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

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

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

TV Watch: Peaky Blinders - recommended

We've been watching the BBC series, now streaming on Netflix, Peaky Blinders.  In BBC or HBO big-budget style, the show is only 6 episodes per season, but the production is incredible per episode with top flight talent in front of, and as near I can tell, behind the camera.



Our resident music snobs will like the soundtrack.  Though the setting is 1919 Birmingham, England, the show makes excellent use of Nick Cave in season 1 (including use of "Red Right Hand" as the credits track) and, as we've just cracked season 2, they've subbed in Ms. Polly Jean Harvey.  The music fits shockingly well against the late Industrial Age backdrop as working-class gangs move like sharks through the factory workers, IRA sympathizers, nascent communists and blue-clad cops on dirt streets in flat caps and tweed.

Season 1 playlist
Season 2 partial playlist

You can't get thrown by the name of the show (the name of the family-based gang at the center of the show) any more than you can get thrown by the accents and patter unfamiliar to American ears, but all of it understandable enough.

The lead of the show, Thomas Shelby, is played by Cillian Murphy - most recognizable to Americans as The Scarecrow from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises.  The cops out to get the gang are led by Jurassic Park's Sam Neill.  One of my favorite characters is Tommy's Aunt Polly, played by Helen McCrory, who you might have seen as Draco Malfoy's mother in the Harry Potter films and briefly in Skyfall.  I hear Thomas Hardy shows up here in Season 2, so I'm ready for that.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Agent Carter Draws to a Close (and I'm a little sad)

I'm not sure how many episodes there wound up being of Agent Carter, or how many weeks.  I think the answer is "eight", but I didn't major in math, okay?

But it was a great ride, a lot of fun, and I really, really hope people who didn't watch the show during its televised run find it online.  I'd certainly be onboard for another 80 episodes, but I suspect nobody is asking me.



Most certainly tying into the Marvel Universe of both Captain America: The First Avenger and things to come in Captain America: The Winter Soldier - the show was not dependent on either for it's success, and stood alone as a rock solid entry in the Marvel U, working for me in a way that Agents of SHIELD, unfortunately, did not.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Some Interesting Bits from the Week

Sorry about the lack of posting.  Sometimes you look up and a whole week went by.

Things have been kooky busy at work as I mush my team forward toward several deadlines, and then, last night, I wasn't feeling well and I slept from 9PM - 7AM, which was glorious, but also a reflection of the fact that I had eaten some bad Chinese food the prior night and not slept at all.*

I don't want to post my Fifty Shades of Grey review until my pal gets a chance to get her notes together.  I want her to get first whack, er...  to take a crack at...  wait...  she's going to post her review first.  She is, literally, the one person that I was super pumped to see this movie with above all others.   And, yes, I totally DID go see it.  Spoiler alert: it may not have been my favorite movie.

Y'all know I like my Mad Men, and I'm also quite a fan of Archer on FX.  Shoemaker sends me this link that combines the best of both worlds.  Kind of NSFW, so, you know, proceed with caution.

More or less how my performance reviews go

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Marvel's "Daredevil" show looks a whole lot like Daredevil without the red outfit



I've been pretty jazzed about the idea of a Netflix-direct Daredevil show since they announced the idea.  For those of you who follow Daredevil as a comic, this looks more or less as depressing and grim as the comics that we like, for some reason.  And it's clear they aren't about to make the same mistakes as the ill-fated film version which made me a sad panda.

I really do think it takes a while for Matt Murdock to seep in as a character, so multiple episodes of expanding on the backstory, on what makes Marvel's longest running case of Catholic guilt tick is a welcome bit of TV in my book.

Daredevil owes his continuing relevance to the Frank Miller era of the 1980's (as do comics, in general), and it can't hurt to refer to the take Miller put on the character that transformed him from a chipper blind attorney to a... chronically depressed blind attorney.  I assure you, them's is good comics.

This is supposed to be followed by a take on the Brian Michael Bendis series, Alias - which I think they're calling Jessica Jones or something in order not to refer to the Jennifer Garner TV series, as Garner would go on to play Elektra in Daredevil for some reason, and if we called it Alias, I'm pretty sure the universe would collapse in on itself.  Then, a Luke Cage TV series, which... man, this one was obvious.  Had to be done.

Now, enjoy the time The Hulk met Daredevil.



And, of course Stan Lee makes a cameo around the 1:13 mark.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Brandon Routh re-suits up as The Atom


From The Beat

Routh has been appearing on Arrow as Dr. Ray Palmer and now he's taking it up a notch.

I quite like The Atom, especially as a team character, and there's something really great about Routh getting a chance to play the character.  He seems like he really fits the bill, personality wise.

And this is a character I can appreciate wearing a weird, overly engineered costume for all the science-fiction-y reasons you could come up with that would tie to a guy who can shrink down small enough to slide between electrons.

Very excited about this as part of the Flash/ Arrow TV universe.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

New Mythbusters Format: Plausible

Mythbusters debuted in 2003 and has run for 13 seasons.   It's a program I've followed closely since the pilot, and I've missed, possibly, 3 or 4 episodes of the show, if that.  Really, it's amazing, because I haven't ever watched a show as long as I've kept up with Mythbusters, and  I certainly haven't stuck with any other non-scripted programming anywhere neat that long that didn't include "the news" or "sportsball".



