08th Sep2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 9/8/17

by Will

So, we’re back after a holiday weekend and an extended break for the site. Long story short, I broke the site while updating some plugins, so it wasn’t really in a good place for a new post to go up last week. Everything seems to be better now, though, so let’s take her for a spin!

Well, since we last met, there has been some kerfuffle about race-based casting in Hollywood. Last time, I mentioned how British actor/rapper Ed Skrein had been cast as the Japanese Ben Daimio in Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen. After about a week of folks commenting on the whitewashing of the character, Skrein did something nobody really expected: he bowed out of the role. He released the following statement:

CLASS ACT. Seriously. He didn’t have to do this, but he realized it would be best for the character, the movie, and his image to decline the role. Now we’ll have to see if Lionsgate just goes and casts another White guy.

When I was tweeting about this development, I got the above question on Sarahah. I answered on Twitter, saying that they’re not the same thing. The only reason folks wanted a White Johnny Storm was because *he’d always been White*. However, there’s nothing inherently White about Johnny Storm. He’s a cocky, showboating ladies man, who’s not too responsible but is always there for his friends and family. Oh, and he sets himself on fire. That’s pretty much all you need to be true to who Johnny Storm is. Notice how I didn’t mention race anywhere. It doesn’t matter in that case. When you have a character where their race is inherent to who they are, then it’s imperative that you cast that race for the role.

As a counterpoint, folks ask “Well, then should Marvel have cast Idris Elba and Tessa Thompson in the Thor movies?” Honestly? No. There’s colorblind casting that makes sense and then there’s colorblind casting with ulterior motives. Representation is good onscreen, but when you’re dealing with Norse mythology, it’s kind of hard to really justify Elba and Thompson as Heimdall and Valkyrie, respectively. You can make the argument that there aren’t enough diverse characters in superhero films, so exceptions are made from time to time. There’s no shortage of roles for White actors, but there are fewer opportunities for minorities unless we make the films ourselves. Still, if I can acknowledge that Skrein’s casting was the wrong call, I also have to do the same for the Thor franchise.

In another interesting bit of casting, Disney’s live action Aladdin has created an original character, Prince Anders, just to cast Billy Magnussen in the role. Now, on paper, Aladdin is a diversity dream, but it’s almost like someone in Hollywood was like, “We can’t put this movie out without a White guy featured in it.” Right now, the cast stands with newcomer Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Power Rangers‘ Naomi Scott as Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, and Will Smith as the Genie. While details are scarce, it seems Anders might compete with Aladdin for Jasmine’s affection.

In other movie news, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow is out as the director of Star Wars: Episode IX. This highly publicized dismissal comes just months after Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired from the Han Solo film. Plus, don’t forget that Fant4astic Four director Josh Trank was fired from a planned Star Wars spinoff before production even began on it. There’s a joke on Twitter that there are now more Directors Fired from Star Wars than there are Directors of Star Wars. Now the race is on to find a replacement, who will probably come as a shock to fans. After all, did you ever think Ron Howard would direct a Star Wars film? I just hope they don’t give it to someone like Joss Whedon. I mean, the Rey character is the kind of archetype he gravitates towards, but he’s just really not as good as his reputation would lead you to believe. Plus, since the recent hit job published by his ex-wife, I think Whedon will be keeping a low profile for the foreseeable future.

In TV news, DC has filled out the cast for the Titans series coming to its upcoming streaming service. Australian actor Brenton Thwaites will portray team leader Nightwing, while Alan Ritchson and Minka Kelly have been cast as Hawk & Dove. If you remember, Ritchson played Aquaman on Smallville, so this is his second time at bat as a DC superhero. Looking at that photo above, it seems like Kelly would’ve made a better Starfire, but what do I know? Right now, they’re saying that Hawk & Dove will only be recurring characters for the first season, with an option to become series regulars for the second season. If they take off, there are even preliminary plans to spin them off into their own series down the road. This all just seems so…unsubstantial. I mean, we barely know anything about this DC streaming service, and this series certainly isn’t enough to make me want to subscribe to another service. The fact that Young Justice (a show that I never watched) will be on the service does nothing for me. While some folks might think an original series is a major coup for Warner Bros as they launch the service, I still think of Titans as the show that TNT passed on. TNT. It’s not like they have an embarrassment of riches right now on their schedule to justify turning away a quality show. So, that makes me think it’s just not up to par.

Speaking of Titans, Arrow has cast Liam Hall as Slade Wilson’s son, Joe. In the comics, Joseph is also known as the Titan Jericho. It seems Arrow‘s going a different way with him, however, as Joe Wilson will be a mercenary much like his father. This season of Arrow, also, will reportedly begin with a time jump. I guess they don’t want to have to film all those folks getting off that island.

In other TV news, ABC has reached out to country star Luke Bryan to join Katy Perry as a judge on their reboot of American Idol. The problem, however, is that their money is running low. Reportedly they started out with a talent budget of $40 million. Perry is getting $25 million, while Ryan Seacrest is getting $10 million to host. So, with cash dwindling, ABC has decided to lean on its corporate owner, Disney, to offer perks to potential talent. These perks include production deals, as well as licensing and merchandising deals for Disney properties. So, you might be standing in line for the Luke Bryan Rollercoaster (which is also the name of one of his biggest hits) the next time you’re at a Disney park.

On Twitter this week, I had my most popular tweet of all time. I’m still pissed at the new ratio, where you only get a fraction of the retweets that you get Likes. Somehow, I got over 700 Likes on this tweet, but only 200 retweets (someone actually UN-retweeted it, or they were a bot that was deleted, so I’m back down to 199). Still, look at these stats:

Yeah, I know a lot of y’all have had more popular tweets, but this is new for me, so don’t take this away from me!

Song of the Week

Last time, I gave you the lyric video, but it seems that Taylor wasted no time in releasing the official video for “Look What You Made Me Do”, as it debuted 2 nights later during the MTV Video Music Awards. A lot of folks think she’s stealing from Beyoncé in parts of this video, but I don’t really know what to make of it. She seems to want us to think she’s changed. After all, the Old Taylor is “dead”. This sort of personality change gimmick rarely turns out well, though, so it’ll be interesting to see if her upcoming album Reputation is more of what we’re used to, or more of whatever this is. This could be her Chris Gaines album or it could be her “I’m A Slave 4 U”, which pretty much cemented the sexpot Britney image. My problem is that I think I’m incapable of seeing Taylor Swift as sexy. She’s more like your best friend’s little sister who matures over the summer, catching you by surprise, but you still remember when she used to wear those sneakers that light up with every step.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Two to beam up to the altar, as former Star Trek: Deep Space Nine actress Terry Farrell is engaged to son of Spock, Adam Nimoy
  • SyFy went on the offensive, cancelling Blood Drive, Dark Matter, and Killjoys (after it runs another 2 seasons). I’ve never seen any of these shows, and had only heard of 2 of them prior to this announcement. Way to promote things other than Sharknado, SyFy!
  • Speaking of cancellations, Amazon has cancelled Christina Ricci’s Z: The Beginning of Everything, reversing its prior decision to produce a second season.
  • And the cancellations kept coming, as TNT cancelled their sexy young Shakespeare drama, Will, after one season.
  • Though I could never get into Veep, I know it has its fans – who are probably upset that it was announced it will end after season 7.
  • CBS announced that the US edition of Big Brother would have a celebrity edition that will air during Winter 2018. Way to catch up to 2001 England, CBS!
  • The BBC announced that the Doctor Who spinoff Class has been cancelled after one season.
  • There are reports that Drew Goddard will write and direct an X-Force movie starring Cable and Deadpool that will never actually be made…
  • Kacy Catanzaro, the first woman to qualify for the American Ninja Warrior finals, has signed with the WWE.
  • Alf Clausen, composer for The Simpsons for the past 27 years, was dismissed due to rumored financial concerns, but producers later promised he will “continue to have an ongoing role with the show”.
  • An all-female Lord of the Flies film was announced, and the folks on social media were NOT having it.
  • Toys “R” Us is reportedly looking into possibly filing for bankruptcy as it struggles to compete with big box and online retailers
  • ABC announced the next Bachelor, and fans are outraged because they don’t even remember him from his last appearance in the franchise in 2012. He’s so insignificant that I’m not even gonna Google his name to write it here.
  • Jamie Foxx and Katie Holmes have seemingly gone public with their relationship, as they were spotted holding hands while walking on the beach. They’ve been rumored to be a couple for years, but there are reports that Tom Cruise put a stipulation in their divorce that Katie couldn’t go public with a relationship for five years following the split.

Had I written a post last week, I probably would’ve given the West Week Ever to Ed Skrein. That said, I didn’t, so I couldn’t. This week, however, is a different story. While nothing truly amazing happened this week, we did celebrate the anniversary of a property near and dear to my heart, Batman: The Animated Series.

Premiering September 5th, 1992, Batman: The Animated Series came along and was like nothing else on television at the time. It had the action for kids, but it had writing that appealed to adults. It even aired in primetime for a stint – something that was only done for “adult” animated shows like The Simpsons up to that point.

The show is also responsible for producing the greatest Batman in history: Kevin Conroy. He may not look like a superhero, and you probably wouldn’t even recognize him on the street, but you’d never mistake that voice. That commanding presence is something that men from Keaton to Bale have struggled with for the past nearly 30 years. When you hear Conroy speak, you KNOW that’s Batman.

Plus, piggybacking on the Tim Burton movies, it helped to change public opinion of Batman, which had come to see him as “silly” due to the Adam West portrayal in the 60s. Finally, folks were seeing not only what Batman was capable of, but what the comics characters were capable of in other media if handled by the right people.

I wish I could tell you my all-time favorite episode of the series, but it’s hard because there are so many good ones. There’s “Almost Got ‘Im”, where Batman’s rogues play a late night poker game, sharing tales of how they almost defeated their common foe. There’s “Beware the Gray Ghost”, where Batman gets to meet his childhood idol, actor Simon Trent, who portrayed the hero The Gray Ghost (voiced by 60s Batman Adam West). Or there’s the “Robin’s Reckoning” 2-parter, where we get Robin’s origin story as he tracks down the man who killed his family.

While this is a controversial opinion, as many fans had left the show by then, but I’d even argue that the show got better when it was revived as The New Batman Adventures. Sure, some folks couldn’t get over the new character designs, but there are so many incredible episodes from that iteration, as well. “Over the Edge”, where we find out what would happen if Gordon found out, in the worst possible way, that Bruce Wayne was Batman. “Old Wounds”, where we find out why, exactly, Dick Grayson quit being Robin. Or “Love is a Croc”, which is a VERY twisted and mature half hour of television.

All told, we got over 100 episodes of the show, which merely served as the cornerstone of an even larger DC Animated Universe. Over the next few years, we would get Superman: The Animated Series, which would, then lead to Justice League, and then Justice League Unlimited. Plus, there are the ancillary shows, like Batman Beyond and Static Shock. A 14-year entertainment franchise was birthed from this one little show.

I guess by this point you can tell that I really love this show, and it makes me feel old as Hell to know that it was 25 years ago that I was watching it on Fox Kids. All of this is to say that, in commemoration of its 25th anniversary, Batman: The Animated Series had the West Week Ever.

25th Aug2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 8/25/17

by Will

 

In movie news, there was quite the controversial casting this week, as the color lines blurred for some comic book adaptations. First up, it was announced that English actor Ed Skrein would be portraying Japanese character Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy reboot. Now, according to what I’ve read, Daimio’s Japanese heritage heavily influences the character, so this whitewashing of the character doesn’t seem to be in the best interest of the character. I mean, after the problems with whitewashing in Doctor Strange, Ghost in the Shell, Aloha, The Great Wall, and Ni’ihau, you’d think Hollywood would avoid shit like this. Yes, movies are made to make money, but it’s not like Skrein is a bankable star worth slotting into the role, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Usually this is done for the film’s STARS. Damon, Johansson, Stone. This is a secondary character, so it really wouldn’t have hurt them to seek out an Asian actor. Normally I’m just like “Well, Hollywood’s gonna Hollywood”, but this decision just doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Next up, 24: Legacy’s Anna Diop has been cast as Starfire in Warner Bros’ Titans series, slated to air on DC’s upcoming digital service. Some folks are saying they should’ve cast a Latina, but she’s gonna either be painted or CGied in orange, so it’s not like it’s gonna matter at the end of the day. Personally, if they wanted authenticity, I think they should’ve cast an actual orange alien princess. Right now there are just too many unknowns for me to get excited about this. I mean, DC announced the digital service without a lot of information. What’s gonna be on it? What will it cost? How much of the DC library will be available to be housed on it? As for Titans, this is the show TNT passed on. Ya know, the home of such illustrious shows as The Librarians and The Last Ship. I mean, they’re basically just about a notch up from what we got in the 90s from Universal’s Action Pack lineup. If Titans couldn’t fit anywhere on that schedule, then it probably just isn’t “ready for primetime” yet.

