08th Apr2016

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

by Will

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dead 7

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.

pacific rim

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”.

arrow season 4

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.

Alfre Woodard

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)!

Cloak-and-Dagger

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.

Wonder-Woman-Movie

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.

Jenni Konner

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.

31st Mar2016

The Most Underrated Television Theme Songs: Enterprise

by Will

Enterprise Title Card

Yup, in wrapping up Spring Break Week here at WilliamBruceWest.com, I had to go controversial with my last post. You see, I’m something of a retired Star Trek fan. I kinda reject the labels of the fandom, as I never saw myself as a “Trekkie” or Trekker”. Still, I grew up obsessed with the franchise and, thanks to the beauty of syndication, I’ve seen every episode of The Original Series to Deep Space Nine more times than I can count. I bailed when Voyager came along because, well, it was Voyager. I couldn’t even make it through the pilot, “Caretaker”. The ship can land on planets. Big whoop. Ya wanna fight about it? Anyway, I discovered CDs, got hardcore into comics, and I found Captain Janeway ushering me out of the fandom. I still watched the movies, but I checked out on Trek television and never looked back. Sadly, this also meant that I missed out on Enterprise.

I discovered Enterprise after its run had completed and it was briefly in syndication. While I don’t love the show as much as my favorite installment of the franchise, DS9, I do feel that it was misunderstood during its original run. In many respects, Enterprise was ahead of its time, as it was a younger, sexier, minimal technobabble Trek – pretty much exactly what folks loved about the JJ Abrams cinematic interpretation of the franchise. It was set in 2151, so it was closer to “our time”, while giving us a glimpse at the formation of the United Federation of Planets. It still handled a lot of classic Trek aspects, like the Mirror Universe and the genetic evolution of the Klingons. Being a prequel, though, it was not loved by many fans. The most controversial aspect, however, had to do with its branding.

First of all, Enterprise was the first series in the franchise to not have Star Trek in its name. At least, at first. I think they were trying to prove that they were doing something different with the brand, but they eventually caved to criticism. During the third season, the show was rebranded as Star Trek: Enterprise, believing that it might bring in anyone who didn’t realize that the show had been a Star Trek show all along (after all, ratings were never all that stellar, so I guess they figured it wouldn’t hurt).

The name would be the least of their problems, however. You see, the Star Trek franchise is known for its Jerry Goldsmith orchestral themes (with the exception of Deep Space Nine, whose theme was composed by Dennis McCarthy), so imagine everyone’s surprise when they went with an adult contemporary song in the form of Russell Watson’s “Where My Heart Will Take Me” (itself a re-recorded version of Rod Stewart’s “Faith of the Heart”). And Trek fans fucking HATED it. They staged petitions and protests to get Paramount to change the theme. Personally, I love the song with one caveat: it HAS to accompany the visuals from the opening credits. On its own, it does come across as some sappy soft rock song, but I feel like it actually builds upon the visuals that depict man’s thirst for exploration. The opening line, “It’s been a long road, getting from there to here”, accompanied by the visuals of everything humanity had to endure to get to space exploration, simply gets me every time. It’s a hopeful, uplifting song. We went from seafaring to warp drives! I don’t even give much of a shit about space in the “real world”, but every time I see those credits with that song, I think “Yeah! We did it!” Plus, I think Enterprise can get away with it, seeing as how it’s closer to our time than it is to Roddenberry’s sterile Trek. I don’t think it’s interchangeable, and it wouldn’t work for, say, The Next Generation, but I feel it’s perfect here.

And if you don’t like the vocals, it works just as well as an instrumental. If you don’t believe me, take a listen:

Still, Paramount kinda listened to the fans, by remixing the song for the 3rd season when they changed the show’s name. If you ask me, however, it was a step backwards. The beat that they added to the song is completely out of place for the message, and it negates from the inspiration of the original recording. There are crescendos that are missing – replaced by electric guitar riffs. THIS is what fans should’ve railed against, but I guess no one was watching by that point.

Music touches different people in different ways. Sure, The Next Generation‘s theme gets me pumped, but the Enterprise theme gets me choked up. Your mileage may vary, but that’s why I feel that the song should get more credit that it has ever received in the fandom.

Speaking of Trek songs, I leave you with the Ending Theme to Star Trek: Generations. Although I hate the phrase, it “gets me right in the feels”. It’s majestic with a haunting interlude. This one doesn’t require the visuals, and you should probably close your eyes ’cause it helps you enjoy the music AND because the images are crap. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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.

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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!

20th Nov2015

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

by Will

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charlie-sheen

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

Into-the-Badlands

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

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

wickedcity

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

shamy

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

zoolander

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

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

100 years

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

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

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

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

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

family guy don knotts

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

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

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

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

UnderNerdScoopLunchFire

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

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

Links I Loved

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

Life After Nickelodeon: Jennette McCurdy Grows Up – Vulture

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

Police Academy 2 & 3 Double Feature – TBD

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

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

adele-third-album-25

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

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

17th Sep2014

West Week Ever – 9/19/14

by Will

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Powers Cast

The first set pic has come from the Powers set, and I’m not impressed. I’ve been following the casting in prior editions of West Week Ever, but I just don’t have a lot of hope for this show. The main thing going against it is that it’s not even on a real network. Hell, straight to Netflix would’ve even worked, but instead it’ll only be on the Playstation Network. Looking at this pic, though, it looks like a fan film. The casting feels off, and it just doesn’t feel like the comic. I could be proven wrong, though…

 

the hubThings aren’t looking good for Hasbro’s The Hub Network, as there are reports that Discovery Communications is trying to gain control of the network and rebrand it as Discovery Family. I never really understood why Hasbro felt they needed a network, especially when they didn’t use it to sell more toys. Sure, there are Transformers and My Little Pony shows, but there are also Blossom and Step By Step reruns. The network has a serious identity crisis, and a takeover by Discovery may be just what it needs.

the-real

First, there was The View. Then, there was The Talk. Apparently, some executive felt there needed to be an urban counterpart, as now we have The Real. Hosted by Tamar Braxton, Jeannie Mai, Loni Love, Tamara Mowry, and Adrienne Bailon, the show premiered this week on local Fox affiliates. It was given a try-out last summer in a few markets, and I guess it was successful enough for a national launch. I haven’t had the pleasure of watching it yet, but it looks like someone threw Bethenny, The Wendy Williams Show, and The View into a blender. I hope it’s the trainwreck that I’m imagining. That pic isn’t doing them any favors, as Tamar looks like a gremlin, while Loni looks tired already.

hot-bench
Speaking of daytime television, there’s a new court show on the scene: Hot Bench. Have you ever felt like one judge wasn’t enough? No? Never? Well, too bad ’cause this show features 3 judges. Yes, 3 diverse judges listen to a case, and then they go back to their chambers to deliberate. If it’s 2 against 1, the majority verdict wins. It was created by Judge Judy, and I feel like the only reason she would give herself a competitor would be if it involved something crazy like this. On the plus side, they hired Judge Joe Brown‘s bailiff, Sonia Montejano, so she’s no longer out of work.

Darrell Hammond

It was announced yesterday that former cast member Darrell Hammond will assume announcing duties on Saturday Night Live, following the passing of former announcer, Don Pardo. Hammond was always my first choice as the replacement, as it was reported in Live From New York that he even filled in for Pardo a few times when he was too ill to announce. The audience never knew the difference. The question now, however, is will he do a Pardo impression or will he do his own thing?

7th Heaven Reunited

Rounding out all this TV news, the 7th Heaven cast (minus Ruthie) recently got together for dinner. It’s not talked about much anymore, but I always loved the Camdens, and the show ran for 11 seasons! It’s good to see that Jessica Biel still gets along with everyone, considering how badly she wanted to get out of her contract back in the day. As punishment, the writers really ran that character through the mud! Anyway, they all look good, except for David Gallagher. That hair’s not working out so well for him.

chad and avril

It appears the honeymoon is over for Avril Lavigne and Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, as they appear to be breaking up after one year of marriage. Seeing as how everyone hates both of them, I’m not quite sure who I’m supposed to feel sorry for. I’m sure they’ll both eke out some breakup songs, so I guess I should feel sorry for all of us, as we’ll be forced to hear them.

tumblr

Over the weekend, I was messing around on Tumblr, sharing old pics I’d posted on Instagram. Well, this pic of Batman in the Dairy Queen now has over 100 likes/reblogs, so let’s just say I’m back to using Tumblr again. Follow me at wbwest.tumblr.com!

In Case You Missed It This Week

Wizard World Richmond 2014 – A $25 Show at Twice The Price

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Well, since this was a TV-centric West Week Ever, it only makes sense that the winner of the week also come from television. After a 13 year absence (I really can’t believe it’s been 13 years!), this fixture returned to nightly television. That’s right, Alex Trebek’s mustache is BACK, and Jeopardy will never be the same!!!! Actually, I’m pretty sure it’ll be the same, but it’s like a bushy old friend has returned. What do you want from me, folks? Nothing really happened this week, so this is what you get! After a long absence, Alex Trebek’s mustache had the West Week Ever.

