26th May2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 5/26/17

by Will

Here we are, on the verge of a 3-day weekend, which means nobody’s gonna read this thing. Still, “the show must go on”…

Well, the week was filled with spider news, as last Friday Sony announced that Tom Hardy will star in a Venom film. If you’re not “in the know”, Venom is a Spider-Man villain comprised of an alien symbiote suit and Peter Parker’s professional rival, Eddie Brock. Sadly, the film’s not meant to cross over with Spider-Man: Homecoming or any bit of Tom Holland’s portrayal. I’m starting to think Sony’s deal with Marvel Studios is actually a bad thing, as it seems like Spidey’s addition to the MCU is to the detriment of his expanded universe to which Sony still owns the rights. I don’t really care about a Venom without a Spider-Man. To add to that, yesterday, Sony announced a film starring Spider-Man supporting cast members Silver Sable and Black Cat, to be directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball). I really don’t think there’s much to say about these characters without the possibility of a Spider-Man cameo. I get where Sony’s coming from; they have all these characters, so they might as well do something with them. That said, earlier talks made it sound like they were building their own Spider-Man-centric film universe, but since the MCU deal went through, Spider-Man no longer seems to be part of the equation.

Meanwhile, the Licensing Expo was this week, and we got our first look at the poster for the animated Spider-Man movie, starring Miles Morales. Apparently it was created by a child. Maybe a Make-A-Wish kid? Seriously, that thing is terrible.

It wasn’t all bad Spider News, however, as we got the third trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming. They’re basically giving away the movie at this point, but I’m still a guaranteed butt in a seat. A lot of people are having issues with it, but I kinda like that this is basically Iron Man 4. I really didn’t need a new Spider-Man, so throwing Tony Stark in there is a good way to get me interested. I mean, I liked Tobey Maguire. I liked Andrew Garfield. I’m sure I’ll like Holland, but I’m kinda tired of the Spider-Man revolving door. Now that he’s tied into the MCU, I hope the Holland casting sticks. Then again, we’ve had three Hulks already, so…

This poster, however, is horrendous, but endearingly so. I mean, it’s really bad Photoshop, but I still kinda like it. It’s busier than Times Square at rush hour, but I love it in all its ugliness. It looks like it should be airbrushed on a denim jacket at the mall.

Across the aisle, things aren’t going so well for the DC movie slate, either. First up, Doug Liman has dropped out of directing the Justice League Dark film due to his commitment to Lionsgate’s adaptation of the young adult series Chaos Walking. In case you didn’t know, Justice League Dark would focus on the more mystical DC Comics characters, like John Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman and others, battling supernatural threats – ya know, like the kind the Suicide Squad had no business fighting. I’ve got no interest in this, but that’s ’cause I don’t really like magic. If they manage to get Swamp Thing into the movie, though, I think it’ll increase its appeal. Right now, though, they’re just a bunch of magical nobodies coasting on the Justice League name which might not even hold any power if that movie fails this Fall.

In sadder news, Zack Snyder bowed out of Justice League post-production work to spend time with his family as they grieve the loss of his daughter, Autumn, to suicide. It was revealed that Joss Whedon was brought in to finish the film, which now has fans cautiously optimistic. Just last week, there were reports that there had been so many reshoots that the film was basically a different movie from what was originally shot. It’s possible, however, that these reshoots were part of Whedon’s plan. It’s really unfortunate what the Snyder family is going through, and it’s deplorable that some folks are making jokes about the situation.

In other movie news, it was revealed that Tom Cruise’s upcoming film, The Mummy, will kick off a Universal Monsters cinematic universe called Dark Universe. I bet they stayed up real late to think of that one! Anyway, Russell Crowe will portray Dr. Jekyll (who also appears in The Mummy), Javier Bardem will play Frankenstein’s monster, and Johnny Depp will play The Invisible Man. The next film in the franchise will be The Bride of Frankenstein, to be released on Valentine’s Day of 2019. Ya know what’s funny? DC’s Justice League Dark film was also going to be called Dark Universe. Somebody’s gonna have to lawyer up!

In TV news, it was reported that Hamilton scribe and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, will voice Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera AKA Gizmoduck in the upcoming DuckTales reboot. Cabrera? Really? He’s even brown now to go along with the name change. I know some folks are gonna have an issue with this. Hell, I even kinda have an issue with it. But if they’re gonna inject some diversity into Duckburg, I guess I’d rather them do this than, say, Launchpad McQuack-Jenkins.

While we knew that Bobby Moynihan was leaving Saturday Night Live, just hours before the season finale it was revealed that Vanessa Bayer would also be leaving. Then, Monday morning, it was reported that Sasheer Zamata would also be leaving the show. I’m really gonna miss Vanessa, as she definitely grew on me. Her characters have this adorable aloofness to them that I’ve come to enjoy. She’s got a big future playing the best friend in romantic comedies ahead of her. Sasheer was simply underutilized. She was always in the background of sketches, or only had a line or two. I hear that she really shined in the writers room, coming up with sketches like Black Jeopardy. I feel like SNL will merely be a footnote on her resume, as she goes on to bigger things, like Noël Wells and Jenny Slate.

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining some of my favorite people on the Nerd Lunch podcast, where discussed some of the greatest pop culture deaths. Nobody was safe, from Santa Claus to Michael Knight! And I finally got to join my pal Vincent (@RobotsPJs) on a podcast, which has been years in the making. We had a great time, and I think you’ll have a great time listening to it, so check it out!

Song of the Week

This week, I’ve got “It Ain’t My Fault”, by Brothers Osborne. Not only are they local boys, but I love the fact that this song/video has layers. Read the title and then watch the video. They’re trying to tell us something – the same kind of thing that sank the Dixie Chicks all those years ago. My how times have changed!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Fresh off playing nurse Claire Temple in the Marvel Netflix shows, Rosario Dawson is in talks to play Dr. Cecilia Reyes in the X-Men spinoff film New Mutants. Just go to medical school already, Rosario!
  • Twin Peaks made its triumphant return for those of you who are fans. Based on the ratings, that’s not many of you…
  • The Get Down was canceled by Netflix after one season.
  • Chicago Justice was canceled by NBC after one season.
  • The Ben 10 reboot was renewed for a second season at Cartoon Network.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants was renewed for season 12 at Nickelodeon, taking it through its 20th anniversary.
  • Trial & Error was renewed for a second season at NBC.
  • The Black-ish spinoff, College-ish, received a 13-episode order on Freeform.
  • TruTV’s Impractical Jokers will enter national weekday strip syndication this Fall.
  • The bodies haven’t even gone cold and they’re already announcing a reboot of the Resident Evil franchise, this time produced by James Wan (Saw).
  • Tom Holland has been cast as young Nathan Drake in the film adaptation of the Uncharted video game.
  • In the realm of musical sequels that no one asked for, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! will be released July 20th, 2018.
  • Elizabeth Banks is producing a Charlie’s Angels reboot, scheduled to be released June 7th, 2019.
  • Tom Cruise announced that a Top Gun sequel is planned to begin filming next year. Fat Val Kilmer is waiting by the phone.
  • TJ Miller is leaving HBO’s Silicon Valley at the end of the season.

  • Surprising no one who’s been paying attention, Power Rangers continues the trend of just adding “Super” to the title of its latest incarnation’s second season with Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel
  • The Boss Baby 2 is a-coming, March 26th, 2021.
  • Sophia Bush is leaving Chicago P.D. after last night’s season finale


In the UK, there’s an annual event called Red Nose Day, where they’ve been raising money to end child poverty for nearly 30 years. Launched by the nonprofit Comic Relief, the event has since raised over $1 billion globally. The event came to the US in 2015, where you can buy a red nose at Walgreens for a dollar, with the proceeds going to the charity. One of the co-founders of Comic Relief happens to be Richard Curtis – writer and director of one of my favorite movies, Love Actually. Now, a lot of people hate the film because it gave way to Garry Marshall imitations like Valentine’s Day and New Years Eve. You know, those schlocky romantic comedies with an ensemble cast where all the storylines converge at some point. I don’t care, ’cause I happened to like those movies, too, but I especially like Love Actually.

Well, to celebrate this year’s Red Nose Day, Curtis reunited most of the cast of Love Actually to give us a 15-minute sequel to the film, called Red Nose Day Actually. We get to catch up on the characters 13 years later, and I have to say that I was smiling the entire time. It was great seeing those characters again, from Bill Nighy’s Billy Mack to Hugh Grant’s Prime Minister. I could’ve done without Rowan Atkinson’s meticulous shopkeeper, but it was even sorta nice seeing him again, too. You feel old as shit, though, when you see little Sam, who’s now 26 years old. I think his segment made me the happiest of all. Or maybe it was seeing Jamie and Aurelia and their kids. Or maybe it was seeing Martine McCutcheon again (why doesn’t she get more work stateside?!). I don’t know. I loved the whole damn thing.

The special originally aired in the UK in March for their Red Nose Day, but they’ve gone to great pains to keep it off the internet. Yesterday was the US’s Red Nose Day, and a new version of the short aired last night on NBC. Ya know, they should really have everyone celebrate on the same day worldwide, but what do I know? Anyway, I actually missed the NBC version because of things, but I was intrepid enough to find the UK version online. This morning, however, NBC posted it on their website so I was able to compare and contrast. The only real difference is that the UK version cut out the Laura Linney update, with Patrick Dempsey as her husband. It was a nice aside, but I guess British audiences don’t know who Dempsey is, so they didn’t miss out on much. Anyway, I wish more movies would give us short reunion updates, maybe on anniversary edition Blu Rays or something. It was nice to get just a taste of what everyone’s been up to, without them being burdened by a full film that would be more than likely fall short of the original. If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go watch this thing a few more times, but it’s safe to say that Red Nose Day Actually had the West Week Ever.

19th May2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 5/19/17 (Upfronts Edition)

by Will

 

Since this is my 4th annual network TV upfronts recap, we’re doing things a bit differently this week. So, sit back and hunker down, as this is gonna be a long one!

First up, I joined my buddy @ClassickMateria for the Classick Team-Up! Podcast last week, and the episode is now available to download. We chatted about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, recent TV news, and everything else under the sun. Definitely check it out here!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Avi Kaplan quit the Grammy Award-winning a cappella group Pentatonix, because he missed his friends and family. I dunno about you, but I think that money could replace them!
  • Katy Perry has signed on as the first judge on ABC’s American Idol reboot, while there are reports that Idol finalist Chris Daughtry is in talks to join the show
  • The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons married his longtime partner, Todd Spiewak
  • The Flash cast member Keiynan Lonsdale came out as bisexual in an Instagram post
  • Hamilton‘s Daveed Diggs will star in TNT’s Snowpiercer pilot, based on the film, based on the French graphic novel
  • Conan O’Brien’s contract with TBS has been renewed through 2022, though no word on whether his show will switch to a weekly format as previously rumored.
  • DC stays losing, as actor Billy Crudup has left the Flash film, while it’s reported that Sam Raimi has turned down the director job
  • Power Rangers movie Black Ranger Ludi Lin has joined DC’s Aquaman film in the role of “Murk”, whoever that is…

  • Fox News personality, and former wife of California Lt Governor Gavin Newsom, Kimberly Guilfoyle has stated that she is currently being considered by the Trump Administration to replace Sean Spicer as White House Press Secretary. Gee, wonder what they see in her…
  • After 9 seasons, this weekend’s season finale will by Bobby Moynihan’s final episode of Saturday Night Live, as his series Me, Myself, and I was picked up at CBS.

  • LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 was announced, but it won’t be on the Xbox 360, so it means nothing to me
  • In the Live Stage Show on TV department, Fox announced that they will air A Christmas Story Live in December, followed by Rent Live later in the season. Meanwhile, ABC will air The Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live in October

I covered a ton of renewals and cancellations that went down last week, but this week was no different, as the networks had to lock in their schedules for the fall. Here’s what’s been canceled/renewed since the last time we talked:

Cancellations

  • Shots Fired (Fox)
  • 2 Broke Girls (CBS)
  • Baby Daddy (Freeform)
  • The Great Indoors (CBS)
  • Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (CBS)
  • Scream Queens (Fox)
  • The Odd Couple (CBS)
  • Training Day (CBS)
  • Ransom (CBS)

Renewals

  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)
  • Speechless (ABC)
  • Fresh Off The Boat (ABC)
  • The Son (AMC)
  • The Exorcist (?! – Fox)
  • Timeless (uncanceled by NBC)
  • Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
  • Elementary (CBS)
  • The Amazing Race (CBS)
  • Quantico (ABC)
  • New Girl (abbreviated 8-episode final season, with 3 year time jump – Fox)
  • Code Black (CBS)
  • Arrested Development (Netflix)

courtesy of TVLine.com

So, as I pointed out up top, this was Upfronts Week for the major networks, where they unveil their fall schedules to reporters and critics. I’ve got to say that this upcoming season does very little for me. While last year’s presentations had me excited, this year’s stuff just looks like retreads of ideas we’ve already had or obvious film scripts that have been adapted for television. That’s something that you’re going to notice a lot this year: shows that would probably make decent movies, but aren’t something you’d want to check in on a weekly basis. The week started with NBC’s presentation, so let’s start with their new shows:

NBC

NBC renewed a big chunk of their schedule, and they’re holding a lot of their new shows for midseason (for which they didn’t give us trailers!), so there’s not a lot of new for the Fall.

The Brave – Formerly known as For God and Country, The Brave follows a multicultural team doing what I call “soldier shit”. That’s not to minimize what soldiers do; it’s just that there are certain things, like rescuing hostages, killing terrorists, etc, that are pretty much taken care of mainly by soldiers. Ya know, soldier shit. There are a lot of soldier shit shows coming this season, and this is merely one of them. We’re not necessarily in the most patriotic place right now, so I don’t know how these shows will fair. The trailer gives away the whole pilot, so do with that what you will. There’s an audience for this show, but I’m not it. Airing Mondays at 10, it’ll have a great lead-in in the form of The Voice, and its main competition in the timeslot will be Scorpion on CBS. By all accounts, it should have a fighting chance, so it’s The Brave‘s game to lose.

Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders – I guess enough time has passed that this case is considered “sexy” now. Back in the early 90s, the Menendez Brothers killed their parents and it was a big deal. The brothers went to jail, where they started amassing groupies like they were in a boyband or something. I’m not even lying! Anyway, this is an anthology series, so it really doesn’t matter how it does. If it does well, we get another installment based on another real life crime. If it flops, then they can just act like it was a One & Done idea, and throw it out like all the other Law & Order spinoffs we’ve had over the years. It’s only 8 episodes long, and the timeslot goes to Chicago Med once it’s done. Anyway, it’s perched atop NBC’s newly rechristened Must See Thursday Night, with This Is Us as a lead-in, so they clearly expect big things from it. Its competition will be How To Get Away With Murder, which is by far the lowest rated of the ABC Shondaland dramas, and Shemar Moore’s S.W.A.T. over on CBS. I think it’ll do just fine.

Will & Grace – So, this show’s back. Yay? I really loved the show in its original run, but I didn’t need it back. And while I barely remember its series finale, I remember something about Will & Grace not having spoken to each other for 15 years. So, is that out the window now? Who cares, I guess. I mean, if they can bring Roseanne back with all its continuity issues (yeah, I’ll get to that), then they can pull this off. I just don’t really know what the endgame is here. I mean, besides the fact that we’re in the Trump Administration, has the world really changed that much to be reflected in this show? I mean, any rights Will or Jack were granted are basically about to be taken away any day now, but is the show even going to go there? I just don’t see the point of this one. But it’s only, like, 12 episodes and, like all of these revivals, they’ll play it coy on longevity until they see how the numbers look. It’s going up against Grey’s Anatomy, Gotham on its new night, Supernatural, and The Big Bang Theory. Now, from a socioeconomic demographic standpoint, W&G and TBBT are going after different audiences, but I feel like the W&G audience moved on to Grey’s. It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Let’s talk about some of NBC’s moves. Both Thursday night veterans Superstore and The Good Place are shifting to Tuesdays at 9 and 9:30. Now, they will have The Voice as a lead-in, but I feel like they should’ve stayed on Thursday if NBC really wanted to rebuild that night. I get that This Is Us is the breakout hit of the season, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to move it. It means it’s gonna be an uphill battle for NBC’s Tuesday comedies, as they’ll now be going up against Black-ish on its new night, as well as the Fox combo of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Mick. As far as Tuesday comedies go, somebody’s gonna have to flinch. The Fox shows don’t do all that well, but the NBC shows are kinda precious right now. They need to be nurtured, which is what leaving them on Thursday would’ve done. The Blacklist, meanwhile, moves to Wednesdays at 8, where it’ll go up against the moved Riverdale and Empire. I think they all have different audiences, though, so it shouldn’t take too much of a hit. Thursday got blown up, with Great News getting the post-Will & Grace slot mainly because Tina Fey. And This Is Us on its new night will now go up against Scandal *in its final season*. The balls on NBC! I get that it’s their chance to install a show that could take over Thursday once Scandal is done, but this is a risky move. Meanwhile, Blindspot and Taken are moving to Fridays where they’ll die because they’re both bubble shows that were narrowly renewed in the first place.

Fox

Next up, we’ve got Fox, where a WHOLE lot of shows are moving around. As for their new shows, they all look like interesting movies, but they just don’t grab me enough to want to be a regular viewer. Fox is really good about that. I remember loving Lethal Weapon this season, and then I didn’t watch a single episode after the pilot. I see a lot of that happening this season.

Ghosted – Wow, where to begin? Two regular guys are kidnapped and recruited by a top secret organization that investigates the supernatural. As for casting, you can’t really go wrong with Craig Robinson and Adam Scott. This show is basically Hot Tub Time Machine 3, with more of a supernatural twist. The problem, however, is that’s exactly what this should have been: a mid-budget theatrical release that later finds its audience when it airs monthly on FX. This isn’t a weekly series, regardless of the fact that Robinson and Scott have fanbases. It’s slotted between The Simpsons and Family Guy, which sounds like a good thing, but that’s where middling comedies go to die. This season alone, that slot killed Son of Zorn and Making History. Now, it doesn’t really fit anywhere else on Fox’s schedule, as its “out there” nature makes it more at home with the animation stuff than, say, with New Girl and The Mick. So, that rules out Tuesday nights, which is the only other place Fox does comedies. Another problem is that Fox Sunday night just hasn’t been strong since they abolished the Animation Domination block. The Simpsons is a decent performer, and they keep it around to break records, while Family Guy is a shell of its former self, yet they don’t want to be the network that canceled it TWICE. Last Man on Earth is constantly a show on the bubble. Sunday nights need a shot in the arm, but this isn’t the show to do it. I don’t see this one having legs.

The Gifted – This is the one everyone’s got their eyes on. A spinoff of the X-Men films, this show follows a family on the run when they discover that their kids are mutants. It doesn’t help that their dad is a former mutant hunter, so it’s his employers who are after them. I mean, it looks OK, but I didn’t wet my pants or anything. It’ll be really hard to do anything mind-blowing with a weekly TV budget, but the pilot was directed by Bryan Singer, so that’s gonna put butts in seats. Hell, if Gotham is going into season 4 (now on Thursdays at 8), I think this thing can survive. It’s probably pretty expensive, but Fox has been wanting to expand their comic offerings (after all, Black Lightning was originally meant for them), so this will be a good fit for the post Lucifer slot. Speaking of Lucifer, I never thought I’d see the day when a show about The Devil would air during the 8 PM hour (its new timeslot). I wonder how they feel about that in the Bible Belt. After all, I originally said they weren’t gonna let the show survive, and here it is entering season 3. I sure called that one wrong!

The Orville – I love the idea here, as it’s basically Galaxy Quest: The Series. I mean, it’s clear Seth MacFarlane has an affinity for Star Trek, even if he’s spent more time reenacting the Star Wars saga on Family Guy. I’d love for this show to work, but I’m sure it’s on the expensive side. Now, Seth’s got a relationship with Fox, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they canceled it. It looks like the kind of show Fox loves to cancel. Now, it’s going up against Scandal and This Is Us, but I don’t think they share an audience. However, Arrow has been moved to Thursdays at 9, which I feel is its closest competition, as far as the male 18-49 demographic is concerned. There’s no way it wins its timeslot, so the question is what will Fox consider a “success” as far as its ratings go?

So, Fox’s moves are interesting. Lethal Weapon moves to Tuesday at 8, where it’ll go against The Voice, NCIS, and The Flash. It won’t win the timeslot, but maybe it can take some of The Flash‘s audience away from it. The Mick nows leads into Brooklyn Nine-Nine, as it’s now the stronger comedy, while Nine-Nine narrowly got renewed. On Wednesday, they moved Empire to 8, hoping it’ll be a good lead-in for Star. I honestly don’t think Star is a winner, and I think the only reason it got renewed was because A) it was created by Lee Daniels and B) its initial run was too short for them to gauge whether or not it was a success. For people looking for a nighttime soap as sudsy as Empire, they’re probably gonna choose the Dynasty reboot over on The CW, airing at the same time as Star. Meanwhile, Gotham moves to Thursday at 8, where it’ll go against The Big Bang Theory and Grey’s Anatomy. I think its biggest threat, however, comes in the form of Supernatural, now at 8 over on The CW.

Fox’s midseason bench doesn’t look too strong. I’ll take a quick look at those shows:

LA To Vegas – It’s a show about the antics of a flight crew that handles the weekend LA to Vegas route. I don’t care who’s producing the thing, this is gonna be just another forgotten Fox sitcom.

The Resident – Another “young doctor doesn’t play by the rules” show. It’s got Emily VanCamp, so that’s a plus. It could work. It looks very “Fox”.

ABC

ABC didn’t really do anything too drastic, with only a couple of new shows and a few moves.

Ten Days In The Valley – Kyra Sedgwick plays a workaholic TV writer whose daughter goes missing. So, the show revolves around the hunt, and the fact that she can’t trust anyone around her, yadda yadda yadda. ABC probably feels like Sedgwick was quite the “get” after her critically acclaimed run on The Closer, but I just don’t know about this show. There’s nothing special about it. Sure, there will be twists and turns, but the fact that you can already predict those twists is what’s working against the show. Airing Sunday at 10, its only scripted competition, however, will be Madam Secretary over on CBS. I don’t think Madam is gonna destroy it, but I simply think this show is going to struggle to both find an audience and also keep that audience engaged. And what would a season 2 look like? I don’t think this is a winner.

The Good Doctor – Fresh off A&E’s Bates Motel, Freddie Highmore stars as a young surgeon with autism. It’s from the creator of House, so you kinda know what you’re gonna get there. Ya know, he’s a miracle doctor who doesn’t do shit by the book. I really like the cast, with Richard Schiff (The West Wing), Hill Harper (CSI: NY), and Antonia Thomas (Misfits). I probably won’t watch it, but it could find an audience. The trick will be whether it genuinely portrays what it would be like to be an autistic surgeon. A lot of special interest groups will probably be keeping a close eye on this one, and I think a lot of people will be talking about it. Scheduled Monday at 10, its main competition is Scorpion and The Brave. I think it’ll do fine.

The Mayor – A young rapper decides to run for mayor in order to get attention on his mixtape. Then he wins, and has to figure out how to actually be mayor. This sounds terrible. This is the kind of thing that would’ve gone straight to DVD starring fat Anthony Anderson back in 2001. I think the network was just desperate to get into bed with Daveed Diggs because of his Hamilton pedigree. While it will have Black-ish as its lead-in, it’s slotted where Imaginary Mary and The Real O’Neals went to die. Just like Tuesday 10 PM is the Death Slot, 9:30 isn’t much better. This thing simply doesn’t have legs. I just hope it lasts long enough for the rapper and Lea Michele to become a couple.

The Gospel of Kevin – This looks like a reboot of Highway to Heaven. Jason Ritter plays Kevin Finn, who supposedly “isn’t a good guy”, even though the trailer doesn’t elaborate on why someone would think that. Anyway, one night he discovers a meteor, which actually contains an angel, played by comedian Cristela Alonzo. She’s gonna be his spirit guide, as he travels to country to gain his powers and change the lives of others. Yeah, it’s in the Tuesday Night Death slot, so that’s certainly a strike against it. Typically, new shows in the Tuesday 10 PM slot fail for ABC. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. only survived because it was a veteran, and even it got banished to Friday. Nothing can survive at in that slot, for whatever reason, and I don’t see Kevin bucking that trend. This thing is simply too high concept, and I’m not sure America’s ready for another angel show right now. This one doesn’t have a prayer.

Let’s talk about ABC’s moves. Shark Tank moves to Sundays at 9. I don’t know about that one. I know they’re rebranding Friday nights, but now it’ll be going up against football and NCIS: LA. I think this is only temporary, as it’ll eventually find a new home on the schedule – perhaps Tuesdays at 10? One that’s kinda controversial in my mind is the Minority Block they’ve created on Tuesday night. Things kick off with the struggling Hecks of The Middle, who’re then followed up by the Asians of Fresh Off The Boat, and the Blacks of Black-ish and The Mayor. I haven’t seen something this calculated since the days of UPN. Still, I guess we should just shut up and be glad for the representation. It’s weird because ABC’s Wednesday night is their comedy crown jewel, though they’re clearly trying to take back Tuesday. It’s just a question now of how they’re branding those nights. I get that they don’t want to move Modern Family, but Black-ish benefited from the 9:30 Wednesday timeslot because, even though they were different races, the Dunphys and the Johnsons occupied the same socioeconomic class. That’s got to translate into some sort of data for ad buyers. I guess you could say Black-ish “graduated” if they feel it can survive without Modern Family protecting it, but I hate that its old timeslot was given to American Housewife, which I’m kinda surprised was renewed. On Friday, Once Upon A Time moves from Sunday, while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will take over the 9 PM slot once Inhumans ends its run. A lot of folks feel like this is the death knell for both shows, since a move to Friday is always seen as a death sentence. I’ve never understood that, though, because if nerds truly have no lives, then shouldn’t they be home to watch these shows? Anyway, these shows are still on the air because they perform well on DVR/internationally, so their ratings clearly aren’t the only deciding factor.

Oddly enough, ABC’s most interesting new shows are being held for midseason. Since they won’t show up until January, I’m only gonna do some quick drive-by thoughts on them:

Alex, Inc – Zach Braff quits his successful job to start a podcast company. This is gonna look so dated when we look back on it, kinda like Selfie (remember that show?). It’s apparently going into the Sunday at 10 slot, so I guess Ten Days In The Valley will have wrapped by then. CBS will still probably have Madam Secretary, but Sunday Night Football will be over, so it’ll be interesting to see what NBC puts against it.

The Crossing – Steve Zahn is a small town cop who gets pulled into a mystery when a bunch of refugees from the future (!) wash up on his beach. I know I said I don’t like saga shows, but I really liked this trailer, and I can’t wait to see what this show is all about.

Deception – a cool as shit illusionist helps the FBI solve crimes. It’s SUCH a procedural, and there’s the whole will they/won’t they trope between him and the lady agent, but I don’t care. It looks so slick! I can’t wait.

For the People – A new Shondaland show about young sexy lawyers doing young sexy lawyer shit. It’ll be right at home in TGIT, especially once Scandal ends and frees up a slot.

Splitting Up Together – This is a movie, not a show! It’s good to see Jenna Fischer again, and I’ve loved Oliver Hudson since Rules of Engagement. It’s basically about a married couple trying to manage a “conscious uncoupling” while keeping their sanity. And there’s the slight hint that they may realize new things about each other and want to stay together. I have no idea how this is gonna go, but I’ll check it out.

Let’s revisit that Tuesday night situation, though, shall we? I feel like Black-ish is only keeping that slot warm for Roseanne‘s 8-episode run that debuts in 2018. They wouldn’t use it to kick off the night, as Roseanne‘s blue collar humor doesn’t necessarily translate at that hour, and I hardly see them bumping Modern Family on Wednesday night. So, I could see Roseanne returning to her Tuesday 9 PM roost of yesteryear. By this point, of course, The Mayor will already have been canceled, but Roseanne pairs better with The Middle than with Black-ish. I see a lot of comedy moves coming midseason for ABC.

CBS

CBS is “America’s Most Watched Network”, so they’re not making too many moves. Let’s take a look at their new shows.

Wisdom of the Crowd – Jeremy Piven, with a fresh set of hair plugs, stars as a software developer who creates a crowdsourcing app to help solve the murder of his daughter. Sounds a lot like Person of Interest, right? I mean, didn’t they have a machine that predicted crimes or some shit? I dunno. I never watched it. I just know it starred Jesus after he couldn’t get any work anywhere. Anyway, you should really watch this trailer because it contains stuff that is totally possible, and I’m not sure that’s such a good thing. It’s probably where society is heading, but the idea of crowdsourcing evidence to solve crimes just sounds like there are SO many things that could go wrong. As you see in the trailer, they’re gonna play the long game with the case surrounding Piven’s daughter, as that takes a backseat to the app being used to help the cops solve other crimes. CBS audiences are older and not very tech savvy. They don’t like when their shows get too “techy”. Sure, Person of Interest lasted 5 seasons, but take a look at Pure Genius from just this season. It was about a young tech billionaire who was gonna use cutting edge technology to cure all the world’s diseases. It was canceled after its initial 13 episode order. I know Piven can be polarizing, so I just don’t know about this one. Luckily, it’s scheduled Sunday at 8, with no scripted competition other than The Simpsons, so it should have room to breathe.