Speaking of aimless Warner Bros decisions, they announced 2 different Joker movies this week. First up is an origin tale, directed by Todd Phillips of Old School fame, and produced by Martin Scorsese. Hmm, one of those things is not like the other. I mean, why would Scorsese touch something helmed by the dude who gave us Road Trip? And who even WANTS a Joker origin story? First of all, it’s reportedly not even going to be part of the DCEU, so why confuse the audience with a story that won’t even really “count” in the grand scheme of things? Nobody needs a standalone origin of a take on a character they’ll likely never see again. This is just as foolish as Sony’s Don’t-Look-For-Spider-Man-To-Appear Venom movie. Next, the guys behind This Is Us (SO hot right now!) and Crazy, Stupid, Love are working on a Bonnie & Clyde-style Joker and Harley film, with Jared Leto and Margot Robbie reprising their roles from Suicide Squad. Since this would sort of negate the empowerment that Harley gained by the end of Squad, it’s believed that this actually means that the planned Gotham City Sirens film, also slated to star Robbie, is now dead. Honestly, I could do without either of these movies. I found Leto’s take on Joker to be…interesting, but Less is More with that character. Plus, I don’t really think the DCEU would be strengthened by this sort of movie. It’s not the world-building they need to be doing right now, as they haven’t even figured out the core of their star characters like Batman and Superman yet.

In TV news, Christopher Sebela’s comic Heartthrob has been optioned as a TV series by Felix Culpa – a production company launched by actress/Elvis’s granddaughter Riley Keough. Now, comics are optioned every day, and the final product never comes to fruition, but I hope this series sees the light of day. I’m actually a big fan of the comic, which is published by Oni Press. Set in the late 70s, it focuses on Callie, who’s received a heart transplant while the process is still in its infancy. Given a new lease on life, but still told she’s basically living on borrowed time, she decides to change her life when she meets Mercer, a charming guy with a shady side. She immediately falls for him, and he teaches her how to be bad, like rob banks and commit other crimes. She gets off on the rush. Pretty soon, however, she realizes that Mercer isn’t real. No, he’s actually the ghost of the guy whose heart is now in Callie. So, it’s a Bonnie & Clyde story where Clyde’s calling the shots from the afterlife. The book is published in “seasons”, so the first 5-issue miniseries wrapped up back in early 2016, while season 2 is hitting stores now. If you’re looking for a new comic not from the Big Two, I highly recommend it.

In music news, Taylor Swift did a whole social blitz to announce that her next album would be called Reputation, and would be released Nov 10th. On top of that, the first single was released last night, with rumors that the video will premiere at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards. Ya know, the same awards hosted my Taylor’s enemy Katy Perry. Yeah, that should be pretty interesting to watch. Anyway, the new song is called “Look What You Made Me Do”, and I’m not too impressed. It lacks a real hook, while the chorus itself is basically spoken. I feel like it has all the ingredients for a great song, but it’s not living up to its full potential. If this is an indicator of what to expect on Reputation, though, I’ll admit I’m curious. It can’t be worse than Perry’s Witness.

Speaking of Katy Perry, we got the premiere of her video for “Swish Swish”, which was reportedly her diss track against Taylor Swift. After a lot of backtracking and sucking up, though, it seems Katy wants to put that feud behind her. That’s why this horrible video does everything it can to take the bite out of a song that was never really that biting to begin with. I mean, just look at it – Molly Shannon? Terry Crews? Even Nicki Minaj was clearly CGied in, as I’m sure she didn’t wanna be anywhere near this shitshow. The sad thing about the Perry/Swift feud is that Katy bailed on it the minute she realized the Swifties were a more powerful lobby than she had thought. Nobody was feeling her SNL performances, and Witness didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. She realized that she can’t really survive by making enemies, so suddenly she became conciliatory to save her ass. Plus, it’s kinda lame that this blood feud started just because Taylor stole a few of Katy’s dancers for her tour. Anyway, you’ll never get those 6 minutes back. You’re welcome.

I had the pleasure of joining my buddy Zac for his new podcast, The Zac Shipley Show. He’s treating these first few episodes as pilots for ideas he’s wanted to try, so our ep was called Streaming Pile, where we talked about the worst things we could find on streaming services. I talked about a Star Trek: Voyager episode where formerly perky pixie Kes returns all middle-aged and bitter. You should check it out, and give a listen to his other episodes while you’re there!

Song of the Week

I’ve been a big Maren Morris fan since she released “My Church”, and I was really into her next single, “80s Mercedes”. With this song she continues not to disappoint, as I love the groove on this thing. Listen to the bassline. It’s not a dance song, yet you can do a MEAN two-step to it. Hell, I think you could even do a casual version of The Hustle to it. This will definitely go to #1 given time.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • NBC’s planned reboot of Xena: Warrior Princess – which would’ve featured a full-on lesbian relationship between her and Gabrielle – is officially dead, as they said “it didn’t warrant a reboot”. Man, if only other studios would realize this about some of their projects…
  • Director James Gunn mentioned in a Q & A session that the 3rd Guardians of the Galaxy film would set up the next 10-20 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yup, you’re just now realizing your own mortality. I’ll give you a minute to deal with that.
  • Speaking of Gunn, he’s attached to write the pilot for (and possibly direct) a reboot of 70s series Starsky & Hutch. This adaptation is supposed to be similar in tone to CBS’s upcoming S.W.A.T. and not comedic in tone like the 2004 Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson movie.
  • Surprising every critic in Hollywood, Netflix has renewed the maligned comedy Friends From College for a second season.
  • Known for controversial publicity stunts, Alamo Drafthouse is reportedly organizing a Clowns Only screening of the new adaptation of Stephen King’s It.

  • We got a new poster for Thor: Ragnarok. So many colors!
  • Michael K. Williams has reportedly been cut from the Star Wars Han Solo film, as Ron Howard’s reshoot schedule conflicted with another role that Williams had accepted.
  • There are, like, 8 different Knight Rider reboot treatments floating around Hollywood, but the latest rumor is that one of those productions is looking at John Cena as Michael Knight, with Kevin Hart as the voice of K.I.T.T. Of course, it would be a comedic adaptation, a la the popular Jump Street franchise.
  • Super Troopers 2, the sequel to one of the most overrated films I’ve ever seen, will hit theaters April 20th, 2018.
  • Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson will star in Nasty Women, which is a female-led reboot of the Michael Caine/Steve Martin classic Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
  • Independence Day: Resurgence‘s Jessie T Usher will star in Son of Shaft, with Samuel L. Jackson potentially reprising his role as John Shaft (from the 2000 reboot film), the nephew of the original John Shaft, played by Richard Roundtree, who is also in talks to join the movie. Man, that gave me a headache.

  • Always on the cutting edge, here’s Sesame Street’s parody of 2017’s song of the summer, “Despacito”
  • According to the creators, the Netflix series Stranger Things will most likely end after its fourth season
  • The actress formerly known as “Andrea Zuckerman”, Gabrielle Carteris, has been re-elected to a 2-year term as the President of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)
  • Ryan Gosling will host the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, with musical guest Jay-Z, on Sept 30th.
  • Jamie Bell is developing a Jumper TV series, based on the 2008 film about teleporters
  • Suicide Squad 2 is reportedly being fast tracked, but I hope they fast track it right into the garbage. I mean, I enjoyed the first one, but I don’t need a sequel.

  • I like Nick Kroll, even though I never saw even a second of Kroll Show. Anyway, he’s got a new animated series about puberty called Big Mouth coming to Netflix and after watching this teaser I am ON BOARD!
  • We’re a month away from the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, and it was revealed that it will be rated TV-MA, for Mature Audiences. Now, it doesn’t mean there’ll be tits and phasers, but it does mean they can tell more complex stories. That said, I still feel like they don’t truly understand the source material.
  • After a scathing essay from his ex-wife went public, accusing him of adultery and other generally shitty behavior to women, Joss Whedon went underground and the fan site, Whedonesque, shut down after 15 years.

  • We got a new teaser for Netflix’s The Punisher. With the rate I’m getting through these Marvel shows, I’ll probably get to it just before Evie goes off to Hogwarts.

There was a national solar eclipse this week, which was the first occurrence since 1918. I’m sure you might’ve heard something about it. It was kind of a big deal. Folks were pimping out special cardboard glasses on Craigslist for insane amounts of money, and the American President made news by looking directly into it. It seems that it had a strange effect on different folks. For example, Netflix viewership went down 10% as people went outside to view the phenomenon. Not everyone understood what was going on, bless their hearts. At work, a frantic parent called in and said “Y’all watching the news? You hear about this eclipse? Is it serious?!” Apparently she thought it posed some sort of danger to her kids and the school. No, ma’am. It’s just a beautiful sky ballet. Anyway, the eclipse was EVERYWHERE. I didn’t get to see totality, but it was still nice to stand outside for a bit on a nice day. What am I saying? I hate the outdoors! Well, it was nice to not have to work for a few minutes. You couldn’t escape the Eclipse Fever at the start of the week, so that’s why the Solar Eclipse of 2017 had the West Week Ever.

18th Aug2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 8/18/17

by Will

 

I swear, as much as I love pop culture, some weeks it’s just really hard to pay attention to that stuff with everything going on in the world. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know about everything that went down in Charlottesville last weekend. I don’t need to recap it, but I’ve got to tell you that I’m scared. Yeah, we’re supposed to stand up to the Nazis and #Resist and all that, but I can still be scared, can’t I? I’ve got to raise a kid in the world. I don’t know how to explain shit that I don’t even understand. We really judge people because of their color? It’s like the Chris Rock joke about VCRs and girls who don’t perform oral sex: “They still make you?” It’s crazy to me, and I tended to just go through life without really thinking too much about it. I had that luxury, and I knew it was a luxury. Part of what made it great was that these folks that are loud and proud used to just be keyboard warriors in their moms’ basements. But they’ve come out of the basements, y’all, and this shit is REAL.

About two years ago, I was driving us all home from the airport. I get to an intersection for a left turn, and the guy behind me keeps honking for me to go, even though he couldn’t really see that I saw cars coming. Eventually, he just speeds around me, and we end up next to each other at the next light. I see him mouthing something at me, so I roll down my window. Then he proceeds to ramble off a bunch of stuff, but what stood out most in my mind was him calling me a nigger. Oh, and my wife a bitch. But mainly him calling me a nigger several times. And it all went black for me.

I seem to remember calling him an asshole, because racial scientists have yet to discover the perfect counter to being called a nigger. White folks are like Teflon when it comes to slurs, as most of the ones about them have lost their effectiveness over the years. And then he challenged me to a fight. Wanted me to pull over into a parking lot. Like I said, I was GONE at this point. Plus, this was the longest red light in history. My daughter started crying in her carseat, and he told me to “go on home and don’t be a deadbeat nigger”, and Lindsay was urging me to just ignore the guy. Engines started revving. The lanes narrowed, and I think I wanted to run him into the median. That was my plan. As Evie’s cries got louder, I realized I had responsibilities and shit, so I let him speed off when the light turned green.

He wasn’t some good ol’ boy redneck. He pretty much looked like a regular White dude with a shaved head. At that point, I didn’t know what the Alt Right was because I hadn’t really heard of Gamergate and all that. But I can say, today, that he was the same type of dude that was down in Charlottesville, and that scares me. It scares me because I don’t like what they’re capable of. But it also scares me because I don’t like what they’re capable of making me do. Bad shit all the way around. Who’s to blame? Well, you be the judge of that. Some of you are still fooling yourselves, but you know exactly how we got here, and didn’t even stop think of what the ramifications would be. Fuck it all, ’cause “emails”, right? Anyway, here we are. Question I have for you is how are we gonna get out of here? And are you part of the solution or part of the problem?

Whew! OK. So, who’s ready for some pop culture ramblings, huh? Huh? Yeah, let’s get to that.

 

In a pretty big deal, Netflix acquired comic creator Mark Millar’s Millarworld comic imprint. You know, he’s the guy behind Wanted, and Kick-Ass, and Kingsman. Oh, what’s that? No, those properties aren’t part of this deal. Still, he’s quite the prolific writer (so prolific, in fact, that I’m not convinced he’s the one actually writing all this stuff, but I digress…), so there’s a lot of material to pull from. There’s Nemesis, which is basically evil Batman who dresses like a Klansman. There’s Superior, which is basically just Millar’s riff on the Shazam story. There’s Super Crooks, which is about, well, super crooks. I know I sound sarcastic and all, but I actually did enjoy all of these series. They may not have been the most original things I’ve read, but he’s found what works for him, so more power to him.

To me, the real winner here is Netflix, as they basically acquired a comic “company” without any of the hassle. You see, Millarworld isn’t a publisher like Marvel or DC. No, it’s an imprint, which is just a fancy branding tactic to let you know that all the stories spring forth from the same voice. Millarworld comics are currently published by both Marvel and Image. As an imprint, all of the heavy lifting is done by the actual publisher. So, Netflix gets the intellectual property without having to worry about comic shipping schedules, retailer outreach, or anything else that publishers should be doing. With this deal, they essentially get to have their cake and eat it, too. Part of me is scared that Netflix is being a bit too aggressive in the marketplace, and can’t sustain this level of success, but what do I know? It’ll be interesting to see what they end up doing with all of this.

Speaking of big deals, Shonda Rhimes – creator of the hits Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal – has signed a multiyear production deal with Netflix, moving her Shondaland production house from ABC. Her ABC contract was set to expire in May 2018, but word on the street is that she negotiated an early exit. A lot of folks are wondering what this means, especially for ABC, which had built the Thursday night TGIT lineup around Rhimes’s shows. It could be good, and it could be bad. For all of her success (the aforementioned shows), she’s also had some misses, including Off The Map, The Catch, and Still Star-Crossed. And for all the buzz surrounding its star, How to Get Away With Murder struggles to find the audience that Grey’s and Scandal have attracted.

There’s no doubt Rhimes is a powerhouse producer, but I think this move came at the right time, as TGIT was starting to get stale. Grey’s is on season 13, but could continue as long as Ellen Pompeo wants work. Meanwhile, Scandal ends this season, and I really don’t know how much more rope they’re gonna give Murder. I’m sure ABC would love to retool the night, without having to cater to one producer, so this will give them a lot more options. There were some potentially difficult decisions on the horizon that can now be avoided since Rhimes took an early out. As for what she’ll do for Netflix, we’re really just gonna have to wait and see.

So get this: apparently some lawyer bought the rights to My Cousin Vinny just so he could release Back to Brooklyn, a novel that follows the characters 25 years later. Now, I’ve never seen the movie in its entirety, but it’s certainly not one that ended with me wondering what happened to them next. According to the synopsis, not much. According to Deadline:

In the update, Vinny is working on a new murder case. This time, it’s set in his native Brooklyn. But domestic issues still plague him – he hasn’t married Lisa, and his career as an attorney really hasn’t taken wing, despite the Alabama triumph, leading to financial problems. Finally, he is hired to help a woman accused of killing her boyfriend, whose brother is the deputy mayor of New York City.

“Taken wing”? I’ve never heard that before. Is that like “Taking flight“? Anyway, that sounds boring as shit. This reboot/revival industry has really gotten out of hand, and this just takes the cake. I can tell you one thing about it without even reading it, though: 25 years later and Marisa Tomei is still a total smokeshow.

Not only has Chrisley Knows Best been renewed for a 6th sesaon, but it also scored an aftershow, According to Chrisley. Hey, at least it’s not another Hardwick talker! From the description, it’s really just a late night version of a daytime talk show, as Todd Chrisley will interact with the audience and give advice on marriage, parenting, and sex. Yup, good ol’ vaginal intercourse. I’m sure Todd knows TONS about that…

They say the third time’s the charm, and that’s exactly how many times they’ve now tried to make How I Met Your Father happen. This time, the show is being developed by Alison Bennett from a show that I love, FXX’s You’re The Worst. So, tonally, don’t look for the kind of humor you’re used to from HIMYM.

In the world of comics, Wizard: The Guide to Comics is returning in the form of WizPop, which will be yet another pop culture website in a crowded pool of pop culture websites. They say that a quarterly print version will follow at some point in the future, but I really don’t see that getting off the ground in today’s print marketplace. Apparently, WizPop will be a “digital daily video news service”, and I hate videos, so this already isn’t for me. I feel a lot of folks film shit that would’ve been more compelling written. Plus, I’m sure they’ll find some hot girl, get her to talk about Pokémon once a week, and expect the clicks to roll in.

The editor in chief of this project is Brian Walton, formerly of Nerdist, so I’m sure he knows his shit. The associate editor, however, is Luke Y. Thompson, who’ll I’ll always refer to as “the guy who killed Topless Robot”. Back in the early ’00s you wanted to have the popularity of 2 major sites: Topless Robot and X-Entertainment. Rob and Matt ruled the geek set, and when Rob left Topless Robot – a brand he had built – it really should’ve ended. Instead, Thompson came along and simply didn’t have feet big enough to fill the shoes he’d been left. I remember when the call went out for a new editor for that site, and I considered it briefly, but thought to myself “Nobody knows me, and it’s not like I have that big of a following”. Then they chose Thompson, whom I’d only heard of here and there, and who had basically the same amount of social media followers that I did. Son of a bitch! Anyway, I’m probably being too hard on the guy. I can say with certainty that I wouldn’t have fared any better than he did, as there just wasn’t, nor should there have been, a Topless Robot without Rob Bricken. Can’t begrudge a dude for needing to work, but I really don’t know what Thompson or Walton can bring to the Wizard brand to set it apart from everyone else who’ve already staked a claim to the digital world.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Everything’s coming up Jetsons, as DC Comics announced a new miniseries, while ABC announced they’ve picked up a pilot from Robert Zemeckis for a live action sitcom. I say this show dies on the vine like the Seth MacFarlane Flintstones reboot, but we’ll see…
  • The season 7 Suits finale will serve as a backdoor pilot for a spinoff starring Gina Torres, and set in the world of Chicago politics. I really hope it’s called Da Skirts.
  • Marvel’s Runaways are about to be DOOMED, as the former movie doctor (and Nip/Tuck butt model) Julian McMahon joins the Hulu series as some worthless adult character. Seriously, if you’ve read the book, you know you can’t trust any adults in their orbit.
  • Fringe‘s Kirk Acevedo has been cast as “Ricardo Diaz” next season on Arrow, who will be the Arrowverse adaptation of DC Comics martial artist Richard Dragon.
  • Unwillingly to let a little broken neck stop him (um, spoiler alert?), David Tennant will reprise his role as The Purple Man in season 2 of Jessica Jones.
  • If you’re looking for conversation fodder for when you talk to your grandma, you should probably know that Daphne Oz, daughter of the Dr, is leaving The Chew. Like I said, your grandma will have something to say about it.
  • If you’re a 15 year old girl and you stumbled across this site because you found me in one of your chat rooms, then you’ll want to know that the Teen Wolf 100th episode/series finale will air September 24th. No word if Michael J. Fox or Jason Bateman will make a cameo. Oh, you don’t know who they are? Fuckin’ Generation Z, man…
  • Paul Scheer will now spearhead the Amazon adaptation of Galaxy Quest, which can only mean one thing: Rob Huebel is gonna be the commander. Mark my words!
  • Lost executive producer/co-showrunner Carlton Cuse just inked an overall production deal with ABC. Spoiler alert: all the characters in all of the upcoming shows have been dead the whole time.
  • Michael Douglas is in talks to star in a Netflix sitcom created by Chuck Lorre, which means everyone will “hate” it but it’ll still be the highest rated comedy on the streaming service. I mean, Lorre is KING of the Guilty Pleasure.
  • NBC announced that there have been “talks” of a Frasier revival, though they aren’t sure if the creators want to do it without co-creator David Angell, who died in the September 11th attacks.
  • Not to be outdone, Fox announced that they’ve been in talks with Mike Judge to bring back King of the Hill. While I’d love to know how Hank Hill would regard Trump’s America, I feel the original run of that show is nearly perfect and wouldn’t want a lackluster follow-up like Futurama 2.0.
  • Bad Boys 3 is clearly never happening, so it just lost its release date to Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly’s Holmes & Watson, hitting theaters November 9th, 2018.
  • Nia Vardalos, of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame, is developing Suburbs Famous, a TV series loosely inspired by the Chewbacca Mom thing. I’m not sure what to call it. It wasn’t a phenomenon. It was just a thing.
  • Hold onto your butts, children of the 80s, as there’s a reboot of The Two Coreys masterpiece License to Drive. This time it’ll be a female-led ensemble, being called a “female version of Superbad“. Um, OK.
  • You know that coworker who clearly hates his job, and really doesn’t go out of his way to make you think otherwise? That’s Daniel Craig with the James Bond franchise and, as much as he claims to hate it, it’s a job, so he’ll be back in the next installment.
  • Get your towels, fangirls (and fanboys, if that’s your thing), ’cause Star-Lord is back on the market! After 8 years of marriage, Chris Pratt and Anna Faris announced their separation. He’ll get custody of the family’s successful movie career, while she gets the car and her job on Mom.

  • I thought this was pretty clever
  • In a rebranding move, Chuck E. Cheese’s is getting rid of the animatronic band that we all grew up being terrified of. But fear not, as the chain will still base their image around a rat serving you pizza, so if that ain’t classy, I don’t know what is!

This week I joined my good pal Classick for another round of the Classick Team-Up Podcast. This was my first show with his new cohost, Amber, and I think we all gelled really well together. You should definitely give it a listen, but listener discretion is advised!

To say that the new DuckTales is good would be an understatement. In fact, it might be too good. Like everyone else, I’m beginning to tire of all of Hollywood dusting off old properties for new money, so I was a bit apprehensive about a DuckTales reboot. I mean, Disney had come a long way since then, so did they really need to return to that well? I grew up with the Disney Afternoon, so I know some DuckTales. It was never my favorite show or anything, but I enjoyed watching it. Even saw the movie in theaters. I would’ve been more intrigued by a Darkwing Duck or, believe it or not, a Goof Troop reboot, but I was willing to return to Duckburg to check things out.

As the news started trickling out about the reboot, I began to get a bit more interested. The character designs were updated, yet faithful to the original. And the cast! They could’ve just gone with some unknown voice actors, but instead they went for Purple Man David Tennant, and SNL guys Bobby Moynihan and Beck Bennett. Hell, they even got Community‘s Danny Pudi in the mix. Even if the show sucked, it wouldn’t be due to the folks behind the mic. Then they announced that the show would premiere on 8/12, and air for 24 hours. And for 24 hours did it run!

I actually didn’t get to watch it until the marathon was over, but when it was over, I couldn’t believe what I had seen. It was great. I was surprised that Huey, Dewey, and Louie actually had personalities now. That’s something I don’t remember being true about the original show. I liked the personality upgrade that Webby received, and I now find her more endearing than annoying. There’s clearly a story behind the new Mrs. Beakley, as she’s not just some doddering housekeeper anymore. And Donald’s even featured this time! There were a ton of Easter eggs referencing the old show, including shout outs to Cape Suzette (Tale Spin) and St. Canard (Darkwing Duck). Hell, they even had Roxanne from A Goofy Movie in it. What’s not to love?

If I had any squabble at all, it’s that I kinda wish Donald had subtitles. I know that’s part of his gimmick, but during the first half hour, for whatever reason, I found him downright incomprehensible. It didn’t seem as bad during the second half hour, so I don’t know what the difference was.

Anyway, the series properly debuts with new episodes on September 23rd, and I think I found my new favorite Saturday cartoon. If you didn’t see it, you should definitely check it out. It might not be your speed, but you can’t help but marvel at what they accomplished. That’s why DuckTales had the West Week Ever.

Oh yeah, I’m still trying to make Sarahah happen, so leave me some comments!

04th Aug2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 8/4/17

by Will

In movie news, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming premieres this Sunday, and The Hollywood Reporter had a great article about the history of the franchise. For one thing, Donald Trump was originally approached to play the President in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, but his people were stalling because he was mulling a run for the actual presidency. When the producers moved on to cast Mark Cuban, Trump got pissed and his people threatened to sue (on what grounds, nobody knows). Also, the production was renamed to Dark Skies because the name Sharknado was turning off potential actors. To the cast’s chagrin, however, it was changed back to Sharknado at release.

The main takeaway from the article is the pay situation. In the beginning, star Ian Ziering was offered $100,000 to do the first film. He reportedly only took it because his wife was pregnant and he needed to keep up his SAG membership for the health insurance. Over time, however, his pay ballooned and he currently makes about $500,000 a film – which, as folks point out, is more than the $300,000 Gal Gadot reportedly made to star in Wonder Woman. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. For one thing, superhero films kinda pay on the low-ish side because there are so many moving parts. The pay tends to start low and then grows over time. By the third or fourth movie, the stars are, then, basically too expensive to keep, so it becomes renegotiation or reboot time. Plus, as I said on Twitter, washed up TV star in a “water cooler” franchise outranks unproven movie star in unstable cinematic universe. Yes, Wonder Woman was a great film, but to say that Gadot deserved more money is simply Monday morning quarterbacking. Nobody was worried about her pay before the film came out because, frankly, nobody gave a shit about her. She’ll eventually make her money, while Ziering will be begging for a Sharknado revival, as the series is clearly on its last legs based on the ratings. Sharknado is a funny thing because the social media impressions actually outnumber its ratings. So, folks feel the need to talk about Sharknado even if they’re not watching Sharknado.

The real crime about pay, though, is that Tara Reid only makes about $125,000 to Ziering’s $500,000 (his salary is about 1/6th the budget of Sharknado 5). When she spoke up about it, they created a poll to the public following Sharknado 3, asking whether or not her character should die. Lucky for her, the fans wanted her back (Production company Asylum claims the poll and her request were unrelated, but we aren’t stupid here).

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll watch even though the last installment was a chore to get through. The franchise really peaked at Sharknado 2: The Second One, but they generate buzz, so they keep coming. I’m still pissed about the last movie, where Ziering’s character, Finn, has a Black daughter-in-law who gets killed by a shark. Not only does the family not react, but she’s never mentioned again. It’s clearly the result of some terrible editing, but I can’t tell if they edited out reactions to her death OR if they edited in the character after the movie was basically done. I figure we’ll get to 6 and then they’ll have to think of something else. It’s too bad the Lavalantula franchise hasn’t enjoyed the same buzz, as I enjoy those pseudo Police Academy reunions.

In TV news, a LOT of folks are upset about that Confederate show that I mentioned last week, even calling for a boycott of HBO. Some folks have reminded the boycotters that their actions would hurt other Black shows on the network, like Insecure and Ballers. Instead, they encouraged that folks make their voices heard directly to HBO, using the hashtag #NoConfederate during its most watched hour last week, Game of Thrones. Well, in seeming retaliation for the show, producer Will Packer and The Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder are creating Black America for Amazon. Whereas Confederate would follow a United States on the brink of its 3rd Civil War, Black America would follow an alternate reality where freed Blacks were given Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi as reparations, and the sovereign nation of New Colonia is formed. Meanwhile, its neighbor to the north, The United States, is in a bad state of affairs.  New Colonia is about to become a world power, while the US is slipping. Due to their proximity, their fates are tied together, but clearly the Black folks are doing better than everyone else.

Is it wrong that I have no interest in either show? I mean, I have no desire to see slavery still going in Confederate, but the whole premise of Black America just sounds like it’s doing too much, and feels more reactionary than anything. I mean, why didn’t we hear about this project before Confederate was announced? And the problem is that both projects are so far in their infancy that they won’t be happening any time soon, if they happen at all. I know the announcement appeased a lot of the anti-Confederate crowd, but neither sounds like a “good” show from what we’ve heard, and I almost feel like they take us away from having the race dialogue that a lot of folks feel we so sorely need as a country. What are y’all’s thoughts on these shows?

In other TV news, it was announced that ABC’s The Middle would be ending after its upcoming 9th season. This elicited to a lot of responses of “That show’s still on?”, and I immediately understood why Trump won. As the title suggests, the show focused on a middle class family, in the middle of the country, as they struggle to make it through. Over the past 8 years, they have been emblematic of the types of voters who feel their voices aren’t being heard as their situations get tighter. That’s the show’s audience, even though they’re not the glamorous demographic that Madison Avenue covets. I actually really enjoy the exploits of the Heck family, but I understand that the show’s not “hip” or “cool”, so it flew under a lot of folks’ radar. The upcoming Roseanne revival has been described as focusing on the Conners as they try to make their way in Trump’s America, but I’d argue that The Middle did it first, and will probably be looked upon as the most accurate depiction when the dust settles.

Across the dial, it was finally confirmed that Erinn Hayes’s character on CBS’s Kevin Can Wait will, in fact, be killed off. The show will pick up after some time has passed, paving the way for Kevin James to reunite with his The King of Queens costar Leah Remini. I understand shows sometimes need a retool, but all evidence was pointing to the show as a moderate success. The only sticking point was Remini guested in the season finale, and suddenly everyone wanted that chemistry back. To me, I’m good. I still have 8 seasons of The King of Queens to look back on (I don’t count that last season because it felt like they hated each other by that point, surprising me that they’d reunite. To me, this is almost like Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell doing a new show together). Hayes will bounce back, as she’s already been cast in Amazon’s The Dangerous Book for Boys, but I still don’t feel like the show did her right.

In comics news, it was revealed that the Milestone comic line’s reboot has been stalled because the creators behind it were trying to cut out the estate of co-creator Dwayne McDuffie. If you’re not familiar, the Milestone line was comprised of a bunch of minority-focused superhero books from the early 90s. There was Hardware (Black Iron Man), Rocket (Black Captain Marvel?), Blood Syndicate (Black…I dunno. I didn’t read that one). Oh, and Static (Black Lightning Jr, basically). The original creators were Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Derek T. Dingle, and Michael Davis (if we ever meet, ask me my Michael Davis stories. Dude is crazy, but I ain’t putting that stuff in writing for him to find it).

A few years back, they announced a revival of the Milestone brand, but Davis had been cut out and replaced by former BET head Reginald Hudlin. They kept saying an announcement was forthcoming, while Davis took to the internet saying it’ll never happen. He was hurt he’d been left out of something he’d had a hand in creating, but he also knew there were roadblocks that the group wouldn’t be able to get over.

Well, this week, McDuffie’s widow sued the group because his estate had been left out of recent negotiations, as Cowan, Dingle, and Hudlin were going to create a new entity to cut out McDuffie’s stake. There’s a lot of potential in the franchise, with recent cries for representation in fantasy media, but I’d like to go on record and say that those books just weren’t very good. They were just Black characters the same quality of the Image output of the time. I used to read Hardware and that book, ugh…Maybe they’ve got some fresh new takes on the characters, but I don’t think they’re even interested in comics at this point. They just want to control the intellectual property. Anyway, for all McDuffie did in the comic industry, it seems like he was constantly screwed over, even in death. I hope his estate is at least getting some money for the use of Damage Control (which he created) in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but I know it was work-for-hire blah blah blah. Anyway, here’s hoping Mrs. McDuffie gets what she’s owed.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Divergent franchise sequel, Ascendant, is now being developed as an ongoing TV series for Starz
  • The Black-ish spinoff, college-ish will now known as grown-ish
  • Vin Diesel is reportedly working on a Miami Vice reboot on NBC for the 2018-2019 season. I really hope they set it in the 80s. Otherwise, it’s just gonna be nothing but Pitbull and Flo Rida cameos…
  • The Will & Grace revival has already been renewed, despite the fact it hasn’t aired yet. It was also revealed that it will ignore the series finale, just like Roseanne…
  • Late 90s MTV staple, Total Request Live (TRL) will return in October, with FIVE hosts. I guess they’re trying to bring back that VJ position again.
  • Speaking of MTV, hot on the heels of removing gendered categories, MTV has changed the coveted Video Music Award from the Moon Man to the Moon Person. It will be able to use any space bathroom that it chooses.
  • Soap actor Hartley Sawyer will recur as The Elongated Man this season on The Flash
  • Speaking of the Arrowverse, the next 4-show crossover will take place over two nights this season, November 27th and 28th
  • Apparently hot ass Scientologist Catherine Bell from JAG has been on a show on Hallmark Channel called Good Witch for the past three years. Who knew? Anyway, it’s been renewed for a fourth season
  • Aussie actress Teagan Croft cast as Raven in the Titans series
  • Amazon is adding Carsey-Werner shows such as Roseanne, 3rd Rock from the Sun, A Different World, Cybill, Grace Under Fire, and Grounded for Life to its streaming library
  • Pacific Rim: Uprising‘s release has been moved from Feb 23 to March 23
  • Hasbro has called off talks to buy Lionsgate. In other news, apparently Hasbro was trying to buy Lionsgate.
  • Agent Carter‘s Hayley Atwell will reportedly join Ewan McGregor in Disney’s Christopher Robin 
  • Formerly a staple of Baltimore Comic Con, the Harvey Awards will move to New York Comic Con in 2018
  • They’ll be calling it Hawaii Five-WHOA, as Joey Lawrence is slated to guest star on the CBS series this season
  • Because he’s never turned down a job, Nick Cannon will host Lip Sync Battle Shorties, a kid-centered spinoff of Lip Sync Battle to air on Nickelodeon
  • During the 2017 Teen Choice Awards, Fox will experiment with 6-second commercials. This is how that subliminal programming shit starts!
  • Remembering where he came from, Kenan Thompson (who’s also now the longest-standing SNL cast member) is reportedly developing a live action sketch show for kids.
  • Transformers spinoff, Bumblebee, will open against Aquaman on December 21st, 2018
  • Blumhouse Television is bringing horror reality show Scare Tactics back to TV
  • Due to how he perceives Starz doesn’t appreciate his show, 50 Cent has threatened to snatch Power off the network.
  • Pokemon: I Choose You will get a two-night theatrical run in November. I’m not telling you the dates because the movie is a retelling of Ash & Pikachu’s meeting, yet it removes Brock and Misty from the story. Fuck this movie!

So, there was some crazy stuff in the comic industry this week, as a picture of of some women Marvel editors brought out the crazies. It all started with this pic:

Marvel editor Heather Antos and some other female editors got together for milkshakes, and based on the hashtag, it was to honor recently deceased former Marvel secretary “Fabulous Flo” Steinberg. A seemingly innocent thing, right? Well, here was the reaction on social media:

Wow, right? From dudes making inappropriate sexual remarks to folks blaming this on Social Justice Warriors, a certain corner of the internet lost its mind over some damn milkshakes.

But then came the backlash to the backlash. Fans and creators started posting pics in solidarity with the ladies.

The support even came from the “Distinguished Competition”, as they tweeted the following pic:

What started out as a snake bed for trolls turned into a show of solidarity that not only shed light on what women editors face on a daily basis, but also seemed to strengthen some relationships “across the aisle”. I mean, this is the best Marvel/DC crossover since Amalgam! As I said on Twitter, when history classes look back on this period in time, they will see that it was not blockbuster events but milkshakes that saved the comic industry. That’s why female comic editors had the West Week Ever.

 

By the way, I’m apparently 16 years old because I just signed up for Sarahah. So, swing by and leave me some anonymous comments. Oh, and please don’t make me cry!

21st Jul2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 7/21/17

by Will

I haven’t been doing such a great job with my movie tally for 2017. We’re more than halfway through the year, and I’ve barely watched anything. Well, I kinda made up for that last weekend, as I caught Keeping Up With The Joneses on HBO. This is one of those movies that came and went, and might find a fan base on TV, but will probably just be forgotten. If it should be remembered for anything, it’s that it features both Gal Gadot and Isla Fisher in lingerie. That’s about all it’s got going for it. What’s it about? Well, Isla Fisher and Zack Galifianakis star as a milquetoast suburbanite couple who become suspicious of their new neighbors, Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot. So, they’re pushed out of their comfort zone when they find out Hamm and Gadot are spies, and they get wrapped up in their latest mission. This is the kind of movie I would’ve killed a chunk of a Saturday afternoon on had it aired on Fox 5, but I can understand why nobody went to see it in theaters. Folks loved Don Draper, but for whatever reason, they have no desire to help along Jon Hamm’s movie career. And this was pre-Wonder Woman Gadot, so there was no heat on her yet. It doesn’t suck, but it’s got no Wow Factor either. Once it hits FX, it might be a good way to waste away a rainy Sunday afternoon.

I finally got around to watching The Nice Guys, too. I’d tried a few months ago, but I only got as far as the Ryan Gosling fully clothed in the bathtub scene, where I went, “What the eff am I watching?” I wasn’t ready for the absurd that night, but I was ready now. Like everyone had told me, it was really good. I still have trouble with heist/mystery films because my brain doesn’t work as fast as the film, so sometimes I have to reflect back on the thing when it’s over just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Ryan Gosling is a private investigator who teams up with local tough guy Russell Crowe to track down a missing girl. Sure, there’s some stuff about porn, and the Detroit auto lobby, but that’s the gist of the movie. It’s got a precocious kid, a cool 70s aesthetic, and titties. Can’t really hate on any of that. Anyway, I could see this as one of those movies I drop everything to watch whenever I see that it’s on. If you haven’t seen it, definitely check it out.

My new favorite reality show debuted this week on Bravo, called A Night With My Ex. It’s just what the title says: a former couple spends the night together to see if the spark is still there and/or to reopen old wounds. In the premiere, 28 year old virgin Rachel is reunited to smarmy douchebag ex-boyfriend Fabian. They dated for four years, but he cheated on her with a sexy Tinkerbell at a Halloween party because he had a major case of blue balls. When the show starts, you don’t think Fabian is really that bad of a guy. He knows he made a mistake, and he even plans to propose to Rachel because he wants her in his life forever. But things go south quickly. He chastises her for scraping her plate with her fork as she eats, and he tries to make her give him a handjob once they’re in bed. All the while, she’s trying to actually apologize for basically pushing him to cheat by withholding sex, but he never lets her get a word out before saying/doing something stupid. Finally she declares that she deserves better than him, and basically laughs in his face when he proposes. That was some damn good television! If anything, I’d say the show is too short at 30 minutes, but they only spend one night together, and not the whole weekend, so I guess that’s all they could edit together. It’s a lot like MTV’s old show, The X Effect, only the couple’s current partners aren’t spying on the date like they were in that show. Anyway, it’s only been one episode, but I count me in for the next nine!

In TV news, it was announced that Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have lined up their post-GoT project, Confederate, which is an alternate history series set prior to the United States’ 3rd Civil War. Well, this rang some alarm bells for some folks, as you can’t really get into the Confederacy and Civil War without dealing with slavery. And folks weren’t really happy about these White showrunners making what some considered to be “slavery fanfic”. What hasn’t been covered extensively, though, is that the project is really just coasting on the fact that the GoT showrunners are attached, but they’re not the only ones involved. Husband-wife team of Malcolm Spellman and Nichelle Tramble Spellman , who are Black, will be partners on the show along with Benioff and Weiss. Plus, the show it’s so deep in its infancy that there aren’t even character names or an outline yet. It was originally developed as a two-hour movie, but they decided it could be fleshed out and taken to television. There’s basically nothing on paper for it yet, though, so there’s not much for folks to be upset about at this stage other than mere speculation. The Spellmans acknowledge the criticism, but say that they’d rather it had followed the premiere of the show instead of starting now, as it’s being announced. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that this criticism will go into shaping the show going forward, so we may never get what they originally intended to put out.

We got a new trailer for Marvel’s Inhumans. Still looks like garbage. I’ve loved Iwan Rheon since Misfits, but I can’t follow him here. This just looks so bad. Look, I’m gonna watch it, but I really don’t see how there’s any damn way I’m paying for an IMAX ticket to see it in theaters.


We also got a new teaser for The Defenders, which teases the Punisher series at the end. People are going nuts online about this thing because it’s narrated by Stan Lee, but I actually think he’s tonally wrong for this clip. When I think of Stan, I think of his marquee, larger than life characters – NOT the street-level vigilantes. I almost feel like it would’ve been better narrated by Bendis or Brubaker, but they don’t have the recognition factor that Stan has. I get that. Still, it just feels like a hollow waste of a cameo.

 Things You Might Have Missed This Week
  • The good Lord answered my prayers, as Chris Hardwick and Comedy Central have “mutually decided” to end @midnight. I won’t miss his smarmy face or those stupid hashtag games.
  • I guess the third time’s the charm, as Paige Davis will start her 3rd hosting stint on Trading Spaces when it returns to TLC later this year
  • Ed Sheeran was on Game of Thrones this week, and I guess some folks didn’t like that. I dunno. I kinda couldn’t care less about Sheeran or GoT, but folks were hatin’!
  • Meanwhile, it was reported that Lena Dunham will join American Horror Story for season 7, and folks lost their shit about that, too. Apparently she’ll only be in one episode, but that was enough for some folks to claim they weren’t gonna watch anymore.
  • Transformers: Titans Return will debut in November as an animated micro series on the Go90 app, featuring the voices of Green Ranger Jason David Frank and the original Rodimus Prime himself, Judd Nelson.
  • MTV is in talks to reboot Teen Wolf before this iteration’s final season has even concluded. Slow it down!
  • Sega broke up with Archie Comics over Twitter, thereby ending the Sonic The Hedgehog comic after 24 years of publication
  • Seacrest IN! Ryan Seacrest has officially signed on to host ABC’s revival of American Idol. I feel like I’ve written this sentence 3 times in the past already, but now it’s for real for real.
  • Coming as no real surprise since The Vampire Diaries ended, The CW announced that its spinoff, The Originals, will end after its upcoming season.
  • In an odd choice, the directors of the original Catfish documentary (the movie, not the show) are in talks talks to helm a Mega Man film that will be produced by Masi Oka of Heroes fame.
  • Words with Friends is being developed into a television game show. Ya know, so it’s basically the Scrabble game show being rebooted.
  • Meanwhile on Black Twitter, R. Kelly is allegedly running a sex cult, Usher paid a woman $1.1 million for her to keep quiet about the fact that he gave her herpes, and Kevin Hart allegedly got caught cheating on his pregnant wife. I’m just waiting for some crazy Steve Harvey news to round out the week.
  • At San Diego Comic Con, MGM announced Stargate Origins, which appears to be a prequel webseries that will run on the Stargate Command website this fall.
  • Shazam! will be the next DC film to go into production, following Justice League and Aquaman, but it’s unclear if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will co-star as Black Adam.
  • There might soon be a new Cutco salesman on the block, as OJ Simpson has been granted parole from the armed robbery that landed him in prison nine years ago. The Juice is almost loose!

I love those weeks when the West Week Ever recipient presents itself early in the week, ’cause it’s pretty much smooth sailing after that. This was one of those weeks, as history was made across the pond. The Doctor Who franchise is over 50 years old, but every time the Doctor regenerates (a clever in-story mechanism for recasting the actor), he just turns into another White dude. That’s pretty much been the unending pattern since 1966, when the first regeneration occurred. Folks have been saying it’s time for a change, and they were hoping we’d either end up with a Doctor of color (with The IT Crowd‘s Richard Ayoade coming up in a lot of the discussions) or a woman Doctor. Well, half of them got their wish, as Attack the Block‘s Jodie Whittaker was announced as the 13th Doctor. And, as you’re probably not surprised, folks lost their shit.

We’re always taught the the Brits are so proper and upstanding, but the comments sections of several sites proved that they can troll with the best of them. At the end of the day, it’s a bunch of folks who are afraid of change. A friend of mine, however, did point out that the victors in these circumstances also tend to trigger the backlash against themselves. For example, it would be one thing if this was seen as a bold move forward for a progressive franchise. The problem, however, is that some people take it too far, and get on the “I’m savoring these fanboy tears” soapbox, making it about something that it really didn’t need to devolve into. Sometimes the winners can suck just as much as the losers in these scenarios. This can be seen as a “win” for some without it being a “loss” for someone else. How about framing it as a win for everyone? Nah, the internet doesn’t really work like that.

I have never gotten into the Doctor Who franchise because it just seems so daunting. Sure, folks claim you really only have to start with the Eccleston season, but when I get into something, I go ALL IN. To me, that’s like telling someone they can start Star Trek with The Next Generation (which I’d probably do, since I hate The Original Series, even though I’d still feel like I was cheating them out of an experience). I feel like I’d have to watch all 54 years of the show, which is impossible because those seasons ain’t streaming anywhere, and a good chunk of them have been lost to time. It’s a franchise that cannot be wholly consumed! I hate mysteries that can’t be solved. Still, I can respect a longstanding institution, and I understand when change is a big deal. It’ll be interesting to see how fans take to the new Doctor, but the one thing to remember is that she’ll probably do it for 2 years, and then regenerate into another old White guy (the Doctor role has the retention rate of a community college). So, everyone gets their wish! I am kinda curious about the next season, though, as rumor has it Kris Marshall (Colin: God of Sex from Love Actually) is going to be the Doctor’s next companion. I loved that dude!

Anyway, I know which side of history I want to be on, and it’ll be interesting to see this all play out. The way the franchise works, we won’t see her until the Christmas special, and then won’t see her again until late 2018 at the earliest. So, folks have got some time to get used to the idea. Still, I think it goes without saying that Jodie Whittaker had the West Week Ever.

14th Jul2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 7/14/17

by Will

So, I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming. Unlike most of you, I didn’t love it. I really liked it, but didn’t love it. Part of the issue stems from the legacy of Spider-Man films. I kinda hate how every star has delivered a great performance as Spider-Man, yet the minute the roll is recast, fans with short memories start saying the last guy was “shit”. People love ragging on Tobey Maguire, especially after Spider-Man 3, but he was really good in those first two movies. There’s a Spider-Man for every generation, and he was the Spider-Man we needed in 2002. Sure, he wouldn’t work so well now, but to compare his movies to Homecoming is basically apples to oranges. I also kinda hate when people say “They finally got Spider-Man right!” Um, Tobey already got him right. Andrew Garfield, in his own way, got him right. And Holland is getting him right. For now. They’ve all brought something special and unique to the table, and I think it’s unfair to discount that because there’s some new, shiny thing to take your attention.

All that’s to say that I liked Homecoming, but it didn’t really offer anything new to me. I felt the same wide-eyed wonder seeing Holland do the ferry rescue as I did when Maguire did the same thing with the train in Spider-Man 2. Some might call that an homage, but it just felt…familiar.

What did I love? I loved Tony being there. I felt like there was just enough Tony Stark without the film becoming Iron Man 3.5. It’s always good to see Happy, and this movie did more with him than most of the Iron Man films ever did. I especially love movie Happy since comic Happy is no longer with us (sad trombone). I loved sexy, younger Aunt May, but I’ve loved Marisa Tomei ever since she filled out her college application wrong and ended up at that Black college. I loved the running joke of all the guys commenting on how hot she was. It’s a new concept for May, but it works. I loved the Miles Morales Easter egg (I won’t spoil it here if you didn’t catch it). I loved Not-Ganke (For those not in the know, Ganke is the name of Miles Morales Spider-Man’s best friend, who looks EXACTLY like actor Jacob Batalon), even if I don’t know why they insisted on calling him “Ned Leeds”. I loved that Damage Control was officially revealed. Keaton was great, even if he’s not an Adrian Toomes that I recognize. The Liz Allen swerve was cool, ’cause I really didn’t see that coming.

OK, now for the things I didn’t like. They introduced a good swath of Spidey’s rogue (Mac Gargan, Shocker), all at once as Vulture’s gang, only to be relegated to ancillary characters and henchmen. I know the MCU has a “Villain Problem” of wasting their villains, but this just takes the cake.

Now, this is gonna sound stupid, but I spent a good amount of time trying to reconcile the MCU timeline in my head. The movie starts immediately after Avengers, jumps 8 years to Captain America: Civil War, and then to the present day, which is shortly after the airport battle where Spidey debuted. Now, a big part of Act 3 is the fact that Vulture wants to steal a bunch of Avengers/Stark Tech on Moving Day – when everything was being moved from Avengers Tower to the upstate facility. Now, Tony’s rich, so it’s not like he can’t own multiple properties, but why is Moving Day happening NOW? I mean, the upstate facility debuted at the end of Age of Ultron, we saw it again in Ant-Man, and everyone seemed to be pretty moved in by Civil War. So, why the delay in moving everything up there? Does Homecoming maybe not take place when we think it does? Well, we know it’s post-Civil War because Cap’s hilariously referred to as a war criminal by gym teacher Hannibal Buress. If it were just a thrown away reference, I wouldn’t care, but the whole final action piece is based on this Moving Day concept. Anyway, I think it’s fair to say I probably wasn’t in the right headspace for this movie if that’s where my brain was going.

Oh, and the thing I hated most: that effing MJ reveal! First of all, it accomplished nothing. It was corny, and it was executed just as poorly as when The Dark Knight Rises did it. Secondly, at the end of the day, her name is MICHELLE, not MARY. You can call her “MJ”, but that does not make her Mary Jane. And to be honest, the movie would’ve been fine without her character. While she was funny, it seems like she was woven into the movie solely to make that hamfisted name reveal at the end.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll watch this movie a bunch more once it hits the premium channels, but I just didn’t fall in love with it as much as a lot of you did. I’m really sorry about that, too, ’cause I really wanted to love it. Something just didn’t work for me entirely, and I can’t put my finger on it exactly.

Things were heating up in the news world this week. Back when NBC announced they had hired Megyn Kelly from Fox News, Today co-anchor Tamron Hall abruptly quit, reportedly because her contract was about to expire. Industry insiders, however, believe it was because it was rumored that Kelly would be given the third hour of Today – where Hall was currently the co-anchor of Today’s Take. Well, that’s somewhat true, as this week it was revealed that Kelly’s show will premiere September 25th, and will feature a live studio audience, like a traditional talk show. It will, in fact, occupy the third hour of Today, sandwiched between the regular Today and the Kathie Lee & Hoda hour of Today. Not to be outdone, it was also announced that Tamron Hall is developing a daytime talk show with Weinstein Television. It’s also believed that, in several major markets, this talk show will go head to head with Kelly’s daytime show. Now the race is on to see which one of them earns the coveted “Fake News” label first!

In other television news, CBS announced an upcoming animated special called Michael Jackson’s Halloween, which sounds kinda sketchy. Apparently, it’s about two Millennials (there’s THAT buzzword), which is basically to say “two shits too young to appreciate the King of Pop’s music”. Anyway, they meet at a party, end up at a weird hotel, and crazy stuff happens – all capped off by a dance number by an animated Michael. If you ask me, he already contributed his greatest gift to the Halloween industry: “Thriller”! Unless this is just a one-hour animated version of “Thriller”, I don’t think the world needs this. Somebody tell his mama to stop letting his estate make crap like this.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • John Cho joins Fox’s The Exorcist next season. While some are all, “Yay, representation!”, I’m like “Why the F is Sulu doing television?!” Well, I guess since Kumar’s already doing television…
  • In a move that’s somewhat baffling to me, Lucy Liu will direct the season 2 premiere of Netflix’s Luke Cage
  • Speaking of Netflix, Bojack Horseman season 4 will premiere on September 8th.
  • Fresh of the Boat dad Randall Park has been cast as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jimmy Woo in Ant-Man & The Wasp
  • Netflix has also renewed the Castlevania animated series for a second season
  • Jeremy Renner essentially broke both arms while filming the movie Tag, though it’s not expected to affect production on Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Smallville‘s Lois Lane, Erica Durance, is taking over the role of Alura from Laura Benanti on Supergirl.
  • Despite flopping in North America, the Baywatch film is on track to make $100 million overseas
  • Showtime is planning a sequel to the hit lesbian series The L Word. If it were up to me, it’d be called The K Word, and it would be about non-binary gender Millennials as they make their way through NYC, but nobody pays me for these ideas, so…
  • After 27 years of voicing Kermit the Frog, it was revealed that Steve Whitmire was fired back in October, and it currently lobbying to get his job back. Apparently, it’s not east being Steve.

In probably the biggest TV news this week (at least for the geek set), it was announced that AT&T Lily herself, Milana Vayntrub, has been cast as Squirrel Girl in Marvel’s New Warriors on Freeform. I cared NOTHING about this show until that announcement. It still doesn’t really inspire any confidence for me, as I don’t know if the superhero comedy genre works on television (see Powerless), but I’m definitely more inclined to check it out than I had been prior to the announcement. I mean, who doesn’t love that chick?! I love her in the commercials, I loved her in Other Space, and I even loved her as a bitchy ex-girlfriend in Love. Here’s hoping this leads to the big break she deserves. It was a slow entertainment news week so, ya know what, Milana Vayntrub had the Breas…I mean West Week Ever.

23rd Jun2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 6/23/17

by Will

 

It’s gonna be a quick one this week, as I’ve got too much real life stuff going on. Plus, there was a lot of little news, but no big whammy.

Last Saturday I took in Awesome Con which, in its fifth year, was being held at the Washington Convention Center. Normally I’m all about con reports. You’ll see my cosplay pics, and hear about all the stuff I bought. Not so much this time around. I don’t know what it was, but it didn’t feel very Awesome this year. I hate cons that are filled to capacity (like NYCC), but I felt like this one could’ve been better attended. Sure, there were a lot of folks there, but I still bet they fell short of the numbers that had been expected. No cosplay really caught my eye. There were only, like, 7 comic vendors. The show really doesn’t seem to know if it’s a pop culture con, like a Wizard World show, or if it’s a comic-con for the DC area, rivaling Baltimore’s.

It wasn’t all bad, though. I got to hang out with my buds @KeithDavidsen and @ClassickMateria, plus I had a great conversation with 2/3 of the 3 Black Geeks Podcast. Oh, and I totally gushed over Christopher Hastings, who currently writes I Am Groot and The Unbelievable Gwenpool for Marvel. I’ve been a fan of his since his indie series, The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, and I’m a huge Gwenpool fan. I pretty much went just to meet him, and he was totally gracious and nice. Meanwhile, I was gonna confront Scott Snyder and get him to sign my Dark Days: The Forge book. And then ask him why he blocked me on Twitter. But the stars were not aligned, as his line was capped before I got there. I suppose it was for the best. So, while lacking in awesome, there’s still room for improvement, and I’m sure I’ll be right back there next year.

While a lot of folks are getting excited about it, I have some problems with the way Netflix’s The Defenders series is being marketed. Something seems off with the tone of everything. See that poster above? As I remarked on Twitter, it looks like a TV Guide ad for a show Fox canceled in 1994. I can hear the promo now: “The Defenders, followed by an all-new New York Undercover. Thursday, at 8/7 Central.” There’s nothing about it that *pops*, and it just looks so pedestrian. Are they a rag tag group of NYC street-level heroes, or is it a coming of age drama about 3 guys and a girl trying to make it in New York City? I still have 3 more seasons of Marvel Netflix shows to catch up on before I can even watch this, so maybe I’m not the target audience. It’s just all so formulaic now, though. “Hey, look – a hallway fight!”

We finally got a premiere date for the long-delayed Star Trek: Discovery, bowing September 24th at 8:30 on both CBS and CBS All Access. What’s with the 8:30 start time, though? I guess we’ll get some kind of half-assed, 30-minute Trek retrospective before the show. And, taking a page from cable shows, the season will be split in two, with the first 8 episodes airing in the fall, while the remaining 7 will air starting in January. I couldn’t be less excited for this show. So many damn hoops to jump through, so many broken promises regarding its premiere date. At this point, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they requested a blood sample before allowing you to watch it. That’s how crazy this has become. What was once thought to become the most pirated series of all time, I’m now starting to think most of us aren’t even gonna bother.

I had no clue that Phil Lord and Chris Miller were the directors on the Han Solo film (how’d I miss that?), and I would’ve told anyone who’d listen that they were a terrible choice – which is why I’m not surprised that they were fired this week, citing “creative differences”. Sure, The Lego Movie was great. The Jump Street franchise was great. But I don’t see them fitting into the “Star Wars vision” that Kathleen Kennedy clearly has. They would’ve given us something great and entertaining, but I don’t know if it would’ve been a “Star Wars movie”. Then again, I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan, so what do I know. I’d like to think there’s room to do a lot of stuff in that franchise, but I just don’t see their style fitting into what’s already been established. And then Ron Howard was announced as their replacement. I really don’t know how I feel about this. I mean, gifted director, but this seems sort of out of his wheelhouse. Any of y’all have strong thoughts either way?

Meanwhile, somebody needs to make up their mind about whether these Spider-Man spinoffs are gonna be set in the MCU or not. We were basically told that only Spider-Man was crossing over, and even that’s been threatened as a possible one-time deal. But then Amy Pascal did a press junket earlier this week, where she danced around the matter, saying that the Spider-Man spinoffs would build upon the world that is being carefully crafted, leading some to believe they might actually be set in the MCU. That’s how some folks saw it. I just saw it as Pascal trying to keep her job. I guess time will tell. Meanwhile, Spider-Man Homecoming 2 is already being discussed (which I hope is called Spider-Man: Sadie Hawkins Dance), and there will reportedly be a cameo by another MCU character who’s not Iron Man. Keep it in your pants, boys. Let’s see how this one does first, OK?

Song of the Week

Yup, it’s a Taylor Swift song, but it’s NOT sung by Taylor. She gave this song to Little Big Town, who have ridden it to #1. It’s got her trademark juvenile lyrics, but I still think it’s beautiful. I kinda wish I didn’t know she wrote it, but I think that was part of the push that got it to #1. Anyway, here’s “Better Man”.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Shonda Rhimes had to fail eventually, which is why her summer Shakespeare series, Still Star-Crossed, has been moved to Saturday after 3 low-rated episodes. Stick a fork in that turkey!
  • Speaking of dead shows, CMT couldn’t make the numbers work to revive Last Man Standing, so the sitcom is officially dead
  • Dule Hill’s real-life fiancee, Ballers actress Jazmyn Simon, will play Gus’ love interest in the Psych reunion movie
  • Apparently Nickelodeon is prepping a one-hour reunion, called Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling. I didn’t have cable growing up, but I know this means something to some of you.
  • Virginia Madsen won’t be back for season 2 of Designated Survivor. I was kinda hoping she and Kiefer would bang, so now I have the sads…
  • Six cast members are out at Taken, amid a major shake-up prior to season 2. I guess you could say they didn’t have the right set of skills.
  • They’re teasing a Downton Abbey movie for 2018. I hope it’s called Downton Abbey: Matthew’s Revenge!
  • There are rumors that Damon Lindelof is in talks to do a Watchmen TV series for HBO. That network is really into dongs lately, so I guess this is a perfect fit.
  • Daniel Henney is shifting his Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders character over the main Criminal Minds series, following the former’s cancellation. Remember that when your CBS-watching grandpa asks you where he’s seen that “Oriental fella” before…
  • The CW is interested in a Supernatural spinoff called Wayward Sisters, which would star recurring guest star Kim Rhodes. I don’t watch Supernatural, but she was Zack & Cody’s hot mom, so I’m a supporter of giving her more work!
  • After a thorough investigation, Warner Bros found no evidence of misconduct on the set of Bachelor In Paradise, and production has resumed on the season. Now it’ll probably be the most-watched season of the show, but there’s no way they saw that coming, right? Right?
  • As a reward for being the #1 daytime drama for the past 28 (!) consecutive years, CBS has renewed The Young and the Restless for another three seasons
  • NBC is scrambling to do some damage control, as Megyn Kelly’s highly publicized interview with Sandy Hook truther Alex Jones was beaten by a rerun of America’s Funniest Home Videos. That’s right, it was beaten by a show that’s been rendered virtually obsolete since the proliferation of the Internet
  • Heroes is coming to Crackle on July 13th. You know, that free streaming network that nobody watches? So, if you’re still itching to save the cheerleader, there ya go.
  • The sequel to Jurassic World will be called Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Meh. That shit ought to be called Jurassic Galaxy. Take those dinos into space already!
  • Daniel Day-Lewis has quit acting, meaning we’ll never get to see him in the Fast and the Furious franchise like we’d always dreamed!
  • Fresh off his mistrial, Bill Cosby plans to give speaking engagements where he will instruct folks how to dodge sexual assault charges. I couldn’t make this shit up! “If you put the pudding pop in the Jello, make sure you’re not caught on any Kodak film!”
  • Transformers 5: Bad Touch had the lowest opening day box office for the franchise, with $15.7 million.
  • In the ultimate Fuck yo’ Father’s Day move, Beyonce’s dad announced to the world, via tweet, that her twins had arrived. I hear he was dragged away by wraiths soon afterward.
  • Adam West’s unaired episode of Powerless can now be seen on DC All Access, as well as Hulu.

No one had the West Week Ever this week. As Nina Simone sang, “It be’s that way sometimes”. I do have a correction from last week, though. Like I said up top, I’ve got some real world stuff going on and I wasn’t really thinking clearly. I inducted Adam West into the West Week Ever Hall of Fame, when my pal @zacshipley pointed out that a better honor was staring me right in the face: that honor should be called the West Life Ever. So, the post has since been corrected and, going forward, that is what will be bestowed upon those greats that we’ve lost along the way. Adam West had the West Life Ever.

13th Jun2017

Toy Biz Hotline Bling: I Used To Call You On My Wall Phone

by Will

If you’ve been to this site before, you were probably brought here for my weekly pop culture news review, West Week Ever, that I post every Friday. It didn’t always used to be like that, though. No, I used to write about anything that popped into my mind, as you’ll see in my archives. Over my time online, however, I’ve found that anything I can do, a lot of other folks can do better. When it comes to the nostalgia game, no one does it better than Matt over at Dinosaur Dracula. So, imagine my surprise when something popped into my head that he hadn’t covered yet! That’s right, kids – today we’re gonna talk about the Toy Biz Hotline.

A few days ago, I saw that a Facebook friend had shared the video for a Knight Rider hotline where you’d call and K.I.T.T. would tell you a story. Considering William Daniels actually respects himself, it was more likely the chance to hear a randomization of pre-recorded dialogue from a K.I.T.T. impersonator. One of the perks of calling the hotline, however, was that you’d receive a free “Wuppie”, which is basically a cotton ball with googly eyes and feet. You’d be surprised how many hotlines used the promise of a Wuppie to lure kids into calling.

If you’re a youngin’, then let me educate ya on something: the 80s were chock full of these hotlines, mainly because we didn’t have the Internet yet and unscrupulous business folks learned how to monetize that thing hanging on your wall in the kitchen. To put it in 2017 terms, 900 numbers were the “in app purchases” of the 1980s. While they were required to tell kids to get their parents’ permission, these hotlines were designed to trick kids into racking up high phone bills – ya know, so they could talk to Santa and get a toy cotton ball.

While we were obsessed with our phones in a different way than we are today, I can assure you that not everything was designed to make a dollar. Before you could tweet your displeasure at a company account, you used to have to call them. That’s right, you had to be indignant and ask an employee, “What’s the number for corporate?!” Remember, you couldn’t Google that shit yet. If they weren’t too busy using that slide thingy to process a credit card transaction, they would take out a Lisa Frank pen and write down a number for you. If you were lucky, that number would connect you to a phone system that MIGHT eventually lead to a real person on the other end. Basically, customer service was handled solely by phone. Some companies, instead of just waiting around for complaints, decided to be proactive with their customer service hotlines. That’s what brings us to Toy Biz.

http://thecomicscode.weebly.com/x-men-toy-biz.html

“But what’s a Toy Biz, Uncle Will?” Well, back in the late 80s/early 90s, all comic book-based action figures briefly came from the same company! I’ll let you catch your breath there for a minute, as I know that’s a crazy notion in today’s competitive world. Not only did Toy Biz land the license for 1989’s Batman (for which they produced an assortment of a whopping THREE figures), but they also handled DC Comics Super Heroes, based on Kenner’s old Super Powers molds. Then, shifting into the 90s, they dropped DC in favor of the Marvel license when Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter bought the company. We initially got a Marvel Super Heroes series, but their real claim to fame was the 8,000 X-Men figures they would go on to produce. I’ve always said that nobody mines a property quite like Playmates, but Toy Biz was a close second.

This was probably the first toy line to teach me about waves, meaning that the toys were released in batches at a specific time.  Most toys don’t include an “evergreen” line of toys that you can always find on shelves at any time. They used to differentiate the multiple iterations of a character by Roman numeral. So, “Wolverine” eventually gave way to “Wolverine XVII”. For example, if Wolverine II came out in September of 1994, then you’re probably not gonna be able to find him on shelves in October of 1995, because Wolverine III will be out by then. How would you know which figures were supposed to be in stores, without your parents wasting all their gas driving around? That’s where the Toy Biz hotline came in.

 

Listed on the cardbacks of all Toy Biz figures was a hotline that you could call that served as Toy Biz’s customer service line: 1-800-634-7539. While I guess you could call them to let them know your Colossus had two left legs, that’s not why people called it. No, the hotline had a prerecorded message where an emotionless male voice rattled off the names of the figures in the latest wave, in many cases mispronouncing them because they couldn’t give two shits about what they were actually saying. So, you’d get them just putting two words together, like “Omega Red”, but you’d also get mistakes like them calling the X-Men villain “Mag-NET-o”, instead of “Mag-NEAT-o”. I can’t speak for other folks, but I didn’t care! My best friend, Brett, and I used to call that number ALL THE TIME. It was the centerpiece of our sleepovers. It was like “So, should we call the number?” as if we were discussing digging out one of our dad’s old Playboy stash.

From what I could gather, it seemed like the message was updated about every 6 months or so. As the Toy Biz catalog increased, the message got longer. There was the X-Force subset, and the Hulk series, the Fantastic Four series, and more. If you wanted to, you could just listen to the dude drone on for a good 30 minutes. I have to admit, though, that once Power Rangers mania hit, I left Toy Biz in the past. So, I missed the evolution of the basic figures into the dynamic, articulated sculpting of the Marvel Legends that soon dominated Toy Biz’s offerings.

The hotline also had an answering machine portion, where you could ask questions about the toys. You were told to leave your name, number, and address, and they would get back to you. To date, I don’t know a single person who ever heard back from them. According to this article, it doesn’t seem like anyone heard back from them.

Since most of Toy Biz’s output was Marvel figures, it made all the sense in the world for them to change the name to Marvel Toys in 2007 – only to give up the Marvel license to Hasbro later that year.

So, we were left with a Marvel toy company that couldn’t make Marvel toys, and the company circled the drain as it cranked out Lord of the Rings and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling figures. The hotline remained a fixture on Marvel Toys packaging through the release of 2007’s Legendary Comic Book Heroes line. By this point, they had established a website, but were still advertising the number as the best way to reach them. In 2008, with no fanfare, the Marvel Toys website was taken down, signaling the end of the hotline and the company itself. Nowadays the number belongs to a DirecTV promotions department.

Despite what the ladies of LiveLinks would have you believe, the age of the interactive hotline is over. The Internet came along with its promises of instant gratification and all the correct AND fake news that you could want. Still, there was something quaint about the “personalized” experience of calling a hotline. Sure, we knew the messages were prerecorded, but that didn’t matter to us. When calling that hotline, we felt like we were getting insider information. We could go back and tell the news to our friends who lacked phone privileges. “Wolverine VII? Yeah, he’s not out yet, but Black Tom Cassidy is. Oh, you don’t know who that is? Well, I can’t help you there.” The Toy Biz hotline: Building fandom snobs before the Internet.

So, am I alone in remembering this? Do any of y’all have fond memories of dialing up this number? Share your memories in the comments!

09th Jun2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 6/9/17

by Will

 

In an interesting shake-up over at CBS, Erinn Hayes has been let go from her role as wife to Kevin James in Kevin Can Wait. They say that the show is going in a new direction, which necessitated the firing. But here’s where it gets interesting. Leah Remini, who played James’s wife on King of Queens, popped up in the season finale as James’ former cop partner. Well, just before announcing Hayes’s departure, CBS announced that Remini would be joining the show next season as a series regular. Now, if you’ve never seen Kevin Can Wait, Kevin James plays a former NYC cop who tries to figure out how to adjust to his recent retirement. Based on the season finale, though, it seems like James’s character might be coming out of retirement. It’s just a strange move, seeing as how the show ended the season as the #1 new comedy on network TV – hardly a situation that necessitated a retooling of the show. Part of what critics praised was Hayes’s portrayal of James’s wife of 20 years. How do you just gloss over that relationship? I mean, they’ve gotta kill her off, but unless you do a time jump, you’ve gotta slog through all the grief stuff, which doesn’t lend itself well to a multicam comedy. And if they’re gonna fast track a relationship between James and Remini, will the audience accept it? It really feels like they blew a sure thing and, if they wanted to recreate The King of Queens, thy should’ve just revived The King of Queens! I’ve said that online since Kevin was announced!

Speaking of Remini, I’m starting to think she’s a Scientology double agent. Bear with me here: Scientology is a well-connected organization in Hollywood that allegedly has the power to ruin your career with the information that they have on their members. If you ever leave the church, you’re pretty much done. Just look at the list of former Scientologists. On that list, Remini and Jeffrey Tambor are the one ones who even have a semblance of a steady career right now, and Tambor kinda skirted the issue by saying he never really joined the church. Remini, however, joined up as a child, and was a HUGE booster of the church. Then, in 2013, she turned on the church – not for its negative views on homosexuality (which is why Crash director Paul Haggis left) or its alleged illegal activities. No, she left because she got her feelings hurt after leadership clapped back at her. At Tom Cruise’s wedding to Katie Holmes, Remini asked why church leader David Miscavige’s wife wasn’t in attendance, and they basically told her she didn’t have clearance for that info (formal speak for “Nunyo Biznazz”). She didn’t trust that answer, and went further to file a missing persons report on Mrs. Miscavige. Then, she made it her mission to publicly discredit Miscavige, criticizing his leadership, citing reports of abuse in the Sea Org, and more. She went straight to the TOP with her blame game, yet NOTHING has happened to her. In fact, it’s probably rejuvenated her career. She got a successful show on A&E called Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, where she’s basically telling all their secrets. When the show debuted, the church issued a statement attacking her. Yet, she’s working more now than she was before. So, there’s two things happening here: either Scientology isn’t as powerful and litigious as we’ve been led to believe OR they’re in on it. It’s yin and yang. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. While Scientology has its critics, it never really had an enemy before. Why not create one where they could control the narrative? It’s like learning that Captain America has secretly been Hydra the whole time. Long story short, I’m not entirely convinced she’s left the church, especially over something as trivial as what’s reported to have started the whole thing. And she’s laughing all the way to the bank.

In other TV news, Tia and Tamera Mowry (yeah, they got married and have new hyphenated last names, but I ain’t got time for all that) are trying to get a Sister, Sister revival off the ground. And I don’t know anyone who wants this. If you were cool back in the 90s you probably never watched Sister, Sister, where a set of adopted twins didn’t realize they were twins until a chance meeting in a department store, a la The Parent Trap. Then they all move in together. It was the definition of “mediocre”, yet once ABC canceled it, it gained a new life over on The WB. The most memorable thing about it was that Marques “Batman” Houston, of the R&B group Immature/IMx, played their annoying neighbor Roger (kinda like a watered down Steve Urkel), and they’d constantly yell “Go home, Roger!” at him. Other than that, it was just a bunch of zany, mistaken identity twin shit – stuff that I’d hope adult Tia and Tamera had outgrown by now. What’s the story to tell? They both get divorced, and move in together with their kids? Sorry, Kate & Allie, Getting By, and the upcoming Raven’s Home have already covered that old chestnut. Are they single in the city, doing the same twin shit? Not interested. I don’t have a lot of faith in this one getting picked up, though, because they’re far behind where they need to be. Right now, they say they’re looking for a show runner to guide the project, but then they’d have to find a network. Sister, Sister was NO Full House, so I doubt Netflix would be interested. If anything, the only place I’d put it right now would probably be Freeform, even though the twins are slightly older than the target demo of that channel. Let this just be a lesson that not everything needs to be revived.

In other television news, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has cast Tala Ashe as Muslim “hacktivist” Zari Adrianna Tomaz for season 3. She’s a computer whiz from 2030, so basically the team’s got their own Oracle/Felicity now – not that they really need it, with Gideon and all. Anyway, in comics Tomaz is actually an Egyptian who uses the Amulet of Isis to transform into the hero Isis. Before the New 52 reboot of the DC Universe, Isis was an important character in the weekly series 52, as she was in a relationship with Black Adam, and her brother, Osiris, was eaten by Sobek. Oh, and she had a cheesy TV show in the 70s. None of that’s gonna be in the Legends, I’m sure. Given the current political climate, and how loaded the name “Isis” is right now, I doubt they’ll actually ever call her that onscreen, either.

Song of the Week

Today I give you “Vampires”, by The Midnight. My pal and thrifting partner, “Special Forces”, and I decided that this is the official theme song for Thrift Justice should it ever become a real show. Synthwave AND saxophone?! I wanna direct Skinemax movies just so I can score them with this entire album. So sexy. Right now, Thrift Justice is a USA drama circa 1990, and I ain’t got no problems with that!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Modern Family‘s Sarah Hyland will guest star on Freeform’s Shadowhunters, which kinda sounds like a step back
  • Speaking of Freeform, they’ve ordered a pilot for an American adaptation of UK hit Misfits. The network is a good home for something like this, but I’m still pissed over the American adaptation of Skins, so…
  • Rudy Huxtable herself, Keshia Knight Pulliam, escorted TV dad Bill Cosby to the first day of his rape trial. Whatever. Call me when Lisa Bonet shows up.
  • In next level pettiness, Taylor Swift put her entire catalog back on Spotify at midnight – at the very moment Katy Perry released her album “Witness”
  • According to Dan Aykroyd, Paul Feig blew his chance at a Ghostbusters sequel because he overran his budget on unnecessary reshoots. Sony refuted the figures Aykroyd presented, saying the estimates were off by about NINETY percent. Woo!
  • Jennifer Connelly will join Daveed Diggs in TNT’s Snowpiercer pilot, playing the person who makes the daily announcements on the train. Exciting!
  • Tom Cruise revealed that the title of the Top Gun sequel will be Top Gun: Maverick. I wonder if John McCain has any feelings about that. Coherent feelings, not ramblings about the Diamondbacks…
  • Speaking of Cruise, his The Mummy reboot opens today, and reviewers have called it “the worst Tom Cruise movie ever”. Wow.
  • Singer/actress/sister of Ray J Brandy was found unconscious on a Delta flight, and the doctor who came to her rescue was reportedly Kim Kardashian’s uncle! Considering Ray J put that family on the map, I figure it’s time the Kardashians did something to return the favor.
  • Gotham stars Morena Baccarin and Ben McKenzie got married. Knowing that show, it’ll probably revealed that they’re Bruce’s real parents or some shit. It’s not like it pays attention to any of the rest of the lore, so why not?
  • Fox canceled 24 Legacy after a low-rated single season, but they’re still committed to the 24 brand. They’re reportedly developing an anthology series to take the show back to its real-time roots
  • Like Peter denied Jesus, Jerry Seinfeld denied THREE requests for a hug from Kesha. I don’t blame him!
  • In one of the strangest deals I’ve ever heard of, Epix has inked a deal to stream its content directly to 2018 Honda Odyssey  minivans
  • Sony will begin selling clean versions of some of their hit movies. If you’ve ever accidentally bought a clean version of an album from Walmart, you can see why this decision might anger some folks
  • Hank Williams Jr is back singing the opening to Monday Night Football for the first time since 2011. I guess all his rowdy friends will be over after they finish burning a few more crosses…
  • George and Amal Clooney welcomed twins Ella and Alexander
  • Former Power Rangers director/producer/fight coordinator Koichi Sakamoto will direct the upcoming Ultraman Geed series, focusing on the son of the evil Ultraman Belial. Yeah, those words mean something to someone out there.
  • Newcomer Blu Hunt has been cast as Danielle Moonstar in the upcoming New Mutants spinoff of the X-Men films.
  • A live action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop is being developed, and my heart weeps. As one of the few anime series I’ve watched, and loved, I kinda hope this dies in development hell
  • Hackers released 8 stolen episodes of ABC’s upcoming game show, Funderdome, and nobody cared.
  • Donald Glover will be retiring her Childish Gambino hip hop persona after his next album.

  • We got our first poster for the Black Panther film.

Last week I gave my opinions and feelings on the movie. This week, I’m just gonna stick to the facts:

  • 92% on Rotten Tomatoes
  • $103 million opening weekend domestic box office
  • $220 million opening weekend global box office
  • Third highest opening for a DC film
  • Most successful female-directed film
  • Mot expensive female-directed film, with a budget of $150 million
  • Most tweeted about movie of 2017, with 2.19 million tweets
  • Won Best In Show and Best Fantasy/Adventure at the Golden Trailer Awards
  • Last Saturday, Wonder Woman Day was celebrated at comic shops around the world

You’ve seen it by now, right? RIGHT?! Then, what are you waiting for? For these reasons, and more, Wonder Woman once again had the West Week Ever.

02nd Jun2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 6/2/17

by Will

Whoo boy! This is gonna be a controversial one this week, but I’ve got some stuff to get off my chest.

First up, there was controversy surrounding the new Wonder Woman film (in theaters now!). Theater chain Alamo Drafthouse announced women-only screenings for the film, where proceeds would go to women’s charities, including Planned Parenthood. Originally planned to be 5 screenings at the Austin and Brooklyn locations, tickets sold out instantly and more screenings were added. According to Alamo, the screenings were meant to be a celebration of “Girl Power”, and were only open to those who identified as women. Now, this isn’t the first time Alamo has done special screenings, as they have screenings for active military members, as well as for children with special sensory needs.  I’ve also heard other explanations, like the screenings give women a safe space to watch the film without having it mansplained to them the entire time. But, of course, the social media shitstorm started. A lot of folks who might be considered Men’s Rights Activists felt that this was discrimination, and that they should retaliate with all-male screenings of the next Star Wars movie.

As Twitter was dead over the holiday weekend, I tweeted that the backlash to the screening was stupid, but the screening itself is also kinda stupid. Now, hear me out: I see both sides of the issue here. Alamo wanted to make a fun exclusive event to celebrate the release of a movie starring a female superhero. That doesn’t happen every day, so it was a cause to celebrate. I’m not “butthurt” over the idea. That said, Alamo had to know they’d get this kind of reaction, as this kind of thing is somewhat of a slippery slope. “How is it a slippery slope, Will?” So glad you asked! Let’s, for a moment, propose a different kind of screening. Let’s say it was a Black Only screening of Get Out. I mean, it had a similar pedigree in that it was a Black horror/suspense film from a Black director – something that also doesn’t happen every day. You’d better believe people would have a problem with that! Sure, it could be spun as a celebration “for the culture”, meant to foster community and whatnot, but White people would shit ALL the bricks! So, as this has been great publicity for both Wonder Woman and Alamo Drafthouse, they knew exactly what they were doing when they set out to do this. In the long run, this isn’t gonna hurt Alamo or Wonder Woman one bit, but let’s not act like this was some kind of altruistic celebration of sisterhood. This was Shrewd Marketing 101.

See? I toldja this would be a controversial one, and I’m just getting started!

Let’s visit the world where Hollywood and politics intersect. You see, comedienne Kathy Griffin posted a photo of herself holding what was meant to be Donald Trump’s severed head. AND PEOPLE LOST THEIR MINDS! Trump, himself, even took time off from golfing and nudging his way to the front of photo ops to tweet about it, saying that it had affected his 11 year-old son, Barron, who apparently thought the photo was real. The backlash was strong against Griffin, who apologized hours later, but still ending up losing her Squatty Potty endorsement, as well as her CNN New Year’s Eve gig with Anderson Cooper. A lot of people seem to be in agreement of the backlash, but I’m gonna take a different approach: I don’t think the photo was that bad.

There are so many things to unpack here, so bear with me as I try to navigate through all of it. Societies have a history of burning politicians in effigy as a form of protest so, while extreme, how is this any different? Had she actually decapitated the man, and was brandishing his severed head on social media as some sort of trophy, that would’ve been too far. Like it or not, this was “art”, and you don’t really get to judge art. It can make you uncomfortable but at least it triggered some sort of opinion or emotion, which means it did its job.

I also feel like this is a situation where folks are more upset by the messenger than the message. Kathy Griffin isn’t taken seriously. We’ve put her in this box along with Andy Dick and several other unpredictable, slightly unstable comedians who at one time did a stint on an NBC sitcom. We don’t expect anything “deep” from her, because we’ve already written her off. She knows this, as she’s in on the joke. I mean, her reality series was called My Life On The D-List, so she knows she’s not a top-tier celebrity. Still, she has a team behind her, as everyone in Hollywood does, and they all decided that this was something she was going to do. Maybe she felt it’d just blow over because of her lessened celebrity status, or maybe it’s doing just what she thought it would. A friend and I were talking about it the other night, and he’s the one who made me realize it was the messenger we were blaming here. After all, if Samantha Bee had done this, liberals would be creaming their jeans about how daring and smart it was. Why? Because that’s what people expect of her. Griffin made the simple mistake of veering out of her lane, and that’s how we got to where we are now.

Now, let’s look at the photographer, Tyler Shields, whose work tends to push boundaries like this. For him, this was just another Tuesday photoshoot, and this isn’t the first time that Griffin has worked with him. I mean, just look at some of his work above. He likes weird shit, but again, it’s art and we don’t really get to police it.

Meanwhile, there’s the whole thing about Barron thinking the photo was real. That poor, poor boy. To quote Hank Hill, “That boy ain’t right”, and the family either refuses to acknowledge it or is dealing with it in secret. On the one hand, I guess I have to commend the fact that we’ve “grown” to the point of saying “Kids are off limits”, but I find it convenient that we’re adopting that stance now. Where was that when comedians were calling little Chelsea Clinton a “dog” every chance they got? Where was that when Sasha and Malia had to see the stuff folks said about them and their family? It’s a shame that Barron doesn’t know the difference between a photo and reality but, as one Tweeter put it, it wouldn’t be an issue if Donald actually lived with his son. But I digress. I think this whole thing has been blown way out of proportion to dominate the news cycle. After all, last weekend it was looking like Jared Kushner was in the hot seat, and then next thing you know, it’s Kathy Griffin this, and covfefe that.

Where to next? Oh yeah, remember Mary Kay Letourneau? She was one of the first stories of teachers sleeping with their students to hit the news. Back in the late 90s, Letourneau fell in love with her student, 12 year old Vili Fualaau, and ended up getting impregnate by him. She was convicted of child rape, served 3 months in jail, and THEN got caught having sex with Fualaau in her car just two weeks after her release. And she got pregnant again. She served 6 years that time, but married Fualaau when she got out. And they lived happily ever after…until May 9th of this year, when Fualaau filed for legal separation from Letourneau. Now 33, perhaps Letourneau simply got too old for him at 55. But the plot thickens! Yesterday, that bastion of journalistic integrity, The New York Post, reported that the separation was really just something of a scam. You see, Fualaau wants to get a license to sell pot, but he knows they’ll do a background check before granting it to him, and it wouldn’t look good to be married to a registered sex offender. He claims they’re still in love and this is just a business arrangement. So, while he awaits his pot license, he’s working as a DJ in Washington state. Too bad she couldn’t fuck some ambition into him all those years ago! Fun fact: one of Letourneau’s brothers is a foreign policy adviser to the president. He’s clearly been doing a heck of a job lately!

Still here? OK, then let’s talk about some pop culture stuff. Someone at NBC must’ve read my Upfronts post, as they just announced changes that perfectly mirror my suggestions. This Is Us will no longer be moving to Thursday, and will stay put on Tuesday nights. Meanwhile, the comedies planned for Tuesday, Superstore and The Good Place, are moving to Thursday to join Will & Grace and Great News for a 2-hour comedy block. This is how it alway should’ve been, and I’m not quite sure what’s going on at NBC. From the cancellation/uncancellation of Timeless to this new schedule scramble, it makes you wonder who’s at the wheel over there. Still, I think these are smart moves, so hopefully they’ll work out in the long run.

The hardest working man in Hollywood, Ryan Seacrest, is developing a new show. Best.Cover.Ever. will air on YouTube and will feature people singing cover songs, vying for the chance to sing a duet with the original artist of the song they sang. Hosted by Ludacris, the show will feature Demi Lovato, Jason Derulo, and Backstreet Boys to start out. Contestants are asked to upload videos of covers of “Trumpets”, “Confident”, and “As Long As You Love Me”. The artists will each choose two finalists, who will be the contestants actually featured on the show. The winner gets to duet with the original artist for an exclusive YouTube performance. It’s an interesting concept, and it requires a partnership with a streaming service to work, but I’m still not sure it’s going to be successful. I’m also surprised that it’s not on YouTube Red, where they can charge for it. After all, nobody really talks about the offerings on YouTube Red, but this is the kind of thing that could get folks talking and maybe boost subscriptions. I’m a sucker for “As Long As You Love Me”, so I’ll be keeping tabs on this just to see how it fares.

Major news in the world of pop music this morning, as will.i.am confirmed that Fergie has left the Black Eyed Peas to focus on her solo career. The news isn’t exactly a surprise, as last week it was announced that she was leaving the band’s label, Interscope, to start her own label, Duchess Music, over at BMG. It’s still a pretty big deal, though, as she’s been with the band for the past 15 years. Still, I feel like their time has come and gone. They showed up, gave the world a suitable soundtrack replacement for Jock Jams, and left their mark. However, will.i.am says they’re still together, recording new music to celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band. To be honest, I thought they were gonna be done in 2008, when they released The E.N.D., but it proved successful enough, with the hits “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling”, that they just kept trucking along. Now there are rumors swirling that Nicole Scherzinger might replace Fergie in the group, which would be her third time in a group, after Eden’s Crush and The Pussycat Dolls. I swear, Scherzinger must have a tail or something, because there’s some sort of defect that’s preventing a label from being able to package her as a solo act. Always a bridesmaid…Anyway, let’s pour one out for The Duchess and her tenure with Your Grandma’s Favorite Rap Group.

Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings recently said that he felt Netflix should be canceling more shows. In his mind, they have too many hits, which results in creators taking fewer chances and not “swinging for the fences”. The successful shows are basically taking real estate from potential new hits. Now, it being the internet, there’s no “real estate”, per se, but it’s still marketing dollars, bandwidth, etc. It used to be that you could count on a Netflix series getting at least 2 seasons, but they just killed that with the cancellation of The Get Down after its first season. Yesterday, they followed the trend and canceled the sci fi series Sense8 after its second season just debuted last month. If the axe is swinging, I’m worried about the shows that aren’t generating a ton of buzz right now, like F is for Family and the adaptation of Dear White People. Kind of a weird problem to have, though: too much success might be making them complacent. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects the Marvel shows, as well as the Netflix perennials like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

There was a scary moment last weekend at Phoenix Comicon, when police arrested a man who reportedly had three handguns, a shotgun, knives, pepper spray, and throwing stars, and had a reminder on his phone that said “Kill JDF.” That’s right, folks – his plan was to kill the Greatest Power Ranger of All Time, Jason David Frank, as well as some police officers. Sidebar: can you imagine being so absentminded that you need to set a phone reminder to make sure you remember to murder your target?! Anyway, the reason police were able to capture 31 year old Mathew Sterling was because he had told his plan to some chick on social media, who then tipped off the police. Anyway, JDF continued with the convention as if nothing had happened, claiming that he wasn’t going to let fear govern his life. Meanwhile, the convention cracked down on prop weapons and banned them from the show. In fact, if you were getting your Saba or Dragon Dagger swords signed by JDF that weekend, he was posting on social media that you would have to leave them in their boxes. This has caused other conventions to look at their own weapons policies, so look for some changes coming up on the con circuit.

Song of the Week

This week, I give you “You Look Good”, but Lady Antebellum. This is just such a funky song, and could’ve been a contender for Song of the Summer had they waited a bit longer to release it. Anyway, it’s like the 2017 offspring of Santana and Rob Thomas’s “Smooth”. I really dig it, and I think you will, too.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Hailee Steinfeld is in talks to star in the Transformers spinoff, Bumblebee
  • After 14 years off the air, MTV is bringing back the MTV Beach House this summer
  • WGN America has canceled slavery drama Underground after 2 seasons
  • There are reports that Steven Spielberg is gearing up for an Animaniacs reboot
  • Fresh off the recently canceled Powerless, Vanessa Hudgens was announced as a judge on the upcoming season of So You Think You Can Dance
  • Scott Pelley is out as the anchor of CBS Evening News, and will return to 60 Minutes in a full-time capacity
  • A Sin City TV series is in the works
  • Universal is reportedly interested in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for the role of The Wolfman in their Dark Universe franchise
  • Speaking of Dark Universe, I called it last week: Warner Bros may sue Universal over the Dark Universe title. According to official documents, however, it appears Universal may have had the name first.
  • Charlie Heaton, of Stranger Things fame, is reportedly up for the role of Cannonball in the X-Men spinoff, New Mutants – which is now supposedly going to be a straight horror movie. Um, OK…
  • Speaking of New Mutants, Fox continues to mine Netflix shows, as 13 Reasons Why‘s Henry Zaga has been cast as Sunspot
  • Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor have split after 18 years together
  • The Ludacris-hosted Fear Factor reboot premiered on MTV this week
  • Tiger Woods was arrested for a DUI, even though he had no alcohol in his system and was found passed out in his car. He says it was the result of mixing prescription drugs, but the whole thing sound fishy

  • Sharknado 5: Global Swarming will premiere August 6th on SyFy, guest starring Charo, Fabio, Tony Hawk, and Chris Kattan. This thing is one Ted Lange appearance away from becoming a Love Boat reboot
  • Thanks to an article on Slate, we now know to pronounce the “T” in Gal Gadot’s name.

I had absolutely no desire to see Wonder Woman. While she was my favorite part of of Dawn of Justice, I just wasn’t jazzed about the idea of her starring in a World War I period piece. I mean, we already got that movie, and it was called Captain America: The First Avenger (before you history buffs come out of the woodworks, I know that movie was set in WWII: War Harder). I wasn’t looking forward to DC’s lackluster attempt at a retread of that. So, imagine my surprise when I found myself in the theater on opening night. And then imagine my surprise when the movie ended, and I realized that I LOVED it!

It might be premature to say that Warner Bros has finally righted the DCEU ship, but Wonder Woman is definitely a step in the right direction. My buddy Chad predicted that it would be the new gold standard in comic book movies, and while I don’t think it quite achieves that, it’s definitely the gold standard for the DC Universe. It’s one of the rare comic book movies where I left and didn’t really have any issues with plot holes. It was such a joy to watch, thanks to the acting of Gal Gadot. First of all, she’s so goddamn beautiful that it should be illegal for the camera to be trained on her for prolonged periods of time. Seriously, I thought I was gonna have a seizure like those kids did from that Pokémon episode back in ’99. She does such a great job playing  up Wonder Woman’s sweet naiveté about “Man’s World”, but is also a commanding presence during the battles. It’s funny how when she was cast, we were all saying “She’s too small to be Wonder Woman”, but watching her onscreen, all those doubts slip away.

Now, as much as I loved it, it’s not a perfect film. It deftly straddles the line between “suspension of disbelief” and just plain hokey, but it sort of feels like a 90s comic book movie in that way. And while Patty Jenkins may have directed it, Zack Snyder’s fingerprints are ALL OVER IT (as he co-wrote it with Allan Heinberg). I swear, I think about 60% of it was pure green screen, as I sat there thinking to myself, “This is on a soundstage. That is on a soundstage. Oh, that’s definitely a sound stage.” At points (especially during the final act), it shifts into that “Snydervision” that most of the DCEU movies are in, where it just becomes a copper-tinted music video.

Plus, I’m still not sure about the shared universe nature of the DCEU. While Marvel has almost flawlessly built their world over the course of many films, it just feels so forced with the DC movies. Whereas the MCU feels organic, the DCEU feels copycat. The framing device of the movie is meant to sort of further that idea of a shared universe, but I’m not sure it works. To be honest, I’d probably enjoy it more if I knew nothing about Dawn of Justice or the fact that she’ll pop up in Justice League later this year. She’s strong enough to stand on her own, and the rest of the disappointing DCEU almost taints her.

All that said, it’s really a great cinematic debut for the character, and young girls finally have their own big screen hero. Not to give too much away, but as the film starts, Diana is a wide-eyed little girl, and I could see so much of the audience connecting with that. I thought of my own daughter, and the fact the she now has her own hero. I think that will mean a lot to folks. As far as I’m concerned, scrap Justice League and the rest of the solo films on DC’s slate, and rush Wonder Woman 2 into production stat! For these reasons, Wonder Woman had the West Week Ever.

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