02nd Sep2014

Jimi Jamison : 1951-2014

by Will

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I’m sure some folks say that I could’ve waited until West Week Ever for this, but there’s something about West Week Ever that I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned: there’s a strict No Death policy. You see, I figure if I mention one death, I have to mention them all – even when they don’t really mean anything to me. So, I decided to just ignore all of the celebrity deaths. This time, however, I felt like I needed to say something.

Jimi Jamison, former lead singer of Survivor, was found dead yesterday from an apparent heart attack. When you think of ’80s music, you can’t help but think of Survivor, with hits like “Burning Heart” from Rocky IV and “The Search Is Over” (Jamison joined after “Eye of the Tiger” was recorded). I, however, remember Jamison from what I consider to be his greatest contribution to popular culture: “I’m Always Here”, AKA The Baywatch Theme. I spent MANY a Saturday afternoon during my formative years watching syndicated fare on TV, and nothing topped Baywatch. It was the #1 show in most of the world, and it probably brought Jamison’s music to more people than the Survivor stuff did. I LOVE the Hell out of that theme song, and it’s how I’ll always remember Jimi Jamison. So, my thoughts and prayers are with his family, and to remember him by, here’s “I’m Always Here”:

22nd Aug2014

West Week Ever – 8/22/14

by Will

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I really wasn’t sure I was gonna write this until about 3 hrs ago, so I apologize if it’s half-assed. I took a break last week, but I hope you enjoyed my reboot of Three’s Company. In the meantime, there’s not a lot of happy stuff going on these days, so I just haven’t really been compelled to write this post. Still, as they say, the show must go on!

sharlto-copley

A few weeks ago, I told you that Susan Heyward had been cast as Deena Pilgrim in Sony’s Powers series. Well, this week it was announced that District 9‘s Sharlto Copley will star as Detective Christian Walker in the series. Not who I would’ve chosen. The problem with this is that he doesn’t seem to have the build that Walker has in the comic, but clearly they’re going in another direction. It was also announced that Ensign Ro, Michelle Forbes, would be playing Retro Girl. I don’t have the Playstation Network, so I’ll probably never see this show unless it hits Netflix or something. In any case, it’s being made, so I’m sure that makes someone out there happy.

cannon carey

The honeymoon is over for Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey, as Cannon confirmed that the couple has separated. Apparently, it can be traced back to a radio interview where Cannon was asked to admit 5 celebrities that he’d slept with. Well, that list included Kim Kardashian, which was a sticking point for Mariah. He’ll be OK, though, as they’re already discussing the division of property. He’ll be crying all the way to the bank!

sorbo

Kevin Sorbo said some crazy stuff about the people of Ferguson, MO. Oh, what’s going on in Ferguson? We’re not getting into that here. Go read a news site or something! Let’s just say that the killing of an unarmed Black teen has sparked protests in the town that have been going on for over a week. Well, the former star of syndicated Saturday fare Hercules: The Legendary Journeys & Andromeda called the people “animals” and said:

“Ferguson riots have very little to do with the shooting of the young man. It is an excuse to be the losers these animals truly are. It is a tipping point to frustration built up over years of not trying, but blaming everyone else, The Man, for their failures. It’s always someone else’s fault when you give up. Hopefully this is a reminder to the African Americans ( I always thought we just Americans. Oh, well.) that their President the voted in has only made things worse for them, not better.”

Wow, Hercules! What would Iolaus say? I guess he won’t be winning an NAACP Spirit Award anytime soon…

ice-bucket-challenge

Oh, the Ice Bucket Challenge. Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past 2 weeks, folks have been filming themselves being doused with ice water in an effort to spread awareness about ALS, AKA Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The trick is that you accept the challenge, and then you challenge three other people to do it. They have 24 hrs to comply or else they have to donate $100 to ALS research. I stirred up a mini controversy on Facebook, as I said “The Ice Bucket Challenge is the whitest thing since the invention of brunch.” Some folks tried to say “Oprah did it!”, like that’s supposed to mean something to me. I’m not sure if it’s because Black folks are preoccupied with the Ferguson stuff, or if we would’ve ignored it anyway, but if you look at the videos, it’s a predominantly White thing. I’ve got a friend who posted her office doing the challenge, and the black dude (there was only one) conspicuously didn’t participate. It’s almost to the point where I’m wondering if I missed something in last month’s newsletter telling us not to participate. Oh, you guys didn’t know there’s a Black Newsletter? Anyway, my pal Howie Decker ended up nominating me, and I would’ve complied, but I was out of town for the 24 hr window. So, I gave the money. I did my part. It’s a good cause that’s raised a lot of money, so it should be commended for that. I’ve definitely enjoyed everyone’s videos who accepted the challenge, and you’re all good sports. This might make me a dick, however, but I’m kinda ready for it to be over now.

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Last night, it was announced that Grant, Kari, and Tori would be leaving Mythbusters. Ya know, I think I’ve only watched, maybe, 2 episodes of that show in my entire life. However, anyone who went near a copy of Maxim or FHM in the early ’00s knows who Kari Byron is. She was like a real life Debbe Dunning. Well, Debbe’s real, but she played the Tool Girl on Home…ya know what, let’s just said that joke didn’t land. In any case, I know Kari will be missed. I don’t know about those other dudes.

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This week saw the 25th anniversary of Saved by the Bell. My God, I feel so old. I remember where I was that very day. In fact, it first aired on a Friday night, during one of those Saturday morning preview shows that networks used to have. And I remember thinking “This ain’t gonna last”. It’s not like I had any industry knowledge to go on at that point. I was just a kid who wanted his cartoons, and I knew that this was 30 minutes that could have gone to ALF Tales or something. Anyway, I watched it, and it was OK. Then I kept watching it. And then I fell in love with it and The Guys Next Door and everything that Peter Engel later produced. Seriously, there’s a reason there are TNBC and Saved By The Bell tags in the sidebar! Sure, these shows gave a REALLY false impression of what high school was going to be like, but I feel like I grew up with Zack and the gang. When they worked for Mr. Carosi, I worked at the beach club, too. I know that sounds crazy, but that’s what happens when you’re at an impressionable age. I know a lot of my contemporaries hated the show, but I’m not in that camp. Give me a SBTB rerun any day (except the one where Slater’s lizard dies. I hate that episode). It almost had the West Week Ever, but not quite. We’ll get to that in a bit.

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A few weeks back, I had the honor of being invited back to The Classick Team-Up, over on the Cold Slither Podcast Network. I’m actually the first 2-time guest, which is pretty awesome, and Classick and I had a great time talking comics, movies, and more. You can check it out here.

In Case You Missed It Last Week

Reboot That Bitch: Three’s Company

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This is going to be kinda controversial, but that’s the world we live in these days. Ya know who had the West Week Ever? Taylor Swift, and let me tell you why. All ears and eyes were on Taylor this week, as she released the video for her new song, “Shake It Off”. Written by my musical spirit animal, Max Martin, the song is a departure for Swift, as it’s her first, real pop song. Sure, she’s had crossover hits in the past, and it could be argued that “I Knew You Were Trouble” was her first real foray into pop, but she’s considering this her pop Coming Out. It’s the first single from her next album, 1989, which is supposed to be an 80s-inspired pop album. Those were the magic words right there. I am ALL ABOUT that! Still, you can’t have something without some controversy. The video involves Taylor parodying different dance styles, and the joke is that she’s bad at all of them. Ballet? Bad at it. Cheerleading? Bad at it. And then there’s the twerking scene. No, Taylor doesn’t try to twerk, but she’s got some black ladies in the background doing it for her. And people have said that she’s supporting negative black stereotypes by doing this. The funny thing, though, is that the people saying this have either never seen the video, or they just don’t get the joke. Take a look at it here:

Meanwhile, Nicki Minaj released her new video for “Anaconda” this week, and you can check it out here (but NOT if you’re at work!):

So, tell me – who did more to perpetuate negative black stereotypes this week? Yeah. So, leave Taylor alone, and brace yourselves as she takes over the pop world. It was only a matter of time, and now that she seems to be done with country, there’s nothing we can do to stop her. This is why Taylor Swift had the West Week Ever.

21st Mar2014

West Week Ever – 3/21/14

by Will

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I know I was supposed to write about my Walt Disney World thoughts at some point, but I just didn’t get around to it. Maybe next week? Hell, let’s just do it now.

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I went to Orlando for training on the student information system we use at work. On the second night of the event, we were given passes to go to the Disney park of our choice. Since I’d never been before, I decided to go with the Magic Kingdom. Let me just say that I didn’t know how magical it would be, right down to the entrance gate. The “tickets” are actually more like gift cards, and then they fingerprint you with some kind of bioscanner as you walk through. I thought I was going to an amusement park, not hacking into NORAD! You enter right onto Main Street, and the afternoon parade was in full swing.

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My friend, Mary, and I decided to hit Space Mountain first, since it was one of the four things I simply had to experience (the other three being Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World, and The Haunted Mansion).

-Space Mountain would’ve been more exciting had it not been for the 2-hour wait. 2 hours for a 3 minute ride?! No, thank you! I didn’t realize that this was my first rollercoaster ride since getting my latest pair of glasses, so I spent most of the ride trying to keep them from flying off my face. It was kinda cool, however, that they had games stationed throughout the line to give you something to do while you wait. Luckily, I did Space Mountain first, so it kinda tempered my expectations for the rest of the park.

-They really need to update Tomorrowland, as the music they played sounded like the St. Elsewhere theme.

After the arduous wait for Space Mountain, I was scared that all of the lines would be like that. We had arrived at the park at around 6, and we would only have until 12:30 before the bus went back to the hotel. Seeing as how I’d wasted 1/3 of my time waiting for ONE ride, it wasn’t looking good for the home team! Mary thought that It’s a Small World would be clear around dinner time, so that’s where we went next.

2014-03-11 20.29.05She was right, as the wait for It’s a Small World was only 10 minutes. Sure, it may not be the most exciting ride, but it’s still interesting. People say that the song gets into your head and doesn’t get out, but I didn’t seem to have that problem. Ha! I’m immune! Oh no…as I type this, it’s creeping into my brain! “It’s a small world after all…”

After traveling the world, so to speak, we decided to head toward The Haunted Mansion. Let’s just say I was disappointed, but it wasn’t really the fault of the ride. You see, when I thought about The Haunted Mansion, I was really thinking of The Tower of Terror. I didn’t realize they were two different things. So, I went in totally expecting the wrong thing. I kept expecting the drop, but instead I just toured around, looking at holographic ghosts. It’s not a bad attraction, but it just wasn’t what I expected.

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After The Haunted Mansion, we decided to check out Pirates of the Caribbean but we got blocked by the night parade. We kept trying to navigate around it, but kept running into it. Finally, we were able to cross at a point, and get across to Adventureland for Pirates of the Caribbean. If ya ask me, this ride is just the pirate version of The Haunted Mansion. I have no idea how they made movies based on this ride, as I didn’t know what the Hell was going on. It’s just lots of yelling and pirate songs. Keep in mind, I’ve never seen any of the movies, so maybe that’s what they’re like, as well.

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One thing that really bothered me was that there were no characters walking around. In any medium, when you see Disney World, you see folks getting their pictures taken with people in costumes. Maybe they were getting ready for the parades, but I never saw anyone in a character costume who wasn’t on a float. I wanted my picture taken with Goofy, but I guess it wasn’t to be 🙁

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The entire time at the park, I REALLY wanted a hot dog. I don’t typically crave them, but there was something about cow lips and other assorted parts that sounded tantalizing to me. Do you know how hard it is to find a hot dog at Disney after a certain time of day? I mean, it wasn’t late night yet, but I couldn’t find one anywhere. There were turkey legs, popcorn carts, and cinnamon-covered almond stands, but no hot dogs. And the parade kept thwarting my efforts. Finally, we made our way to Casey’s on Main Street, which sold nothing but hot dogs. Salvation!

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Since I didn’t get to see Goofy, I had to settle for stopping into his candy store in downtown Disney.

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Couldn’t hit downtown Disney without going to the LEGO Store!

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Another weird thing about Disney is that there’s no gum to be had anywhere on the property. Mary tried to get gum at the airport, and was told that Orlando is essentially gum-free. I guess that helps them keep the place clean, but it’s so odd that gum is something they’d outlaw.

Anyway, what did I think of the Magic Kingdom overall? I had fun, but I think I’m too old for Disney World. I really needed to experience it at a younger age in order to feel the “magic” about the place. I think the perfect age to take kids would be when they’re under 7, so they can ride things like the teacups, but they aren’t old enough for the rides that are eligible for a FastPass. I know there are adults who go to Disney on their own, and I just don’t get that. The crowds, the activity, the noise – I’d only want to endure that for the sake of children. So, I had fun, but I think I’ll have more fun one day with my heirs. Yup, that’s what I’m calling them for now.

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I don’t watch Dancing with the Stars, but I found something interesting about this season’s cast. You see, DJ Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure) and Winnie Cooper (Danica McKeller) are contestants on the show, but it also seems they have some history together. Apparently, Candace used to date Jeremy Miller from Growing Pains – who proceeded to dump her for Danica. Cold! Anyway, Danica didn’t know she had broken up the relationship until the two spoke at dance practice, all these years later. I wonder if Jeremy’s fiancee knows that story…

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Apparently, there’s a Jem movie in the works. If there isn’t a role in it for Lady Gaga, it’s dead on arrival. Honestly, I’m not sure why anyone is taking this seriously. John Chu is attached to direct, but he was also gonna do the Masters of the Universe reboot, but dropped out of that project. I think he just likes being linked to 80s properties, but I’ll believe this when I see it.

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Peanuts does as little for me as The Muppets, but I know some of you are fans. I’m curious to see how this whole 3-D style turns out for it. I actually really like the new look, so maybe this is just what I needed to finally be interested in this property.

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Cory’s parents and Shawn Hunter are gonna be on a holiday episode of Girl Meets World! Can this show just air already?

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Speaking of TV, if you like your zombie shows edited, you’re in luck. MyNetworkTV just picked up the rights to broadcast edited episodes of The Walking Dead next fall. Since they’re edited for “broadcast standards”, look for a lot of the gore to be taken out. I’m curious to see how “The Neutered Dead” does in syndication. I don’t watch the show, but I can’t wait for some mom in flyover country to lose her shit when she stumbles across it one Saturday evening.

NBC renewed Parks & Recreation this week, while the jury’s still out on Community. It’s kinda sad it wasn’t the other way around, as Parks & Rec has done a pretty good job of wrapping things up this season. To watch it, it felt like a show that knew it was on the way out. I don’t know what they’re gonna do with what’s essentially a “bonus” season for them. Law & Order: SVU also wasn’t on the renewal list, but it’s probably due to contract negotiations. I mean, NBC wouldn’t kill off SVU so soon after getting rid of the main show…would they? Hell, who knows what NBC execs are thinking anymore?

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ABC continued killing any momentum Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might have gained by essentially airing a 1-hr DVD featurette where Marvel patted itself on the back for creating a cohesive cinematic universe. It was an interesting special, and it was nice to look back and see how it all came together. Still, I think it would’ve been more fitting on the Captain America: The Winter Soldier Blu-Ray instead of using valuable airtime.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of joining my pal James (@SnoopyJenkins) and David Walker for a chat on race in comics and comic media. You can check out part one here:

Links I Loved
Meet Ryan Tedder, the Secret King of Pop Who Doesn’t Look at Royalty Checks – Billboard

LoeB Post: “Why Did I Buy That?!” – Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang

18 Reasons You Should Be Watching ‘The Goldbergs’ on ABC – UnderScoopFire!

Star Trek Problems: He Deserves It – The Robot’s Pajamas

The 10 Worst Movies Ever (According to Battle Armor Joe) – UnderScoopFire!

They can’t all be winners, and this week proves it. No one had the West Week Ever. Hell, there weren’t even finalists. Ultimately, The Muppets will probably end the week on a positive note, as Muppets Most Wanted is released today, and I know how y’all love your Muppets. Still, the movie’s not out yet, and it might (though chances are slim) bomb. So, nobody gets the WWE honor this week. Maybe things will be more exciting next week. Maybe they’ll even find that plane!

14th Mar2014

West Week Ever – 3/14/14

by Will

oie_922142seDasWF9

I was in Orlando for work all week, so I didn’t know if I’d get around to writing this. Forgive me if it seems scattered; I just had a few thoughts I wanted to “put to paper”, so to speak.

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Ya know, it’s kinda surreal to be on a flight, while watching news coverage of a flight that has disappeared. JetBlue has Direct TV, so I happened to catch Erin Burnett (Mmmm…) as she covered the flight on her show, OutFront. That was followed by Anderson Cooper (Mmmm – equal opportunity!) doing the same exact thing. I don’t know what happened to that plane, but there are some crazy theories going around. I just hope they eventually find something, ’cause I don’t want another Amelia Earhart situation.

Speaking of JetBlue, they have BLUE potato chips! BLUE! And they’re pretty good, too.

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Good news on the TV renewal front, as TBS renewed Ground Floor, while CBS renewed Two and a Half Men. I know it seems like they’ve run out of stuff to do on that show, but I still enjoy it. I also find it amazing that it gained such a powerful second wind after Charlie Sheen left.

Wrdq_2009One of my favorite things about traveling is checking out the off network TV offerings. In Orlando, they have this Channel 27 that’s unlike anything I’ve encountered. It’s not a CW and it’s not a My Network TV. It’s an independent channel kinda like we used to have before UPN and The WB came along. For instance, I had no clue The Cleveland Show was in syndication. We don’t have that in DC, and the American Dad reruns that we do have are at 4 in the morning. Also, I learned about a tabloid news show, called OK! TV, which is basically TMZ meets Extra. I didn’t even know such a thing existed. I love shitty television! Steve Harvey’s talk show comes on at 9 PM. And I thought late night court shows were weird!

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I had no clue that Barry Weiss from Storage Wars was getting his own show, Barry’d Treasure. First Hester left, then Balelo died, and now this. I don’t even know why they keep Storage Wars going, now that it’s basically just Jarrod, Brandi, and Darrell.

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This amazing poster almost makes up for what was an absolutely terrible movie. I stole this off Jason David Frank’s facebook page, and it’s for Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie. It’s funny how many people don’t even realize there was a second Power Rangers movie. I think most of my generation had moved on by that point (it was season 5 by then). Plus, people tend to forget that the first movie, technically, isn’t in continuity, while the second one is. You could watch the first movie without really ever having seen Power Rangers before, but the second one was basically a TV movie that somehow got a theatrical release.

AFB-logo-newSpeaking of Power Rangers, I had the pleasure of joining @Engineernerd of the Action Figure Blues Podcast and @ExveeBrawn of Superhero Time to discuss the Power Rangers toy line. Could Power Rangers be the best toyline of all time? Listen along, as we make the case!

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The suit for The Flash was revealed this week. Like some other folks, I think it looks kinda Daredevily, but it could work. I’m probably not even gonna watch the show, so I don’t have a horse in that race. I still haven’t watched Arrow since my review of it last year. Ever since I binge watched Breaking Bad, something’s been broken in me. I just can’t handle one-hour dramas at the moment. Maybe one day, but not now. Arrow, and The Flash, will just have to wait.

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And no, I’m not excited about Gotham, either. I mean, who really wants a Batman prequel? I have no interest in the goings on of pre-Batman Gotham. Just like with the Birds of Prey show, the only draw will be the hope of seeing Batman. Since most of Bruce’s training occurs outside of Gotham, I just don’t see what the appeal of this show could be.

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I found this at Toys “R”Us this morning, but I just can’t justify a $79.99 price tag (it’s sitting in a different spot in the pic for better lighting). It’s a gorgeous piece, and it’s heavy, but $80?! I’ll just continue to be content with my original one.

My Twitter bestie, Brandi, does comedy, and here’s a set that she did when Jackie Kashian came to town.

Links I Loved
65 Songs You Will Never Be Able To Listen To The Same Way Again – Buzzfeed
Blockbuster Video Presents: The UnderScoopFire Tournament of Super Powers – UnderScoopFire!
Hands On With Marvel Unlimited – Double Dumbass On You

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Ya know what had the West Week Ever? Walt Disney World. I went there for the first time, and boy do I have some thoughts. But you’ll have to wait until sometime next week for those 😉

07th Mar2014

West Week Ever – 3/7/14

by Will

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IFC's Maron

So, this week I’ve been watching Maron on Netflix. If you’re not familiar, it stars comedian Marc Maron and it’s basically the same formula as Louie. The difference, however, is I find I relate to Maron more than Louis CK. I’ve never listened to Maron’s podcast, but I’ve heard a bunch of his bits and I find him really witty. He also has this self-loathing streak that’s kind of brave for him to be putting out there in public. So, I guess Maron has a vulnerability that I don’t see in Louis. It’s interesting they both ended up with the same kind of show, seeing as how they’re contemporaries and also had a longstanding rivalry. I’m sure it’d be easy to just write off Maron as a rip-off of Louie, but I think there’s more heart to it.

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I never thought I’d have to do this, but I may have to strip a prior winner of West Week Ever status. If you remember, last year I bestowed the honor upon iCarly‘s Jennette McCurddy and Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons. It seemed like a cute internet love story, as he had posted her as his “Woman Crush Wednesday” choice on Twitter, and they eventually ended up dating. Well, they didn’t live happily ever after, as McCurddy explained on Pete Holmes’s You Made It Weird podcast. She admitted that she only dated Drummond for the publicity and said that he was a bad kisser. Listening to the podcast, she doesn’t really come off as malicious, but she still aired their business in public. Drummond, seemingly, retaliated by “leaking” a racy photo that she’d sent him. He’s denying having anything to do with the leak, but she’s pretty certain that he’s the one who did it. Who knew that a celebrity relationship would end like this?!