9JKL – HATE the title. It sounds like text speak or some shit. Instead, it’s about 3 apartments. Recently divorced actor Mark Feuerstein moves into apartment 9K, which happens to be between his parents, Elliot Gould and Linda Lavin, in 9J and his brother and his family in 9L. So, it’s a multigenerational, multi camera sitcom, starring a bunch of folks who tend to star in shows that are canceled. Again, I think the title hurts it, but it’s the kind of show that CBS could take or leave. The Big Bang lead-in should definitely help it, but the true test will be when Bang moves back to Thursday. I don’t think it’ll be a breakout hit, as it’s not exactly reinventing the wheel, but it might end up on the bubble and eke out a second season if CBS doesn’t have a deep bench next pilot season.

Me, Myself, and I – Oh, boy. Where to start with this? OK, we follow the main character at 3 different points in his life: age 14, when he meets the love of his life, age 40, when he’s newly divorced and trying to put his life back together, and age 65 when he’s reunited with the love from age 14. This show is doing A LOT! The casting is what makes it, though. The kid is a newcomer, but I think audiences will take to him like they did Sean Giambrone as Adam Goldberg. The 40 year old is a hapless loser, played capably by SNL‘s Bobby Moynihan. Meanwhile, the 65 year old is played by Night Court great John Larroquette. Oh, and Jaleel White must’ve spent all his Urkel money, ’cause he plays the 40 year old’s best friend. For me, the casting is what sells this show. I really want it to succeed ’cause I like everyone involved. It’s just going to be tricky to navigate 3 different time periods, and is there some sort of master 7-season plan where everything converges? I’m really pulling for this one, but its quirkiness asks a lot of its audience – especially since it’s going to dance around CBS’s Monday schedule for the first few months.

SEAL Team – More soldier shit, and this time the team is led by the sidekick from Bones, while taking assignments from Don Draper’s “third” wife. It’s the familiar trope of “They do such terrible shit out there that it’s hard for them to adjust to civilian life when they’re home.” Out of the three soldier shit series debuting this season, however, I think this one has the best chance of renewal based on the fact that it appeals to the NCIS/CSI sensibilities of CBS’s built-in audience. Fun fact: the lead role was originally going to Jesus himself, Jim Caviezel, but was recast when Caviezel left the project over creative differences. He might’ve brought the Person of Interest audience with him, but seeing as how Bones ran for 12 years (and don’t forget Angel), Boreanaz probably has a deeper fanbase.

Young Sheldon – This is such an interesting experiment: a single camera prequel to an aging multi camera sitcom. I know CBS wants to keep The Big Bang Theory machine chugging along, especially considering it’ll most likely be done in two years. I just always felt like a Sheldon was a Less Is More kind of character. I don’t need to know about his childhood because I get enough of a glimpse from his anecdotes. I feel like the audience that enjoys him actually enjoys Jim Parsons’s portrayal of him, rather than the character himself. On his own, Sheldon is kinda unlikeable, due to his lack of social skills and decorum. Since he’s on the spectrum, however, that’s all forgiven. Now, I think Iain Armitage does a pretty capable job of being a young Sheldon, but he’s also very off-putting to the viewer. I’m not sure anyone is going to root for him. Instead, you kinda feel sorry for the people in his orbit: his family, his teachers, etc. They simply live in a different world than he does. I will say that Zoe Perry does an amazing job portraying a younger version of Sheldon’s mom, played by her real-life mom, Laurie Metcalf. One of the biggest complaints about The Big Bang Theory is that its humor kinda appeals to the lowest common denominator. It might be a show about smart people, but it’s not necessarily a smart show. That said, the single camera format tends to be used for smart shows, i.e. Modern Family, Arrested Development, etc. Will the traditional TBBT audience migrate over to this new show and format? I’ll be very interested to see how this does.

S.W.A.T. – Ah, the show based on the movie based on the show. I wasn’t sure about this at first. I honestly didn’t see Shemar Moore as a leading man. I mean, he couldn’t even carry Soul Train back in the day, so how could he headline his own series? Anyway, the captain from Stargate Universe shoots a kid, and gets fired (can you believe that justice?!), so his S.W.A.T. unit is handed over to Shemar Moore. Now Moore’s forced to police the inner city neighborhood in which he grew up. There’s gonna be a lot of Black Lives Matter vs Blue Lives Matter stuff going on here. What happens where you’re both? The show is executive produced by Justin Lin (Star Trek Beyond, Fast & Furious 6), but something about this feels like a late 90s NBC show instead of a 2017 CBS series. The same way we may not be patriotic enough for soldier shit shows right now, I’m not sure this is the show that’s gonna redeem cops in a lot of folks’ eyes. It kinda fits CBS’s demographic, but they don’t do so well with the TV shows based on movies (Training Day, Rush Hour). It’s going against How To Get Away With Murder, which is the lowest rated of the Shondaland dramas, but it’s also going against NBC’s Law & Order Menendez spinoff. Even with limited competition, I don’t think this one gets a second season.

And while this isn’t going on the main network, it’s still a CBS show. Star Trek: Discovery. All I can say is “NO!” “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!” I don’t know what I wanted, but this wasn’t it. I know some folks are so desperate for new Trek, but I want it to make sense, and I want it to be good. I knew a prequel was the wrong move because technology has come so far, so you can’t help but make it look better than The Original Series, though it should look less advanced due to when it’s set. A lot of people are gonna “cape” for it because it has a strong, Black woman as the protagonist, but those people can’t see the forest for the trees. Everything about this looks wrong to me. It’s funny that so many of us were wondering how we were gonna pirate this show, but after seeing this, I have no interest. It looks like a well-made fan film. Pass.

Looking at CBS’s moves, they really played it safe. On Sunday, NCIS: Los Angeles and Madam Secretary both move back an hour, filling the slot left by Elementary (coming back midseason), and making room for Wisdom of the Crowd. At this point, CBS is the only network with scripted drama on Sunday night, so I think they’ll do fine. Monday is in constant flux, depending on whether or not its football season. When the season starts, The Big Bang Theory will kick off the night, before it eventually moves back to Thursday, ceding its timeslot to Kevin Can Wait (which will start the season at 9 PM prior to the move). Once football ends, Superior Donuts will return to take the 9:30 slot occupied by new comedy Me, Myself, and I (which will shift to 9 PM). Whew! See, that’s CBS’s big problem: they move their “iffy” shows around so much that they can’t find an audience. 2 Broke Girls was all over the schedule this season before it got the chop. Even if folks don’t watch TV live anymore, these moves make them forget a show even comes on anymore. On Wednesday, Criminal Minds shifts to 10 to make room for David Boreanaz’s Seal Team. Thursday and Friday remain pretty much the same. Like I said, other than the Monday kerfuffle, CBS played it pretty safe while introducing more new shows that the other networks.

The CW

Finally, we come to The CW where moves abound. First, however, let’s look at the new shows.

Valor – More soldier shit, only this time it’s with overacting pretty people and a dash of PTSD. It falls into the category of something I’d watch as a movie, but I just don’t like getting on board “saga” shows these days because they have so many layers, and run the risk of being canceled before answering all, or any, of their questions. If they’re smart, this is a one season storyline, and then they’ll have to reinvent the show for season 2. That said, from what I see, I don’t think they need to be rushing to figure out a second season quite yet. Airing Monday at 9, it’ll probably get trounced by The Gifted over on Fox, as they both seem to be male-skewing shows, and I see Fox winning this round. I also don’t feel like Supergirl is the proper lead-in series, but they seem committed to keeping her kicking off Monday nights.

Dynasty – I’m too young to have watched the original, but this reboot is The CW’s bread and butter. I don’t know if the characters or plot points are the same, but it’s rich, pretty White people doing trifling shit to each other. And it’s by the producers of The O.C. and Gossip Girl? Yeah, they’ll get a good 4-5 seasons out of this. This isn’t the first franchise The CW has resurrected, as they also did it with 90210 and Melrose Place. The latter didn’t go so well for them, but the former was a reliable staple of their schedule for 5 seasons. I can definitely see the same here.

Black Lightning – It looks like your standard Berlantiverse show, even if it takes place in its own universe. The question is whether or not “The Community” is going to support it. People always plead for diversity, but then they don’t show up when it’s time. If you put out a Black Lightning comic right now, it would not sell. It just wouldn’t. So, will White audiences want to watch a show about a Black inner city vigilante trying to clean up the streets – especially when there’s no lure of a crossover with the shows they already love? It’s being held for midseason, so maybe it’ll take over Legends of Tomorrow‘s timeslot once it airs its unusual number of episodes (seriously, they have, like 16-episode seasons over there for whatever reason). Here’s the kicker, though: according to the network, the show won’t take place in the established Arrowverse, mainly due to logistics. It will be filmed in Atlanta, while the other shows film in Vancouver. As such, they’re also not planning a 5-way crossover between the shows. That last part makes me kinda glad, as I didn’t really think they tuck the landing with this season’s 4-way “Invasion” crossover. People might come out for this, but they might not. I really don’t know which way the wind blows with this one.

Life Sentence – This is a movie, not a TV series. A young girl who thought she was dying finds out she’s cured and now has to learn how to live her life. I’d like it to survive, as it’s co-executive-produced by Bill Lawrence of Scrubs fame, but this has as much staying power as this season’s No Tomorrow. Oh, you never even heard of No Tomorrow? It was about a young woman who thinks the world is going to end, so she has to learn to live life to its fullest in the time that she has left. Yeah, kind of the reverse of this. It got canceled after its initial 13 episodes. Anyway, it’s cute and quirky, but I figure there’s enough there for about 90 minutes – not a full season. Anyway, it’s pretty clear why they’re holding this lil midseason.

Now, let’s talk about the moves because they are drastic. Riverdale moves from Thursday to Wednesday at 8, pitting it against Empire, The Blacklist, Survivor, and The Goldbergs. The show has a following, though, so I really don’t think this move will hurt it too much. If anything, it’ll give White folks a sudsy alternative to Empire at the same time. On Thursday, Supernatural moves to 8, while Arrow, ceding its timeslot to Riverdale, now occupies Thursday at 9 – pitting it against This Is Us, The Orville, and the final season of Scandal. Poor fucking Arrow. That is not an enviable place to be, but DVR might help it. If it gets absolutely killed, six seasons was a good run. I think it’ll make it to seven, but this move does it absolutely no favors. On Friday, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend moves to 8, while Jane the Virgin moves from Monday at 9 to Friday at 9. Online buzz is what keeps Crazy on the air, so maybe they’re hoping that’ll be the case for Jane? I know Jane has a fanbase, and Supergirl wasn’t the most logical lead-in for it, but Friday is always such an uncomfortable situation.

Anyway, after all of this, I think ABC has the best new offerings, though they’re holding most of them til midseason. I feel like NBC has the most stable schedule, and they’re taking the fewest risks, but CBS has more new Fall shows that I’m genuinely curious about. So that’s why CBS won the upfronts and had the West Week Ever.

21st Apr2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/21/17

by Will


Star Wars Celebration (I can’t say that without thinking of Dave Chappelle’s Rick James yelling “It’s a celebration, bitches!”) happened in Florida last weekend, and we got our first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Folks seemed to like it alright. I’ve never claimed to be the biggest Star Wars fan, but nothing about this really gave me a Force Boner or anything. That’s probably because Rogue One left such a bad taste in my mouth. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll see it, but it’s not really on my radar.

In other movie “news”, we got the track listing for Awesome Mix Vol 2 from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2., which comes out today. Is it just me, or is it weird that Mama Quill gave Peter mixtapes of all the songs that played while she was banging dudes in Camaros? Come on – she was totally that chick! Anyway, there are no real surprises here, as it seems to be in-line thematically with the first volume. Personally, I’m ecstatic that “Come A Little Bit Closer” will be introduced to a new generation, as I’m a huge fan of Jay and the Americans (check out “Cara Mia” if you’ve never heard it).

This rumor came out a few weeks ago, but it kinda floated under my radar: apparently Warner Bros wants to release 4 Batman-centered films in 2019 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Detective Comics. This slate would include Nightwing, Gotham City Sirens, the Joss Whedon Batgirl, and the oft-delayed The Batman. Nice idea, but there’s no way this happens. DC just doesn’t have its shit together enough to pull this off. Marvel could do it, but they would’ve been planning it since 2012. It’s already 2017 and they expect to crank out 4 movies in 2 years? Shit ain’t happening.

Bring on the teen angst train, as we’ve got two more comic-based series just dripping with it! First up is Cloak and Dagger on Freeform, which looks like the Freeformiest show that ever Freeformed. It’ll be right at home between the show about the deaf girl and the show about the foster kids. I’ve never been a huge Cloak and Dagger fan, but the series follows teen runaways Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson, who were kidnapped and injected with an experimental drug. The drug left Tandy (Dagger) with “light daggers”, while Tyrone (Cloak) has a mystical cloak that transports people and things to a dark dimension. Oh, and there’s that sweet, sweet interracial love/Jungle Fever aspect to things. Based on the trailer, it’s gonna focus more on the love thing than the power thing, which is understandable since powers are expensive on a weekly TV budget. I haven’t heard if this is actually considered part of the MCU, but it’s nice to see the Roxxon sign at the end, so there are clear ties to the universe itself.

The angst doesn’t end there, though, kids! We also got a trailer for Syfy’s Krypton series (which has since been yanked down) – ya know, the one that nobody asked for. It’s hard for me to get excited about Krypton when very little about that planet has ever seemed appealing. It’s most recently been painted as a cold, stoic, science-based society. And since they don’t have our sun, it means they’re powerless. Here’s what I don’t get about the trailer: the show takes place approximately 200 years prior to Man of Steel (I guess making it the first series to be an official part of the DCEU), but the monologue is of Kal El’s grandfather leaving a message for him. Um, how does he KNOW his grandson’s name is Kal El if he hasn’t been born yet? Anyway, it’s about Grandpa El, who happens to be a sexy, CW-ish twenty something, trying to restore honor to the disgraced House of El. The effects look nice (AKA expensive), but nothing about this show makes me want to see it.

There’s some laughter coming from a different comic-based series, however, in the form of Freeform’s New Warriors. I mentioned it a few weeks ago, but it’s been confirmed that Kevin Biegel of Enlisted/Cougar Town will be the showrunner, and we got a confirmation of the roster. Led by Squirrel Girl (who has never been a New Warrior in the comics, but I won’t harp on that), the team is comprised of Speedball, Night Thrasher, Microbe, Mister Immortal, and Debrii. I’m familiar with career Warriors Speedball and Night Thrasher, but I don’t know anything about the others. Considering Mr. Immortal and Squirrel Girl are Great Lakes Avengers characters, this is something of a hybrid team.

I’m the furthest thing from a foodie, but I love a good dairy-based gimmick drink, and this week featured TWO of them! First up, I’d read online that Burger King had been testing a Froot Loops Shake at certain East Coast locations, with plans to roll it out nationally today. Well, I traveled around until I found one that had it early (well, I didn’t travel too far – it was down the street from my apartment), as I had to see what the fuss was all about. I had heard it described as made from vanilla soft serve, with Froot Loops pieces, topped off with a sweet, syrupy drizzle. Sounds exotic, right? WRONG. Whoever thought of this probably got a bonus for the idea, but it lacks in the execution. It’s basically a vanilla shake with edible confetti in it. From Loops don’t really have a strong fruity flavor to them, so it’s not like it’s rubbing off into the soft serve. And when you do get some Froot Loop chunks through the straw, they just taste like flavorless corn cereal. I didn’t taste any kind of drizzle, and I kept waiting for the WOW to kick in. It never did. I drank this so that you don’t have to and, trust me, you really don’t have to.

Next up was the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino. I hadn’t even heard of the thing until Wednesday morning, when everyone and their mom was talking about it. Looking at it, I was reminded of the Birthday Cake Frappuccino that comes out in March (I remember this because it was out at the time Evie was born). I LIVED on those things for the two weeks or so that they were in stores, so I was expecting this to be more of the same. I wasn’t sure what flavor this one was supposed to be, but there were certainly visual similarities. Anyway, after dinner Wednesday night, I snuck off to the corner Starbucks to try it out. You’ve heard of a Butterface, right? Well, this is a Buttertaste. It looks cool and everything, but the taste…THE TASTE! Its marketing emphasizes that it magically changes flavors while you drink it, but I could never really nail down what those flavors were supposed to be. There was a pervasive muskiness to it, making me feel like I’d basically sucked off a real unicorn. Of course, that would be silly – everyone knows you’ve got to buy a unicorn dinner before it lets you do that! Then, near the end, the muskiness gives way to a hyper berry taste, reminiscent of the Blue Raspberry that candy scientists seemed to have discovered in 1992. At no point in the drink was it what I would call “enjoyable”, and even the whipped cream on top was disappointing. As far as I’m concerned, this drink can fuck off back to Narnia where it came from.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Bill O’Reilly was fired from Fox News following sexual harassment allegations. See, if he’d told Billy Bush he only grabbed ‘em by the pussy, he’d be President by now!
  • Nintendo officially ended production on the NES Classic, followed by rumors that an SNES Classic is coming later this year
  • Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck were announced as the directors for Captain Marvel. I’ve never seen anything they’ve done (Half Nelson, episodes of Billions, and The Affair), so I’ve got no real opinion right now
  • Speaking of Marvel films, Black Panther wrapped production this week, as Hollywood braces for the return of every living Black actor
  • Will Smith is in talks to take on the classic Robin Williams role of The Genie in Guy Ritchie’s live action Aladdin adaptation. Obviously, Jaden Smith will probably get the role of Aladdin.
  • Stranger Things co-star Shannon Purser came out as bisexual on Twitter. Well, she’s bisexual in real life. She just used Twitter to announce it.
  • Director James Gunn announced that Guardians of the Galaxy 3 would be the final iteration of this lineup of the team
  • Black-ish was sold into off-network syndication, launching in Fall 2018
  • Jane The Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez will voice Carmen Sandiego in a new animated series coming to Netflix
  • Steve Harvey will host a revival of Showtime At the Apollo for Fox
  • Fate of the Furious debuted to $532 million internationally, beating the record-setting $529 million earned by Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • With its original pilot rejected by Fox a few years ago, Joe Hill’s comic Locke & Key will have a new pilot filmed for Hulu
  • The X-Files has been renewed for a 10-episode 11th season. I couldn’t even make it through the last 6-episode batch they gave us, so I think this is a pass for me.

For the past 6 seasons, I have pretty much hate-watched HBO’s Girls. I hated Lena Dunham’s dumpy, Play-Doh body which was constantly on nude display. I hated all of her character Hannah’s “problems”. I hated her boyfriend Adam. I had convinced myself that I was really just watching, hoping that the characters would eventually be hit by a truck or something. Then, this season came along. Even through all my hate, I had to admit that this was a pretty strong season. From Hannah’s odd interaction with a bestselling author to Marnie finally realizing she sucks at life, there were some great episodes of television to be found in this season of the show. I was also forced to admit things about myself.

First off, I always knew I liked Shoshana because she had enough sense to know that she deserved better than the friends with which she’d found herself. And I definitely missed her once she decided to finally distance herself from them.  I also realized there was much more to the Ray character and, while they didn’t exactly put a bow on it, I’m glad they led us to believe that he had found a happy ending. Even a character as originally unlikable as Elijah had some strong development this season, and he was truly missed in the finale, even though this chapter of his story had come to a close. As I already admitted in my Get Out review, I had to come to terms with my crush on Allison Williams and, by extension, Marnie Michaels. Yeah, she sucked at life, but she seemed like the one out of the four who had Tony Starked her way into that situation; she was the cause of her own problems. Once she began to realize that, the character held more promise. And I realized I hated Jessa because she reminded me too much of girls I’d hooked up with in college: damaged, tattooed, pseudo-junkies who are lucky to still be alive. And I guess Hannah reminded me of girls I’d hooked up with post college. Yeah, I hated a lot about Girls because, I guess, I hated a lot about myself.

This Sunday saw the series finale of the show, and I wasn’t quite sure I was ready for it. After a season that had given us a pregnant Hannah, but also showcased the dissolution of the group’s friendship, I didn’t really know how they could “end” the story. I was further distraught when I read an article last week saying that Jessa and Shosh’s final appearances had been in the penultimate episode that had just aired. While I would miss them in the final half hour, I had to admit that their chapters had also come to a close.

When we get to the finale, there’s a five-month time jump, where Marnie and Hannah are living in a remote house upstate, raising Hannah’s baby, Grover. Yes, that’s what she named him. Anyway, it was 30 minutes about what it means to be happy, but also what it means to be an adult and a parent. I like to think that Hannah finally grew up once she realized that Grover wasn’t another problem that she could simply run away from. The entire episode, she’s freaking out because Grover won’t breastfeed, but in the final seconds he finally takes to her breast. The look on her face is a mix of relief and maturity. It was then that I realized the show had to end at that point, as Hannah was no longer a girl. The entire series had been about millennial drama, as they skirted adulthood, but those times were over. The title Girls no longer applied to Hannah because she was now a Woman, with all the responsibilities that entailed. I used to worry about Hannah, and I sure as Hell worried about Grover when we learned she was pregnant. After Sunday’s finale, though, I think they’re gonna be OK. It was a finale that I had to give some thought to, but it didn’t leave me unfulfilled like Don Draper creating a Coke jingle only to end up hocking tax prep software six months later. For this reason, Girls had the West Week Ever.

14th Apr2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/14/17

by Will

I was going to skip this week, with it being a holiday weekend and all, but then I realized that this would be the last post written from the WilliamBruceWest.com HQ of the past 6 years. So, simply to commemorate that, you get a quick post.

I didn’t watch any movies this week (dumb, since I need to clear off a 90% full DVR by Tuesday), but I did catch the HBO stand-up special Pete Holmes: Faces and Sounds. Holmes has recently become one of my favorites, as I’ve really been digging his HBO comedy Crashing, which seems to be loosely based on the early days of his stand-up career. He’s at a point now in his career where he seems to be a lot more comfortable onstage. And he cusses a lot more. Something about him reminds me of a modern-day John Ritter – it’s not the physical comedy, but it’s written all over his face. He genuinely just comes off like a good guy that you could have around your mom. I think that’s part of his appeal. Anyway, it’s a pretty good hour, so check it out if you’re looking for a new stand-up special to watch.

In movie news, Jonah Hex/Thanos will now be adding Cable to his resume. In a surprise casting move, Josh Brolin has been cast as the time-traveling hero in the Deadpool sequel. This, supposedly, won’t affect filming of Avengers: Infinity War because most of his work on that movie will be motion capture. Still, it’s odd to see another comic book movie actor jump across the studio aisle. We’ve seen two actors jump from Fox to the MCU (Chris Evans and Michael B. Jordan), but you never see them go the opposite direction. I guess he’ll do OK, but I was hoping for someone like Ron Perlman or Stephen Lang. Personally, I’d be more impressed if they’d cast his father, James Brolin.

I didn’t catch the Rick & Morty 3rd season premiere when it was posted online on April Fools Day, but luckily Adult Swim aired it every night last week. It was so good to have the show back, even though I’m not entirely sure I know what was going on. As some folks have said, I really wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that was justa “bonus”episode, and not the actual premiere. If it was real, it definitely set up an interesting new family dynamic. Of course all anyone can talk about, however, is the McDonald’s Mulan Sauce. Apparently, back when Mulan came out, McDonald’s had a special Szechuan sauce for their McNuggets. It was only for a limited time, as those things are wont to be, but now it’s been thrust back into the spotlight thanks to the episode. Fans of the show are trying to get McDonald’s to bring the sauce back, to coincide with the release of the upcoming live action Mulan film (despite the fact that Disney ended their relationship with McDonald’s a few years ago in an attempt to disassociate themselves with unhealthy eating). Already, though, I’ve seen some thinkpieces about how the sauce is cultural appropriation and all that so, basically, welcome to 2017.

In comics news, the X-Men were the source of controversy this week after the artist on X-Men Gold, Ardian Syaf, snuck some incendiary references into the background of his art in the first issue of the book. I don’t have a religious studies degree, so I can’t really get into the minutiae. Basically, though, he slipped in some references to the Qua’ran that are anti-Christian and anti-Jewish. Sure, he can have his beliefs and all, but you don’t sneak that stuff into a corporate comic book. Marvel said that he was going to be disciplined, and later in the week he was fired from the book. Syaf immediately went online and basically said “My career is over”. I kinda wanted to feel bad for him ‘cause he almost seemed suicidal, and I wasn’t sure he initially understood the magnitude of what he had done. In follow up interviews, however, he didn’t really seem to back down. As controversial as he might be right now, it’ll be a major PR opportunity when some publisher, like Dynamite Entertainment, eventually gives him work again.

On the music front, it’s no secret that I’m a huge boyband guy. That said, I never really got into One Direction. It’s not that I was old when they came out, but more of a case where they didn’t have any Max Martin songs. Coming from the late 90s/early 00s era, I feel like you HAVE to have Max Martin songs in order to have hits. I mean, they still had their share of earworms, like “That’s What Makes You Beautiful”, but I never glommed onto them that much. So, when they broke up to pursue solo careers, I wasn’t expecting much – which is why I was surprised to find that I really like “The Sign of the Times”, which is the debut single from Harry Styles. I had the thing looped all day last Friday and, while I’m not sure if it’s a “hit”, I’m really digging what’s going on here. I wonder how the 1D fans are gonna take it. I mean, they’ll eat it up because they love Harry, but it’s not like the 1D songs that they’re used to. You’d expect him to bust out of the gate with something bombastic, but instead he went with something chill and melodic. Anyway, I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the album when it hits on May 12th.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Grace and Frankie has been renewed by Netflix for a 4th season. And I think my wife is the only person I know who’s happy about that. Anyway, Lisa Kudrow is joining the cast.
  • Jude Law has been cast as young Dumbledore in the Fantastic Beasts sequel
  • There’s a Fear Factor reboot coming to MTV, which will be hosted by Ludacris

    • We got a new Justice League poster. Um, OK. I don’t want to hate the DCEU but they make it so easy
    • The Get Down’s Shameik Moore has been tapped to voice Miles Morales in the upcoming animated Spider-Man film
    • John Ridley produced Guerrilla, a miniseries about the Black Power movement, and included basically no Black women in it. Good luck with that, my dude.
    • TLC are back. Well, T and C; you’d need a necromancer to get L back. Anyway, the single “Way Back” debuted on radio this week. It’s nothing special, really.
    • Sam Elliott has signed on to star in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot, which is a Must See based on the title alone

    • This looks fun. Not “see it in a theater” fun, but fun nonetheless.
    • This Fall, NBC’s Dateline will become a weekday syndicated true crime series, which will probably end up replacing former correspondent Chris Hansen’s Crime Watch Daily. Coldblooded!


Thor: Ragnarok’s teaser trailer hit this week and it was amazing. Now, keep in mind that the Thor movies are lower on the MCU scale, so it’s not like it had to do much heavy lifting to blow our minds. We’re at a point where we just don’t expect that much from the Thor films. Still, it looks like Guardians of the Galaxy 1.5, and that’s exactly what people love about it. After the departure that was Thor: The Dark World, we’re back to a Thor tale that feels epic and world-spanning. And the Hulk cameo! Anyway, I could ramble about it, or you could just watch it for yourself. All I know is that the Thor: Ragnarok teaser trailer had the West Week Ever.

And if you’re jonesing to read some more, be sure to check out my comic post from this week: Comical Thoughts: The One Where Our Hero Read 30 Marvel Comics In One Night!

12th Apr2017

Comical Thoughts – The One Where Our Hero Read 30 Marvel Comics In One Night

by Will

So, a lot of people have thoughts on the recent remarks that Marvel Editor in Chief Axel Alonso made regarding diversity. Ultimately, he said that retailers and consumers didn’t seem to flock to the diversity push that Marvel was doing in their books. Fans came out in droves to dispute this, saying that there are other reasons that Marvel’s losing sales. Well, I’m not gonna contribute to that conversation – at least, not directly. You see, I’m about 6 months behind on Marvel books, so I’ve missed a lot of this diversity push. I mean, I go to the shop every Wednesday, and I’m buying a TON of books, but there are only so many hours in the week, so I just haven’t had the chance to read all of them. Oddly enough, I’m fairly current with a lot of the DC books I buy, mainly because they seemed to serve as better jumping-on points. I know everything happening in the Superman books and Teen Titans, but I only just read Civil War II, like, two weeks ago. Usually my Friday nights are consumed with me going on toy runs or napping, but the other day I said to myself, “Will, it’s time to read some Marvel.” I had a few thoughts on what I read, so I thought I’d share them here for anyone who’s curious.

First up, I read the full run of The Unbelievable Gwenpool to date. I read #1 when it came out, and then the book just went to the bottom of a large stack. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy that first issue. I mean, it’s written by Christopher Hastings of the hilarious The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, so I already knew that I loved his style. The Gwenpool concept, on the surface, just sounds like a cash grab. Creating a Deadpool series used to be the equivalent of printing money (not so much anymore, looking at the sales for Deadpool and the Mercs for Money). Meanwhile, everyone and their mom seemed to love the idea of Spider-Gwen when she spun out of Spider-Verse. So, it was natural to put peanut butter in your chocolate by mixing the two.

Gwen Poole actually hails from our world, where all of the Marvel characters are just characters in comics books. By some mysterious means, she transports herself into the Marvel Universe, with her wealth of comic knowledge at her disposal. So, she knows everyone’s identities, all their power sets, etc. This is similar to the Deadpool thing where he thinks of himself as a character in a comic book. Once she gets to the MU, she sets herself up as a mercenary even though she’s not necessarily good at killing. She has limited hand to hand skills, and she’s not a great shot. But she’s pretty good at blowing shit up, which is what she does. The funny thing, though, is that they’ve never really explained why she’s a killer. Maybe it’s because she knows none of it is “real”, so it doesn’t matter if she kills somebody or not. After all, they’re just fictional characters to her. Anyway, after a botched mission, she finds herself working for M.O.D.O.K (Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing) and his gang of mercenaries, which includes Captain America foe Batroc The Leaper.

Anyway, I LOVE THIS BOOK! I’m quick to talk about things I don’t like, so I have to give equal credit to the things that I do like. I love the Gwenpool character, who’s really just a perky teenage girl who likes blowing stuff up. It’s kind of refreshing to meet a female character with an encyclopedic knowledge of comic book trivia, and it’s cool to see how she employs that in her series. I’ve been a big fan of Dr McNinja for years, so I knew Hastings wouldn’t disappoint and he surely didn’t! It’s a fun comic that really gives credence to the slang term “funnybook”. If you’re looking for fun in your comic reading, then definitely check this out. The sales on it aren’t so hot, making it seem like she should’ve been left to do cameos for a while before getting her own series. That said, she’s had 13 issues by now which, sadly, is an achievement in today’s comic landscape. Don’t let them cancel my Gwenpool! Buy this book today!

Next up, I finished the whatever volume it is for Invincible Iron Man. Ya know, the Bendis one, but the one before Civil War II. This series was kind of a waste, as it went nowhere. I’m not sure if plans got derailed because of CWII or what, but it’s odd that so many issues were devoted to one story that just dead ends. Madame Masque is caught stealing items from various Stark facilities, and when Tony goes after her, he finds she’s being chased by a group of cyber ninjas. That’s pretty much it. In the end, he never finds her and never solves that mystery. They do introduce a new cyberhacker Inhuman, though. Yay. Meanwhile, there’s a B-story of Stark trying to convince Mary Jane Watson to be his assistant/life coach. I’ve had my issues with Bendis, but I’ve got to say that this is him at his worst. Sure, there’s snappy dialogue, but not much else.

So, knowing that I needed to plod through my Iron Man backlog, I begrudgingly jumped into International Iron Man. This series made up for everything that was wrong with Invincible Iron Man. My only quibble is that, at 7 issues, it should have been an arc in Invincible Iron Man instead of its own standalone series. In the previous Iron Man series (the one after Superior Iron Man, but before the Bendis Invincible Iron Man), Tony discovered that Howard and Maria Stark were not his birth parents. In this series, Tony sets out to find his real parents, interspersed with flashbacks to the story of his first love, Cassandra, who was the daughter of arms dealers who were also business rivals of his father. Cassandra was in Tony’s life around the time that Howard died, so he finds it odd that she resurfaces, now an arms dealer herself, at the same time he’s searching for his birth parents. He thinks she knows something, but she’s not talking. In the end, Tony finds his mom, Amanda Armstrong, who’s basically Annie Lenox. No, I swear Maleev used Lenox as the model for Armstrong. The last two issues tell the story of Tony’s parents’ love affair, and it’s some damn good writing. This is Bendis at his best. I want an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. arc of just this story (it’s good, but it’s not summer theatrical blockbuster good), but there’s no way they’d cover Stark stuff on TV. At the end, it says that the story will be continued in the next volume of Invincible Iron Man – ya know, the one starring Riri/Ironheart. So, I’m not quite sure how that’s gonna work. Is Amanda Armstrong going to be a supporting character in the book while her son spoiler alert is in a coma in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody? I haven’t read the Riri series yet (it’s in the pile), so don’t tell me what happens. Where Invincible left me disappointed, International proved to me that Bendis understands Tony Stark.

The interesting takeaway I had from the series, however, is that Tony Stark is a result of Nurture and not Nature. I mean, it was always assumed he was a genius because his father was a genius, and it was in his blood. Now that we know his real parents were just undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, it becomes clear that Tony was a product of his environment and upbringing, rather than possessing some inherited genius. I’m curious to see if they’ll do anything with that going forward. Ya know, when he “wakes up”.

Ya can’t love everything, though, and that’s where America comes in. I HATED that comic. I hate the character. I don’t really know where she came from, as I wasn’t reading Young Avengers at that point, but I find her obnoxious to no end. If you’re not familiar, Miss America, AKA America Chavez, is from another dimension where she had two moms who sacrificed themselves to save creation. She has the power to punch star-shaped portals between dimensions, and she’s strong, and fast, and can fly. Basically, she can do everything but project energy. Oh, and she’s a bad ass motherfucker. She can do ALL the things, and that’s kinda why I hate her. This is about to get dicey, so strap in. Ya see, a lot of people are going to say that I don’t like her just because she’s queer. There aren’t a lot of prominent queer characters in comics, so I understand her importance to representation. That said, she’s guilty of what I call the “Queer Eye-ification of Pop Culture”.

Let’s take a trip back to 2003, shall we? Bravo introduced the reality show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, where 5 queer men (don’t say “gay”, because a couple of them were bi) gave schlubs makeovers. Carson changed their clothes, Kyan changed their hair, Ted changed their food, Tom changed their furnishings, and Jay…well, Jay taught them how to open CDs. No, that really happed. The principal underlying theme, however, was basically “Look, queer people are better than you in every single way! They dress better, they cook better, they have better hair, and better décor. What’s wrong with you, straight people? Why do you suck so much?“ For a while, that approach kinda worked. The show was a hit. Then I think folks got tired of the formula. We got it. They were all great at shit, but they stopped being relatable. After all, they were experts, and not just regular guys.

That’s my problem with America. She’s too good. She does it all. What are her weaknesses, her faults, her fears? I didn’t get that from her. Instead, she seems to have this false bravado of being the baddest bitch on the block, and that just doesn’t appeal to me. Is that what queer readers want? Do they want a character who seems to suffer from doing-too-much-itis? Or do they want a relatable character, like a queer Peter Parker who’s an amazing hero, but still has everyday problems? As a cis, straight male, I can’t answer that. I know what I think I would want, and this ain’t it. The market will dictate whether or not I’m wrong. Instead of the whole “Queer people are the awesomest”, maybe the more realistic approach is “Queer people are just like everyone.” I know I’m veering dangerously close to the camp of folks who say things like “Well, why isn’t there a White History Month?” I’m not trying to take anything from queer identity, but the way it’s expressed here contributes to why I don’t like that character. I fear this overcompensation is a trope commonly used as a “foot in the door” technique to get some folks to accept uncomfortable ideas, but I feel it does the queer community a disservice by reinforcing stereotypes/setting up unreal expectations.

Following this thinking leads me to the new Champions comic, which is downright irresponsible in its storytelling. Back during Civil War II, the young members of the Avengers became disenchanted with the elder members because they didn’t feel the team was doing enough to really change the world, instead spending more time in-fighting in the hero community. So, they quit the team before that story even wrapped up. As Champions picks up, Ms. Marvel reaches out to Nova (Sam Alexander – gotta specify, since there are two now) and Spider-Man (Miles Morales – gotta specify since there are two now) to convince them that they should be out doing the stuff that the Avengers refuse to do. They go on a mini recruitment drive, which results in the Hulk (Amadeus Cho – gotta specify since…you get it by now), and Viv Vision joining the team.

Champions is the wrong name for this book. Honestly, it should be the New Warriors, because they are TOTAL social justice warriors. I normally don’t even dip my toe into those labeled waters, but that’s exactly what this book is about. Ms. Marvel has created a team of other teens who do nothing but seek social justice. When older Marvel fans say that they’re tired of the diversity push, I have to believe that this is the book they’re talking about.

I say they’re irresponsible because they tackle concepts that can’t be solved by punching, yet that’s exactly how they try to solve them. They went to the Middle East to stop an extremist Muslim group from killing women who were just trying to learn. They went to a small town to face off against a racist sheriff who bombed the local mosque. Instead of facing villains, all of their “foes” are systemic issues that aren’t easy fixes. Somehow, though, they manage to “fix” things in 22 pages. To use old slang, these kids are cruising for a bruising. There’s a reason the Avengers don’t handle these sorts of things, mainly because they’re old and wise enough to know there are no easy fixes. Racism ain’t Galactus. There’s nothing to punch. The only reason I would stick with the book is that there’s GOT to be a reckoning coming to teach them a lesson. The last time a team of teens was this irresponsible resulted in the destruction of the town of Stamford, Connecticut. I HAVE to believe the Champions exist only to set up some post-Secret Empire event.

The sad thing about all of this is that I like these characters. I’ve been a Miles Morales booster since day one, and I loved Sam Alexander’s Nova from the outset. I was late to the Kamala Khan party, but she’s cool, too. I don’t like how Amadeus Cho’s Hulk is painted as a green Bro in the book, but I’m really behind on his title, so maybe that’s who he is now. And I haven’t read The Visions yet, so I don’t know anything about Viv. All that said, I’d hate to see anything bad happen to any of these guys, but that seems to be the path they’re on. It just seems like such mishandling of some great concepts. From when I was reading Captain America: Sam Wilson, the big takeaway was that there are some things you can’t fight head-on, but it seems like the Champions are gonna have to learn that the hard way.

So, I guess I did have thoughts about Marvel’s diversity after all. Is it killing books? Not necessarily. It’s just not being done well. Feels tokeny. There are a lot of great female-led books right now, like the afore-mentioned Gwenpool and Jessica Jones (which I’ll talk about another time since this has already gotten way longer than I initially expected). But the minority portrayals aren’t that strong. I’ve still got a LOT more to read, though, so maybe it gets better? We’ll just have to see.

07th Apr2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/7/17

by Will

 

So, last night I became the last person in America to see Get Out. As I joked on Twitter, I’m totally getting a divorce now. No, I kid, I kid. Like everyone said, it’s really good, though it may be a tad overrated. Just a tad. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Get Out is the story of Black man Chris Williams who joins his White girlfriend Rose Armitage on a visit to her parents’ home for the weekend. And then crazy shit starts to happen. I can see what the appeal of the film is. I really can. But I’ve got to level with you: this movie hit a little too close to home. Yeah, I know that one Black reader I have is like “That’s what you get for datin’ them White girls!” No, seriously, I probably would’ve ended up just like Chris. First of all, I have a thing for Allison Williams. Even as bitchy, self-centered Marnie on Girls, I still have a thing for her. When her father fell from grace, I just wanted to tell her everything would be all right. So I would’ve taken the bait. In addition to that, I’ve dated that kind of family. Yes, in those cases, you’re dating the whole family. They had the same socioeconomic status as the Armitages, their friends were the same way, with the same weird questions. Sometimes you don’t realize how Black you are until that’s ALL you are to some folks. What some folks saw as just fun entertainment is something that I kinda lived. They’d do weird shit, where I felt like they were testing me. I remember the first time I went to stay for the weekend, they put me in a room with, like, three Rolexes just laying about like they were nothing. No, I don’t think they would’ve killed me, but I can totally see how something like this could happen. Meanwhile, I’m here thinking that I need to get me a friend as good as TSA Rod. I’ve got a lot to unpack from that movie right now. I’d love to have a conversation with Jordan Peele, ’cause that movie came from a place of experience. I wonder if I’d ever see it again, or if it’s like Bamboozled, where it’s just gonna make me hate White people for a while. Naw, I can’t hate y’all. You’re the only ones who read my site!

In movie news, it was reported that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are set to produce a film based on the Image comic Invincible. I used to read the series back when I worked at Diamond and got the hardcovers for free, and I really loved it. It follows Mark Grayson, who’s half human and half Viltrumite. His father, who’s full Vultrimite, is the hero known as Omni-Man, and Mark seems to have inherited a lot of his powers. Mark becomes the hero Invincible and a bunch of other stuff happens. Hey, what do you want from me? I only read the first 48 issues, and that was, like, 7 years ago. The thing I like about the series is that Mark is allowed to grow and change. People die and stay dead. In comics, there’s always the approach where they give the semblance of change without actual change, but that’s not how Invincible works. I mean, he’s currently married with a kid, and they haven’t resorted to having the Devil erase it all, unlike some heroes… Anyway, I like the idea of a movie, but I don’t know if Rogen and Goldberg are the guys to do it. After all, they’re the team behind AMC’s Preacher – a show that I’ve yet to really hear anything good about. Mainly, I heard season one was just boring. So, I guess we’ll just have to see what they bring to the table.

In other movie news, Scarlett Johansson’s live action Ghost In The Shell adaptation bombed, and the congregation rejoiced. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the film because it was felt that the main character, played by Johansson, was whitewashed. They felt she should’ve been portrayed by an Asian actress, and even the studio is now saying the movie failed to meet expectations due to the whitewashing controversy. I’m really not educated enough to weigh in on this one. I mean, I’d always heard that Japanese identity politics went a little deeper than we might think, which is why their cartoon characters always have blue hair and shit, but never really look Asian. But again, before I say something uninformed, I’m gonna bow out of this one. For a better understanding of the controversy, check out my friend Jenn’s post on the film.

Speaking of outrage, there was a Pepsi commercial that ruffled some feathers this week. I’d post the video, but Pepsi is trying to scrub all reference to the thing. In it, Kendall Jenner breaks away from a fashion shoot to join a peaceful protest, capping it off by offering a stern looking cop a Pepsi. He accepts, takes a swig, and everyone rejoices. The problem, however, is that the ad was kind of tone deaf. It seemed to trivialize the act of protesting, and to add insult to injury, it installed a pretty White girl as the face of the protest. Now, I saw the thing, and it was hamfisted, but I’m not sure it was worth all the threaded tweets and thinkpieces that it generated. Like, I get why folks didn’t like it, but I’m not sure I’m “woke” enough to see the whole matter. Anyone wanna weigh in on this one?

In television news, Disney Channel officially ordered Raven’s Home to series. Serving as the sequel to That’s So Raven, it features Raven Symone reprising her role as Raven Baxter, only now she’s the divorced mom of twin tweens. She also lives with her best friend, Chelsea, who’s ALSO a divorced single mom. Things start to get crazy, though, when Raven’s kids start to exhibit her psychic powers. See, that was always my thing with that show. Sure, I was too old for it when it was a hit, but I love a good tween TV show. That said, I feel like Raven and her friends could’ve had zany adventures without the whole psychic powers gimmick. I mean, the kids of iCarly didn’t need superpowers in order to be entertaining. The psychic stuff made it too much like a mystical tween Three’s Company which, on paper, sounds perfect, but isn’t that great in execution. Anyway, I just typed all this to justify posting a pic of costar Anneliese Van Der Pol. This whole thing just sounds like Fuller House with powers. I’ve got no nostalgia for the original show, so I doubt I’ll be checking this out.

In other TV news, Freeform has ordered New Warriors to series, featuring fan favorite character Squirrel Girl. I’ve got to admit that I know next to nothing about that character except that she was the nanny to Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s daughter, Dani. I know she was a Great Lakes Avenger, but she was never a New Warrior. Still, they’ve been trying to find a vehicle for that character FOREVER, so I guess they finally figured it out. Based on how WB/DC has handled Powerless, I’m not too eager to see another comedy set in a comic book universe. The one bright spot in the whole thing is that Kevin Biegel is rumored to be the showrunner. Not only does he follow me on Twitter, but he’s the creator of the Fox series Enlisted (which I loved), and he co-created Cougar Town. Knowing that, I think the show is in good hands. I still feel weird about being a 35 year old man watching Freeform. It’s like you’re paying for The CW. The news, however, makes me sad that The Middle is still going. If you didn’t know, a few years ago, when it looked like the writing was on that wall for that show, Eden Sher had a meeting with Marvel. While we don’t really know what was discussed, her name was thrown around in the same discussions of Squirrel Girl. With The Middle already renewed for next season, though, that takes her out of the running. Sucks because I think Sher’s perky, Sue Heck personality would be perfect for Squirrel Girl.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Barry Manilow came out as gay, which makes me realize that he’s actually been singing about Man D all these years…
  • Speaking of gay, on Doctor Who it was revealed that The Doctor’s latest female companion, Bill, is gay. I mean, her name is “Bill”, so, surprise?
  • NBC ordered 2 additional episodes of the Will & Grace revival, bringing the total up to 12.
  • Also in the Department of Things We Don’t Need, there are apparently outlines for 14 more Transformers movies


I’ve written about my love of The Undertaker a few times here on the site. Basically, he’s a relic of a bygone era in professional wrestling – an era of kayfabe, when enemies wouldn’t fly on the same planes together, or be seen hanging out together at IHOP. He’s from a time when people had flashy names and in-ring gimmicks to set them apart. The industry has changed a lot since then, but you could always depend on Taker. If I were to be a professional wrestler tomorrow, my in-ring name would be Bruce Williamson. That’s how they do it now. Other business ventures came along, like Total Divas, which even further blurred the lines between real and fake, but you could always depend on Taker.

In recent years, he’s basically been a part-timer. Ever since The Streak was broken, there wasn’t really much need for him to be around. The mystique was kind of gone by that point. But, like clockwork, he still showed up to Wrestlemania and did his job. In my heart, I knew the end was near. I’d always said that, given some advance warning, I’d even try to attend his final show. He means that much to me. Well, I didn’t even get to watch his final appearance, which was last Sunday at Wrestlemania 33. The card looked weak, and I felt I had better shit to do. Little did I realize I’d be missing history in the making. The Undertaker jobbed to Roman Reigns, narrowly missing out on his 100th pay per view victory. While the rumors of retirement had been floating for years, no one was ready for what would happen next. He donned his signature coat, gloves, and hat, and took one last look at the crowd. Then, he removed them, placed them in a pile in the center of the ring, and walked away. He kissed his wife, pretty much breaking character, and proceeded to walk up the ramp, where he was lowered until he disappeared. As the crew dismantled the ring, they refused to move his belongings – a gesture of respect to the man who brought us all nearly 30 years of entertainment. I hate that I wasn’t there, but I especially hate that I didn’t even watch it. Sure, in this technological age we can always find what we’re looking for, but I feel like I let him down. He doesn’t know me, doesn’t give a shit about me, but I know him, and I thank him. So, with that in mind, Mark Calaway, AKA The Undertaker had the West Week Ever.

31st Mar2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 3/31/17

by Will

So, as a week has passed, I find I’ve got some more thoughts on Power Rangers. I watched it again (don’t ask me how), and I actually liked it a lot better. The first viewing is pretty jarring, but once you know what you’re getting yourself into, it’s easier to let go and let Zordon.

Something about it struck me, though: the teens have an odd bloodlust thing going on. They’re really jonesing to kill something/somebody. When they first encounter Alpha, and don’t realize he’s “one of the good guys”, Zack’s immediate response is “We could kill it”. Not “Hey, we should run” or “We need to get away from it”. It was basically “We could end its life”. And while I know kids shows have to use language like “destroy” or “eradicate” or anything that’s not “kill”, I’m not used to applying “killing” to the world of Power Rangers. Even Zordon says that Rita must be “stopped”, and the kids immediately take that as “We have to kill Rita.” Hold your horses, hoss! I know they live in some little podunk fishing town, but have these kids killed before? Will they kill again?!

Also, Brian Tyler’s score needs to be applauded. It’s one basic theme that’s repeated throughout the film, but I didn’t realize how epic it was until the second viewing. Sure, it’s not “Go Go Power Rangers” or any of the show’s songs from Ron Wasserman, but it really conveys that superhero aesthetic the movie is going for.

It’s not all sunshine and roses in the world of Power Rangers, however. First up, original Green Ranger Jason David Frank was apparently kicked out of the premiere of the film because he took out his camera to film the audience’s reaction to his onscreen cameo. If you’re not familiar with his antics, his lives his life online. He thinks he’s giving a ton of access to his fans, so he basically vlogs EVERYTHING. Signings, convention panels, etc. He was a web series called My Morphing Life, so I assume  he was trying to get footage for that. Well, security did what the original 5 Power Rangers couldn’t do, and that was defeat the Green Ranger. They escorted him out and he didn’t even get to see the mid credit scene. They tried to take his phone, which he wasn’t about to let them do, so he yelled “It’s morphin time” and proceeded to beat up a bunch of middle aged men. Well, I don’t know about that last part, but it’s still fun to imagine.

Next up, murderous Wild Force Red Ricardo Medina Jr has been sentenced to 6 years in jail for the 2015 stabbing death of his roommate. Earlier this month he pleaded guilty voluntary manslaughter, and he got the maximum sentence for that charge. While I poke fun at it, the whole matter kinda sucks. I mean, he claims it was in self defense. In this crazy country, if he’d shot the guy, we probably wouldn’t even be having this discussion. Instead, he had to go and use a sword, and the American legal system just isn’t built for that. Here’s hoping he gets off early for good behavior or something.

There was a Justice League trailer released last Saturday, and that’s all I have to say about that. No, I guess I have more to say. Look, if the DCEU movies still get you hard, then more power to you. I’ve been fooled enough by those films to know that they’re more than likely not going to be my cup of tea. I felt like I was in Bizarro World, though, as everyone seemed to love the trailer but hate Cyborg. I was the opposite. I just can’t get excited about these things anymore, but I thought Cyborg looked cool. I’ve been told the CGI is outdated, but I’d rather he look like that than just a Black guy in a silver suit. Anyway, Snyder makes long-form stylized music videos. That’s what Watchmen was, and Dawn of Justice was a darker version of that. Here, it’s business as usual for him.

Speaking of DC movies, apparently Joss Whedon is in talks to write, produce and direct a Batgirl movie. Ya know, until he drops out. I’ve never worshipped at the altar of Joss, as I can see the holes in his whole gimmick. He’s always the go-to guy for “strong, female characters”, but I feel like it’d make more sense to just hire a woman instead of hiring a man who seems to understand women. I think DC is just trying to hedge their Bat bets because they know Affleck has one foot out the door. DC is the KING of announcing shit with nothing to back it up. The only time the MCU did that was with Inhumans, but DC has promised Green Lantern Corps, Black Adam, and  Cyborg films – all of which seem to be in Development Hell. To me, this is just another empty promise. DC is the dad who makes a ton of empty promises because he’s scared you love mom’s new boyfriend (Marvel) more than him. And they’re right. Have people forgotten all the Wonder Woman drama? People act like this is a major heel turn, with Whedon “defecting” from Marvel to DC, but I think the Russo Bros effectively swept away any influence folks thought Joss had on the MCU. Age of Ultron was a bore of a chore, so I’m not exactly jazzed about him crossing the aisle. I also don’t like the idea of a standalone Batgirl film that didn’t organically evolve from an existing Batman franchise. The Batman is falling apart, and instead of fixing that, they move on to Batgirl? Get your shit together, DC!

In the world of TV, Katie Cassidy is reportedly returning to Arrow next season as a series regular. Instead of playing Laurel Lance, however, she’ll be reprising her Earth 2 identity as villain Black Siren. If you remember, she crossed over into our world this season, and Oliver’s determined to rehabilitate her. I’m bored just thinking about it. However, if you know anything about the Arrowverse, you know that “series regular” doesn’t mean much. After all, Willa Holland is a series regular, and we’ve seen Thea how much this season? And Cassidy already had that exclusive Berlantiverse contract this season that yielded few results. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how much exposure she actually gets.

Speaking of the Arrowverse, we finally got our first look at Cress Williams as Black Lightning in the pilot being filmed by The CW. Fox passed on this a few months ago, so naturally The CW came to the rescue. Personally, I don’t think that universe needs a fifth show. They always add a show to the detriment of another. Arrow suffered when Flash came along, Flash suffered when Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow came along. Supergirl‘s still getting used to its new home, while Legends is only just starting to get good. I think they should focus on what they have instead of trying to expand right now. Someone online said that Black Lightning was corny, but so was Static and folks are always claiming they wanna see that character make a comeback. Sure, Black Lightning hails from a different era, and I really hope they just call him Lightning, kinda like how Ollie was just The Arrow in the beginning. The only important storyline I remember featuring Black Lightning was when he was chosen to be the Secretary of Education under the Luthor Administration. Other than that, his daughters have had more page time than he has in recent years. I’d be all for the character joining the Legends team, but I don’t know if there’s enough meat on that bone for a series. And knowing The CW, they’re gonna green light it anyway – not even stopping to think how a failure would devalue the brand.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • The Big Bang Theory scored a 2-season renewal, which will take it through season 12. Suck it, haters!
  • Han Solo is not the character’s real name. His birth name was Handsome Solowitz, but his manager made him change it
  • Adam Sandler inked a deal for another 4 Netflix movies. When, exactly, did he officially become the White Tyler Perry?
  • In the upcoming film, Jumanji will now be a video game console and not a board game. As someone who never saw the first film, and has never played many board games, this doesn’t bother me in the least
  • The upcoming Astonishing X-Men comic series will feature a different artist every issue. All I know is that each issue better be a self-contained, done-in-one affair, or this is gonna get messy!
  • TLC is planning to bring back Trading Spaces. Paige Davis better return to host, or GTFO.
  • Jack the Ripper time travel drama Time After Time has been canceled by ABC
  • Bones ended its 12-year run, making it the longest-running Fox drama
  • AMC has renewed sci fi android drama HUMANS after a blink-and-you-missed-it second season.
  • Jordan Peele is being sought after to direct the live action Akira movie. Seems like an odd choice, but I guess he can write his own ticket after Get Out‘s success.
  • Mindy Kaling announced that her series, The Mindy Project, would end after its next season on Hulu.
  • In music news, I’ve just discovered a new Chinese boyband called Acrush. There’s a catch, however – it’s actually made up of androgynous girls! CRAZY!


Did you see that? I’m just glad Spider-Man is in the MCU now. Nobody does a shared universe like Marvel, so it’s nice to see him come home. It still feels like it’s an Ultimate Spider-Man movie, what with Gank…”Ned Leeds”. Seriously, why would Marvel go to the trouble of clearly putting Miles Morales’ best friend Ganke in the movie but then call him one of the Hobgoblins? Am I really supposed to expect this kid to become Hobgoblin down the road, a few sequels from now? It almost feels like fanservice to give him that name, to make fans wonder what might happen in the future, while never actually delivering it.

Anyway, every announcement about this film just gets better and better. For example, it was announced that it would officially introduce Damage Control to the MCU. In the comics, Damage Control was a construction firm co-owned by Tony Stark and Wilson Fisk (The Kingpin) that was tasked with rebuilding NYC after superhero battles. It’s such a logical concept, but something that gets lost in the suspension of disbelief that comics require. I’ve loved every appearance of Damage Control, so it’s nice that we’ll finally get to see them onscreen. They were actually mentioned in an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as a division of S.H.I.E.L.D. itself, so it’ll be interesting to see how the movie handles this.

Also, it was reported that Pepper Potts might be making her return to the MCU in the film. I tend to hate Gwyneth Paltrow, but I really like her take on Pepper, as she serves as a good match for Downey’s Stark. If this rumor pans out, I’ll be very happy.

At this point, the only thing I’m not looking forward to is The Vulture. I always thought he was a lame character, but here’s hoping Keaton can do something to make him interesting. I’m as eager for this film as I’m not eager for Justice League. I swear I’m not just some Marvel fanboy, as I’m currently reading more DC than Marvel. That said, Marvel simply makes better movies, and it appears this will be one of them. So, for those reasons, the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer had the West Week Ever.

03rd Mar2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 3/3/17

by Will

Sometimes life gets in the way, and you just can’t get a post out on time. That’s what happened last week, but I’m here now, so let’s get on with the pop culture, shall we?

First, I guess we’ve gotta talk about the Oscars, huh? I didn’t watch them. I don’t really do awards shows anymore unless someone’s getting slimed, so this wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. The big moment of the night, however, came at the end when La La Land was mistakenly announced as the winner for Best Picture when it actually lost to Moonlight. And social media went wild! It’s been a crazy few weeks, as the Best Picture predictions had come down to those two films, but neither of them really appealed to me. I’m probably more likely to see Moonlight than La La Land, as the latter just doesn’t sound interesting to me. But having seen neither of them at the time of the awards, I really didn’t have a dog in that fight. I figure they gave the award to Moonlight to shut us up for a few years about #OscarsSoWhite. I mean, racism’s over now, right? Does Hallmark sell cards for that? A “So Glad Your Racism Cleared Up” card?

Anyway, from one controversy to another. I’ve never understood people’s disdain for The Big Bang Theory. It’s not reinventing the wheel or anything, but I find it to be an enjoyable half hour every week. I think people got too comfortable with their single cam Arrested Development and Modern Family that they just couldn’t deal with a multicam, studio audience sitcom anymore. OK, cool. But as the mainstream response to Arrested Development showed us, not everyone wants their shit to be smart. Sad, but true. For all the people loudly calling The Big Bang Theory “blackface for nerds” (which is itself offensive, and clearly exhibits a lack of understanding of blackface), it’s still the number 1 show on television. So, just like Trump voters, your friends and neighbors are watching and enjoying it in secret. And with those ratings come big paydays. The 5 principal actors on the show currently make $1 million an episode, while Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch make $250,000 per episode. Considering their roles have expanded greatly since joining the show in season 3, it can be argued that they deserve pay more inline with their costars. Well, the 5 principals (Galecki, Parsons, Cuoco, Helberg, and Nayyar) have each offered to give up $100,000 per episode so that money will be freed up for their costars to get raises. I don’t care how you feel about the show, but that’s pretty cool move on their part. Sure, they’re making a fuckton of money, but this is something they didn’t have to do. They realized they’re stronger as a unit, and they’re making moves to preserve it. Not everyone in this situation would do this. While The Simpsons has had negotiation shakeups in recent years, the last time a cast really came together like this was when the Friends stars negotiated for season 10. If CBS and the studio don’t agree to these terms, however, they’ve got an ace up their sleeve.

What started as a mere rumor is now actually gearing up to film a pilot: a prequel of The Big Bang Theory, focusing on Dr. Sheldon Cooper as a child. It’s being reported that Iain Armitage of HBO’s Big Little Lies is being courted for the role of Sheldon. The most interesting casting, however, concerns Sheldon’s mother. You see, on The Big Bang Theory, his mother is played by Roseanne‘s Laurie Metcalf. Well, Metcalf’s real life daughter, Zoe Perry, seems to be the frontrunner for the role of young Sheldon’s mom. So, daughter will be playing mom’s younger self. My head hurts! Anyway, I kinda love when Hollywood does stunt casting shit like that. Now, CBS hasn’t placed a formal pilot order yet, and I feel like a decision is hinging on how these contract negotiations turn out. I mean, The Big Bang Theory is an aging sitcom in its 10th season, and a renewal would only be for 2 more years. CBS has got to start thinking about the future, but this is clearly a franchise they’d like to keep around in some capacity sheerly for the ratings it brings in. So, it looks like y’all might be hating The Big Bang Theory for many years to come! Or it could just fall apart like How I Met Your Dad did (which, oddly enough, is being revived by the This Is Us team at the moment). Only time will tell.

Just as I like something you hate, I also hate something you all seem to be excited about: ABC’s Marvel’s Inhumans. As the show that I’m almost sure will be the nail in the coffin for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I just don’t see how this is a good idea. Marvel keeps trying to “make ‘fetch’ happen” when it comes to the Inhumans because they want their own robust mutant franchise, but nobody gives a shit. At least, I didn’t think so. However, with each casting announcement, y’all seem to get more and more giddy. Last week, they announced that Iwan Rheon of Misfits/Game of Thrones fame had been cast as Maximus. Anton Mount, from Hell On Wheels, has been cast as the Inhuman king Black Bolt, while Graceland alum Serinda Swan has been cast as Queen Medusa. Finally, Lost/The Night Shift alum Ken Leung was announced yesterday as Karnak. That’s great. Actors are working. I still have no faith in the show, however.

It’s no secret that The Inhumans were Marvel CEO Ike Perlmetter’s pet project because he wanted a stable that Marvel could exploit where they still owned all the media rights. As far as he was concerned, the Inhumans should be the new X-Men. In the comics, they’ve received quite a push over recent years, but it feels more like Marvel is shoving them down our throats than actually giving the audience what it wants. That’s why, once Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige wrested control of the film division away from Marvel, the announced but delayed Inhumans film was demoted to a TV series. They’re really trying to make this a production, by releasing the first two episodes in theaters in IMAX, but it just feels desparate. Nobody cares, dude. The numbers on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. right now are terrible, and I’d be really surprised if it got renewed. Considering it’s the show that introduced the Inhumans to the MCU, and has had them as something of a plot device since that introduction, yet it’s done nothing for the ratings, I don’t think the Inhumans are ready to stand on their own just yet. The argument could be made that the audience didn’t like how AoS was handling the Inhumans, and that they actually wanted the Royal Family Inhumans, which this new series is giving us. OK, but I still don’t see how that’s gonna be cool on a weekly TV budget. Then again, I never found the Inhumans to be the least bit interesting, so this project just isn’t design to appeal to me at this point. I honestly don’t know what they could announce to get me excited about an Inhumans series.

In other Marvel TV news that I couldn’t give two shits about, there’s been a ton of casting news for Fox’x untitled mutant-centered pilot. Yeah, I’m being contrarian, but I just don’t see this being great. First, it’s on Fox. This is the kind of show they pick up solely to cancel. Second, it’s gonna be expensive, which is why Fox will not hesitate to cancel it. Third, I still remember the Generation X TV movie/pilot and Mutant X. Fourth, it’s gonna be directed by Bryan Singer – a man who, despite 16 years of familiarity with the X-Men franchise, really needs to go somewhere and take a seat. Anyway, Jamie Chung has been cast as Blink, which won’t cost too much as they really just have to come up with a cool-looking, yet affordable, portal effect. Yesterday, it was announced that True Blood‘s Stephen Moyer and Angel‘s Amy Acker had been cast as the leads. The show follows the Stewart family, who are forced to go on the run from the government when they discover their kids are mutants. They link up with an underground network of mutants, and ugh, I’m exhausted already. So, they’re basically on the run the whole time? And you’re gonna be holding out hope for some kind of mutant of the week cameo, who’ll be someone they’d never put in a movie. Or maybe it would be. It’s not like the X-Men franchise has ever given a fuck about continuity. Since this is still at the pilot stage, I’m not gonna let it get my blood pressure up until it’s officially ordered to series.

Across the aisle over at DC, they announced a Nightwing movie, to be directed by The LEGO Movie‘s Chris McKay. If you don’t know who Nightwing is, here’s a crash course: remember how Batman has a sidekick named Robin? Well, the very first Robin, Dick Grayson, grew up, got sick of Batman’s shit, and struck out on his own as the hero Nightwing. That pretty much catches you up. Right now, DC is that deadbeat dad who makes a bunch of promises that he can’t keep. “Sure, I’ll be at your dance recital!” and then he shows up when it’s over, and the janitor is collecting chairs. They need to stop being so future-focused, and deal with the now. Word on the street is that Wonder Woman has problems, The Batman seems to be falling apart, and they still have to promote Justice League. Worry about 2017, and stop making all these promises for tomorrow. Anyway, I’ve seen an online campaign about how they should keep Nightwing’s Romani origins (for the uninformed, they’re what we call “gypsies”, even though we’re, like, not really supposed to use that term anymore. Whatever) in the film. Apparently, this is important for Romani representation and whatnot, but it’s kinda tough to swallow since some of the same folks saying this also come from the camp that said Nightwing should show up in the DCEU and be cast with an Asian actor. I’d be fine with Asian Nightwing, as I honestly don’t see what his Romani origin brings to the table. Like, it’s nice trivia, but does it lend itself to his character? As long as he’s a former circus brat who flips off shit, he’s Nightwing. Maybe I’m being glib, but I just don’t really see the argument here.

I was kinda worried about the DuckTales reboot when we saw the character designs. I was also confused as to why they went for “names”for the voice cast, when there are perfectly capable voice actors working out there. Then they released the trailer for the show yesterday, and I am worried no more. While the animation style took me a few seconds to get used to, I really like what’s going on here. Apparently, Disney does too, as the show has already been renewed for season 2, before the show has even premiered.

We also got a new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 trailer. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t need to see single bit more of footage. I’m already a guaranteed ticket sale, so I really hope they don’t spoil us with drips and drabs for the next few months. I’m excited. My body is ready. Don’t overdo it.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • You’ll soon be able to get all your diarrhea in one place, as Burger King owner Restaurant Brands International (what a lame name!) is buying Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for a reported $1.8 billion.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. kicked off what may be its last storyline, “Agents of HYDRA”, just before going on hiatus for the month of March
  • Cloverfield director Matt Reeves has signed on to direct and produce The Batman, presumably still starring Ben Affleck
  • I can’t stand the dude, but I know some of y’all like him: Chris Hardwick will be getting a new weekly talk show, Talking with Chris Hardwick, which will air on AMC as a year-round extension of his Talking Dead show.
  • The Nintendo Switch comes out today, so brace yourselves for socially awkward people playing it in public places.
  • Fox renewed freshman series The Mick (yay!) and Lethal Weapon for second seasons.
  • After nine seasons, SNL cast member Bobby Moynihan might be leaving the show, as he’s currently up for the lead in the CBS pilot Me, Myself & I.
  • Scientology traitor Leah Remini is set to star in NBC’s What About Barb? pilot, itself a gender swapped reboot of the Bill Murray/Richard Dreyfuss film What About Bob?
  • For its 9th season, RuPaul’s Drag Race will be moving from Logo TV to VH1. Considering this was Logo’s last bit of original programming, I wouldn’t be surprised if Viacom phased out the channel in its upcoming reprioritization.
  • Dr. Julian Bashir himself, Alexander Siddig (or Siddig El Fadil for you old heads), will be joining Gotham as R’as Al Ghul. Nope, still not gonna watch that show.
  • Soap opera Days of Our Lives was renewed for a record 52nd season, as cast member Arianne Zucker (who was at the heart of the Billy Bush/Donald Trump scandal) has announced she’s leaving the show.

So I saw Logan last night. It’s funny – I’ve been looking forward to the film since seeing the first trailer, but last night I had a sense of dread. I mean, the movie looked so…heavy. And was I ready to see Hugh Jackman give up a role he’s portrayed for the past 17 years? It all felt so final, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to say goodbye. Leaving the movie, my friend “Special Forces” said “That was damn near perfect”, and I have to agree with him.

Now, it’s easy to get caught up in the comic book movie hype. I mean, even I’ve come on here fawning over the latest Marvel film, only to see its flaws once the hype dies down. I can admit Age of Ultron was something of a chore to get through. And while The Winter Soldier was something of an MCU masterpiece, I’m afraid to revisit Civil War for fear of realizing it didn’t live up to its predecessor. The Fox X-Men films have established an even lower bar of quality, so you basically go into those now with lowered expectations. Logan, however, is a film that I don’t think I’ll have regrets about in the future.

First of all, it’s not a “comic book movie”. If anything, it’s an indie drama whose characters are taken from comic books. As much as folks wanted this to be the cinematic version of the now classic “Old Man Logan” storyline, this film has no real source material other than the characters. It doesn’t devolve into standard superhero hokeyness. It eschews every opportunity to turn into a “comic book movie”, as any opening for that is quickly supplanted with high intensity violence. There’s no Stan Lee cameo, there’s no post credits scene, and there are no costumes. Director James Mangold knew what he wanted to do, and he knew the tropes to avoid in order to be successful. The violence – my God, I lost track of how many times I gasped “Jesus Christ!” during the +2 hours. It earned its R rating and then some.

I won’t get into plot details, as I want you to see it for yourself. It truly is a beautiful movie, which isn’t something you’d typically say about a film with Marvel roots. Dafnee Keen as Laura is incredible, both in how she emotes, as well as her action scenes. It’s also a fitting coda to Jackman’s turn as Wolverine. I don’t know if he’ll ever come back. I mean, he says he’s done, but you can’t count anyone out in the world of comics. Then again, this ain’t a comic book movie. So, if this is it, he’s going out on a Hell of a note. He leaves behind one totally imbalanced trilogy, as the first film is maligned, the second film was serviceable, but this one is quite the mea culpa for all we’ve had to put up with over the past almost two decades. People are talking about award potential, and while it’s certainly good enough, I’m not holding my breath. It might win an Oscar for sound mixing or something, but I’m scared those folks won’t appreciate it for what it truly is. Logan is a moving experience, and it deserves all the praise the early reviews have been giving it. That’s why I have no hesitation in saying that Logan had the West Week Ever.

17th Feb2017

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

by Will

On the movie front I finally got around to watching Central Intelligence. I’ve been wanting to see it since it was in theaters, as I love Kevin Hart movies, but I didn’t get to see it until it hit HBO. And I’m glad I waited. In the film, Hart plays a middle-aged accountant whose best days were in high school, when he was the most popular kid in school. Meanwhile, The Rock was the fat kid that all the other kids made fun of. Hart’s life is thrown into high gear when The Rock comes back into his life and turns out to work for the CIA. Hart gets wrapped up in murder, intrigue, and secret files. Yeah…On paper, this probably sounded like a great idea. The trailers looked hilarious. Surprisingly co-written by actor Ike Barinholtz (MadTV, The Mindy Project), it’s got a great cast, but they’re not necessarily bringing their A game. It was kinda weird to see Hart essentially playing the straight man, while The Rock had this weird goofiness to him. I know he’s trying to make the audience wonder if he can be trusted or not, but I don’t feel he sells it well. I almost bought this on Black Friday, and I’m glad I put it back on the shelf, as I don’t need to see it again.

In movie news, it’s rumored that Mel Gibson is being courted to direct Suicide Squad 2. Now, this is pretty interesting. I mean, who better to direct a movie about deranged criminals than a deranged actor/director? Seriously, that dude couldn’t be poked with an 8 foot pole a year ago, but since Hacksaw Ridge, it’s like all has been forgiven. I mean, he told his girlfriend he hoped she was “raped by a pack of niggers”! And let’s not forget all the antisemitic stuff. Anyway, I guess everyone deserves a second chance or whatever, but I don’t even see why he’d take the job. Even with all the controversy, a comic book film seems…beneath him, even if it would be great PR to restore his image in the public eye.

In other controversial movie news, A Cure For Wellness took a page out of the “fake news” playbook for its marketing campaign. 20th Century Fox partnered with fake news sites to run false stories alongside ads for the movie. Considering how the concept of fake news is upsetting a lot of people on both sides of the political aisle lately, this was considered to be in poor taste. A Fox spokesperson tried to explain that the film is about a fake cure that actually makes people sicker, so they thought the campaign was fitting. Fox has since apologized for the move, but I’ll bet it’s not the last time someone does this.

In TV news, ABC announced that the next season of The Bachelorette would star Rachel Lindsay as the first Black Bachelorette. This is important for a few reasons. First off, ABC is essentially torpedoing the notion that the current season of The Bachelor even matters anymore. After all, Lindsay is still in the running as one of the remaining finalists of the current cycle of the show. By doing this, ABC is spoiling the fact that she doesn’t win, before the finale has even aired. I’ve never watched the show prior to this season (What? It’s on at the gym!), but I’ve read that this is a particularly disappointing season. The current Bachelor, Nick Viall, is pretty boring, and is also on his fourth go-round with the franchise, having previously been a contestant on seasons 10 and 11 of The Bachelorette, as well as season 3 of Bachelor In Paradise. I mean, if he hasn’t found love by now, then he’d might as well just pack it in! The odd part to me, though, is the choice of Lindsay. I mean, I’ve been watching TV for a LONG time, and it used to be that the most outlandish cast member is the one who gets the spin-off. This season, that honor goes to Corinne, a 24 year old businesswoman who has a nanny for HERSELF, and has repeatedly tried to fuck Nick into choosing her, only to be rebuffed every time. She’s always shocked that someone could reject someone as hot as she is, but that shock never stops her from trying again. If you want good television, you make Corinne the next Bachelorette. Plus, Lindsay isn’t even that interesting. In all the episodes I’ve seen, I can’t really understand why she’s still around unless the plan was always for her to be the next Bachelorette. I mean, after 33 cycles of all three shows combined, it’s time for some diversity, and it’ll definitely make things interesting – ESPECIALLY when they do the home visits. But right now, I’m just not seeing any reason for the choice of Lindsay other than the fact that she’s Black. And she’s not even the best Black chick they had this season. Nah, they sent those chicks home already.

There was an interesting interview over on TV Line with Arrow‘s co-showrunner Marc Guggenheim, where he basically revealed that those previously-announced DCTV contracts don’t really mean that much. If you remember, over the summer it was announced that Wentworth Miller, John Barrowman, and Katie Cassidy had signed DCTV exclusive deals, which would allow them to pop up in any of the Berlantiverse shows. While the details of the deal were unknown, it certainly seemed like they’d be doing more with them than they are. Sure, Miller has popped up as a hallucination on Legends, and Barrowman’s also on Legends, but Cassidy hasn’t really been used outside of Arrow this season (that I know of. I’m still behind on The Flash). When asked if Cassidy would be popping up before Arrow‘s season is over, Guggenheim replied:

“We have an idea for how to see [Katie] again, but we haven’t made a deal with her,” Guggenheim shared. “She’s not a series regular anymore, so we have to make a contract with her, and she’s got to be available. We haven’t had those conversations. But… we know exactly what we do want to do.

They have to make a contract with her? Then what was the point of last summer’s announcement? I realize it’s pilot season, so she’s got to look out for herself since she’s no longer a series regular, but the contract seemed to ensure she’d have work, and be available for it should it arise. It’s starting to be clear that these “exclusive” contracts are just as useless as comic exclusive contracts, which basically just mean you can’t work for Marvel if you’re working for DC and vice versa. You can still work for Image and nobody bats an eye.

In a surprising announcement, we’re getting a Love Actually sequel, but it’s not what you think it is. See, in the UK, they have this charity event called Red Nose Day, where they air a TV special to raise money for Comic Relief, which helps people in need in Africa and The UK. In its 30 year history, the event has raise over £1 billion. In the UK, Red Nose Day culminates in a telethon where all sorts of specials and reunions occur. The idea was brought to the US back in 2015, with Walgreens selling the red noses for charity. Well, this year, a bunch of members of the original cast of the film are getting back together for a 10-minute special that will show us where they all are today. Right now, the special is expected to include Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Martine McCutcheon (YAY!), Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Rowan Atkinson (really? He wasn’t even that important), Andrew Lincoln, Lucia Moniz, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Olivia Olson. It’ll be really interesting to see where these characters are, 14 years later. It’s a shame we’re only getting ten minutes, but I’ll take what I can get. The special will air March 24th in the UK and May 25th in America. Yup, two months later. So, look for it on YouTube March 25th.

Rejoice, fellow titty enthusiasts! After a year of trying to “go legit”, Playboy has announced that nudity is returning to its pages as of its next issue. The decision to remove nudity didn’t really help sales much, which was somewhat surprising to me. See, I figured the lack of nudity would mean you’d see it in grocery stores and pharmacies, right next to Maxim and GQ. But that never happened. I guess it’s because the Playboy brand is known for nudity, even when the magazine itself decides to eschew it. But you bushwackers are gonna be disappointed, as the returning nudity will only feature breasts and butts for the time being.

This week, I had the pleasure of joining my pal, Classick, on the newest episode of Classick Team-Up. We discussed 24 Legacy, Turkish Airlines, and Trump’s America. Trust me, it all makes sense. Anyway, if you’re looking for some podcastin’ fo’ yo’ ears, check check check it out!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Adele “robbed” Beyoncé of the Album of the Year Grammy at this year’s awards ceremony. Whatever…
  • Country newcomer Maren Morris pulled off a major upset by winning Best Country Solo Performance Grammy over established award darlings Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and Miranda Lambert
  • With recent successful revivals of old shows, Fox is finally keen to revive sci fi cult fave Firefly – the only catch is that show creator Joss Whedon has to come back, and they figure he’s too busy right now. I hope he doesn’t call their bluff. That show bored the shit out of me.
  • Speaking of Fox, they blew my mind by renewing Lucifer this week for a 3rd season. I didn’t think it would make it through season 1!
  • ABC renewed their TGIT lineup comprised of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away With Murder for next season.
  • NBC renewed the wonderful Superstore for a 3rd season.
  • Cloverfield director Matt Reeves is in talks to replace Ben Affleck as director of The Batman. Meanwhile, the rumor is that Affleck is trying to walk away from the film completely.
  • Poor Alanis Morissette! I recently wrote about how her former manager stole around $5 million from her, and this week over $2 million in jewelry was stolen from her home.
  • In the Remakes Nobody Wanted department, Frank Grillo will star in an American version of modern-day action classic The Raid
  • In what I’ve heard was a dreadfully unfunny stand up special, Nick Cannon said that NBC was keeping him from being himself as host of America’s Got Talent. As a result, he’s said he’s leaving the show.

Man, before Sunday night we had no idea who or what “Gnarley Davidson” was. Now, I can’t understand how we ever lived without him. At the Grammys, Cee Lo Green debuted his new solid gold persona, bewildering millions. And the meme machine got crankin’. He was photoshopped into pictures of Donald Trump’s house.

He was photoshopped into pictures of the Power Rangers.

The best part, however, wasn’t even a meme, but actual video of his departure from the awards. After all, he didn’t win anything, so why stick around?

That, folks, is how a true West Week Ever recipient leaves an awards ceremony. So, it should go without saying at this point, but Cee Lo Green/Gnarly Davidson had the West Week Ever.

10th Feb2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 2/10/17

by Will

Last night, my friend Mike and I went to check out The Lego Batman Movie. Seeing as how we were the only two people in the theater, I’m not quite sure what its weekend box office is gonna look like. I bet John Wick: Chapter 2 takes #1, since that’s where everyone seemed to be heading. Anyway, I LOVED the film. First up, it considers EVERYTHING canon. If you saw it onscreen, then it happened in that universe. The whole thing is kind of surreal, as the movie focuses on Batman’s loner status, while also confronting his complicated relationship with The Joker. On the Batman Beyond cartoon, there’s an episode where old Bruce Wayne and his protege, Terry McGinnis, go to a Batman-themed musical. Bruce can’t get over how goofy the whole thing seems, but I feel like this film is the movie version of that musical. It doesn’t have the camp of the ’66 show, but it’s a movie that never really takes itself seriously. I loved the liberties they took, like making Jim and Barbara Gordon people of color (voiced by Hector Elizondo and Rosario Dawson). It doesn’t hurt the story any, while bringing some diversity to the Lego world. I also liked how it tied in concepts from The Lego Movie, such as the fact that Batman is a Master Builder. I’m not going to spoil the movie for you, but I feel like it’s strong until the middle of the second act, at which point it switches from a Lego Batman movie to a Lego Dimensions movie. Trust me, you’ll understand when you see it, and I think you’ll agree that the story gets a bit weaker at that point. In any case, I can’t wait for it to hit Blu Ray, so I can rewatch it a thousand times to catch all the Easter eggs.

This week, we got a trailer for a new season of Arrow. Wait, what? That was actually for Iron Fist? Huh. Yeah, I was really underwhelmed by that trailer. Finn Jones doesn’t seem like a great actor, there’s not a lot of Kung Fu on display, and it seems like it’s more focused on corporate takeover, as Danny Rand tries to reclaim his family’s business. Since it’s a Netflix Marvel show, there’s also Rosario Dawson and another damn hallway fight. I welcome the former, but I’m SO over the latter. I’ll get around to watching it, but the days of me binge-watching a Marvel season the weekend of its release are long gone. Considering I still need to watch Daredevil season 2 and Luke Cage, I’ll be lucky to get around to it in 2017. That said, I know a lot of y’all will binge it that day, and will tell me if it sucks or not.

In other TV news, it’s rumored that NBC wants to spin Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update segment into a weekly 30-minute show. I guess they looked at John Oliver and Samantha Bee, and realized they might be leaving money on the table. Still, Jost and Che as “polarizing”, at best, and I’m not sure if that segment has the legs to air 30 minutes every week, in the same format. Plus, would it also remain a part of SNL, or would it be excised completely? I think this would’ve been a good idea in an election year, as there’s just so much news to cover, but now that all that is behind us, I’m just not sure this is going to work. And then what happens? If it does leave SNL, would it come crawling back next season, with its tail between its legs? The difference between Last Week Tonight/Full Frontal and Weekend Update is that those cable shows are actually smart, with smart hosts. Plus, they can get away with a bit more because cable. Weekend Update has gotten a lot more biting since Trump was elected, but is it too little, too late? Are the SNL writers up to the task of this project? I just feel like it’s a bad idea that will dilute the Weekend Update and SNL brands.

It was also announced that Viacom will be rebranding Spike TV as the Paramount Network. In my lifetime, I don’t think I’ve witnessed a network go through as many format changes as that one. As far back as I can remember, it was The Nashville Network. Then, to appeal to a wider audience, it became The National Network. Then, to appeal to dudebros, it became Spike TV. Now, I don’t even know who they’re targeting. I also don’t know why they chose this particular name. It’s like they have short memories or something. After all, there’s already been a Paramount Network. Sure, most of us referred to it as UPN and not the United Paramount Network, but that’s what those letters stood for. And it was the definition of “failed experiment”. Sure, it hobbled along for about 10 years, but its legacy is basically Star Trek: Voyager, America’s Next Top Model and Girlfriends. Outside of that, it gave us such critical darlings as Shasta McNasty, Homeboys In Outer Space, and The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer. Hey, let’s see how many shitty (that means all of them) UPN shows I can list without looking them up: DiResta, Legend, Platypus Man, Hitz, Good News, SparksDilbert, Marker, The Watcher, The Sentinel…yeah,that’s enough to make my point, which is you probably don’t remember any of these. UPN did NOTHING for the Paramount brand, and its effects are still being felt 11 years after its demise. So why, WHY would Viacom want to go down this road again? Anyway, the early plans for the rebranding call for the network to be a warehouse for hit Viacom programming from their other networks. It’s basically just gonna be the Now That’s What I Call Viacom Channel, posting the highlights from MTV, Nick, Nick Jr, etc. In fact, there are no concrete plans for the future of other Viacom networks, such as VH1, CMT, and TVLand, but reports say that there’s no immediate push to shut them down.

It was also rumored that there are already talks of an American Idol revival, but this time on NBC. Now, keep in mind the show just ended its run on Fox last year. The idea is that The Voice would be reduced to one cycle a year, and then they would slot Idol in one of its old slots. I feel like NBC sees the value in that show in that it actually creates household names – something The Voice has failed to do after 11 seasons. The focus is too much on the judges, and the winners have gone nowhere. Quick, name a winner of The Voice without looking it up. Hell, I watched the first season, and I can’t even remember that guy (I looked it up: Javier Colon. Who? Right). So, there’s definitely something to be gained from acquiring the franchise. That said, though, I also feel like a network only gets one of those shows. Fox had Idol, NBC had The Voice, ABC had Rising Star, and CBS had some show that got canceled that I forgot. Fox hurt Idol by double-dipping and picking up The X-Factor. That show never caught on in the US, and it hurt the Fox singing competition brand. If NBC picks up Idol, it’s going to do the same to The Voice. I mean, how much longer does America want to see Blake Shelton and Adam Levine bicker at each other? Sure, there’s a new dynamic now that Blake and Gwen Stefani are dating and both judges, but unless the show breaks them up, I don’t know how engaging that’s gonna be. And Miley Cyrus as a coach? Now, let me say that Bangerz was a great album. I’ve written about how awesome it was. But I don’t think Miley is established enough as a singer to be coaching anyone. She’s more known for her antics than her music. Then again, Paula Abdul was a has been, judging the talent of tomorrow, but that was intrinsic to the formula. Ultimately, America chose the Idol, and the show brought in established stars as coaches. The Voice has an unnecessary layer. They have talented judges, but then they also have the coaches, and then America. As Idol showed us, ANYBODY cane a judge, which is going to be an important thing for NBC to remember once it comes to for contracts to be renegotiated. Anyway, I think Idol needs to rest a few more years before they dust it off. It was once a powerhouse, but television AND music changed over time. Let the industry figure out its next steps before trying to reenter it.

I don’t know about you, but I grew up with women, which meant I did a tour of duty with soap operas. I started with Days of Our Lives back in the late 80s, then shifted to The Young and the Restless, and then shifted back to Days in the 00s. And besides Victor Newman, there is no soap villain quite as diabolical as Stefano DiMera. Well, the actor who portrayed him, Joseph Mascolo, died back in December, but his final filmed episode aired yesterday.  Although Mascolo had been battling Alzheimers for the past few years, he had portrayed the character for around 30 years. For some reason (I haven’t watched in a while), he was in prison (he’s killed/led to the death of a lot of folks. But they typically come back after contract negotiations), and at the end of the episode, he escapes! What a beautiful ending, knowing that he will be forever “in the wind”, as they can’t really catch him again unless they recast him. Seeing as how the rumor is Days is coming to an end this year, they won’t even have time to do that, with scripts written about 6 months in advance. So, here’s a toast to one of the greatest villains to ever grace the television set. You will be missed, you evil son of a bitch.

Let’s get a little controversial, shall we? This week, comedian George Lopez got in hot water for kicking a woman out of one of his shows when she objected to a racially-charged joke he told. Basically he said, “There are only two rules in the Latino family: Don’t marry somebody black and don’t park in front of our house.” Apparently, a woman gave him the finger after that joke, to which he began to tell her to “sit [her] fucking ass down or get the fuck out.” Now, comedians are on his side because they say he was just shutting down a heckler. Meanwhile, the general public is on her side because they’re offended by the joke, and don’t see why he had to kick her out for objecting. Here’s my take: First of all, he’s told variations of this joke for years. He used to joke about how his grandmother wouldn’t even want President Obama in her house. If you’re familiar with his material, then his joke the other night shouldn’t surprise you. Now, for the folks offended by the joke: was he wrong? All I know is my own life experience. I dated a Cuban, and as polite and Ivy League-educated as I could be, I was still the Black guy who could only illicit grunts from her father. And I don’t know anyone named Esmeralda Jenkins or Manuela Johnson. Growing up where I did, Black guys didn’t get Latinas or Asian girls. Those girls’ families weren’t gonna stand for that! So, this is one of those jokes that’s grounded in truth. It might rub some folks the wrong way, but it’s not necessarily untrue. Where I stand, I don’t think he really did anything wrong. After all, that’s how comedians handle folks who they feel are interrupting their show, and the joke itself was par for the Lopez course. I wouldn’t say it was “haha funny”, but it wasn’t wrong.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • An animated series based on the Castlevania video game is coming to Netflix later this year. Hopefully it will star gay Simon Belmont from Captain N: The Game Master.
  • Kate McKinnon will voice Ms. Frizzle in Netflix’s reboot of The Magic School Bus
  • Speaking of Netflix, Love, The OA, and Trollhunters have all been renewed by the streaming service.
  • Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, announced that she’s retiring after her next album is released.
  • After 25 years over covering the Olympics, Bob Costas announced he’s handing the reins over to Mike Tirico
  • Entertainment newsmagazine show The Insider has been canceled after 13 seasons.
  • Formerly of USA’s Satisfaction, Blair Redford has been cast as the first mutant in Fox’s X-Men TV series
  • Not to be outdone by Beyoncé, it was announced that George and Amal Clooney are expecting twins. Those Hollywood In Vitro clinics are working overtime these days!
  • Speaking of babies, Jason Statham proved he’s the Transporter of Sperm, as he announced he’s expecting a baby with girlfriend Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

I don’t like Tom Brady. Don’t like a thing about him. I find it odd that you can be suspended for cheating AND win the Super Bowl in the same damn season. That said, that was a Hell of a comeback during Sunday’s Super Bowl LI. Somehow, the Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point lead, allowing the New England Patriots to mount an amazing comeback and win their 5th Super Bowl title. It was the first Super Bowl to go into overtime. There was Edelman’s amazing catch. Some are calling it the most exciting game of football ever. But in the end there can only be one winner, and that was the Patriots. So, with that in mind, the New England Patriots had the West Week Ever.

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