals between dimensions, and she’s strong, and fast, and can fly. Basically, she can do everything but project energy. Oh, and she’s a bad ass motherfucker. She can do ALL the things, and that’s kinda why I hate her. This is about to get dicey, so strap in. Ya see, a lot of people are going to say that I don’t like her just because she’s queer. There aren’t a lot of prominent queer characters in comics, so I understand her importance to representation. That said, she’s guilty of what I call the “Queer Eye-ification of Pop Culture”.

Let’s take a trip back to 2003, shall we? Bravo introduced the reality show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, where 5 queer men (don’t say “gay”, because a couple of them were bi) gave schlubs makeovers. Carson changed their clothes, Kyan changed their hair, Ted changed their food, Tom changed their furnishings, and Jay…well, Jay taught them how to open CDs. No, that really happed. The principal underlying theme, however, was basically “Look, queer people are better than you in every single way! They dress better, they cook better, they have better hair, and better décor. What’s wrong with you, straight people? Why do you suck so much?“ For a while, that approach kinda worked. The show was a hit. Then I think folks got tired of the formula. We got it. They were all great at shit, but they stopped being relatable. After all, they were experts, and not just regular guys.

That’s my problem with America. She’s too good. She does it all. What are her weaknesses, her faults, her fears? I didn’t get that from her. Instead, she seems to have this false bravado of being the baddest bitch on the block, and that just doesn’t appeal to me. Is that what queer readers want? Do they want a character who seems to suffer from doing-too-much-itis? Or do they want a relatable character, like a queer Peter Parker who’s an amazing hero, but still has everyday problems? As a cis, straight male, I can’t answer that. I know what I think I would want, and this ain’t it. The market will dictate whether or not I’m wrong. Instead of the whole “Queer people are the awesomest”, maybe the more realistic approach is “Queer people are just like everyone.” I know I’m veering dangerously close to the camp of folks who say things like “Well, why isn’t there a White History Month?” I’m not trying to take anything from queer identity, but the way it’s expressed here contributes to why I don’t like that character. I fear this overcompensation is a trope commonly used as a “foot in the door” technique to get some folks to accept uncomfortable ideas, but I feel it does the queer community a disservice by reinforcing stereotypes/setting up unreal expectations.

Following this thinking leads me to the new Champions comic, which is downright irresponsible in its storytelling. Back during Civil War II, the young members of the Avengers became disenchanted with the elder members because they didn’t feel the team was doing enough to really change the world, instead spending more time in-fighting in the hero community. So, they quit the team before that story even wrapped up. As Champions picks up, Ms. Marvel reaches out to Nova (Sam Alexander – gotta specify, since there are two now) and Spider-Man (Miles Morales – gotta specify since there are two now) to convince them that they should be out doing the stuff that the Avengers refuse to do. They go on a mini recruitment drive, which results in the Hulk (Amadeus Cho – gotta specify since…you get it by now), and Viv Vision joining the team.

Champions is the wrong name for this book. Honestly, it should be the New Warriors, because they are TOTAL social justice warriors. I normally don’t even dip my toe into those labeled waters, but that’s exactly what this book is about. Ms. Marvel has created a team of other teens who do nothing but seek social justice. When older Marvel fans say that they’re tired of the diversity push, I have to believe that this is the book they’re talking about.

I say they’re irresponsible because they tackle concepts that can’t be solved by punching, yet that’s exactly how they try to solve them. They went to the Middle East to stop an extremist Muslim group from killing women who were just trying to learn. They went to a small town to face off against a racist sheriff who bombed the local mosque. Instead of facing villains, all of their “foes” are systemic issues that aren’t easy fixes. Somehow, though, they manage to “fix” things in 22 pages. To use old slang, these kids are cruising for a bruising. There’s a reason the Avengers don’t handle these sorts of things, mainly because they’re old and wise enough to know there are no easy fixes. Racism ain’t Galactus. There’s nothing to punch. The only reason I would stick with the book is that there’s GOT to be a reckoning coming to teach them a lesson. The last time a team of teens was this irresponsible resulted in the destruction of the town of Stamford, Connecticut. I HAVE to believe the Champions exist only to set up some post-Secret Empire event.

The sad thing about all of this is that I like these characters. I’ve been a Miles Morales booster since day one, and I loved Sam Alexander’s Nova from the outset. I was late to the Kamala Khan party, but she’s cool, too. I don’t like how Amadeus Cho’s Hulk is painted as a green Bro in the book, but I’m really behind on his title, so maybe that’s who he is now. And I haven’t read The Visions yet, so I don’t know anything about Viv. All that said, I’d hate to see anything bad happen to any of these guys, but that seems to be the path they’re on. It just seems like such mishandling of some great concepts. From when I was reading Captain America: Sam Wilson, the big takeaway was that there are some things you can’t fight head-on, but it seems like the Champions are gonna have to learn that the hard way.

So, I guess I did have thoughts about Marvel’s diversity after all. Is it killing books? Not necessarily. It’s just not being done well. Feels tokeny. There are a lot of great female-led books right now, like the afore-mentioned Gwenpool and Jessica Jones (which I’ll talk about another time since this has already gotten way longer than I initially expected). But the minority portrayals aren’t that strong. I’ve still got a LOT more to read, though, so maybe it gets better? We’ll just have to see.

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