20th May2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 5/20/16 (Upfronts Edition)

by Will

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ladykillers

On the movie front, this week I watched The Ladykillers, from the Coen Brothers. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a 2004 remake of a 1955 British film, where a band of criminals plot to rob a riverboat, using an old lady’s basement as their base of operations. When the lady discovers their plan, and doesn’t agree with it, they decide the only option is to kill her. It’s funny because I know I’ve seen this film before, but I can’t remember why or when. I usually don’t include rewatches in my reviews, but it wasn’t until the end that I realized, yes, I’ve seen this movie. It’s got a great ensemble with Tom Hanks, Marlon Wayans and JK Simmons. Hanks’ character steals the show as the creepy, yet educated, southern gentleman ringleader of the bunch. One thing I found interesting: the kindly old lady is Black, uber religious, and prides herself on the fact that she sends $5 to Bob Jones University every month. Now, Bob Jones is a pretty racist institution. Founded in 1927, it didn’t admit Blacks until 1975, and had a ban on interracial dating until 2000 (!). It seems odd to me that she’d be funneling her money there. And it’s not a case of colorblind casting, as the character is clearly meant to have always been a kindly old Black church lady. I just found that odd. Anyway, if you’re looking to kill some time, it’s a cute little movie.

cloverfield

I also caught 10 Cloverfield Lane. It’s shrouded in mystery, so I won’t give too much away. Watching it, though, I realized that it’s really just a dramatic adaptation of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: A girl gets kidnapped and taken to a bunker where she’s told the world has ended outside. Only instead of The Reverend there’s John Goodman. It was pretty suspenseful, and it was interesting to see how it tied into the whole Cloverfield universe. They’re clearly building something big here, and I’m eager to see what the next installments bring.  I actually had the ending spoiled for me by a coworker back when it came out, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment. I definitely recommend this movie.

jerrod

On the television front, I caught the HBO stand-up special Jerrod Carmichael: Love at the Store. Now, like me, you’re probably more familiar with Carmichael as the star and creator of The Carmichael Show. That said, I didn’t know anything about his stand-up. I’ve already mentioned that Jerrod is probably my least favorite character on his own show, so imagine my surprise when his special actually really spoke to me. He said a lot of stuff that would probably be considered controversial, but it was hilarious. There were even some bits where the audience seemed scared to go along with him. He goes into a few things like how talent trumps morals, which is why Michael Jackson still probably got into Heaven. You could see where a lot of the material from the sitcom came from, as it was derived from his stand-up act. I had just seen the episode earlier that evening where his father says that he tolerates road rage from folks in expensive cars because they’re clearly important and have places to be. That same joke was used in the special. Anyway, this special gave me a newfound respect for Carmichael that I didn’t necessarily have before. I’ve always enjoyed the show, but his character just wasn’t very likable. This special showed me that that’s not what he’s about, and he’s just not warm and fuzzy, but he is pretty smart. I highly recommend checking it out.

bargatze

I also watched the stand-up special Nate Bargatze: Full Time Magic. I really like Bargatze, as he’s got a sort of Southern everyman vibe to him, but he’s not country like the Blue Collar Comedy guys. He plays it pretty safe, and I’d say he’s family friendly. He’s got a funny bit about trying to fight his wife’s ex-boyfriend on a boat. I’ve been watching a lot of guys doing the Asshole Comic thing lately, like Tosh and Jeselnik, so this was a welcome reprieve from that. Funny stuff from a nice guy. Check it out!

1893

I don’t normally do food and beverage reviews because I don’t have the most refined palette, but when I tried Pepsi’s 1893, I knew I HAD to talk about it. Marketed as “a bold spin on an original cola”, it’s…interesting. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t just love it either. Like, if it were on tap at a restaurant, I wouldn’t order a refill. It’s good in one dose. In a lot of ways, it’s the Arch Deluxe of cola. Anyone remember the Arch Deluxe? If not, it was an attempt by McDonald’s to make a sophisticated “adult” burger since most of their fare had been seen as something for kids. It had peppercorns, and Dijon sauce, and a whole bunch of other nonsense. Needless to say, it didn’t last. The commercial has the footnote that 1893 doesn’t contain alcohol, but they’re clearly marketing it as an “adult” drink. I mean, the commercial even features a Soda Sommelier (that’s a fancy word for “wine dude”). In fact, if you go to the website, it has recipes for cocktails where you use the soda as a mixer. I also tried the Ginger Cola variant, and no me gusta! At first, it started out tasting like Holiday Spice Pepsi, but then the ginger overpowered everything. After a few sips, I felt like I was drinking straight cologne out of that can. So, at the end of the day, 1893 is NOT a thirst quencher. If anything, Pepsi’s just trying to get into the mixology business by tying into their preexisting brand.

ghostbusters

A new Ghostbusters trailer was released this week, and it’s miles above what we got before. I think this movie could be pretty funny, as I always trust Paul Feig, but I fear the well’s been poisoned on this one. There’s just SO. MUCH. BACKLASH. And it’s gotten ugly. It didn’t help that the “Angry Video Game Nerd” James Rolfe posted a video about how he wouldn’t be filming a video reviewing the movie. Huh? What a bunch of wasted effort! It’s funny because his own film, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, is probably the worst piece of shit I’ve ever seen. Ever. Anyway, he’s now the figurehead of the Anti-Ghostbusters 2016 crowd, and he’s amassing followers quicker than Rocky did during that Philly jog. Now, we’ve got folks claiming the haters are sexist, while the haters are defending their right to hate without sexism coming into play. Then Patton Oswalt got involved, and folks started making jokes about his recently deceased wife. Like I said, ugly. At this point, however, I do kinda wish they hadn’t called it Ghostbusters because there are going to be comparisons and expectations. I’d rather it thrive or fail on its own merits, and not by how it didn’t live up to some 30 yr old movie that a bunch of folks seem to think is infallible.

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There was a LOT of news over at DC Entertainment this week. First off, they debuted that boring logo that you see above this paragraph. Ugh! Why? I said it on Twitter, and it got a bunch of likes and RTs, so it must be true: DC is like the insecure kid who changes just to fit in with the cool kids. This is their 3rd logo change in 10 yrs. That’s a brand problem. They had a logo that worked for THIRTY YEARS in the form of the “DC Bullet”. Then, for no real reason other than “change”, they adopted the “spin” logo in 2005. I liked that logo because it was something of a natural evolution of the bullet. Then, when “The New 52” happened, we got the “peel” logo which, as my pal Dean pointed out, kinda looked like a penis head. I did not like the peel, but I did like how it was customized for each property. There was a different one for Gotham, Arrow, etc. Now, we get…this. They’re trying to say it’s like a throwback logo, but it really isn’t. It’s just underwhelming. And for what? “Rebirth”? We don’t even know what this whole initiative is yet, but it’s important enough to change the brand again? I just don’t buy it. And I don’t see this logo having much staying power.

Meanwhile at DC, it was announced that Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and Warner Bros Executive VP Jon Berg will co-run a new division called DC Films. So, basically these two guys are the Kevin Feige of the DC Cinematic Universe. Yup, it takes two guys at DC to do the same job as one at Marvel. OK. Anyway, the reaction to this has been mixed. Some feel like this is a great move, as it might wrest some control away from Zack Snyder, who’s seen as a detrimental force behind the scenes. Others, however, who think Johns is the worst thing to happen to comics, believe that this is just another bad move from a poorly run company. I’m kind of in the middle. I like Johns, and I feel like he longs for the days of the Silver Age of comics. After all, he’s spent the better part of his career trying to take things back to the way they were. That said, I don’t know what I expect him to do for the movies. After all, he was heavily involved in Green Lantern, and look how that turned out. He’s no Greg Berlanti, so I haven’t learned to just trust everything he’s involved with onscreen. I hear they’re already developing a Harley Quinn spin-off of Suicide Squad, which was never on their production slate, so it’s clear they’ve pretty much thrown out that “roadmap”. So, maybe Johns is what’s needed to right the ship, and get things on track. Or maybe he’s just another distraction. I guess time will tell.

the-order

It wouldn’t be a West Week Ever without a Power Rangers update. No, this time I’m not talking about the upcoming movie. Instead, I want to introduce you to The Order. It’s a crowdfunded film that stars nothing but former Power Rangers actors as mercenaries who turn on each other. And it looks dreadful. On the plus side, it kinda looks like something Asylum would put out. On the negative side, it’s more Dead 7 than it is Sharknado. Reading interviews with the writers, it seems like they got inspired by the Power/Rangers dark fan film that came out last year, and decided “We could do that”. Unfortunately, there are no powers or cool helmets. Instead, there are a whole bunch of prop guns and scowling actors. Oooh, they’re so edgy! I can’t figure out what’s more astounding, though: the fact that they assembled this many former PR actors OR the fact that Jason David Frank isn’t involved. Check out the trailer here.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • It was announced that Chris Hardwick will be hosting the Preacher after show, Talking Preacher. It should have been called Preaching to the Choir
  • The fifth Transformers film will be called Transformers: The Last Knight. But Michael Bay is still involved, so it’ll just be another 2 hours of nondescript metal things hitting each other.
  • At their network upfronts, CBS debuted the trailer and logo for the upcoming Star Trek series

    • Joining the new Star Trek series, CBS announced a spin-off of The Good Wife that will only air on the streaming CBS All Access service
    • Justin Timberlake released a SECOND video for “Can’t Stop The Feeling”. And people wonder why the music industry is broke…
    • If you hate the idea of an all-Black Uncle Buck reboot, then you’re really gonna hate the Latino One Day at a Time reboot being developed at Netflix
    • Kevin Smith is in talks to develop a TV series based on 80s cult film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
    • This promotional video for Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters was released in conjunction with the release of X-Men: Apocalypse. If you want a real surprise, call the number in the ad.

chap report

There’s been a LOT of TV news in the past week, but we’ll all remember “Bloody Thursday”. I had the pleasure of discussing that day of massive cancellations with Corey over at The Chap Report. Check out our episode here.

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I hate to break it to ya, but nothing really “won” the week. There was, however, a lot of TV news as the broadcast networks had their upfront presentations where they presented their fall schedules. I usually post the trailers, but the networks tend to make them private on a whim, so just look for them on YouTube. So, I thought I’d leave you with a few thoughts on what was revealed (I left out midseason shows, as we don’t know where they’ll be scheduled at this time):

ABC: Kinda surprised about the Secrets and Lies situation. I mean, when was the last time that a renewed show sat on the bench for an entire season? It was renewed in May 2015, but the second season won’t debut until fall? This ain’t the UK. We don’t take those kinds of breaks here. Were there production issues? Conviction looks good. Very ABC, even though it’s not a Shondaland series. Too bad we lost Agent Carter and Atwell’s accent, but I think it’ll be a winner. The Middle loses its Wednesday perch, but I think it can hold its own anchoring Tuesday night. Plus, it’s been living on borrowed time for the past 2 seasons, anyway. American Housewife is…interesting. Katy Mixon and Diedrich Bader as your leads? This looks like the kind of show ABC tries and ultimately fails with. It’s Trophy Wife meets Suburgatory, both cancelled. I also think moving Fresh Off the Boat to 9 is a bad move, as it’s a family favorite. Maybe it’ll regain the 8:30 slot once Housewife fails. They say moving Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to 10 will allow them to make it an edgier show. Hell, if it becomes a better show, I’m all for it. Speechless is ABC’s second new comedy about a special needs kid (Housewife being the other), but Minnie Driver doesn’t have the best TV track record. Still, it looks like it has a lot of heart, and it can’t do better than being sandwiched between The Goldbergs and Modern Family. Designated Survivor looks interesting, but I think everyone just wants Jack Bauer back. I like Kiefer, and it looks like his character went to Cornell, so I give this one season. I don’t think it’s gonna be a runaway smash. I could be wrong, though. It’s gonna be my ABC wild card. Notorious has the benefit of being the meat in a Shondaland sandwich, as it gets Scandal‘s timeslot while Kerry Washington’s pregnancy progresses. It doesn’t look that good, though, and we all know it’s just keeping Scandal‘s seat warm. I think I’d rather this timeslot go to Conviction, as it just seems like a worthier show for TGIT placement.