Thursday, January 29, 2015

Season 3 of The Americans

The Americans returned for its third season Wednesday evening, and it prompted the following thoughts:

  • When they say there will be nudity, adult themes, sexual situations and violence, The Americans is not afraid to double down on that @#$%.
  • Oh, Keri Russell, you are the kind of the semi-sociopathic Russian sleeper agent men dream of
  • Being a spy is a complicated, complicated lifestyle
  • This show is so stunningly on-point with drawing comparisons to then and now, it's sometimes embarrassing to watch



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Anyone else watching "The Flash" on CW?

After 10 years of Smallville and trying Arrow once or twice (I think because they were introducing Crazy Quilt or something.  I forget.), I was pretty skeptical about the CW's spin-off Arrow series, The Flash.

But, look.  I read some of the Wally West Flash comics a bit when I was a kid, and I like The Flash as a concept.  Truthfully, I am totally okay with any DC character who has had the name, from Jay to Bart.  Because of my comics habits of the time when it was going, I missed Waid's run (which is not collected in hardbacks, which kills me a little), but I got back into Flash during Geoff Johns' run and never really looked back.

Since then I've read all of the Flash stuff collected in Showcase Presents (I think.  I need to double-check), and these days, I'm a pretty solid fan of Barry Allen, especially those first few years when it really did feel like a different kind of book.  Look, no kidding.  Barry was so... nice, I guess, that the character gets a bad rap as being "boring", but I really don't find a whole lot of boring in those early Silver Age books.  Mostly, they were a sort of conceptual exercise to begin with as The Flash was largely about villains and the really pretty awesome things the writers came up with to do with superspeed.  And then...  They did something a little different in that Barry kind of knew his villains.  Maybe not best pals, but they were his, and he actually worked to rehabilitate a few of them (yes, Batman, I'm looking at you...).

I wasn't against Barry coming back to the DCU a few years ago, but I will admit to not keeping up with The Flash in the new 52.

Oh, and I actually watched The Flash (starring the terrific John Wesley Shipp) during it's run back when I was in high school.  The Flash and Amanda Pays on a single show?  Twist my arm.



What I considered, before setting the DVR, was: if Johns was working on the show - and he knows his Flash - how bad could it be?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

iZombie to TV this March

Coming in March, the Chris Roberson/ Mike Allred comic "iZombie" is coming to the CW as a weekly TV show!



If the CW's success with The Flash and Arrow is any indication, this should be pretty good! I notice some significant changes to the comic's set-up, but the tone and basic idea are intact, at least in the trailer. And certainly Gwen's look is spot-on.  Although it does seem her name has been changed for the show.  Which...  huh.

Well, The Flash has changed a lot from any version of the comics, but it's still The Flash in spirit, so, you know...  I don't really get that bent out of shape about changes from comics to TV or movies the way I once might have, unless it seems like the moving picture version just sort of missed the point of the comic.  (cough... Man of Steel)


Here's to hoping the great world Roberson and Allred built makes it's way to the show.

Friday, January 9, 2015

What Else Have I Been Up To? TV, Part II

We started talking TV over here at Part I.

This here is Part II.

I also forgot to mention:

Fargo on FX, which I tuned in to out of morbid curiosity.  It seemed pretty ballsy to make a show that would have been compared to the astoundingly good feature film namesake, but I wound up feeling the show knocked it out of the park (even if the finale had some unsatisfactory moments).

And it gave us Allison Tolman, for which we should all be grateful.

Pretty sure she left her keys around here somewhere

Thursday, January 8, 2015

So, What Have I Been Up To? Television

Since I started blogging in 2003, the TV landscape has changed on an almost yearly basis, whether you want to talk the variety of content or types of access one can have to serialized storytelling in a motion picture form.  Because, in a lot of ways, the definition of what we called "television", back when it was 3-6 channels coming over an aerial antenna that required you be there when the station antenna sent out the signal - is deader than Herbert Hoover.

Still makes more sense than watching TV on your damn iPhone

My cable spectrum is technically infinite, on-demand has become a possibility through a huge number of channels (through my cable or via various internet services), the TV "season" still exists at the networks, but only kinda...  the start of Fall is no longer when new shows air.  Now that's literally every week of the year.  And Netflix proved you could dump whole seasons on people at once and let the audience and God sort it out.  You can now jump into a show in season 3, and just find the prior seasons on Hulu or Netflix... 

The one, great trick I have decided upon is to wait and see if my trusted pals will watch a whole series and tell me if they felt the ending was satisfactory.  Series now have endings and finales.  They no longer limp along, becoming a pale version of their former selves, getting by on the faithful habits of watchers who are just seeking familiarity.  Look, I got burned by both X-Files and Lost, and I'm not doing it again.  

Fortunately for all of us, a year and half isn't all that long in TV terms, so it's not like my TV habits have changed greatly since I went to go get milk and cigarettes in 2013 and never came back.  

I am still watching: