Showing posts with label television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label television. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Another Eric Jonrosh masterpiece has resurfaced - The Spoils Before Dying

Finally. At last. Eric Jonrosh's most controversial work makes it to television.  Jonrosh is a bitter pill for much of America to swallow, but swallow it we should, for Jonrosh's work isn't just about America.  It's about US.



A spiritual sequel to The Spoils of Babylon, I cannot wait to see Jonrosh's look at a very different America finally get it's release.

Here's the trailer for Babylon, if you've somehow missed it.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Justice League TV Show - Secret Origins

I don't know what the hell is going on with my cable at home, but it isn't good.  Likely a mixture of the fact that we haven't updated our boxes or our modem in years and the technology has obviously continued to change.  So, we're basically cable-less until we get a technician out sometime next week.

In this spirit, Jamie got into the DVDs, and popped out with Disc 1 of the first season of Justice League, the 2001ish launch of the DC Heroes team-up show featuring "The Magnificent Seven":  Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and The Flash (traditional magnificent seven swapping Aquaman for Hawgirl, but I get the motivations behind the swap and, frankly, it worked beautifully).



We watched the first three episodes, also known as the Justice League movie, "Secret Origins", wherein some pretty well designed aliens invade Earth and the seven disparate heroes team up as a unit for the first time, at least in the world of the Timm-verse that started with Batman: The Animated Series and continued with Superman: The Animated Series, both series legends in superhero animation in their own time and something I can't believe people don't talk about more instead of praising the just seriously gawdawful 90's X-Men and other cartoons.*

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cap Watch: Captain America II - Death Too Soon!

This evening we took in the second, not lesser, but - indeed - final installment of the TV movie exploration of Marvel's Sentinel of Liberty, Captain America in Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979).

The movie is perhaps even more of a curiosity than the prior attempt, but it's worth noting that Wonder Woman - which we sort of think of as fully formed, first aired as a TV movie with tennis-pro Cathy Lee Crosby as a jump-suited, blonde Wonder Woman prior to the decision to try another TV movie pilot with Lynda Carter, which led into the series (which had to switch networks and decades before the 1977 season, just to make life more complicated).

Things were a little different back when you had to actually be home to watch TV when it aired, and once it was gone, it was gone.

Cap DOES NOT let thugs take money from sweet old ladies.  No, really.

I genuinely feel this movie is better acted and directed than the origin story, and the plot plods along at a mosey instead of a painful death march.  I'm not saying this even good TV, but I am saying it didn't physically hurt to watch (even if I did end the movie with a migraine halo).

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

This is the part of the year in which I watch a reality show about dancing!

This is the part of the year during which, if I want to see my wife, I watch the Fox dancing competition "reality" program, So You Think You Can Dance?



Of the possible reality game shows she could have selected to watch, it's one of the more innocuous things I could deal with.  It's not dubious, karaoke-style singing a la American Idol.  And it's not about a panel of judges that I know nothing about, a la The Voice.  It doesn't make me hate humanity (see: any reality programming gameshow on MTV).  And it's not as relentlessly depressing as most dating or "unscripted" things that, for real, I cannot get my head around at all.

But I also know next to nothing about the art of dance.  If it didn't feature Madonna expressing herself circa 1989 or the ladies of En Vogue instructing me to "free my mind", I am not sure how much attention I paid to anyone dancing anywhere during my formative years.

I believe we are now in season 478 of So You Think You Can Dance? and I feel no closer to understanding dance any better.  I listen to the critiques, shrug, and have little to no opinion.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Electra Wut? There's a new Electra Woman and Dyna Girl show coming. Because of course there is.

Oh, Deidre Hall.  You and your magnificent coifs.  And Judy Strangis of the gigantic eyes.

They may not have had Lynda Carter's budget (nor been Lynda Carter), but they had their own thing going on, including an amazing vehicle and the finest special effects you could produce using video overlays in 1976.

Electra Wow!

Seriously, only Lynda Carter may have rivaled Deidre Hall for amazing hair in 1976-1977, and both knew how to make a superhero outfit work.

