31st Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/31/15

by Will

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Welcome to the final West Week Ever of 2015! I figured you’ll all be hungover tomorrow, so I’d probably better post this today. As I’m sure you’re aware, NOTHING happens between Christmas and New Years, so it’s a wonder I even found enough material for a whole post. Or did I? You be the judge!

I Smile Back

On the movie front, I watched I Smile Back, which stars Sarah Silverman. Despite its star, this movie is NOT a comedy. In fact, it’s probably the most dramatic role Silverman has ever played. Based on the novel of the same name, Silverman plays a married upper middle class woman whose life is spiraling out of control. On the surface, her life is perfect: she’s got a loving husband, two great kids, a big house, etc. Below all that, however, she’s dealing with daddy issues and a substance abuse problem. Oh, and she bangs a lot of dudes who aren’t her husband. She does a stint in rehab, and you think things will start to get better for her. Well, you’d be wrong. It’s a really dark film, and I’m not sure if I recommend it, per se. I will say that if you’ve ever wanted to see Silverman topless, then this is the film for you. I’m still trying to process its ending, and part of me wants to read the book just to see if there’s more clarity to what’s going on there. This isn’t the kind of movie I’d just jump at watching. Honestly, I was all in when I saw that Silverman was in it, but I had no idea it’d be as dark as it was.

TFA

I also saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the second time. I went with my friends James and Jenn, and I was really interested in what they would think of the movie. They tend to dislike things that the public just eats up because they’re really cerebral. “Popcorn movies” are a waste of time to them, as they prefer entertainment that makes them *think*. So, I knew going in that they’d probably dislike the movie, but I was really curious to know what about it they would dislike most. James zeroed in on one of the things I mentioned last week: if there were a Bechdel Test for race, this movie would fail. Finn exists solely to move Rey’s story along. Sure, he has his moments, but he never really gets to be the hero of the film. Someone online put it best, saying that there’s no moment in the film when a character thinks “We’re in trouble! Better call Finn!”

Also, due to the fact that I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan, I didn’t really notice until it was brought to my attention: the movie is just a remix of the original trilogy. Hell, it might as well just have P. Diddy yelling “Bad Boy” every few minutes in the film. We’ve seen this movie before, and some have called it the “most expensive fan fiction to ever be put onscreen”. It relies too heavily on nostalgia, but a lot of you reading this who disagree with me are too close to the franchise to even realize that. You have fond memories of Star Wars as being a milestone in your upbringing, so something to come along and tug on those heartstrings isn’t really a “fail” in your book. I feel like the movie is almost exploitative in its nostalgia, and doesn’t even hide the fact about what it’s doing. I always thought it was funny that The Four Tops re-released “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” as “It’s The Same Old Song”, and nobody realized it, even though they had the balls to tell you what they were doing simply in the title. That’s how I feel about The Force Awakens. It works because it’s something familiar that the public has already devoured and enjoyed. Sure, it may have new players, but are they really that new? I’m not trying to piss in anyone’s Corn Flakes, and if you liked the movie, that’s great. As a pseudo- “man on the street”, with no real ties to the original franchise, I thought it was entertaining, but nowhere near the amazing cinematic marvel that folks would lead you to believe it is, though. It’s a fun movie, but is it a good movie? I don’t consider myself enough of a cinephile to say, but I’m leaning towards “no”.

F is for Family

On the Netflix front, I’ve started watching F Is For Family. Created by comedian Bill Burr, it’s kind of like a mature King of the Hill. It focuses on patriarch Frank Murphy as he supports his family as an airport baggage handler in 1973. At its core, it’s just an animated sitcom focusing on a middle class family in a different era. I wish I could say it was based on Burr’s real life, but I haven’t seen anything supporting that theory. Anyway, I’m about 2 episodes in, and it’s pretty funny. The first season is only 6 episodes, so it’s a quick binge. Maybe when I’m done, I’ll finally circle back to Jessica Jones. Or I’ll just finally watch that second season of Bojack Horseman.

teen titans

In the world of television, I just discovered Teen Titans Go! Where has this show been all my life? Is this thing really for kids, ’cause I don’t believe it. I never watched the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon, as I felt it was for kids with ADHD. I mean, there was just simply too much erratic shit going on, plus I was, like, 20 when it debuted. Still, I think it’s a novel idea to focus on the team when they’re not saving the world, ’cause what they get into is hilarious. There’s one episode where they have to save the Justice League from Darkseid (voiced by Weird Al), while another had them hanging out with a thinly veiled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Plus, I love when Beat Boy calls Raven “Mama”, as it makes me picture him as a little, green A.C. Slater. Anyway, the show seems too good to be for kids, as I doubt they even get most of the jokes. I know a lot of folks have been hesitant to check it out, as they’re still pissed at Cartoon Network for cancelling other DC Comics show Young Justice (come on, was that show really that good?). I’ve got to say, though, that Teen Titans Go! has bumped Clarence out of my #1 cartoon slot for the moment.

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Just like I became the hub of all things Girl Meets World leading up to its premiere, I guess the same thing is happening regarding Fuller House. It was revealed this week that Carly Rae Jepsen has re-recorded the original theme song for the Netflix series. This is where I’d say something snarky, like “I guess that ‘Call Me Maybe’ money ran out”, but all I can really think is “Good for her!” I feel like this show will have a lot of lookie-loos, so it’ll definitely be good exposure for her. Meanwhile, I had no clue she came from Canadian Idol! And in true Idol fashion, she didn’t even win (placed 3rd), yet has gone further than the winner that year.

TGIF

Normally, this would go in the Links I Loved portion of the post, but I’m on vacation, and haven’t read much in the past week. That said, Entertainment Weekly had a great oral history of ABC’s TGIF lineup. It was the kind of thing Grantland used to be great at doing, and I would totally read an entire book on the subject. Things I learned from reading it: Full House creator Jeff Franklin? Kind of a dick. Steve Urkel actor Jaleel White? Kind of a dick. Franklin is bad ’cause he refuses to admit that the creation of TGIF helped Full House – a show that never really made a ratings dent until it landed on Friday night. White has said dickish things in the past, but he just comes across kinda jerky in the write-up. And I totally forgot that the creative force behind Boy Meets World also gave us Dinosaurs. Anyway, it’s a great read if you have fond memories of Urkel crash landing into the Foster-Lamberts’ backyard.

Cosby

Ya know who’s NOT having the West Week Ever? Bill Cosby. Man, I still can’t believe there are Cosby “truthers” out there. We’re talking about over 50 women here! There are as many stars on the flag as women Bill Cosby zippity-zoppotied in the bippity bop! Some people like to think there’s some sort of conspiracy out there to take down a “great Black man”, but I always heard he was the head of the Secret Black Leaders of America. I mean, by that rank alone, the only person with the power to take him out would be Oprah, and she’s too busy with Weight Watchers right now. Sure, Beyoncé could be gearing up for a major heel turn, but I don’t see that happening, either. So no, there’s no conspiracy. A dude used his power and influence to take advantage of women, and it’s coming back to bite him in the ass. Kinda like Star Wars, I have no real reverence for The Cosby Show, so it’s not like this has “tainted his legacy” or anything in my mind. Sure, The Cosby Show changed how Black people were viewed in primetime, but that still doesn’t excuse the fact that its star was using that platform to help him in his “extracurricular” affairs. And to stand up for Cosby, what would I get out of that? First of all, I’d look like a fool. Second, Bill Cosby HATES my generation. Hell, I don’t even do most of the stuff he pins on us (we wear our pants too low, etc), but he still hates my cohort. So why the Hell should I go to bat for his lecherous old ass? If anything, I’m just kinda glad Brandon Tartikoff didn’t live to see this. Then again, he was there at the beginning, so maybe he knew…

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In happier news, I made my 50th podcast appearance last week on the 2015 year end recap episode of The Recurrent Events Podcast. I joined up with my pals Jason and Chad to talk about the year that was in popular culture. If you like that sort of recap thing, be sure to check out West YEAR Ever next week. In the meantime, listen to our gabfest here.

Hoverboard-for-sale

Like I said, nothing happens between Christmas and New Years, so there wasn’t a lot of “news”. If you ask me, the West Week Ever goes to all the nameless Chinese manufacturers of the hoverboard. Sure, they’re breaking wrists and burning down houses, but they were the hottest gadgets of the holiday season. Whether yours is a “Swagway”, “HoverTrax”, or an “AirBoard”, you weren’t an official Vine star unless you had one of these things this year. They’re currently banned from most sidewalks, malls, airports, and everywhere else, but that didn’t take them off the top of every teen’s Christmas list. So, for winning the season despite the odds stacked against it, the hoverboard had the West Week Ever.

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17th Dec2015

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

by Will

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Your weekly dose of pop culture is coming at ya a day early this week, since I know a lot of you are getting offline this evening so you don’t run into any Star Wars spoilers. Tomorrow’s probably gonna be a ghost town on here, so I thought I’d get the post in early this week. But I promise there are NO Star Wars spoilers below!

DopeThis week, I checked out the film Dope. I’d heard good things about the movie, but I don’t get to the theater too much, so I was gonna wait until it came out on Redbox or something. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it, it’s kinda like a Black version of the 1999 film Go. Now, don’t ask me how to explain how I got to that comparison, but I think it’s apt. It’s about high school senior Malcolm and his best friends as they get wrapped up in a messy situation with some drugs. It’s about so much more than that, though. On the heels of the “blerd” movement, it deals a lot with identity and what it means to not be “Black enough”. Malcolm and his friends are in a punk band called Awreeoh (pronounced Oreo), and they idolize 90s hip hop culture. They don’t really fit in with the rest of the kids their age, so they’ve kinda bonded over being outsiders. It’s really fast paced, and doesn’t follow standard chronology. I really enjoyed it, and I think you should check it out if you get the chance.

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Since everyone knows that Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out this week, I figured I should get acquainted with the work of star John Boyega. For years, I’d been hearing about how great Attack the Block was, so it was finally time for me to check it out. The biggest problem was that I couldn’t really find it streaming anywhere, so I had to resort to…alternative means. Anyway, Boyega stars as the leader of a teenage gang that has set up shop in the projects of South London. One celebratory night, the neighborhood becomes the site of an alien invasion. Once Boyega’s character kills one of the aliens, he and his friends become targets for the rest of the aliens that have landed. While it’s comedic sci fi, it’s got some horror aspects to it. Part of it feels like a Black Goonies (nobody steal that idea!), but there’s also another story being told about the socioeconomic state of a lot of London youth. When the gang teams up with the White woman they had mugged earlier in the movie, they’re shocked to learn that she lives in their building. There’s quite a notion of “Why do YOU live HERE?” Boyega’s slow to boil, but once he gets going, he’s a commanding presence and a good leader. The version I was watching had subtitles turned on, and boy was I glad because it was hard keeping up with the slang AND the accents. Still, it’s a really good movie that I highly recommend.

star trek beyond

The Star Trek Beyond teaser trailer was released this week and, while NuTrek has given us some decent action movies, it has never really understood that that is NOT what Star Trek is about. I understand that it’s just a teaser, but you have to remember that this is *marketing* and, at the moment, they’re marketing it as a high adrenaline Fast and the Furious in Space action movie. That’s not what Star Trek is. Even if that movie turns out to be a completely different animal, the way they’re portraying it is not something a typical Star Trek fan would gravitate towards. That’s been my biggest issue with NuTrek – it acts like it’s ashamed of its own built-in fanbase. Instead of realizing the nice, pretty girl in front of it, it longs for the mega hot cheerleader who has to be tricked into dating it. If you want some Star Trek goodness that won’t disappoint, check out the Deep Space Nine drill down over on this week’s episode of the Nerd Lunch Podcast.

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Speaking of space movies, the trailer was released for Independence Day: Resurgence, and it looks good. In fact, I’m probably more intrigued by it than I was for Star Trek Beyond. Everyone’s back except Will Smith and Mae Whitman. At least Whitman’s character still exists (they recast her, with some folks assuming the studio was looking for a more “conventionally pretty” actress. Not my words!), while Smith’s Colonel Hiller was killed off on a website. Seriously, if you go to http://www.warof1996.com, which is the official viral site for the movie, there’s an entry on the interactive timeline that reveals Hiller was killed in 2007 while test piloting one of the new alien hybrid ships. Seeing how there probably wasn’t a body, I guess Smith could still come back in a third movie. “Look, he was actually teleported to the mothership before the explosion!” But I don’t know if that would work in the world already established by the rest of the franchise.

hasbro

In other movie news, toymaker Hasbro has announced a deal with Paramount to create a shared cinematic universe with their some of their biggest properties from the 80s, including G.I. Joe, ROM, M.A.S.K., Visionairies, and Micronauts. I really don’t know how this is going to work. On the one hand, I could see Joe and M.A.S.K. working together, and I could see ROM and Micronauts working together. But all under the same umbrella, in the same universe? I dunno, man. Everybody’s in love with the idea of the “shared cinematic universe”, but very few understand just how hard it is to pull off. Marvel’s never should’ve worked, and it should be seen as the exception rather than the norm. Sure, this will probably mean more toys for beloved properties, and I’m sure the folks over at IDW Publishing (the comics license holder for most Hasbro properties) are experiencing raging boners over this news, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

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There’s a rumor that James Gunn is looking at Kurt Russell to play Star-Lord’s father in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Right now, though, it’s just a rumor, so nothing to see here…

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Across the aisle, we got new character posters for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. They’re decent, but they’re not exactly “taking me from 6 to 12”, if you know what I mean…

Meanwhile, the trailer for something called Knight Rider Heroes surfaced this week, and nobody knows what it is. Based on the URL of http://www.KnightRiderHeroesMovie.com, it appears to be a movie, but it looks more like it’s on the fan film side of things. To its credit, they got Hasselhoff involved, but that dude will pretty much do anything. It’s equal parts cool AND depressing to see Michael Knight 30 years removed from the original series. He’s still wearing that belt and that jacket? He just looks like an out of fashion old man. At least when he showed up in Knight Rider (2008), his look had been modernized somewhat. This dude, however, just looks like a man out of time. Like he’s just been wearing the same thing, and driving the same car since 1986. And if this movie revolves around assembling a team of Knight Riders, it’s already been done. It was called Team Knight Rider, and it desperately needs a DVD release!

ghostbusters reboot

Finally for movies, the first official image was released for Ghostbusters. I know folks hate the idea of this film, but I’m really looking forward to it. It’s got a cast filled with folks that I love, and the original GB isn’t this sacred cow to me that it is for a lot of folks. If you ask me, this movie can’t get here fast enough. Definitely one of my most anticipated of 2016.

CW2_2

In the world of comics, Marvel officially announced Civil War II. Piggybacking off the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie, nothing’s really known about this miniseries at the moment. The creative team has been revealed as Brian Michael Bendis writing, with David Marquez on the art. While I’m enjoying their current run on Invincible Iron Man, I’m not sure I’ve forgiven Bendis yet. He’s usually capable with these events, but I just hate to see them going back to the Civil War well, especially so soon after their “soft reboot”. I mean, the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe is still being solidified, and we’re already about to enter another “Whose Side Are You On?” situation? The timing just doesn’t seem right, other than the fact that Marvel’s got a movie with that name coming out at the same time, that loosely appears to deal with a Superhuman Registration Act. This has “cash grab” written all over it, but maybe it’ll sound more interesting once more details are revealed.

mike-and-molly

In the world of TV, CBS has reportedly canceled Mike & Molly following the upcoming 6th season. It’s a bit sad, as I actually enjoy that show, as schizophrenic as it can be. Seriously, the show is only 6 years old, but has changed direction about 3 times. The first 2 seasons are about a couple that meets in Overeaters Anonymous and fall in love while trying to lose weight. The third season is about their quest to have a baby, and the weight loss journey goes out the window. In the fourth season, Molly quits her job and decides to become a writer, and the show kinda pushes Billy Gardell’s Mike into the background as Melissa McCarthy’s star was on the rise. To be honest, I’m surprised she’s still on a network show, seeing as how her movie career is doing well. She’s said to be heartbroken over the end of the show, however, as no one can really explain why CBS decided to pull the plug. It seems that everyone except Gardell had six-year deals, and CBS isn’t really open to discussions about another season (mainly because they don’t own the show), so Warner Bros (the producing studio) doesn’t want to renew deals with cast members. Now, CBS could just be waiting til the last minute to renew, but it could possibly hurt its relationship with Chuck Lorre, who’s been the force behind CBS’s most popular sitcoms. Anyway, the show made it to syndication, which is “the dream”, but it would’ve been nice if was getting a proper sendoff.


In the world of music, my favorite Spice Girl, Melanie C (“Sporty Spice”), stopped by BBC Radio to perform a stripped down version of one of the best songs off the SpiceWorld album: “Too Much”. Click above to check it out.

thriller

Meanwhile in America, Michael Jackson’s Thriller became the first album to sell 30 million copies in the US, making it 30x Platinum. To put that in perspective, that’s like if everyone in the state of Texas owned a copy. EVERYONE. Even the babies. And a couple of copies for some of the superfans. That is INSANE!

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Who are we kidding here? I’m not gonna insult your intelligence by pretending that Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn’t having the West Week Ever. The thing isn’t even officially in theaters yet (at least for the general public), but it stands to be one of the biggest releases EVER. I promised no spoilers, and I stand by that. Plus, I won’t even be seeing the movie until Saturday morning, so I couldn’t spoil it if I wanted to. Still, nothing came close to Star Wars this week, as the franchise was popping up everywhere from car commercials to bags of oranges. The early reviews are in, and it’s 95% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. For the folks who ignore the existence of the prequels, this movie was 30 years in the making and has a lot to prove. I’m not worried, though, as I think it’ll be great. So, for probably breaking every release record known to man, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had the West Week Ever.

04th Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/4/15

by Will

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bernie

First up this week, I watched the film Bernie. You’ve probably never seen it, as it was a smaller black comedy, but Jack Black stars as Bernie Tiede, an effeminate funeral director who befriends Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), the meanest and richest woman in the town of Carthage, TX. The movie surrounds the townsfolks’ reactions when it’s revealed that Tiede killed Nugent and kept her death a secret from everyone. It’s based on a true story that happened back in 1996, and Tiede was actually released on bond earlier this year. The movie is interspersed with town gossip from both performers and actual residents of Carthage, and they really help make the film what it is. I’m used to Black in goofy roles, but he was really great here. I highly recommend this movie.

Next up, I’ve got a bone to pick with Disney Channel. You see, a one-hour special is NOT an “Original Disney Channel Movie”. That is merely a SPECIAL. Anyway, I caught The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar, which is basically the pilot for an upcoming animated series. Returning us to the world of The Lion King, Simba’s now an old fuddy duddy (voiced by Rob Lowe, of all people) with 2 kids, Kion and Kiara. Since Kiara’s older, she’s being groomed to be the future Queen of the Pride Lands, while Kion is kind of the screw up. So, imagine everyone’s surprise when it turns out that Kion has The Roar, which is a power that draws upon the spirits of the ancestor lions. The prophecy is that the person with The Roar would be the leader of The Lion Guard, which is an assemblage of lions that are responsible for protecting the Pride Lands. Unfortunately, the last one to possess the power was Simba’s uncle Scar, the last leader of the Guard who went on to destroy the other members. When the Hyenas catch wind of Kion’s new power, they see him as a threat and decide to attack before he had assembled his team. Which just makes him assemble his team faster.

Bunga

Where to begin with this story? First of all, it’s not very good. It feels like a cash grab, as Disney returns to one of its deepest wells. In some ways, it could be seen as an anniversary project, but in that case it should’ve come out in 2014. The animation is basic and not very detailed. Part of me was sad that carefree Simba grew up to essentially be his father. I know he has responsibilities as King of the Pride Lands, but it felt like he really hadn’t retained much of his time with Timon and Pumbaa. He’s all business. Speaking of Timon and Pumbaa, they show up because their nephew, Bunga, is a honey badger who’s also Kion’s best friend. Bunga is probably the brightest spot of an otherwise mediocre story. In an #AllLionsMatter twist, Simba gets pissed at Kion for recruiting non-lions to The Lion Guard. They somehow managed to get James Earl Jones back for a cameo, but it just felt wasted. And the whole thing about The Roar seems to come out of nowhere. I mean, a big part of The Lion King focused on Simba trying to find his roar. Once he did, he never became the leader of the Lion Guard. And at that time, Scar no longer had the position because he lost the power after killing the rest of the Guard. So, it would’ve been ripe for Simba to take over. But of course this never happened because this was NEVER PART OF THE ORIGINALLY INTENDED STORY. It’s just a retcon. Also, the special has about 4 forgettable songs that don’t even deserve to be part of The Lion King canon. I guess you could say it introduces The Lion King to a new generation, but the whole Power Rangers of the Pride Lands angle doesn’t work for me.

Chaos On The Bridge

On Netflix, I caught Chaos On the Bridge, which is a documentary that covers the first 3 turbulent seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s a documentary that basically supports my longest held belief about The Next Generation: the show didn’t get good until creator Gene Roddenberry died. It’s a terrible thing to say, but the evidence pretty much supports it, combined with the fact that Roddenberry was physically in no shape to be running a show. In a nice little Trek twist, the film was written and directed by Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. My biggest problem is that, at 59 minutes, it felt rushed. It also didn’t help that it’s filmed in this music video/motion comic kind of format that makes it feel like the whole thing is simply the trailer for a much longer movie we never get to see. Some of the things I already knew (TNG was slated for Fox before it got syndicated, Diana Muldaur never really clicked), but some stuff was new (they basically fired Gates McFadden for being uppity, Roddenberry had a mistress). It was interesting that the various Star Treks were indicative of where Roddenberry was in his life. During the original series, he wanted to be the ladies man who captained the ship, while he wanted to be the wise, old sage during the TNG era. He had delved into the study of secular humanism and, unlike most sci fi, he felt that things would actually get better for humanity as time went on. In his mind, by the 24th century, humans would have eliminated all conflict, which was a BITCH for the writers, as drama is fueled by conflict. It was really interesting to hear how this was received behind the scenes, and how writers found ways around it. If you’re a fan of the TNG-era Trek, I highly recommend this documentary. If I had one complaint, I only wish it were longer.

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In TV news, Adult Swim announced that Samurai Jack would be returning to the airwaves in 2016. I’ve only seen one episode, and didn’t really understand it. Still, people I respect rave over it so maybe I’ll give it another shot one of these days.

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Meanwhile on TV, FX announced that You’re The Worst has been renewed for a third season. This show features one of my favorite TV relationships, so I’m really happy about this news. If you’ve never seen the show, it’s about struggling writer Jimmy and hot mess Gretchen who have a one night stand after a wedding. Even though they’re both not “relationship people”, they still feel like they’re a good match for each other, so they try to make it work. This season’s been particularly dark, as Gretchen’s dealing with severe depression and basically pushing Jimmy into the arms of another woman. Oh, and it’s a comedy. Anyway, I highly recommend it.

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I’m not really one for Lifetime Christmas movies, but ’tis the season and all that. Well, imagine my surprise that the Winslows are coming back in The Flight Before Christmas. Airing tomorrow night, Reginald VelJohnson and Jo Marie Payton of Family Matters fame will be reunited in a Christmas movie starring Mayim Bialik (that’s not weird to anyone else? Was Kellie Martin busy?). Anyway, Bialik plays one of two travelers who end up stranded in Montana when their flight is diverted. And I take it they fall in love, or discover the true meaning of Christmas or some shit. Yeah, I won’t be watching this, but I look forward to someone making GIFs of all of the Winslow scenes.

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In comic news, we saw preview art this week for Ta-Nehisi Coates’s upcoming Black Panther run, and I am NOT digging it. I’m somewhat familiar with the work of artist Brian Stelfreeze, as I even have a Batman sketch from him. That said, I was expecting something a little slicker, a little more stylized. I’m hoping these are just sketchbook doodles, and that the finished product will have more Wow Factor. In regards to the story arc, part of me wonders why Coates is even wasting his time on this. I mean, on paper, he’s the smartest person to work for Marvel in a long time. He won the National Book Award for nonfiction. He won the MacArthur Genius Grant. Why is THIS guy writing something like Black Panther?

Meow

Speaking of Black Panther, there was quite the controversy this week as Entertainment Weekly revealed their Captain America: Civil War cover. While Black Panther is featured prominently between Captain America and Iron Man, his appearance is notable for 2 other reasons: 1) he’s not unmasked like the other two (EW said that was Disney’s call) and 2) the word “Meow” is written next to him. They went on to say that he that he “has claws that a Real Housewife would envy.” A lot of people took offense to this joke, as it seemed like they were trying to emasculate one of the few marquee Black superheroes. I was busy while the controversy was blazing across Twitter, so it was basically over by the time I learned about it. At the end of the day, I think it was just someone trying to be cute, but I can see where folks were coming from. EW Senior Writer Anthony Breznican was really receptive to the online criticism, and he seemed glad that people had pointed it out. I think they’ll be hesitant to do this kind of thing in the future.

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So I guess we’ve gotta talk about that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer, huh? First off, during this week’s Gotham, viewers were treated to a 30-second tease of the movie. Featuring Batman in a trenchcoat, being unmasked by Superman, the snippet did nothing to excite me about this movie. Then, Wednesday night, Ben Affleck went on Jimmy Kimmel Live (seriously, how is Kimmel getting all of these exclusives?!) and brought the full trailer with him. You’ve already seen it, so I’m not gonna go and post it here.

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To me, it was the trailer equivalent of Fant4stic Four: The first 2/3 were serviceable, and then it just went off the rails. I was fine with the footage of Clark and Bruce. I’m now more intrigued about Affleck’s portrayal of Wayne. In fact, I’m more interested in his Wayne than in his Batman. And then the fighting started. OK, whatever. It’s a common comic book trope: when heroes first meet, they have to fight ’cause of “misunderstanding” or whatever (Imagine how many fights would’ve occurred on Three’s Company if they had thrown down at the hint of every misunderstanding. It would’ve been a bloodbath! But I digress…). We knew they’d fight, so the trailer shows them fighting. I get it. Then Wonder Woman shows up, and we see the very minute they STOP fighting! Um, wasn’t that the point of getting us to see the movie? You wanted us to want to see the end of the fight? Welp, we’ve seen it. But then the biggest slap in the face happens: the movie features Superman foe Doomsday.

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Even if you don’t read comics, if you were in alive in 1992, you know that Superman “died”, and he was killed by Doomsday. I don’t need the guy who FUCKING KILLED SUPERMAN to be in Henry Cavill’s SECOND appearance as Superman. Pace that shit out! It’s like they couldn’t fucking wait to use Doomsday and, frankly, the DC Cinematic Universe hasn’t *earned* that yet. That’s a development for the Justice League movie or something – not movie #2 when you’re still world-building. BUILD the world before you start tearing it down. The inclusion of Doomsday in this movie is just such a fan service kick to the balls to me. It’s not needed, and it’s just one more unnecessary aspect to an already crowded movie. They already had me, and then they pushed too hard. As I said on Twitter, I was on board with the trailer until Doomsday showed up. It’s like getting ready to have sex with a hot girl and then her penis is bigger than yours. Think about that for a minute.

Goldberg

In social media, I had another exchange with a Hollywood type. Rather, instead of an “exchange”, Adam F. Goldberg, creator of The Goldbergs, decided to reply to a tweet I posted back in October. Kinda weird he decided to even acknowledge it, two months later – especially since I didn’t even tag him in it. I swear, these people need to quit it with the TweetDeck filters and go about doing their jobs. I didn’t even reply, as I didn’t feel like his reply warranted it. And it does still bother me they won’t commit to a year. That 70s Show never seemed to have that problem!

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On the podcasting front, I had the pleasure of joining the Recurrent Events Podcast again last night. We discussed Ecto-Cooler, Gremlins 3, Rambo and more. Be sure to check it out here.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Pamela Anderson Playboy

-After asking her sons’ permission, Pamela Anderson will grace the cover of the final “adult” issue of Playboy. No, really.

-MTV has decided that the post-Millennial generation will be known as the “Founders”. That’s some sci fi level shit right there. They’re gonna kill us all, aren’t they?

-Coldplay will play the halftime show for Super Bowl 50. I can’t figure out if this is better or worse than Bruno Mars’s rumored return to the halftime show.

-DJ Earworm released the 2015 “50 Shades of Pop” edition of his annual United State of Pop mashup, and I only recognize about 3 songs. I’m officially an old man.

Links I Loved

We Were a Nielsen Family — Here’s What It Was Like – Vulture

Ten 80s Cartoon Characters Who Are Impossible to Christmas Shop For – UnderScoopFire

Star Wars The Force Awakens Countdown T-Shirt Challenge Day 3 – The Robot’s Pajamas

Sunset. – Team Hellions

Wrestler Executes Devastating Finishing Move with His Penis – SB Nation

Flarrow Crossover

This week saw the premiere of “Heroes Join Forces”, the 2015 iteration of the annual crossover between The Flash and Arrow. The 2-night event featured the debut of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, reincarnated Egyptian lovers on the run from the immortal Vandal Savage. Executive producer Greg Berlanti said that the goal of the event was to make the episode of The Flash feel more like an Arrow episode and vice versa. On that count, I think they delivered. The crossover started with Team Flash making the trip to Star City to get protection for their friend Kendra who’s been targeted by Savage. Kendra doesn’t seem to understand why she’s a target, and Barry Allen doesn’t feel like he can offer the protection that she needs. They all get attacked by Savage, Hawkman appears and tries to remind Kendra of their past together, and Oliver discovers a secret from his past. And that’s just part one! The next night, it’s Arrow‘s turn, as everyone gets together to devise a plan to take Savage down once and for all. Oh, and Barry does some time traveling. If you couldn’t tell from my brief synopsis, part one was clearly the strongest of the 2 episodes, but it was a great crossover that laid more of the groundwork for the upcoming DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (premiering January 21st!).

I was late to the Arrow bandwagon, but it’s now one of my favorite shows. Meanwhile, I’m still technically on season one of The Flash, so there was a lot going on that went over my head. That said, I still felt like more happened on The Flash than on Arrow over the course of the 2 nights. I skipped out on Smallville before they started introducing every DC hero and their mom, so it’s kinda of novel to me to see this DC team get formed. At this point, we already have Green Arrow, Black Canary, The Flash, The Atom, The Hawks, and Firestorm in continuity. Not to mention John Constantine and the other folks slated for Legends. Plus, there have been a LOT of hints of Hal Jordan, so it’s only a matter of time before he joins the party. I really like what Berlanti is building here, and this crossover just got me more excited for Legends of Tomorrow, so “Heroes Join Forces” had the West Week Ever.

27th Nov2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 11/27/15

by Will

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Happy Black Friday! Here’s my meager haul so far. Yes, I know I’ve said that I hate Gotham, but I’ll give anything a shot for $10. About half these things are on Netflix, but I tend to be in situations where I can’t stream, so I figured physical media would help me out with that. How did you all do?

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So, I’m a bad geek, as I haven’t finished Jessica Jones yet. It debuted a week ago on Netflix, and most people have binged it already, but I’m just not really in a binging mood right now. At the moment, I’m about 2.5 episodes into the series, and I like what I see so far. I doubted Ritter’s casting, but so far she’s convincing as the character. And the sex! Every time Luke and Jessica bang, I think, “Take THAT, racism!” Anyway, people seem to like it, so I guess Marvel and Netflix have another hit on their hands. I’ll have a better review when I finish the season.

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In addition to watching The Marine for the umpteenth time, I rented a few movies from Redbox. First up was Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham. I know I seem to be in the minority in my circle, but I feel like Melissa McCarthy can do no wrong. She and Paul Feig are a winning team and, if it’s rated R, you’re especially in for a treat, as she can cuss with the best of them. If you haven’t seen it, Susan Cooper is a schlubby CIA analyst who finds herself in the field as an agent to avenge the death of her partner. Feig brought back some of his familiar folks, like Rose Byrne from Bridesmaids, and the result was hilarious. It was also really refreshing to see Statham in a comedic role, and I’d like to see more of that from him. It being Redbox, I was only able to rent the theatrical version, but I’d love to see the unrated version, as some of the jokes in the red band trailer didn’t seem to make it into the film.

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Next up, I watched Vacation, and man did that feel like a chore! I should probably admit that I’ve never seen the original. Sure, I saw European Vacation a couple of times, and I saw Christmas Vacation about 20 years ago, but I’ve never seen the original Chevy Chase goes to Walley World film. I like Ed Helms. I’ve liked him since he was Andy Bernard, as we were both obnoxious Cornell a cappella alums. So, I want to see him do well. I’m not sure he was right for this role, though. I remember Rusty Griswold, and I’d hate to think he grew up to be square Ed Helms. I guess the lesson is that we all grow up to be our fathers, but I didn’t think Rusty would’ve grown up to be so…boring. Anyway, the entire cast, from Helms to Christina Applegate, is wasted on a thin script. Basically, to bring his family closer together, Rusty Griswold decides to take his family on a vacation to the Walley World theme park, just like his father had done years before. Meanwhile, his marriage is shaky, as his wife is unfulfilled, and his one son is a nightmare of a bully, while the other is uber sensitive. The jokes really fell flat, and the only time the movie has any real life to it is when the Griswolds deliver a Bundy-style beatdown to another family. Unless you’re just a die-hard Vacation completist (which means you probably also liked the made-for-TV Christmas Vacation 2), you can go ahead and skip this film.

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Then, I watched Get Hard, starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. On paper, this movie is perfect to me. Two of my favorite comedic actors in the same film. Sure, Kevin Hart pretty much always plays himself (“volatile little guy”), but you never really know what to expect from Ferrell. In execution, however, this movie left me wanting. In fact, for most of the film, it feels like Ferrell is woefully miscast – odd, considering it’s from his production company, Gary Sanchez films. Kevin Hart’s just fine, but Ferrell doesn’t really get comfortable until Act 3, when he can really get crazy. If you’re not familiar with it, Ferrell plays a successful money manager who finds himself framed for fraud. With 30 days before he’s sent to prison, he hires Kevin Hart to teach him how to survive in jail. He figures Hart’s been to jail since 1 in 3 Black men will be incarcerated at some point in their life so, naturally, Hart is that 1. Surprisingly, however, Hart hasn’t been to jail, so he has to fake it so that he can get Ferrell to pay him the $30,000 that he needs to move his family into a better neighborhood. The entire basis of the movie is kinda racist, and there’s something of a lesson to be taught about assumptions and cultural appropriation, but this isn’t the kind of movie you screen for your college sociology class. It pretty much begs you not to ask questions. At the end of the day, it was funny, but it could have been funnier. For this one, I think you can wait for it to come on TBS.

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Finally, I watched Miss Congeniality on TV. Yeah, this movie’s 15 years old, but there are a LOT of movies I haven’t seen yet. Sandy Bullock (yeah, we’re cool enough that I can call her Sandy) is just so cute, but I wonder if she’s tired of playing the slightly socially inept cop. I mean, her character in Miss Congeniality might as well be her character from The Heat, as there aren’t many differences between the two. Maybe that’s her sweet spot.  Haven’t seen it? It’s about a hot mess of a federal agent who finds herself undercover in the world of beauty pageants. Michael Caine works his magic and turns her into the belle of the ball. Anyway, that was a cute little movie. I enjoyed it enough that I DVRed the sequel.

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This week, it was announced that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be rated PG-13. Well, duh! Ya know why? Because EVERYTHING is rated PG-13 these days. It’s not like it was gonna be rated R, ’cause they want the kids to see it, plus it’s not like the Jedi are cussing up a storm and having gratuitous sex. That’s my issue with trailers that say “This Film Has Not Yet Been Rated”. That’s basically the studio saying, “We’re still debating how many ‘shits’ we can get in the film and have the MPAA leave us alone.” It’s ALWAYS gonna be PG-13. In this day and age, it’s pretty much impossible to have a live action PG movie. That rating is reserved for Pixar and Universal animated films (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is the only recent live action example I can think of). Everything else is PG-13. Apparently, it and Revenge of the Sith are the only ones in the franchise to not have a PG rating, but the industry has changed a lot since the prequels.

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In other movie news, it’s reported that the next Men In Black movie will prominently feature a Woman In Black. That’s not really a big deal, as they’ve shown women in the organization, but since the movies are set to shift away from the J and K partnership, maybe she’ll be front and center. Also, it seems like they’re still committed to having it in a shared universe with the 21 Jump Street franchise (first revealed in the Sony email hack). Exactly how that’s gonna work remains to be seen. It’s also not clear if Will Smith is coming back. He seems to hate sequels lately (see Independence Day: Resurgence), so I wouldn’t be surprised if he bailed. Hell, I wouldn’t even be surprised if he somehow convinced the studio to hire Jayden or Willow instead.

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In music news, *NSYNC said “Bye bye bye” to their album sales record, as Adele broke it by selling 3 million copies of 25 during its first week. I really never thought that record had any chance of being broken in today’s music sales climate, but there we go. Meanwhile, Justin Bieber broke a record by The Beatles with most number of singles on the Hot 100 at once. The Beatles had 14, and Bieber has 17, but he kinda cheated. Usually, you release a single at a time, so as not to cannibalize your progress. Bieber, however, released videos for 17 of the 18 songs on Purpose simultaneously, so it was pretty easy for him to break that record. This is the new music industry, so I pretty much expect someone like One Direction to come along and do this with their next album, thereby breaking Bieber’s record. And so on and so on.

courtesy of hopeless-romance45.deviantart.com

courtesy of hopeless-romance45.deviantart.com

I don’t talk much about wrestling these days, mainly because I can’t stomach 3 hours of RAW every week. Still, my favorite wrestler of all time is The Undertaker. Sure, he kinda seems like a dated gimmick now, but that’s the point. He hearkens back to a bygone era when wrestlers had gimmicks and things that made them special. Nowawdays, they don’t even come with creative names. For example, if I were in the WWE, my name would probably be Bruce Williamson. Back in the day, that would’ve been the name of a “jobber” (the nobody who fights the superstar to make him look better). Now, however, Bruce Williamson could be the new heavyweight champion of the world. Now, some people might see that as “progress”, but I see it as the sport losing its mystique. So, as cheesy as he may seem, I ride or die for The Deadman.

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Well, this week we celebrated 25 years of The Undertaker, as he made his in-ring debut during Survivor Series in 1990. This is a big deal, as you will NEVER SEE THIS AGAIN. Sure, there are people who’ve been wrestling for longer, but they bounced from promotion to promotion. The Undertaker has never jumped ship to WCW (though he did a stint there prior to WWE) or TNA. Sure, he takes a LOT of breaks, but he always comes home to WWE. He’s apparently a major positive force in the locker room, and he’s been rewarded for it. A 21 year streak at Wrestlemania is what he’s most known for. Now, yes, it’s scripted entertainment, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t let The Streak happen for just anybody. No, Taker earned that, as he always performs…even when he probably shouldn’t. His days are numbered, and there may not be an Undertaker pretty soon. I certainly don’t think we’ll be celebrating 30 years of The Undertaker, but stranger things have happened. I have a feeling Vince McMahon will step in and tell him “it’s time”, just like he did when he decided it was time to end The Streak. When that time comes, I just may have to be there for his final match.

Storage Wars

In the world of social media, I had the above exchange with Rene from Storage Wars. It was less an exchange and more of “he clearly had a filter on for Storage Wars mentions and decided to respond”. I didn’t really have anything to say back to him, though. I guess nice guys do win every now and then. But I’m scared of that Mavrick dude. Half his body is pure tattoo.

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In the world of comics, the first issue of The Dark Knight III: The Master Race came out this week. I tried to read it, and didn’t get past the first page. Part of the problem is that I’ve completely forgotten everything that occurred in that previous installment, The Dark Knight Strikes Again. I mean, c’mon, it was 12 years ago! I just remember it being really bad. If you’ve never read the original The Dark Knight, it’s about an older, grizzled Batman coming out of retirement to fight mutant gangs and a governmentally brainwashed Superman. It sounds kind of “out there”, but it’s a classic, and is rumored to be the basis of Ben Affleck’s portrayal in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Anyway, in a surprisingly dick move, before the issue even came out, original writer Frank Miller announced that there will be a Dark Knight IV. From what I’ve gathered, it seems like Miller’s “cowriter” on DK III, Brian Azzarello, is actually steering the ship, and I don’t think ol’ Frank wants him to have the final say on The Dark Knight Saga. So, Miller has decided that he’ll just keep going as long as DC will let him. And since DK stories is like printing money, it’s not like DC’s gonna stop him anytime soon. Unless DK III is a colossal bomb. Which it could be…

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This is pretty much the most useless week in the calendar year, as nothing really gets accomplished before Thanksgiving. As such, no real news came out this week either. We were all set to just accept this and ready ourselves for turkey. Then, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. showed up on Jimmy Kimmel Live with a surprise: they had the teaser trailer for Captain America: Civil War. After the show, the full trailer was uploaded to YouTube. Haven’t seen it? Here ya go:

Did you see Black Panther?! I’ve NEVER cared about that character, but they actually made him look cool. I may actually be looking forward to his solo movie now (seriously, most of Phase 3 is kinda “meh” to me right now). I’m probably more excited about this movie than Star Wars (yeah, I know, I know…), so May 6th can’t get here fast enough.

That said, I’m kinda disappointed that this was Cap 3 instead of Avengers 3. Considering the cast list, everyone jokes that it’s basically Avengers 2.5, but I feel that making it a Cap movie indicates that Cap is the hero, and I don’t feel the Civil War situation (at least as presented in the comic storyline) is that cut and dry. To be honest, I was Team Stark when that whole thing went down. Heroes DO need to be regulated, and it’s a natural reaction from a frightened populace. In the comics, they kinda portrayed Stark as the asshole, while Cap was the “hero”, even though Stark was the one upholding THE LAW. Now, there’s the whole argument of “Do you acknowledge laws that are wrong?”, which is pretty much what Cap’s stance was. The whole thing was marketed under the banner of “Whose Side Are You On?” Because this movie is about Cap sticking up for his friend, Bucky, I think it kinda adds a slant to the argument. It feels like they’ve already made up our minds about whose side we should be on, especially when you see things like the dual beatdown The Winter Solider and Cap give Iron Man in the trailer. I really hope things are presented a big more evenly in the film but, like I said, I’m not really expecting it. Anyway, for getting me excited for a movie I really didn’t have on my radar, the Captain America: Civil War trailer had the West Week Ever.

 

20th Nov2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 11/20/15

by Will

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The biggest news this week had to come from Charlie Sheen, as he announced his HIV-positive status on the Today Show. There’s been a lot of backlash here, as folks have been saying things like “He deserved it” or “Look how he lived”. Yeah, he was a bit flamboyant, but I don’t think you ever expect anyone to get HIV, even if you joke about it. Apparently, he contracted it around 2011, and has paid out over $10 million to people trying to blackmail him. I’ve got a theory here: if you do the math, he contracted the disease around the time that he lost his shit and got fired from Two and a Half Men. After all, he left that show in season 9, which premiered in 2011. That can’t be an easy thing to learn about one’s self, and so he embarked on a whole bunch of self-destructive behavior. To be honest, I’m really amazed he’s still alive based on some of the antics he was getting into. I was waiting for them to find him dead any day. Anyway, it’s unfortunate that things turned out this way, and there’s a LOT of slut-shaming going on when it comes to Sheen. Sure, he did some risky stuff, but nobody *deserves* HIV. Luckily, he’s got it under control, as it seems to be undetectable at the moment. I have an odd fascination with Sheen, and always want to see him come out on top. After the Two and a Half Men firing, I was glad when he got Anger Management (even though I’ve only seen a handful of episodes), and I hope he comes out on top from this, too.

Into-the-Badlands

It was a great week for TV, including some excellent episodes of Arrow and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Unfortunately, it was a week that also saw the premiere of AMC’s Into the Badlands. This show is BAD, and I don’t mean that in the late 80s sense of the word. The main character is a great fighter, and there are some beautifully choreographed action sequences, but he’s wooden and not very likable. He’s not someone I see myself wanting to root for. The story is weak, and they’re trying to hide that behind the action. Someone on Twitter said that you don’t watch Enter the Dragon for the story and writing, but that was just a one-off movie. This is a serialized drama that expects the viewer to come back week after week for six episodes. The only thing I liked about the show was the it reminded me of the crappy syndicated stuff I used to watch on our WB affiliate back when I was in high school. As a Saturday afternoon show, filmed in New Zealand on the cheap, it gets the job done. As a centerpiece of a cable network’s schedule, it woefully falls shorts. I saw a review that called it a “rough draft of a show”, and I couldn’t agree more. There are some interesting ideas there, but it’s a show that does both too much and nothing at all, at once.

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In TV news, Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter preemptively cancelled his latest show, Bastard Executioner, by placing the above ad in The Hollywood Reporter. While Sutter says that he and FX came to the decision mutually, he said that he knew the writing was on the wall, and he didn’t “want to write something that nobody’s f—ing watching.” Though the show had only wrapped up its first season, he knew that the audience just wasn’t there – in part due to the glut of period shows on television at the moment. I know when I saw the ads for it, it just looked like Game of Thrones for the basic cable audience. Why watch that when you can get the titties and gore of the REAL Game of Thrones? I’d be curious to know just how much sway Sutter had in the cancellation decision, but it was at least nice of FX to let him spin it that way.

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In other TV news, we finally have the first new show cancellation of the season, and that honor goes to ABC’s Wicked City! After months of networks unofficially cancelling shows by cutting back on initial episode orders, Wicked City is the first show to be snatched out of its timeslot, only to be replaced by reruns of Shark Tank. Meanwhile, other networks are just delaying the inevitable. For example, Fox doesn’t even promote Minority Report anymore, but they don’t have anything on the bench ready to replace it yet. Anyway, if you remember my Upfronts post last Spring, you know that I never really saw success in Wicked City‘s future. Now the race is on to see what will be the SECOND cancelled show of the season. I’m thinking it’ll be something on NBC or ABC’s Blood & Oil.

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On The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Amy are finally going to have sex. I think this is a TERRIBLE move. But most of you hate that show with a passion, so you don’t really give a shit. Can we talk about that for a minute? Sure, I don’t understand why the show is a rating’s juggernaut, as it seems like the kind of show that would be on the bubble every Spring, just eking out a renewal. That said, I don’t understand the unbridled hatred that people feel for the show. I actually enjoy it, but I’ve also been known to like “bad TV”. Still, it’s kind of offensive when people describe it as “Blackface for nerds”, as I think the show has evolved past the cliches of nerds that dominated the early seasons. When I saw the pilot, I thought it was a nerdy reverse Three’s Company, and that it wouldn’t last. The show has really grown since then, and I kinda feel like the Sheldon character does a lot for Asperger’s representation on television. But, it’s cool to hate things these days, and I’ve never been one of the cool kids. Anyway, why do I think it’s a bad idea for “ShAmy” to have sex? Well, for one thing, Sheldon’s head would explode. His character, despite his age and character growth, is nowhere near ready for that kind of intimate development. The show is in its 9th season, so clearly they’re out of ideas, but we’re talking about a character who can barely kiss his serious girlfriend. Now you expect me to believe he’s going to put his penis inside her? No dice, Chuck Lorre and CBS!

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The trailer was released this week for the Zoolander sequel, stylized as 2oolander. Ten years ago, this would’ve been my most anticipated movie of 2016. I LOVED the first one, but I feel like too much time has passed. It’s not like Zoolander has really been introduced to the younger generation or anything. Plus, it’s interesting to me that Christine Taylor is nowhere in the trailer. Did she and Derrick Zoolander NOT live happily ever after? It’s even more odd to me, considering that she’s Ben Stiller’s actual wife. It’s not like she’s gonna turn down the role. Anyway, fifteen years have passed, and I’m just not sure the audience is there for this. The original movie came out on September 28th, 2001. Check that date. America needed to laugh at something foolish, and this movie delivered. I think that timing had a LOT to do with its success, and we’re just not there at this time.

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In other movie news, Alexandra Daddario has joined The Rock and Zac Efron in the Baywatch movie. I really don’t know if we’re supposed to take this movie seriously, or if it’ll be like the Jump Street movies. Basically nothing is known about it at this point, though it’s been in development forever. I’m pretty sure you can guarantee a cameo by The Hoff, but that’s about it. Anyway, this gave me a chance to post a picture of Alexandra Daddario.

100 years

John Malkovich has a new movie that you’ll never see. But if you’re lucky, your ancestors might get a shot to see it. It’s called 100 Years, and it won’t be released until November 18th, 2115. The movie’s a collaboration between Malkovich and director Robert Rodriguez as a promotion for Louis XIII Cognac, which is aged 100 years. They’ve even created 3 separate teasers for the movie, yet none of that footage is in the actual film. The idea is that 1,000 specific people will receive a metal movie ticket that they are to pass down to their descendants. If the world’s even still around in 2115, I bet folks’ll have more to concern themselves with than an old movie, but it’s an interesting concept.

(Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

In sports news, UFC champ Ronda Rousey got her ass handed to her by a swift kick to the throat from Holly Holm. I’ve never really been a Rousey fan, as I always felt she was like “trying to make ‘fetch’ happen”. Everybody just expected so much from her that she was bound to disappoint us eventually. They were trying to make her an action star, just because she was a good fighter. There was no evidence that she even had acting chops, but Hollywood thought “Well, if she can fight in real life, she can fight onscreen.” And she never seemed to have any humility. Basically, she carried herself like Apollo Creed in Rocky IV, and she almost got the same ending.

In a first for the Barbie brand, a boy appears in the latest commercial for Moschino Barbie. While I find it hard to believe boys haven’t been in Barbie ads in the past (not even as the bratty little brother?), this little kid is pretty historic. Watch the ad, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

In music news, Carly Simon revealed that the second verse of “You’re So Vain” is about actor Warren Beatty. Of course she’s promoting an upcoming memoir, so she’ll probably say anything to sell those books. If you ask me, I preferred Family Guy‘s theory on who the song was about:

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Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Former Subway pitchman, Jared Fogle, was sentenced to fifteen years and eight months in jail for having sex with underage prostitutes. And that sound you hear is every hack comedian making a “$5 footlong” joke.

-It was a dark week for print media, as Condé Nast announced that it was ceasing publication of men’s magazine Details. Meanwhile across the pond, lad mags Zoo and FHM ceased publication in the UK.

-Gossip site Gawker is rebranding as a political website. While you probably know them from the Hulk Hogan sex tape, they’re getting out of the gossip game and focusing on the 2016 election.

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-It was a meeting of the podcast Mega Powers, as Nerd Lunch joined UnderScoopFire in a teamup that’s been years in the making. Listen to Part 1 and Part 2.

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Speaking of podcasts, I had the honor of joining Jason over at Rediscover the ’80s for the Recurrent Events Podcast last night. Plus, I finally got to “meet” my buddy (and sometimes rival) Chad E. Young. We had a great time discussing the week’s top pop culture headlines, so check it out here.

Links I Loved

Review: Mannequin by Laurie of Knit Terrors – Horror Movie BBQ

Life After Nickelodeon: Jennette McCurdy Grows Up – Vulture

Agents of SHIELD Is at the Top of its Game, and That’s Amazing to Watch – io9

Police Academy 2 & 3 Double Feature – TBD

Galactic Book Club — Star Wars: Aftermath (2015) – 30ish Days of Star Wars – Double Dumbass On You

The Exact Moment When Justice League Unlimited Delivered the Perfect Animated Batman Story – io9

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This week sucked for positive news, but someone who’s definitely having a great week would be Adele. Today sees the release of her hotly anticipated third album, 25, which won’t be made available to streaming services. This move guarantees sales, as that (or piracy) are the only way you’ll get to hear the thing. It’s projected to be the fastest-selling album of all time, which would beat *NSYNC’s record of 2.4 million copies of No Strings Attached sold the week it was released back in 2000. In addition to the album release, her previous album, 21, was named by Billboard as the #1 album of all time, based on some kind of crazy math they did regarding number of weeks at number one on the charts. I’m not even gonna get into their methodology, as there are some crazy results on that list (The Sound of Music soundtrack beating Thriller?!), so part of me feels like Columbia Records might’ve slipped a few dollars into Billboard’s coffers to make this “momentous” accomplishment coincide with the release of a new album. Either way, I’ve been listening to the album as I wrote this post, and if you’re an Adele fan you won’t be disappointed. So, for figuring out how to remain relevant in a rapidly dying industry, Adele had the West Week Ever.

As always, thanks for reading – and be sure to Like the new West Week Ever page on Facebook!

30th Oct2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 10/30/15

by Will

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Inbetweeners_2_Movie_Poster

I watched a LOT of stuff this week, so let’s get to it, shall we? First up, I watched The Inbetweeners 2 – a sequel to both The Inbetweeners Movie and The Inbetweeners television series. In case you’re not familiar, the UK series follows the teenage antics of friends Will, Simon, Neil, and Jay. Will’s the obnoxious one (with a hot mom), Simon’s the lovestruck one, Neil’s the dumb one, and Jay’s the horny one. It’s sort of like a British American Pie, but raunchier. In the last movie, they went on holiday to Crete before all going off to university. Well, this time around, Will, Simon and Neil decide to use their Easter break to go surprise Jay, who’s doing a gap year in Australia. And hilarity ensues. Will chases after a girl, while Simon finds himself accidentally engaged to his shrew of a girlfriend. Neil’s hoping to get a job as a dolphin trainer, while Jay’s true reason for being in Australia comes to light. Oh, and it includes the grossest water slide sequence you’ll ever see. Trust me. Anyway, when it comes to The Inbetweeners, I love the whole franchise (including the lackluster US version that aired on MTV a couple of years ago), so I highly recommend this movie. Both are on Netflix, so check them out!

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Sticking with comedies, I rented Pitch Perfect 2 from Redbox. Why did people hate this movie again? People I respect have said that this was one of the worst sequels to what was an amazing first movie. I actually disagree. Maybe it’s like me and Ghostbusters 2, where I think I liked this one better than the first. Sure, it doesn’t have the whole arc of Becca getting to college, joining the group, and turning it around. Sure, Skylar Astin was sorely underused. And sure, Hailee Steinfeld doesn’t really have a breakout moment to shine. I get all of that. But the core of the movie spoke to me. The Barden Bellas have been a hot commodity since the events of the first movie, and most of those girls are now seniors. As they get ready to go out into the world, a few of them are scared because they don’t know what the future holds. Sure, they were big shit in college, but will that mean anything in the “real world”? This whole thing spoke to me because I lived that life.

For those who’ve been here before, take a bathroom break. For those who are newish, here’s my backstory: in college, I was part of an all-male group at Cornell called Last Call. You know the competition that the Bellas won in the first Pitch Perfect? We came in second at that very competition. We performed on The Today Show, and were kind of a big deal – as far as early ’00s collegiate a cappella goes (i.e. not very far). If I were Al Bundy, that’s my “Four touchdowns in a single game”. I didn’t know what was gonna happen after graduation, and would I still be “Will West: Black Guy Who Sings Lean On Me”? I graduated and survived. I’ve got a wife and kid and the whole nine yards. But I’m not sure I’ve felt as *important* in the years since that all ended. Wow, that’s really sad…

Anyway, Pitch Perfect 2 deals with the Bellas as they get ready to embark on the same path. Will they still matter? What kind of legacy are they leaving behind? What did their time in the group even mean? I can understand that a lot of this is really “inside baseball” for folks who couldn’t give 2 shits about the laughable world of singing nonsense syllables, but I think writer Kay Cannon knows her shit, and did a good job getting all of that in the script. I thought the jokes were hilarious, and I’d pay for a commentary track of nothing by John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks judging the whole movie. Surprisingly, as much as I know “laypeople” love the first movie, I’ve actually never discussed the franchise with any a cappella alumni. I’d be curious to know how they felt about everything conveyed by the movies – especially the stuff in this second installment. The folks who raved about the first movie seemed to have been universally let down by this movie, but it still did well enough for Universal to greenlight Pitch Perfect 3, and it was announced this week that Elizabeth Banks would be back to direct. Despite what you may have heard, I’d still really recommend this film.

Kether

Speaking of Pitch Perfect, I got a tweet favorited by Kether Donohue, one of the Bellas from the first film. She’s now a costar on FXX’s You’re The Worst – a great show to check out if you’re not already watching it.

mad-max-main

While at Redbox, I picked up Mad Max: Fury Road. I’d heard nothing but praises about this movie, so I figured it was time for me to check it out. About 5 minutes into it, I started thinking “What the Hell did I just sign up for?” I was really lost with the intro with the Warboys and Valhalla and Immortan Joe. Then I gradually got into it. OK, Furiosa’s gone rogue. Got it. And she’s got Immortan Joe’s brides. Got it. And they’re on the Cannonball Run. Got it. In the end, I really enjoyed the film, but I’m not sure I get ALL the hype. It’s a visually stunning movie, and the plot was strong enough. I wasn’t blown away, though, which is what I’d expected from everything I heard. Plus, I’ve got a question: how many of those old bitches were there? I swear, when Furiosa met them in the desert, there were about 5. When the final battle took place, though, they were coming out of the woodwork. I swear, like, 14 old ladies got killed! Anyway, I enjoyed it, and I’d watch it again, but I don’t see why everyone just fell in love with it. Maybe I needed to see it on the big screen.

arrow-season-3-poster

On the Netflix front, I finally caught up with Arrow. I’d been watching it On Demand, but dropped it with about 9 episodes left in the season. I think it was because I was unhappy with the whole Ra’s Al Ghul arc. I mean, *SPOILER ALERT* if you’re going to kill Oliver, let him stay dead longer than ONE episode. Drag that shit out to get the emotional mileage out of it! *END SPOILER*. It’s too bad I bailed when I did, though, as the series got pretty good after that tomfoolery. When he was Superman, I never thought I’d like Brandon Routh, but he’s so good as Ray Palmer. I still can’t stand Laurel and those hands of hers (seriously, look at her hands sometime). The season finale would’ve made a pretty good series finale had it not only been season 3. You knew that happy ending couldn’t last, and that Oliver would be back. Sadly, though, I don’t like what he has become by the beginning of season 4. Oliver’s happy and living the domesticated life with Felicity in the suburbs. When he gets called back to Star City (it’s been rebranded now), he decides to pretend that The Arrow is dead, and that he’s a new hero taking his place, called Green Arrow. He even has something of a press conference to announce the change.

My problem with Arrow, however, is that Oliver doesn’t seem to know who he is anymore. At the end of the 3rd season, he basically said that he couldn’t be Oliver Queen OR The Arrow anymore. He had to figure how to be the changed person that he’d become. My problem, though, is that he’s happy now, and I think it’s throwing him off his game. I mean, this is the guy who defeated The Demon’s Head so, theoretically, he really shouldn’t be letting common street thugs get the jump on him anymore. Maybe it’s signalling a tonal shift, but I thought Oliver thrived in the darkness. It’s one of the Batman tropes that they’ve applied to the show since the beginning. Oliver can’t be happy, as that would get in the way of his mission. But right now, he seems to be a man without a mission. So, where does that leave him? Apparently that means announcing his candidacy for mayor of Star City. I’m somewhat surprised to see them adapt this storyline so soon (especially since Oliver wins the election in the comics), but if it somehow leads him back to the old Arrow that we know and love, then I’m all for it. We’ve seen Oliver evolve in the past. During the first season, he was a killer. During the second and third, he was a vigilante. Now, he wants to be a hero – one that inspires people. But at what cost?

It seems like they’re gonna have Oliver fighting more metas this season, as they added the McGuffin of a high speed train between Star and Central Cities. So now metas have a quick way to leave Flash territory and land on Green Arrow turf. Like I mentioned before, Oliver shouldn’t be able to be taken down by street toughs anymore, so they really are gonna need to amp up his rogues gallery. Looks like they’re borrowing more from Batman, as Anarky has joined the party. A lot of this just feels like setup for the midseason Legends of Tomorrow, but I hope Arrow becomes a bit more cohesive in upcoming episodes.

truth

We’re almost 2 months into the new television season, yet we still haven’t witnessed that first heralded cancellation. No network seems to want to be first, so they’re “unofficially” canceling their shows by cutting their episode orders. Once those eps are done, that’s it. At that point, there’s no need to really announce a cancellation, as the ep order had already been made known. At the moment, Fox has cut the episode order for Minority Report, ABC has cut the order for Blood & Oil, and NBC has cut the order for The Player and Truth Be Told. TV critic Daniel Feinberg likes to talk about The Mulaney Line, which was the low ratings point at which Fox’s Mulaney hovered until it was cancelled. If a show’s ratings fall below the Mulaney Line, then everyone involved should be worried. For Fox, that would include Minority Report and Sleepy Hollow. For CBS, that’s CSI:Cyber. ABC actually doesn’t have any, but Blood & Oil‘s close. NBC’s are the ones for which they’re already cut the episode orders. Oddly enough, every show on The CW is under the line except for The Flash and Arrow. The other CW shows don’t have to worry, though, ’cause there seem to be different rules for that network. I still think the first official cancellation will come from NBC, especially since Truth Be Told had one of the lowest-rated in-season premieres in history.

rj-cyler

After I posted last week’s West Week Ever, the official Power Rangers Twitter account announced that RJ Cyler had been cast as the Blue Ranger in the upcoming Power Rangers movie. Well, this week, it was revealed why the characters have been referred to by the Ranger colors and not character names. Originally, it had been reported that they would retain the civilian names used in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but it now appears that they will have new names. The new names are as follows:

– Callum Oliver – The Red Ranger/Tyrannosaurus
– Priya Patel – The Pink Ranger/Pterodactyl
– Brian Olson – The Blue Ranger/Triceratops
– Oscar Fernandez – The Black Ranger/Mastodon
– Teyana Jones – The Yellow Ranger/Sabretooth Tiger

That’s four, count ’em, FOUR Rangers of color! Plus, I find it interesting that the Red Ranger’s last name is that same one as Tommy, the former Green/White/Red/Black Ranger. Also, the movie will now be called Saban’s Power Rangers. Yeah, that’s terrible. I can hear it now: “What the Hell is a Say-ban?!” I understand wanting to put your brand on something, but that’s just not the time or the place. The budget is reported to be around $35 million. The movie will be released in 2017.

On the music front, Adele released “Hello”, her first single since 2012’s “Skyfall”. The track did not disappoint, and the video broke Taylor Swift’s record for the most views (27.7 million, to be exact) in a 24-hour period. Her third album, 25, will be released next month, and she’ll also be the musical guest on the November 21st episode of Saturday Night Live.

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The biggest debut of the week, however, had to be CBS’s Supergirl. As the highest rated superhero premiere since 2000, and tying NBC’s Blindspot as the highest-rated debut of the season, everyone was talking about Kara Zor-El. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the show, and folks are very optimistic about its future. I didn’t see it, however. I already outlined my reasons why last week. Still, I’m glad to see it’s a success, as that can only mean more good things down the pipeline.

Links I Loved

Halloween Web – Kevin Hellions – AEIOU…and Sometimes Why

8 Mysterious Facts About Ghostwriter – Mental Floss

May The Force Friday Toys Be With You – The Nerds of Color

What Happens When Actors Leave High-School-TV Shows? – Vulture

Horror Month 2015, Day 20: Scream – The Robot’s Pajamas

This Swedish DJ Created the Template for Modern Pop. Why Have You Never Heard of Him? – Slate

A Wild Weekend In Florida – Storify

agentsofshield-news

Some folks will probably think this honor should’ve gone to Supergirl, but I just couldn’t do it. After all, I didn’t watch it, so I couldn’t really weigh in for myself. The hype was definitely there, but it didn’t quite make the cut for the *best* thing of the week. No, that credit goes to something that sort of came out of left field. Yes, I’m talking about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I think part of my surprise is due to the fact that I used to think nothing could save this show. I figured it would teeter along the line of mediocrity and somehow eke out about 3 or 4 seasons before Disney finally pulled the plug. Then, this season began. I mean, it actually started getting better after the Agent Carter break last winter, but it really got good this season. Focusing on the Inhumans – a race of aliens about whom I’ve never given a shit – I was preparing for the worst. Ugh, I’d be forced to continue watching this show because I’m a Marvel Zombie, and I don’t know how to quit anything. That’s what I was thinking, at least. And then, as I watched the episodes, I started to really get into the show. It’s come so far from what it was during its first season, and I almost can’t believe how good it’s gotten. The final proof, however, came during this week’s episode.

Jemma_liquid

At the end of last season’s finale, Agent Simmons was swallowed up by a Kree monolith and was presumed M.I.A. Well, this season we learned that the monolith was actually a portal to another planet. They spent the first couple of episodes this season trying to figure out how to get her back, and once they succeeded, something was noticeably wrong with her. This week’s episode finally showed us what happened to her during the 6 months that she’d been gone. It was an intimate episode with only 2 actors. Elizabeth Henstridge gave an amazing performance as a castaway trying to survive on an alien world. I won’t spoil the episode for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but it is, without a doubt, my favorite episode of the entire series. When you see it, you’ll see what I’m talking about. So, for blowing me away with how much it has improved, and for delivering one of the best hours of television I’ve seen in a long time, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had the West Week Ever.

18th Sep2015

West Week Ever – 9/18/15

by Will

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Welcome to a mega-sized edition of West Week Ever! I’m sorry I took a week off, but I had a pretty serious toothache that had the whole right side of my face in pain. Now I know how Harvey Dent felt! Anyway, let’s get on with the show.

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So, last week we celebrated Labor Day, but I wasn’t around to talk about it. Did I do anything exciting? No. I did something kinda stupid. You see, at 1 AM Monday morning, it dawned on me that I was about 6 weeks behind on Mr. Robot. Everywhere I turned, people were posting thinkpieces about the show’s season finale, and I’d been trying to avoid that corner of the Internet until I caught up. So, what better time to get caught up, right? Ugh. Next thing I knew, the sun was coming up, and I had no idea what I had just watched. Don’t get me wrong – I love the show, but there’s just so much of it I don’t care about. Like, I didn’t care about the Steel Mountain heist, or the Dark Army or really any of the hacker shit. I liked when Elliott did the stuff on his own, but I could do without the fsociety Scooby Gang. No, the plot itself meant little to me compared to the characters. The characters like Elliott, Tyrell, and Mr. Robot himself kept me on my toes. You never knew what they’d do next, and that’s why I was tuning in. I don’t want to spoil anything for folks who haven’t finished the season, but I’m really curious to know where they’ll go next season. And that after credits scene! I mean, what show has an after credits scene? I’m still trying to figure out what that whole thing meant. Out of summer shows, I probably didn’t enjoy Mr. Robot as much as I did Wayward Pines, but it was a close second.

the splat

Rumor has it that 90s NickToons will be returning in the form of The Splat! For now, according to Entertainment Weekly, it has only been confirmed as a programming block, so it’s not clear if it will be its own standalone network, like Boomerang, or if it will just be a block of programming on an existing channel, like Adult Swim. I, for one, hate the name and the logo. It comes across like a porn zine made by a 14 year old. Anyway, I didn’t have cable in the 90s, so I don’t have any real love for those shows, but I know that a lot of y’all reading this are probably excited about it.

Vanessa-Williams

It’s been a week of apologies, as folks are sorry for stupid shit left and right. First off, the week began with former Ms. America Vanessa Williams as a celebrity judge for this year’s pageant. For you young folks out there, Vanessa was the first Black Miss America – until Penthouse posted some old nude photos of her, and she was forced to relinquish her title. Vanessa bounced back from it all, becoming a singer, actress, blah, blah, blah. It’s like when you lose American Idol, but end up more famous than the winner. After all, who gives a shit about Suzette Charles, the runner-up who assumed Vanessa’s title after the scandal? Anyway, Vanessa saved the best for last, and ended up better off than she’d been. Well, during this week’s pageant, the Miss America Organization formally apologized to Vanessa for everything that had gone down…31 years ago. Wut? Why? And why now? Had this been the Miss USA Pageant, I’d get it, since they need to wash the Trump stench off of them, but this just seemed odd. I won’t say “too little, too late”, but it almost felt like they were drudging up stuff that everyone had pretty much moved on from. The whole thing just seemed odd, but Vanessa graciously accepted the apology, and is back in the Miss America fold. They still ain’t restoring her title, though.

rannazzisi

Meanwhile, The League star Steve Rannazzisi admitted that he’s been lying for 14 years that he survived the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. The story he’d been telling was that he worked at Merrill Lynch on the 54th floor of the south tower. He’d said that he made it to the street just as the second plane hit his building. After surviving the attacks, he realized that life was precious and decided to pursue his dream of being an entertainer. Welp, the story he’d been telling for 14 years was finally debunked this week. It turns out he was actually working in Midtown that day, and Merrill Lynch had no offices in the World Trade Center. The interesting thing is that it seems like his wife was in on the lie. After all, part of his story is that his then-girlfriend, now-wife was also slated to work on the 24th floor of the south tower, but never made it to the building. It has since been reported, however, that she was actually temping at the nearby World Financial Center, but not in the tower. So, this whole thing seems like one giant Rannazzisi Family Secret that was finally exposed. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to his career, as things were just starting to happen for him. He’s the public face of Buffalo Wild Wings (who are currently reevaluating their relationship with him), and his new standup special, Breaking Dad, is scheduled to premiere on Comedy Central tomorrow night. Meanwhile, The League has filmed 11 of this season’s 13 episodes, and FX Networks is standing by him for the rest of the season. He’s not really a “name”, and more people know him from this scandal now than from his work. The question now is whether his career is over, or if people will give him a second chance.

Sacco

Speaking of second chances, remember Justine Sacco? If you don’t remember, her life was ruined back in 2013 by one tweet:

sacco tweet

 

That tweet went viral, and by the time she got off the plane in Africa, she had already been fired. She went on to write several articles about what she learned from the experience, and mainly she just wanted to get her life back. Well, it appears that she’s now that Director of Communications at FanDuel – ya know, that fantasy football site that claims you can win millions of dollars a week or something? Yeah, that one. It seems fitting, as those are exactly the kind of dude-bros who’d get a kick out of what she did. I guess she’s finally getting her life back, so Hulk Hogan and Steve Rannazzisi just have to sit tight and the same will happen for them.

MJ

In the world of comics, it was revealed that Spider-Man’s former wife, Mary Jane Watson, will be a supporting character in the upcoming Invincible Iron Man series. Marvel won’t comment on what exactly her role will be, but they reminded us that Tony likes redheads. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. I mean, the Marvel Universe is a shared universe, so it makes sense to have some supporting character crossovers. That said, she’s just such an iconic Spider-Man character, that I have a hard time accepting her in someone else’s world. I really hope she’s something like Tony’s personal assistant or something, as I’ve got too much love for Peter and Pepper to accept that their mates are pairing off.

jessica jones

In the TV corner of the Marvel Universe, it was revealed last week that Jessica Jones will debut on Netflix on November 20th – perfect for Thanksgiving bingewatching. If you’re not familiar with the character yet, she’s a former hero-turned-private investigator in the Marvel Universe. Eventually she marries Power Man, Luke Cage, and they have a daughter together. In the show, she will be going up against The Purple Man, which happened in the final arc of her comic series, Alias. Mike Colter’s Luke Cage will also appear before starring in his own series next year. As I’ve said before, I love Krysten Ritter, and I love this character, but I don’t love the idea of Krysten Ritter playing this character. The casting just seems all wrong to me, but I’ve got to learn to trust Marvel, so we’ll just have to see how it turns out.

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Just sit right back, and let Uncle Will tell you a tale. Some might say this story is about the Best Time Ever. You see, about a month ago, I applied to be on a game show. This isn’t necessarily new, as I’ve washed out of the Jeopardy test twice already. This particular game show, however, was an untested quantity. The show was new, so it was like getting in on the ground floor of something. I actually filled out the application on a whim, as one of my Twitter friends had mentioned that he was gonna do it. Mainly they wanted to know more about me and my pop culture knowledge. I had to give them links to instances of my online presence, and then I had to answer some questions. So, I spent a lot of the time talking about a cappella, Pitch Perfect, and working in comics. Ya know, stuff that’d make me seem “quirky”. Well, I guess it worked, as I received a call from “Sage”, who I assume was a production assistant on the show, within 24 hours. Damn, that was some fast turnaround! Unfortunately for me, I missed her call. So, I called her back, and left a message. We played phone tag for about a week and a half until her side gave up. One day, “Nicole” answered the phone and said that someone would call me back, but I knew that I had pretty much come to the end of the road.

BTE

That show was Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, which premiered Tuesday night on NBC. One of the stipulations of the application was that I wasn’t allowed to publicly say anything negative about NBC (which was especially hard since Mr. Robinson had just premiered. Ugh!). Since the show only has an 8-week trial run, and Sage was probably fired or has gone on to bigger things, I think I’m free to discuss things now.

So, did I dodge a bullet? I’m not quite sure yet. An American adaptation of The UK’s Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Best Time Ever was seen as the Return of the Variety Show Age of the 70s. As with all things, however, the concept had to be modernized and updated, and I’m not quite sure it worked. I know it was just the premiere, but the show was all over the place. A friend on Twitter said that it came off like a Japanese game show, and it certainly was that crazy. NPH went from stalking a newlywed couple to fake auditioning for The Voice to challenging Celebrity Guest Announcer Reese Witherspoon to some American Ninja Warrior-type of race – and he didn’t even let her win! That’s what most critics have been talking about: the fact that there’s almost too much focus on NPH himself. Based on the premiere, the title should be stylized as best time ever with NEIL PATRICK HARRIS.

Get Lucky

The part that I would’ve participated in was later in the show, in a segment called “Get Lucky”, where NPH calls someone out of the audience up on stage to answer trivia. It’s kinda like The Price Is Right, although I’m pretty sure that chick knew beforehand that she was being called. That was the weird thing about the application – they made it sound like being on the show was a given (I guess since they need an audience), but there was no guarantee that you’d get to play. This was made apparent by the fact that this woman was the lone contestant of the whole night. And what questions did he ask? Strangely enough, a lot of them pertained to NBC/Universal properties. That’s corporate synergy for ya. The chick did win a shitload of stuff, but there wasn’t even a lot of focus on the prizes once they had been won. I think they were running short on time, seeing as how it’s a live show.

At the end of the day, the ratings for the premiere were just OK. The real test, however, is going to be when the show moves to its 8 PM timeslot, where it’ll go up against CBS’s NCIS and ABC’s The Muppets. I think it’s gonna be a LONG 8 weeks. Am I sad about missing out? Kinda. I mean, it would’ve been cool to be on TV, and I knew all the answers to that trivia, so it would’ve been easy prizes. Still, instead of being the next Jeopardy, this show might merely end up as a footnote in game show history. I think that’s part of the problem – it doesn’t know if it wants to commit to being a variety show or a game show. I wasn’t born in the 70s, but from what I’ve seen, there wasn’t as much audience interaction in the variety shows of the past. Maybe that’s the problem here. Anyway, NPH did pull an awesome backflip off of a pogo stick, which was probably the highlight of the episode. I know that’s what I’ll remember.

usf

Speaking of television, last night I had the pleasure of joining Corey over on the UnderScoopFire Podcast, as we discussed the upcoming Falll television schedule. He’d recently written about which new shows he thought would be cancelled, as well as which he felt would get a second season, so we debated those lists. If you love television, and want to weigh in, check out the episode here.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– Arnold Schwarzenegger was announced as the new host of Celebrity Apprentice. I hope he says “You-uh Fy-ud.”

– The Rock is having The Pebble, as Dwayne Johnson and girlfriend Lauren Hashian are expecting

– The G.I. Joe cartoon series debuted 30 years ago this week. Yo Joe!

– NBC is developing a gay reboot of the 80s series Hart to Hart

– Speaking of NBC, The Carmichael Show has been renewed for a second season

– Meanwhile, NBC is also developing a prequel to the Taken film series. I assume it’ll be called You ‘Bout To Get Took. I’m just playing. That’d be the BET version.

Pacific Rim 2 has been delayed indefinitely, possibly permanently. The first one’s still on my DVR…

– TNBC hit Hang Time debuted 20 years ago last week. I’m so friggin’ old…

– Rachel McAdams confirmed that she will be starring alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

– Rumor has it that companion Jenna Coleman will be leaving Doctor Who later this year to star as Queen Victoria in an ITV series. Yay, British shit!

– Director Rupert Wyatt has exited the Gambit movie that nobody wants

-After 7 seasons, someone finally won American Ninja Warrior. Guess Americans just weren’t cut out for that whole “ninja” thing until recently. I blame meat hormones.

– Amazon announced a new $50 7″ Fire tablet, which will also be sold in 6-packs for the price of 5 ($250). Yes, they’re selling tablets like soda now, apparently.

 

Links I Loved

The Undertaker Needs to Retire. Right Now. – Complex

Terrence Howard Is a Bad Person Who Is Also Crazy – Defamer

5 Things You Learn When A Facebook Friend Dies – Cracked

The Caucasian’s Guide to Black Barbecues – Michael Harriot

10 New Fall Shows That Will Be Cancelled By Christmas – UnderScoopFire

10 New Fall Shows Guaranteed to Get a Second Season – UnderScoopFire

10 Rare Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toys Part 2 – Crooked Ninja

6 Observations about The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – Nerd Lunch

U.S. Theme Parks with the Most Deaths – The Robot’s Pajamas

Forever Season 2: Find Out What Would’ve Become of Henry and Jo – TVLine

ahmed-mohamed-featured-1024x689

What can I say about Ahmed Mohamed that you don’t already know? The 14 year old created a homemade digital clock, but was arrested for taking it to school, as it was suspected to be a bomb. Why? ‘Cause he’s brown and brown people apparently don’t just build clocks for shits and giggles. Once his story got out, it inspired the #IStandWithAhmed hashtag as people showed their support for the kid. But it didn’t stop there. All of a sudden, he started getting offers from everywhere from MIT to NASA, all encouraging him to continue building, and asking to meet him. Hell, even Ne-Yo got in on it:

neyoThat mixtape is gonna be FIRE!

BUT IT DIDN’T END THERE!

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HOLY SHIT! I don’t care how the week started for this kid, it ended in ways he could never have imagined. Or could he? Some folks out there think he knew what he was doing by putting the clock in a metal briefcase, but that’s really neither here nor there. All I know is that Ahmed Mohamed can now write his own ticket. His future is set. He might as well just start referring to himself as The Clock King. It’s a wrap. No human has been this synonymous with clocks since Flava Flav, and nobody was giving that dude space camp scholarships or shirts that have been in space. I don’t really feel like getting into the politics of it all, nor do I feel like this is gonna start any new dialogue on race, but I do know that Ahmed Mohamed, hands down, had the West Week Ever.

04th Sep2015

West Week Ever – 9/4/15

by Will

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Snowpiercer-2

So, this week I finally got around to watching Snowpiercer. I’d heard nothing but great things about it, but it had taken me forever to finally sit down and watch it. I had a ton of work to do, so I figured I’d just have it on in the background, but it ended up getting my undivided attention. If you’ve never heard of the movie, here’s the deal: in the near future, scientists decide to combat Global Warming by releasing a chemical called CW-7 into the atmosphere. Well, the substance worked too well, and resulted in another ice age – and the extinction of humanity. So, the last bastion of humanity survives on “The Rattling Ark”, a train that traverses the globe annually. The train, however, is set up on a class system, with the rich up front, and the poor common folk in the tail section. The rich dine on steak, while the poor initially had to resort to cannibalism until they were given protein supplement bars. Well, the tail section decides to fight their way to the engine, in order to take control of the train. The resistance is led by Chris Evans, and the movie follows his group as they move forward, from car to car. I tend not to like End of The World/mass death movies, but this one was really good. And that ending! Anyway, I highly recommend this movie.

Spice World

A few weeks back, when I was on The Nerd Lunch Podcast, we discussed things that get a “bad rap”. One thing that was mentioned was the movie Spice World. I have always hated this movie. As I explained in the episode, it was the first movie I’d ever ordered as Pay-Per-View, and I was begging for it to be over. It just completely lost my attention. I mean, the biggest American star in the thing was George Wendt! Now, oddly enough, I was a big Spice Girls fans, so I should’ve been the target audience. Plus, I LOVE crappy movies starring pop groups (see: 2gether and S Club: Seeing Double). Since it was on a few nights ago, I decided to give it another chance. And the verdict? Still hate it. It’s got NO plot. I mean, there’s something about a British tabloid guy who wants to break up the group, and then they have this pregnant friend that they kept neglecting ’cause they’re too busy for her normal ass. And then Mark McKinney (remember him?) and George Wendt are American filmmakers who might be filming the movie that we’re watching, meanwhile Alan Cumming is a documentarian who’s also filming a movie about the group. And then the group breaks up for some reason. This is the part that got me, because it flashes back to when they were a younger, struggling group – like they all grew up together or something. It totally neglects to acknowledge that the group was formed like every other British pop group: they answered a casting call. Anyway, they come back together just as their normal ass friend is about to give birth, and then they all reunite for their concert at Albert Hall just in time to sing “Spice Up Your Life”. I did not like this movie. Love the girls (especially Sporty), and love the music, but did not love this film.

jay-pharoah-can-i-be-me

I also caught the standup special, Jay Pharoah: Can I Be Me? If you watch SNL, then you know Jay Pharoah as “the Black guy who’s not Kenan”. He also does a pretty good Obama. Anyway, I guess he got this hour special off the back of his impressions, because his standup jokes need work. He can do a mean Denzel and Bernie Mac, but his jokes were kinda lame. Even the audience wasn’t really feeling it, but he always got a pop when he’d break out the impressions. If he gets another special, he either needs to hone his material, or just focus on impressions the way Rich Little does.

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Last week, I mentioned the McWhopper proposed by Burger King. Since McDonalds declined the invitation, a few other burger chains have approached BK about participating. So, now BK is proposing the Peace Day Burger, which would contain signature ingredients from Denny’s, Krystal, and some places called Giraffas and Wayback Burger. McDonald’s is still invited to participate if they change their mind, but now BK is courting other suitors. They plan to go ahead with the pop-up shop that was already under construction in Atlanta, so I really hope this goes through.

marvel studios

This week, it was announced that the film division of Marvel Studios will now report directly to Disney, in a move that was supported by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. Apparently, there had been some creative pushback from Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, and Feige had threatened to leave the company. This also means the end of the Marvel Creative Committee – the group comprised of Marvel Entertainment President Alan Fine, Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, Publisher Dan Buckley, and writer Brian Michael Bendis – which has guided the Marvel Cinematic Universe since its inception. Folks are now wondering what this means for the future of the Marvel movies. Will the audience even notice a difference, or is this a major creative shakeup that will be felt at all throughout future movies. This especially makes things messy for the television division, which will reportedly stay under the direction of Marvel Enterprises. There had been rumors that Marvel Studios and Marvel Enterprises weren’t playing nice together, and this could affect the possibility of any of the TV characters making it into the films. Right now, only time will tell.

Superman 43 reveal

Speaking of the comic world, I finally got around to reading Superman #43, which is the issue where *SPOILER ALERT* Lois Lane reveals Superman’s identity to the world. It shouldn’t be too much of a spoiler, as every Superman book recently has revolved around the fact that the world knows his identity, and we were waiting for that golden moment where the reveal would be shown. Having read the issue, I can now say that this was a TERRIBLE idea. I’m not even talking about the repercussions of such an action. I’m saying that, from a story perspective, the threat level wasn’t high enough to warrant what Lois did. There was no alien invasion, there were no life or death stakes. No, Superman was being tortured by a tech collective called HORDR (think Evil Google), and they were blackmailing him. They want to test his new Super Flare (this stupid new thing where he basically explodes) power out on their energy siphoning creatures, and they torture him to see how much he can take. If he refuses, they reveal his identity to the world. Lois felt that by doing it herself, she would take away their leverage, allowing Superman to break free. OK, that’s really stupid. It was just torture. Superman has dealt with far worse. They didn’t even have Kryptonite or anything. It seems like she was just dying to tell the world (which was a dick move, considering she had just spent the earlier part of the issue promising to keep his secret). I really hope DC has some grand plan as to why his ID needs to be public, because this story so far sure hasn’t justified that decision.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-The Summer of Breakups continues, as Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger announced they were separating after 2 years of marriage. I’m sure folks are gonna use this opportunity to make a bunch of Nickelback jokes, but I actually like some of their songs…

-NBC’s reboot of the sitcom Coach will not be going ahead at the network. It sounded like a terrible idea, but I was still morbidly curious.

Diggle Suit

-It appears that Diggle will finally be getting a costume on Arrow. As the internet has already pointed out, he just looks like Magneto.

-The MTV Video Music Awards were last Sunday, where host Miley Cyrus exposed her left breast, and Kanye West announced he’s running for President in 2020. For the record, Kanye was the bigger boob that night.

Marvel’s Luke Cage made 2 casting announcements this week, as Mahershala Ali will play Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, while Simone Missick will play Misty Knight.

force friday

So, last night I had dinner with my Thrift Justice partner, Mike (for those new to the site, Thrift Justice is the series where I write about all the cool stuff Mike and I find while thrifting). We had been a bit estranged lately because Mike’s lost his passion for the yard sale thing. This was a bum season, and it has kinda taken its toll. Anyway, we had dinner to catch up, and when the meal was done, we decided to check out Force Friday – the worldwide release of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys. This was going to prove a problem, however, as it was 9:30 PM, and the toys wouldn’t be released until 12:01 AM. So, how would we kill time?

At first, we were going to see a movie, but nothing good was playing. It had pretty much come down to Owen Wilson’s No Escape (which I’ll probably DVR when it hits HBO) or Transporter: Refueled. While waiting for the showtimes, I checked the Force Friday website to see what kinda swag was being offered. It turned out that only 207 Target stores in the country were opening at midnight, and the closest one to us was almost 2 hrs away in Hagerstown. Meanwhile, all Toys “R” Us stores would be giving away a free poster and commemorative LEGO brick to the people came to shop. Hagerstown started looking like the best option, since TRU is right across the shopping center parking lot from Target.

We got to TRU around 11, and sat in the car for a bit. Did we really wanna wait in line with this…riffraff? Eventually, we decided that we did. Standing in line, we reminisced about our days working at TRU, and chatted with the guy in line ahead of us. At 12:01, they opened the doors, but they treated it like a club. This burly guy in a TRU shirt acted as the bouncer, as he only let in a certain amount of people at a time. Instead of setting the merchandise up in the Feature Shop (the showcase at the front of the store), the toys were all located in the first boys aisle, on both sides of the aisle. So, you could understand why they were only letting in a few at a time, as only so many people could fit in an aisle. Their first mistake was this setup. Their second mistake was that they had a 3-per item limit on everything. So, for example, you could get 3 Star Wars Black 6″ Finn figures, and then move on and get 3 of something else, and so on. So, as you can imagine, the 6″ Star Wars Black line was the first to go. I stood outside, like a hungry orphan, looking through the window as other dudes were buying my toys. By the time I got to the aisle, all the Star Wars Black – the stuff I was specifically looking for – was gone. Meanwhile, this mom with a PHAT ASS was barking orders at her son, as she filled a cart with 3 of everything. Now, remember how I told you everything and everyone was crammed into one aisle, and she had the gall to navigate a cart into that madness! When I left the aisle, she was arguing with the employees because they didn’t have all of the items she had set out to by. I quickly grabbed a 4″ Finn and Captain Phasma just so that I could say I bought something on Force Friday. I went to the register, checked out, and got my poster and LEGO brick.

Next, we decided to hit up Target. As you can imagine, due to the proximity, all of the folks who were ahead of us in line at TRU had already beat us to Target. So, they were also out of Star Wars Black. They were having a drawing for 3 giant Wookiees, so Mike and I waited around, hoping to win the raffle. We did not win. And exactly the kind of guys you’re picturing in your head are the ones who won. Just a bunch of friggin’ neckbeards. Out of some kind of impulse, I bought another Finn (this one to keep in package. I know, I know…) and Kylo Renn’s three-pronged lightsaber. We didn’t even discuss hitting up the nearby Walmart, and we began the journey back to Rockville where I’d left my car. In all, I was pretty disappointed with Force Friday. Sure, I had walked away with a free tote bag (Thanks, Target!) and that disappointing LEGO piece (it wasn’t even a brick. It was more like a panel), but I still hadn’t found what I was looking for (cue U2). I went to sleep thinking that Force Friday, while interesting to observe, had been a bust as a participant.

This morning, however, I remembered that it’s still Friday. Sure, everything kicked off at midnight, but not every store had been open, so maybe the stores that were just opening this morning would have a better selection. So, I hit 2 Targets on the way to work. At the first store, the selection was almost better than what I had observed at the Hagerstown Target last night. I found some Star Wars Black, and walked away with a 6″ Kylo Renn and Rey. At the next Target, I found what I’d been wanting the whole time: Star Wars Black 6″ Finn. I know nothing of his character, and I know nothing of the actor, but I needed him for much the same reason a lot of Black folks voted for Obama: he was a Black dude. Outside of Lando, we don’t have a ton of representation in the Star Wars Universe, and Lando’s kind of a bastard. I mean, he sells them out, and suffers no real repercussions. Sure, he’s on the side of the good guys at the end, but his character is still kinda devious. I like Finn’s character design, and he’s probably the reason I’m most excited for The Force Awakens. So, with my grail piece in hand, I walked out of the store with a smile on my face. Force Friday had been redeemed!

Looking back on it all, I would’ve made out a lot better if I had just skipped the midnight stuff, and just checked the stores this morning. The selection was much better, and you didn’t have to deal with the smelly masses. Still, it was nice to be part of the excitement of the midnight release. I’m not primarily a Star Wars “fan”, per se, but I can appreciate that folks are excited about a new installment of this thing that they love. Force Friday represents our first official glance at the world to come, so it’s pretty important – even if its goal was just to sell a shit ton of toys. So, in my mind, Force Friday is having the West Week Ever.

28th Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/28/15

by Will

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amy

The only thing I watched this week of note was Amy Winehouse BBC Sessions 2007 – Live at Porchester Hall. Apparently, I have some channel called Palladia, which is owned by Viacom, and only shows music programming. You know those folks who are all “Remember when MTV used to play music?” Well, this network is for them. Anyway, I was channel surfing and came across this special. I HAD to watch it ’cause I actually had a thing for Amy Winehouse. Like Demi Lovato, she was sexy in an ugly girl kind of way (ya know, like Sensational Sherri back in the old WWF days). The special wasn’t that great. Amy was drinking between and during songs, and slurred through some of the songs. She’d try to talk between sets, but I don’t know what the Hell she was saying. It was actually kinda sad, as I actually saw Amy live back when Virgin was still throwing the annual MegaFest (this predated the more recent FreeFest). That was a much bigger venue, but I felt like she handled herself better than she did in the intimate setting of Porchester Hall. It’s still such a sad story, considering what her career could’ve been. When you really look at it, she only had one album that mattered (nobody cared about her debut, Frank, until Back to Black became a hit), and I would love to know if her sound would’ve just been a flash in the pan, or if it would’ve evolved somehow. It could be said that Back to Black was as much Mark Ronson’s album as it was Amy’s, so I guess we could look to his subsequent work for clues. Welp, I guess we Amy fans will never know, and we’ll have to hitch our wagons to Adele.

blunt-talk

Oh, I did watch something else – the Seth MacFarlane-produced Blunt Talk debuted on Starz last weekend. Starring Patrick Stewart as Walter Blunt, a Piers Morgan-esque TV host, I’m not quite sure how I feel about the show. Naturally, we’re going to like Blunt because, well, he’s Patrick Stewart. He’s simply impossible to dislike. That said, we’re supposed to dislike him, as Blunt’s a multiple divorcee with a substance abuse problem. In the pilot, he’s arrested for soliciting a prostitute, who happens to be trans, and then has to figure out how spin the incident in order to save his dwindling career. Does his plan work? Not sure. He collapsed at the end of the episode, so we’ll have to wait until next week to see. I’m typically a MacFarlane fan, but I’m not sure this show did it for me. I’ll give it a few more chances, mainly because I want to see if we get any more Trek cameos (Brent Spiner was in the pilot).

McWhopper

If there’s one thing that I am these days, it’s a fat kid. So, as a fat kid, imagine my joy when I learned of the McWhopper! Proposed by Burger King to bring awareness to World Peace Day (September 21, 2015), they wanted to create a sandwich that merged the popular Whopper and Big Mac sandwiches from both brands. BK designed a handy website detailing their plans, and they had thought of everything – uniforms, package design, etc. Sadly, they had decided to hold it at the midway point between both of their corporate headquarters, so the sandwich would only be sold in pop-up stores in Atlanta. They felt that the best way to be an example for peace would be, for one day, to call a truce in the Burger War between the two companies. All they needed was McDonald’s blessing. And McDonald’s said no. UGH!

McWhopper ResponseMcDonald’s didn’t allude to what this “something bigger” might be, so it just comes off as a cop-out. It’s especially sad since BK was doing all the work, and it would’ve been a cool gesture. I certainly would’ve cared more about that than some folks pouring buckets of ice water over their heads. Peace is a good thing and all that, but I also wanna behold the frankenburger that would be the McWhopper! I say BK should just go ahead and do it by themselves. After all, the Big King is a brazen rip-off of McDonald’s Big Mac (only the patties are flame-broiled), so BK already has all of the ingredients. They should just create the Peace Whopper for that day. Everyone could have their McWhopper and eat it, too!

one-direction

On the music front, UK boyband One Direction announced that they will go on hiatus sometime next year in order to focus on solo projects. Take it from me – this is the end of One Direction. Their pop chart rivals, The Wanted, announced their own hiatus last year, and that was the last we ever heard from them. The whole “taking a break to work on solo projects” NEVER works. It can only end one of two ways: A) the solo albums fail and the group members crawl back to each other (see: Backstreet Boys) or B) one of them is wildly successful and leaves the others in the dust (see: *NSYNC). Remember, *NSYNC’s been “on hiatus” since 2002. Then again, UK groups do have a better track record with this sort of thing if the timing is right. STEPS got back together, as did S Club 7. And the reality show The Big Reunion showed that there are more UK groups waiting in the wings for the comeback treatment. So, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, read this hilarious take on the situation by “Joey Fatone”.

SECRET_WARS_009

In comic news, Marvel announced that their 8-issue Secret Wars event series will now feature…a NINTH ISSUE! Man, this really grinds my gears, and I’m not really sure why. I mean, if it was originally supposed to be 9 issues, they should’ve told us that in the beginning. The book has already been shipping late, so how will this help things? It feels like a cash grab, which I don’t really appreciate. Plus, they say it won’t affect the All-New, All-Different launches that are planned for October, so this feels more like an epilogue. Why not just call it Secret Wars: Epilogue instead of renumbering the whole series? I know it’s all irrational, but it just doesn’t sit well with me.

Civil War

Speaking of Marvel, this teaser image was leaked for Captain America: Civil War, revealing the sides that the heroes will take. I don’t really see many surprises here, although I think it would’ve been interesting if Rhodey had chosen Cap’s side. I mean, they’re both military men, and I’d love to see Tony and Rhodey at odds to see how that would play out onscreen. Plus, I really don’t see why Black Panther would choose Tony’s side. I mean, besides the fact that they’re both rich and smart, their ideologies are quite different. I can’t even remember whose side Black Panther was on in the comic, ’cause that was during that stupid period where he was married to Storm and they were making diplomatic trips across the globe.

Nerd Lunch

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining the Nerd Lunch crew to discuss things in pop culture that get a “bad rap”. It started with a discussion of my thoughts on Fant4stic Four, but we covered other topics like Constantine, The Matrix sequels and more. Be sure to check it out here.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Alison Brie & Dave Franco are engaged. Lucky son of a bitch…

-In “Duh” News, Vin Diesel is confirmed for Guardians of the Galaxy 2

-Speaking of Vin Diesel, he’s apparently returning to the xXx franchise. Filming will begin in December in the Philippines. Also, never Google “Vin Diesel xxx” while in polite company….

-Actor, and former NFL player, Matt Willig has been cast as Lash, an Inhuman in the upcoming season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I don’t know this dude or his character…

-In the most recent Captain Underpants book, one of the protagonists was revealed to be gay. With a move this bold and important, I’m amazed this isn’t getting more press anywhere.

athf

I never thought I’d be an Adult Swim viewer. Back in the day, I thought it pretty much existed to entertain stoners. And while I wasn’t wrong, I soon learned that you could enjoy the shows while sober as well. One of the first shows I checked out was this weird thing called Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I had no clue what the title meant, but it was a weird show about a trio of fast food products that talked. Early on, they were supposed to be detectives, but they dropped that angle pretty quickly. I grew to love Frylock, Master Shake, and Meatwad, as they argued over whether The Highlander was based on a true story, or if their attic was haunted by a monster. After 15 years on the air, this week saw the series finale of Aqua Teen Hunger Force (now referred to as Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever).

Titled “The Last One Forever and Ever (For Real This Time) (We Fucking Mean It)”, the double-length episode followed the trio as they embarked on a dangerous mission to replace Frylock’s jewel and save his life. Do they succeed? I won’t spoil that for you, but I will say that it was an oddly sad episode – not just because it was the end of an era, but also because of the episode’s epilogue. At 12:30 Monday morning, I said goodbye to 3 old friends. The Aqua Teen Hunger Force wasn’t going down without a fight, however. On Wednesday, in conjunction with Destiny: The Taken King, a secret final, FINAL episode was released online. Titled “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, it followed Frylock and Carl as they gained immortality from the Highlander himself, Christopher Lambert. After the heaviness of Sunday’s finale, it was nice to see them back to their old antics. It was the ATHF that I’d loved all these years.

According to reports, the creators weren’t ready to end the show. It was the longest-running original series on Adult Swim, and Adult Swim president Mike Lazzo simply thought it was time to move on. With 139 episodes under their belt, I doubt ATHF will be leaving Adult Swim’s schedule any time soon. So, for giving me 15 years of laughs (and for redeeming its finale with that secret episode), Aqua Teen Hunger Force had the West Week Ever.

 

07th Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/7/15

by Will

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community-season-6-cast

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

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

WallyWest

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

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

prison-break-streaming1

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

xmen

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

LEGO_Avengers_Cover

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

FF

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

Trank

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

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

Deadpool_Bridge

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

deadpool

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

ultimate deadpool

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

blade

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

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

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