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This week, it was announced that Batman would be returning to next-gen consoles in Batman: Arkham Knight. I own Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, but still haven’t gotten Arkham Origins. I won’t be following Bats into this latest game, however, as it’s not going to be released on the 360, and I’m not planning on ever getting a PS4 or an XBone. Sucks, ’cause I’d really like to drive the Batmobile, as you’ll be able to do in this installment. Oh well, I’m sure I’m sure I know someone who’ll end up buying it and I can just play theirs.

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I swear I never set out to talk about Arsenio every week, but he keeps giving me material. I’m not sure if this has happened in other markets, but I noticed that our CW affiliate kinda cut some of his support once the second season was announced. You see, they had created a sort of “black bubble” to boost his viewership. When the show launched, its lead-in was syndicated episodes of The Middle. Someone at Channel 50 realized it had nothing in common with Arsenio’s target demographic, so in January, they started airing Judge Mathis at 10 . It was weird to see court shows that late at night, but I eventually got used to it. To ease folks out of Arsenio, they aired Cosby Show reruns after his show. This created said black bubble, as the shows were aimed at black viewers. Well, the bubble burst this week, as they took off Judge Mathis and now air Seinfeld in the 10 PM slot. I’m not sure what they’re trying to accomplish, as the Seinfeld audience isn’t the Arsenio audience any more than The Middle‘s audience was. They had created a nice little nest for Arsenio and now they’ve gotten rid of it (though the Cosby episodes are still the lead out). I wonder what the grand plan is for that 10 PM slot.

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Speaking of odd programming choices, it was announced this week that Conan O’Brien will be hosting the MTV Movie Awards. This is most certainly a step down for someone who once hosted The Tonight Show. These aren’t even the fabled Video Music Awards that we’re talking about here – these are the MOVIE awards. Sure, Conan has always wanted to be hip, but the MTV crowd ain’t his audience. And it’s not like it was a contractual obligation from the network, as his show is produced by Turner while MTV is a Viacom network. Like the Arsenio scheduling, I wonder what the endgame is here.

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I stumbled across Upload with Shaquille O’Neal on Tru TV. Funny enough, everything on Tru TV is blatantly fake, but I gave it a chance because of Shaq’s cohosts – comedians Godfrey and Rachel Feinstein. I love both of them for different reasons, but it was painful to see them in this show. What is Upload? Basically, it’s Tosh.0 hosted by Shaq. And it’s even worse than it sounds. Since Shaq’s a lummox, Godfrey and Rachel are there to do the heavy comedic lifting, but they’re not given much to work with. Anyway, avoid this show at all costs!

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Speaking of bad television, last week Jim Parsons hosted what may be the worst episode of Saturday Night Live that I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t just unfunny, but it was weird in an uncomfortable way. He kicked off the show with a song and dance number about how he’s “not that guy” that he plays on The Big Bang Theory. Then, he spent the next 90 minutes essentially being that guy. So, I think he failed on that goal. I can’t say that I’m expecting better with this week’s host, Lena Dunham.

Anyone who’s ever been to this site knows that I eat this kinda stuff up:

I probably would’ve liked it more had he spliced in some PR footage for the visuals. It’s kinda weird watching him as he belts all those songs (especially when he kinda Britta’d some of them). Still, it’s pretty impressive.

Links I Loved
Thundercats LIVE! Was The Stuff of Nightmares – Double Dumbass On You

15 Things You Might Not Know About Star Wars – UnderScoopFire!

Jackie Robinson and the Mythic Black Superhero – Snoopy Jenkins

One’s career seems to be on the decline, while another seems to be on the way up. One seems like a moron, while the other is more of a Maron. Only one, however, had the West Week Ever.

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Who had a week like Lupita Nyong’o? Sure, Adele Dazeem jokes aside, everyone was talking about Lupita’s award-winning performance in her first role. Now everyone’s speculating on what she’ll do next. Well, history and Oscar haven’t been kind to my people. Cuba went from Jerry Maguire to Boat Trip. Halle ended up doing The Call – from WWE Films, mind you. Octavia did a guest stint on CBS’s Mom. While an Oscar usually means the sky is the limit, for a black actor it usually means the limit is the sky.  I haven’t seen 12 Years A Slave yet, but I hear it’s powerful. So, enjoy your week, Lupita, ’cause it’s only a matter of time before you’re cast in A Haunted House 3 with the Wayans Bros. For now, however, let’s enjoy Lupita’s win by crowning her as having had the West Week Ever.

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