CBS: Supergirl‘s gone, and Scorpion moves to 10, so Monday night is about comedies again. The Big Bang Theory does its annual Monday residency until Thursday Night Football ends. We also get the new Kevin James show Kevin Can Wait. It’s the kind of title I’d have come up with, but riddle me this: why not just bring back The King of Queens? Everyone loves revivals these days, and the entire cast is available right now. Anyway, CBS knows what it’s doing with this one. Erinn Hayes is great, and I genuinely think the public likes Kevin James. This thing’ll get 7 seasons, easy. I’m amazed Two Broke Girls is still on, but I also think it’s the wrong lead-in for The Odd Couple. Its humor is a bit raunchier, but I feel like CBS just didn’t know where to put Couple – especially since its renewal was reportedly a last minute decision. Bull looks really good. Michael Weatherly has a built-in fan base from all those years on NCIS (and Dark Angel), so I’m sure CBS is hoping they come over and check out this show. I wonder, however, how many folks would be turned off if they knew the show was based on the early career of Dr. Phil. Yeah, that Dr. Phil. Anyway, it’s in the middle of an NCIS sandwich, so that should help ratings. I don’t typically watch procedurals, but I think I’ll check this out. The Great Indoors just looks like Scruffy Jeff Winger hates Millennials. I don’t really see it lasting, but I like McHale’s smarminess, so I’ll check it out. Pure Genius is an interesting case. I watched the trailer waiting for the other shoe to drop, and when it did, it still didn’t really sway me. I don’t like the lead, and I wonder how he tested in focus groups. I get what they’re trying to do here, but I don’t know about this one. This is gonna be my CBS wild card. MacGyver just feels like a lazy nostalgia grab. I don’t like the lead, as he’s got a punchable face and needs a haircut. All that aside, there are major production issues with this show behind the scenes, as it was reported they’re basically throwing out the entire supporting cast and starting over. CBS felt they had something with the MacGyver name, but it doesn’t seem like they really know what they want to do with it. This feels rushed into production, similar to Fox’s Touch from a few seasons ago.

Fox: Only Fox would pick up a show like Son of Zorn. I know they did it because it’s from Lord & Miller, but this show is just too weird to work. A live action/animation hybrid? Nah, son. It’d probably be just as funny if they had done the whole thing as animation, but I just don’t see an audience flocking to this. Scream Queens is back, and scheduled against CBS’s newcomer, Bull. Queens didn’t have the best ratings this season, but got renewed because Ryan Murphy. That said, I don’t know if it’s gonna win its timeslot. Lethal Weapon gets Rosewood‘s former timeslot, leading into Empire. Now, the trailer for this adaptation looks very Fox, but it could’ve been called Fastlane 2016 and they wouldn’t have had to change a thing. I don’t know if its connection to a film franchise helps it or hurts it. I’m making this my Fox wild card. Rosewood moves to Thursday, opposite Grey’s Anatomy on ABC, and The Big Bang Theory (after Thursday Night Football ends) on CBS. Bye bye, Rosewood. Somebody at Fox thought they were being cute scheduling The Exorcist after Hell’s Kitchen, but that’s a terrible pairing. It would’ve made more sense to pair it with Lucifer. Anyway, it’s Fox, so The Exorcist is totally getting cancelled.

NBC: Timeless just looks like Legends of Tomorrow without a tie to a preexisting universe. It also looks expensive. It’s scheduled against ABC’s Conviction and CBS’s Scorpion, so it might not get trounced in the ratings like it would if it were going against TGIT or an NCIS. I’m giving out my NBC wild card early to this one. Every so often, NBC needs that show that tugs on the heartstrings. They had Friday Night Lights, and then they had Parenthood. Now, they have This Is Us. It’s got a strong cast, and I can see it attracting an audience. It’s got some steep competition in that Tuesday 9 PM timeslot, but I think it offers something none of those other shows do. Blindspot moves to Wednesday at 8, possibly to the detriment of Lethal Weapon and Arrow, as I see them having some audience overlap. Superstore moves to Thursday at 8, which is a risky move. It’s nice to see NBC trying to rebuild that Thursday comedy block, but that show’s not strong enough to go against the juggernaut that is The Big Bang Theory. Still, it offers a single cam alternative, so it might survive. Maybe. It’s followed by The Good Place, starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. So, a woman wakes up in Heaven and realizes she’s not supposed to be there. Might be an interesting movie, but I don’t see it working as a series. I feel like American pop culture is going through something of a secular awakening right now, and these “spiritual” shows just don’t work, even if they’re quirky (see this season’s Angel from Hell). I’d like to see it survive, but I don’t think it does. Plus, the world needs Kristen Bell free to make movies. I see they’re sticking with the Nick Cannon-hosted Caught on Camera where Undateable used to air. Bad move, NBC.

The CW: Supergirl makes its debut on the network, but keeps its 8 PM timeslot. This is great for fans of the DC shows, as they know they’re always kicking off their respective nights. It sucks, however, for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which gets shipped off to Friday night. On Tuesday, iZombie is being held til midseason to give No Tomorrow a shot. This is another quirky show, kinda like NBC’s The Good Place, but I just don’t see it lasting. Honestly, though, if they wanted to give it a better chance at survival, it should probably be paired with Ex-Girlfriend instead of The Flash. On Wednesday, Arrow leads into Frequency, which is an adaptation of a 16 year old movie. I want to say this is a dumb idea, but it kinda feels very CW to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if this show lasted a good 4 seasons (see Beauty and the Beast). Supernatural moves to Thursday at 9, while The 100 is held til midseason. Honestly, it really doesn’t matter where you put Supernatural, as it’s been living on borrowed time for about 3 years, plus its audience will find it. The CW did some interesting scheduling because it’s like they’re determined to have a DC show on every night, even if that’s not in the best interest of their shows. I’d have blown up the schedule a bit more. Leave Jane the Virgin on Monday, but pair it with Frequency. Then, on Tuesday, I’d schedule Crazy Ex-Girlfriend leading into No Tomorrow. On Wednesday, I’d give you the DC 1-2 punch of The Flash leading into Arrow. Thursday would be Supergirl leading into Legends of Tomorrow. Friday would be The Vampire Diaries leading into Supernatural. I honestly think that’s a stronger schedule, even if you’re dishing out double doses of DC shows two nights in a row. But they don’t pay me to make these decisions…

So, there ya have it – the fall 2016-2017 broadcast schedule. There’s nothing I’m really jazzed about this season, but there are a few shows where I’m curious to see how they fare. What do y’all think? Let me know in the comments!

22nd Apr2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/22/16

by Will

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trainwreck

I finally caught the comedic hit Trainwreck, and I thought it was…decent. Written by and starring Amy Schumer, Amy knows how to screw, but she doesn’t know how to love (that really should’ve been the tagline). Raised by her father to believe that monogamy isn’t realistic, adult Amy tries to avoid any sort of commitment or intimacy in her relationships. That is, until she meets a particular sports doctor, played by Bill Hader. Since last summer, I’ve heard how laugh-out-loud funny this film was, but I’m not sure I saw the same movie. It has some great moments, especially any scenes containing John Cena and Lebron James (who’s a surprisingly good actor for an athlete. Those guys are usually wooden onscreen). Directed by Judd Apatow, it follows several Apatow tropes, in that it’s slightly too long, and the message is basically “Grow the fuck up!” I don’t really see what it is about Hader’s character that makes Amy think he’s The One. He’s a nice enough guy, but he’s not charismatic or all that interesting. He’s a bit of a square, so when Amy chooses him, it’s almost like she’s settling. I wasn’t fully paying attention, though, so I’ll probably watch it again to see if I’m being unfair. At the moment, though, I don’t really get the hype behind the movie, other than the fact that it was written by a popular female comedian whose star is on the rise. Outside of that, it’s a pretty formulaic, by the numbers romcom.

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On HBO, I caught the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill drama Confirmation. Focusing mainly on Thomas’ confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, it followed all the parties involved after Anita Hill came forward with allegations that Thomas had been sexually inappropriate with her ten years prior. I think everyone went into the film with their biases intact, but even though I believe Hill, I felt the movie was really skewed towards Thomas. The entire time, he maintained that these were baseless allegations, and there were scenes where it felt like he was to be seen as the victim here. One thing I did learn was that Thomas’ wife looks like a Shoney’s night manager – ya know, the kind who won’t accept your coupons? Yeah, that one. Anyway, when women come forward with these sorts of allegations, there are people who don’t believe them, and that was definitely covered here. Also, Joe Biden, portrayed by Greg Kinnear, didn’t come away from the film looking like the best guy. In the end, as anyone who knows history already knows, Thomas was confirmed, though the damage to his reputation had been done. 25 years later, and he’s still sitting pretty on the Supreme Court, while Hill is a footnote in American history. So, who really won here? The movie seems to imply that Hill won by coming forward, and opening the doors for more women in Congress and other high ranking positions. It seems like a last minute Hail Mary play, however, by a film that didn’t feel like it was on her side for most of the time. I’d love to know how other folks felt who watched it.

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On TV, I finally finished Fuller House, and I LOVED it. Sure, critics hated it, but the original wasn’t really beloved by critics, either. There were times I tried to watch it stoically, and then felt a smile creep across my face. Sure, it’s cheesy, but it’s a type of humor that’s missing from most modern sitcoms (especially considering most modern sitcoms are single cam, with a faux documentary being filmed). I loved seeing the old cast, I love the new kids, I love the crazy love triangle. To me, season 2 can’t come fast enough.

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This week also saw the season finales of two shows about hipster girls in NYC. First up, Girls wrapped up its fifth season, and I thoroughly enjoyed the two episodes that capped off the season. I tend to like Hannah the least of all of the titular girls on the show, but I really kinda felt for her in the finale. I started to really understand where she’s coming from, and didn’t hate her guts. She’s just a twenty-something, trying to do the best that she can. In the past, I thought she represented this sort of dangerous, arrested development. She wasn’t an adult, but rather just a big girl (which could be said for most twenty-somethings). The problem, though, was that she was OK with that. She never really seemed to be aspiring to anything greater. She was just a quitter at everything she tried, because she didn’t like the rules or whatever. The season ended with her in a different sort of place, though, so I’m interested to see where she goes in the sixth, and final, season of the show.

broad city

Meanwhile, Broad City wrapped up its third season with the girls taking a Birthright trip to Israel. I never thought I’d say this, but out of the two female-centric Millennial shows on cable, I think I enjoyed Girls more than I enjoyed Broad City this year. It used to be that Broad City was kinda quirky, but it still boiled down to the friendship between Abbi and Ilana. This season, though, Ilana turned into a cartoon character, and her “lesbianic” undertones toward Abbi got cranked up to 11. In the past, it was implied that Ilana had a crush on Abbi, but this year she wanted to be her full on wife, getting threatened whenever a dude came into the picture who might affect what they have. Ilana went from a delightful character to an annoyance for me. I figure we’ve probably only got another 2 or so seasons of Broad City left, as the girls’ other projects, like Time Traveling Bong, are getting off the ground. Here’s hoping they make the most of the time they’ve got left.

THREE S COMPANY

In movie news, there are talks that New Line is trying to acquire the rights to Three’s Company. Right now, the writers of He’s Just Not That Into You are attached, so this thing will probably be TURRIBLE. If you’re not familiar with it, Three’s Company was an ABC hit that ran from 1977-1984, starring John Ritter as an aspiring chef who lives with two girls. Since that was frowned up during that era, they told the landlord that he was gay so that he’d be OK with the living arrangement. It’s one of my favorite TV shows, but this sounds like a bad idea. I do, however, think it’d work as a rebooted television series, which I wrote about a few years ago. Here’s hoping this reboot talk gets me some website hits!

hasbro

In other movie news, it was reported that author Michael Chabon (The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay) and comic writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man) have joined the writers room for Hasbro’s shared cinematic universe. Damn, talk about a waste of talent! These guys are the real deal, and they’re being used to figure out how G.I. Joe is gonna mesh with ROM: The Space Knight?! Hasbro must’ve REALLY backed up a Brink’s truck.

I can’t wait for The Founder, starring Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc – the founder of McDonald’s. Though, the story isn’t so cut and dried, as this movie explores. After all, Kroc was just a milkshake machine salesman, while the McDonald brothers created the brand. And then Kroc stole it from them by franchising it. As a lifelong fat kid, McDonald’s means a lot to me, so this is basically my The Social Network.

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In TV drama, it was announced that Michael Strahan would be leaving Live! with Kelly and Michael and joining Good Morning America full time. This seems like a network decision, as both shows are owned by Disney and they wanted more for Strahan, but Kelly Ripa is PISSED! She feels like Strahan betrayed her, and she’s now refusing to show up for work until he’s gone. This is going to be somewhat hard, as he’s not scheduled to leave until September. *Looks at calendar* It’s now APRIL. I feel like the lawyers are gonna get involved before this goes on too long, but I imagine it’s going to get uglier before it gets better. I feel like this is a great opportunity, though, because they can now just hire Neil Patrick Harris to be Kelly’s cohost. The word on the street is that he was one of the favorites for the job the last time that it was available, but he was still doing How I Met Your Mother, and couldn’t do that commute. Now that HIMYM has ended, and Best Time Ever got canceled, the timing is perfect.

rita repulsa

In Power Rangers news, we got our first look at Elizabeth Banks as villain Rita Repulsa. I’m not so sure about this. On the one hand, it looks like a combination of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers henchwoman Scorpina, mixed with Power Rangers Turbo villain Divatox. I can see those influences. And the green color kinda makes sense as to why she’ll be so obsessed with the Green Ranger once he’s inevitably introduced. Still, it’s odd to me that there are no callbacks to the original design. No pointy boobs, no headdress, nothing. She’s just Generic Space Villainess. If anything, it just makes me nervous about what the Ranger suits are gonna look like. To me, it’s pretty risky because if you deviate too much from the pattern, then they look like those bootleg action figures you’ve been finding in dollar stores for the past 20 years. I get this is something of a “reboot”, but there still needs to be ties to the original property, for both casual and hardcore fans. Is it enough that it’s a bunch of teens fighting an evil space alien? It might as well be Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters From Beverly Hills: The Movie. Or Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad: The Movie. There are things that make Power Rangers special, and I’m not seeing them yet in what we’ve seen from this adaptation.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Season 2 of Mr. Robot premieres July 13th on USA
  • Carrie-Anne Moss is joining season 2 of AMC’s HUMANS
  • After 30 years, Dr. Drew Pinsky is leaving the Loveline radio show. It’s unclear if the show will continue with a new host
  • Robert Downey Jr. will appear as Iron Man in Spider-Man: Homecoming

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I guess, looking back on the week, Harriet Tubman was cock of the walk. Who’da thunk an abolitionist would be making news in 2016? Anyway, it was announced that Tubman will soon adorn the $20 bill, moving Andrew Jackson to the back of the bill. Originally, the plan was to remove Alexander Hamilton from the $10 bill, but the popularity of the Broadway (and Pulitzer prize winning) show, Hamilton, stopped that plan in its tracks. Now, Millennials will be even more insufferable about that show, AND tickets will be even harder to get, but I digress…According to history, Jackson was a bad man, sending the Native Americans off on the Trail of Tears. Why? Because he wanted their land for plantations. Way to go, dude! Anyway, the idea of putting a woman on some paper American currency gained steam last year when a young girl named Sofia sent a letter to President Obama urging him to do so. Well, this week, little Sofia got a birthday surprise when it was announced that the design will be made public in 2020. Tubman will be the first Black person on American currency, and the first woman in over a century. So, in light of this development, Harriet Tubman had the West Week Ever.

15th Apr2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/15/16

by Will

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So, I did something kinda special this week, in that I attended a live taping of the Jeopardy Teen Tournament. Until I pass that online test, it’s as close as I’m gonna get to being a contestant, so it was a pretty cool experience. Taped at DAR Constitution Hall on Tuesday, I was present for the filming of 3 episodes of the tournament. Pictures and social media weren’t allowed, ’cause they didn’t want anyone spoiling the winners. As you can see, I didn’t heed their warning, but I at least waited until taping was done. They film the show with the commercial breaks, so that’s when host Alex Trebek comes out and answers questions from the audience. Here’s some tidbits that I learned:

  • Alex has 55 suits in his show wardrobe
  • They film 46 days a year, on Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • Alex’s true first name is George. George Alexander Trebek
  • Alex’s favorite movie is 1941’s How Green Was My Valley.
  • I was present for the filming of episodes 7,356 through 7,358
  • Alex said that he really enjoyed Hamilton, even though he doesn’t like “that music”
  • In what seemed like hometown pandering, Alex said that his favorite NFL team of the last 30 years was the Washington Redskins. Then, things took a turn as he added that he’s never had a problem with the team name. He said that it was never meant as a negative, but as something positive. Uh-oh…
  • Then he tried to turn things around by saying that his favorite book is called The Divide, by Matt Taibbi. It documents the Wealth Gap, and how there have been no prosecutions in recent major Wall Street crimes, while we continue to incarcerate minorities for minor offenses. This garnered applause from the audience. Not from me. I’m on to you, Trebek!

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On the movie front this week, I watched the documentary All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records. I used to LOVE Tower when I was in high school, because it was the local retail establishment that was open the latest. Bored at home at 11:30? Let’s go to Tower! As a devoted fan of the import maxi single, Tower was my saving grace for obscure pop tracks that no one knew about in America. When Tower closed, it’s like I lost a friend. So, I heard about this documentary when it was in the Kickstarter phase, but I remember thinking “This thing probably won’t get funded.” Well, color me wrong, as the finished product is now available for viewing! Directed by Colin Hanks, the doc follows the creation of the successful music chain in California, and its gradual spread to Japan and across the rest of North America. The biggest issue with the film, however, is that it’s not balanced very well. The majority of it focuses on the rise of the brand, while the “fall” really just occupies the last half our or so. I think part of that, however, may be due to the fact that the demise happened so quickly. Basically, Tower couldn’t brace itself against digital music, along with discount stores like Target and Best Buy selling CDs, and they didn’t survive. To my surprise, however, there are still 85 Tower locations in Japan. I must go to Japan! If you want to see a bunch of old people talk about how they smoked “doobies” at work, this is the documentary for you. It’s really more about the culture of the store than it is about the state of music during the store’s rise, so you’ve really got to care about Tower in order to enjoy it. I do, though, so I did. Your mileage may vary.

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Then, I caught the film CHAPPiE, by District 9‘s Neill Blomkamp. Reuniting with District 9‘s star, Sharlto Copley, Blomkamp seems to be telling a tale about what it means to be “alive”. At the beginning of the film, the Johannesburg government has resorted to using robots on their police force, greatly curbing the amount of crime in the city. One particular robot, Unit 22, seems to be somewhat accident prone and, after being damaged irreparably, is slated for destruction. Meanwhile, the robots’ creator, Deon, wants to test out a new AI program that will give robots sentience. After he’s turned down by his boss, he steals Unit 22 and uploads the program. At the same time, a trio of criminals (played by rap-rave group Die Antwoord) kidnap Deon and Unit 22 because they need help with a heist. They rename Unit 22 “Chappie”, and try to train him to be a real gangsta. During all this, Chappie seems to be able to isolate his own consciousness through a special helmet, and begins to believe he can transfer his consciousness into another body before his battery dies. This shit really gets weird. I won’t spoil any of it, but it basically asks the questions “What is life” and “Can you live forever?” When I first saw the trailer, I thought it was just another crappy Hugh Jackman robot movie, but it turned out to be so much more than that. I highly recommend checking it out.

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I also caught another documentary called Unhung Hero, which I’d heard about on a radio show that I love (The Bonfire on Comedy Central Radio). Comedian Patrick Moote proposed to his girlfriend during a UCLA basketball game, but she turns him down on the kisscam. Not only did the video go viral, but she later tells him that she couldn’t marry him because his penis was too small. So, he embarks upon an international journey to find out what is “small” when it comes to penises, and is there a “cure”? It’s really kinda heartbreaking to see him explain to his parents why his girlfriend left him. He even consults old girlfriends to see if they also felt the same way. He tries pills, pumps, and exercises to make his penis bigger. He, then, travels the world to see if there’s any hope for reversing his penile fortune. He eventually ends up in Papua New Guinea where he’s about to have some oil injected into his penis to make it bigger. Does he go through with it? Moote seems like a really good dude, but I almost wonder if he was ready for marriage at the time of the proposal. He’s got a lot going on in his head, and one almost wonders if she did him a favor by turning down the proposal. By the end of the film, and the journey, he seems to have come to a better understanding and appreciation of himself. If you’re at all curious about all this, it’s currently available to stream on Netflix.

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On TV, I caught the premiere of The Detour on TBS. Airing Monday nights in the old Angie Tribeca timeslot of 9 PM, the comedy was created by The Daily Show contributors Jason Jones and Samantha Bee. It’s loosely based on their own experiences on family vacations, and it follows a family that abruptly decides to drive to Florida for their vacation instead of flying, and the problems that arise from doing so. In the course of things, they wreck their car, we find out why they had to drive, and more. It was really enjoyable, and was renewed for a second season before Monday’s official premiere.

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In TV news, The CW has ordered 8 episodes of MADtv, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, seeing as how the network aired the 20th anniversary special and airs old episodes on The CW SEED streaming site. From what we know, the show will feature new and returning cast members (mainly in guest host capacity). This is good news and bad news. The good news is that I’m glad the brand is alive again. There was a window of time where MADtv was edgier and funnier than Saturday Night Live, though a lot of people would hate to admit this. I feel like TV needs good sketch comedy these days, and the arrival of dreck like Party Over Here made me appreciate what we’d lost. Now the bad news. This show belongs in late night in order for it to hit on all cylinders. Unfortunately, The CW doesn’t program nights or weekends. In case you weren’t aware, The CW is only Monday through Friday, 8 PM to 10 PM. The rest of the time belongs to the local affiliates. So, late night Saturday is off limits, though it’d be the perfect place for the show. At the moment, I’m scared we’ll get some neutered version that ends up airing after The Flash or something. There are worse fates, but I don’t think this is a recipe for success.

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In other television news, it’s rumored that the new Star Trek series will actually take place in the classic continuity, and not the JJ Abrams “NuTrek” universe. According to sources close to the production, it will be set between the events of The Undiscovered Country and The Next Generation. Eh. On the one hand, I’m glad we’re not in the Abramsverse. On the other, I really wanted something set post-TNG, to see how The Federation has recovered from the events of the Dominion War. I still don’t plan to pay for CBS All Access, though, so I’m either not watching it or pirating it.

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In movie news, Sony had some big announcements at Cinema Con 2016. First up, they confirmed the existence of the Men In Black/21 Jump Street crossover originally revealed from the Sony email hack. Officially called MIB 23, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are reported to be returning, though original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are being replaced by James Bobin. Also, they revealed that the upcoming standalone Spider-Man film will officially be called Spider-Man: Homecoming. Some folks hate the title, but I don’t. It’s not the strongest choice, but it does refer to the fact that Spidey’s basically back in the MCU fold, so I’m fine with it.

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The first image of Scarlett Johansson from Ghost in the Shell hit the web yesterday, and people are LOSING THEIR SHIT. Mainly, it’s the minority set, wondering why the lead character has been “whitewashed” and isn’t Asian like in the original anime. First off, they need a big star to sell a movie that’s not necessarily a guaranteed American blockbuster. I get that Scarlett has star power. Still, I’m not even sure why we’re making this movie in America. As far as anime goes, it’s one of the more well-known franchises, but it’s still not a “household name”. Sure, folks will come out and see it because it’s a ScarJo movie, but why not give us that Black Widow movie? Or, God forbid, Lucy 2? Why go for a franchise that has to be “westernized” in order to make it successful when that’s going to detract from the source material? Could it have been made with an Asian lead? Of course. Should it have been made with an Asian lead? Probably. Would it make as much money? Unless they’re flying from trees and shit, I highly doubt it.

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In Power Rangers news, they unveiled the logo for the upcoming film yesterday. Meh. I think it’s too generic. It has no WOW or pizzazz. There are a couple of things I don’t like about it. First of all, I don’t like Saban’s insistence on putting his name in the title. He doesn’t carry the clout of a Marvel or DC, so branding it “Saban’s Power Rangers” means nothing to the man on the street. There’s the argument that “You’ve got to start somewhere”, but I just think it’s more of a ego move than a branding opportunity. Also, there’s already a Power Rangers font, which has been used for the past 23 years. Sure, this is a chance to breathe new life into the franchise, but you don’t mess with the classics. Compare the new logo to the logo for the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie:

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The new one looks so flat in comparison, even though it’s “cleaner”. At least you’ll be able to differentiate the TV toys from the movie toys on shelves, but that’s about the only benefit I can see from this new logo.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Elizabeth Banks is attached to direct a reboot of Charlie’s Angels.
  • Warner Bros finally confirmed that they are in talks with Ben Affleck for a solo Batman film
  • A new trailer was released for Suicide Squad, cementing my resolve to not see this movie in the theater
  • Reportedly, Warren Beatty is working on a script for Dick Tracy 2. I’ve been hearing this same rumor for the past 25 years.
  • James Cameron announced that there will be four Avatar sequels. OK, sport.
  • Dustin “Screech” Diamond was released early from jail on Monday.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch will voice The Grinch in an unnecessary 2017 reboot

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I guess you could say it’s been a Marvelous week. At the beginning of the week, it was reported that Natalie Portman wouldn’t be coming back for Thor: Ragnarok, but Creed costar Tessa Thompson has been cast in a mysterious role. According to rumors, she may be portraying the character Valkyrie. The movie also features Bruce Banner/The Hulk, so I figure we’ll see what they’re up to while the rest of the Avengers are Civil Warring each other.

Then, on Tuesday, we got the first teaser trailer for Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Now, I have a confession to make: I don’t like mystical Marvel. I probably hate it even more than I hate space Marvel. There’s just something about it that I never really took to. That said, I saw glimpses of the first Iron Man movie in that teaser, and that’s the movie that kicked off this whole Marvel Cinematic party. So, if this movie can recapture even a small bit of what made Iron Man special, then we might have a winner. Now, there is some controversy over the whitewashing of The Ancient One by casting Tilda Swinton, but I don’t even know what to make of that. Yeah, the character probably should’ve been portrayed by an Asian actor, and is Tilda Swinton, perfect androgyny aside, the right choice for that character? Who knows, but I guess I’ll wait to see the movie before I pass judgement. A lot of folks thought the trailer was kinda “meh”, but it definitely got me interested, which is something I was not prior to seeing it. I’d been telling folks that I was cashing out on the MCU after Civil War because I just don’t care about Doctor Strange or Black Panther, but now I’m intrigued.

Meanwhile, the embargo was lifted on Captain America: Civil War, and the early word is very positive. Some are saying it might be Marvel’s best movie yet. I’m kicking myself because Marvel chose 25 cities in which to have an advance screening last night (and DC was on the list), but I completely missed the boat on trying to get passes. If any of you reading this happened to see the film last night, I hate you.

So, between those 3 tidbits, as well as the announcement of the Spider-Man film title, everything was coming up Marvel this week. That’s why Marvel had the West Week Ever.

08th Apr2016

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

by Will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30th Mar2016

Just Imagine Stan Lee Wrote the Worst Batman Story Ever Published

by Will

justimagine batman

With all the talk about Batman v Superman over the past few days, it reminded me that it’s nowhere near the worst story told featuring the Caped Crusader. No, that honor belongs to Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Batman, published in September 2001 – making it the second worst thing to happen to America that month. If you’re unfamiliar with the book, let’s take a step back in time, shall we?

Stan-Lee

In 2001, DC Comics thought they had scored a major coup by getting Marvel Chairman Emeritus Stan Lee to agree to reimagine their most iconic characters in the Just Imagine… miniseries. This was pre-social media, but I remember the Wizard Magazine articles losing their shit about “STAN LEE’S GOING TO DC!” It was basically the geek equivalent of when LeBron left Cleveland for Miami. Although, it kinda wasn’t that special in hindsight. You see, Stan has spent the past 20 or so years as something of a whore, and this was really just the beginning of it. He was coming off the disastrous venture known as Stan Lee Media, where his most notable creations were Pam Anderson’s Stripperella and the Backstreet Boys’ The Backstreet Project (whose Burger King Kids Club figures still pop up in thrift stores to this day). Since that company bottomed out (and is actually still being fought over in court to this day), Stan hasn’t said “no” to anything where money was involved. Some projects have held more promise than others but, at the time, the Just Imagine… series was seen as this historic happening that had been 40 years in the making.

The idea for the Just Imagine… series was that it would pair Stan with some of the greatest working comics artists, like Jim Lee and the legendary Joe Kubert. Each comic would be a one-shot story, yet all 13 issues would tell an overarching story when read together. The series kicked off with Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Batman, teaming Stan up with the aforementioned Kubert. The 48-page “prestige format” (square bound) comic is certainly nothing that you’ve ever read before in a Batman comic, but it is something you’ve seen before. You see, that’s the biggest failing of the Just Imagine… series: there are no original ideas. To Stan, the best way to reimagine Batman is to simply combine Luke Cage and Spider-Man, and call it a day.

Wayne Williams (there’s that classic Stan Lee alliteration!) is a young, Black street-smart guy whose policeman father has just been killed. While taking care of his mother, Williams makes an enemy of the local gang leader who, then, frames him for armed robbery. Sent to prison for a crime that he didn’t commit, Williams uses his quest for vengeance as a motivator to hone his body and his mind. Over an undetermined amount of time, Williams’s weight training takes him from scrawny to buff – just in time for him to use his new found strength to thwart a prison riot. Following me so far? Nothing too crazy, right? OK, let’s continue.

JISL Batman

This is when the story just stops working for me, as each development is more outlandish than the next. While in prison, Williams befriends a bat who comes to visit his cell night after night for crumbs and food scraps. Williams keeps telling the bat that he’s his best and only friend, kinda like that movie/Michael Jackson song “Ben” about that rat. Well, when he’s pardoned for stopping the prison riot, Williams leaves prison with the bat as his pet. As a free man, Williams realizes that he’s going to need to make some money, and one night while watching pro wrestling, he decides that will be his ticket to success (sound familiar?). After all, he’d beaten up a few toughs in prison, and he had also learned to sew, so he’d be able to make his own costume. So, while he admitted that wrestling was “a phony crock”, he proceeds to make his career by ACTUALLY BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF WRESTLERS as, you guessed it, “Batman”! And nobody calls him on it! He gets in the ring, and attacks these performers, and the crowd just eats it up. He starts on the local indie circuit, but eventually works his way up to the point where he’s the most popular wrestler in the world – all to build a financial foundation to use in his quest for revenge. Since he never unmasks, nobody knows who he truly is, which allows him to just get more and more mysterious and popular. Can you imagine if Rey Mysterio Jr was only wrestling so that he could finance his quest for revenge? Well, this is that, only Williams basically has the career of Hulk Hogan, The Rock, and John Cena put together.

While Williams was in prison, however, he did have one friend: a former physicist named Frederick Grant, who had been imprisoned for sabotaging the equipment of a former employer who was poisoning a water supply. After Williams saved him from a prison bully, Grant was the one who originally encouraged him to hone his body and mind. So, once he’s made his nut on the wrestling circuit, Williams seeks out the released Grant, and asks him to be his partner. Anyway, in the time that Williams was in prison, the gang leader who framed him, Handz Horgum (there’s that alliteration again), has risen in the ranks from local tough to crime boss. He controls all the crime in Los Angeles, so Williams plans his attack. He gets Grant to beef up his armor, giving him the “powers” of a bat, like night vision and the ability to soar on wind currents. Williams starts beating up local toughs, working his way up to Horgum. So, here we have the world’s greatest wrestler, initiating a war on crime in the middle of Los Angeles, and nobody bats an eye. The news isn’t like, “Hey, John Cena just put a gang in traction today.” Anyway, he eventually catches up to Handz, kicks him off the top of a building, and then steals his girl. Yes, the “hero” kills the crime boss and starts scheming on how he can put Handz’s girl on his payroll just to keep her close.

Given only 48 pages, there’s only so much space with which Stan had to work. That said, I have some major problems with the story – namely that nothing Batman does is *heroic*.  It’s a quest for revenge and not justice. I can’t say it’s “justice” because his heart isn’t really in the right place. Sure, he’d be ridding the streets of a pretty bad guy, but his reasons are pretty selfish. He doesn’t think of all the lives he’d be saving by taking Handz off the street, or how it’s even the “right thing to do”. No, Williams is only pissed that Handz caused him to lose all that time in prison, and that his mother died before he could clear his name. At no point does he ever have a change of heart that “Hey, this hero thing is a good idea.” For intents and purposes, he could pretty much quit after killing Handz because that was always the endgame. In fact, when the story ends, you’re led to believe that he’ll continue fighting, as he mentions hiring Handz’s girl as the secretary for his whole “operation”, but there’s no indication as to why he’d keep going. After all, at no point in the story did he ever think of anyone but himself. It would make more sense if he just returned to the ring, and continued to rack up wrestling money. I kept waiting for the *superhero* to show up, and that never happens.

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Well, I’ve clearly given more thought to this whole enterprise than it seems Stan did when he “wrote” it. I put that in quotes, because I wonder how much contribution he truly had to the story. After all, the credits list Batman film producer Michael Uslan as the one who was responsible for the plot of the story. That was surprising to me because, as the guy who’s written an autobiography called The Boy Who Loved Batman, you’d think Uslan would’ve delivered something with more respect for the character. Sure, this is a different take on things, and I’m not expecting Bruce Wayne here, but you’d still think Batman would be a little more heroic here. I don’t necessarily need him to inspire, as that’s more Superman’s bag. No, Batman operates out of the shadows, to rid the streets of crime and make the city a better place. Stan’s Batman operates out in the open, and his goal is only to get payback. But the major crime is how Stan basically just repurposed old ideas into something that came off like a polished turd. It’s kinda like if you submitted old homework to fulfill a new assignment, and still only managed to get a C. So, whenever you feel like you’ve experienced the worst Batman story ever, just imagine what Stan Lee’s Batman would look like, and you’ll instantly feel much better.

28th Mar2016

The Most Underrated Television Theme Songs: Webster

by Will

I’m not sure if this is gonna become a regular thing around here, but I’m kinda tired of just being “The West Week Ever Guy”, and I felt the need to stretch my legs a bit. Anyway, when driving, showering, etc, I tend to have random TV theme songs just jump into my head. As I’ve said before, TV raised me, so a lot of these songs hold a special place in my heart. Also, a lot of them simply don’t get enough credit in the world of pop culture. So, we’re gonna take a look at a few of these gems.

webster

Today, I had the theme song for Webster to pop into my head, and now I can’t get it out. Not familiar with the show? Well, did you ever watch Diff’rent Strokes? It’s basically the Great Value version of that show. Rich White folks adopting Black kids. Man, that was like an 80s yuppie’s dream, wasn’t it? Anyway, the show starred former NFL player Alex Karras and his real life wife Susan Clark as an upper-middle class couple that ends up taking in the Black child of one of Alex’s former teammates. But that’s not what the show was originally about. No, it was supposed to be a romantic comedy, called Another Ballgame, about the relationship between former jock Karras and socialite Clark, but ABC saw little Emmanuel Lewis is a Burger King commercial and became determined to put him in a show. So, they retooled the show, against Karras and Clark’s wishes (their production company was attached to the show), and shoved Lewis into the show as precocious little Webster. Oh, and they also changed the name of the show to Then Came You. If you listen to the theme, it’s right there in front of you. But ABC wasn’t done flexing their muscles. They wanted everyone to know the show was about Webster so, against Karras and Clark’s wishes AGAIN, they changed the name of the show to simply Webster.

All of that is kind of why I love this theme song, as it’s almost like someone didn’t get the memo from the network. First off, it’s just great 80s cheese. And, technically, the song isn’t even really about a kid who magically comes into their lives. Sure, it could be interpreted that way, but it’s really just about having your life blindsided by new love. It’s kinda like how Creed songs are about relationships, but really about God. The song still heavily references Then Came You, and the visuals focus on “Ma’am and George”, with Webster shoved in at the end.  It’s the perfect metaphor for what was going on behind the scenes.

These days, most folks only remember the show for its odd link to Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it lasted an impressive 6 seasons and 150 episodes (God, I love a nice round number like that!). Karras passed away in 2012, and Emmanuel Lewis hasn’t really been seen publicly since The Surreal Life. In today’s reboot happy culture, I’m kinda surprised this hasn’t been redone. I mean, I wouldn’t call it Webster, but I would replicate the concept under a different name – ya know, like how Step By Step was just The Brady Bunch: The Next Generation. It’d be about a couple of gentrifiers who somehow take in an inner city kid. Give me a call, Hollywood. Meanwhile, I’m gonna go listen to this theme song about 80 more times before the day is over.

18th Mar2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 3/18/16

by Will

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So, I didn’t watch any movies this week, but I did watch a TON of television, so that’s what we’ll be rambling about today.

flophouse

First up, I watched Flophouse on Viceland. First of all, why does Vice have a channel at all? If you’re not familiar with the brand, Vice began as a Canadian hipster culture magazine in the early 90s but eventually branched out into other media, including news specials on HBO. Well, at the end of February, Viceland took over what was formerly H2 in the United States, and is programmed under the creative direction of Spike Jonze. I ask why there’s a channel, though, because it seems like their target is specifically the audience that DOESN’T watch television. After all, they’re catering to hipster Millennials, who don’t own TVs, ’cause they’re poor and stuff.

Flophouse 2

Anyway, Flophouse. It’s a show where hipster, Millennial, “alternative” comics host stand-up shows in their houses. It might sound “intimate”, but it’s pretty grody, as these places look like crack dens. There are known comics in the audience, but the ones performing are basically up and comers. The brand of comedy, though, isn’t that funny. It’s observational. It’s hipstery. But I didn’t bust a gut or anything. If this is the future of stand-up, then comedy is pretty much doomed. For one thing, I’m a big fan of Comedy Central’s The Half Hour (formerly known as Comedy Central Presents), so I feel like 30 minutes is a good amount of time to let a comic shine. Still, since there are multiple comics per show, you don’t get that here. That’s fine. You can still have a solid 10-15 minute set. I didn’t see anyone on this show who had that. They pretty much show you one joke, and then you basically get a tour of how shitty the conditions are in the house.

It also doesn’t help matters that everything is censored on the show. I expect Vice productions to be edgy and all, so it’s kind of a pussy move when they can’t even say “shit” during a comedy show that airs at 10:30 PM (you can do this on TBS, Comedy Central, Adult Swim, and so on and so on). It just felt like the Vice brand was being neutered. Maybe this is a network thing from A&E, but it just feels like Vice should’ve found a broadcasting partner that would allow Vice to be Vice.

From what I’ve seen of their programming, I don’t see bright things ahead for the network, but we also live in a world where there’s a channel pretty much dedicated to a Vegas pawnbroker who gets shows for all of his friends, so what do I know?

POH

Speaking of comedy that wasn’t that funny, Party Over Here premiered Saturday night on Fox. I was excited about the show when I originally heard about it, as it was created by Paul Scheer and The Lonely Island. I actually didn’t even realize it was coming so soon, as it was just announced a few weeks back, so I figured it was coming in the Fall. Maybe they should’ve taken their time and waited on debuting it. Party Over Here is a sketch show, featuring an all female cast comprised of only 3 women, and it really wants to be the next Key & Peele. It’s got a long way to go. It’s packaged really well, with a lot of cool bumpers and interstitials, but there’s just nothing there. No substance. Remember how the original SNL cast were the Not Ready for Prime Time Players? These 3 women are the Not Ready for Late Night Saturday Players. Or the You’re Better Off Watching 1st Look Players. It was just the premiere, so maybe it needs time to bloom, but I don’t really see myself coming back. You see, it was designed to not compete with Saturday Night Live, as it airs 30 minutes before SNL since most Fox affiliates have a 10 PM broadcast. In the DC market, however, we have some News Edge garbage at 11, bumping Party Over Here to 11:30. When put up against SNL, it isn’t even a question as to which show I’m choosing. So, apparently, there’s a party over there, but I think I’m partied out.

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NBC is slowly trying to regain some footing in the world of the situation comedy, but they’re pretty hit or miss these days. Superstore has been renewed for a second season, but I don’t see that happening for Telenovela. One of last season’s surprise hits came back this week in the form of The Carmichael Show. Created by, and starring, stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael, it’s a multicamera family sitcom dealing with the issues of the times. And that’s probably my issue with the show: it’s always so damn heavy, as every episode seems like A Very Special Episode. Every episode tackles something controversial, be it whether or not you should still enjoy Bill Cosby’s work or whether or not cheating is tied to income level. There are still laughs to be had, but I find myself laughing at the stellar supporting cast including Loretta Devine and David Alan Grier. My least favorite character is probably Carmichael himself, as he comes across as this know-it-all, and I find myself wanting to see him get his comeuppance. I would love to have been in some focus groups for the show, as there had to be some notes about how unlikable he can be at times. But, it’s his show, so I don’t expect that aspect to change anytime soon. Still, if you long for the days of Fox’s Roc, where a Black family can still laugh amongst the tears, then you should probably check this out.

MDOT-Crowded

They’re not all winners at NBC, however, as Crowded had a 2-episode “sneak preview” this week. Starring Patrick Warburton, the show is about a married couple who try to keep their relationship strong when their Millennial kids move back in with them. I said it on Twitter, but I’ll say it again here: Somewhere around the mid-2000s, Patrick Warburton became king of the “Fuck It! Something’s Gotta Air In This Timeslot” sitcom. It means that there’s nothing really bad about the shows, but they’re just not that great, either. The best part about them is that they provide work to the many crew members behind the scenes, but they’re not really doing anything groundbreaking for the medium, either. At the same time, these shows tend to be able to fly under the radar. Their ratings are just high enough for them to regularly be renewed as midseason replacements, and then they somehow find their way into syndication. I mean, Rules of Engagement lasted SEVEN seasons, and you’re probably like “What’s that?” Exactly. If we were talking about 2007 CBS here, I’d say this show has a long life ahead of it. But NBC can’t really afford a show like this. Schedule space is too valuable (it and The Carmichael Show have been dumped off on Sunday night), and they’re looking for a quick turnaround. The show was created by Suzanne Martin, who also created Hot In Cleveland, making me think this show would probably be a better fit for TV Land. And while it’s always nice to see iCarly, Miranda Cosgrove’s role in this show is…strange. It’s like they’re trying to create a female Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, and I’m not sure it works. To be honest, I find her whole “I’m really smart, but it keeps me from being able to relate to people in normal ways” shtick WAY more offensive than anything I’ve seen folks pull out the pitchforks for TBBT, but I digress. This is the kind of show that you leave on in the background, ’cause Dateline‘s coming up, but you’ll never actually learn any of the characters’ names.

In movie news, Sally Field has been making the rounds, talking about how she didn’t like the Amazing Spider-Man movies. Primarily, she’s saying that her character, Aunt May, wasn’t very three-dimensional, and that “you can’t put 10 lbs of shit in a 5 lb bag”. A lot of people are focusing on the “shit” in the phrase, and not the overall meaning. She’s saying that you can only work with what you’ve got, and if there’s no capacity for more depth, you can’t just shove it in there. She says that the only reason she took the role is because it was being produced by her friend Laura Ziskin who was battling cancer. They knew it would be Ziskin’s last movie, and since she had been Field’s first producing partner, Field wanted to be a part of her friend’s final production. Look, I get it. Personally, I don’t hate those movies. I don’t know what folks wanted, but apparently it wasn’t that. Fine. But I do have a problem when actors start shitting on past roles. The way it comes out is always on some platform, like Stern (which is where this interview took place), and it comes across like they’re trying to gain acceptance by saying “Look, I hate this thing you hate, too!” It’s somewhat cloying. But at the end of the day, they cashed a check. I get that people can change their minds, but the professional thing to do is to just keep it moving. You did a job, it may not have been your best job, but it (hopefully) won’t be your last. Learn from it, and move on.

apocalypse

We got another trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse yesterday. When did Three Trailers Per Movie become a thing? I remember, back in the day, seeing A trailer. That was it. Anyway, I thought that trailers were supposed to get better as they go along. Not this one. I’ve got to say that the last trailer for Apocalypse was much better than what we got yesterday. And it simply reminded me that casting Jennifer Lawrence was the worst thing to happen to the X-Men film franchise. Yup, even worse than Brett Ratner. I say that because they had no clue her star power was gonna rise the way it has, and that they’d have to accommodate her. She hates the blue paint, so now they keep her in her human form most of the time, even though HER CHARACTER RAILS AGAINST THE NOTION THAT MUTANTS SHOULD HAVE TO HIDE TO MAKE HUMANS COMFORTABLE. Plus, Mystique ain’t that important. She just isn’t. I’m so sick and tired of every movie being a dance of “Here’s Mystique and Magneto. Whose side are they on THIS time?” THERE ARE OTHER CHARACTERS. Personally, I don’t need Magneto in every film. I don’t care how charismatic you may feel his actor is (McKellan OR Fassbender). And I sure as Hell don’t need to see Mystique each time. The rest of the cast suffers as these “prequel” movies just push everyone to the side for the sake of the Erik/Raven/Charles Show. We finally get a movie with Apocalypse – something I never thought they’d be able to pull off since the first few movies were focused on “grounded” threats – and what does he do? He makes Magneto a Horseman. WHAT?! FOR WHY? I kinda want these movies to end. Singer seems pretty comfortable at the moment, and has basically said he’ll keep making them as long as Fox lets him, but I no longer look forward to an X-Men movie. You pretty much know what you’re gonna get. Same tone. Basically the same actors. You can set your watch to it. “There’s a new X-Men movie? Huh, it’s been two years already?” I’d love for someone to come in and shake up that franchise.

lobo

On the DC side of the aisle, it’s been reported that Wonder Woman screenwriter Jason Fuchs has been hired to write a script for Lobo. THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA! The only reason I can see for Warner Bros pushing this back into development is that they probably see the Lobo character as their own Deadpool, so they want some of that R-rated comic movie money. If you’re not familiar with the character, Lobo is a Czarnian bounty hunter who’s so badass that he killed the rest of his race. He’s really strong, he can regenerate body parts, and – due to the Comics Code Authority – called people “bastiches” a lot. He’s so 90s it hurts. His own creator, Keith Giffen, doesn’t understand why the character grew popular:
“I have no idea why Lobo took off… I came up with him as an indictment of the Punisher, Wolverine hero prototype, and somehow he caught on as the high violence poster boy. Go figure.”

I think I rubbed some folks the wrong way on Twitter when I said that most Lobo fans “rode the short bus”, but I don’t think I’m far off. IN MY EXPERIENCE, Lobo was the ultimate White juvenile delinquent power fantasy. He’s just a dude with an attitude problem who liked to destroy shit. Everyone I ever knew who called themselves “Lobo fans” were the kinda kids you needed to keep an eye on, ’cause they were torturing pets or bringing weapons to school. I don’t think this is what the DC Cinematic Universe needs, but hopefully it’ll be some kinda of offshoot that won’t be in the proper DCCU.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • The trailer was released for Now You See Me 2. While I still haven’t seen the first one, I’m upset that this installment isn’t called Now You Don’t.
  • Fox has renewed Gotham for a third season. Next season, Not Batman will continue to be Not Batman by Not Batmanning. Meanwhile, his whole frickin’ rogues gallery is showing up early to the party.
  • The CW renewed ALL 11 regular series that they currently air (including DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) for next season, proving they did NOT have a deep bench when it came to pilots.
  • Marvel and Netflix announced that Luke Cage will premiere September 30th, 2016
  • Apparently, Indiana Jones and the Quest for the Last Depend is happening, with a 77 year old Harrison Ford. He clearly doesn’t enjoy working, so he must fucking HATE sitting at home with Calista Flockhart.
  • Pop TV has ordered a season of Hollywood Darlings, which will follow Full House‘s Jodie Sweetin, 7th Heaven‘s Beverly Mitchell, and Step By Step‘s Christine Lakin in a reality show as they juggle career, motherhood, and more. And considering it’s Pop, they’ll probably show up on TNA at some point.
  • After 2 episodes, ABC has cancelled Of Kings and Prophets. I called this almost a year ago. When are broadcast networks gonna learn they can’t have their own Game of Thrones due to standards and budget?

dead 7

I don’t like zombie movies and I don’t really like Westerns. But then I heard about Dead 7, and my mind started to change. It’s a zombie western starring 90s boyband members! Just watch!

I’ve known about this thing for a year, and I still don’t really even know what it’s about. Here’s what I do know:

  • It’s from Asylum, who also gave us Sharknado
  • It features members of Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, one dude from 98 Degrees, and the 4 guys who’re still willing to admit they’re in O-Town
  • It premieres April 1st. Oh, PLEASE don’t be a cruel April Fool’s Day prank!

I will say that I’m kinda bummed it doesn’t include ALL the members of the groups (except Justin, ’cause, c’mon). Out of the Backstreet Boys, Kevin and Brian are the uber Christian ones, so I wonder if they didn’t want to be in something they wouldn’t show their kids. And from *NSYNC, I knew not to expect JC, but Lance didn’t wanna partake in the festivities? I mean, The Meredith Vieira Show just got canceled, so he basically just lost a job and gained some free time. Kinda surprised he passed on it. And while I didn’t expect the weird one from 98 Degrees (you know the one I’m talking about), the Lachey brothers ain’t really doing shit these days. And I’m ready for Ashley Parker Angel to finally just give in and return to O-Town. I mean, he really hasn’t done anything since his stint in Hairspray a decade ago.

longshot

Anyway, I love crap like this. It reminds me of Longshot, which was this really, REALLY bad movie thrown together by boyband mogul and Ponzi Scheme architect Lou Pearlman. The movie went by many names, including Jack of All Trades, but it featured cameos by anyone who was anyone in pop in 2001. You can still find it in FYE dollar bins to this day.

So, we’re at the end of this week’s post, so does that mean that the Dead 7 trailer actually had the West Week Ever? Could it be? No. It was a slow week for big news, but it wasn’t that slow. We got nothing from the trailer but a tease. If it’s anything close to Sharknado, it could be an instant cult classic, but we’ll just have to wait and see. For now, however, nothing had the West Week Ever *sad trombone*. It’s probably Daredevil season 2, but there’s no way I was staying up til 3 to watch that, so it’ll have to wait til next week, when it goes head to head with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Who will win?! Tune in next week to find out!

11th Mar2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 3/11/16

by Will

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First of all, I want to thank y’all for all the shares last week, as we had our best traffic in quite some time. Let’s keep that up! Tell all your friends!

Man, some weeks there’s nothing to talk about, and then some weeks there’s a ton. This week is certainly the latter. Let’s get to it, shall we?

AILcouple

On the movie front, I caught a documentary called Autism In Love, which focused on 4 folks on the Autism spectrum as they try to find companionship. The youngest guy was probably about 20, and he was being hard on himself because he’d paid a woman just so he could touch her butt. Then, there was a local couple who had met at an autism conference, and the guy was trying to figure out if he wanted them to get married or not. Finally, there was an older guy who’d found love, but his wife had been diagnosed with cancer and was living in a nursing home. It was interesting because it showed that their struggles to find love are just like anyone else’s. In some cases, their condition gets in the way, but most have learned to cope and still find ways to search for happiness. You can currently watch it on the PBS Independent Lens site, so check it out if you’re so inclined.

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Next up, I watched Cop Car, starring Kevin Bacon as a crooked sheriff. When 2 young boys go for a joyride in a police cruiser they find in the woods, Bacon sets out to track them down because he left a body in the trunk. It’s quite the thriller, and it moves fairly quickly. I just stumbled upon it on cable, and didn’t expect much from it, but it’s not bad at all. And the ending leaves you with questions, so watch it so we can discuss it!

the crouches

On Facebook, someone in a group mentioned a UK show called Desmond’s, which ran from 1989-1994, and was set in a barbershop. The whole thing kinda fascinated me because you don’t think of Black shows when you think of Britcoms (except for the exceptional Chef!). Plus, there are only 11 articles on Wikipedia about Black Britcoms, so they certainly aren’t common. Anyway, off to YouTube I went to see if I could find any episodes to watch. I couldn’t find the pilot, but I did find the pilot of another Black Britcom called The Crouches. Premiering in 2003, it focused on a working-class Black family, where the father works as a station attendant for the London Underground. In the first episode, the son rebels because he’d asked for a pair of Reeboks, but receives a pair of knock-offs because the family’s money is tight. It’s still funny to me that you can say “shit” and flip someone off on TV in the UK in 2003, yet still can’t do that here (on broadcast TV, at least). It was definitely no Cosby Show, but if I had to come up with an American equivalent, it was probably closer to The Parent’Hood from the WB. Seeing as how there are only 12 episodes (Thank you, shortened British TV seasons!), I’d love to watch the whole series, but they don’t seem to be online anywhere.

Scalped

In TV news, it was announced that WGN America has ordered a pilot based on the Vertigo series Scalped. I was a big fan of that comic during its run, and talk of a TV series has been going around for years. I was kinda hoping it would end up at a premium channel, though, as it needs that platform for the sex, violence and language. I’ve been meaning to do an Adventures West Coast review of the series, but it seems like most of my focus is on West Week Ever these days. If you’re not familiar with the series, Scalped follows Dashiell Bad Horse who’s a self-loathing Lakota who’s sent back to the reservation on an undercover mission to take down local crime boss Lincoln Red Crow. I remember not really liking the ending, but it probably won’t matter because nobody watches WGN America. They have some critically acclaimed shows (Salem, Manhattan, Underground), but I never hear anyone talk about those shows other than critics themselves. So, unfortunately, I’m not expecting big things, even though I have more invested in this than the upcoming Preacher adaptation.

In other TV news, Dos Equis has announced that they’re ending the Most Interesting Man in the World ad campaign. And how do they accomplish this? BY SENDING HIM TO MARS! I’m not even kidding. Apparently, space was awaiting him, so now I guess he’s the Most Interesting Man in the Galaxy now? I kinda wish they’d continue to make the commercials, ’cause I’d love to see him on a spaceship, just getting drunk off shitty Mexican beer. Imagine it – the commercials get worse and worse, as he gets drunker; drunken ramblings, like “I BANGED JACKIE KENNEDY WHILE MR ED WATCHED!” Apparently, the move is to attract younger customers, so I guess look for lowriders and bikinis in future ads. Anyway, stay thirsty, Most Interesting Man. Stay thirsty.

hulk

There was a lot of legal stuff going on in the world of pop culture this week. First up, Terry Bollea, AKA Hulk Hogan, is currently suing Gawker Media for releasing his sex tape. Well, he was asked if it was true that he had a 10″ penis, which resulted in him snatching down the curtain of pro wrestling. It turns out that the character, Hulk Hogan, has a 10″ penis, but the performer, Terry Bollea, does not. Yes, this came out in court. So, does this mean he was always lying about his 24″ pythons, too?!

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In other legal drama, “Chumlee”, of Pawn Stars fame, was arrested this week in connection to a sexual assault investigation. Also known as Austin Russell, Chumlee’s house was raided and the cops found firearms and drugs. Chumlee’s prohibited from owning firearms, so that’s a no-no. In fact, they arrested him on NINETEEN drug charges, including possession of weed and meth. Kinda sucks, as he seemed like a sweet, though simpleminded, dude. Not surprised about the weed, but I never really pegged him for a meth head.

Two trailers came out yesterday concerning things that I love. First up, there’s The Lonely Island’s Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. If you’re not familiar with The Lonely Island, they’re Andy Samberg’s crew – best known for their SNL Digital Shorts. Well, in this film, Samberg appears to be a Justin Bieber-esque popstar in a hilarious takedown of the pop music industry. I love everything The Lonely Island has done, from their album Incredibad to their film Hot Rod. I am ALL IN for this.

SpideyWar

The trailer everyone was waiting for, however, was the final Captain America: Civil War trailer. If anyone was on the fence about this movie before the trailer, I thin they’re definitely chosen a side by now. It’s an exciting trailer, but I had an issue with it: I didn’t need to see Spider-Man. I know it’s to get folks jazzed about the film, and to let folks know “Yes, he’s in here”. After all, the Man on the Street isn’t as plugged into geek media as would like to believe, so I can see why his reveal might’ve been necessary for audience awareness. That said, can you imagine how huge that scene would’ve been had they held it until the film? Like @OAFE said on Twitter, I’d have been fine if we just got the “thwip” of his grabbing Cap’s shield, without getting the full shot of him. The thwip would’ve been more than enough. But here we are. I’m still #TeamIronMan all the way, and this trailer didn’t sway me from that.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Actress/singer Zendaya has been cast as mysterious character “Michelle” in the Spider-Man reboot film
  • Craig Robinson is joining Mr. Robot‘s second season in a recurring role
  • Supergirl has been renewed for a second season on CBS
  • Citing differencs with the studio on the direction the project was taking, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has left the Sandman adaptation.
  • Former J. Jonah Jameson actor, JK Simmons, has been cast as Commissioner Gordon in the Justice League film

Based on Twitter reaction, you’d probably expect that the Civil War trailer had the West Week Ever. That means that you clearly didn’t see Saturday Night Live last weekend. Yeah, I know it’s “cool” to hate the show. “It hasn’t been funny since *fill in year when you were 13*.” I get it. Still, every now and then something incredible happens on there that becomes the watercooler conversation the next week. A lot of folks were sharing the Trump racism sketch, but I actually had problems with that because SNL ignored the racism allegations before asking him to host, but now that it’s happened, they want to be “hip” and “edgy”. Why not call him a racist while you were smiling in his face a few weeks back, huh? But I digress. No, THIS was the best part of last week’s SNL:

That was INCREDIBLE, as my assessment of it got me 33 Likes on Twitter:

It’s a shame that SNL can’t figure out more to do with Pharoah, but I guess they can’t rely on impressions alone. I reviewed his standup special a few months back, and he’s got so much promise. I just wish he had a better showcase for it. In any case, for that amazing riff, Jay Pharoah had the West Week Ever.

04th Mar2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 3/4/16

by Will

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Howdy, folks! I took a week off because there was just too much going on in “real life”, but I’m back in style. We’ve got a lot to talk about this week, so let’s get to it!

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On the movie front, I found myself watching the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies. Lindsay had them on, and I caught the tail end of the first one. I liked it so much that I sat and watched the second one, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s based on the HUGELY successful kids book series, and follows middle schooler Greg Heffley and his struggles. In the first movie, Greg and his best friend Rowley join the safety patrol in order to become popular. Yeah, that goes about as well as you’d expect. In the second movie, Greg and his older brother, Rodrick, despise each other. But when they’re left home together and throw a party, they have to lean on each other to keep their story straight. Meanwhile, Greg is still trying to be popular in middle school, and falls for the new girl in town. I actually really liked these movies, and I’m curious to check out the final film, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. I was too old for the Wimpy Kid books when they came out, but I’ve always wondered why they resonate so well with middle schoolers. After watching the movies, I think I get it now. If you like innocent fun, or have a middle schooler in your house, I highly recommend this franchise.

F is for Family

On the Netflix front, I finally finished F is for Family. Considering I only had one episode to go, I’m not quite sure why it took me, like, 2 months to finish it, but here we are. Created by comedian Bill Burr, it’s basically an edgier King of the Hill. I really enjoyed the series, but it felt a bit disjointed to rejoin it so long after watching the first 5 episodes, as it was clearly made to be binged. I hope it gets a second season but, unlike most Netflix shows, this one kinda flew under the radar, with little promotion.

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On TV, The Real O’Neals debuted on ABC, and I really enjoyed it. It’s about an Irish-Catholic family whose perfect veneer cracks when all of their drama becomes public during a church bingo game. The parents are getting a divorce, one son comes out of the closet, the other son has an eating disorder, and the daughter has a bunch of stuff going on. And hilarity ensues! No, really. I felt like the show was pretty funny, and seemed like a natural fit for ABC. After Raising Hope, Martha Plimpton has really carved out a niche of “working class wife and mother”, and she’s great in this show. The marketing seems to be making the gay son the focus, but it really plays more like an ensemble show. Its moral is that family can overcome anything. I find the scheduling to be somewhat worrisome, though. While it debuted with 2 episodes on Wednesday, it will eventually move to Tuesdays, following Fresh Off The Boat.  I feel like The Middle and The Goldbergs are better companion shows for this one, but I also know how precious Wednesday night real estate is for ABC. Modern Family ain’t moving, and I think Black-ish has pretty much earned its timeslot at this point. I guess time will tell.

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I’ve also found that I’m back to hate-watching Girls. Why, oh why, do I watch this show? I hate everyone involved with it except for Peter Scolari and Allison Williams (and I still can’t look at her without thinking of her father’s fall from grace). It’s hard to stomach Lena Dunham’s female empowerment shtick when her character Hannah Horvath sucks so much at life. I mean, is she a role model for people? Yeah, I’m having a hard time separating the actor from the role. I don’t expect that everyone should even be a role model, but I feel like there are people out there who look up to her. WHY? And I really don’t need to see her naked anymore. You can call me a body shamer, but it just makes me sick to my stomach at this point. I could just stop watching. I get that. But I still have a morbid curiosity about the whole thing.

power-rangers_612x380In movie news, we got our first cast picture of the cinematic Power Rangers team. Filming has begun, as someone posted a picture of an Angel Grove Police cruiser online. I dunno what it is, but I’m getting a Divergent vibe from this film. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re both from Lionsgate. Or the fact that every teen action movie lately is basically Divergent/Hunger Games/The Maze Runner. Or the fact that the director was also behind Project Almanac. I just feel like it’s gonna be “teen angstier” than it needs to be. I mean, read this from Entertainment Weekly: “The new Power Rangers is a coming of age story for these “disenfranchised and disparate” high schoolers, who are not friends when the new story begins.” NO! I don’t need a Power Rangers team composed of a bunch of outcasts and outsiders. That’s not..breathe, Will. I’m reserving judgment on this thing until I see more, but I don’t like how it’s shaping up right now.

ghostbusters

So, the Ghostbusters trailer came out yesterday. I liked it. I wasn’t wowed by it, but I think it shows promise. Of course, the folks who were against it from the get-go are even more against it now. I think it swayed folks who are on the fence, but it didn’t do anything for the ones who have been against it from the very beginning. I have a long history with the Ghostbusters franchise. I have the Firehouse playset in my mom’s basement. I have the Proton Pack. Let’s just say that I loved me some Ghostbusters. That said, I think I’ve been more of a fan of the cartoon, The Real Ghostbusters, than I was of the movies. I’ve been an unorthodox fan of the movies, as I don’t feel the first one is the sacred cow that some think, and I personally like the second one more (sacrilege!). So, when they announced a new movie, it didn’t really hurt me. When they announced it would be directed by Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy, I was ready to surrender my money. The trailer, however, was kinda meh to me. I mean, I’ll still see the movie, but it didn’t get me any more excited than I already was. Some folks are upset that Leslie Jones’s Patty Tolan is an MTA worker instead of a scientist, but I think it works for her. I don’t see Leslie Jones as an actress who’s gonna play anything far from who she really is, so I’m fine with what she’ll bring to that type of role. Still, haters gonna hate. I’m OK if you don’t like the idea of the movie. I get that. Sacred cow and all that. But at least give it a chance before you judge it, right?

agent carter

This week saw the season (series?) finale of Marvel’s Agent Carter. It’s up in the air because it really doesn’t seem like ABC is gonna renew it. The ratings for this season were even lower than those from last season. It also doesn’t help that star Hayley Atwell has landed the lead role in the pilot for ABC’s Conviction. Sure, she could film Agent Carter once Conviction goes on break (IF it’s picked up as a series), as Agent Carter is more of a mideseason fill-in than a full season show. While there was a cliffhangery aspect to the finale, it ended on a note where we could be satisfied if this truly is THE END. Plus, the character keeps popping up in Marvel films even when she doesn’t need to (Ant-Man, anyone?), so it’s surely not the last we’ve seen of her. Meanwhile, ABC renewed 8 shows yesterday, including Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I doubt we’ll have any news on Agent Carter before the May upfronts.

finn as iron fist

 

Speaking of Marvel television, during my little hiatus, it was announced that Finn Jones from Game of Thrones has been cast as Iron Fist in the upcoming Netflix series. *Sigh* I really didn’t want to get into this, but I guess there’s no time like the present, right? Anyway, I’m part of an online collective called The Nerds of Color, but I don’t really write for them anymore because nobody reads my stuff over there. It was created by a former coworker of mine, Keith Chow, and it originally contained a couple of friends of mine until they were deemed too controversial. In any case, Keith wrote an article about 2 years ago, pleading with Marvel to cast an Asian American in the Iron Fist role.

iron fist

If you unfamiliar with the character, Iron Fist is the heroic identity of Danny Rand, a rich White guy who grew up in the mystical city of K’un-Lun after he was orphaned in a plane crash. Rand learns all the kung fu, and gains the magical power of the Iron Fist. He returns to New York, and becomes the best friend of Luke Cage, AKA Power Man, with whom he forms the Heroes for Hire. So, basically you’ve got this blonde guy who’s a martial arts expert, in a mystical Orientalist society, making him a fish out of water. I always thought that made the character unique. At the same time, though, it’s problematic because it basically means this White dude is better at Asian stuff than actual Asians. While I wouldn’t necessarily cast him in the “White Savior” role, it does seem a bit…off. Still, I always kinda rolled it into the “that’s what makes his character special” argument.

Keith argues that you could keep all of these aspects while still casting an Asian American as Rand. His main push for this is the matter of representation. It would mean a lot to Asian American viewers to see themselves represented in the Marvel Universe. He argues that Rand could be alienated from his Asian culture, which would help him to retain his position as an outsider. If you want to know more, just read the post. In all, Keith has a valid argument and I can see where he’s coming from. That said, I don’t like it.

There’s more to representation than just showing up to the party, and I feel like that’s what would be happening here. It’s changing a race merely for the sake of change. Even if it gives the character more depth, does it, then, remain the same character? Danny Rand isn’t that deep. If they cast an Asian American, then the argument would be “Why is he so vapid? Why doesn’t he reflect the best of us?” On top of that, you run into issues with the whole “look at the Asian who’s great at kung fu” thing. In a lot of ways, you’re reinforcing a stereotype for the sake of representation. My friend James took offense to some representation in a reboot of Firestorm a few years back. Sure, the new Firestorm was Black, but there’s also a scene with him in a chicken suit. To James, that cost of representation was too high. I feel that way here. Sure, you get another (definitely sorely-needed) Asian American on television, but at what cost? It certainly isn’t really changing many minds about what they’re capable of. The argument screams “We own kung fu, so we should be the only ones depicted doing it”, but we live in a time and world of cultural appropriation. Nothing belongs to anyone anymore. Ask Eminem and Adele. So, to me, there’s nothing special about an Asian American who knows kung fu. I’m sorry to say that, but if you didn’t know anything about me other than the fact that I’m Black, would you be surprised if I could rap? Probably not. Stereotypes are a bitch like that.

sam jackson nick fury

At the end of the day, though, I just hate change. Sure, you could say that it’s been done before with Samuel L. Jackson and Nick Fury, but even that is a trickier situation. There was some source material for that (The Ultimates comic), so it sort of “cushioned the blow”, so to speak. The Ultimate Universe was a different reality, and in that one, Nick Fury just happened to be Black. If they had made Ultimate Iron Fist an Asian American, I’d probably get behind it. I guess I just have issues with the live action going their own way without cues from the comics. Even the comics make stupid race decisions sometimes, like introducing a random ass Black character who suddenly turns out to be Nick Fury Jr., just so all the comics kinda match the movies. That was a hamfisted move, and as nuanced an argument as Keith makes, casting an Asian American as Iron Fist, in some sort of attempt at cultural reclamation, also feels hamfisted. I’ve been quiet because I really didn’t have an intelligent rebuttal. All I had to go on was how I felt. My problem, however, was that The Nerds of Color never issued a counterpoint. #AAIronFist became the rallying cry of the site, so it was pretty much assumed that if you were with them, then you were with them. Now, since the news broke, people are talking about how disappointed they are in Marvel, and even saying they’re boycotting the show. Look, everyone has drunk the Marvel Kool-Aid by this point. It doesn’t matter if Iron Fist is purple, you’re gonna at least watch the first episode to see what it’s all about. At this point, I feel like it was a valiant effort, and I applaud everyone for their hard work, but I believe it’s time to move on and give Finn Jones a chance. Not a sermon, just a thought.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Disney announced a Big Hero 6 series for DisneyXD from the Kim Possible creators
  • Nickelodeon announced a TV movie based on the Legends of the Hidden Temple game show. I only saw this thing in hotels (no cable), so I’m not quite sure why everyone loves it so much.
  • The Baywatch film, which is being described as “Avengers meets Anchorman“, has added David Hasselhoff to the cast in an unknown role.

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Everywhere you look, folks were talking about it this week. That’s right: Fuller House debuted last Friday to horrible reviews. But that didn’t matter, because folks ate it up anyway. It did so well, that a second season has already been greenlit just a week after its premiere. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Fuller House is an update to the TGIF mainstay of the 80s and 90s, Full House. In the original, widower Danny Tanner was raising his 3 girls with help from his brother in law and best friend. In this sequel series, oldest daughter, DJ Fuller (née Tanner) is a widow herself, and her sister and best friend help her to raise her 3 boys. I’m only 4 episodes in, but I’ve got thoughts. Come along with me, will you?

  • Jodie Sweetin, Jodie Sweetin! Never has a former meth addiction looked so good. I know every website and Tumblr has been enamored with her breasts over the last week, so I won’t go that route. I’ll just say I was begging for another season just for more Jodie.
  • Critics wanna bash the show, but clearly they forgot that the original series wasn’t exactly Waiting for Godot. It was a cheesy, saccharine show – the kind critics have NEVER liked. That was the plight of the entire TGIF lineup. As hard as they worked, they never go the recognition of other sitcoms.
  • As much as people are loving Jodie Sweetin, I was glad to see Andrea Barber. See, I always kinda had a crush on Kimmy Gibbler. They always tried to paint her as gross, with smelly feet and all that, but I wasn’t buying it. I think it’s because she always had that “Yeah, she’d probably date a Black guy” vibe to her. I guess the producers saw that, too, as her ex-husband on the show is Latino (close enough!).
  • LOVE the updated theme song. Glad to see that Carly Rae Jepsen will be remembered as more than just the “Call Me Maybe Girl”
  • I was kinda disappointed in the decision they’d made with Danny’s new wife. If you followed the casting call, they were reportedly looking for an “Attractive, vivacious and youthful African American woman in her 40s”. That made me think they were going the Niecy Nash route. I mean, could you imagine Danny Tanner married to a Black chick? Nope! And that is EXACTLY why I wanted to see it. Instead, they went with Latina actress Eva LaRue. I used to LOVE her about 20 years ago, when she was making the crappy UPN sitcom rounds.
  • Unlike a lot of sitcoms, I like the kids – especially Max. They feel like kids, and not little adults trapped in kid bodies (I’m looking at you, Girl Meets World).
  • Speaking of the kids, Ramona Gibbler is an interesting character, as she’s the first time hamfisted diversity has been introduced to the Full House universe. Sure, Michelle had a bunch of halfy friends, like Denise and Teddy, but it was never dealt with like “I’m White, and they’re Black”. They just were. Eager to embrace her Latin side, early in the season Ramona comments that the Fullers are the Whitest family around. Yeah, the Tanners/Fullers always have been, but it didn’t seem “in universe” to ever bring attention to that.
  • It was nice that they got back the original Nicky and Alex. Man, the Twin gods did not shine brightly upon them!
  • Joey was married (check the ring), but never mentioned his wife and/or kids. I’ll need to know more about them next season.
  • Isn’t it nice that everyone got to pursue their dreams? Danny and Rebecca are about to have a nationally syndicated morning show (the current climate for those doesn’t indicate success, but whatever), Jessie is the music director for General Hospital, and Joey’s got a Vegas residency. Couldn’t, like, one of them be struggling? Well, I guess they had to write them out of the main show somehow.
  • I know we’ve had over 20 years to kinda hate Dave Coulier, especially after The Surreal Life and the Alanis Morissette drama, but it doesn’t feel like he has “it” anymore. Like, when he was doing his voices, I felt the same kind of sad for him that I feel when Michael Winslow still tries to do sound effects. It’s like “Awww, bless his heart!”
  • Finally, I don’t miss Michelle. Never liked her. Sure, it was OK to have the occasional “You got it, dude”, but she Urkeled that show into the ground. So, I’m not disappointed that she didn’t come back. It was interesting that they had the whole in-joke about it in the first episode, but I’m just fine with her focusing on her “fashion empire”.

Anyway, as I said, I’m only 4 episodes in. I’ve got another 9 to go, but so far I like what I see. They don’t really make television like this anymore, and Netflix is the perfect home for it as it wouldn’t fit on today’s broadcast networks. It’s too sweet and sappy for primetime, but it’s too adult for Nick/Disney (there’s a semen joke in the premiere). So, I’m glad that Netflix exists for these shows that are a bit outside the box. I look forward to the next 4 and a half hours, and I look forward to next season. So, for that, Fuller House had the West Week Ever.

*credits roll*

Best Boy – Some Dude

Gaffer – Another Dude

Key Grip – A Third Dude

*more credits*

 

Still here? Great. Well, I want to have a discussion about sharing. You see, views and likes are nice, but when you don’t share posts, you’re being selfish. To put it in Sunday school terms, you’re hiding it under a bushel. Don’t you want to let it shine?! Surely you have friends who might enjoy some of these ramblings, right? I know you do. Like Greg. Greg would LOVE this post, and you know it! Shares are the lifeblood of sites in this day and age, and we can’t really survive without them. So, like I always say, “Likes are nice, but shares are cares.” Thanks for your time 😉

05th Feb2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 2/5/16

by Will

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After all that I watched last week during the blizzard, I didn’t really watch too much this week. The one movie that I watched was The Hundred Foot Journey. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s about an Indian family that moves to France to open a restaurant that happens to be directly across the street from a renowned Michelin-starred restaurant. In the beginning, the two restaurants go to war against each other. It’s something of a culture clash between the citizens and the immigrants. After a while, though, they find common ground in the form of the eldest son of the Indian family, who turns out to be a gifted chef. It’s the kind of movie that you don’t have to pay a ton of attention to, and still understand what’s going on. The head of the French restaurant is played by Helen Mirren, so you know this is seen as some classy shit. It was produced by Stephen Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, and it’s just the kind of story that Oprah would’ve featured in her book club. I’d wanted to see the movie ever since I first saw the trailer, as it looked cute, and it didn’t disappoint. I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that most of my readership would jump at, but if you get the chance, give it a shot.

patti pie

While I didn’t watch a ton, I did eat a lot. I don’t have the most refined palette, so I tend to stay away from food reviews. That said, I experienced two different foods that I felt deserved the blog treatment. First up was the Patti Labelle Sweet Potato Pie.

This news is about 3 months old, but seeing as how 90% of my readership is White, this’ll be new to you! Anyway, R&B singer Patti Labelle (she also played Dwayne Wayne’s mom on A Different World) released a line of sweet potato pies exclusively at Walmart in September. The pies sold well enough until a YouTuber named James Wright Chanel posted the above review of the pies. Well, that review went viral, and the pies started flying off the shelves. They were THE hot item over the Thanksgiving season, and I hadn’t been able to find one until last Friday night. I love a good sweet potato pie, so I had to see what all the fuss was about. The pies are sold at room temperature, so that’s how I wanted to first taste it. After taking a bite, it was…OK. There HAD to be more to this thing, right? I mean, the big guy was singing and everything. I remembered that I like my sweet potato pie cold, so I refrigerated it overnight, and took another shot the next day. And it was…just OK. I’ve had some awesome sweet potato pie in my life. My mom’s friend makes amazing pies. That said, this was not as good as those. It’s good, but it’s not great. The pie’s texture is sort of “lazy”, for lack of a better word. It’s not firm like I like it, and refrigerating it didn’t do much to firm it up. If this made that dude sing, I’ve had some pie that would make his heart explode. I really don’t know what all the fuss was about, but good on James for getting his 15 minutes out of it.

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Next up, I tried KFC’s Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders. Let me start by saying that I hate KFC. I love fast food, but KFC is typically some garbage. I haven’t liked any of their gimmicks since the Rotisserie Gold arrival in the early 90s. Most people just laugh at their output, like when we get things like the Double Down. So imagine my surprise when some of my Twitter friends started raving over this Nashville Hot recipe that KFC just debuted. They started out using it on the regular chicken, but then they introduced the tenders. I’m lazy and hate dealing with bones, so tenders were the way into my heart. My clogged, clogged heart. There aren’t too many KFCs in these parts (they tend to get shut down a lot), so we happened to be near one on Sunday and decided to take the plunge. First, the presentation. They come served in a black plastic tray that makes you think they came right out of the microwave. They’re garnished with pickle chips, and are served with cole slaw (we replaced that with wedges) and a biscuit. So, how did they taste? TERRIBLE. You bastards lied to me! Seriously, if that’s indicative of a real Nashville recipe, then they can just go and leave the Union right now. The sauce is thin. I mean THIN. It’s reddish and stains everything – napkins, skin, whatever. But it’s so thin that you’d think it’s just grease. There’s no body to it. It’s hot, but it’s not flavorful. And, again, the sauce gets everywhere. Lindsay looked like a ravenous vampire when she was done. It was the least satisfying meal I’ve ever had. It was a combination KFC/Taco Bell, and I wanted to cleanse my palette with some tacos, but I was already full from the tenders.

peak tv

Part of why I didn’t watch much TV this week is because there’s just too much TV. Some folks have wondered if we’ve reached “peak television”, and I think it might be true. I used to know when all my favorite shows came on. Now, I’m considering making a Google Doc just to track them all. I remember that I missed shows days after they’ve aired. And these aren’t shows I just watch casually; they’re things that I actually consider favorites. At the moment, though, I just have too many favorites. At the same time, I’m not afraid to dump a show that I don’t like. In the past, I watched a lot of stuff that I hated. I wasn’t even “hate-watching” those shows, either. I didn’t really like them, but they were on and I had nothing better to do. When Fox debuted Cooper Barrett and Bordertown, I finally realized that there are too many shows and life’s too short to waste on something you don’t like.

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In the toy world, there’s a rumor going around that Hasbro and Mattel are in talks for a merger. He-Man and G.I. Joe under the same roof? This is an ’80s kid’s wet dream! Too bad Hasbro doesn’t really care about Joe anymore, and Mattel sells He-Man figures to grown-ups for $30 a pop. This could be a dream or a nightmare. It’d be interesting to see if the Marvel and DC licenses would remain under this shared roof. Would they become HasTel or MatBro? Or even worse, HasMat? While surprising, this isn’t the first time there’s been talk of a merger, as Mattel made an offer on Hasbro 20 years ago.

Black

On the comic front, I never pledge Kickstarters because I’ve heard too many horror stories. Still, when I saw Black, I knew that I had to be a backer. The tagline for the graphic novel reads “In a world that already fears and hates them – what if only Black people had superpowers?” That’s basically as much as I know about the story, but it was enough to make me want to know more. It’ll no doubt be controversial, but the art looks great and I’m really anxious to see where the story goes.

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Meanwhile, I ran across yet another Kickstarter that piqued my interest. Titled Tuskegee Heirs, in the spirit of the famous Tuskegee Airmen, the tagline reads “Futuristic sci-fi adventure that follows a small squad of young gifted aviators who are forced to become earth’s last line of defense.” The art is very “manga-esque”, which would normally be a turnoff to me, but it’s kinda refreshing seeing that style used for Black characters outside of The Boondocks. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about an upcoming comic project, so I hope I’m not disappointed. Maybe when these books come in, I’ll dust off my Adventures West Coast feature and review them.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • After the success of Lip Sync Battle, Craig Robinson will host Caraoke Showdown on Spike.
  • Aubrey Plaza has been cast in FX’s X-Men spinoff, Legion
  • Matt LeBlanc is one of the new hosts of The UK’s Top Gear. Here’s hoping this job lasts longer than Joey. Or Top of the Heap.
  • Louis C.K. quietly released a new series, Horace and Pete, on his website. But it looks sad and all the colors are various shades of brown, so I’ll pass.
  • Andy Samberg’s crew, The Lonely Island, are developing Party Over Here with comedian Paul Scheer. The half-hour sketch show will air Saturday nights at 11 on Fox.
  • Gilmore Girls is coming back via Netflix, and apparently no one thought to invite its most famous alum, Melissa McCarthy.

ST-TNG-Theme-Week

My pals over at The Robot’s Pajamas are having Star Trek: The Next Generation Week, so be sure to pop over there and read all the great posts they’ve got!

This Week In Black History

2/1 – Today In Black History: Arnold & Willis Jackson became the first poor black kids adopted by a rich white person

2/2 – Today In Black History, rapper Christopher Wallace graduated to the Men’s department and changed his name from “Husky Smalls”

2/3 – Today in Black History, The Eastland School for Girls admitted Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey as its first black student

2/4 – Today in Black History, the Fresh King of Bel Air was assassinated. The throne remained empty until a long lost son was found in 1990.

2/5 – Today in Black History, Kunta Kinte is accepted into the space program, and it only costs him his eyesight.

usf

When I’m not blogging about pop culture, I like to guest on podcasts. One of my favorites to guest on has been the UnderScoopFire Podcast. Out of my 52 podcast appearances, 13 of them have been with USF and its Mad Men-centric spinoff, The MadCast.

I remember a few years back, coming across a dude on Twitter named @HowardTheDeck and thinking “Heh, that’s pretty clever.” Turns out dude was a funny guy, so when I found out he had a podcast, I couldn’t wait to hear it. This was a new concept to me, as I really hadn’t given too many shits about the podcast format prior to that. I like my Internet printed. If you’re recording podcasts or making videos, that just seems like it’s gonna take too much time to consume. So, I just stuck to blogs and the like. Anyway, I downloaded USF and immediately fell in love. I dug the whole gang, from Howie to Corey to Tank to Joe. There was even this guy named Googs who really seemed like he didn’t want to be there, but he was cool, too. We all became friends online – these weren’t just “web friends”, but real friends. We’ve shared Christmas cards, and tracked down toys that the others’ kids couldn’t find locally. They’ve allowed me to come on and ramble on about whatever’s on my mind, and I’ve always had a great time doing it.

Well, this week, after 150-ish episodes, the UnderScoopFire Podcast posted its final episode. The show began as a love letter to children of the 80s, covering things like GI Joe and featuring guests like “The Micro Machines Guy”, John Moschitta Jr. Over the past few years or so, the show had undergone some changes. Howie and Googs left, while Tank and Joe were sent deep undercover. We’d hear from Tank every now and then, but I thought Joe got lost out there until I heard his pretaped appearance on the final show. Some episodes were just Corey and this dude named Eclectik (that’s not his government name, but we won’t talk too much about him ’cause he hates me anyway), chatting away. A lot of the time, it felt like we were all flies on the wall for a conversation between those two. Still, they kept the show alive, and I thank them for that. Without USF, I wouldn’t be the reigning What’s The Scoop? Champion for Life, I wouldn’t know how hard it is for 80s celebrities to say the words “Under Scoop Fire” in that order, and I wouldn’t have some of my closest friends. So, with that in mind, it’s bittersweet for me to say that the UnderScoopFire Podcast had the West Week Ever.

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