I have only the haziest memories of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl from my own youth.  The Sid and Marty Kroft shows were still on in rotation around 3:00 in the afternoon in the 1970's and early 80's, but it's hard to say what I remember as snippets and flashes of memory and what was what I caught later in college (and afterward) on basic cable.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"Texas Rising" - a History Channel attempt at legitimacy

Well.

The History Channel decided that they needed to make a 10 hour mini-series exploring the romantic revolutionary war period of The Lone Star State, an era in the 1830's when the winds of change blew over a few hundred miles of uninhabitable desert and scrub land and a bunch of people kicked out of every decent state in the nation hid out here until Mexico got sick of them.

As always, a little background:

I didn't move to Texas until 1979, but I did grow up here, between Dallas, Houston and Austin, and I've been lucky enough to spend time in San Antonio.  I'm partial to the state, but I am also well aware of our checkered past and present.  I do love my state, but it's often the way you love a fun but very disappointing relative.  Say, a brother.  Just for example.  Purely hypothetically.

This guy was Governor for almost my entire adult life.  and, he'd like to be your President.

Growing up in Texas, you're sort of constantly inundated in Texas history in public school (or, so it was when I was a kid), and names like Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston are up there with your American founding fathers.  Names like William B. Travis and David Crockett have passed right into mythology as martyrs of freedom.  Also, we have cows and horses and we're all pretty fond of Tex-Mex and barbecue, so we have a lot to offer kids.  On top of this, I was 11 in 1986 when we had the State Sesquicentennial (that's the 150th birthday), so it was a whole thing when I was in 4th grade.  Prince Charles came!  It was a major deal, man.

In college I had an extra credit class free and wound up taking "Texas History from Prehistory - 1845".

So, and this is a wildly unpopular notion, but there is, in fact, a bit of a difference between the legendary version of history as is taught in public school K-12, and what actually happened and why.  Or, at least, an interpretation of history that doesn't necessarily reflect the narrative of the progress of rich white dudes as a sort of destiny for all.  I know many people find this idea upsetting, especially uncles at Thanksgivings.  But, it is also true, full stop.

I wound up taking the follow up Texas History class, and, ha ha, also got myself a history degree (woooo!  so full of good ideas), focusing as much as possible on Southwest US History in a program that was much more about a broad base of history.  So, ask me to try to remember Roman History sometime.  It is super awkward because it's mostly me blinking at you then saying "uh, aqueducts".

When I saw the History Channel had decided to make a dramatized version of Texas history, I was skeptical.  They don't really have a track record that I'm aware of, and of late, most of their history has involved bearded people pretending to be rednecks on TV and lots of hunting of bigfoots and whatnot.

And right I was.  This show is terrible.  And weirdly so.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

On the Reading of Text and Your Own Interpretation - Mad Men's Final Scene

Most often we're able to write a post, say our piece, do some interpretation if needed, hit publish and then wonder, once again, what exactly it is we're doing with our life.



But every once in a while, something occurs that puts a new spin on something we wrote about, and it seems worth it to revisit the scene with the new evidence in hand.  With my readership of upward of five humans, I feel it's only fair to try to keep up and adjust to new information.  If I did not adjust as new info came to light, I'd still be wearing diapers and needing to be put in a very large stroller.

In the final scene of the show, the hard drinking, mid-20th Century picture of a man, Don Draper, has utterly broken down.  In his wanderings between New York and LA, he has somewhat accidentally come to a hippie meditation retreat in California, and is subsequently abandoned there by his ride, but - vulnerable and shattered, he seems to open up in a way he has not previously in 7 seasons.  In his final shot, he sits cross-legged with a group on a coastal bluff, comfortable in a meditative position.  The scene cuts to the 1971 "Hilltop" ad from Coca-Cola, and the series ends.

The ad is very real, and ran in various iterations even during my very early youth which began in 1975 (I have memories of it appearing on TV when I was very little, at least the Christmas spot).

Monday, May 18, 2015

And so, "Mad Men" ends

There were a lot of crazy stories going around as fans speculated how Mad Men might end.   I will never understand why Mad Men was one of the most curiously misunderstood television programs to ever air, but at least the folks watching it for all the wrong reasons provided enough eyes on the show that it lasted longer than it might have, otherwise, and without becoming one of those shows that seems to live on, shuffling about, no longer certain when it should have ended, but certainly positive it no longer needs to be on the air.



My pal Matt came over to watch with us (he, his ladyfriend Nicole, and the illustrious JuanD have been Team Mad Men at our place for years now), and said "here are the two endings I heard people saying were possible".  One was that DB Cooper thing that circulated the past couple of years and which I think Mad Men was well aware of as it went into the final episodes.   The other, curiously, was exactly what happened.

I had no preference, and as I don't particularly enjoy coming up with my own ideas for how things should play out, one thing I've always enjoyed about Mad Men was that I rarely guessed anything ahead of time about the program.*   Some shows like Parks n' Rec can make a gag out of ending the show and give everyone saccharine endings, but I think if you were going into the final season of Mad Men expecting everyone to wind up just fine, you haven't really been watching that show very closely.   Nor was the show Breaking Bad, where there was only ever one real conclusion from the the half-way point of the first season.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Let's Finally Talk Marvel's "Daredevil"

I'm not a rabid fan of The Man Without Fear, but on and off over the years, I've enjoyed reading comics about Marvel's foremost punching bag, Daredevil.  Of all of Marvel's staple characters, since the 1980's at least, Daredevil has been like a weird superhero/ noir/ gangland epic soap opera that mostly lost it's way when it veered too far into the rest of Marvel's superheroing and was at it's best when it kept even the costumed heroes and villains a bit more grounded and spent a lot of time with Murdock out of costume.*



If I were to recommend runs, I'd really recommend the Frank Miller era (the man's work just keeps bearing fruit) and the unbelievable Brian Michael Bendis era that had tremendous impact not just on Daredevil - forever changing the character while making him, somehow, even more Dardevil - but on the concept of dual identities in comics.  

So when I saw the initial previews of the Netflix-direct Daredevil show, I was a little shocked to see how much it looked exactly like a mix of Miller, Romita Jr., Mazzucchelli and Klaus Janson's work on the book and the Bendis-era Maleev tones and compositions.  And while Miller's story took place with Daredevil well established in the Marvel U, it certainly harkens back to his work.

Friday, May 15, 2015

DC TV presents "Legends of Tomorrow" and the trend of non-glowering superheroes expands

Opting to not recycle a title of a long-canceled comic is bold new territory for DC Entertainment.  Spun off from the mopey CW hit, Arrow, and its spin-off, The Flash, supporting superheroes (and popular villains) introduced in those series land in a single show.

if you'd told me 5 years ago I'd get a TV show with an Atom/ Captain Cold/ Hawkgirl/ Firestorm team-up...


Here you go:



I don't know what to say except: "really?"

That's not a bad "really" either.  That's a "you really made this show I'm totally going to watch?"  I mean, Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer!  Get out!

It's not going to be good as in The Americans, Mad Men or a few other shows I'm enjoying.  And certainly not as tonally ambitious as Daredevil.  But it does look like the brand of fun DC Entertainment seems to have remembered it was supposed to be the home for with the success of The Flash, seems to backpedaling into in the comics line and rolled over for on Supergirl.  Heck, I even expect a lighter tone on Arrow next season when I'm forced through another crossover event, and that show is the most unnecessarily overwrought business on TV.

And, if I may...  Man, from the comics, I love the Flash villains (aka: The Rogues) as much as any B-list characters in comics, and if I absolutely were required to pick a favorite, it would be Captain Cold (Grodd has a very special place in my heart, but he's not so much technically a Rogue, but I'm splitting hairs).  And, man, have I enjoyed Cold this season on The Flash.  So seeing him get extra screentime is a big win for me.

Here's to DC doing good things on TV and making up for the comics they seem to be having such a hard time making these days.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CBS releases "Supergirl" Preview

oh my gosh, they brightened her up.  what the heck, DC?
Video is below



Kara Zor-El is not supposed to be targeted at me or my demographic. She was the younger cousin/ little sister allegory for Superman, and her adventures back in the 1950's were every bit as bananas as the most bananas of Silver Age tales (let's talk Comet the Super Horse sometime).

But, I'm a fan of Supergirl, nonetheless.  Sure, the 90's tried to make that really hard with the "Matrix" concept, but I still enjoyed at least the far end of that run when it was Linda Danvers in a t-shirt hopping around around 2002.  But I really like the insanely perky version from the 60's and the go-getter Bronze Age version who couldn't get through a day at university without an alien plot spoiling her lunch break.

But, I also know, hey, maybe a 40 year old dude is not who they think of as the current target audience for the story of a Supergirl.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Whole Lotta TV: Kimmy Schmidt, Daredevil, Batman, Americans, Mad Men, Flash and more - keeping me from movies

I realized I hadn't been posting a whole lot, at least not about movies.  But I've also been watching a metric @#$%-ton of TV lately.

Like a lot of you, I heard the Tina Fey produced Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was pretty good, and at 22 minutes per episode, only 13 episodes and that each one was like eating a box of Hot Tamales or Mike & Ike's, it was the first series I've binge-watched since I was home with the flu and watched 2 seasons of Archer.


A concept that, no doubt, HBO would have insisted been a brooding melodrama with plenty of sexual dysfunction and nihilism, this take on "what happens when a girl is kidnapped at 14 and doesn't leave her bunker cult layer until she's 29ish?" is, instead, super upbeat, life-affirming and a hell of a lot of fun to watch.  The brand of humor feels akin to the dizzy chaos of early 30 Rock, and even if we only ever get these 13 episodes, they were pretty damn enjoyable.  But, yeah, I guess there's a second season guaranteed by Netflix (where the show is living), so I'm down with that.

Anyway, it's not often I watch 13 episodes of something so fast I don't even mention it between start and finish, but there you are.

And before we move on:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Birthday Gift: Taking It Back to the Beginning


For my 40th, Jamie got me the deluxe collector's set of the 1960's Batman TV show.

Thanks, Jamie!

It's a pretty fantastic set with all the episodes cleaned up for BluRay and HD TV.  There's also an "Adam West scrapbook", episode guide replica set of Batman cars and a Hotwheels Batmobile.  All in all, pretty nice!

The picture and sound quality is top notch, so after all these years of not being able to get ahold of this show, it seems worth the wait.


The family lore is that, when I was a tiny kid my mom couldn't get me to hold still or be quiet when she was trying to make dinner for my dad and brother, until she realized I'd totally hold still and shut up if Batman and Robin were on the screen.  So, every weekday when the show was running in syndication (this would have been about '76), I was placed in front of the TV and would happily watch while she made Mac n' Cheese or whatever.  The legend goes on to swear my first words were "Matman", which I'm sure made my parents feel really appreciated.

My memory was of just being a huge Batman nut.  There are photos somewhere of me with a pacifier and cape.  Like a lot of kids, when the Tim Burton Batman movie came out and the press discussed the Adam West show, it was my first time finding out the show was a comedy.  On the strength of the Burton movie, Batman '66 came back in syndication, and has been aired off and on again since, but legal wranglings between Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox prevented home video release.

All of that seems to have resolved itself and now I can enjoy the show once again.  And, hey, I look forward to sharing the show with my impending nephew when the time comes.  I hope he takes it as seriously as I did, because, dang it, this is a version of Batman worth loving, too.  And not just because of Julie Newmar.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Actor James Best Merges with The Infinite



Both our own Alfredo Garcia and the New York Times are reporting the passing of actor James Best, known best to Gen-X'ers as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on TV's The Dukes of Hazzard.

I did not really follow Best's career, but at some point - possibly even pre-Wopat/Schneider departure, I identified most with the good Sheriff the most of any character on the show.  All I, too, wanted was to park my car beneath a shady tree and take a snooze beside a lazy hound-dog while the cicadas chirped away.  And we were never gonna catch those durn Duke Boys anyway.

 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Mad Men starts winding it up this evening

I am going to miss the hell out of these two characters

The second half of the final season of AMC's Mad Men begins this evening.

Of all the shows that have marked the transformation of television in the past 10-15 years, something that looks, on paper, like a sudsy soap opera, free from gun play or spies or gangsters or even the threat of violence, has been the show that's genuinely surprised me the most over the duration of the program.

You don't need to jump to the comments to tell me you tried it and just couldn't do it.  I know.  I've heard that a lot over the years.  I don't expect everyone to all like the same thing.  I'm sure AMC wishes that the show had the greater appeal of a prime-time soap, and for all I know, that's what they thought they were green lighting.  Instead, they produced one of the most nuanced, long-running, multi-character character studies to ever get broadcast.

One of the funny things is reading articles or posts on legitimate news sites and pop-culture reflector sites from writers who are clearly longtime viewers, and so often their criticism of the show boils down to you really wanting to just raise your hand and say "you're describing your own baggage you're bringing to the show.  The problem isn't that the show didn't do that well, it's that this aspect of the character gets to you."  Next time you see a Mad Men puff piece in Salon or Slate of Huff Po or whatever site likes to write about the show, just look for it, for I assure you, it's always there.

It's a difficult show in that it does not ask you to sympathize with a Walter White as he goes down the well.  You aren't up close feeling his desperation and tasting his victories or understanding his horror at some of his own choices.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What WAS going on in the X-Files Intro?

It always seemed like the intro segment to The X-Files was put together in the two days before the first show aired and someone in Chris Carter's office suddenly remembered "oh no.  We forgot to get an intro!" and asked some stoner interns to put something together, and, indeed they did.

What's more odd is that, even after the show took off and had a budget, no one ever thought to replace the opening sequence with something un-terrible and that did not suggest "eh, we're gonna get canceled, anyway, so don't kill yourself working on this."

To remind yourself of how that intro went, click here.  

These are out of order, because I don't care, but help me out...  Of all the mysteries of X-Files, the imagery of the intro leaves the biggest question marks of all.  Let's solve some outstanding X-Files.  Y'all tell me exactly what is going on in one or more of these images from the X-Files opening.


X-File 1:  The Stretchy Face Guy


Clearly tortured mentally and physically, each week this guy's face was being distorted by the finest in 1990's era digital manipulation software for an underpowered desktop PC.  But what was he experiencing?  Was this a literal event or how we were feeling as an audience with our minds totally blown by UFOs?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Truth Is Out There (again, apparently)


In Fall of 1993, I was a freshman at UT Austin when Fox TV debuted two sci-fi shows, The X-Files and The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. starring Bruce Campbell and Julius Carry.  The shows premiered in the no-man's land of Friday evening, and I assumed they were as doomed as, oh, say, Firefly would be when it debuted in the same timeslot a decade later.



Before going out or doing whatever we were going to do that night, I'd usually have on the shows, because this was the era just after the release of Army of Darkness and we were all big Bruce Campbell fans, plus I had grown to genuinely like the sci-fi oater in its short run.  X-Files I wanted to like, because - and I don't think i'm going to blow anyone's mind with this revelation - I was way into the red-headed skeptical doctor on the show.*

such ribald taste we all had in the mid-90's


But, man, Friday night in an era where you kind of had to make an appointment with yourself to watch a show meant I was a sporadic fan at best.  Let's just say my priorities during the era did not top out with "stay home, watch TV".

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

iZombie premiers tonight


set your DVRs, people.  Based on the really pretty great comic series from Roberson and Allred, I'm expecting very good things.

Friday, March 6, 2015

new Supergirl costume is fairly Supergirl-riffic

this is it, there's no turning back now

Sometime in the next several months, CBS is slated to bring Supergirl to the small screen.  Look, I'm a Helen Slater guy from way back, a casting decision I will always support even if Supergirl, as a movie, has... complications.

In the comics, I'm really a fan of only a few eras of Supergirl, if by Supergirl you mean Kara Zor-El and not Cir-El, Matrix/ Mae or Linda Danvers (but, look, I will always support Linda Danvers, and I'm irritated she's mostly forgotten, because today's fangirl community would love her as some sort of Supergirl).

Straight up, I'm a Silver-Bronze Age Kara Zor-El fan when she was portrayed as bright, perhaps naive, but eternally optimistic teen and college kid.  With a flying cat and horse that she sometimes dated.*  If Supergirl isn't trying to see the best in everyone and trying to save the day while she basically fights with identity issues Clark Kent doesn't spend too much time pondering, she isn't really Supergirl.

real Supergirl is perky as all living hell